Stay Home – Don’t Stay Bored

2020 has proven to be a difficult year. Each and every one of us is trying each end every day better than the one before it. Even if we are not directly affected by the Corona Virus either by loss of a loved one, a family member on the front lines or an essential worker, we can all do our part by staying home. In an effort to ease the pain and self control required for this, we turn to the media to keep us entertained and content. This leads to us powering through our pile of “to read” books, binging Netflix and catching up on YouTube series. The next day we turn around and all of the things that we thought we were never going to get to are done. We are like the hero of a story just after the climax. We are in the “what now?” period of the resolution in the narrative of our media consumption journey. Below are 11 different types of book suggestions to restock your inventory of “to read” books so you can have a new goal to work towards.

  1. A series:  Eye roll, I know.  But hear me out when I say completing a series over Quarantine will make you feel accomplished.  You know how you feel when you finish a book and pride comes over you?  When you read a series, multiple storylines together, you just one the book Olympics!  Series can be daunting to some but they are very rewarding.  Sure they take more time to finish that just one book but in the end you will ultimately feel refreshed.  Besides, you have time nowadays anyway, right? 

Some suggestions for book series that are tried and true are:  The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, The Harry Potter series, The Giver Series and the Time Quintet Series (Starts with A Wrinkle In Time).

  1. Books all by the same author: Similar to a book series but different storylines.  Reading different books by the same author is a good way to study their writing style.  This can be immensely 
  2. helpful for people who would like to become a writer themselves.  This can be extra effective when you read a set of books by one author and then another set from a different author to compare their styles.  Want to take it a step further?  Read a group of books from different authors from relatively the same timeframe to set them in an even playing field.  This can be a really insightful tool to study writing styles and techniques.  Some author suggestions who have a large assortment of books to choose from who tend not to write in a series are:  Charles Dickens(Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol), Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma), and John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns).
  1. A fairytale:  If you’re anything like me you are a sucker for the videos on YouTube that harold, “The True story of Peter Pan!” or “What Really happened in Alice in Wonderland?” and even, “The Untold Truth of Cinderella!”.  Yah, I’m a little addicted to these.  Maybe it’s because I feel cheered by society that they altered the story.  Maybe it’s because I genuinely want to know what happened in the story.  Maybe, if I accept the video’s version of truth, I can infer so much more about the societies which told these stories.  In any event, seeing a different take on these classic stories makes me think.  So, reading a fairy tale could be fun for you to.  Sometimes you can buy or listen to just one story but more likely they will come in a collection with other stories so you can see all of the ones Disney rejected.  However, if you think that these are going to be cute and all have happy endings like the Disney movies, do yourself a favor and don’t use them as a bedtime story as you are led to believe that they were.  Some suggestions for collections of fairy tales are: The Brothers Grimm Stories(Most copies should include Repunzel, Hansel and Gretal, Cinderella, Little Red Cap aka Little Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty or it may be revered to as Briar Rose, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Iron John etc.), The Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, The Ice Maiden etc,) and also even though it is not really a classic Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling is a really quaint book and you don’t have to know anything about Harry Potter to read it.  
  1. Plays, screenplays and scripts:  Tired of watching shows?  Read one instead!  I always like to read the screenplay of different shows or movies that I have watched and come across a certain line where I couldn’t tell what the character was saying and see it laid out on the page so I can finally tell.  Moreover, sometimes it’s just nice to read something straight on without all of the prose that is in an ordinary book.  Some suggestions of plays, screenplays and scripts are: The works of William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream etc.), The screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Truman Show Screenplay.
