An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Isobel is a portrait artist often in the service of the fair folk, gorgeous immortal beings who crave human Craft of any type–cooking, writing, sewing, visual arts, etc. Isobel finds herself traveling through the forest on her way to the fairy court with the autumn prince, Rook, amidst danger and forbidden attraction.

While I didn’t give a fig for the romance, I loved the exploration of Craft and how it relates to our humanity. Filled with beautiful language and lush settings vibrant with rich color and glamour, there is plenty to take away from this fantasy romance, even if it’s not the romance.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC ROGERSON)

Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham

Reviewed by Judy (Library Patron)

Fast paced debut science fiction/fantasy novel that will delight fans of Jim Butcher’s Dreseden Files series and Mission Impossible movies.
Filled with magic, complex characters and plot twists in every chapter, readers will find it difficult to put it down until the very last page.
I am looking forward to the next installment.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ABRAHAM)

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

Finding a fresh take on a character that has been around for 40 years is never an easy task, especially if that character has become a beloved pop culture icon. But the first volume in Marvel’s Darth Vader series finds a way to do just that. Taking place after the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, we follow a now disgraced Darth Vader as he tries to not only win back the favor of The Emperor, but craft a secret plot to locate the young X-wing pilot who destroyed the Death Star and find out his identity. This series shows the day to day workings of The Lord of the Sith, and it is nothing short of fascinating. What is striking about this comic is how it manages to inject humor into the story without toning down Vader’s true brutal nature. Often times, Vader finds himself as the straight man to characters far more comfortable joking around then himself. The realistic art style brings depth to each panel, giving emotion to Vader’s lifeless mask and hulking dark figure. The entire comic adds insight to the character of Vader and gives readers a far more intimate depiction of Vader than film audiences have been able to experience. A must read for any Star Wars fan or any one interested in knowing what really lurks behind the mask of one of cinemas greatest villains.

Located in Graphic Novels (GRAPHIC STAR WARS)

A Monster Calls (2016)

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

It’s not easy to bring a story as beautifully written and emotionally wrought as A Monster Calls to the big screen with any justice, but this film was a wonderful adaptation. Acclaimed author Patrick Ness wrote the screenplay, as well as the slim but powerful novel based on a story idea by late author Siobhan Dowd. In it, a young boy dealing with a family tragedy is visited by an enormous yew tree (voiced by Liam Neeson) and the tree tells him three stories. Overall, the film was gorgeously shot and acted, and brought the dark tension of the book to life.

Located in DVDs (DVD MONSTER)

Snow White by Matt Phelan

snow

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

This Snow White is a beautifully executed graphic novel of the traditional Snow White story, modernized to the 1920’s. Samantha White, nicknamed Snow, has her life drastically changed when her widowed father remarries the “Queen of the Follies,” an egotistical dancer who is obsessed with the need to get Snow out of the picture. The story is based in New York City, and the illustrations in this graphic novel bring out the darkness surrounding Snow, with touches of color adding a beautiful counterpoint. A great read for a cold and snowy night.

Located in Children’s Graphic Novels (J GRAPHIC PHELAN)

 

Hook (1991)

hook

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

A lot of people seem to forget that the now legendary Steven Spielberg directed this 1991 epic, but upon re-watching it’s clear to see the director’s signature grand scale and whimsy throughout this picture, but it is undeniable that certain aspects of it have not aged well through the years. Admittedly, nostalgia goggles had made me glance over some the occasional wooden dialogue or questionable plot points, but the overall adventure and genuine love for the source material far out way these problems. The stellar performances by Robin Williams (Peter Pan) and Dustin Hoffman (Captain Hook) are equally captivating as they are sincere, turning our hero and villain into not just characters from a nearly century old book, but into rich and engaging people who’s story we actively feel apart of and who’s journeys we feel invested in. From the inconceivably detailed and believable set design of Neverland, to the swashbuckling and bombastic score by John Williams, Hook delivers a memorable and enticing film experience that, if put into a single word, is simply fun.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is the first book in a new series that follows two characters, one a slave and one a soldier, and their intertwined destinies. Laia, the slave, works for the evil Commandant (the leader of a military-type school) after her family was betrayed and her brother sent to jail. All she wants to do is be brave and free her brother, so she spies for the resistance movement. Elias, the soldier, is the best fighter and student the school has seen in a long time. But he doesn’t want to be a Mask (the elite fighting unit); he just wants to be free from the tyranny he faces. Each one wants something that might seem unattainable, but maybe if they work together they can change their futures.

