Fantasy

Book Review: Lone Wolf

Cover of the book Lone Wolf
Author: 
Lasky, Katheryn
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This series is one of my favorites. It's about a world where animals preside, and wolves are the main focus. The detail in this is amazing and the interactions are realistic. While there are elements of fantasy, it still feels like the real world. I got lost in this book the first time I read it because of how beautifully she wrote the characters, they just seemed to come alive. If you want a good read about intelligent wolves in a fantasy land, read Wolves of the Beyond. The first book is Lone Wolf.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan W.

Book Review: Red Hood

Red Hood
Author: 
Arnold, Elana
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Acclaimed Young Adult author Elana K. Arnold knows there is realism to be found in dark fairy tales and the award-winning author delivers once again, following up her Printz Award-winning Damsel with Red Hood (Feb. 2020), a retelling of the classic fairy tale geared toward older teens. The story centers on Bisou, a girl in a red hooded sweatshirt, who discovers she has inherited the instincts and supernatural strength -- triggered by menstruation during the full moon -- to stop the boys who turn into werewolves at that time from hurting the young women they prey upon. It's a violent and bloody tale enhanced by layered depictions of strong females, positive male allies and a realistic portrayal of teen life. Arnold effectively blends magical realism, dark fantasy elements and modern prose together into a disturbing but ultimately empowering story that celebrates sisterhood that spans generations while shining a light into the dark shadows of rape culture. The story quickly builds to an ending that does not disappoint.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: The Island of Dr. Libris

The Island of Dr. Libris
Author: 
Grabenstein, Chris
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I love this book because of the creativity. The way it blends creative concepts and reality is amazing, in that it feels like something that actually could happen. The detail is pretty good and the characters feel realistic. Overall, this book is a great read, blending creative concepts, excellent detail, and realism into the same book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl
Author: 
Colfer, Eoin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Artemis Foul is a thrilling book, bringing fantasy to reality. The
fantasy part of the book is really well done, as the technology for the most
part is realistic. The book follows mainly Artemis Foul, a 12-year-old genius
child, millionaire, and criminal mastermind. To get his family's fortune back
after his father is assumed dead, Artemis Foul dives into legend and comes
across fairies. But these fairies aren't the ones from bedtime stories, they
are dangerous and, when it comes to it, deadly. This book has a story with
many twists and turns. I highly recommend reading this book, it is a
must-read book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Torin

Book Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities

Keeper of the Lost Cities
Author: 
Messenger, Shannon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Keeper of the Lost Cities" by Shannon Messenger was recommended to me and I love it! The plot, characters, and the way it flows all makes the book a 100/100. Twelve year old Sophie Foster is suddenly taken from her world by a boy who explains to her how she is different and claims she can change the world. Leaving the people who raised her was difficult, but after meeting people and gaining new relationships, Sophie realizes that she would do anything to save her friends and family. Along the way, Sophie hopes to find out who and what she really is.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kate S.

Book Review: Sal and Gabi Break The Universe

Sal and Gabi Break The Universe
Author: 
Hernandez, Carlos
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Welcome to ‘Sal and Gabi Break the Universe’, a book that will take you on an awesome universe-tearing adventure! This book will show the life of a middle-school magician, named Sal. I especially loved this book because of the time put into the descriptions of the magic tricks. Another thing that makes this book shine is the humor. There was enough humor in this book to keep me laughing the whole time I read it. This book is high up on my book list. I would suggest this to anyone, and I mean anyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Illusion

Illusion
Author: 
Kenyon, Sherrilyn
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Nick's life can't get any worse. Besides the fact that he's the son of a demon destined to destroy the world, he's also wanted by every supernatural being one can think of. This time, his soul has been separated from his body and thrown into a different dimension, and if Nick doesn't find a way to get back to his original realm and body, his army of demons are going to destroy the world...with or without him.

This book is the fifth book in an eight-book series, and honestly, it's my least favorite thus far. The plot is less fantastical and more mellow, and there's a lot of new characters that are introduced that makes it a little hard to follow. Otherwise, I still enjoyed it. As always, Nick is hilarious and as charismatic as a demon can get, and we get a glimpse into his more complicated relationships (his relationship with his father for example). I believe most importantly, the book showed Nick's more vulnerable side than the preceding books in the series. Now that he's inherited all his powers, I'm excited to see how life turns out in the Nick universe throughout the last three books!

