Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

rangersapprentice_johnflanaganAre you ready to hear about my favorite book series? Australian author John Flanagan brings us the Ranger’s Apprentice series, which has captivated me for several years. Each of the twelve books is exciting to read the first time through, and just as exciting a second time.

It tells the tale of a boy named Will, an orphan raised in a medieval castle’s ward. Come Choosing Day, when the orphans are selected for apprenticeships, not a single craftmaster chooses Will. Tears well up as his fellow wards are selected to become warriors, scribes, and diplomats, while he will become merely a farmhand. Then, Will receives the biggest shock of his life: he is selected to be trained as a Ranger’s apprentice (hence the title). The King’s Rangers are an elite and mysterious force of master archers, serving directly under the king. Their skill set includes tracking, wielding knives and bows, and vanishing into the forest with their mottled cloaks. The Rangers silently monitor the fiefdoms and watch over the citizens. Just like Batman. Though Will is apprehensive at first, he soon realizes that this life is infinitely more exciting than being a farmer. And so, for the rest of the twelve books I won’t summarize, Will and his master Halt go on all sorts of adventures spanning a variety of countries, from deserts to snowy mountains.

There are many reasons why this series has stuck with me so long. Every single book is a well crafted mix of adventure, humor, and well placed sarcasm. What’s more, all of their adventures are unique storylines, deviating from a lot of cookie cutter books out there. The language is wonderfully detailed; I can recognize Flanagan’s style from other authors by the telltale ways he writes his stories. Of course, the characters all have distinct personalities, likes and dislikes, so that everyone has multiple dimensions. We readers can better understand and sympathize with their decisions. In fact, some of the best scenes in these books come from byplay between friends, and outright clashes of different personalities.

Another aspect that I love about this book is how well Flanagan envisions the Ranger Corps. The common people regard them as an arcane group shrouded in mystery, a group dealing with matters more important than the peasant’s daily lives. When we follow the life and adventures of Will, it almost feels like we have become a part of the tight knit group, and we familiarize ourselves with each person. This is the reason I keep rereading these books— I’ve become emotionally attached to fictional characters!

So, when you’re ready to dive into this fantastical world of knights and villains, read through the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Become a part of the King’s Rangers.

The Ranger’s Apprentice series can be checked out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

To My Fellow Readers,

Don’t you hate it when you have an infinite reading list because you know you will never finish it? No matter how much you read, how many books you cross off, more are always added. Your love for books keeps growing and there is no way to make it stop. So you add book after book of everything you want to read, hoping someday you will get to read them all. Even those books that you never really got around to, the ones you may have lost interest in. They are still there, on your list, waiting to be read by you. And those old books still sitting in your shelves, the ones piled in high stacks on your floor. No matter how many books you own or how many times you say you will read them, you always find a new one that draws your attention. But we do still try to make it back to the ones that were forgotten. We always try to read as much as we can, whenever we can.

Reading can be a pastime or an obsession. For me, I obsess over books. I always read one right after the other, trying to finish that long lasting list of mine. I may never finish it but I love to try. Because reading is knowledge. It’s emotional. It’s calming or disturbing, but a good book always makes you feel something. Whether it’s joy or despair or heartbreak or liberation. In the end it’s just words on a page, and it can change everything.

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And There Were None Review by Agatha Christie

andthentherewerenone_agathachristieAnd Then There Were None is a mystery novel written by acclaimed author Agatha Christie. It is widely considered the greatest mystery novel of all time and was published in 1939. The setting takes place on Soldier Island, a mysterious place off the coast of Devon. Ten people are invited to the island, which has only one building, a mansion, and they soon realize that one of them is the killer.

I know what you’re thinking, that this kind of story has been done a million times before and is nothing special, but this is the original. Christie was the first to come up with this concept, and all others were inspired by her work.

The characters are all very different and are easy to distinguish, so you won’t be forgetting who’s who. I noticed how complex and flawed each character is, which is a really good thing for a mystery because anybody can be the killer. They’re all crazy in their own ways, yet are all sane. For a while, Christie uses the method of jumping back and forth between characters’ perspectives, and at first this seemed like an issue, especially since we could hear their thoughts. It’s not. We get an understanding of each character’s psyche, yet we don’t really get any hints as to who’s the killer. Each character is suspicious at some point in the story, some more than others, but you can never be too sure. A small twist at the beginning heightens the tension even more.

The pacing is phenomenal as well. It starts out slow and calm as each character is being introduced, and as secrets begin to unravel and characters begin to die off, the tension rises. The suspense makes this a real page-turner, and by the second half your eyes will be glued to the pages trying to figure out who it is. And as hard as you try to find out, once it is revealed you’ll be in a state of absolute shock.

