Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Just as I was giving up on the monotonous plots and characters of many current YA novels, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, reminds me of how truly fantastic YA books can be. Six of Crows is the first book in its duology, followed by Crooked Kingdom. Bardugo wrote this series after The Grisha Trilogy, which is set in the same world. However, one does not need to read the trilogy beforehand (I did not), as they center around different characters and places.

My favorite part of this book is that it is set in a different world that has been so beautifully fleshed out by the author, including unique countries, cultures, and languages. Another cool part is that the band of six are so diverse and provide a wide variety of representation in race, sexual orientation, and both physical and mental disabilities. The group live in a buzzing city called Ketterdam (taking inspiration from the city of Amsterdam). This 1800s type city is right next to the sea is filled with merchants, cargo ships, gang claimed territories, and thieves. Speaking of thieves and gangs…

Six of Crows story follows a gang (literally) of antihero teenagers, each with their own bitter backstory. Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands aka Bastard of the Barrel is the leader of the gang called the Dregs. He is mysterious, cold, and delightfully sarcastic. Despite Kaz’s limp in his leg, no one in their right mind would dare cross him or his cane. Next is Inej aka The Wraith. But don’t let her small frame fool you, as she the deadliest and sneakiest one on the team. Right hand man and life of the group is Jesper. The only thing stronger than his sharpshooting ability is his gambling addiction.

Thirdly, we have Nina, a Heartrender Grisha, meaning she has special abilities that can manipulate others’ bodies. However, if Nina lived in our world, she’d be an A-lister actress for sure. Any group of fighters needs a brooding muscle man, and Matthias sure fills that part, no matter how reluctant he might be. And last but not least, we have bright young merchling, Wylan, who is new to the heathen street life, but becomes an incredible asset.

These crooked youngsters embark on an insane mission that’s filled with humor, struggle, suspense, emotions, and wonderful fight scenes. The opening scene with Inez is my favorite scene as we get to see two gangs in a “parley” meeting. It is so intriguing and thrilling, specifically with how we see it from Inej’s bird’s eye view. The amount of detail that Leigh Bardugo put in her writing and characterization is truly spectacular and I recommend this book 100%!

-Ava K.

The Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Of Mice And Men By John Steinbeck

OfMiceAndMenLennie Small, a tiny name that symbolizes a big and tough man. His ultimate dream was to have innocent rabbits as loyal companions. But his obstination opposed the characteristic of a rabbit’s falter and agile. He consumed trouble instead of dinner, he didn’t want to, but that’s all he could afford.

George Milton wasn’t as big as Lennie, but he obtains the stupefying ability to brush the trouble off of his glistening teeth. Suppose he was the best hypocrite ever. Always reprimands Lennie for dumping a laundry of trouble on him, but never saddened him, for he would praise this act as a wonderful dissimulation of their trail and scent.

The versatile Slim whose solemn stipulation was only upon a lick of air can give the entire farm a nice and tender pat. The crude but righteous Carlson, hideous Crook who fades himself inside his self-abasement, and Candy, his bitter age really outrun his chocolate-like personality. You see the boss’s omnipotent son? Yes, that is Curley, he roars at people quietly but deadly. He is efficient but not smart, who knows how he married that abominable woman.

Curley’s wife was nameless because she doesn’t deserve one. She was seditious and the voluptuousness buried herself underground. Lennie will definitely be basting her in the face just like he did to her neck when they are both sent to the grinning hell for inspection.

Towards the end of the story, George, Lennie’s “legal guardian” shot him to redeem for his sins. Lennie never mean to suffocate the poor puppy, break Curley’s wrist or even kill Curley’s wife. He often trances to and fro between the angel and devil. They were the one who vexed him, you should blame them people. He can neither be responsible to the gallantry that the supreme angel offered him nor he can be responsible to the malice that the devil fed him. And George, the person that never flicked a finger against him, pushed Leenie’s soul into hell. He can never murder the devil, but the cherubic angel can’t be harmed.