  1. Poems:  I know, eye roll again!  You’re not a poem person, I get it.  Poems can be very small.  Just try some tiny ones.  Like vegetables, if you have a little of them every day, eventually you will like them, I promise.  Poems get stereotyped as “old fashioned” and “boring”.  I say to those haters that they just have not found a poet that they like.  There are so many great modern poets who write in words that anyone could understand.  Please give these poems some consideration: The House on Mango Street (a novel written in vignets) or anything by Shel Silverstein and/or Robert Frost and if you do like poems challenge yourself with something like the Iliad and the Odyssey, epic poems accredited to Homer.
  1. Historical Fiction:  While you are sitting at home complaining about quarantine, read a historical fiction book so that you remember how good you have it while you are “suffering” with running water and electricity.  Ooh, burn!  But not all historical fiction is dark and depressing.  Some of it has happy endings.  For example, if the protagonist is an American soldier in the Revolutionary War and survives or an enslaved individual who makes it to freedom.  Historical fiction can be a great way to reflect on the past and appreciate the present.  Some examples of historical fiction include Number the Stars, Johnny Tramain, and (eye roll, I know you will it’s okay) The Magic Treehouse Series!
  • As a side note, biographies or autobiographies about or by a certain historical figure can tell you a lot about a certain time period that you are interested in.  Examples include Anne Frank’s Diary and Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave.
  • Also, any piece of text written during the time period you were interested in can teach you about it.  So, if you like the Victorian Era, read  Harlem’s Dickens who wrote books which took place in Victorian England.  
  1. Short Stories:  Short and sweet, these stories give you a little taste of literature without commiting to an entire book.  I find that short stories are often more passionate than a full length novel because they are more condensed.  Some short stories that I deeply treasure are:  The Mongoose by Rudyard Kipling, Harrison Bugeron by Kurt Vonnegut, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
  1. Books for kids!:  Maybe you are a kid.  Maybe you know one.  Maybe you want to pretend that you are a kid.  In any event, kids books are fun to read.  I love looking through my old books just to remember old times.  Should you find yourself in any of the above three descriptions, here are a few recommendations:  It’s Mine by Leo Leionni, The Story of Zachary Zween by Mabel Watts, Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake, The Madeline Series by Ludwig Bemelmans and anything by Rohld Dahl.
  1. Choose your own story books:  A surprisingly few people know about the wonders of choosing your own story books.  For those who do not know, a choose your own story book is exactly what it sounds like, a book where the plot pitchforks and you choose what happens next.  For example, let’s pretend that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a choose your own adventure book.  The book would go something like: Now it was Harry’s turn to get sorted into a Hogwarts house.  He comes up to the stool and Professor McGonagal places the hat on his head.  “Hm” the hat said, “You would do well in Slytherin or Gryffindor, which one would you rather have Harry?”.  Then there is a pause in the story and there are two options.  One would go something like: If you choose option A, Slytherin, then to page 72 and If you chose option B, Gruffindor, turn to page 85.  From there, you would get a different version of the story that goes back and forth and all around making each reader’s experience different.  These are really cool books that you are sure to have a good time with; Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton, My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran, To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North and Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure also by Ryan North.
  1. Mystery:  With your new skills from choosing your own adventure books, you will be able to envision dozens of ways a crime could have worked out in a mystery book!  Don’t be scared, not all mystery books are bloody and gruesome with vivid descriptions of a corpse, although as a full disclaimer many are.  In my view, mystery books are a great way to get your mind “up off the couch” while you have not moved all day.  Without even realizing it, mystery books keep your brain sharp which is something we could all use right now.  You will end up spending all of your free time trying to riddle out “who done it”, thereby working your brain’s reasoning and logical thinking muscles.  They say that you may as well use the time spent in quarantine to work on a skill.  Your friends may come out better at art, better chefs, some may have knit scarfed for everybody, but you my friend will be ready to be a full on detective.  Up to the challenge?  Try these gripping mystery books:  The Nancy Drew series by Mildred Wirt Benson and anything by the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, such The ABC Murders, And Then There Were None, and Death on the Nile.

I know you are bored, I am too. I know you are tired of quarantine, I am too. But if these book suggestions tempt you to stay in bed and stay home to read for a little while, making quarantine just a little more bearable, then I feel that I have done some good in our ever-changing world.

