Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Fiction

The Scarlet Pimpernel
Orczy, Baronness Emmuska
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wonderful book that incorporates the idealism of the French Revolution to create a unique setting. The historical adventure story is filled with a great blend of suspense, thrills, and romance. The developments included in the story are well-executed and the characters are all full of life. The overarching plot is also intriguing and will captivate the reader until the end of the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who like a bit a history.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Sense and Sensibility
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the classic Jane Austen novel "Sense & Sensibility", three sisters -- Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret -- face a new life after their father dies and they are forced to move to a new home. The sisters' relationships are tested as they balance emotional turmoil, suitors, and new beginnings. I loved this book -- partly because Austen's writing style is straightforward and far easier to read than most classics -- and because of how much time Austen took to masterfully develop her characters. The relationship between Elinor (who is sensible and logical) and her sister Marianne (who is emotional and has a love for drama) is deep and complicated. As the story progresses, we see different sides of the sisters as they struggle to grow in their new environment. I absolutely loved this story. Honestly, there isn't a single negative thing I can say about it. I would highly recommend it to someone who doesn't like classic novels, because I think "Sense & Sensibility" could definitely change their minds.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein", a young ambitious scientist decides to play God and, in the process, creates a monster. As the monster struggles with self-identity and the meaning of his life, he enacts revenge on his creator by destroying everything he loves. Any time you dive into a classic novel, it can be difficult to keep your expectations from getting too high. This novel met pretty much all of mine -- the rich character development of both Frankenstein and the monster, the excellent use of suspense and foreboding to create tension, and the well-paced action. There were definitely some slow parts, but that's mostly because the writing style has changed so much between then and now. However, the multiple perspectives helped keep things moving when they began to slow down. I really enjoyed this novel but I had one fairly big complaint: the ending felt rushed. I felt that we were building up to a much more action-packed ending, but things fizzle out very quickly and the novel ends on a strangely unsatisfying note. I think that there could've been more time spent creating a strong conclusion to a really strong story. Besides that, this classic is excellent and definitely worth a read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:
Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
Neale, Jen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I believe there are many factors that will determine whether or not a reader enjoys this book. It is a first novel by this author and the reader's age may impact their willingness to immerse themselves in an environment, however fictional, that is, from the outset, purposefully created to be offensive to one's sensory organs. This is, and continues to be, crucial to both the plot of the book and an underlying message.

The characters are realistic and set in what is generally considered to be a gorgeous part of Canada's Pacific Coast, British Columbia. But the events of the book usually overwhelm one's ability to bask in that beauty for long. While the sadness of the characters' lives and the ugliness of their relationships with their environment are not without purpose, it is a tough read.

Including motherlessness, PTSD, isolation, human destruction of the environment and suicide in one book rarely makes for light reading. But it would be helpful to the reader to envelope those topics in a book that provides some wisdom or hope for progress on more than one front.

The author seems to be presenting some positive rationales for suicide, but these characters are all so far gone by the time the story begins that it is just another false glimmer to think that the outcome is anything more than part of the death all around them.

Reviewer's Name: Catherine
Awards:
Back in Society
Beaton, M.C.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Mildly entertaining, The "Poor Relations" Series isn't nearly as suspenseful, nor well-written as Marion Chesney's popular "Hamish MacBeth" Series, nor as interesting and comical as the feisty Agatha Raisin of the "The Agatha Raisin Series". With the exception of a few of the characters, such as the loathsome, ill-mannered Sir Philip and the interesting Lady Fortescue and Harriet, the former cook and now the Duchess of Rowcester, the heroine of this book, Lady Jane is a Lilly-livered character who although young, cannot stand up for herself in any situation. She is so unlike the sharp-tongued, independent, although vulnerable Agatha Raisin that her character is seems like a "doormat". Unlike the first book of this series "The Poor Relations", which heralded the strength of character, independence and backbone of each character, the plot of this book seems contrived and somewhat unbelievable, perhaps because no young woman in this day and age would be as weak as it's "heroine" Lady Jane. This book was written in '94, under the pseudonym of Marion Chesney, perhaps when M.C. Beaton's was developing her writing style. However, in this day of strong, independent women, the Cinderella story of being rescued by Prince Charming this hackneyed story seems boring and mundane.

The excellent writing of M.C. Beaton seems to be absent in this novel, and the "damsel's in distress" theme of "Back in Society" is dated and uninteresting!

Reviewer's Name: TD
Priest of Bones
McLean, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It took me a good long time to read this book. I started reading it and I
would stop, then I’d try to start it again. Then I decided to just buckle
down and read the book. I have to say it was a pretty darn good book.

I wasn’t expecting it to be the first in a series, but as I started coming
closer and closer to the end, I realized that it may well be part of a series
– and I was right, it is. The book takes you on a journey of what happens
in a medieval style world when someone comes home from war and realizes that
a new war is brewing and it’s starting in his own city. The book is rather
slow to start and at times doesn’t make sense, but anything that doesn’t
make sense at the time will be clarified later in the book.

This particular novel is written memoir style – the narrator refers to his
having written things which is an interesting concept. Usually you don’t
see novels written as memoirs with the narrator stating that he or she had
written something earlier. I fully expect that if this series were to become
movies, that you’d find an old, wizened man at the end closing a notebook
in which he’d written the entire sordid tale.

The book was well written and I have to admit, although it isn’t normally
my type of book, I was into it. The characters were developed as much as they
needed to be and the ones that aren’t, well, there’s a reason for it.
Some of them don’t need it, some of them don’t need it right now. Read
the book and you’ll see.

Reviewer's Name: Charity
Genres:
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Of Mice and Men is a true classic. It is a gripping tale of friendship and tragedy that takes place during the Great Depression. Lennie and George are very well-developed characters and their story of fulfilling their American Dream is one that you won't want to put down. Of Mice and Men is a surprisingly short read, but its story is enormous. While the book does include some controversial topics, it is still a very good read that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The Power of Six
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The sequel to I am Number Four is just as thrilling and action packed as the first. John, Sam, and Six set out as fugitives and work to find the others as we meet Seven. Seven is also known as Marina and lives in a convent/orphanage in Spain while she convinces her Cepan to rejoin the fight and develops her legacies. Complete with numerous battles, close escapes, incredible powers, and fun characters, The Power of Six is an excellent read for any middle or high schoolers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Larsson, Stieg
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Now that I’ve finished the third book in this series, I realize it falls into the “trilogy conundrum” of having a strong, standalone first part, followed by two sequels that rely on each other to finish out the story. Heck, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest should have just been Part 3 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since it completed the story arc started back in book one. I had my suspicions this book would continue from the exact moment where The Girl Who Played with Fire ended. After all, there were a ton of loose ends, and the story ended abruptly.

Part of my issue with this book was that it was primarily tasked with tying up all the subplots from the first two books. However, it still felt like it needed to spend time on new storylines that didn’t add much to the overall plot and were only there because the main character wasn’t able to do anything interesting. I also didn’t particularly like how some of these story elements concluded, as they felt unfulfilling (the resolution of the conflict with Lisbeth’s father stands out in particular). Overall, these two qualms made the book drag on longer than I think it should have.

There were still some positive elements in this book, including the trial of Lisbeth Salander. In fact, this coup de grace was by far the most entertaining section of the entire trilogy. I also appreciated the tension created early on when Lisbeth was in the hospital, as well as the action in the Epilogue that tied up the very last loose end of the trilogy. In the end, I still think this trilogy was a good read. It’s just that its final volume
felt a little bloated and distracted at times.

A mostly satisfying conclusion to the original Millennium series, I give The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Daisy Jones & the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Daisy Jones & the Six is a telling of the eponymous band's tumultuous story, by the band and in interview format. Its kind of: Almost Famous -The Fleetwood Mac Story. There's drugs, sex (some consensual), drugs, rock & roll and drugs! There are a lot of drugs. But mostly, there's an intensely readable character study about a bunch of talented young people who couldn't get out of their own way.

At the recommendation of a friend and colleague, I read one of Reid's other books, the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I adored it. When I was approved for Reid's newest on Netgalley, I was pretty excited and rightly so: this book did not let me down. It truly is a book about complex characters told against the gritty, adrenaline filled background of rock & roll in the 70s. I sometimes felt I was almost at the concert, waiting the wings, electrified. The atmosphere was to die for. But again, the characters are the whole thing. Daisy and Billy, our two main characters, were both interesting to read for their own reasons, but my favorite by far was Karen. I did a fair amount of highlighting in this book, and most of those lines belonged to Karen (the rest, Daisy). This book is just dying to be made into a movie (a google search reveals, that, even better - its been optioned as a tv mini-series on Prime! Dream casting: Jenny Lewis should play Daisy Jones. Digression over.) as the characters practically spring off the page. Really, the only downside for me was that it didn't feel new. I've read versions of this story before. But this is a great version of that story, and if you like a good tortured romance, or have felt moved by music, I think this book will make you feel something. I did. 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Ballentine Books for the advance copy, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Daisy Jones & the Six is available on 05 March, but you can put your copy on hold today.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Book Reviews: The Handmaid's Tale
Atwood, Margaret
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is old school dystopian literature. Atwood nails it. It's likely the best dystopian novel I have ever read.

Offred is a handmaid, a woman set aside for breeding purposes. Her only desire is to survive, but her memories push their way up into her mind. She had a husband and a child and they are gone. What broke my heart were the memories of her beloved child. It's so softly touched upon that it shows itself as a raw wound that she can barely handle.

