Fantasy

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.

Book Review: Pretties

Pretties
Author: 
Westerfeld, Scott
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The plot and characters in this book were Amazing! I loved the twists and turns along the way. The story ran smoothly and everything moved at a great pace. If you are interested in a highly engaging, futuristic, adventurous book, this is highly recommended! You will find yourself deep in the pages and unable to put the book down.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kate

Book Review: Shapechangers

Shapechangers
Author: 
Roberson, Jennifer
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Cheysuli chronicles come off with a great start. I enjoy this book for the lighthearted style and consider it the best of the series. The detail is amazing, the picture painted is excellent, and the character development is perfect. The series is a fantasy about generations of shapechanging people conflicting with their nemesis race, the Ihlini. I would highly recommend this book to people who love fantasy.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: The Song of Homana

The Song of Homana
Author: 
Roberson, Jennifer
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is a good read, like the first in the Cheysuli Series. The beginning is a little rough, but push through it! The point of view for this was uncertain at first, but it gets soo much better. I loved this book for how it sets up the prophecy. I feel that the first book didn't really describe the prophecy well enough. I loved how she showed the characters in this, it seems she described them is realistic for being in exile for maybe 5 years.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Inferno

Inferno
Author: 
Kenyon, Sherrilyn
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Turning sixteen is not what Nick Gautier anticipated. The most wanted demon in the world, he's constantly in trouble; whether it's fighting off demons, dealing with a murderous girlfriend, or simply navigating high school, Nick's life is everything but normal. With his father dead, Nick thinks he's safe, but now there's a bigger problem: someone is hunting him down and trying to enslave him, and he has no clue who or what it is.

This book is part of a series and each one gets better and better! I like the elements of preternatural beings mixed with everyday life. Nick is very relatable (besides the part that he's half-demon), and he's hilarious as a character. Each chapter brings new surprises and will leave you wanting more.

I also really like how Nick has grown as a character throughout the series. While he's physically growing older, he's also mentally maturing, and you can see that through his decisions and choices.

Overall, this series isn't just entertaining: Nick teaches us about making selfless choices for those we love and that choosing good is always better than evil.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: Lovely War

Book Cover
Author: 
Berry, Julie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

After being caught with her lover, Ares, Aphrodite tells the stories of two couples that fell in love during World War 1. James and Hazel met at a party that Hazel was playing piano for. They start to go on dates and they really like each other, but James is shipped of to the battlefield. Hazel decides to join the Red Cross to be closer to James. There she meets Colette, who becomes a fast friend.

This book was amazing! I loved the perspective of the gods on the story. They often make appearances to discuss specific parts of the story relating to the gods' affinities. I also loved seeing the couples be together, even during their struggles. While reading this book I cried multiple times and couldn't be happier about that.

I would also highly recommend the audiobook. There were so many different narrators it truly felt like I was in the story. One of the characters passions is composing music and in the audiobook you can actually hear the music! It is a wonderful experience.

Reviewer's Name: 
Savannah H.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Book Cover
Author: 
Riggs, Ransom
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Jacob's grandfather has always told crazy stories. Stories about faceless monsters and kids with mysterious abilities. When he was younger Jacob believed these stories because his grandpa had scary pictures of these strange kids, but as he got older Jacob thought these were just little kid stories until a family tragedy brings one of those monsters from his childhood to life. This tragedy gets him to travel to a small island off the coast of Whales, where he begins to discover more about his grandpa the peculiar children from his stories.

The atmosphere that the author created for this book was amazing. You can feel eeriness of the things that Jacob sees through the pages. It is only enhanced by the pictures of strange things scattered throughout the story. The unique characters and idea held my attention completely and the fast-paced plot made me think it was over to soon. This book is part of a long series that I can't wait to continue!

Reviewer's Name: 
Savannah H.

Book Review: Mockingjay

Mockingjay
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Mockingjay is about a girl named Katniss Everdeen who becomes a warrior in the war against the capitol. She must rebel against the capitol to stop the cruelty that the capitol finds entertaining and to ensure a better future of Panem. Katniss must go through training, injuries, and the lost of loved ones, all while taking down the capitol one attack at a time. I really loved this book. It exceeded my expectations one hundred percent. There are two other books in this series so make sure you read those before this one.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mackenzie

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