– Ainsley H

Curse of the Dead Gods Review

Curse of the Dead Gods, produced by Focus Home Interactive, is an exciting new third-person adventure game. As you follow an exotic adventurer journey through ancient temples, you will face multiple traps, enemies, and challenges. You can unlock certain abilities, as well as different weapons that can help you in your challenges. You can mix and match different combinations of the weapons to give you the best advantage against the enemies. The game also implements a new and interesting concept known as corruption.

The first thing that caught my eye was the combat, as well as the animation. Both are extremely clean and are very, very high quality. As the player switches from their torch, to their weapon, darkness surrounds them and the enemies start swarming. As the players start to wipe out the foes, more and more start to appear. The players must be extremely careful because if they take damage, they can not recharge their health. If a player dies, they must restart from the beginning of the map, and work their way through the entire temple again.

The enemies themselves are very interesting. From monsters that have simple melee attacks to giant monsters that have giant war hammers and floating heads, the variety is endless. This large amount of adversaries keeps the game interesting, as well as challenging. The player will also run into multiple traps. These can harm the players in multiple ways, such as poisoning them, catching them on fire, and stabbing them. Both of these challenges can totally change what the player needs to do.

To help counter these problems, the player is given a wide variety of weapons. The player is provided with a sword, revolver, and torch at the beginning of the game. They can then unlock a broad assortment of weapons through chests as well as through enemies that will drop them. There are certain weapons that work better against different enemies, such as the battle hammer that is efficient against large groups.

The most interesting concept of this game is the curses and corruption. When a player completes each level, they will get a certain amount of points that count towards corruption. When they reach 100 points, they will receive a certain “curse” that can either help or hinder them. This is a really interesting concept, but I do not think players should be punished just because they finish a mission.

Overall, I really enjoyed Curse of the Dead Gods. I really enjoyed the combat and customization options, and I think that for an early access game, Curse of the Dead Gods is really well produced. This game reminded me of the old arcade games that I used to spend hours playing. I feel that when the game has new temples and maps released, I will definitely play more of the game. I can’t wait to see what the producers have in mind for the game, and I believe the game will become one of my favorites!

-Daniel C

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Caesar is one of William Shakespeare’s best plays. It not only portrays the friendship of two major characters but also describes how democracy, instead of tyranny, is the best way to govern a nation and protect the rights of its citizens.

In this post, I would like to explain why, Brutus, in my opinion, is a patriot instead of a traitor. First, he killed Caesar because he thinks that it is the only way to save Rome from a dictatorship. Signs of corruption and power in Caesar warns Brutus that a tyrant is in sight. Therefore, he killed Caesar for the common good and to ensure democracy.

Another reason why killing Caesar can be justified as a way of patriotism is because the benefit equal representation in Senate brings outweighs the loss of Caesar. The plebeians do not know how the government operates, and therefore, they don’t know Caesar’s selfish plans and his personality. Hence, it is Brutus’ responsibility to assure that the Roman citizens’ rights are not taken away. If Brutus is already aware of others will accuse him of murdering his best friend and be entitled to that of a traitor, yet he still chooses to do it, this proves that he is a person who values his country above his personal relations.

-Coreen C. 

Julius Caesar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Ever since its infamous publication in 2003, The Da Vinci Code has succeeded largely in two things: become a massive international bestseller and stir up a contentious brew of religious controversy and criticism.

Controversy aside, I have to first applaud Dan Brown’s skill in weaving together an excellent thriller. When I first saw how thick the book was (689 pages; and I usually only exercise that sort of brainpower and patience with Harry Potter or Percy Jackson), I thought that Dan Brown better have a good story to tell.

Let me just say…he rose to the challenge and completely destroyed it.

My previous conceptions on the book were way off. I had this skewed idea that it was a biography of Leonardo da Vinci’s, ah, complex life, but it’s far more intriguing than that. In fact, the whole book is entangled in a complex matrix of enigmatic riddles, secret societies (ooh!), and the constant hit-or-miss run of the two fugitive protagonists, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu.

