Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Have you ever felt like one of your friends had another side? Have you ever had a friend who you thought was a good student, kind, caring, and honest, but they shocked you out of your shoes by their behavior? If you answered yes to one or both of those questions, you will definitely find Bryan’s story relatable. Bryan was always told by his mother, “Focus on school. There will be friends later. The wrong friends bring drama, and I don’t want them rubbing off on you.” Then, one day, a kid named Mike showed up at Bryan and his family’s home, and everyone in his family was very fond of Mike.

That annoyed Bryan, until one day, Mike came for dinner and Bryan and Mike became really close after reading their superhero comics together. His mother and father loved Mike because of his good grades and they felt that he would be a good friend for Bryan. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Mike would do crazy things like cutting school by faking his mom’s handwriting and excusing himself from school and Bryan started to notice that Mike was jealous of him under the fake smiles that masked Mike’s face. Bryan felt pressured by Mike because he was afraid that Mike would call him soft or a mommy’s boy. Mike kept on getting Bryan in trouble, and Bryan learned that Mike was not the best friend choice for him. He started to become friends with people closer to his personality like Big Will. 

This book was so interesting and exciting that I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in one day. As I turned the pages, I was curious to see what would come next. As each minute ticked by, I fell more and more into this book. It really fed my passion for reading!  I think this book really shows that you should be careful with the people you become friends with because they can be very good, nice friends, but they can also get you in trouble like Mike did to Bryan in this novel. 

I really recommend this book to anyone who needs a good book to read because this novel will not disappoint. I rate this book a 10 out of 10 and this is definitely one of my favorite books that I have read recently.

-Mert A.

Tight by Torrey Maldonado is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Image result for the big sleep book

In the post-Prohibition era, America was left reeling from the terrible reign of crime, and the 1930s saw a severe uptick in acts of violence and drug usage across the country. The violence and fear of this time bled into the literature published during that time, and no work serves as a greater example of this than Raymond Chandler’s debut novel, The Big Sleep, featuring one of literature’s most famous private investigators: Philip Marlowe.

After receiving a call from General Sternwood, a elderly man with two wayward daughters in their twenties, Philip Marlowe expects the hire to be a simple open-and-shut blackmail case. However, as Marlowe digs deeper into what a bookseller named Arthur Geiger has on Sternwood’s wild younger daughter Carmen, he discovers that all is not what it seems. Between meeting Joe Brody, a man who had blackmailed the Sternwoods before; Agnes, a dangerous blonde who manages to escape murder scenes on three separate occasions, and Vivian Regan, Sternwood’s eldest daughter, it is the latter that ends up becoming the focus of Marlowe’s case.

As it turns out, all roads lead to Rusty Regan, the missing husband of Vivian Regan. Rumour has it that he ran away with the wife of a powerful crime leader, Eddie Mars, but Marlowe’s investigation into the people involved reveals that there actually may be more to the story. Despite vehemently informing all who ask that he is not looking for Rusty Regan, Marlowe’s most interesting detective sequences spawn from him being in the right place at the right time, and so unearthing more secrets, lies, and blackmail-worthy tales than one might suspect at the surface.

With its likeable protagonist and complex plot, The Big Sleep definitely is an interesting read. Although it was markedly different from novels I’ve read in the past, the fascinating mystery within a mystery structure as well as the unique prose and slang certainly lended the novel a time-machine air, allowing the reader to, in effect, travel back in time to the 1930s, to see what life was like in the time period it was set. Because of this, I would absolutely recommend this novel to any fans of mystery novels, historical or otherwise.

-Mahak M.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Neville’s Seventh Year Pt. 2

Nearly three years ago, Elina T. (a former contributer to this blog) and I were collaborating on a fanfiction that centered around Neville’s last year at Hogwarts. Our initial brainstorm for this story left us with a skeletal outline and great excitement at the prospect of writing. However, we never quite finished the story. Nevertheless, we do still have some material that I would like to share.

In a post on this blog titled “Neville’s Seventh Year Pt. 1,” Elina T. shared the first portion of our first chapter. In this post, I will share the next section (therefore, it may make more sense to read Elina’s post first :)).

