Historical

Book Review: Lovely War

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

Lovely War by Julie Berry is such a wonderful book about two couples in the tragic and terrible days of WWI as narrated by the Greek Gods. I chose Lovely War because of my interest in historical fiction, especially historical
romances, and was not disappointed by this amazing story. The book centers on four young people who's path's cross during WWI-- British Hazel Windicott, a pianist, and James Alderidge, a would-be architect shipped off to war, Colette Fournier, a Belgian singer who lost her family at the hands of the Germans, and Aubrey Edwards, a black American solider in a jazz military band in a time of military prejudice and racial discrimination. Hazel and James meet and fall in love days before he is shipped off to the Front to face deadly combat in the WWI trenches. Distraught over the fate of James, Hazel, eager to help the war effort, enlists as a pianist at a volunteer job and meets Colette, a fellow volunteer. They become very close friends, and Colette begins to fall in love with charismatic Aubrey, who's jazz is redefining the world of music. What follows is a beautifully written novel about these four characters, their hardships, and loves.

This book is structured interestingly-- the story of these two parallel loves is narrated by the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, who tells the tale years later in the days of WWII to her husband, Hephaestus, god of fire and volcanos, and a few other gods to remind them what true love is and the transcendent power of love over war. The story is funny, heartbreaking, intense, and overall, beautiful. I felt as if I knew Hazel, James, Aubrey and Colette personally by the time the story is over. Julie Berry's prose is almost poetic in it's splendor, rich with meticulous descriptions about wartime France and Britain.


This book deals with elements of WWI I did not know about-- Germany's brutal and heartbreaking invasion of Belgium, and the prejudice and racial discrimination in the U.S army during WWI. I wasn't a huge fan of the
inclusion of the Greek Gods as narrators at first-- the story is strong enough to stand without it-- and until the very end, the purpose of the Gods in the story is almost irrelevant. I would have been interested to know if Berry ever had a draft of the story sans-Gods. However, reflecting back on the book, the Gods add another tier to the rich narrative, one that is appreciated more after the novel is over. That said, I know that that
inclusion was to make the book more accessible to teenage readers. Fans of Greek epics and the Percy Jackson series will enjoy the inclusion of them Gods.

The central romance and characters in this book are Hazel and James, and their relationship and connection is deeper than Colette's and Aubrey's until the end of the story. Berry dedicates more time to the relationship of Hazel and James, and it is the best story line as a result. I wish Colette and Aubrey's story would have been given more attention, as it is truly unique and unlike anything I've read, but the last pages of the book focuses solely on them which I enjoyed.

This book never lacks action and is a very quick read. I often had to remind myself to slow down so not to rush through it! Lovely War is written for teenagers, but is just as accessible for tweens and adults, truly making it a book for all ages. Lovely War is one of those special books that you read and know that your perception of the world will be changed because of it. I cannot stress how much I recommend this beautiful book. It is a marvel of the historical fiction, romance and mythology genres that everyone should read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie S.

Book Review: Words on Fire

Book Cover
Author: 
Nielsen, Jennifer
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is one of my favorite books. It is about a girl named Audra who tries to help her family but soon realizes how dangerous it can be. I like this book because it shows how people can be good in difficult situations. I picked this book because I like to learn about history but it also incorporated in what a day might be like during the World War II. The thing I enjoyed most about this book is how Audra doesn't know why her parents want her to drop off this book but she does it anyway because she trusts her parents. The ending has a great surprise of Audra's decision. (Reviewer grade:8)

Reviewer's Name: 
Theanna K.

Book Review: Tangerine

Tangerine
Author: 
Mangan, Christine
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Tangerine by Christine Mangan portrays a toxic friendship between two former Bennington College roommates who are reunited in Tangier in 1956. One friend, Alice Shipley has been psychologically fragile since the childhood deaths of her parents in a house fire. She is married to John who does something secretive for "the government" in newly-independent Morocco. Lucy Mason, who connected with Alice through their shared orphanhood, has ditched a disappointing job and suddenly shown up at Alice’s door. She hopes to pry Alice from her dissatisfying marriage for a series of globe-trotting adventures they imagined in college. Both characters serve as flawed narrators -- Alice has a loose grip on reality while Lucy actively denies it.
The novel is at its best when Lucy tries to force a wedge between Alice and John, who is having an affair but depends on Alice's family trust to live comfortably. The romantic triangle turns this 2018 novel into a melodrama set against the intrigue of 1950s's North Africa. It's reminiscent of a slightly-hokey Hollywood movie of the same era. The book cover even features a woman of the period who could pass for actress Ingrid Bergman. That's the novel's charm (nostalgia) and its undoing (little original) in this enjoyable read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

To Kill a Mocking Bird is about the racism and false accusations towards African Americans in the 1930s. The book is for a more mature reader because of the language used and some of the ideas that are introduced. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the racial prejudice in the south in a book with a good plot. The characters are also relatable to a reader which I really enjoyed. Overall I think Lee did an amazing job writing this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jana M.