All in all, And Then There Were None is the epitome of what a great mystery should be. It’s got compelling and suspicious characters, a fantastic atmosphere, and is very suspenseful. Anybody who is looking for a tense, suspenseful mystery should look no further than And Then There Were None.

-Ahmed H., Grade 11

And Then There Were None is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive

Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins) by Nakaba Suzuki

7deadlysins_nabakaIn a far off land modeled after early England, humans coexist with fairies and giants. One of the kingdoms of this land is called Lioness where really powerful humans called holy knights protect the land and everyone in it.
Elizabeth is the third princess of this kingdom. She has run away because the holy knights secretly rebelled and took over the kingdom, putting the king and the rest of the royal family in prison. Her only hope are the Seven Deadly Sins: a group of seven very powerful people rumored to defeat holy knights. Problem is, they’re supposedly wanted criminals who haven’t been seen in public for ten years.
That’s when Elizabeth runs into a bartender who looks like a kid and a talking pig named Hawk. It turns out that the bartender is Meliodas, the dragon’s sin of wrath and the captain of the Seven Deadly Sins, who is also looking for the other Sins after they got split up ten years ago. He offers to help her, and the journey starts a change in the country. But the biggest mystery is why Meliodas or any of the Seven Deadly Sins haven’t aged for the past ten years.
really liked this series! It’s a still continuing manga of about 120 chapters and still has a long way to go, but I’m sure anyone would stay for the ride since it’s very good. Seven Deadly Sins is very comical with its humorous cast of characters and funny behavior. For example, there is a fairy who smells like flowers, a guy whose food looks good but tastes absolutely horrible, and a talking pig who is the chief of leftovers.
This series also has a very good plot. Plots twists and cliffhangers are always guaranteed and they put you on the edge of your seat and wanting more. For those who like romance, there are many heartfelt/comical couples in the series that many would totally support for. And finally, there is the understanding and compassion for the Sins when they are put down by others through the misunderstandings that are dramatic irony to us.
I encourage you to read this series!
-Megan V.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

lookingforalaska_johngreenI was so excited to get my hands on this book! I had heard such great things about it for a couple of years now, so I couldn’t wait to start reading. However, I was not as thrilled with this book as I had hoped to be. I know this will be controversial because many people loved this book, but I really did not connect with the characters or the story in the way I thought I would.

So here’s a quick summary of the book: *WARNING THIS DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS* Miles, a high school junior, leaves Florida to attend a boarding school in Alabama. There he meets and befriends his roommate “The Colonel” and his friends Takumi and Alaska. As time goes on, Miles falls in love with the spontaneous, rebellious Alaska despite the fact that she has a boyfriend and that people tell him crazy stories about her. Miles becomes caught up in the Colonel’s pranks, games, drinking, and drugs and he realizes that this is the “Great Perhaps” he was searching for. One night towards the end of the book, Miles and Alaska kiss and fall asleep in her room. But a phone call in the middle of the night wakes Alaska and she goes hysterical screaming that she has to leave. So Miles (nicknamed Pudge by the Colonel) help her escape unnoticed by the deacon of the school. The next day they find out that Alaska was killed in a car accident on her way to wherever she was going the night before. Pudge and the Colonel are miserable blaming themselves for her death. Pudge decides to investigate the reason behind her leaving and whether or not her death was an accident or a suicide. The book ends with Pudge forgiving Alaska for dying-suicide or not- and writing a school paper about the “way out of the labyrinth” as Alaska had asked her classmates before her death.

I liked how Green portrayed raw qualities of teenagers rather than the perfect good students in most books. The main character falls in love with an emotionally unstable girl-that’s not something every book does. I still thought it was a good book; there were just some things that bothered me. For instance, I did not like the actual plot of the story because it felt like there was no purpose to the events. Prank after prank you feel, as the reader, that something big is going to happen, but when it happens it doesn’t bring closure, instead it brought disappointment. I also really did not like how the entire second half of the book is Pudge’s depression over losing Alaska and his inability to do anything about it. Only the very end of the book brings closure to the story. And yet still, after finishing the book I felt as though Pudge’s story was insignificant. And maybe that was the point, I can see how Green might have had a greater point that I missed. Regardless I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. There could have been more to it-more characters, major events, something pleasing to the reader.

I still praise John Green as an author because I loved Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars but this is not on my top ten books list unfortunately. Feel free to leave a comment about what you thought of this book!