I also wanted to note that we made some changes to the story, and that this contains spoilers for those who have not read the Harry Potter series.

As a disclaimer, both Elina T. and I absolutely love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and in no way wish for it to be written any differently than it was. This was just a fun, exploratory project that we enjoyed–and we hope you do, too.


Ginny eyed the little plant that Neville had cupped in his hands. 

“Isn’t that poisonous?” She asked, gesturing toward the plant with her chin and scooting a bit away from it. 

“It’ll only harm you if you provoke it.” Neville replied, fondly stroking the very venomous-looking vines. “I’ve been wanting to show it to Harry the whole summer! I was thinking we could use it on Snape …”

“Neville–,” Ginny began. 

“Hello.” Neville and Ginny looked up to see Luna standing in the doorway, the latest edition of The Quibbler in her arms. 

“Oh, hey Luna!” they chorused. 

She wore a sky blue button-up blouse, a long paisley skirt, and an eccentric-looking oversized headband which boasted miniature models of a strange animal Neville had never seen before. 

Luna took the seat opposite Ginny next to Neville and set The Quibbler on the seat beside her. 

“Is that a Snargaluff?” She asked, leaning forward to examine Neville’s plant. 

‘Er, no. It’s Venomous Tentacula.” Neville replied.

“Hey, Luna, what’s that on your headband?” Ginny asked curiously, surveying the little animals, one of which Neville could have sworn he’d seen yawn out of the corner of his eye. 

“Blibbering Humdingers!” Luna said enthusiastically. “Daddy gave this to me before I left. They glow when they sense danger.” 

Ginny nodded comprehensively. 

Neville’s eyes shifted to the corridor, where he saw a group of Slytherins pass, Crabbe and Goyle among them. They seemed lost without their leader, as if Malfoy, who was now absent, had given meaning to their lives.

Neville glanced back at his friends. Ginny had noticed the Slytherins as well and was glaring at them. Neville wondered if she thought that if she stared fiercely enough, she would bore holes into them. 

Ginny shook her head, as if trying to rid the Slytherins from her mind, and turned back towards the other two. 

“I still can’t believe Snape is going to be Headmaster,” She said shrilly. “How could this have happened?” 

Neville nodded his agreement. He wasn’t quite sure of all the details, but after Dumbledore’s death at the end of last year, Voldemort and his Death Eaters had begun to establish power in the Wizarding World. Voldemort had control over Hogwarts but, though it was hard to be certain, as far as Neville knew, the Ministry was still intact. 

And what of the prophecy he and Harry had heard at the Ministry in their fifth year? “Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ….” This must mean that Harry must be the one to vanquish Lord Voldemort; he must be the only one with the power to do so. Neville frowned as he thought of the next line: “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ….” It had been nagging at him since that night at the Ministry. “… as the seventh month dies …” Neville had been born during that time …. Could it be possible that he may have been in Harry’s place?

A war was brewing, Neville was certain of it. It was as inevitable as him losing track of Trevor again.


-Mia T.

Online Books vs. Physical Copies

With the recent development of many different reading apps, Kindle and Nook for two examples, I find less and less people reading with physical copies of books. Sure, sometimes it’s easier to just have to carry around a phone and have 100 books rather than have to carry around 3 and have it weigh you down. But do you lose an aspect of reading when you’re unable to see how far you’ve read, turn the pages, and close the final pages satisfied with the ending?

With online books, there is not the satisfaction of getting to turn the page when you’re ready. With a physical copy of a book, you also get all the information that comes with the book cover, like an author’s note, summary on the back and inside, as well as the beautiful covers they come with. Online books also don’t allow for the same experiences of someone asking to see what book you’re reading and deciding it looks good. 

Physical copies of books also let you read at any time, without having to worry about wasting data like some online books do. Also, the online books can often cause eye soreness with the amount of reading some people do. If they stare at the screen too long, they might not get as much reading done than they would if they were reading a physical copy without blue light issues. 

While I do read online books, I always feel more satisfied when I’ve finished a book I held with my own two hands rather than through another app. With the growing amount of cellular device usage, I think it’s a good reminder that there is no better feeling than curling up with a book. No distractions, some hot drink, and a nice book is always my idea of a perfect weekend after some homework. 

