Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow: the Chosen One, the greatest Mage the world has seen, and possessor of an exceeding amount of magic. Who would expect a boy of such prestige to be an orphan? Simon is told time and time again that those with magic flowing through their veins don’t give up their children–magic simply isn’t dispensable. So why is Simon Snow, legatee of such a copious amount of magical power, a foundling?

At the age of eleven, Simon is taken from the care home he’d been dwelling at by the Mage, a powerful and esteemed man who holds the position of headmaster at Watford, a school for people who possess magical blood. As Simon is the only orphaned student, the Mage cares for him, and makes sure that every September, after a summer spent at a care home, Simon gets safely to Watford.

In Carry On, Simon is entering his eighth and final year at Watford, which proves to be quite tumultuous. The year starts off ordinarily enough. Simon strategizes with his best friend, Penelope Bunce, about how to best defeat the Insidious Humdrum, an absurd yet aggravatingly quick-witted and bothersome creature who has seemingly atrocious intentions. He had, in previous years, made multiple attempts at castigating the magical world and Simon Snow in particular.

Simon, Penny (Penelope), and Agatha (Simon’s girlfriend) continue to speculate upon the different threats and issues that the Humdrum’s actions have caused, but their efforts thus far have led them nowhere. After an unsettling encounter with a departed soul, Simon ends up forging a shaky, yet advantageous truce with his roommate, Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch, a bitter and austere boy who has done nothing but provoke and nag Simon at every chance he gets. However, despite the facade of icy forbiddingness he puts forward, Basil may have trouble keeping his true feelings for Simon in check.

Simon Snow and his story was originally introduced in Fangirl, another phenomenal novel by Rainbow Rowell, as a fictional series that Cath (the protagonist in Fangirl) is obsessed with. Small excerpts of Simon Snow are featured in Fangirl, but Rowell thought that it deserved its own book, so that is the reason for which she wrote Carry On.

I entirely adored this book. I fell in love with the characters (Baz is my favorite!), and I fell in love with the world Rowell created. I extol how significantly she strayed from her normal style of realistic fiction and how she was able to create such a vivid and enticing world. Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was how Rowell switched perspectives so that the reader could get a clear and full picture of what was going through each of the characters’ minds.

This book was such a compelling and fascinating read, and I will definitely read it again in the future. The characters are all very endearing, and I loved the relationship between Simon and Baz: sworn enemies who have united against an evil cause. Will their truce only heighten their hatred toward each other, or will it bring them closer together?

-Elina T.

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott, is a fantasy novel with both medieval European history and mythology from all around the world woven into it. The story follows Sophie and Josh Newman, two normal teenaged twins spending the summer in San Fransisco while their parents work at an archeological dig in Arizona. Little do they know that their lives are about to be changed forever. 

Sophie and Josh experience one shock after another as they come to realize that the world is full of magic. But not the type of magic we think of straight away. In their world, it is believed that, over time, the human race has neglected the full use of all of their senses. When people are Awakened, when the full extent of the capacities of their senses are activated, what they have the ability to do seems like magic. 

But magic isn’t the only thing that they discover to be true. Famous historical figures, like Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle, are still alive and have been living on this earth under different aliases for hundreds of years. And even more intriguing, the twins find that figures straight from fairy tales and myths roam the earth. 

Sophie and Josh are dragged into a thrilling and dangerous chase when they unwittingly witness the Book of Abraham the Mage being stolen from Nicholas Flamel. This book, the Codex, contains the recipe for the Elixir of Life, and without it, Nicholas and his wife will age rapidly and perish within the month. But the book also contains another spell. A spell that could compromise the liberty of the human race. Sophie and Josh must assist Nicholas in retrieving the book, else risk the existence of the world as they know it. 

What I admired most about this book was that it introduced mythological characters, creatures, and places from from a variety of different countries. In the world that Scott has created, all of these mythological figures live in the same world and interact with one another. I also enjoyed the historical content that Scott weaves into the story. European history has always piqued my interest, what with all the drama and their heavy belief in the gods. This book provided a sound union of history and mythology and was a very compelling read. 

This book is definitely not monotonous, and in fact is very fast-paced and filled with adventure. It was also easy to relate to the main characters (the twins) and what was going through their minds as their eyes were opened up to the world of magic before them. I enjoyed this book very much, and look forward to reading the remainder of the series. (There are five more books: The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock, and The Enchantress).

-Elina T.

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott, and the rest of the books in the series, are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

My Favorite Fictional Characters!

Sodapop Curtis from The Outsiders: After I finished reading the book (The Outsiders), I was absolutely obsessed with it! I loved all the characters very much, but Soda is, by far, my favorite. He’s kind, funny, friendly, and most importantly, he’s a good brother. He protects and stands up for Ponyboy, and does everything he can to help Darry to pay the bills.

Fred Weasley from Harry Potter: (*Spoilers!) Don’t ask me why it’s Fred and not George cause I have no idea why. I do love George too, but for some reason, while I was reading the series for the first time, I decided that Fred was my favorite character. Mind you, I had decided this before I had finished the series, so I was completely heartbroken when he died in the seventh book, as I’m sure everyone was. I just love the twin’s constant bantering and jokes. Despite the fact that I’ve read the series a million times, they never fail to make me laugh.

