Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, begins with Scarlett Dragna, who lives on a secluded isle with a cruel father who uses his daughters’ love for each other to control them. Whenever Scarlett does something wrong, her father punishes her sister, Donatella (Tella), instead. Scarlett banks her and her sister’s safety on her upcoming arranged marriage to a count whom she has only conferred with through letters. 

For years, Scarlett has written to Legend, the mysterious master of Caraval, hoping that he will bring his extravagant performance to her isle. Finally, when Legend writes back with three tickets to Caraval (which will be taking place on a magical island this year), Scarlett thinks she Tella would be better off not going. However, Tella has other ideas.

Far more bold and far less of a worrier than her protective sister, Tella and a strange sailor, Julian, conspire to bring Scarlett away from their father to the island where Caraval will be that year. When Tella suddenly disappears, Scarlett, who would do anything for her sister, begins to find that Tella has a greater part in Caraval than Scarlett had known. The only way Scarlett knows of that will reunite her with Tella is to win Caraval.

Caraval is Legend’s once-a-year performance which takes place over the course of five nights. Ticket holders can choose to either watch or play the game. The year Scarlett plays, the stage is a village, where the audience members who have chosen to play the game stay. Each night, Caraval fills with magic and illusions, and the players search for clues to guide them to the final prize. Scarlett finds herself in a performance where reality is blurred; it becomes difficult to differentiate the real people from actors who are simply playing parts in the game.

With Stephanie Garber’s beautiful descriptions and elegant characters, Caraval is one of my favorite young adult books. I particularly enjoyed reading from Scarlett’s perspective because her personality is not necessarily standard of a fantasy novel’s heroine, but her love for her sister motivates her throughout the book. By the end of Caraval, she has noticeably grown. Scarlett also describes senses and feelings with color, and the vivid imagery that results is magical. 

The story of Scarlett and Tella is continued in Legendary, which is written from the perspective of Tella. 

Caraval’s fantastic characters, vivid descriptions, and unanticipated turns make the book so difficult to set down. Stephanie Garber’s exquisite writing is a wonderful gift to read, and I highly recommend Caraval.

– Mia T.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey is the second book from the 5th Wave series. This book focuses on everything that happens after the explosion of Camp Haven. Cassie, Ben, Dumbo, Ringer, Poundcake, Nugget, and Teacup are all holed up in an old hotel. They have nowhere to go and are running dangerously low on supplies. Ringer refuses to believe Cassie about Evan Walker and how he survived the explosion at Camp Haven.

Tired of staying in the hotel, Ringer and Teacup set off to explore and look for caverns to hide in. After they have been gone for an unusually long time, Ben starts to worry.  Then Evan appears and sends everybody into a panic not knowing whether they can trust him. Then they hear the sounds of a helicopter over the hotel, which makes their worries worse. As the helicopter goes farther and farther away, a child appears in the hallway. She repeats over and over saying her throat hurts. She is taken into a hotel room to get rest and once inside, they see that her throat is extremely swollen. They look inside her throat and find what has caused it to swell. The Others had inserted a bomb into her throat which would detonate when it detected carbon dioxide. They quickly take the bomb out of her throat and leave the hotel. Meanwhile, Ringer had been captured by Vosch and was being implanted with the 12th system. She kills the nurse who is taking care of her and escapes with Teacup.

-E. Vargas

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Creative Writing Prompts

Creative writing is like painting without needing art supplies. I can write just about everywhere and it is a great way for me to relieve my stress and I would like to share some interesting creative writing prompts that I found online. These prompts are only prompts that I thought interesting, they’re not original.

  • I woke up and everything was grey…
  • Describe a thunderstorm without using the sense of hearing.
  • Write about a funeral from the deceased man’s perspective.
  • Write about the moment you knew you would leave.
  • Write about a girl who added a charm to her key chain for every life she took.
  • Write about a world where people didn’t know what a sunset is.
  • Death was watching you outside the window when you were born… fascinated by life, death watched you every day. Death watched as you fell, Death watched you as you got bullied, and Death watched as you go kidnapped.
  • I sat up with a jolt. Where am I?!
  • Holograms surround me… water engulfs me… In this perfect world, I can scarcely breathe… Save me…
  • Earth is known as the quarantine planet by all other planets…
  • You got a deep cut for the first time. Instead of blood, you see red wires.
  • “Aren’t you going to do anything?” “I was paid to protect you from abuse, not you own stupidity”
  • You can taste lies…
  • Take your 5 favorite books. Take the setting from the first book. The antagonist from the second. The protagonist from the third. The genre from the forth, and the opening sentence from the fifth.
  • Write about the sound and color of loneliness.
  • Write about the feeling of happiness.
  • Write from the perspective of Death.
  • “I wish I could just forget…”
  • “Trust me” “You want to start a fire!” “Not the point…”
  • Where did this wall come from?
  • Has Paris always looked this way?

