Book Review: From Lightning to the Light, by Dennis Koranek

lightning_lightFrom Lightning to the Light by Dennis Koranek is a very different type of book. I have never read anything like it before. Whether it’s a good different or bad different I have yet to decide. This is probably why it took me an unusually long time to read. But persevere I did, and I’m glad because the book is unique.

This book starts out with a professor getting hit by lightning, suffering temporary amnesia and ending up with a lightning-fast brain (get it?). Physically, his body no longer requires sleep, but otherwise, he is normal. He now spends his days and nights inventing interactive machines that help humanity. The chapters fly by as the words are written as if you’re in his fast-paced mind.

The story evolves quickly and soon introduces his “superhero” daughter, with each following chapter involving a new mission for her to complete.

Being a Spider-Man fan, I appreciate the superhero aspect of this novel. However, I think it would have been more engaging if it was slowed down a bit and involved more human details. I would have enjoyed getting personally closer to the characters. I did appreciate the unusualness of this novel in that all “gifts” were consistently credited to God, not man. There was no ego involved, and these “super humans” were God’s instruments. The novel ends with time travel, tying the previous chapters together but leaving a lot of room for character development in future books or even a TV series.

This book will satisfy all of us sci-fi fans out there while still keeping a focus on God, not man, as the ultimate Creator.

I would like to point out that this book is a work of fiction. It is very extraordinary and unique in the sense that this combines the Bible (non-fiction) and fiction together. However, for me personally, this makes me uncomfortable as I don’t know if this “merging” trivializes the Bible. But please, as this is my own personal opinion, give this book a go if it interests you! There aren’t too many like this one out there!

-Danielle L., 6th grade

Book Review: Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz

stormbreakerAlex Rider is your typical 14 year old boy.  He likes girls, action movies and sports. However, when his Uncle Ian suddenly dies in a car crash, Alex knows the story is a lie.  The bullet holes in the windshield are all the evidence he needs.  Upon further investigation, he stumbles upon an astounding truth. His uncle was not the humble businessman that he had pretended to be, but a secret agent for the British secret service, MI6.

When Alex is chosen to replace his uncle as a spy, his life goes upside down.  He finds himself fighting goons, surviving a jellyfish attack, and stopping a crazy terrorist from destroying England.  I don’t want to give anything else away because the book is all about suspense.

This book is riveting!  Percy Jackson fans will especially enjoy this story as they are both written with similar first-person irony.  I also recommend it to those who are tired of predictable endings.  While in most books the good guys win, this guy wins in ways that not even the author could see coming!  Both boys and girls will find it is an action-packed, fun to read, page-turner.  This is an intense mystery.  I read it in two days because I could not put it down!

-Evan G., 6th grade


Book Review: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor

blackbringerMagpie Windwitch is the granddaughter of the West Wind, and also a demon hunter, just like her idol, Bellatrix, djinn champion. Magpie and her faithful clan of crows, led by one named Calypso, track down demons and seal them into bottles from which they can only be freed by one kind of creature: humans. They fish them out of the ocean and open them up, hoping to get three wishes, as one lucky human once got.

One day, Magpie comes across a very strange sight: a fishing boat, completely empty except for a few pairs of shoes. Magpie uses her “memory touch” on one of the pairs, hoping to find a clue as to what happened before their wearers disappeared. All she feels is hunger and darkness. Upon closer inspection, after the memory touch wears off, Magpie discovers a bottle used for sealing demons in the boat. With a shock, she realizes that the bottle was sealed by the Magruwen, king of djinn himself! She then heads to the Dreamdark, home of most faeries, to see if she can find any other clues to this puzzling incident.

This book is a book like no other, with charming characters and fearsome foes. It, like many other fantasy books, contains mythical creatures and a sort of afterlife, also known as the Moonlit Gardens, where all creatures go after they die. This is the reason why demons are bottled instead of killed, as not to disturb the peace there.

I would read it again and again without ever getting tired of it. 10 out of 10 is what this book deserves, being probably in the top ten that I have ever read.

