Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour

summerlovin2.0Over the summer, I had the pleasure to meet four amazing authors at the Mission Viejo Library as a part of the Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Book Tour. These authors include Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, C.J. Flood and Jody Casella. Although I haven’t read any of their books yet, I got two at the event (Bittersweet and #Scandal) and I cannot wait to read them! I along with other people asked questions about how they became authors, where they get inspiration and how it affects their day-to-day life.

One question that stood out to me was “How long did it take for you to write your books?” because the answers vary so greatly depending on who you are. For example, for Jody Casella (who used Nanowrimo) took a full year to complete. Meanwhile Sarah Ockler finished her hit #Scandal in 4 years. Jody Casella’s Infinite Sky took three to four years to complete. The funny thing about writing is that its like riding a bike (yes, I know such a cliché simile but yes, I’m going to use it!) at first you’re wobbling, its hard to keep your balance and takes forever. But once you get the hang of it, its a much smoother ride that takes much less time. Just like the simile, Suzanne Young wrote her first book in 4 moths and now it only takes one month for her to finish a writing.

We then asked what these four writers do when they’re not you know, writing. Jody Casella’s only job is to write books although she was once an English teacher at a high school. Sarah Ockler is also a full time writer, as well as CJ Flood. Suzanne Young is a high school English teacher.

More questions followed and so did more answers. These four women are such inspirations for aspiring authors and its amazing to hear each of their stories. At the end of the event, we were given pizza and soda. Quite the way to end such a fun event. These writers were awesome to meet and I’m so glad I went.

-Danielle T., 8th grade

Book Review: The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken

‘ It feels like we should do something,’ he said. ‘Like, send her off on a barge out to sea and set her on fire. Let her go out in a blaze of glory.’ Chubs raised an eyebrow. ‘It’s a minivan, not a Viking.’
― Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

darkest_mindsI just recently put down the book that has been taking up most of my life lately. Captivating. Funny. There are twists and turns up and down the storyline. The Darkest Minds, in my eyes, has the complete checklist for being the next The Hunger Games or Divergent.

According to the author, Alexandra Bracken, “This series has so much more to offer. It really is a near-future thriller with romance, sic-fi, and dystopian elements thrown in, and it’s meant to feel as though something like this could happen tomorrow.” All around the country, people are picking up this book and reading it, becoming a hostage to brilliance of the writer. This book is amazing and I, without a trace of doubt in my mind, give it five out of five stars. Trust me, this is a book that you do NOT want to miss out on.

Anyway, picture this; the US has fallen victim to a disease that only affects ten to seventeen year olds and has already taken 98% of the youth population (I.A.A.N.). You are a part of the remaining 2%. A scared and paranoid government (“They were never scared of the kids who might die or the empty spaces they would leave behind. They were afraid of us- the ones who lived.”) create camps strung across the nation for the remaining kids- you get taken there and you are left. It was the day of her tenth birthday when Ruby was forgotten. Her parents locked her in her garage and called the police. Something was terribly wrong. She might have survived I.A.A.N. but life didn’t go on normally. She came out of it with uncontrollable abilities. Ruby was taken to a camp for six years where they were sorted, red-the highly dangerous ones, orange- the dangerous ones, yellow, green and blue. Working hard and being beaten, she discovers now, at the age of sixteen, she’s a dangerous one. Once the truth is out, she has to trust a total stranger to get her out. And soon.

Now on the run, Ruby joins a small group of runaways just like her, desperately searching for a safe haven- East River. Liam, the leader, falls hard for Ruby and although she wants to give in, she knows that she can’t get near him. Not since what happened to her parents. Once they reach East River, nothing is as it seems, especially its mysterious leader. In the background though, there are forces at work. Groups of people who will do anything to get Ruby in their team to rebel against the government. Ruby will be faced with the fates of everyone she loves in her hands, a decision that can mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living. This book is so amazing and definitely my favorite. Its a must-read. A masterpiece this great has to be given a try. Its only the best choice.

“The Darkest Minds hide behind the most unlikely faces.” You will not regret the choice.

-Danielle T., 7th grade

Book Review: I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore

i_am_number_fourI recently finished reading the book I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. It was an amazing book that I believe is a perfect fit for everyone.

The book is about aliens and their guardians who are currently living on planet earth. When the Mogadorians, another alien race, finally find them, they try to kill them off but can only do so in number order unless two are together.

In this adventure, Number Four’s life gets completely changed– from finding a very strange pet to dating the girl of his dreams, he learns about friendship, hope and that love is stronger than all of the planets combined. I read this book over the summer and fell in love with it just after the first page! Definitely one of my five favorite books. I give this book five stars and believe that it is a book that you can dive right into.

The first book in a series, I Am Number Four, is a novel about trust, adventure, endurance, perseverance and young love. I love this book and suggest truly to everyone and I could not put this book down from the first sentence to final word, and I hope that you read this book– it will NOT be a waste of time. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is truly a book worth reading that will encourage you to fight the daily battles and teaches you that things are not always as they seem.