Time is the medicine that heals the wound and that’s for both the smiling Lennie and the weeping George. Lennie finally gets his adorable rabbits, congratulations.

-April L.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

5 Books To Read This Summer

Are you reading for the Summer Read program this summer, and are tired of reading your mandatory summer English book? Try checking one of these books out! Hopefully they won’t remind you of the pains of school all that much…

  1. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Image result for catching jordanJordan, the daughter of the famous QB Don Woods, and spent her whole life waiting to be the first girl to play QB at a college level. With the twists and turns of senior year, and as she’s torn apart between Henry and Ty, does she really want to throw away her dream of playing at Alabama?

 

  1. The Kanin Chronicles by Amanda HockingImage result for kanin chronicles

If you have read any other books by Amanda Hocking, especially her Trylle books, you’ll definitely enjoy this. Bryn Aven must protect the Troll community, before it all falls apart. Sure, she’ll eventually be charged with murder and treason, but it will all be better when it’s all over, right?

  1. Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Image result for audrey waitDo you ever hear that catchy song on the radio and wish you were that girl the guy is singing about? Well, what for what most girls wish for, it turns out be a nightmare for Audrey after she breaks up with her boyfriend. Audrey has to deal with the paparazzi, changing her cell number because it keeps getting leaked to the press, and getting escorted by the police on a date with her new boyfriend. Maybe it’s a good lesson that she should never date a musician…

4. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle 

Image result for The Infinite Moment of UsIf you loved her l8r, g8r series, you’ll love this book! This is an incredible story between Wren, the good girl who obeys her parents, and Charlie, a foster kid. And when these two people meet, everything begins to change. Not for younger audiences.

 

  1. The Unremembered series by Jessica Brody

Image result for the unremembered series

A sixteen year old girl wakes up in the middle of a plane crash, with no memories of her life.  She has purple eyes, and so people began to call her Violet. When a mysterious boy claims he has the answers, will she trust him? Or will she remember nothing for the rest of her life?

The first book is a little bit tedious, but then it starts to get complicated with time travel and other things later on. This is the kind of serious that at the second to last chapter, you want to throw the book across the room, but then at the last page, you wish the author had made another three books.

 

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

Top Reads of 2016

Top Reads of 2016

Legend by Marie Lu

It was a book that had been on my reading list since it came out. However, I only just got around to reading it and couldn’t believe the adventure I’d missed. Lu tells an amazingly detailed story about a government soldier tracking down the most wanted criminal in the Republic. You can imagine what happens as the novice, June, and poor robber, Day, cross paths during her hunt. She falls for him on the street, unaware of his true identity, her target. She has to decide if avenging her brother’s death is more important than staying with this stranger she’s grown to love. Lu’s writing intrigues me because she focuses on small details that lead to the end of the story which most readers would find insignificant. This engages the reader to pay attention to the words they’re reading. I loved it so much, I just had to get the second book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Like Legend, this book has remained on my list but I didn’t put it on priority. So when I found it at the Mission Viejo Library’s bookstore, I knew it was finally my time to discover the story. Hundreds of years into the future, this spinoff of the Cinderella takes place in a New Beijing in a world where androids are normal to help people with daily chores and sometimes cyborgs roam among the crowd. However, it isn’t easy when you’re not considered human and work as lowly mechanic. Especially when your stepmother and stepsister want nothing to do with you to begin with. When the letumosis disease, plaguing the city issues a cyborg draft, Cinder’s stepmother doesn’t miss her chance to sign up her daughter for an experiment no one comes back from. Not long after Cinder’s admission, the doctor finds there is much more to her than just a few missing parts. Meyer tells this dystopian story while still adding elements of the original fairytale, just like the rest of the books in her series.

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Paria Stolarz

I’ve done a review on this novel already, but I couldn’t help from mentioning it as it was a very memorable read for me. It was very different from most horror stories and took the word “nightmare” to a whole new level. Of course, this book ended with a cliffhanger and many unanswered questions, so I was ecstatic to find there was a sequel.

