Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is an amazing book. Telling the story from Ivan (the gorilla)’s point of view, you find out the story of a gorilla’s care for a baby elephant. This book was just released in 2012, so it’s kind of new. It’s an easy read, with lots of short paragraphs. However, this book is very enjoyable.

This book is about a gorilla named Ivan, who has lived in a cage- or domain as he calls it- at Exit 8 Big Top Mall for 27 years! Ivan is a silverback gorilla, which means he’s in charge of protecting his family. But he has no one to protect since he’s all alone. But when the Exit 8 Big Top Mall gets a new member, Ruby the baby elephant, all of that might change.

Also, The One and Only Ivan is this year’s Newbery Medal winner. I think it clearly deserves this award, because it’s very well written. And I could just picture the story in my head while I was reading it, and in my opinion  that shows the signs of a good book!

I love this book very much. It broke my heart but then put it back together at the end. Ivan proves it’s not so easy being a gorilla.

-Danielle L.

Book Review: The False Prince

false_prince_coverThis is my first time writing a blog. Enjoy!

The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen is a good book for people of all ages. It is a book that quite nicely combines fantasy and mystery, with an added element of suspense that always keeps you hooked.

You, as the reader, discover secrets that would never have even crossed your mind. The False Prince is the kind of book that you’d never want to put down. An excellent book that you wouldn’t want to miss out on, it is the kind of book that just makes you want to read it as often as you can.

At the beginning, our protagonist, Sage, lives in Mrs. Turbeldy’s orphanage for boys. However, one day, a nobleman named Conner comes to the orphanage and buys Sage. Sage meets three other orphan boys: Roden, Tobias, and Latamer. Connor takes the four of them away, and gives hints to what his plan would be: to choose one of the four boys, and have him take the throne that belonged to lost Prince Jaron of Carthya! The reader also learns that whoever isn’t chosen would be killed to protect the secret!

A fantastic book that you wouldn’t want to miss, The False Prince is a book that I highly recommend reading. The False Prince is only the first in the Ascendance trilogy. The second book, The Runaway King, the second book in the series, is just as great. I also recommend reading that one as well.

-Linna C., 6th grade

Authors We Love: John Green

john_greenOne of my favorite contemporary authors by far is John Green. He has inspired me to become an author myself. He primarily writes young adult fiction.

He is also well known on Youtube for his channels Vlogbrothers and CrashCourse; both of which are shared with his brother Hank Green. His works include but are not limited to: The Fault In Our Stars (which is set to become a major motion picture), Looking For Alaska, and Paper Towns.

The Fault In Our Stars is John Green’s most recent novel. It was published in 2012 and was ranked #1 on The New York Times bestsellers list. The title is an allusion to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. It is centered around the romance of two cancer-afflicted teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters.

looking_for_alaskaLooking For Alaska is John Green’s first novel. It was published in 2005 and won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellent in Young Adult Literature in 2006. It is a novel of firsts. It documents Miles “Pudge” Halter’s junior year of high school. Miles is obsessed with famous last words. He transfer to a boarding school in Alabama from Florida upon Francois Rabelais’ last words: I go to seek a great perhaps. The greatest “perhaps” is, in my opinion, Alaska Young. Alaska Young is an emotionally unstable girl with whom Pudge thinks he is in love. He never fully comprehends who she is until it is too late. She asks Pudge how will you ever get out of the labyrinth of suffering, which were the last words of Simon Bolivar. At the end of the novel, Pudge concludes that the only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

paper_townsPaper Towns is John Green’s third novel, published in 2008. It won the 2009 Edgar Award for the best Young Adult novel. It tells the story of Quentin “Q” Jacobsen, a high school senior in Florida. Q has been in love with his neighbor Margo Roth Speigelman since they were kids. They have since then grown apart but it is not until one night Margo asks for his help that they reunite for an adventure of a lifetime. Q unknowingly helps Margo bid farewell to her life in Florida. The very next day, Margo runs away from her “paper town.” Q follows the clues she didn’t intend to leave in order to find her. Q comes to understand Margo through her clues but it is not until he finds her that he truly understands that she is not a mystery after all. There are many parallels between Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns. Alaska very well could have been the mold for Margo.