-Danielle T., 7th grade

Book Review: Everneath, by Brodi Ashton

everneath_cover“Friends don’t eat friends’ souls.”

― Brodi Ashton, Everneath

Over the summer, I read by far one of my favorite books ever, and if you know me, that’s hard to beat. The title is Everneath. Personally, I would rate it 5 stars. This book is about a girl named Nikki who goes on a life-changing adventure.

“Despite all the other factors that had contributed to my fate, in the end it was my decision that destroyed my life. And all the hurt I was enduring now was my doing. The blame rested solely with me.”

Nikki awoke in the Tunnels, she looked up and saw shadows swirling around her, she was lying next to a boy. Confused, she stands up and learns that she has been asleep for a century but the only thing she can remember is a face…a face like no other…one that she knows and treasures… a face that changes her life and after a while, a name comes, Jack. Once given the option to go to the Tunnels or paradise for eternity where the only downside is feasting on souls, she chooses the unthinkable: go to the surface for six months then come back. But instead of paradise she will return to the underworld, Hell, otherwise known as the Tunnels.

“Too much math and science isn’t nourishing to the soul.”

How do you say goodbye to everything you’ve ever known? How can you leave your life right after you just got it back? How can anything ever be the same when you know that everything you’ve ever done is all for waste, all thoughts you’ve thought, all stories you’ve written, all secrets you’ve shared are to be forever gone and soon even you will be a distant memory? How can one person live with such a burden? Well, they can’t. At least not a full life. Nikki tries hard to, though. Although, she notices one thing though, Cole, the immortal who took her to the Everneath to begin with, has followed Nikki home. Cole is convinced Nikki is the key to taking the throne in the Everneath. And he’ll do whatever it is if it means bringing her back, this time as his queen.

“Why do we hope when all hope is lost?”

This book ties together Greek, Roman and Egyptian myths into a thrilling story about endurance, love, forgiveness, persistence and immortality where a new twist pops up everywhere. This book is not for everyone but I highly suggest it.

“Jack ,do me a favor?” I said.

“Anything, Becks.”

“Don’t let go of my hand. And if the Tunnels come for me, don’t let go until the last moment.”

“If the Tunnels come for you   ,I’ll hold on, and they won’t be able to take you.”

I smiled at the sentiment, even though I knew that no one would be able to hold on.”

Maybe things aren’t always as they look, life changes and we have to evolve to live on, our world can some days be crumbling and others days we could be on the top of a mountain where nothing can pull us down. Some days we are held by gravity but we have to learn how to break free of the chains around our ankles and fly to tomorrow. After all,

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”

― Brodi Ashton, Everneath

I love this book and suggest it for everyone.

-Danielle T., 7th grade

Book Review: Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan

_206890SchEsperanza_0.tifEsperanza Rising is a great novel about a young Mexican girl’s adventure of riches to rags– quite the opposite of most stories.

Esperanza lives on a big ranch called El Rancho de Las Rosas. There she has servants, huge acres of land, her best friends and a mother, father and grandmother who love her dearly. Esperanza lives the life of a princess, she has everything. That all changes on the day that Esperanza pricked her finger on a rose thorn, bad luck was coming. And she was right.

Esperanza’s father promises to meet her in the garden that day, but he never arrives, having been killed by bandits still bent on the Mexican Revolution. From that point on, Esperanza suffers through her uncles taking advantage of her father’s recent death and proposing to Mama, the burning of El Rancho de Las Rosas, the separation from Abuelita (grandmother), the step by step process to becoming poor and the escape from the only home she had ever known. Moving to California to work (although work was never in Esperanza’s vocabulary) is a big step for Esperanza.

A revolution boiling in the background of this new life and Mama’s sudden illness all come as a surprise to Esperanza. Will she be able to save Mama’s life and her own? Is the strength of love and perseverance truly the strongest medicine of all? Esperanza learns to “never be afraid to start over” because our lives are lives of “mountains and valleys.” After all, “he who falls today may rise tomorrow.”

-Danielle T., 7th grade

Book Review: Beta, by Rachel Cohn

beta_coverBeta is a great book. You will never see the ending coming!

Elysia is a 16 year old Beta, or experimental clone, who lives on the island of Demesne, a paradise for the wealthiest people on Earth. When Elysia learns about the other clones on the island and becomes the replacement of a girl named Astrid, her life changes forever. Elysia starts to work for the governor’s family keeping the two children, ages 16 and 10, occupied.

Clones are beings without a soul who cannot feel, they work as servants for the members of Demesne, doing their chores, working as nannies and making Demesne a true paradise. Even the air and ocean surrounding has been altered for total relaxation.

But when defective Clones, called defects, begin to spread word of a revolution everything goes for a ride. Elysia meets other teens living on Demesne whom she befriends. She learns of the world of people, until her only chance at happiness is taken away with such cruelty she might not be able to handle it. Besides, if Elysia is meant to be a soulless being, why are all of these emotions arising? Could Elysia possibly be a defect? Elysia goes on an adventure of romance, action and adventure in the novel Beta.