-Linna C., 7th grade

Something for Everyone: 5 Top Summer Reads

Are you bored out of your mind this summer? Feel like spending the day watching movies or playing video games? Instead, give one of these books a try, and you’ll be instantly entertained.

huck1) Huck by Janet Elder

Huck is a true story that is not only for dog lovers but for anyone looking for a heartwarming read this summer. Huck, a toy poodle, is bought for Michael, a young boy, while his mother is going through breast cancer treatment. When Michael and his family go on vacation and leave Huck with family members, Huck runs away. The story line follows Michael and his family through their ups and downs, times of both joy and sorrow, as they search all over New Jersey for their beloved dog. Through the family’s searches, it is revealed how kind people can really be.

divergent_cover2) The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

The Divergent series is a great series for bringing on a long car or plane trip, or for just reading at home, as it can keep you easily entertained. Divergent takes place in a dystopia that is divided into four sections/clans as a result of a war, and follows a girl named Beatrice through her teenage years, first as she moves out of the clan in which she grew up; then as she becomes involved in another war that will wipe out two clans. Divergent and the rest of the books in the series can really make time go faster, and is nearly impossible to put down.

hokey_pokey_cover3) Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Everything about Hokey Pokey, Jerry Spinelli’s latest book, will remind you of summer. In a land where grownups don’t exist, boys and girls hate each other, there is no school and only playtime, every kid is under twelve, and the hokey pokey man (think snow cone in the shape of a cube) comes every day, live three friends; Jack, the “leader” of the hokey pokey land boys, and his two companions, Dusty and LaJo. Only there are a few small problems. Jack’s beloved bike has been stolen by a girl, and Jack is becoming too old for hokey pokey land. This book will bring out the inner kid in you, and you will be reading it over and over all summer.

captain_bluebear4) The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

This is a book that is not very well known; however, the Washington Post accurately captured its essence when it deemed the book “Equal parts J.K Rowling and Shel Silverstein.” This book is perfect because it won’t take up a lot of room in a suitcase, but it will take up plenty of time on the plane ride during your summer vacation. The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear is about a blue bear named Bluebear (what else?) who goes on all kinds of adventures during his 13 1/2 lives and has a talking encyclopedia in his head. Bluebear begins his life in a nutshell in the sea with minipirates, and from there goes through all kinds of adventures, such as living on an island with every kind of food growing on it; think pizza plants and chocolate milk streams. The island later turns out to be a carnivorous monster. Bluebear also becomes a professional liar, along with many other things. This book is fun and playful, and is for all ages. Just like the rest of the books on this list, The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear is something to read over and over all summer.

eragon_cover5) The Eragon series by Christopher Paolini

The Eragon series has plenty of books to keep you entertained for a few weeks, and is a great series for fantasy lovers. Even if you have already read the Eragon series, it is great to reread. Eragon is a young boy who discovers a “magical stone” that turns out to be an egg holding Saphira, or dragon. Eragon then continues to learn to become a dragon rider and how to trust Saphira in order to defeat the evil king that rules Eragon’s kingdom. Like The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, the Eragon series is great for teens age 12 and up.

-Will R., 9th grade

Book Review: Just Ella, by Annette K. Larsen

just_ella_coverI really like fantasy books. A lot. It’s pretty much all I read. The big ball gowns, the fancy table manners and the magical elements are something I have loved since I was very young. But this book was different for me because it doesn’t have a typical plot. The heroine is so strong and independent it took me by surprise. I mean, usually these girls forgive their prince for being stupid, get married and live happily ever after. But Ariella isn’t like that. She is bold, daring, rash, and strong. She is a princess that is more complex than Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. Her character development is stunning.

Ella is just looking for a distraction from palace life when she meets Gavin, a gardener, on the grounds and they quickly form a relationship. But there are so many more twists and turns than that. Ella’s suitor is not just slimy but practically a criminal, her dad is a little bipolar, and her mother may never be completely happy in her role as queen, not to mention her spiteful sister who says mean things to watch Ariella squirm. The layers that Larsen uses to develop her plot are intense and colorful.

I have plenty of praise for Just Ella. It is a charming book with so much intense emotion and so much drama, yet it never feels really cheesy. The word choice is nice even though the sentence structure is a little awkward. But where I think Larsen really excels is her character development. Every character has their own story and with that story comes a book in and of itself.

I really loved this book and if you love romance or fantasy or princesses at all, I suggest you give it a read. Even if you don’t, this one is different.

-Becka O., 8th grade

Book Review: SYLO, by D.J. MacHale

syloSYLO is a story about an island off the east coast of the United States of America where there is supposedly a virus that leaked out.

A group of kids on the island tried to figure out what the virus is and why SYLO came. The longer SYLO stays on the island, the more suspicious the inhabitants get. Now, these kids will try to find out everything. All information will be theirs about SYLO, the mysterious Ruby, the victims of the virus, and who else is involved. As they learn more, they discover the SYLO officers contacting their parents. Once this is discovered, the kids get even more suspicious. Their limits are tested as these kids will be chased, questioned, in danger, and scared. But in the midst of all things seeming lost, there is always friendship and determination to get them through whatever task might come before them.

However, there might be obstacles that even these determined kids cannot surpass. Such as alien weaponry, and government associations that out-man, outgun, and might outwit these kids on their journey to find the truth and the lies. What is the virus? Who is SYLO? Why are their parents involved? How did the Ruby get onto their island? What are the kids going to do about everything?

All of these questions will be solved when you read SYLO.

-Kyle H., 7th grade

Book Review: Hitler’s Niece, by Ron Hansen

hitlers_niece_novelWe all know Adolf Hitler as the leader of the Nazis, the center of World War II, and the murderer of millions. We might read about him in textbooks and discuss him during history classes, but we would never know him as a person. Like almost all of the famous people who have their names remembered, Hitler becomes more like a symbol that represents what he did instead of a human being. People forget that they were people just like us. After so many years, the real history might never be found, but from what Hitler left behind, we could always take a guess.

Hitler’s Niece is a fictional story by Ron Hansen that focuses on the interaction between Hitler and his niece, Angelika Maria Raubal, known as Geli. Some people believe that Geli was the only female that Hitler actually loved in his lifetime, and when Hansen read about this, he looked for more information and expanded it. The novel starts with Geli’s birth in 1908 and ends at 1931, before the World War started. Have you ever questioned how Hitler could rise to power that quickly? Well, the novel describes Hitler’s life from when he was a desperate young man to a fearsome leader. Hitler’s Niece is not the true history, but the reason it is outstanding is that it reads like history. The New York Times Book Review said: “Hansen succeeds in conjuring Hitler as he probably was”.

I believe that this book should be suggested to students at least 16 years old. First, I suggest you read this book because it’s an interesting book, and secondly it helps me personally in many ways. The author shows how Hitler was a real person, and how he could’ve emerged into a corrupt leader. Hansen is very strong in developing characters based on real history, and as a writer I learn from his works. I had a chance to meet Hansen this summer, and talked to him about this book. I told me that he even went to Hitler’s old apartment twice to research for Hitler’s Niece. I enjoyed reading it, and I believe you would too.

-Wenqing Z., 11th grade

Introduction to the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson


Calling all Mutants!

It doesn’t matter whether you have a mother who gave birth to you or were simply born in a test tube– we, a flock of six who have wings, will be recruiting anyone who has a mutation, such as super speed, being a dog who can talk, or have a body part from a different animal.

If you have one of these requirements, join our army that is going to save the world!

And who are we? We’ll, we are six kids who were merged with bird cells, which explains our wings. If you don’t trust us, whether it’s because you don’t believe kids or think that we are part of the government that is trying to get you back, we will give you a description of us:

Max: aka Maximum Ride, is the leader of the six. She is fourteen years old, blond, a bit pretty, and because she is on the run, she doesn’t shower much and tends to smell. (Fang, I’m going to get you for that! -M) 

Fang: is also fourteen, and is always there if Max breaks into an emotional struggle. He is also very hot and sexy with his dark looks and wings. (Okay, the first sentence is true. Not too sure about the second. -M) However, his preference in girls seems to be red haired pretty girls, though some say he is in love with Max. (…Angel, please don’t write about what I think. And Fang doesn’t love me -M) (They are both truueee! -A)

Ian: also fourteen. Some scientists tried to make him be able to see in the dark, but it failed and caused total blindness. (Do you think we will scare others with this sentence, Nudge? -I) (Well, we should let them know that we are just like them with being experimented on. -N) (Hah! You said Total, like our dog’s name! -G) He usually wears glasses, and can be found playing practical jokes on the teachers with Gazzy.

Nudge: eleven years old. She has dark skin, and absolutely loves fashion. (And fashion, fashion, AND EVEN MORE FASHION!! -N) (I’m glad that this is a rough draft, because we aren’t putting that in there on the final. -M)

Gazzy: eight years. His name is short for the Gasman, which is because his farts are deadly. His typical practical joke on the teachers is to set off stinkbombs (They ruuuuuleeee! -G)

Angel: six years. She has hit the mutant jackpot, for she can read minds and do other things that are talented. (Aww, you make me blush. -A) She happens to know what is going on, so she’ll know if there is a traitor among us and who likes who in this group. She also seems to get whatever she wants, making her a sweet, yet spoiled brat. (Gaaaaazzzzyyyy! You too, Fang, I heard from you that you gave him that idea! -A)

So there you have it! We have been experimented on, put into dog crates, and tested on. Now, after four years of hiding, our foster dad is gone, Angel goes missing, we have to face our worst fear (school), and we all have the desires of wanting to be normal. Oh, did we also mention that we are being chased by boys who can turn into dogs, including a used to be cute three year old? Now we’re on the run, but if you want to join, contact Fang on his blog and we’ll come get you.