-Kelsey H

Looking for Alaska is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

lookingglasswars_frankbeddorHave you ever wondered if Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass was real? In Frank Beddor’s book, The Looking Glass Wars, it is. Alyss Heart is the princess of Wonderland with her mother, Queen Genevieve, and her father, King Nolan. Queen Genevieve is the supporter of White Imagination and has a bodyguard by the name of Hatter Madigan. This story begins with the royal family and the Wonderlanders celebrating Alyss’ seventh birthday. The Queen foretells that Alyss will be the strongest queen of Wonderland because of her powerful imagination. During the party Alyss’ friend, Dodge Anders, takes her out of the palace and takes her to a lake called “The Pool of Tears.” Dodge says that if a person jumps into the pool, he will go into another world, which is our world, but no one has ever returned.

After arriving back to the party, Alyss sees a cat running into the main hall where everyone was. It suddenly turns into a ferocious Cat and heralds the arrival of Redd Hearts, Queen Genevieve’s sister and Alyss’ aunt. An army of her card soldiers destroys Alyss’ home and the Queen’s general Doppelgänger and Hatter jump into action to fight against the enemy. In all the fighting Alyss sees her mother imagining weapons to battle the card soldiers around her. Her mother gives an order to Hatter to get Alyss away from the horrid battle. Hatter takes Alyss to the Pool of Tears and jump into the lake before Redd’s assassins can reach them. In the water Alyss loses Hatter’s hand before arriving to our world, leaving him to search for the princess and find a way back to Wonderland. Will she be able to ever get back? Also, will Hatter be able to find Alyss? To find out, read this wonderful story.

I truly loved this book. It was a page turner and I couldn’t stop reading. Everything about the book was amazing, the plot, the characters, ans the suspense. This is a trilogy and the next book is Seeing Redd. I really hope you will read this book!

-Samantha S.

The Looking Glass Wars is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive

My Playlist for Mandatory Readings

A mix of all sort of songs to make those mandatory readings a little less terrible.

Top 100 : 

  • Good For You Selena Gomez feat. A$AP Rocky
  • Photograph Ed Sheeran
  • Honey I’m Good Andy Grammer 
  • Stitches Shawn Mendes 
  • Renegades X Ambassadors
  • Burning House Cam
  • Like I’m Gonna Lose You Meghan Trainor Feat. John Legend
  • Bad Blood Taylor Swift 
  • Like I Can Sam Smith
  • Love Me Like You Do Ellie Goulding 

My Random Picks: 

  • Hold Me Down Halsey
  • Girl Almighty One Direction 
  • Reflection Fifth Harmony 
  • Black Magic Little Mix 
  • Single Ladies Beyonce 
  • Hold Back the River James Bay
  • Style Taylor Swift 
  • House Party Sam Hunt
  • Just Saying 5 Seconds Of Summer 
  • 18 5 Seconds Of Summer 

Country: 

  • Fly Maddie & Tae 
  • Take Your Time Sam Hunt 
  • Girl Crush Little Big Town 
  • Crash My Party Luke Bryan 
  • Tonight Looks Good On You Jason Aldean 
  • Sangria Blake Sheldon
  • I Got the Boy Jana Kramer 
  • My Mistake Cam
  • Kick the Dust Up Luke Bryan 
  • Biscuits Kacey Musgraves

Alternative:

  • Uma Thurman Fall Out Boy 
  • Ex’s & Oh’s Ellie King
  • Bright Ecosmith
  • Let It Go James Bay 
  • This Is Gospel Panic! At the Disco
  • Work Song Hozier 
  • Sugar, We’re Going Down Fall Out Boy 
  • Mr. Brightside The Killers 
  • Teenagers My Chemical Romance 
  • Ghost Halsey 

Broadway:

  • Revolting Children Matilda 
  • Naughty Matilda 
  • Omigod You Guys  Legally Blonde 
  • Seasons of Love Rent 
  • You Can’t Stop The Beat Hairspray
  • Falling Slowly Once
  • Everybody Say Yeah Kinky Boots 
  • Live In Living Color Catch Me If You Can 
  • Good Riddance American Idiot 
  • Don’t Rain On My Parade Funny Girl 

Disney Songs: 

  • Belle Beauty and the Beast 
  • Under The Sea The Little Mermaid 
  • When Will My Life Begin Tangled 
  • For the First Time in Forever Frozen
  • I Just Can’t Wait To Be King The Lion King 
  • The Morning Report The Lion King 
  • Work Song Cinderella 
  • Bare Necessities The Jungle Book 
  • We Rock Camp Rock 
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Marry Poppins 

If you have anything you would like me to create a playlist for or additional genres you would like my picks for leave a comment down below!

– Shelby B., Grade 11