Fiction

Book Review: A Dance in Donegal

A Dance in Donegal
Author: 
Deibel, Jennifer
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, Jennifer Deibel paints beautiful pictures with her words.

I was able to experience the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Ballyman, Donegal with Moira Doherty who travels to her mother's homeland from Boston to teach school. Ballyman is a small village in Ireland that is shrouded in superstition, and rumors about Moira's mother.

This novel is a beautiful story of grace, love, and forgiveness that is amust read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Amanda

Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis

Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
Author: 
Henry, Patti Callahan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

f you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, and perhaps were introduced to Joy Davidman through the movie, "Shadowlands", this in-depth look at her life, and struggles before she first began her correspondence with Lewis. Already a prolific poet and writer, Davidman was extremely well-educated and had been a child prodigy. This is an evocative account for her search for God, her quest for peace during a strained first marriage, and ultimately, coming to terms with the illness that took her life after finding fullflling love with C.S. Lewis. The book is well-researched, but is a novel that is written in the first person.

Reviewer's Name: 
Janet M.

Book Review: Terry Pratchett: The BBC Radio Drama Collection

Terry Pratchett: The BBC Radio Drama Collection
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Sadly, I wasn't impressed with this, as a radio drama or an audio version of Pratchett's work. For Pratchett's Discworld books, this is definitely not an alternative to audio books of these novels. As a radio drama, the abridgment of the books is limited almost exclusively to sections of dialogue. The narration and storytelling background sounds aren't enough to allow the listener who hasn't already read or listened to the books to understand more than the basic plot. I was really surprised by this one, because BBC usually does such good work.

Reviewer's Name: 
Owsley

Book Review: My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Book One
Author: 
Ferris, Emil
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A lot of people put down graphic novels as just comic books and many are little more than that. But there are a few that transcend this genre. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 is such an example. This debut novel by Emil Ferris tells the story of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, a girl growing up during the turbulent 1960s in Chicago. Reyes is an aspiring artist and her story is told in her perspective with detailed drawings filled with B-movie horror monsters from her beloved matinees, all sketched by a very talented schoolgirl with a Bic pen in her spiral notebook. Her neighborhood is a scary place and so is dealing with her mother's late-stage cancer and her older brother's drug-dealing and pimping. It's why Karen wishes she was a monster -- to be safe from those she sees in real life. As just a family drama, this novel delivers. Then this beautifully illustrated work of art reminiscent of Robert Crumb and Otto Dix, becomes so much more. The ever-curious Karen decides to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. That sudden plot twist turns this work into an historical epic, a detective story and a psychological thriller that garnered numerous industry accolades and award nominations worldwide. Vol. 1 is currently available through PPLD while Vol. 2, the conclusion of the story, is scheduled to be published in September 2021.
AWARDS: 2018 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album-New, Best Writer/Artist and Best Coloring; 30th Annual Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Graphic Novel.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
Author: 
Rosenberg, Matthew
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank follows a group of four middle school kids planning a bank robbery. Throughout the story the characters face the prospect that right and wrong may not be as binary as their games make them out to be. This graphic novel does the Goonies, Stand by Me, and Stranger Things middle school group trope beautifully well, with notes of comedy and friendship. Although the story maintains a dark tone, Rosenberg includes brilliant humorous moments that add levity to the story and highlight the friendship between each of the characters. The art by Tyler Boss is phenomenal, completely immersing the reader into the book and constantly leaving us in awe. Each page is a masterpiece perfectly encapsulating the tone of the book and adding to the brilliant pacing of the book. The timing of each word and picture are masterfully placed becoming almost Wes Anderson. This graphic novel has easily become my all time favorite stand alone graphic novel and gets better each time I read it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Julia

Book Review: A Darkling Plain

A Darkling Plain
Author: 
Reeve, Philip
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

With the way Infernal Devices ended, I immediately knew there had to be a fourth book to finish this unique series. Few books resolve their respective series as well as A Darkling Plain does, which I can appreciate. In fact, the final epilogue was as beautiful as it was tragic. Along the way, the little loose ends tie up nicely so that all the characters are given some closure—whether or not they deserve it.

I wasn't wild with the time-skip tactic that Infernal Devices used since it basically split this series into two larger stories. Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold covered Hester and Tom's relationship, while the last two books covered their daughter's adventures. Of course, I was shocked with the ending of Infernal Devices, which did get an explanation in this book, even if it lessened the impact of that plot twist. That being said, some of the characters' fates were foreshadowed well ahead of this book, which left their ultimate fate somewhat anti-climactic.

Overall, I enjoyed how the idea of mobile cities eating each other in an evolutionary survival of the fittest came to its logical conclusion in this book. It's such a peculiar concept that was thoroughly explored in the previous three volumes so that this book could wrap up this phase in the post-apocalyptic timeline with enough room to give some hope for a future. After all, I have yet to run across a science fiction series that combines so many tropes so well and manages to conclude its complicated plotlines in such a satisfying way.

A satisfying ending of a unique series, I give A Darkling Plain 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher

The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher
Author: 
Sapkowski, Andrzej
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Those of us who have seen Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher will find this collection of short stories quite familiar. The first book in the series, The Last Wish introduces the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he goes about his job ridding the world of dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s no wonder the TV series felt a little disjointed, as it had a series of short stories that were loosely connected via Geralt to work with. Still, these stories are solid and help flesh out the world where humans and creatures live together, rarely in harmony.

Told in a somewhat chronological manner, these bite-size stories often carry over and blend into each other in a way that feels natural. Actions in one story may influence the characters in another, so there is something deeper here than just a collection of short stories. While this technique is rarely used, I can appreciate how each story has a purpose in advancing the main character's overall story. That being said, not every story is as enthralling as trying to save a noble’s daughter from a curse (which was one of the best in the set).

Part of why I like this method of storytelling is how simple it is. There’s no huge overarching and complex series of events here. The only character that matters is Geralt and how he reacts to the people around him and the jobs he takes to pay the bills. While additional characters like Yennefer or Ciri help to round out the series, focusing on the series’ namesake is important for building a foundation for world-building. I almost wish more series would take this route, as it helps establish the lore before diving into the first “official” book's main plot.

Great character foundation through multiple short stories, I give The Last Wish 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express
Author: 
Crhistie, Agatha
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Murder on the Orient Express is the story of detective Hercule Poirot who is taking the train the Orient Express when a man gets murdered on board. With the help of the the doctor and other staff members on board, Poirot plans to solve the murder before the train arrives at its destination and the murder is free to walk away.

This book is very well written and has many plot twists so you are constantly looking forward to what comes next. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery. It is fairly easy to understand and could be easily read by anyone 5th grade and up.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emily S.

Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage
Author: 
Crane, Stephen
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

The Red Badge of Courage is really not a great book. It is centered around the Civil War and tells the story of Henry, a Union soldier who leaves his farm to go fight. During the war he cannot make up his mind to run away from the field or stick with his friends in battle. While some might find the book interesting, personally it just dragged on and on. Sometimes it would go really in depth into a battle or a part of the story that was not very important and in others it would just gloss over a major part that you needed to understand. I would not recommend this book to anyone as it is hard to understand and is not very well written.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emily S.

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