Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book blew my mind. A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. These books are fantasy, and they follow the wars, events, kingdoms, and lives of the people of Westeros. This book is extremely dense, but that only means that it is full to the brink of background information and interesting tidbits about the world. The most amazing thing about this book is how developed the world is. Martin must have put an unimaginable amount of time into world-building, and this effort certainly shows. The plot is so complex, and almost all of the characters are wonderfully 3-dimensional.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Tolkien, J. R. R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Originally written for his children, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel “The Hobbit” is hailed among book critics as a remarkable, introductory-level fantasy novel. It manages to engage readers with an epic and timeless plot, while also avoiding the use of profane language and violent scenes.

The tale is set in Middle Earth, home to a number of human-like species including the Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves. Over the course of the novel, Tolkien provides a rich background of the history of these three species.
Namely, the majority of backstory is setup around the dwarves- who originally inhabited the “Lonely Mountain” and made their fortune off of mining gold. Their empire prospered until at last, a greedy, gold-seeking dragon named “Smog” wreaked havoc to their way of life.

Enter Bilbo Baggings, a middle-aged Hobbit settling down in the Shire. After he hosts a seemingly ordinary dinner party, his life is turned inside out, and the inner spirit of adventure is awakened with him. He joins in a quest to reclaim the dwarf home, and takes part in a number of adventures along the way.

I originally read this book after finishing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. While it’s true that this novel is aimed at a younger demographic, it is certainly still an engaging read for older teens and adults. J.R.R. Tolkien embeds a number of rich storytelling devices into his writing, and it makes the read an absolute pleasure!

If you decide not to try this novel, I would suggest reading “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. It is certainly not as child-friendly, and has some pretty gruesome scenes, but Martin’s writing makes up for many of the imperfections of Tolkien’s work. Overall, The Hobbit is most aptly suited for readers aged 8-12, and serves as a great introductory novel to fantasy literature. For older readers, I might suggest a different read, but all the same, and in spite of your age demographic, The Hobbit is truly a timeless masterpiece of literature and is worth giving a try!

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
A golden chalice against a red background
Martin, George R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Feast for Crows", the fourth installment in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy, takes up the challenge of transitioning the narrative from "A Storm of Swords". Readers were left off at the end of the War of the Five Kings, which had drawn havoc to all of Westeros. Throughout the course of this new story, attempts are made to unify the country, but as some relationships are mended- others are torn, and the tale of Westeros continues to grow ever more colorful with Martin's next installment.

The narrative focuses mainly on the happenings of central Westeros, with exclusions to Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen's plotlines (which are saved for the next novel.) Cersei Lannister's youngest son, Tommen Baratheon, now sits atop the Iron Throne, and takes guidance from his family members. Cersei and her children mourn the death of Joffrey and Tywin, whose demise is believed to be at the hands of the family Dwarf, Tyrion. However, even as Cersei attempts to make rational decisions, it becomes clear that her mind is clouded with vengeance.

In light of the fact that Martin killed off a number of main characters in his last novel, he pulls his readers into new storylines such as those with Brienne of Tarth as well as characters in Dorne and the Iron Islands. Arya Stark explores a new story arc in Bravos and all across the realm, religion emerges to have an even bigger impact on the plot. Overall, Martin does a fantastic job of bringing up new plot points and transitioning the trilogy into its next narrative.

I began reading this book immediately after the last, and while it’s true that it isn’t nearly as eventful as A Storm of Swords, the plot is equally as engaging. Players in the game of thrones continue to make political powerplays and hidden sabotages, all the while grounding their feet to climb the ladder of power.

One complaint I have with this novel is that its slow pace contrasts poorly with that of the last installment. Readers were left with suspense and eager anticipation for A Feast for Crows, and while they weren’t entirely disappointed, I felt that the beginnings of this book missed a few major fan expectations. This, in part, is due to the fact that there is a 5-year jump from A Storm of Swords to A Feast for Crows. Of course, some details are clearly left out over such a large gap.

If you decide not to continue with this series, I would recommend trying J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, as it makes up for some of the imperfections with Martin’s work. With all that having been said though, I would certainly recommend continuing on to read this book. Its slow pace may at first deter you from reading, but, from my experience, if you stick through and finish the book, you will be glad to have done so. There are so many rich story-telling devices Martin imbeds into his writing, and paired with the fantastic plot of A Song of Ice and Fire, this book makes for a tremendous read!