Percy Jackson from Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus: I think it’s safe to say that this is the only series wherein my favorite character is the main character! I love Percy so much! In a way, I grew up with him as I read the books, and I think that really helped me grow to love him even more. Percy is so endearingly humorous, likable, and just… a fun guy! Even though he’s a very powerful demigod and his father is Poseidon, he acts, for the most part, like a normal teenaged guy.

Newt from The Maze Runner: (*Spoilers!) A Glader, and second-in-command to Alby, Newt is kind yet firm, and grows to be a good and loyal friend to Thomas. Perhaps not as fiery as Minho, Newt brings a more leveled personality to the story and is a very prominent character whom I grew to love and care about while reading the series. I was devastated when Janson (a.k.a. the Rat Man) read out the list of munies and Newt was not on it. It was very sad to see him lose his sanity, but I think he did contribute a lot to the team, and was sorely missed.

Azriel from A Court of Thorns and Roses: Quiet, dark, brooding, and mysterious, he doesn’t talk much, but when he does speak up, everyone pays attention because they know that whatever he has to say is important and significant. He’s an Illyrian warrior! Skilled in combat, he would make a deadly enemy. But he also has a sweet and gentle side. He’s very caring and respectful and enjoys having a laugh with his brother, Cassian, once in a while.

-Elina T.

Luna Lovegood Meets Rolf Scamander

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and I absolutely love Luna! She’s one of my favorite characters. I also really loved the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so I decided to write out a scenario in which Luna and Rolf (Newt Scamander’s grandson) meet. They do actually meet and end up getting married, but this is an idea that I had of their first encounter.


“Oi!” 

Luna crept forward, gently pushing away some leaves to reveal a young man dashing about. It appeared as if he was searching for a lost possession. 

“Come back here!” He moaned, poking half-heartedly at a knot in a rather gnarled-looking tree. 

He jumped backward immediately, gasping as a flock of birds flew angrily from a branch far above. Luna peered past the shrub she was crouched behind, watching the figure before her as he restlessly ran his hands through his wavy auburn hair. After a few more minutes of searching through the underbrush and surrounding trees, the man sat on the forest floor, and reached out to bring a case toward him. 

Luna squinted-she hadn’t noticed the case before. She watched curiously as the box rattled slightly, as if something was trying to get out. The man simply sighed, leaning forward, and resting his arms on his case. 

Suddenly, Luna felt something tugging at her patchwork bag. 

“Oh!” She exclaimed, immediately clapping a hand over her mouth. 

Her protuberant eyes widened as she watched the man look up, jump to his feet, and pull out his wand. 

Thinking quickly, she decided upon revealing herself. She stood up, pulling the squirming creature from her bag. 

The man stopped short at the sight of her, tilting his head to the side as if deciding whether or not to trust her. 

“Who-?” 

“I’m sorry,” Luna said quickly, maneuvering around the shrub, and holding out the niffler. “I was out collecting freshwater plimpies, and thought I heard something. Is this yours?” 

The man nodded. “Freshwater plimpies prevalent around here?” He asked, stowing his wand back into his coat, and taking the niffler from Luna’s hands. “Thank you, by the way,” he added, indicating the niffler. “He’s always getting into trouble.”

“It’s quite alright,” said Luna, smiling serenely. “And yes, they are. I come down here to collect them every weekend. There’s a stream just down there,” she pointed back in the direction she had come, then looked at the man’s face more closely. “I feel like I’ve seen you before.”

The man, who had crouched down and unlatched the case, paused, studying Luna’s face, his sage-green eyes narrowed and his brows furrowed. 

“Well, I did go to Hogwarts. I’ve been out for a few years though,” he said, remembering he still had the niffler in his hands, and gently placing him into the case. 

“Oh! I went to Hogwarts as well. I was in Ravenclaw,” Luna exclaimed. 

He nodded slowly. “I thought I recognized you! What’s your name?”

“Luna Lovegood,” she said, holding out her hand. 

“I’m Rolf. Rolf Scamander,” he said, grasping her hand. “Pleasure.”

“Likewise,” replied Luna. “Oh, watch out!” She crouched down, catching the little niffler who had made another wild attempt at escape. 

Rolf shook his head, his wavy hair dangling just above his eyes. “He’s always doing that,” he said, once again taking the niffler from Luna and putting him into the case. 

“Hold on,” said Luna, rummaging through her bag and fishing out a few golden galleons. “Here you go!” She held the shiny coins out to the niffler, who nimbly plucked them from her outstretched palm and retreated back into the case. 

Rolf grinned and looked up at the peculiar girl. “Thanks Luna.” He straightened, clutching his case, which was now securely latched shut. “Need any help with the freshwater plimpies?” 


-Elina T.

Harry Potter, Nineteen Years Later

*Contains spoilers for anyone who has not read the entire Harry Potter series!

