Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney

To be completely honest, I didn’t know what to expect with this book. I have two other book review on Jeff Kinney books, but those were Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This book is about Rowley Jeffen, Greg’s best “friend”. But after reading Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid in one day, it had realized this was a great addition to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise.

Many would think that this book is just the stories from Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Rowley’s perspective, but you are wrong! In Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, Rowley tells you different things that happened between him and Greg, like Rowley and Greg’s first sleepover, and the time they made their own superhero! Some of the stories were so dumb, they were actually funny!

You may think that the drawings in this book will be very good like Diary of a Wimpy Kid‘s, right? No! This book features Rowley Jefferson’s drawing. So everyone has an oval face and no nose! Which makes this book even funnier.

Overall, this book exceeded my expectations. I enjoyed a lot! It will forever stand as one of my favorite Jeff Kinney books.

-Brandon D.

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Dangling Man by Saul Bellow

Image result for dangling man

This is the first novel of Saul Bellow and it talks about the declining lifestyle of Joseph, who believes that a spiritual satisfaction overweighs material perfection. For some reason, I think that this character has a great pride lurching in himself. He denies his slovenly condition of life by claiming that it’s austerity which is the factor that should be valued in our daily life.

What makes the entire situation worse is that Joseph’s brother, Amos is really rich. He always offers unlimited financial support for Joseph and his wife Iva, but Joseph never accepts it, again, due to his obstinate pride. Sometimes I think it won’t be a bad decision to just say “thank you” and accept the money for the simple reason that pride won’t feed you, clothe you, live with you forever. But money fulfills all three circumstances.

My favorite part of this book would actually have to be the fight scene between Joseph and his 15 year old overweening niece Etta. As a wealthy only child, she is undoubtedly spoiled by her parents. She gets whatever she wants. And as a small child, she is used to hearing how poverty has had her dad stricken, but now she is lucky because she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. This naturally places her in a position to despise poor people, especially if they are her relative, meaning Joseph.

Etta’s disrespect for Joseph was magnified when she called him a “beggar” because Joseph was using her piano without her permission and refused to hand it over to her. In turn, Joseph was riled by this act and beat Etta up. Now, Joseph and Etta have a lot of similarities, not only do they look physically similar, but they both think that they are always right no matter what. One thinks that she is always right because of her rich parents who provide her with boundless support, one thinks that he is alright right because of his spiritual purification.

-Coreen C. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

For the last couple of weeks, my English class read the novel, The Catcher in the Rye. For a book we had to read in class, it was actually quite interesting to read a book that really captured that teenage “angst” that some teenagers actually go through in real life.

The book is about a teenage boy named Holden Caulfield who is narrating the book and recollecting the past. He touches on touchy topics like the death of his younger brother Allie and of his friend James Castle. We see how he goes through different situations and how he acts upon it.

What was interesting about this book was that since it was all narrated by Holden, he would sometimes over exaggerate the story. However, it would seem that at times, he would lie which was quite enjoyable to read. This novel points to topics such as: social awkwardness, death of close ones, innocence, and finding oneself. The main character tends to struggle with these topics and constantly lies through it all, to the readers, to other people, and to himself.

Another part of the novel I enjoyed was all the different characters that were mentioned in this book. All the people at his school, the people he meets on the streets and in bars, and old teachers and the interaction Holden has with them.

If you have not yet read this book, I highly recommend this novel because it really captures the struggle of adolescents and the overcoming of it.

-Phoebe L.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin

Image result for Going to Meet the Man

This is yet another deep analysis written by James Baldwin on the issue of racism. But instead of writing from the perspective or setting a black person as its main character, this time the story revolves around a white deputy sheriff.

I was very much touched indeed about the description of the lynching of that black man in a small town where Jesse, the white deputy sheriff lived when he was young. It very much astonished and enraged me to read that Jesse’s father and mother saw the lynching of a human as a fun event instead of the violation of humanity. What saddens me more is the fact that Jesse as a young boy has to witness this brutality despite of his initial reluctance. However later on I realized that deep white superiority as a notion was planted in him which prompted Jesse in his adulthood to abuse African American citizens as well without hesitation or concern. He couldn’t endure black people from challenging white people’s authority, they were the masters, blacks can only be subjects.

Going in a deeper level I view this novel as basically a protest for racism by lending the Jim Crow mentality as an example to demonstrate the fear rooted in white people that black people someday might threaten their positions in the society as the force of dominion. Therefore this burning, castrating, hanging of a black man to death merely was shown as an illustration and a warning to other minorities of what they will suffer if they defy the power of the white people.

-Coreen C. 

