Fantasy

Book Review: The Sword Defiant

Author
Ryder-Hanrahan, Gareth
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

"The Sword Defiant" by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is the greatest exploration of what lies beyond the "happily ever after" that I have ever read. There are two main protagonists; Aelfric the Lammergeier and his sister, Olva. Aelfric, or Alf, is a member of the most famous adventuring party, called the Nine. They famously defeated a malevolent force of darkness 20 years before the events of "The Sword Defiant". Large elements are immediately reminiscent of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. However, rather than focusing directly on battles, duels, and direct combat, Hanrahan instead uses these 20 years to explore how a world is altered after a massive war through Alf's perspective. My least favorite part of "The Sword Defiant" was when Olva was the primary focus. Olva's sections take an even larger step back from action, but the purpose of Olva is unclear even after the climax. I struggled to understand the purpose of Olva. She appeared to just be a thing that Alf needed to protect, or she appeared to be just a tool for the author to see the world from the view of a commoner. This leads to the best part of the book: the world-building. Every single detail about the environment, the populace, culture, class division, species division, species interaction, species history, magic, and more felt important to understand. Each of those elements were also explored, typically through Alf. The Nine have their own interesting backstories, and each member also represents an archetypal Dungeons and Dragons character. Too many beautiful interactions occur between members to present but even the smallest remarks are hitting on the previously mentioned elements of world building. There are the typical fantasy races like Dragons and Dwarves, but there are also the stranger ones like Vatlings and Witch Elves. When Gundan (a dwarf) talks about the Elves, it's always something negative. When anyone ever mentions Peir (the dead one who sacrificed himself 20 years ago), they always talk about his best characteristics. The ending will make that interesting, as well as the development of the secret villain in the end. All in all, this would have been the best fiction book I have read this year if it wasn't for the slog also known as Olva's sections.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Ryder
Genres

Book Review: The Poppy War

Author
Kuang, R. F.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

When I picked up The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, I sought a good, possibly wonderful, fantasy book, as one would expect from a New York Times best-selling author. What I was not expecting was to be enlightened and disturbed to the same degree within its 544 pages. Now let me back up; The Poppy War is a historical and grimdark fantasy that draws its plot from mid-20th-century China, with the main conflict based on the Second Sino-Japanese War. The book provides insight into the brutality of war and its aftermath. While the book is based on the Second Sino-Japanese War, the author does a wonderful job constructing an immersive plot and charming characters taking creative liberties to make the book a story of its own. I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name
Lucia

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Image
hp sorcerer
Author
Rowling, J.K.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Harry Potter was an incredibly amusing read, with amiable characters that truly made the story stand out. This novel is a must-read for people of all ages. It has an air of mystery, is captivating, and provides entertainment. The book portrays real-world events in a fantasy world.
The characters, including the main character Harry Potter, are relatable and undergo character development while making mistakes. One of the great features of the novel is how each character has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each one has a distinct way of feeling. For instance, Neville Longbottom is a shy boy, but his loyalty to his friends and his house team is unwavering.
Harry Potter is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages, as it accurately portrays the struggles that come with different stages of life. Even though Harry is a wizard, his teenage problems are relatable to those of a typical teenager. As a reader, you can judge the characters in the book based on the tone of the novel. Relationships are also a significant feature of this novel and are portrayed differently depending on the type of relationship. For example, the relationship between a sibling and a friend is distinct but can be differentiated only by the tone or mood portrayed accurately.
This book is an absolutely enchanting experience, overflowing with captivating magical creatures, spells, and enchantments that will undoubtedly keep readers completely engaged. The characters are exceptionally well-crafted and relatable, while the plot moves at a fast pace, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat.
The author's vivid and immersive writing style transports readers into the heart of the story, allowing them to experience it as if it were their own. At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The trio works together to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sorcerer's Stone. In their quest to counter Voldemort's plan to use the stone to regain his body, Harry and his friends embark on a perilous adventure.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a timeless classic that continues to interest and entertain readers of all ages. It is a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and magic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Reviewer's Name
Sam

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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hp prisoner
Author
Rowling, J.K.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series. This book is a must read if you enjoyed the previous two books.

Harry Potter, a wizard going into his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has a connection to the escaped serial killer, Sirius Black. Black now is thought to be trying to murder Harry Potter on behalf of Voldemort. Dementors are sent to the campus of Hogwarts in order to keep students safe from Black. Hermione is juggling taking 12 classes and being busier than ever. Her cat is set on killing Ron's sick rat creating tension in the trio. Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, helps Harry cope with the awful affect the dementors seem to have on him. Meanwhile, Harry tries to discover the tie between Black and himself.

I read this book because I was a fan of the previous two books in the series. The characters and setting in this book make it easy to fall in love with. The author uses imagery to make it feel as if you are really there with the characters. This made the book an absolute blast to read. The ending tied everything together and prevented loopholes in the plot. I disliked the ending in the regard that Harry didn't get his happily ever after.

Reviewer's Name
Reese B.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Author
Rowling, J.K.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series. This book is a must read if you enjoyed the previous two books.

