Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a fantasy novel about Katsa, who has been graced with the ability to kill. In her world, there are some who are graced with supernatural gifts and have different colored eyes. Those with useful gifts, such as Katsa, are brought to their King so he can use it. Unfortunately, Katsa is the niece of the King, and is used to intimidate would-be criminals. Engaging in secret espionage to help hinder his actions, Katsa is constantly working with the other members of the court.

On one of her missions, Katsa encounters Prince Po. Graced himself with an amazing ability to fight, Po goes to Katsa’s court. There, they fight together and maximize each other’s capabilities. Katsa has been trying to solve the case of a man she and other members of the court had rescued from another Kingdom. They did not know who had kidnapped him, but soon discover that this man is Po’s grandfather, who Po had been looking for. Working together, Po and Katsa discover the secrets behind both the kidnapping and their graces.  

The plot was intricate, but developed into a great story by the end. Katsa is a strong lead, and the development of her character is seen through the course of the story. Initially, she was reticent, but developed into a strong, self-assured character by the end of the story. Po also developed throughout the story, and was a great second character. The plot was simple, and easy to follow. However, there were some instances where it felt stretched out and a little boring, but there were not too many scenes like that. I would recommend this too whomever is looking for a fantasy read with a strong female character.

-Anmol K.

One of Us Is Lying

One of the best books I have read, One of Us Is Lying by Karen M, McManus, kept me hooked till the end. The plot revolves around five high school students: the jock, the brainiac, the troublemaker, and the princess. Cooper, Bronwyn, Nate, and Addy all are in detention together for having cell phones in their backpacks when they were supposed to be left in their backpacks. Each one claims that the cellphone was planned by someone else because each kid claims to have left in their locker, but the teacher does not believe them. Figuring that it must be a prank, they go to detention. Along there with them is Simon, a fellow senior. He is there for the same reason, but does not fit into any of these said stereotypes. While the students are serving detention, Simon goes to fill a paper cup with water. All of the sudden, he collapses and is rushed to the hospital. There, he is proclaimed dead from a severe allergic reaction to peanuts. The whole community is shocked, and blame is placed upon the four other students who were in that room with him. Each claims to be innocent, but each also has secrets to hide. Did someone in that room do it, or was it a group of them, or was it someone else with their own motives? To find out, read this novel and be prepared for a great plot.

I absolutely enjoyed this book because of the plot and the characters. As a fan of thriller novels, I especially enjoyed the high school aspect of it. It helped make it more relatable and added to the suspense. Another great aspect of this book is the characters and what each of them brings to the plot. As the story went on, their secrets were revealed. Those various revelations helped to make the plot more twisted. The main question of who did the crime was on my mind the whole novel, and the answer was delivered in an interesting way. As clues were revealed, I started to figure out the answer, but it was close to the end. I would recommend it to any high school student looking for a thrilling read.

Authors We Love: Meg Cabot

On August 7th 2017, Mission Viejo was graced with a visit from world famous author, Meg Cabot. There to promote her latest novel, Royal Crush, Meg Cabot has wrote many books; she has written the Princess Diaries, The Meditator, 1-800-WHERE-R-U, All-American Girl, Avalon High, The Airhead, and The Abandon series. In addition to this, she wrote numerous standalone novels. With such a wide collection of works, there is sure to be something for everyone. Just like the various characters Meg Cabot has wrote about, she has an interesting life story.

Born in Bloomington Indiana, Meg Cabot started to write stories from the age of seven. She was a big fan of Star Wars, and admired Princess Leia so much, that she wrote stories about her. As she grew older, she realized she could not do that, but she still loved Star Wars. In high school, she flunked math because she was too busy drawing all the time because she loved it as much as writing. After high school, Ms. Cabot attended Indiana University. Not sure about her major, she runs into a guy at a party who tells her not to major in creative writing. Taking his advice, she decides to major in art. During her time at college, she did not take a single writing class. At graduation, her diploma tube was empty because of that.

After graduation, Ms. Cabot moved to New York where she worked as an assistant residence hall director at New York University. There, she met the same guy from the party who told her that he was drunk at that time, and did not know what he was saying. They started to date, eventually got married, and have been married for over twenty years. Around the same time, her Father passed away, which really hurt her. She also decided to start publishing her works, but they kept getting rejected. Three years later, Ms. Cabot finally published her first novel, Where Roses Grow Wild, under her pen name of Patricia Cabot at the age of thirty. Her most famous series, Princess Diaries, was originally based on Cabot’s life about a woman her age having her mother starting to date her teacher. After writing about it, her friends feel it’s weird, so Ms. Cabot makes the girl fourteen, but nothing really happens. Ms. Cabot revises the story to make the girl a long-lost princess, and Princess Diaries is born. An interesting fact about the series is that the Father is not in the movie because the producers wanted Julie Andrews, who plays the grandmother, to have a lot of speaking parts.

As a writer, Ms. Cabot gets ideas for her novels from everywhere. Some are based on her own anecdotes, while others are just from her imagination. She advises aspiring writers to never give up their dreams. She lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her many cats.

-Anmol K.