Going To Meet The Man by James Balwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones, the first novel of A Song of Ice and Fire, is a fantasy novel by George R. R. Martin. It is considered an adult novel, with explicit scenes, so it should not be read by younger readers. The majority of A Game of Thrones takes in Westeros, a vast continent that spreads from a warm south to a freezing, mysterious north. In the north is a massive wall, manned by an organization known as the Night’s Watch, designed to keep an alien, zombie-like race known as the Others out, while the country’s center of power is in King’s Landing, a city in the South that contains the Iron Throne. Upon the Iron Throne sits the King of Westeros, who supposedly has the support of the seven Great Houses.

A Game of Thrones has three main plot lines. The first focuses on the fight for the Iron Throne in King’s Landing. Here, King Robert Baratheon and his Hand, Eddard Stark, attempt to keep Robert in power as they struggle to determine who is friend and who is foe. Robert and Eddard are surrounded by enemies, bystanders, and traitors, all while the country’s Great Houses wage war for control over the Iron Throne.

The second significant plot line is that of Bran Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow. Bran Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow are all sons of Eddard Stark, but Jon is an illegitimate son. While Bran and Jon defend the Wall from northern invaders, like the mountain men and Others, Robb Stark focuses on becoming the ruler of Winterfell, in place of his father’s absence.

Finally in the far east, upon another continent across the sea, is the plot line of Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of the Iron Throne’s previous king, who had been overthrown by King Robert. Daenerys and her brother Viserys Targaryen focus on reclaiming their rightful inheritance, as they begin to gain power in the east.

A Game of Thrones is a complicated mess, with main characters scattered throughout the globe. It can most similarly be compared to The Lord of the Rings, but with more complexity, more characters, and more explicit scenes. A Game of Thrones should only be read by a dedicated reader, or by a person who has the time, due to its length and large amounts of characters. Readers desiring a quick read should definitely not check out A Game of Thrones.

-Josh N. 

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Favorite Fictional Locations

There are many factors that make a book or series lovable, and among these is location. The intricately described and developed locations in books are one of my favorite parts about reading. They make the story vivid, and they strengthen the reality of the world. Here are a few of my favorite fictional locations:

 Hogwarts (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

It’s school for magic and a castle—what more could a fantasy lover ask for? Over the course of seven books, Hogwarts almost becomes a fictional home for readers just as it becomes a home for Harry. Though it has its share of dangers (such as Blast-Ended Skrewts and potentially evil Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers), Hogwarts is an exciting place with cozy common rooms, an incredible library, and a friendly keeper of the keys.

The Burrow (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

The Burrow is Harry’s escape from the Dursley’s, full of Quidditch practice, Mrs. Weasley’s cooking, and the friendliest family. It’s hard not to feel content when I read about the Burrow; it’s such a peaceful place and it’s so comforting to Harry. The house is cozy and delightfully crooked, and even the ghoul in the attic is pleasant (most of the time). 

Isla de los Sueños and Caraval’s Stage (Caraval by Stephanie Garber)

Isla de los Sueños’ description is so intriguing in Caraval: a magic-filled island with colorful shops selling the most unusual items, and with currency other than coins. Caraval’s stage is also a setting I enjoy reading about; there are so many possibilities on the stage: stores shaped like hats, underground networks, and carousels of roses. The unique locations in Caraval allow me to be swept away by the magical performance …though, of course, not too far away.

 Arundel (The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall) 

Although Arundel is not a location in a fantasy story, the yellow cottage, the mansion, and the garden behind the mansion combined with the wonderful characteristics of the four sisters develop a fantastical atmosphere. From walks though a garden in the moonlight to pillow forts in the piano room, Arundel has a large part in the charm of The Penderwicks.

– Mia T.

Another Country by James Baldwin

Image result for Another Country (novel)

This novel explores all aspects of maturity, including homosexuality, marriage, death and friendship. Of course at first this book sounded somewhat uncomfortable to me and I really didn’t want to read it. But because over the course of the period I have became the biggest of the James Baldwin I eventually decided to read it at last.

Initially, Rufus Scott is definitely a character that me, or almost everyone can relate with. At one point during our lives, we wonder what really is the point of life or why should we exist on this earth? I get tired of constantly changing faces and hiding my real self as if happiness was only mask on my face, I only peel it off when I go into my room and throw it in the trashcan. Only with Rufus Scott, he goes to the extreme and directly suicides. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s got a family there to support him, or at least half of the family.

Moving on the marriage between Cass and Richard pretty much presents a typical style of American life. One person has an affair, and the marriage breaks. Both people are not excellent parents but they still love their kids in my opinion. This also reflects how parents in real life tend to neglect the real needs of their kids due to their own stress or jobs.

-Coreen C.

Another Country by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library