Langdon is a professor at Harvard–very prestigious, I know–and he studies the meanings of hidden symbols (sign me up for his class, please). He is drawn together to the other main character, Sophie Neveu, who is the granddaughter of a famous curator, Jacques Sauniere, through the mysterious death of Sauniere in the Louvre. Fair warning: this book is pretty intense. It literally starts with the curator’s murder by the hand of a monk under the religious group Opus Dei, but honestly, I don’t mind these intense openings, which makes me sound extremely psychotic. Guys, I promise the book didn’t ruin me.

Anyways, we eventually discover that Sauniere is part of a brotherhood, the Priory of Sion, that is devoted to the preservation of the pagan goddess worship tradition, and believed to be once led by Leonarda da Vinci (see, you knew da Vinci was in the title for a reason!), and that Sauniere is the last living member of the brotherhood. So that means…all their secrets are about to die! How could they!

Yeah, sorry. Jacques Sauniere outplayed us all, the genius man. Through excruciating pain before his death, he creates riddles and drawings around the exhibition, leading Neveu and Langdon on the most epic scavenger hunt I have ever witnessed. Sauniere doesn’t plan on having the secrets of the Priory lost anytime soon, and he trusts Langdon and Neveu to solve his puzzles and discover the truth. To be completely honest, Neveu and Langdon seriously make me question my IQ. I mean, they somehow escape the Louvre, slipping through the grasp of the French police by means of a bar of soap and a garbage truck (read the book to find out; the scene is pure gold, so I can’t elaborate too much >:) ). This might sound sort of cringy, but trust me, you have got to read this book, because you won’t put it down. Ever. How Dan Brown comes up with the puzzles in the story, the whole plot, the creative ways of escaping…it’s beyond me. At this point, I’m convinced that if anyone knows how to evade the FBI and disappear off the face of the planet, it’s Brown.

I’m not really going to go into more detail, because each puzzle just folds into another lead, then another. It’s insane. Now, though, I want to talk about the conflict about this book, which is partially what made it so well-known.

See, the book was banned entirely in countries like Lebanon because it poses some…well, interesting ideas about Christianity. For example, the whole focus of the Priory of Sion is the belief that the Holy Grail is not a cup depicted in da Vinci’s drawing The Last Supper. It’s a woman named Mary Magdalene, who the Priory believes to have married Jesus Christ and bore his child. I go to a religious high school, and yeah, that theory is definitely never brought up. Additionally, the book highly suggests that religious leaders such as the Pope and religious groups such as Opus Dei are surrounded with a dark history of blackmail and altering the true stories of the Bible, simply to make money. As the book says, the Bible isn’t the best book ever written, it was the best book ever sold.

Shots fired.

Brown argues that the book is completely factual, but many opponents of the book aren’t at all interested in listening. And I suppose they have a good reason to; the book does unravel some aspects of religion that Christians and others of faith may find highly offensive. For now, I’m choosing to remain neutral on the issue. I can definitely understand why some would renounce the book, but to me, I would still praise it for its compelling plot-line and lovable characters. If you’re looking for a thriller you can’t put down and will keep you occupied for days to come during quarantine, hit up Leonardo da Vinci, Langdon, Neveu, and the rest of the gang–and just lose yourself in the awesome world Dan Brown has created!

-Katharine L. 😀

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Image result for catch 22

Nearly six decades after its original publication, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 remains one of America’s most valuable – and most entertaining – classics of all time. Depicting the brutal insanity of war in a way no one else has quite managed, Heller and Catch-22 have cemented themselves in American literature.

Set in Italy during World War II, Catch-22 tells the story of the disillusioned bombardier Yossarian, who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are constantly trying to kill him, including both the enemy forces and the people within his own army. 

The most significant of these would-be killers is undeniably the titular Catch-22, which states that a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. 

Trapped in this endless cycle of missions and death, the soldiers on the island of Pianosa are forced to adapt to their constant torture by hiding in the hospital ward, enjoying illegal meals in the mess hall, and generally doing their best to be a nuisance to Colonel Cathcart, who continues to raise the missions needed to be relieved from duty.

Combining serious matters with lighthearted humor, Catch-22 is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. This fascinating look at the negative aspects of war, inspired by World War II and the Vietnam War, is a book that is impossible to put down. 