I loved this book right up to the ending and I believe that many people will agree that Beta is a book you simply can’t put down.

-Danielle T., 7th grade

Book Review: Star in the Storm, by Joan Hiatt Harlow

star_in_the_storm_coverA book filled with hope, suspense, and the strength of a relationship between a girl and her dog; Star in the Storm, written by Joan Hiatt Harlow, is by far one of my favorite books.

“One for sadness, two for mirth, three for marriage, four for birth; five for laughing, six for crying; seven for sickness, eight for dying, nine for silver, ten for gold; eleven for a secret that will never be told.”

When all non-sheepherding dogs get outlawed from the coastal village where Maggie lives, she is unwilling to let her Newfoundland, Sirius, go. She hides Sirius away as diseases flood the village. Having nosy neighbors, keeping Sirius hidden is a challenge. But when a violent storm hits, a boat packed with a hundred passengers gets stranded. Maggie knows that Sirius could save the passengers but is bringing him out of hiding worth risking his life. Besides, if anything goes wrong the passengers and Sirius’s life could be in danger.

This is a page-turning book that I had to read several times. This book is an easy read with twists and turns. I have suggested it to many of my friends knowing that whatever their type, Star in the Storm is a book worth reading.

-Danielle T., 7th grade

Book Review: The Prisoner of Cell 25, by Richard Paul Evans

michael_vey_coverThe first volume of the Michael Vey series, The Prisoner of Cell 25, is a thrilling novel that will keep you interested until the last and final word. Michael Vey is a teen with unusual powers. As he goes on an adventure, he meets new friends, shares new bonds, and gains new experiences. Michael learns of his powers and meets others like him.

In the beginning, Michael runs into the bullies Jack, Wade, and Mitchell. After Wade attempts to pants him, he gives them what they least expect, a shock. Witnessed by a cheerleader named Taylor, who mysteriously is similar to Michael, they get together with Ostin, Michael’s best friend. They learn of the similarities of both Michael’s and Taylor’s powers in that they are both “electric” children and the three of them form a club, The Eletroclan.

Just as Michael’s luck gets better, he and Taylor are invited to a mysterious academy called the Elgen Academy. The two of them grow more and more suspicious when they learn of the mystery behind why they both have electrical powers. When Taylor mysteriously disappears one day after school, and Michael and Ostin are witnesses to an unusual event where Michael’s mother disappears, Michael and Ostin accompanied by Jack and Wade go together on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

This book is a true action-packed novel that will leave you wanting more.

-Danielle T., 6th grade

Book Review: Witch & Wizard, by James Patterson

witch_wizard_coverWitch and Wizard by James Patterson is a page-turning book that keeps one hooked throughout the entire book and even after the thrill has ended.

Wisty and Whit Allgood are two teens who get kidnapped from their house in the middle of the night. They are taken away from all that they know with only a drumstick and an empty book. They soon get charged with being a witch and wizard and all that they love is taken away as they hear the news of their execution on their 18th birthday. When Whit accidently get his head stuck in the wall, their lives are changed forever.

The two kids learn of their powers and how to control them while bouncing from prison to prison. Wisty floats in her sleep, conjures up killer flies, and glows in the dark. Whit freezes animals and looks through portals into the Shadowland. They convert people, animals and judges into victims of their supernatural powers. Together they meet ghosts of a sort, portal jumping dogs, and others who had escaped the changes of their world, their home.

As a team, they grow their strength… but are they strong enough to start a revolution?

-Danielle T., 6th grade

Author Interview: Chad Williams

chadwilliams Author and former Navy SEAL, Chad Williams, visited Mission Viejo in March, and two members of the Mission Viejo Library Teen Voice took the initiative to interview him about his Navy SEAL experiences and the faith journey he shares in his memoir, Seal of God.

Q: Why do you believe that being a Navy SEAL always stood out to you?

A: “Being a Navy SEAL stood out to me because I saw it as the most difficult military training in the world. In my mind, it really was top of the mountain and I see being a Navy SEAL as being a part of the most elite. And that was something I wanted to aim for. I didn’t want to be just mediocre- I wanted to do something really big.”

Q: How did you feel when you were working the gun when your team was ambushed capturing the terrorist in Iraq?

A: “My initial thought was, ‘Wow, this is for real. If I get hit by one of these bullets that are coming at me, it’s not like a training exercise where you are just going to feel a sting from a simulation round. But these bullets are real, and could take an arm off, and in a split second I could be standing before God all of sudden.’ I  do remember thinking about some of the other SEALs that were on the ground, getting shot at, hoping ‘I hope that none of these guys get hit, because I know where I’m going when I die, but for some of them it is kind of uncertain.'”

Q: What are your feelings now toward your team-members of Team 1 who ostracized you?

A: “I have nothing but love for those guys; nothing but forgiveness is what I feel towards them. If  I saw one of them, I’d go running up to them on the street, and just tell them, ‘Hey man, I love you guys and no hard feelings,’ and I would want to share the gospel with them.”

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