This book has everything I could want in a Teen book: action, adventure, romance, cliffhangers, and characters to root for. There are twists and turns, and I often could not wait to read the next chapter or turn the next page. And the best part is that the sequel, A Torch Against the Night, was just released, so you don’t have to wait a long time for the story to continue!

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC TAHIR)

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

batman

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

To call this film an incoherent mess is an understatement. Director Zack Snyder had a daunting task ahead of him when he started production on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, to put two of the most iconic characters of the past seventy years on cinema screens for the first time in an epic clash that would usher in a new cinematic universe involving the iconic DC superheros. The fact that he was able to muddle this film to the extent it is presented in, is actually astonishing. Snyder has managed to shape these beloved symbols of hope and justice in to muscle bound “punch first, ask questions never” killing machines. What’s fantastic about Batman and Superman is not their actual abilities or resources they use to fight injustice, it’s how and why they do it that resonates with generations of fans. Simply making it look “cool” or “stylized” is not enough to win over audiences. The characters we are presented with in this film may have an interesting visual appeal, but beyond flashy super suits, they are hollow and poorly written caricatures representing these heroes in looks alone. Characters have their screen time practically sliced in half to dedicate a large majority of the movie to setting up future sequels and side projects, instead of telling the story at hand. It all comes down to the wrong creative forces biting off far more than they could chew and expecting it to be a smash hit based on the title’s marketability alone. In the year 2016, where we now have a plethora of Superhero media both good and bad to study and take note from, there is no reason that this film should have been executed and put together in the way it was.

Located in DVDs (DVD BATMAN)

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

 

Carry On is a fantasy novel that follows powerful mage Simon and his nemesis Baz during their last year at Watford School of Magicks. Unlike their occasional snippets in its sort-of-companion novel Fangirl, Simon and Baz are center stage here and it is GLORIOUS.

Where Rainbow really hits it out of the park on this one is with the characters. They are fully-dimensional and crackle with life, especially our “villain,” Baz, who is simultaneously caustic and vulnerable and filled to the brim with laugh-out-loud wry wit. Comparisons to another “Chosen One” (whose name maybe rhymes with Gary Fodder) are inevitable but Rainbow knows and cleverly plays with our expectations.

CONFESSION TIME: I’ll be honest—when Carry On came out last year, I wasn’t all that keyed up to read it. I had read (and adored!) Fangirl but kind of skimmed past the Watford passages in favor of what I considered the “real” story. What I failed to realize, however, is that Carry On is written by the inimitable Rainbow Rowell (duh!) and therefore guaranteed to hold a mirror up to your heart and coo reassuringly, regardless of the presence of dragons.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ROWELL)

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

razorhurst

Reviewed by Melissa Rader (Library Staff)

This gritty historical gangster romp is definitely like nothing I’ve ever read before. Razorhurst follows Kelpie, an orphaned homeless girl on the streets of Sydney in 1932. Kelpie can see ghosts and winds up caught in the crosshairs of rival territory gangs when she meets Dymphna, a classy dame known as the “Angel of Death.” The vivid setting really made this story and even though the plot dragged in parts, I would still highly recommend giving Razorhurst a try if you are in the mood for something truly unique and a little dangerous.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC LARBALESTIER)

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