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

A high schooler, Liz, tells the story from her point of view behind a camera lens, a perspective of the world as she sees it. Her life takes an unexpected turn when her best friend, Kate, decides to shut her out without warning or reason, and everyone whispers rumors and accusations behind her back. Suddenly, her world is out of focus and she tries to make sense of it all while still holding onto her friendship. This realistic story is told through a series of poems, which makes the events even more enticing and easy to follow along. I had to finish this book in one sitting because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages without reading what came next. I would definitely read this book again.

Sabrina C., 11th Grade

My Top Three Reads of 2014

People like to set goals for themselves during the new year: New Year’s Resolutions. Because of my love for reading, I am proud to say that I completed my reading goal of 50 books last year. With that amount, I finished some amazing series and books. This is my list of Top Three Reads read in 2014.

unmarked1) Unmarked by Kami Garcia

This book is the sequel to another I reviewed a while back, Unbreakable. That book is still my favorite out of all the ones I’ve read. I love the supernatural mystery of it. I was in love with it so much that I had to countdown the days to when this book came out.

**SPOILERS!! Must have read Unbreakable!**

The story begins with Kennedy at her new boarding school, where she was put after the police found and interrogated her that night in the rain. She’s on her own now. The Legion left to work. Their job has just begun, with Andras now free. But Andras has a mission too. He’s looking for Kennedy. She has to reunite with the Legion in order to capture Andras and finally get her mark.

In my opinion, Unbreakable had a better story. There was more action and different spirit encounters, as where in Unmarked it was just Andras. It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be. The ending wasn’t satisfying, either. I didn’t like it compared to the first one, but I still anticipate the third book in the series.

2) Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

**SPOILERS!! Must have read House of Hades!**

Many of you know, Blood of Olympus came out in the fall, so I got to finish this exciting series, but I was also sad that it finally ended. It starts off with the continuation of the seven demigods’ quest to deliver the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood as a peace offering to stop the war against the Romans and the Greeks. They already have enough to worry about with Gaea, the earth goddess, on her way to the wreak havoc on the world.

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire, the world must fall,
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death”

It’s time to end this intriguing series we all love.

**SPOILERS!! Must have read Blood of Olympus!**

For those who have finished this book, let’s reflect. I didn’t like the fact that Percy and Annabeth barely spoke throughout the whole book. They’re the main characters after all. Also, I wasn’t happy with the end of the book (and not just because of the fact that it ended). Gaea is supposed to be the all mighty, most powerful goddess, so I expected a full on fight with her that would maybe take up an entire chapter or two, not a fight that didn’t even last a chapter. The way she finally died was very simple and didn’t seem to take up much effort from the demigods. Another thing was how the demigods finally ended up. I’m happy for Percy and Annabeth, getting the ending they truly deserve, and Nico, meeting someone who loves him back, and Leo for keeping his promise and finding Calypso. It would’ve been nice to see exactly what happened like an Epilogue to show how they lived. I know the rest is for the readers to imagine, but that’s my opinion. Overall, the book was okay. I’m still upset, though, that one of my favorite series ended.

outsiders3) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

A couple of my friends have been telling me to read this book forever, and I kept putting it off, but when I finally did get to it, I couldn’t put it down. The story is set in the ’60s about Greasers and Socs. Greasers are considered the “low lives” in the neighborhood. They are kids who are usually not the brightest, form gangs, are poor, and distinguish themselves by styling their hair with grease. The Socs are the white boys who are rich and educated and love to beat up Greasers just for fun. The narrator, Ponyboy, shares the story of his life as a Greaser with his two brothers, Darry and Sodapop. Ponyboy is the youngest of the brothers, only 14, but he has seen more danger and destruction than one should see at his age. And of course, Johnny, Ponyboy’s best friend, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, as people say. All is normal and well enough between the two groups, until one member of a group kills someone of the other side.

This book was very interesting, showing a time when kids jumped others just to get a kick out of it, not even to steal. The book even describes a gang fight including maybe twenty members from each side, just to see who’s the best. I couldn’t believe the ending. It shocked me because it was so surprising I never saw it coming. It’s a great book, and I can see why it was my friends’ favorite.