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: Blood of Elves

Blood of Elves
Author: 
Sapkowski, Andrzej
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I’ll admit that I had a bit of a head start understanding the Witcher universe when I picked up this book. I’ve played a few hours of The Witcher 3 on my Switch, and I watched the first season of the show on Netflix. Would the lack of this prior knowledge have hurt my chances of understanding this high fantasy? Not likely. Arranged as a series of vignettes, Blood of Elves reveals its characters and setting based on a collection of almost everyday scenarios. While this approach made understanding the overarching goal of the series difficult to discern, it did make the characters quite a bit more realistic and relatable.

When it comes down to it, this book is about its characters. Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer all stood out to me as unique and well-rounded individuals who each had their own stories to tell and plotlines to follow. And while their interactions are all intertwined in some way, their individual journeys allow them to shine in their own way. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed listening to this audiobook: it wasn’t so focused on building the world where these characters lived (like most Tolkein-esque high fantasy). Instead, this book made sure I understood who these characters were and what challenges they have faced and will face in the future.

Two scenes/stories stood out to me in this book that I feel need special praise. First, I have never before read a book that had an entire fight/training sequence performed exclusively in dialogue. There were no character actions other than what was described through what the individuals said to each other. To be able to do this so well is an achievement in writing in and of itself. Secondly, I found the story where Geralt meets a monster “expert” to be incredibly humorous. This bit of levity helped to keep the book from getting too dark and morose, which was welcome considering some of its content.

A fantastic character-based high fantasy, I give Blood of Elves 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Ringworld

Ringworld
Author: 
Niven, Larry
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

It can be difficult to judge a book, especially one as critically acclaimed as Ringworld, with 50 years of scientific and societal progress between when it was written and today. On the one hand, there are many scientific concepts explored in this book that we almost take for granted in modern sci-fi. On the other hand, the stink of 1970s misogyny doesn’t age very well, and this book is a prime example. Even today, sci-fi authors are still trying to dig out from the sexist tropes that books like this perpetuated throughout the genre. It’s a complicated, uphill battle, but we’re trying to be better than this.

For 1970, I do have to admit that the science presented here is relatively revolutionary. Unfortunately, the descriptions were occasionally a bit dry and felt more like reading a textbook than a sci-fi adventure. I could appreciate how Niven described the indescribable scale of something as massive as the Ringworld. Additionally, the alien races were well-rounded and had complex physiologies and backstories that made the group dynamic entertaining to read. However, the only thing well-rounded about the women in this book were their bodies.

Aside from the considerable age difference between the two romantic leads being an acceptance of pedophilia, it’s clear that Niven only thought of women as objects. This is disappointing because the story could have been more interesting if the female characters had any agency other than being driven by pleasure or luck. I have to recognize that this book is still a snapshot of its temporal circumstances, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse it in today’s society. Acknowledging that it’s from the 1970s, modern works should be more aware of these flaws when using such a pivotal science fiction book as a base for today’s books.

Some great science with not-so-great misogyny, I give Ringworld 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Full Moon: A Novel of the Dresden Files

Full Moon: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Author: 
Butcher, Jim
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I haven’t read a lot of the urban fantasy genre, but series like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is what I’ve come to expect. There’s a certain amount of logic that goes into combining fantasy elements into modern settings, and—if done well—can bring a story to life. Fool Moon (a delicious play on words, if I do say so myself) continues to take the noir twist from Storm Front and applies Harry Dresden’s magical skills against werewolf foes. Perhaps Storm Front wowed me with the concept of a detective magician so much that I thought Fool Moon was slightly weaker in comparison.

For starters, I felt there were too many factions to keep track of in this book. Half the time, I was trying to remember if the werewolves in question were the good guys or the bad guys. Granted, the ambiguity of the factions’ intent helped drive the plot, but they all felt so similar that I had difficulty telling them apart from each other. I was also somewhat confused with what was happening in the climactic battle, even if it eventually made sense. Additionally, there was a scene in this book that basically forced Dresden to make some obvious connections without it having to come quite as naturally as I would have liked.

All this being said, I did appreciate how the story integrated most of the common lore surrounding werewolves. Nothing was entirely cliché, but it was comforting to be able to see how certain well-known elements of how werewolves work helped to maintain the fantasy continuity. If specific topics like werewolves were handled this well by Butcher, I cannot wait to see how other fantasy elements are seamlessly integrated into this alternate Chicago.

An excellent fusion of fantasy and modern setting with a few weaknesses, I give Fool Moon 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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