-Mahak M. 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Organic Strawberry Growing for Dummies

My strawberry plants are very happy right now, and I am harvesting strawberries. In clearing space for some plants, I had to pick a lot of strawberry plants out. Most people just compost old plants, but I decided to have some fun by giving them away. I put them in pots and gave them to strangers who walked by, as well as friends as family. I’d like to share my knowledge with anyone who is interested in strawberry growing.

I’ve learned some strawberry knowledge, and I am going to bless you with my knowledge from my EXTREMELY limited experience.

Gardening is a great way to use up free time, and it’s very rewarding and therapeutic. Mother Nature is powerful, and who knows what horrors you can put your plants through that they might bounce back from. But is that what you want? That’s the beauty of gardening. There’s no right or wrong, and nature has a wonderful way of adapting to things in unexpected ways. Plants need soil, light, and water. Mulching and fertilizing are two things that might seem expendable. And, you might be right. It really depends how well you want to take care of your plants. Do you just want to keep them barely alive, or do you want as many strawberries as possible? Do you just want them to be green and look pretty?

Okay, so, let’s say you have bought the most beautiful strawberry plant in a pot that comes with nice soil. If you just want to keep it alive, you have to put it in light and water it an inch a week. That’s the bare minimum.

June-bearing, Everbearing, or Day-neutral?

These are the three types of strawberry plants. But also more. It’s super confusing. Honestly I don’t get it. But here’s what the internet says: June-bearing is the most common, and produces the most and the largest strawberries for only a 2-3 week period around June once a year. Everbearing has 2-3 harvests per year, with a smaller harvest. Day-neutral varieties are the new fancy kind that produce berries throughout the summer. It’s super confusing, but if you’re looking into buying strawberry plants, I would do more research, because the kinds produce fruit at very different times.

Pot or Ground?

You can plant your strawberry plant in the ground, but the strawberries will be MUCH easier to pick if the plant is in a pot. If you plant them, they will spread everywhere. The berries themselves can’t touch the ground at ALL, or the entire strawberry will be ruined. While they are bearing strawberries, it is necessary to dig around the plants deep into the ground so the strawberries hanging off the plants don’t touch soil. Going from pot to soil and expecting non-moldy strawberries requires a bare minimum of digging deeply around the plants. The advantage of putting your plant in the ground, however, is that it will spread. The original plants will put out shoots that will root and create more plants. More strawberry plants means more strawberries (yay!). But more strawberry plants also means more work. Because they put out shoots and spread, every year it will become a thick strawberry tangled mess. You will have to remove a bunch of the plants to make space and dig around them. If you are willing to put in a lot of work, ground is a great way to get more crops. If you know you’re not going to put in the extra effort, pots are MUCH easier because they keep the berries off the ground as they hang over the edge.

Cut off Dead Stuff

If something happened to your berry plants and they’re looking very brown, cut off ALL the leaves and vines, and they will make new, more productive leaves and shoots leading to new plants. Every year after the growing season, you’re supposed to cut off all the leaves so new ones grow. It’s up to you if you want to do that, but I would advise it. Old strawberry plants don’t produce many berries, and the few berries get smaller and smaller as years go by. Plants are also very susceptible to disease, unfortunately. Berries you buy in the store are covered in chemicals because growing huge, red, glossy berries requires them to be eaten within an hour of being picked, not touch the ground, and all organisms to stay away. The reality of organic growing is lots of VERY ugly strawberries that go bad within 20 minutes. Cut off dead stuff as frequently as possible. If a tiny bit of a leaf in grown, just cut off the whole thing. That leaf is diseased and will just create more diseased leaves, and then diseased strawberries. If your strawberries look funny research strawberry diseases to try to help your sick strawberries.

Mulching?

Mulching is when you put something around the base of the plant to retain moisture, such as straw. Strawberries love this consistent moisture. Hence the name. STRAWberries. So, yes, mulching your plants is a great idea. Look up some mulching materials and mulch your berries to really see why they put the straw in strawberry! But honestly the plant will survive if you don’t. It’s worth the extra effort, though.