In the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the final installment of the series), Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione are shown seeing their children off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. James and Albus Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley board the Hogwarts Express while Lily Potter and Hugo Granger-Weasley watch wistfully alongside their parents on platform nine and three-quarters as they are still too young to attend Hogwarts.

The Battle of Hogwarts occurred in 1998, which means nineteen years later would be 2017! This year, a new generation of witches and wizards will attend Hogwarts and have and create spectacular memories of their own. This is also the year in which Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place!

It’s extremely difficult to believe that this year marks the end of the Harry Potter series –this year Harry would’ve turned 37! Coincidentally, this year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone.

September the first was a momentous day for Harry Potter fans all around the world. This was the exact day on which the Hogwarts Express would leave platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross. Loads of die-hard fans poured into King’s Cross station in London, England so that they could be present at eleven o’clock — when the Hogwarts Express would leave and Harry and his friends would be seeing their children off.

I have always been a huge fan of Harry Potter, and, in a way, I feel as if this year sort of brought a closure to the Harry Potter series for me. But I will still love it and read it and re-read it — always.

-Elina T.

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library and online from Overdrive

My Reading Playlist

I know some people aren’t able to listen to music while reading, but I like to, and decided to compose a playlist consisting of most of the songs I listen to while I read. I generally avoid listening to anything too loud and/or busy so that I won’t be too distracted. Hope you all enjoy 🙂 

Here are some of the bands I listen to:

Grizfolk: I stumbled across this band on Spotify, and I absolutely love their music! I was sort of surprised when I realized that not very many people have heard of them. Their sound is very unique and clear, which I like. I often just play the band’s playlist on Spotify, but I do have some favorite songs: Bob Marley, Waking Up the Giants, and The Struggle. 

Young the Giant: This band is more popular than Grizfolk, and I also discovered them on Spotify. I really like the band’s style and their lyrics are really meaningful. Some of my favorite songs from them are: Art Exhibit, Waves, and Firelight. 

The Fray: I’ve been listening to The Fray for a while now, I don’t really remember how I found them, but I really liked their songs. Most of them are fairly calming and tranquil, which is great for reading. They use a lot of piano, which makes for graceful music. My favorite songs by them are: Never Say Never, Ungodly Hour, and You Found Me. 

Cage the Elephant: I love this band so much! Their sound is so unique, and I love the riffs they come up with for their songs. Their music is definitely louder than the bands I discussed above, but I still enjoy listening to them while I read. Some of my favorite songs by them are: Cold Cold Cold, Whole Wide World, and Come a Little Closer. 

Imagine Dragons: This is, and has been one of my favorite bands since I first began listening to their music. I love all the different percussion they use in their songs, and I love how different all of their tracks are (I also love their album art!). My favorite songs by them are: Dream, Who We Are, and Battle Cry. 

Queen: Queen is my favorite band of all time! I love their sound, their lyrics, but mostly, I just think Freddie Mercury has an amazing voice. I’ve always thought that their name: Queen, was so fitting. Their music, to me, sounds regal, If that makes any sense. Additionally, their sound is so distinctive, which is largely what makes a band successful. I honestly love all of their songs, but here are some of my favorites: Killer Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now, and of course, Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Les Trois Accords: This is a French rock band from Quebec, whose music I find very unique and fun to listen to. I can’t understand all of the words to their songs, but I think that’s fine for while I read. My favorite songs from them are: Le bureau du médicine, Bamboula, and Vraiment Beau.

Here are some other songs that I like to listen to while I read:

  • Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down
  • Superman (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting
  • Work Song by Hozier
  • Always by Panic! at the Disco
  • Be Yourself by Audioslave
  • Wonderwall by Oasis
  • Valerie by Amy Winehouse
  • I Miss You by Blink-182
  • Santeria by Sublime
  • These Days by The Black Keys
  • Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
  • Jumper by Third Eye Blind
  • Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce
  • Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day
  • 21 Guns by Green Day

-Elina T.

You can find these albums and more with Hoopla, a streaming music service available for free with your library card. 

Film Review: Ocean’s Eleven

I love this movie so much! I’ve probably seen it over ten times, and would gladly watch it again. Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to watch something dark and intense and ominous. I know there are countless other movies out there that aren’t dark and intense and ominous, but Ocean’s Eleven is always my default. It’s just so funny and clever! It’s actually a remake of the original Ocean’s Eleven (with Frank Sinatra). But when they released the remake, it did really well, so they made two more movies (Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen) which are equally as good and humorous. 

The movie starts out with Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) who has just been released from prison (he was in for robbery). He immediately seeks out his friend, Rusty (played by Brad Pitt), and together, they begin formulating a plan to rob a a group of casinos in Las Vegas owned by a man named Terry Benedict. 

Although there are so many different characters (eleven on the team), I love all of their individual personalities and qualities. It’s actually really impressive that each character is developed so well as there are so many of them so props to the director! The plot of this movie is also really clever and well thought out. I love the twists and turns, and even though what they’re doing is pretty serious, the characters still seem to keep a light and humorous demeanor. 

This is definitely one of my favorite movies, and if you like funny heist movies, you should totally check it out!

-Elina T.

Oceans Eleven is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.