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I read this book my freshman year of high school and there are some really interesting parts to this book involving suspense, murder and mystery but the book can be a little confusing if you don’t really pay attention. This book is very well written as it’s showed us how it was during this time period, giving us a whole perspective on how the characters were feeling at this point of time. The characters in this book do have to deal with a couple of problem which some don’t really go their way for example the whole situation with Tom Robinson. Although this book is well written it does carry some inappropriate language include a very discriminatory word, but you do have to keep in mind that this book was written in a very controversial time where saying the n-word wasn’t really frowned upon (not say that is was right). I wouldn’t recommend this book for children because it’s does deal with murder and rape but other than that it is a very good book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miguel R.

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
Author: 
Morgenstern, Erin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Night Circus is the enthralling tale of a magical circus called Le Cirque does Rêves, which appears mysteriously and is open only at night. But there’s much more to the Circus of Dreams than meets the eye. The apprentices of two powerful magicians, bound to each other by fate and a deal made when they were children, must prove themselves. Soon the lives of everyone involved with the circus hang in the balance as the young magicians fight for victory—and love. Le Cirque de Rêves is a beautiful, enchanting, and intricate setting, each detail magically realistic. Morgenstern has
created an enthralling plot, with twists and turns and surprises waiting around each corner. This novel is perfect for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy or romance.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H.

Book Review: The Wrong Girl

The Wrong Girl
Author: 
Casey, Donis
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is a book well worth reading as it has all the mystery and glamor and humor a good mystery should have and it has people who help and show compassion for the girl in the story! It is also a story written with the correct facts of the era in which this story plays. I have read the other Donis Casey books and love how this one has come about. Its a follow up of Donis's other series. Can't wait to read the next one!!

Reviewer's Name: 
Sandra

Book Review: Without a Trace: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon

Without a Trace: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon
Author: 
Starr, Mel
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This medieval surgeon/bailiff is back for another adventure in the 12th book of this series. Hugh de Singleton is called upon to use his sleuthing skills to locate a missing noblewoman and her maidservant who disappear "without a trace" while traveling in the company of others in a caravan. Hugh is stumped at every turn as no clues turn up in his investigation. Will this mystery be the one he cannot solve?

Reviewer's Name: 
Tammy

Book Review: Breach

Breach
Author: 
Goodwater, W. L.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

It’s always interesting to see an alternate take on history where fantastical elements can help explain some mostly banal events and activities. In Breach, the reader is offered a glimpse into the top-secret realm of magicians in military espionage. Most of my knowledge of Cold War Berlin is based on pop culture representations, so there wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary here that would scream of historical inaccuracies. If anything, Breach almost felt like it could have been an extension of the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts franchise with how well it integrated history and magic.

While there was perhaps a bit too much browbeating over women’s role in society during the Cold War, the pacing, twists, and characters were excellent. It was a little difficult to tell the timeframe of this book, but I assumed it was probably in an alternate 1950s, based on the context clues. Of course, with the pacing of a modern thriller, Breach seems to get away with fully explaining the details of many of its characters’ motivations. I was sucked into the story enough that I didn’t care too much, but it was a nagging that gnawed at the back of my mind as I read.

For a first book, author W.L. Goodwater certainly put forth an admirable effort. The way plot points are set up and revealed was very entertaining, even if some of the finer points of the plot seemed to be repetitive to make sure the reader understood them. There was a lot of thought put into the magic system in this book without spending tons of time in exposition going over how it works, which I appreciate. There was also some solid character growth for both major and minor characters throughout this book, which is yet another reason why I think people should read this book.

A thrilling alternate history fantasy adventure, I give Breach 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Lost Heir

The Lost Heir
Author: 
Foley, E.G.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is a series for children/teens. but I loved it. It really does combine the best of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and every fantasy story that you know and love into one amazing series with characters that you just can't help but love. Highly recommend.

Reviewer's Name: 
Aleena

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