Fertilizing?

Strawberries really like nitrogen, so look up online ways to make your soil nitrogen-rich. Blood meal is a great, organic source (if you buy organic blood meal) of nitrogen.

Harvesting!

The basics are to harvest strawberries every 3 days, pick strawberries by clipping them a 1/2 inch from the stem of the berry, and pick them when ripe. Picking them when ripe is the hard part. Organic strawberries are some of the most difficult crops to grow. Once you pick them, they will not ripen anymore. So picking them before they are ripe will lead to strawberries that don’t have much flavor. The longer they ripen on the vine, the sweeter they get. They are ready to pick once they are a deep red. Even if they are deep red and smaller than a blueberry, they will unfortunately not get any bigger once they turn that dark red. I eat the tiny ones, but even if you don’t want to eat them, pick the tiny dark red strawberries so the plant doesn’t keep putting energy into them. After they turn dark red, all berries will rot and be eaten by other animals. Once they get that deep red pick them right away. Pick strawberries at least every 3 days, cutting away old berries you missed as well as ripe ones. They are frustrating to grow because sometimes bugs or birds or whatever get to them before they achieve a nice deep red. It’s an imperfect science at best. You’ll learn as you go. You got this.

Watering

Probably the most important thing, but also the simplest. Water your plants a little bit every day, about an inch a week. Think about an 1/8 cup of water a day. They have a reputation of rotting when overwatered, and people are hesitant to water them frequently. But in Southern California it is very hot, so please just water them a teeny bit every day if you are not good with watering plants. Ideally, don’t keep track of how often, because the most important thing is how the plant is doing. Maintain consistently moist soil around the roots. Check by putting your finger in the soil to feel the moisture the roots are experiencing. Having a 24 hour period of no water will damage the plant, and having a 24 hour period of too much water will cause the roots to rot and severely damage the plant. Thus, constant light moisture.

In a perfect world, you should put your plants in full sunlight, water them, cut off dead stuff, mulch, and fertilize them with nitrogen-rich soil. Do what you can. Happy strawberry growing!

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Two Towers is the second book of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous trilogy known as The Lord of the Rings.  The first half focuses on Aragorn and the remaining members of the Fellowship of the Ring.  The second half focuses on Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee as they try to reach Mordor.  The book includes various subplots, and many characters and places, so it may seem difficult to keep track of everything.  However, the story is very gripping and worth the effort to read.

Some of my favorite characters in this book are the Ents.  The Ents are like tree people.  Two of the little hobbits, Pippin and Merry, encounter an Ent named Treebeard after escaping a group of savage orcs.  Treebeard, like other Ents, is very tall and strong.  He moves very slowly because he does not like to be “too hasty.”  The Ents are usually gentle creatures, but they can become powerful warriors if aroused to battle.  I enjoy reading about these creatures because they are like trees come to life.

Treebeard takes Pippin and Merry to a tower controlled by Saruman.  Saruman is a wizard who was once good.  He is one of my favorite characters in the trilogy, even though we learn that he has become bad.  His voice is described as low and melodious, and he is able to enchant and trick people.  He appears to be full of wisdom, which enables him to gain many followers.  This character is a very accurate portrayal of how a wicked person can deceive many people.

Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are traveling with the One Ring toward Mordor, an evil land where orcs and many unnamed horrors roam.  They are guided by Gollum, a savage little thing that was once a hobbit, but has become corrupted by the ring.  Frodo and Sam form an uneasy alliance with Gollum after taming him, even though he still lusts for the ring.  The ring grants its wearer invisibility, but it also slowly overpowers its owner.  The ring is designed to get back to its creator, the evil Sauron.  Sauron is in the form of an eye on a tower in Mordor, always searching for his ring, which would give him unlimited power.

This book is a great story about the dangers of greed and power.  It also includes many surprises and plot twists.  The end of the book is a sort of cliffhanger, so I would recommend that readers read the entire trilogy in sequence.  The Two Towers is a great book on its own, but it should definitely be read along with the other books in the trilogy.

-Oliver H. 

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive