Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Hoot is one of my favorite books of all time. The author, Carl Hiaasen, masterfully weaves different stories into the book to finally merge into one, beautifully composed masterpiece.

Roy Eberhardt is the new kid–again. This time around it’s Trace Middle School in humid Coconut Grove, Florida. But it’s still the same old routine: table by himself at lunch, no real friends, and thick-headed bullies like Dana Matherson pushing him around.

But if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson mashing his face against the school bus window that one day, he might never have seen the tow-headed running boy. And if he had never seen the running boy, he might never have met tall, tough, bully-beating Beatrice. And if he had never met Beatrice, he might never have discovered the burrowing owls living in the lot on the corner of East Oriole Avenue. And if he had never discovered the owls, he probably would have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime. Apparently, bullies do serve a greater purpose in the scope of the universe. Because if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson….

Roy’s whole fiasco wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Carl Hiaasen plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature (and super cute!) owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system.

As I read this book, I was grinning and thinking how cool the three main characters were. And beware–because once you pick up this book…you can’t put it down, because it is truly a hoot.

-Katherine L.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Holes by Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats, a boy who has bad luck due to a curse placed on his great- great-grandfather, is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, for a crime he did not commit. Stanley and the other boys at the camp are forced to dig large holes in the dirt every day. Stanley eventually realizes that they are digging these holes because the Warden is searching for something.

As Stanley continues to dig holes and meet the other boys at the camp, the narrator intertwines three separate stories to reveal why Stanley’s family has a curse and what the Warden is looking for. I thought that the stories were great because they kind of blended in with one another and revealed the history of Camp Green Lake one step at a time.

Anyways, one day, as Stanley is busy digging holes, he finds what other than a lipstick tube with the initials KB imprinted on it. He discovers that the initials stand for a famous outlaw nick-named Kissin’ Kate Barlow. Stanley knows that the Warden, a woman who happens to be a descendant of Charles and Linda Walker, people who are enemies of Kate Barlow, is interested in this find and he speculates that perhaps Kate Barlow used to live in the area.

What treasures might the mysterious and dry Camp Green Lake hold? Read this book to find out!

Holes by Louis Sachar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Into the Wild (Warrior Cats) by Erin Hunter

This is the first book to the Warrior Cats series, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It’s about a bunch of wild cats living in the forest that live in packs called Clans, and the battles, and the cats growing up and becoming warriors. The books are really action-packed and fun to read! And after reading this story, I just couldn’t look at house cats the same way ever again!

Anyways, to begin with, there are four Clans in the forest: ThunderClan, ShadowClan, RiverClan, and WindClan. There is also a StarClan, which is like the cats’ heaven. Everything is peaceful, until a mysterious omen arrives:

“Fire Alone Can Save Our Clan…”

For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying – and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

And in the midst of this turmoil appears just an ordinary house cat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

-Katharine L.

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Inquisition by Taran Matharu

More demons, epic battles, and fights to the death…

On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future – the process is grueling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher’s tragic origins.

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans, a school for students that have the rare ability to summon demons. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and long wanted peace.

With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there’s a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire.

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory. But will he survive?


I loved reading this book, especially since all of the suspense that kept me reading till the very end. This book is like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter combined, two of my favorite books. The Summoner series is truly excellent!

-Katharine L.

The Inquisition by Taran Matharu is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Novice by Taran Matharu

One fateful night, blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Mysteriously given a leather bound book, he accidentally summons in a deserted graveyard a Salamander demon, named Ignatius.

He then travels to Vocans Adept Military Academy, a school for adepts with the ability to summon demons. There, the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against Orcs.

Fletcher must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. All of Hominum will be destroyed if makes a fatal mistake. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs. What will happen?


Something that I liked was that at the back of the book, there’s a type of animal encyclopedia where it lists all the breeds of demons that can be summoned and their powers. I thought that that was super cool! I can’t wait for the second book, The Inquisition!