Royal Crush and the works of Meg Cabot are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

 

Winning by Lara Deloza

Calculative, demanding, and brilliant, Alexandra Miles has one goal in mind in the novel Winning by Lara Deloza, to be homecoming queen. With the ability to make people do whatever she says, Alexandra is the unofficial queen at her school. She wants to cement her status by obtaining the crown. On her side is her loyal best friend Sam. Even though Sam considers them to be best friends, Alexandra only uses her for her own benefit. Alexandra’s scheming for the crown is ruined when the new girl, Erin, moves to the school.

Lively and popular, Erin’s move threatens to hinder Alexandra from achieving her goal of homecoming queen. Along with Sam, Alexandra implements a plan to ensure the crown will land on her head and nobody else’s.  The novel is sure to keep the reader flipping the pages to see if Alexandra ends up getting the crown or not.

Personally, I am not a big fan of stories about the high school hierarchy; I tend to stick to novels with more action and adventure. After reading the synopsis of this novel, I was intrigued. Opening the novel, I could not put it down. Even though the characters were underdeveloped, I continued to read the novel. I would recommend it for high schoolers because of some parts. Otherwise, all highs choolers will relate to some part of this novel.

-Anmol K.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Interwoven by a single object, the three lives of children are forever changed by magical harmonica in the novel Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

The story begins with a young boy named Otto, who meets three sisters when he gets lost in a forbidden forest. Interacting with them, Otto realizes the mysterious nature of them. The sisters guide him home, and give him a harmonica with a special “M” seal. The harmonica makes its way to a young boy named Friedrich in Germany.

Hitler is rising, and the Nazi’s party influence is very prominent; resistance to it is very difficult. Discovering the special harmonica in the factory his Father works in, Friedrich plays it and realizes there is something special about it. Because of unforeseen circumstances, he is forced to get rid of the harmonica.

It travels next to Mike, an orphan, in Pennsylvania. Constantly taking care of his younger brother, Mike is looking for a break to help himself and his brother out of their destitute lives. Musically gifted with playing the piano, Mike discovers the special harmonica. He and his brother are eventually adopted, but there are some complications with their new guardian. The last child in the novel is Ivy. Receiving the harmonica, her special talent for playing is recognized by her teacher; her teacher chooses her to play a solo in a special concert, but Ivy’s Father receives a job, forcing her to move way. Her Father’s job is to take care of a farm of Japanese family, while they are in an internment camp. The neighboring farms are anti-Japanese, and some vandalize the property. The harmonica helps her adjust to the move. Each of the children’s lives have their own story with the harmonica, but the ending ties them all together beautifully.

Even though this book is intended for younger children, anybody of any age would enjoy this novel because of its simplistic nature and “feel-good” element. My favorite part of this book was how there were multiple stories, and they were told in such detail, that one was able to connect and understand the individual characters. It is also relatable because of the backdrop of the second World War, and how it impacted people differently depending on where they lived. The “magic” element made the novel all the more enjoyable because it captured the innocence of the young children.

I loved Echo, and I would recommend it to anybody looking for a light, quick read.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Get ready to clear your schedule because With Malice by Eileen Cook will keep you hooked and unwilling to put her story down. Yale-bound, 18-year-old Jill Charron’s life is turned around when she wakes up in a hospital bed with a big blank where the memories of the past six weeks should be. Learning that she was in a cataclysmic car accident, she is shocked when she learnt it happened in her dream school trip abroad in Italy. Struggling to recover from her injuries sustained in the accident, she is startled to discover her best friend of over ten years, Simone, is dead.

Furthermore, she discovers her affluent father has hired a top-notch lawyer because the car accident and Simone’s death are being investigated as a murder, and Jill is being accused of causing Simone’s death. Simultaneously recovering from her injuries, and dealing with the aftermath of the accident, Jill must piece together the glimpses of memories she has to figure out what really happened to her best friend.

As I read this book, I was completely enamored with the story, and I could not put it down. The concept of the story may not be unique, but it was told in a way that made it seem like it was. The way Jill was portrayed in the story was accurate and she seemed like a real person. The ending fell a little bit flat, but overall the story was engrossing.

-Anmol K.

With Malice by Eileen Cook is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Super Human by Michael Carroll

superhuman_michaelcarrollSuper Human by Michael Carroll is about four kids teaming up to help save the world. Unlike other teenagers their age, three of them have super powers, making them superhumans. With strength and speed, Abby de Luyando has power over metal items. Rox Dalton has the ability of telekinesis, while James Klause can control and manipulate sound. The last member of this group, Lance McKendrick, may not have any superpowers, but his talking skills can get him out of sticky situations. In this adventure, these four, with the help of other established superhumans, work together in order to defeat the group named Hellotry. Intending to bring back the fifth King from four thousand years ago, the Hellotry want him to rule the world because he was the first superhuman in existence. In order to make taking over the world easier, the Hellotry release a plague in order to kill off all the adults, and only leave the kids behind. The four teenagers have to not only defeat the fifth King, after he is summoned to the real world, but also need to find a cure to the plague.

Starting off with action, this book wasted no time in getting the characters introduced and building an exposition. The first couple of chapters jumped around, and introduced each character in a relatable way because of the everyday situations he/she was in. Also, the transition in the kids joining forces was seamless. One thing that lacked a little bit in this story was character building; the story was a bit too focused on the plot, which hindered the characters to develop. Also, the plot was a bit predictable, but there were still a couple of unexpected twists. Overall, a great read for anyone looking for some superhuman adventure!

-Anmol K.

The Super Human series by Michael Carroll is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library