-Megan V., 9th grade

Book Review: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

cinderCinder by Marissa Meyer is a great summer read!  With a fusion of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, and the futuristic story of Star Wars, Cinder had me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

This sci-fi story takes place in the far future.  In the future Earth has been through two more World Wars, been unified as a peaceful place, and is neighbors to the powerful alien race, Lunars, who live on the moon.  Earth leaders have been trying to negotiate a peace treaty with Lunars.

The protagonist of the story is, Cinder, a teenage cyborg girl who is looked down upon by society and by her stepmother.  When Cinder meets the charming Prince Kai, she finds her world slowly turning upside down.  At the same time, her family is being attacked by the incurable plague.  Devastated from the aftermath of the plague, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers Cinder to the cyborg draft.  The cyborg draft has cyborgs test cures for the plague and no cyborg has come out alive.  At the medical facilities, Cinder unravels the hidden truths about her life.  These truths put herself, Prince Kai, and the entire Earth in danger.  Cinder is soon intertwined with the outcome of every being on Earth and Luna!  Check out this book this summer to live through the adventure of Cinder!

I would recommend this book to every teen! Cinder is an amazing new twist to the fairy tale we all know and love.  There is action, romance, and suspense!  It is filled with so many new surprises!  There is that one big question that haunted me and I didn’t know the answer until the very end of the book.  I couldn’t help but constantly wonder what was going to happen next!  Because of that I couldn’t stop reading it!

If you liked Divergent or The Hunger Games I recommend this book for you!

-Erika T., 8th grader


Being a Member of the MVL Teen Voice Blog

138288303Roughly a year ago, I was in the Mission Viejo Library, browsing through the new books in the teen section when I saw a flyer advertising a new program at the library– and that program was this blog. I remember grabbing the flyer and thinking what an amazing idea it seemed like, but not being sure if I would be able to take part in it. I thought that it might be too techy for me, so I put aside the flyer for a about a month and forgetting about it for a while. I don’t quit remember what piqued my interest in it again, but eventually I sent an e-mail to find out more information. I was so excited when I got a reply and discovered that I would be able to take part in this amazing opportunity.

My first post was an “Authors We Love” post highlighting the works of Ellen Hopkins. In fact my first three posts were related to her. Since that first post I feel like I have grown a lot as a writer and branched out a lot more. Writing for this blog has helped me look at books differently. I have always been an avid reader and I have always have a strong opinion of what I would read, but I never really tried to express that opinion while still trying to remain at least a little unbiased.

Thinking of a topic idea is one of my favorite parts of getting to do this. Sometimes it will take me several weeks to think of something, and sometimes it comes easier. Regardless of how long it takes for the idea to come, once I get one it’s an amazing feeling. I tend to write more  “Authors We Love,” opinion, or essay type pieces than book reviews so usually I’ll think of a broad topic and think to myself “I can’t wait to start researching this” or “Now I have a great excuse to re-read all of these books.”

Writing, of course, is a big part of being a member of the Teen Blog Team, and I love it. It’s really amazing to be able to type something up that exposes someone to new books, new authors, new ideas, and maybe something that gives someone more information about a book/author/idea if they already have some information about it. While I don’t tend to write many book review pieces, I enjoy writing those because it is a fun challenge to review a book without just summarizing plot points. I really love doing “Authors We Love” posts and other types of pieces where I can include lists. I love being able to take a  topic and point out all of the great points of it and then also point out then not-so-great points but still be able to end on a positive note.

What I have gotten from this experience is just an all-around wonderful experience. I have had a great chance to improve my writing, to write for an audience, and to get feedback on some of my pieces. I have also been made more aware of events going on at the library and have attended a lot that I normally would not have really paid any attention to. I have also gotten to read all of the wonderful posts on this blog; the overall talent of this group never ceases to amaze me.

As a whole, I am extremely glad that I took that first step of sending an e-mail last year. I hope that my posts have introduced people to new books, new authors, and new information, and an enjoyable reading experience. I am looking forward to what the future holds.

-Angela J., 12th grade