John Green is one my favorite authors not because of the stories he tells but rather because of the messages he conveys. His simple yet profound statements have continued to capture my curiosity and admiration. As they say in John Green’s hometown, don’t forget to be awesome!

-Sarah B., 11th grade

Event Recap: Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess Tour

cassandra_clare_mariah_picIn March, authors Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson made a stop at the Mission Viejo Library for Clare’s latest release, Clockwork Princess.

I was extremely thrilled to meet all of them, and the feeling was definitely echoed throughout the room. As we waited for the authors to arrive (they got caught up in LA traffic), we watched the book and the movie trailer, and in two contests, fans competed for posters of, Will and Jem, popular characters from Clare’s books.

Once the authors arrived, they jumped right into answering our questions about their books and the upcoming City of Bones film.

Here are a couple of them:

Cassandra Clare, where did you get the inspiration for your books?

She got the idea of Shadowhunter from one of her friends who was a tattoo artist and talked to her about the history about tattoos. They were believed to give people strength in battle and during journeys, and Clare thought that it would be cool if there was a race of people for whom these tattoos would actually work.

What characters are the three of you most like?

After thinking the question over for a moment, they agreed that Sarah is like Magnus Bane because of her fiery personality, Maureen is the most similar to Alec, and Cassie was compared to Jace because of her ability to “have a little faith” like he does in times of trouble.

They then moved on to lightning round:

Who do you like more: Tessa or Clary?

She couldn’t decide between the two. Tessa is more like her, but she admires Clary for her bravery and recklessness.

Do you all eat, or do you survive solely on the tears of your readers? (This seemed to be a recurring question.)

Clare responded by saying that she likes to take the hearts of her readers and put it in a cocktail glass and make a heartini.

How much involvement do you, Cassie, have in the film adaptation?

She has had a good amount of input into the film. She answered questions that the production team had, and she had a heavy involvement in the casting process.

Once the Q&A session was complete, we were able to get our books signed! Overall, the event was one of the best signing that I’ve attended. All three of the authors were incredibly funny and kept me laughing the entire night. They joked about the ways they toy with our emotions and all of the wonderful boys in the Infernal Devices and Mortal Instruments series. It was an honor to meet all three of the authors, and I want to thank them for visiting Mission Viejo.

-Mariah W., 11th grade

Book Review: Phantom, by L.J. Smith

phantom_coverRecently I’ve read the book Phantom which is part of the Vampire Diaries series. L.J. Smith is one of my favorite authors so I definitely suggest you read her books!

I think that teens would like to read this book because there is that tiny little factor… what if it happened to you? I feel that fantasy books are that tiny hope inside, that 1% chance that the book is real and the stories within it as well.

Phantom is about a 17 year old girl named Elena who is destined never to be normal. Apart from her two vampire boyfriends, Elena has been chosen to be a mortal Gaurdian. Elena and her freinds have battled vampires (bad ones, not her boyfriends!), saved their city from evil spirits, and traveled through the Dark Dimension, but nothing has prepared them for this: a battle of feelings.

A phantom haunts Elena and her friends, making them jealous of each other. Somehow, things straighten themselves out and they defeat the phantom by casting out thier negetive energy. But by the end of the story, a lesson is learned: don’t be jealous of someone else… because it is what it is.

-Annika C., 6th grade

Book Review: Travis & Freddy’s Adventure in Vegas by Henry Johnson and Paul Hoppe

travis_freddy_coverTravis & Freddy’s Adventures in Vegas, by Henry Johnson and Paul Hoppe, is a humorous book about Travis, with the million-dollar smile, and Freddy, who has the million-dollar brain. They are opposite of each other, but are best friends. Travis and Freddy were born on the exact same day and time. Just a few days from their thirteenth birthday, Travis’ father accidently gambled his house away.