-Danielle B.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

On a day which did not seem particularly special at first, something extraordinarily special happened to occur—but none knew it until later on. In a thrift shop on the outskirts of town, Carmen Lowell stumbled upon a seemingly ordinary pair of pants and decided to buy them. When she got home, she tossed them in her closet and forgot about them.

Later on, Carmen and her best friends, Lena, Tibby, and Bridget, get together before spending their first summer apart. They discover the forgotten pants and each takes a turn in trying them on. Though the girls have very different body shapes, the pants fit them all in quite a magical way.

The pants are christened the Traveling Pants, and the girls decide that they will share the Pants throughout the summer to stay in touch. The Pants pass from Lena, in Santorini, Greece; to Tibby, stuck at home; to Carmen, in South Carolina with her divorced father; to Bridget, at a soccer camp in Baja California.

Throughout the four girls’ exciting adventures and incredible experiences, the Pants crisscross the globe, witnessing it all. This is the story of four girls and their first summer apart as a pair of magical pants comes into their lives.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares is an unpredictable novel which takes readers into the lives of four girls and their issues and triumphs. This book was one I absolutely loved—I couldn’t even put the book down until I’d finished, and afterward, I thought about it for a long time. Venturing into the stories of the relatable characters, readers will follow them through their ups and downs with excitement and anticipation. I promise you, after reading about the Sisterhood, you will never forget about Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen and what they represent.

“Bridget called for a moment of silence. ‘To honor the Pants,’ she said.

‘And the Sisterhood,’ Lena added.

Carmen felt tiny bumps rising along her arms. ‘ And this moment. And this summer. And the rest of our lives.’

‘Together and apart,’ Tibby finished.”

-Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

-Lam T.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

The Son of Neptune is the second volume in the Heroes of Olympus series, In the novel, someone transports Percy from his home Camp Half-Blood in New York to Camp Jupiter in Southern California. He ends up there with no memory except one name, Annabeth.

On his way to Camp Jupiter, he is chased by the gorgons and observes something extremely odd. He observed that when he killed them they would just reform and come back and attack him which was not possible. 

He embarks on a quest to make sure monsters stay dead when they are killed with his new friends, Frank and Hazel. He goes to the north meeting foes and friends. He completes his quest and arrives at Camp Jupiter just in time to aid them at their time of greatest need, during a battle for survival. He regains his memory and meets his own friends from his original camp to lead an even larger quest to save the gods.

I highly recommend this book because it leads to an even bigger finale and the book along with many others in the series   Also, this is a novel that really makes you want to keep reading until the book is over. I read this novel in a very short time because i was really hooked into the story.

-Badrish A.

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Killing November by Adriana Mather

Killing November by Adriana Mather is a murder mystery novel, surrounding a teenage girl named November and her suspected involvement of a classmates death. It’s based in a woodsy boarding school full of secrets. 

November is a clever and extroverted protagonist. She is brought to a remote boarding school after her father disappears and is informed that she is enrolled in a school for spies and assassins. The school environment however is cold and toxic. Where none of her classmates talk to her except for her roommate Layla and her brother Ash. 

Unlike most places, this school is based around “families” who control and influence the students. November, much like the reader, is clueless in the beginning but slowly begins to understand the dynamic. We learn that the main family are called “The Lions” and that they’ve killed others to gain control of everyone. We also learn that November is the daughter of two very powerful leaders and is wanted dead by the Lions. 

In order to accomplish this, someone frames her for the murder of a fellow classmate. Frantic and desperate to prove her innocence November, Ash, and Layala, investigate the school to find the true culprit.

This book was moderately twisty and a great introduction to murder mysteries. There’s not too much gore and it’s easily the least scary book I’ve read. It’s fantastic if you love dark hollowy castles, sparring matches, and knives. Lots and lots of knives. The book is also extremely plot driven and is fast paced. Personally I would recommend this book to ages 12+ and to anyone who enjoys “One of us is lying” by Karen M. McManus. 

-Ashley Y.

Killing November by Adriana Mather is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book vs. TV Series: Shadow and Bone

In this book vs. TV series, we’re going straight back to the Grishaverse. Recently having her debut novel, Shadow and Bone, become a screen adaptation, there’s a lot of buzz around Leigh Bardugo right now. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy is the best introduction to the Grishaverse, so this is the base of the action for this screen adaptation.

Streaming on Netflix, Shadow and Bone is based on the first Grishaverse book and some parts of Bardugo’s novel Six of Crows. It explores the plot and character of the book Shadow and Bone while also introducing characters from Six of Crows. While having dual plotlines, they both interweave in ways that are only hinted at in the books.

Firstly, the main plot of the TV series is with Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. There are fantastic book reviews in previous blog posts, so definitely check those out to get a deeper understanding of these characters. The series spaces the events out wonderfully while also adding in some details that add to character development and suspense. Both the book and the TV series’ first season end at the same point in time for all characters. So, it is simple to follow along according to each book.

On the other hand, with the addition of the Crows, the overall plot becomes a little bit more complicated. Not all of the Crows from Six of Crows are involved, but I would argue that the ‘main’ ones are. When I say ‘main,’ I’m referring to the characters who would require the most backstory and would therefore be a hindrance in flashbacks were they to explain along the way. So, I believe that the producers made an excellent decision in aligning the timelines of the flashbacks that occur in Six of Crows to the events in Shadow and Bone. Six of Crows takes place two years after the final events of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. So, this simplifies the timing of events for the audience who haven’t read the books.

With the timeline being well-executed, I also thought that the TV series did a brilliant job connecting all of the characters. Having read all of the Grishaverse books, I know that each character knew of one another. But, in the show, they seamlessly have characters from the Shadow and Bone Trilogy meet characters from the Six of Crows Duology. When Kaz, Inej, and Jesper end up getting a job to capture Alina, this is where their plotlines interconnect, thus leaving their adventures bound to get tangled. Also, at the same time, are the adventures of two other future Crows, Nina and Matthias. Throughout the first season, they are having their backstory explained.

Overall, I adamantly believe that this TV series was very well executed. It brought to life all of these charismatic characters while also revealing the magical world that Leigh Bardugo put together. It introduced characters from the Six of Crows Duology, which is a significant indicator that we will be getting more Crows screen-time. And, hopefully, there will be enough seasons to explore the true might of what these Crows can do. I would highly recommend reading these books and watching the series after; it’s honestly incredible how talented the actors, producers, and directors of this series can do.

-Katherine L.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

“Keep a fire burning; a fire is what saves you.”

Such is the number one rule in Margot’s household, set by her mother before she could even walk. 17-year-old Margot lives with her emotionally distant mother in a small town where it is difficult to find peace and solitude. They constantly struggle to get along, butting heads at the smallest of issues while ignoring the largest insecurities plaguing them. However, nothing compares to the biggest secret held from Margot; the girl has no idea where she came from, and her mother gives no clues or mention to any extended family. Eventually, several discoveries lead her down a new path, leaving home to gain independence and seek out the truth behind her mysterious origins.

Burn Our Bodies Down depicts the journey Margot takes to discover that hidden side of her history, to a town called Phalene. As the story develops, we are introduced to characters within the town, each reacting to Margot’s appearance in an unexpected way. One of my favorite elements of this book is the characterization of Margot and her new friend Tess, foils in ideas and influences. Margot sees the world through the eyes of someone living a tragedy, unable to get a firm grasp on a stable and happy life. Tess, on the other hand, is privileged enough to see the world as a written tragedy, experiencing the horrifying events that unfold as if they were a story and not someone’s real life. She treats her new friend’s dilemma as a mystery to be theorized about, not realizing that her life can too become tragic until it’s too late.

As the story unfolds, tension builds to the point where we can only throw blind guesses at the page, with a final reveal that sent chills down my spine. Themes of responsibility, love, and empathy reign supreme throughout the novel, creating a beautiful coming-of-age story (if you consider horrifying supernatural occurrences to be typical in a teenage experience). Unlike Power’s previous book “Wilder Girls”, I found this book difficult to get into. However, knowing the author’s potential, I luckily stuck with the story as it picked up steam. The final chapters are a whirlwind of shock and excitement that I was grateful to experience, and wholeheartedly recommend the book to any fan of mysteries, thrillers, and emotional dramas.

Bailey L.