The Novice by Taran Matharu is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

maniacmagee_jerryspinelliJeffrey Lionel Magee lives a normal life until his parents are killed in a tragic trolley accident. He’s sent to live with his Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan and despite Dot’s sporty name, it’s not a fun household. Uncle Dan and Aunt Dot are strict Catholics who hate each other, meaning Maniac grows up in a loveless, largely silent house. When he’s 11 years old, he’s finally had enough, and takes off running. Yup, literally running. He runs for a couple hundred miles and a year, and ends up in Two Mills, Pennsylvania.

Maniac doesn’t know it yet, but Two Mills is a divided town. (Okay, well, maybe the name should have been a clue.) The East and West End are separated by Hector Street. Maniac’s first stop is the East End, where he meets Amanda Beale and her suitcase of books. Maniac goes back and forth between the East and West End, making a few friends and mostly enemies, and for some reason never really noticing that the West End is entirely white and the East End is entirely black.

When the Beales realizes that Maniac is homeless, they take him in as a member of their family. Life is great for a while, but eventually the East Enders start getting him down. See, not everyone loves the idea of a white kid living with a black family in a black neighborhood. So Maniac (after a quick detour solving Cobble’s Knot) takes off.

Long story short, he moves in with a buffalo family and then meets Earl Grayson, a washed-up former minor leaguer. Things are really hunky dory for a while: Maniac’s got a temporary dad, Grayson learns to read, they celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then Grayson…dies. And Maniac is alone. Again.

Maniac’s not doing so well this time, and ends up cold, starving, and alone in Valley Forge. Good thing Russell and Piper McNab find him on their way to Mexico. These two little hoodlums provide a reason for Maniac to stick around for a while, in a nasty, nasty house filled with some nasty, nasty people.

But the little McNabs need Maniac, and he steps up. Eventually, Maniac leaves them behind as well to move back in with Baby Buffalo and his mom (really). He’s living there when his friend/enemy Mars Bar Thompson and his adopted sister/BFF Amanda Beale find him and make him come home. That’s right, home. To his family. It looks like Maniac has finally found what he’s looking for.

-Katharine L.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

 

Film Review: A Dog’s Purpose

When I heard out that this book had been made into a movie, I knew I had to read it. So there I was, checking the book out of the library and I was completely hooked the second I started. I have always loved dogs and the way the author, W. Bruce Cameron, wrote this story is just fabulous. I have no idea how he could write this heart-warming tale from a dog’s point of view so well and accurately! It amazes me, and sometimes I wonder that maybe he is part dog!

“All dogs go to heaven, unless they have unfinished business here on Earth.”

The main character is a dog that has been reincarnated four times! The dog comes back each time because he is trying to fulfill his purpose. Basically, he is seeking “a dog’s purpose in life” in his different reincarnations.

In the dog’s first life, he is born as a stray mutt named Toby. His mother has warned him to beware strangers, that man is not to be trusted. However, after getting severely bitten by a malicious dog, Toby lives a tragically short life. But the story doesn’t end there. In his second reincarnation, he is a Golden Retriever named Bailey, a purebred retriever. He is sold, and finds a loving home with a boy named Ethan and his parents. Bailey loves his boy Ethan, and they spend almost every moment together, their bond inseparable. They also love to play the game Rescue Me, where Bailey jumps into the lake to save Ethan.

In his third life…he’s a girl. He’s a German Shepherd named Ellie, ready to save and to Find people and rescue them. She realizes that this is similar to rescuing Ethan, and does her job and saves many lives until her own ebbs away. And in his final life, he’s a male again, this time a black Lab named Buddy. Ethan is now an old man, and Buddy is determined to be with his boy once more. He treks a long way, and he finally finds Ethan in the town that he once knew, and he realizes nothing changed much. Buddy also finds an emptiness inside of Ethan, and decides to bring him his old girlfriend, Hannah, hoping that will fill up the void of emptiness. The two get married, and Buddy realizes that he has truly fulfilled a dog’s purpose.