Determined to get $250,000 to save the house, Travis and Freddy make a plan to go to Vegas. They sneak on a plane and manage to make it there. Freddy uses his newest invention, a pair of glasses connected to a computer program to always win at blackjack. Using this technology, and with the help of their cabby driver friend, Sam, they manage to win the money. After discovering their “winnings,” Johnny Large, a Vegas gangster wants their money. Read the rest of the book to see if they escape Johnny Large, make it back home, and if they are able to save Travis’ father’s house.

I loved this book! It is very entertaining and funny. Paul Hoppe and Henry Johnson did a very good job writing this book. I would give this book five stars. It is not disappointing at all. Travis & Freddy’s Adventures in Vegas is a great book for middle-schoolers because the characters are the same age and middle-school students can relate to them. 

-Anmol K., 6th grade

Event Recap: Eoin Colfer Author Visit

Eoin Colfer, renowned author of the Artemis Fowl series, visited Mission Viejo this past weekend and made a very exciting presentation of all his experiences and books. Many fans in the audience flipped through his new book The Reluctant Assassin, anticipating the moment when Colfer would reveal himself. A serious mood hung over the room as we wondered what this famous writer was like in person. What would he tell us today? A humorous magician broke the silent anxiousness of the crowd, and also related to a magician in Colfer’s new book. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the moment we all had been waiting for arrived.

eoin_colfer01Turns out Colfer has a very bright and funny attitude, as proven when we were treated to hilarious tale after tale from his past (even one about his Irish accent). Amid our laughter, he explained about his process of writing, which includes putting real people and experiences into his book. For example, Colfer recalled basing Artemis’s mother on his own loving wife. We also had the privilege of learning about how he began writing. When Colfer was a little child, his father’s friend brought over his own book for him to review. After Colfer peeked inside, he immediately decided he wanted to become a writer too. Quite obviously, he succeeded, seeing as over twelve years he has created the world famous Artemis Fowl series.

reluctant_assassin_coverLucky for us, Eoin Colfer also introduced us to his new series called W.A.R.P. Inside the pages of The Reluctant Assassin, An apprentice named Riley struggles to evade the great magician Garrick, who has taken a liking to murder. Colfer shared with us how he tried to make him as sinister and terrifying as possible, and his experiences in writing the story.

Overall, we all had a very fun day, learning about the writing process and Colfer’s sources of inspiration. Book signings are definitely very engaging and fun, along with getting the signature of the author himself! I am very grateful to Eoin Colfer for coming all the way out here to inspire us with his stories and experiences.

-Phillip X., 7th grade

Top 10 Books To Read After Harry Potter

Whenever a review refers to a book series as “the next Harry Potter,” I start reading with impossibly high expectations. While these books aren’t as enchanting or inspirational as Rowling’s phenomenon, they are unforgettable just the same.

divergent_cover1. The Divergent trilogy, by Veronica Roth… because readers can relate to the main character’s conflicts, such as deciding between what your family wants and what’s best for you, and discovering the difference between bravery and stupidity.

2. The Twilight saga, by Stephenie Meyer… because of the memorable characters and unexpected plot twists.

3. The Delirium trilogy, by Lauren Oliver… because of its universal themes and unique characters, making for an unforgettable dystopian read.

4. The Gallagher Girls series, by Ally Carter… because the author was able to amalgamate teenage girls into a world of spies, romance, danger, and sacrifice.

stormbreaker_cover5. The Alex Rider saga, by Anthony Horowitz… because of its complex setting and captivating characters.

6. The Maze Runner trilogy, by James Dashner… because the author exhibits adventure and suspense in this narrative about values, curiosity, and life’s true meaning.

7. The Hush, Hush saga, by Becca Fitzpatrick… because of how readers are able to relate to the characters and their personal incentives.

matched_cover8. The Matched trilogy, by Allie Condie… because of how it is similar to The Giver. It takes place in a futuristic dystopian society, while telling a story of love, courage, and individuality.

9. The Percy Jackson series & the Heroes of Olympus series, by Rick Riordan… because the author takes Greek mythology and adds modern, unforgettable characters.

10. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins… because it teaches readers about life, loss, love, and bravery through the eyes of the strong, female heroine, Katniss Everdeen.

-Danielle K., 7th grade

Book Review: Golden, by Jessi Kirby

golden_coverDo you often find yourself wondering, what if? What if I would have done that instead? What if I would’ve taken the risk?

Jessi Kirby’s latest novel, Golden, which hits bookstores everywhere on May 14, explores these questions and more.

After I read about Parker Frost and her journey to discover not only what happened with the town’s golden couple that died in an accident ten years ago, but also what she truly wants for herself, I felt like I really understood Parker. It amazed me how Jessi Kirby found words to paint such a realistic world. I could visualize everything and really put myself in the situation, almost shedding a tear or two in some instances. And, the connections Kirby creates with Robert Frost and his work throughout the novel was really cool because it made the book more unique and added layers to it.

But maybe, it is because I completely relate to Parker, her goals, and the way she has led her whole life that I really loved this book. The story revolves around a journal that Parker finds that leads her to making choices that she never might have had the courage to make otherwise. Yet there was so much more to the book than a girl breaking out of her shell; I felt that I learned so much from conclusions that Parker makes. Jessi Kirby eloquently states the things that we already know but ignore or are too afraid to state sometimes.

Two of my favorite quotes are:

“People always put their own spin on things, remember what they want to remember, and somewhere in the middle of it all is the truth – the real version – one you could only write yourself if you were willing to.” (p. 33)

“…chance brought them together and choice made them stay.” (p. 108)

The way I was able to get wrapped up in the book made it impossible for me to set aside. I was sad it was over so soon. So, if you are looking for something quick and worthwhile to read, Golden should definitely be on the top of your list! And if you love plot twists as much as I do, the end will definitely catch you off guard. Enjoy!

-Liliana M., 12th grade

Editor’s note:  This review was based on an Advance Readers Copy generously provided by Simon & Schuster.

Don’t miss author Jessi Kirby when she visits Mission Viejo on Saturday, May 18th! As part of the Summer Lovin’ tour, Kirby will speak alongside other popular YA authors, Kimberly Derting, Megan Matson, Shannon Messenger, Sarah Ockler, and Suzanne Young. This exciting event begins at 3:00 pm in the Friends of the Library Storytime Room at 100 Civic Center.


This free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Mission Viejo Library and A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe. Books will be available for purchase and signing. For more information or to make a reservation contact the Reference Desk at (949) 830-7100, ext. 5105.

Book Review: Middleworld, by J&P Voelkel

middleworld_coverMiddleworld, the first book in The Jaguar Stones series by J & P Voelkel, is a very interesting and exciting book that many teens would enjoy. However, this book is directed towards boys more than girls. If you like action adventure books, this is for you, as it deals with a 14 year old boy named Max Murphy who lives in Boston.

One day, Max is mysteriously sent on a quest to the South American jungle to rescue his missing archeologist parents. Max has a very difficult time, as his biggest talent is playing video games, and he wants nothing to do with nature. On Max’s journey, he teams up with a witty and clever Mayan girl named Lola, who helps Max rescue his parents from the Mayan underworld.

Middleworld has a story within a story, and can be a little confusing in the beginning, as when Max goes to live with his uncle in South America, who Max thinks is in the banana business, but is really a smuggler. Also, Tiny Jim, the uncle’s right hand, seems to hate Max, but surprises the reader at the end of the book.  As this book draws to a close, all of these events will make sense.

There are many funny and scary moments in this book, making the book hard to put down; such as when Max finally faces the Mayan Lords of Death, and has to outsmart them, or when the Mayan villagers play a practical joke on Max by giving him very spicy stew to eat. This book also provides a lot of interesting background information on the Mayan people, and their relics and pyramids, so if one enjoys history, this book will be especially interesting.

Overall, Middleworld is a very exciting book, and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.  This book is definitely one that everybody should read, and once they start, I promise that they will not be able to put it down until they are finished.

-Will R., 8th grade