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Awards:
Genres:
A path that winds through the mountains
Tolkien, John R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Over 60 years ago in 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien unveiled the first installment of his series “Lord of the Rings” with the publication of “The Fellowship of the Ring”. Unknown to him at the time, his series would stand to leave a legacy- one that would bring together communities’ decades after his death and revolutionize the fantasy genre forever. However, in light of the fact that the novel was published literal generations ago, I would like to try my best to analyze whether or not it stacks up today with modern-day fantasy novels.

The story takes place in “Middle-Earth”, an ancient land in which several human-like species- including the dwarves, elves, and hobbits- coincide. The story features a character introduced in a previous Middle-earth novel from Tolkien, Bilbo Baggins, who plays the same role, after 60 years following his last appearance. In celebration of the 111th birthday of Bilbo, a relative of the family, Frodo Baggins, is given an all-powerful ring- said to have been forged by Sauron the Dark Lord and infused with magical powers.
As Frodo soon finds out from Gandalf the Grey, another wizard, the ring enables Sauron to enslave and dominate all of humanity, which for obvious reasons, poses a threat to Bilbo and his entire species. Determined, he sets off on an adventure to destroy the ring, accompanied by some of his Hobbit-friends. The trip intensifies as time goes on, and as Bilbo explores the vast lands of Middle-earth, he meets a number of new traveling companions. Together, they conquest further and meet new challenges to approach.

I read the first book of this series quite some time ago, and even as a 7th grader, was able to read and comprehend most parts of the book. Though with that being said, I would not recommend this novel for someone who is similarly aged. It’s always worth remembering that the book is 60 years old, so the language is bound to be slightly more difficult to read.
There’s also the fact that Tolkien presents readers with an enormous amount of lore, and it can be a challenge to understand all the details.

When reading through this book, I found myself completely immersed in the story. Tolkien does a marvelous job with engaging readers in his story. The world he has created is described in such animated detail, that nearly anyone can get hooked on his story.
If you decide to skip this book, but are still interested in reading a similar fantasy novel, I would give George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book trilogy a try. While it’s true that the novels in this series bear many similarities to “Lord of the Rings”, Martin’s books usually move at faster paces, with a greater number of surprises and unexpected endings.

In spite of the fact that the book may at times be difficult to get through, Tolkien illuminates his stories with rich language, backstory, and imagery; and for these reasons and more, the novel is certainly worth a try.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Genres:
Gold helmet against a green background
Martin, George R. R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin, which sequels his previous novel "A Clash of Kings", takes root precisely where the last left off. Once again, Martin is challenged with sustaining book-readers attention, in an ever-complexifying story involving a plethora of different characters, motivations, and story arcs. However, after having read the novel, I can testify to the fact that Martin has done an excellent job with continuing the story.

After the "War of the Five Kings" is drawn into motion, young King Joffrey is tasked with defending an incoming attack from Stannis Baratheon. In spite of the fact that Joffrey is vastly incompetent to Stannis, who not only has a larger army but is also a distinguished battle commander, the crown stands a chance with the help of Tyrion Lannister.

Up North, Jon Snow is captured by the Wildlings- a vicious group of Northern barbarians. Meanwhile, Mance Rayder unites hundreds of Northern tribes under the prospect of defeating their common enemy; and gathers them in an attack against the wall. When Jon Snow returns, he warns the watch of their plans, but far-outnumbered, it would seem that defeat is inevitable. The attack draws nearer, and as it does, an unexpected card comes into fold- leveling the odds of the battle.

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen seeks an army with which she can use to recapture her homeland. Coincidently, Ser Jorah Mormont- an outlawed Westerosi knight- is at her command, and with her, as well as the help of Barristan Semly, former King's Guard's to Daenerys' father, she manages to gather an army of Unsullied. Through a number of risky maneuvers, Daenerys also wins the affection of the common people and takes control of former slave cities.

George R.R. Martin continues developing these plotlines and more, by drawing satisfying conclusions to old story arcs and bringing new beginnings to others. All the while, he manages to keep readers at the edge of their seat, enjoying every moment of the book.

My main complaint with this novel is that while the plotlines are rich and engaging, the sheer magnitude of its length makes it a very long read. I sometimes question whether the series is worth continuing to read, as it takes an enormous amount of time to finish. However, for someone in this position, I might recommend watching the TV series- for which there is currently around 60 hours of content. It is definitely a solid alternative to the book series for someone in more of a time crunch.

If in fact you do decide to switch book series, I would recommend J.R.R Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" book trilogy. It's similar to A Song of Ice and Fire in some ways, but makes up for certain imperfections found in Martin's work.

Overall, if you have read this far into the series, by my judgment, the trilogy is worth continuing. From "A Clash of Kings" onto this next novel, the plot lines are drawn even further and the story intensified in all the right ways.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Genres:
Book Review: Clash of Kings
Martin, George R. R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Clash of Kings", the second installment in George R.R. Martins "A Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy, picks up where the first novel, "A Game of Thrones" left off. With the death of the King, Robert Baratheon, and his hand, Eddard "Ned" Stark, war rages throughout the realm, with a total of 5 lords declaring themselves for the throne. Robert's brothers, along with their allied houses, raise their banners in outlaw to the crown, while young King Joffrey defends his claim to the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile, Eddard's eldest son, Rob, rallies the North to secede from the Seven Kingdoms in declaration of their own "King in the North". This, of course, reaps certain consequences in a system built on partitions of trust and loyalty. In the midst of this turmoil, yet another lord, Balon Grejoy, who holds the Iron Islands, joins the fight, and in a distant fog from across the Narrow Sea, lies Daenerys Targaryen. She formulates an Army of Unsullied warriors and manages to acquire 3 dragons, restoring honor to her house and strengthening her claim to the throne.

With time, the war unfolds, and as it does, so do an onslaught of secrets, lies, and betrayals unforseen to even some of the most observant readers.
Martin continues to draw inspiration from English history, while also divulging from reality with the continuation of the white walker plot line.

I moved onto this book from "A Game of Thrones", and can genuinely say that I think it was a major improvement from its predecessor. Although the plot may still move a bit slow for some, now that George R.R. Martin has set the stage with background information, there is much more action than in the previous installment of the series.

One personal complaint of mine is that the sheer magnitude of characters, lore, and history presented in the book can get a bit confusing at time.
Especially for someone who is trying one of their first fantasy novels, this book may not be the best fit. On the contrary, however, if you're looking for a longer, and more austere, read, I would certainly continue onto this book from the last. The plot only gets better with time, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you decide not to keep reading A Song and Ice and Fire, though, I would recommend trying any one of J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy books. From my opinion, they are similar in style, but different enough to cater to one another's faults.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Genres:
A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin tells the tale of various clashing households and their quest to conquer control over the seven kingdoms. Set in a distant, but vaguely familiar medieval-Europe, the story bears parallels to England’s “War of the Roses,” while also introducing its share of unique fantasy elements. As the reader progresses through the book, they follow the politics of the Iron Throne- a metaphor representing the complete and utter control a King possesses in a feudal government system. Furthermore, the reader tracks 8 character perspectives, which are alternated through passing chapters.

As the King rides north to Winterfell to meet with his trusted vassal, and friend, Eddard "Ned" Stark, he strikes up an agreement to anoint Eddard as the hand of the king. Reluctant, Ned follows the King back to the South, but as the plot continues to unfold, Eddard learns of a secret unbeknownst to the King and some of his most trusted advisers. With the death of the King and the ruin of Eddard’s house, war rages in Westeros- as several characters attempt to strike their claims on the Iron Throne.

I initially picked this book up after finishing J.R.R Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings” series and have been pleasantly surprised with it. Many fantasy readers have speculated that the literary masterpiece of Tolkien’s novels could not be out done, but I am now inclined to disagree. I thought the book was well-crafted and engaging as an intermediate to advanced reader. However, I would file the complaint that the book moves a bit slow for my taste. Some may lose interest in its plot, especially considering the sheer volume of the book series. The old-language also adds to this effect, as it may cause some readers to struggle following along.

Overall, I would say that this book is certainly worth a try for someone who enjoys medieval-fantasy novels. Admittedly, it will take a while to read and is certainly no small undertaking, but by sticking with it, I found myself enjoying every page more than the last!

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
Awards:
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Winters, Ben H.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After struggling my way through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I thought perhaps the next entry in the “Quirk Classics” line of books would be better. After all, it had a new co-author (alongside Jane Austen) and replaced the almost cliché zombie trope with the lesser-seen sea monster framing. Unfortunately, I once again found myself struggling through the archaic language of Austen’s time. Not only that, but I felt there was far too much talking and way too much nonsense, and that wasn’t even about the sea monsters. I’m starting to suspect that I just plain don’t like Jane Austen’s writing.

Half of the book is practically filled with young women swooning over eligible bachelors, learning that these bachelors are engaged or married, and then becoming depressed because of this revelation. If they spent less time gossiping and more time communicating, perhaps they wouldn’t have these problems. Of course, I realize that this was probably an artifact of the era in which the original Sense and Sensibility was written, but it all seems pretty “senseless” if you ask me. Speaking of senseless, this book certainly delivers on a lot of it, when it comes to the violence of the sea monsters.

As was the case with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I feel Austen’s prose holds back the potential for a much more interesting story. Practically steampunk in its underwater cities and rudimentary diving systems, if this book was an original story, I think it would have been much more interesting to read instead of having to slog through another Jane Austen novel. Of course, most people probably wouldn’t have picked up such a novel, because they wouldn’t know what it’s about. Modifying a Jane Austen story merely gets readers in the door, but it seems like a lazy solution to gain sales instead of a way to create an engaging narrative.

Another attempt at fusing Jane Austen with unnecessary violence, I give Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
The Force Awakens
Foster, Alan Dean
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you’ve been following along recently, you’ll know that I’ve been on
a bit of a “movie” kick when it comes to the audiobooks I’ve listened
to. While there are plenty of movies based on books, I haven’t really been
one to read novelizations of movies. That being said, I’ve found the
writing style in my own novels to be a bit of a novelization of the ideas in
my mind, since I usually try and describe scenes in a cinematic way. At any
rate, I was expecting a story that held close to the film, and this book
certainly delivered on that promise.

I’ll admit that the more I think about the plot and characters of The Force
Awakens, the more I find that it almost exactly matches the events of A New
Hope. However, there were some weaknesses in the first installment of the
Star Wars franchise that I feel are addressed in this recent installment.
Sure, all the elements are there, but they’ve been mixed around into
different characters, settings, and conflicts that add a bit more depth to
the story than the archetypical one presented in A New Hope. As a reboot, The
Force Awakens does an excellent job of calling back to what made the original
great, but doing so in a way that is still different enough to provide
interesting twists and questions.

One thing I do like about this version of the story, compared to the movie,
is the “deleted scenes” that help explain some of the plot holes from the
film. Maybe these scenes hindered the flow of the movie (or weren’t
important enough to include) but they certainly helped me understand the
story a lot better now that I know about them. Finally, while I know that
many films have “enhanced audio” for blind people, I’d almost recommend
these people listen to this audiobook instead. The music, sound effects, and
even many of the actors’ voices all are used at a pace that’s much slower
in order to really grasp what’s happening with the story.

A fantastic audiobook that faithfully captures everything (and more) that
made the film great, I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
The Rook
O'Malley, Daniel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of the nice things about listening to audiobooks from my library (via the
Overdrive app), is that I can pick up a book and listen to it without really
knowing what it’s about other than a title and a cover. In this way, I
often have no preconceived notions about the book other than first
impressions. At this point, all I’m giving up to “read” the book is the
time it takes me to listen to it, and I have plenty of that driving to and
from work every day.

Since I had no idea what this book was really about, I was surprised at how
humorous it was. If I were to combine a few, better-known series together,
I’d say this is X-Men mixed with James Bond, with just a dash of Jason
Bourne all blended together in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. An odd
combination, I know. But somehow, it works here. The humor is markedly
British, but the characters and their powers are supernatural, to say the
least. Since this was merely the first in a developing series, I can’t wait
to get to book #2: Stiletto.

All this being said, there were a few structural choices to this book that I
often found confusing, which may just be part of listening to it in audiobook
form instead of reading it. First off, the decision to have the main
character afflicted with amnesia was an interesting way to essentially give
the audience what the character already would have known but had conveniently
forgotten. Secondly, because the letters from her former self were used as
backstory, these “flashbacks” were often confusing because it was easy to
lose track of which Mfwany Thomas (glad I had the audiobook for the
pronunciation of this name) was “speaking” at the moment.

An interesting premise with plenty of potential in future iterations, I give
The Rook 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In another “lapse” of my reading habits, I didn’t manage to read
Ender’s Game until the movie of the same name came out in 2013. At the
time, all the sci-fi fans were eagerly anticipating a film that had taken
over 25 years to finally become a reality. While I thought the movie was
quite well done and engaging, after I read the book, I can understand why
some of the diehard fans of the series were disappointed. As is usually the
case with book-to-movie transitions, sub-plots often find themselves on the
cutting room floor. Of course, I don’t blame them for cutting what they
did; after all, it is called Ender’s Game.

Even though watching the movie first spoiled the exciting twist of the ending
when I read the book, I almost read the book differently knowing how it would
turn out. I could see the signs leading up to the shocking reveal, almost as
if I had read it before. I did appreciate the sub-plot with Ender’s
siblings and their efforts back on Earth as their brother was winning the war
in space. If anything, it helped to break up the intense action surrounding
the eponymous main character so that the reader could fully absorb what was
happening in the universe on a political level as well as a military one.

It is disappointing that there will likely be no more movies in this series
since the source material is full of interesting ideas that I’d like to see
on the big screen. Perhaps the series would be better suited for a television
show (a la Game of Thrones) to fully include all the different elements that
made it a classic of sci-fi back in 1985. Either way, I look forward to
exploring more of Orson Scott Card’s universe in the next book of the
series: Speaker for the Dead.

A fantastic sci-fi story with an incredible twist ending, I give Ender’s
Game 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Attack on Titan Vol. 1
Isayama, Hajime
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ever since I discovered this series, I've been hooked. The story is just so interesting and unique. I mean, how many books do you read about man-eating giants destroying society and teenage soldiers fighting them. Not only is the plot interesting, the characters are very well developed and their backstories are very interesting. That being said, there aren't too many backstories, because most of them are dead, but still, the main characters' backstories are really creative and awesome. I have read these books so many times and I am still hooked, even though it sometimes makes me mad (because the characters I like all keep dying). 10/10. Highly recommend if you are okay with violence, blood, guts, and disturbing images.

Reviewer's Name: Eremin
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry
Backman, Fredrik
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Backman's wit and humor ties in wonderfully with a tear-jerking finale. From beginning to end, I was torn between laughing and weeping. The innocence and wonder of childhood is captured perfectly, while also conveying the struggles of not being noticed. The grandmother in this story is eccentric and diligent, striving to create beauty for her granddaughter. Backman paints a masterpiece with his words, and keeps me hooked and enthralled at every turn of this book. I recommend this book heartily!

Reviewer's Name: Jordan
Genres:
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Gaiman, Neil
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

As someone who has to read many short story submissions for the anthology my writing group puts together each year, I can appreciate a well-written short story. I have not read much of Neil Gaiman, but in his collection of anthology short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, I was able to see what kinds of stories a professional writer writes for an anthology. While quite a few stories were interesting, not all of them were necessarily in genres I typically read. Then again, I consider erotica and stories submitted to Hustler as pornography, which is why I do not read these kinds of short stories.

Furthermore, it is a little more uncomfortable listening to erotica, as was the case with this audiobook. Fortunately, Gilbert Gottfried did not read it, but it still is uncomfortable to hear it nonetheless. Sure, the concepts in these short stories were somewhat interesting, but the sex ruined it for me. At least there were enough other stories that I found fascinating to make it worth my while to get all the way through it. The simplicity and genius of these ideas merely verify Gaiman’s writing talent, even if a few were hard to follow. At least a few of them followed the title of the book, which helped tie these separate stories together.

Perhaps my biggest qualm with this book was its structure. Moreover, maybe it was a limitation of a direct transferal to the audiobook format, but it is almost impossible to go back to the first section of the book and listen to the intro for each story before reading that story. Instead, it dispensed pertinent information on every short story before I even had a chance to get to them. If I were to appreciate each story fully, it would have been better to introduce each one with background information, so the context is fresh in the listener’s memory.

A collection of well-written short stories, I give Smoke and Mirrors 3.5 stars out of 5.

For more reviews of books and movies like this, please visit www.benjamin-m-weilert.com

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Stiletto
O'Malley, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I’ll be the first to admit that I like sequels. Or, more accurately, well-done sequels. While the first book in a series can be great by itself, it carries the burden of exposition and world-building. A good sequel gives a light refresher of the important points and gets right into the action. I would certainly consider Stiletto to be a well-done sequel to the first book in the Checquy Files series, The Rook. Not only does it expand upon the central conflict in the first book, but it throws in the twist of the warring factions of the Checquy and the Grafters coming together to form a truce.

In making enemies into teammates, Daniel O’Malley shows the differences between them are almost superficial. The chess-based supernatural soldiers of the Checquy almost have the same strength of powers that the genetically and surgically enhanced members of the Grafters do. Since the whole plot usually revolves around a pawn of the Checquy and a young woman from the Grafters as they try and maneuver treaty negotiations, the reader gets to see both sides of the argument. Of course, as was the case in The Rook, much of the story is divided into episodic events with an overarching storyline connecting these loosely-related moments together.

Even if the humor is often bodily-related, the style continues to be quintessentially British. It casts a delicate balance between action and humor while also moving the story along to an exciting conclusion. I would almost think such a series would be perfect for a Television show adaptation since its episodic nature lends itself to be easily broken up into smaller pieces. One last thing I would like to mention is that the narration given by Moria Quirk in this book was outstanding. With many different European accents and a variety of unique characters to voice, Quirk made the story understandable and engaging in all the best ways.

A perfect sequel to one of my new favorite series, I give Stiletto 4.5 stars
out of 5.

For more reviews of books and movies like this, please visit
www.benjamin-m-weilert.com

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Emissary
Locke, Thomas
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A fantastic world of adventure and legions come alive. Elves and dragons and ethereal powers colliding together in this fast paced journey where EVIL again is trying to 'take over'. It was an easy read and kind of a fun romp. A 'page turner' as they say that left me with a desire to get the next book quickly. It's also another '1st book' so it makes it easy to know what to read the next time. (check out my other "1st books" in the staff reviews. The main character has a noble upright spirit in him and his quest in part is about him becoming all that he can be. Many friends join him along the way and he soon learns that without them he will fail. If you like The Lord of the Rings series; you'll probable like the books that I read.

My curiosity is up about these reviews - so If I could get some feed back (at least 7) - I'll tell you the next "best fantasy saga", I have found, after the Lord of the Rings.

Reviewer's Name: Bruce
A Cast of Stones
Carr, Patrick W
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book starts out really slowwwwww, but hang in there 'cause it starts picking up speed about a third of the way through. Errol Stone lives in a barrel of ale most of the time, he's an orphan and the one who was raising him was killed. It's a hard luck story that lifts you up at the end. He discovers he has hidden talents and true friends that help him overcome life. He has to fight through with work and is discovers a great adventure to live. Most of the stories I like are about people that overcome the odds and learn how to live uprightly. This is another '1st book' and I'm looking forward to the next. I read books that are "clean" from bad language and lustful sex. There's plenty of those, no challenge to find them, so I seek out those that are not. A little Romance and a Noble Spirit, mixed into a great Adventure are what I enjoy. The Return of Sir Percival and The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman are other '1st books' I have read, reviewed and enjoyed recently.

Reviewer's Name: Bruce
The Return of Sir Percival
O'Keefe, S. Alexander
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This Arthurian tale is about noble knights, impossible quests and miracles. Camelot has fallen. King Arthur Pendragon and his Round Table of invincible knights have been destroyed. For tens years now the land has spiraled into chaos and destruction. Ruled by the evil Morgana and her hired barbarians, the people have no hope - all is lost. Guinevere, the Queen of the Britons, is hidden away in a far away abbey, safe from the assassins of Morgana - or is she? And where is Merlin the Wise, Arthur's trusted adviser? That old wizard was at the Battle of Camlann when the King fell, but has disappeared. Morgana's spies are searching the land for him and has vowed to take his head. A merchant ship approaches the shores of Albion hoping to avoid the Saxon Sea Wolves that hunt these waters now. But they're spotted, boarded and the butchering begins. Then two passengers emerge from the ship's hold. Like banshees from hell they move in deadly unison, destroying everyone in sight. Sir Percival, the last Knight of the Table, has returned.

Reviewer's Name: Bruce E.
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip
Saunders, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip” is a mere 82 pages, and features the witty lyricism of George Saunders, National Book Award finalist, and the whimsical illustrations of Lane Smith. One might call the story an adult fairy-tale, but I believe both young and old will find it humorous and intriguing.

The story introduces the reader to round, baseball-sized creatures called gappers. They are bright orange, not particularly intelligent, and simply love goats. Saunders explains that, “when a gapper gets near a goat it gives off a continual high-pitched happy shriek of pleasure that makes it impossible for the goat to sleep” (2). For the three families that make up the town of Frip, this is bad news. Goats are their livelihood and so the children of these families must brush gappers off their goats eight times a day to keep their goats happily producing milk. The gapper trouble increases for Capable and her father when a slightly more intelligent gapper takes charge of the goat-loving critters. He decides that the whole lot should gang up on a single house rather than splitting themselves between the three houses of Frip. The other two families rejoice in their gapper-less good fortune, but poor Capable and her goats are quickly overrun by the united forces of gappers.

This story is funny, very creative, and poignant in its understanding of human nature. It expresses the importance of community and kindness, and in a way that sounds only a little preachy. Overall, “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip,” is definitely worth a read. It requires a single sitting to finish, and rewards the reader with plenty of laughs and a renewed sense of what it means to be a neighbor.

Reviewer's Name: Becca B.
Awards:
Genres:
The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
Gillen, Kieron
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This series is really a must-read for fans of modern fantasy, mythology and pop culture. The Wicked + the Divine takes place in a world where a phenomenon called the Recurrence occurs every 90 years, causing a Pantheon of twelve deities from across human cultures to awaken within the bodies of young adults, granting them tremendous superhuman abilities. They will be loved, they will be hated, but two years after awakening, they will all be dead. The year is 2014 and the Recurrence has come again, and this new crop of gods blurs the line between the way deities were worshipped in ancient times and the way humankind worships its popular icons in the modern day. Though they are reincarnations of figures from antiquity- Lucifer, Woden, and Minerva, for example- their personas and appearances invoke modern musical icons like Daft Punk, David Bowie and Prince, and their worshippers stalk their instagram feeds and attend sold-out concert-like performances of their miracles.

However, all is not divine within the ranks of the Pantheon. Skeptics dismiss their claims of "godhood" and "miracles" as delusions, hallucinations or special effects, and point to the last Recurrence - which took place during the 1920s - as the product of the same sort of hoax as those performed under the umbrella of Spiritualism during that era. And, these new gods have all the hormones, the petty selfishness and the capriciousness of the teenagers and young adults they used to be, only now they have superhuman powers at their fingertips, and the weight of the knowledge that for all their strength they will all die before two years have passed. The mysterious goddess Ananke, who exists outside the cycle of the Pantheon, is the only being who seems to understand the forces at work behind the Recurrence, and she acts as something of a guiding light for the gods, though a cryptic and guarded one, at best. Into this tumultuous mix enters Laura, our narrator, a god-obsessed superfan who idolizes the Pantheon to the point of distraction. Though Laura wants nothing more in this life than to be a god herself, she settles for attending their tours, buying their merchandise and following them obsessively on social media, getting as close to them as she possibly can. That is, until she unexpectedly befriends the young Lucifer at a concert and finds herself suddenly drawn into the beautiful, deadly and miraculous world of intrigue that surrounds the members of the Pantheon.

This comic is incredible, both in terms of its writing and worldbuilding, and its art, which is both stunning and incredibly consistent. It is also a wonderful example of diversity and inclusiveness in what is, essentially, a superhero comic - Laura is part of a loving biracial family, Lucifer is a polyamorous, genderfluid woman who is a dead ringer for Bowie, and representation of queer characters, women and people of color abound. I collect this comic religiously (hah!) in both its individual issues and its trades, and I really cannot recommend it enough. However, when our rating says M/Mature, we MEAN it. While there isn't much in the way of graphic sexual content, there is some gore, frequent adult language, and a whole lot of adult situations.

Reviewer's Name: Matt H.
Awards:

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