-Angela L.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

Whenever a new Diary of Wimpy Kid comes out, I am super excited to get and to read it. This one did not fail to disappoint me, I ended up finishing this book in a day! Jeff Kinney/Greg Heffley does a good job fluently jumping from subject to subject. When you start reading the beginning of the book, Greg talks about the wacky weather in winter, then he talks about his school about 10 pages later. Jeff Kinney makes these transitions so natural, so you will barely notice it.

Another great thing about this book is you  don’t have to read the books before it to understand what is going on. You can get this book, which is book 13, and not have read the other books in the series and you won’t get confused! This book keeps many of the original characters from the first book, but there are many side characters in the book, but I don’t want to spoil anymore. Personally, this was one of my favorite Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. My sister thought that Jeff Kinney was running out of ideas, but disagree. I think there could be many more books. But known shall be greater than this one. Thanks for reading this review.

-Brandon D.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Meltdown by Jeff Kinney is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library.

Loot by Jude Watson

Loot by Jude Watson is about March McQuin, the son of the famous burglar Alfie McQuin. One night Alfie falls from the roof of a building onto the ground. As he is dying, he is able to say a last set of words to his son,”Find jewels.” However, soon March discovers that his father wasn’t talking about normal jewels, but his long lost sister Jules. They meet at an airport before March and Jules are sent to an orphanage that seems very much like a prison.

Once they’re at the orphanage, they meet up with two kids called Darius and Izzy. The four of them make a plan to break out of the orphanage. Once they break out, they go on the run while committing a series of crimes to look for a set of mysterious stones. March already has one of the stones. They are offered 7 million dollars to find and bring back all the stones. They must find the stones quickly, because there are multiple other people looking for the stones. March and Jules must find the stones before anyone else if they want to be able to live by themselves for the rest of their lives.

-E. Vargas

Loot by Jude Watson is avalable for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Titanfall was a great game, winning over 60 rewards at its 2013 reveal, but Titanfall 2 was definitely was a step up. Titanfall 2 was nominated  for multiple year-end accolades including Game of the Year and Best Shooter awards, by several gaming publications. Just talking about Respawn’s success with Titanfall makes it sound like a good game! Trust me, it gets better.

Titanfall 2’s high success was due to its captivating campaign mode and its various online multiplayer modes. Titanfall 2’s many online modes put it above its first game. You can play Free for all, capture the flag, and attrition just to name a few. You play as a pilot, being a pilot gives you a massive variety of guns and abilities. You have sniper rifles, shotguns, and automatic guns. You can also grapple buildings, run on walls, and turn invisible!

Running and jumping around as a pilot is only half of the game, the other half you play in a titan. Titans are giant mecha-style exoskeletions that will crush the battlefield.  If you played the original Titanfall, you would know that there was only one titan you could play as. In Titanfall 2, you have seven different titans to chose from! But I’ll say no more, so I don’t spoil the game for you.

One final thing that separated Titanfall 2 from Titanfall was its single player campaign mode. In campaign, you play as rifleman Jack Cooper. He hopes to one day become a pilot of a titan. And he becomes a pilot of titan BT-7274, but in a way he did not expect. Together you switch between Jack Cooper and BT-7274 as you try to stop the IMC. I enjoyed the campaign adventure a lot. It has great a great back round and has great storytelling. Plus you get to do things that you would never be able to do in multiplayer.(E.g. traveling in time!) But I’ll let you play the game to find out on your own. This is definitely an FPS you should consider getting. Five star game.

-Brandon D.

Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is about George Milton and Lennie Small trying to find a job and settle. The reason that this is such a difficult task is because Lennie has what seems to be memory loss. He constantly forgets what George tells him. He also doesn’t understand what is right compared to what is wrong.

[Editor’s Note: Spoiler Warning]

This book tells of George and Lennie trying to find work in Soledad. They go to a ranch and speak with the boss before being told when to start working. When they are shown where they will sleep, they encounter the boss’ son Curley. Curley immediately starts trying to pick a fight with Lennie. As soon as Curley leaves, George warns Lennie about avoiding Curley at all costs. Curley’s wife, who Lennie is attracted to upon seeing her, is also a big problem.

After working for some time and getting to know other ranch hands, George and Lennie believe that they may be able to finally buy a house just for them. However, one day Curley’s wife finds Lennie alone and starts a conversation with him. She tells about how she could have gone to Hollywood and about her hair. She lets Lennie feel her hair, and he starts pulling on it. Curley’s wife cries out in pain, so Lennie covers her mouth out of fear of getting in trouble. He pulls on her hair more and more until he accidentally snaps her neck. When Curley finds out he goes to kill Lennie. George gets to Lennie first, and painlessly kills him so that Curley wouldn’t shoot him and let him bleed to death.

-E. Vargas

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.