Harry Potter, a wizard going into his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has a connection to the escaped serial killer, Sirius Black. Black now is thought to be trying to murder Harry Potter on behalf of Voldemort. Dementors are sent to the campus of Hogwarts in order to keep students safe from Black. Hermione is juggling taking 12 classes and being busier than ever. Her cat is set on killing Ron's sick rat creating tension in the trio. Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, helps Harry cope with the awful affect the dementors seem to have on him. Meanwhile, Harry tries to discover the tie between Black and himself.

I read this book because I was a fan of the previous two books in the series. The characters and setting in this book make it easy to fall in love with. The author uses imagery to make it feel as if you are really there with the characters. This made the book an absolute blast to read. The ending tied everything together and prevented loopholes in the plot. I disliked the ending in the regard that Harry didn't get his happily ever after.

Reviewer's Name
Reese B.

Book Review: Constellations of Scars

Author
Ousley, Melissa Eskue
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

This is definitely an eventful book. "Constellations of Scars" follows Amelia Weaver. For unexplained reasons, she grows pearls on her skin every month. Her mother keeps her shut inside the house, restricting her freedom. One day she decides to escape and try her hand at the real world. She ends up working for a freak show, though they are unaware of her own oddity.

Let's start with the characters. Amelia herself is perfectly acceptable. She doesn't have any noteworthy character traits, or anything to help her stand out besides the whole pearl thing. However, her motivation is clearly defined and all of her choices make sense. Gabe is probably the best character in the book. His backstory is interesting, and his somewhat reclusive demeanor is off putting without being unlikeable. Unfortunately, most of his character development happens within ten pages. Peter is... interesting. I'll talk about him in the spoilers section.

The best part about this book is the writing. It keeps the reader engaged the whole way through. While the descriptions are detailed, the author does not dwell on them long enough to bore the reader. One interesting thing about this book is the chapter length. While there are long chapters, there are also chapters that only last a few pages. I found that this kept the story at a fast pace, further keeping me involved.

The plot is the main failing of the book. Spoilers from here on out. It starts off strong, setting up themes of isolation and hiding. Several conflicts were set up, most notably Amelia's mother and the possibility of the world finding out about her secret. However, all of these conflicts are suddenly solved halfway through the book. From that point on, it shifts to a thriller about Peter secretly being a serial killer. I'm not kidding. There are hints that Peter isn't as nice as he appears, so it doesn't come out of nowhere. However, it drastically shifts the course of the story, to the point where it feels like two separate stories.

Despite this criticism, this wasn't a bad book. I enjoyed myself while reading it. Furthermore, it's a quick read (perfect for car trips or bedtime). If you're looking for an engaging story with twists and turns, this is for you. If you're looking for a cohesive story with interesting themes, this book isn't for you.

Reviewer's Name
Rose

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

Author
Gaiman, Neil
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, is a mystical, interesting book. In the book, a young boy is taken in and cared for by ghosts of a graveyard. The boy is kept in secret, and is named Bod, short for Nobody. The book follows Bod's adventures in growing up and continuing his life, in and out of the graveyard. I thought this was a great book, packed full of magic special characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, but mostly a more mature audience, because there are some parts that I feel are harder to understand if you are younger, and at some parts the book is a little slow. But overall I think this was one of the best books I've read this year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name
Ella

Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

Author
Niffenegger, Audrey
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

"The Time Traveler's Wife", written by Audrey Niffenegger, is the fictional account of Henry DeTamble, a man with a unique genetic condition that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and his wife Clare Abshire. The narrative follows their love story as they navigate the challenges posed by Henry's sporadic disappearances and unpredictable reappearances at various points in time. I really enjoyed how the plots all came together; while Clare aged normally, she would see Henry at different stages of his life. For example, when Henry time travels, he sees Clare when she is 13 and when he is 35. Another time Henry was 28 whilst Clare was 20. Clare's development was linear, while Henry's was sporadic. I would recommend this book to adults who enjoy a good love story. However, there is some adult content in the book so I would not recommend it for children or teenagers.

Reviewer's Name
Finn G.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

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Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
Author
Fu, Kim
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Canadian author Kim Fu provides 12 entertaining, oft challenging and daring stories in her latest award-winning collection (Feb. 2022, 232 pages).
She does a skillful job of taking extraordinary circumstances, such as a tween girl sprouting wings and turning that into a believable rite of passage. In another, a Bridezilla meets a sea monster and what follows is a witty commentary on social expectations and ecological consequences.
All the stories blur the lines between reality and the fantastic, and the weird and mundane, all while shining a spotlight on human contradictions concerning sexuality, death, guilt and technology.
As a result, all prove memorable for different reasons, making this collection one of the few worth reading in its entirety.
AWARDS: An NPR, Book Riot, Chicago Public Library, Tor.com, South China Morning Post, Ms. Magazine, and Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2022; 2023 Pacific Northwest Book Prize Winner; Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction Book of 2022

Reviewer's Name
Joe P.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author
Schwab, Victoria
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a French girl who did not want to get married and prayed to a dangerous higher being made a deal. The deal makes Addie cursed to live until she gets tired of living and not being able to remember as she lives. Throughout the novel Addie is alone for 300 years her only company this higher being who enjoys to mock her. Finally after 300 years someone remembers her.
The novel is written in a bit of a slow pace, but it slowly builds up as it goes on. The novel switches between the past of characters lives and the present. The ending is a little surprising. The book is worth the read.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name
Hana