Well told and powerful, I give this book 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
World War Z
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After finding myself slighlty underwhelmed by the movie; the book proved a welcome change. World War Z manages to capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse trope while still remaining original. The story is told through chronological, short, personal naratives and expertly paints a large picture of disaster while continuing to feel intimate. People in the story act realistically and despite revolving around a fantastical event, the book always seems like a series of believable recounts. The story replaces continuous characters with a narrative of humanity as a whole and the reader become invested in this larger concept. Overall, the book is an entertaining read and completely worth the time.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There is a reason the Great Gatsby is considered an important work of American literature. Both a highly accurate depiction of the 1920s, a deep reflection on American morals, and the reality of the American dream, and an entertaining novel in general. While some of the book struggles with some strange pacing and slightly scattered plot, it is a worth while read. This book both appears frequently in popular culture and overall is a subject that is important to know. The Great Gatsby may not be a novel for everyone, however, it is relatively short and worth reading.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
Storm Front
Butcher, Jim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Strom Front serves as a stellar introduction to the exciting world of Harry Dresden. The first book in a long series of great books, Storm Front showcases Butcher's writing prowess. The story is full of interesting characters, well developed story, gritty mysteries, and the overarching wit of the main character. Storm Front is at once entertaining, humorous, and occasionally touching. It is one of those books that somehow becomes glued to your hands and only relinquishes them upon arrival at the back cover.
Overall, the book will most definitely be an enjoyable read and make picking the next three to four books to read an easy choice (although I recommend not attempting more than a few in a row for the sake of variety).

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Genres:
Lord of Light
Zelazny, Roger
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lord of Light, winner of the 1968 Hugo award for best novel, is a fascinating excursion into a expertly crafted science fiction world involving both Hindu mythology and the struggle to free humanity from the oppressive rule of false gods. This book is exciting as well as thought provoking and an overall interesting read. The characters are well flushed out, the setting is both believable and fantastical, and every instant of the book engaging. For those not familiar with Zelazny's writing style, the book may become confusing at certain points. However, the reader is never lost completely and can easily catch back up with the story. This book is a must read for those interested in the science fiction genre.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Good Omens
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Good Omens is humorous take on Armageddon and the final battle between Heaven and Hell. Complete with an angel and a demon, who get along better with each other than with their immortal counterparts, two witch-finders, Satanic Nuns of the Chattering Order of St. Beryl, aliens, and an eleven year old Antichrist, Good Omens takes a completely different take on the Apocalypse. All predicted by a witch that lived 300 years ago, Good Omens is full of sarcasm, humor, fun, and adventure along with a moral that tells us to look for the good in everyone, even demons. I highly recommend this book for any high schooler or adult looking for a little bit of humor in life.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Genres:
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lord of the Flies is a horrifying book. Not through horror elements, but through the themes that it presents and deals with throughout. The plot follows a group of boys attempting at self-governance, after they become stranded on an island. Their attempts at a government fail, however, as their society devolves into power struggles and an "every man for himself"attitude, which leads to the collapse of their makeshift society.

The book explores the theme of the intrinsic corruption of human nature, and what happens when a society falls prey to malice and greed. The novel forces us to take a look inward, and forces us to analyse out modern society from a new perspective. However, one downside is that the novel can be a bit dull and boring, and quite hard to follow.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
Heart of Darkness
Conrad, Joseph
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Heart of Darkness was written at a time when the horrors of the genocide in the Congo were being discovered by everyone. Joseph Conrad's magnum opus is a novel steeped in allegory and metaphor that details such genocides, while also serving to provide discourse on the nature of humanity.
The book details a character named Marlow as he travels up the River Thames in the Congo into the physical and metaphorical heart of darkness, and his experiences on his journey. The novel manages to both entrance and horrify readers, as the horrors described by Marlow are not only seen by him, but by us as an extension. The book does a wonderful job on speaking on the topic of genocide, but also helps us to learn about ourselves, about the nature of humans, and our dark hearts. This is a book that is necessary to read if one wants to consider themselves educated. However, the only downside is that it can be very hard to understand, and can be very, very monotonous and boring.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
The Exorcist
Blatty, William Peter
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the greatest horror novels of all time, The Exorcist was a genre-defining piece of literature. It's story has set the precedent for horror, and is the novel that essentially invented the modern possession in horror. It's story follows Chris MacNeil as she struggles to get help for her daughter, who has been possessed by a powerful demon. The book is intense; it moves at a breakneck pace, and is truly terrifying. What makes it scary is the premise: someone you love being invaded by an unknown being that you do not understand. This idea is consistent throughout the whole novel -- in the first half or so, her condition is thought to be scientific in nature, but is soon proven to be false. What do you do when you have a problem, but do not know how to fix it? This question is concurrent with the novel, and forces us to face humanities greatest fear: the unknown. I would highly recommend this novel to horror fans, or anyone who is looking for a truly terrifying read to keep them up at night.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
Sisters
Steel, Danielle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This story kept you wanting to know more. The author made you feel like you were there and a part of the family.

Reviewer's Name: Joan
Genres:

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