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution involving reading or writing? Have you accomplished them? Are you making one for 2015? I think they’re great ways to keep on track. And as for these three books,  have you read them? If not, are you now interested to?

-Sabrina C., 9th grade

6 Young Adult Books That Would Make Awesome Movies

1. Every Day by David Levithan follows A, a teenager who wakes up each morning to find himself in the body and sharing the mind of another. A common concept throughout this novel is how love has the capacity to “reach beyond” things such as appearance and gender. I love this book and I feel it is one that should be shared outside of the standard YA reader audience.

let_it_snow_cover2. Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle is a unique literary compilation written by three accomplished YA authors with similar writing styles and a common sense of humor. It tells the overlapping stories of three different pairs/groups of friends who are brought together by fate on Christmas Day. It’s funny, heartfelt, and really capitalizes on the magic and meaning of the holiday season.

3. Legend by Marie Lu would make an awesome dystopian action film due to its fascinating world building and interesting use of two very different narrators in two very different situations.

4. Encouraged by a friend, I read Wings (the first book in the Wings series) by Aprilynne Pike a few summers ago hoping for a quick read. The book hugely exceeded my expectations and I ended up getting the rest of the series the next day. Wings follows Laurel, a seemingly normal teenage girl, as she discovers the truth of her past, her ancestry, and herself. She soon finds herself in a world of faeries, human-like beings that couldn’t be less human. They are, ultimately, plants instead of animals. I think that it would be awesome to be able to see this supernatural world in a more visual way.

will_grayson_cover5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is an captivating and inspiring story about two very different teenagers with the same name that are brought together by fate. This book contains everything–from humor; to support of the LGBT community; to friendship; to love; to a Tiny Cooper musical. This is a truly amazing book and I believe it would make a great movie.

6. I’m not exactly sure of the status of the film rights for I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You (the first book in the Gallagher Girls Series) by Ally Carter. I have heard that they were purchased and sold and bought and expired. I have seen conflicting information, but last I heard, Tonik Productions had undertaken the project. If this is true, I am excited to see their final project. If it’s not, I am disappointed that they overlooked such an amazing opportunity. This series is a compilation of the journal entries of Cammie Morgan, a student at a clandestine spy-training academy disguised as an pristigious prep school for “exceptional young women”. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so, but don’t judge the series by its first book. 😉

What books do you wish to see on the big screen?

-Danielle K., 9th grade

Genre Introduction: Dystopia

Dystopian stories have become pretty popular recently. There are, of course, the well-known Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, but there are plenty of other messed-up futuristic worlds to explore. Dystopia worlds usually have the government trying to create a “perfect place,” that results in something far worse than today’s standards. Within different social/political structures, heroes face odds to change their world. There’s often some side romance as well. If you haven’t already started into this genre, here are some different types:

legend_coverLegend by Marie Lu focuses on class struggle.

Welcome to a world filled with plague. A plague, for some reason, only affects the poor people. When Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal, finds his family has been infected, he’ll do whatever it takes to find a cure. After a break-in at the hospital, Day is the in the prime suspect for the murder of  a commanding officer, June’s brother.

June is the Republic’s prodigy, with perfect academic scores, but is constantly in trouble, for things like scaling a building when she wasn’t supposed to. June swears revenge on her brother’s killer, only to find that the Republic has been lying to everyone the entire time.

maze_runner_coverThe Maze Runner by James Dashner targets post-apocalyptic aftermath methods of recovery.

Thomas arrives in an elevator. Everything is dark, and the only thing he can remember is his name. His destination is the Glade, consisting of only teenage boys, surrounded by an impossible constantly changing maze. Every month a new boy arrives and everyone goes along with life, as they have done for the last couple years. But everything changes when, just one day after Thomas, a girl arrives with a mysterious message. The Glade is no longer a safe place. And if they want to escape, Thomas had better start running.

unwindUnwind by Neal Shusterman asks what it means to be alive.

There are too many teenagers in the future. The solution is not to kill them; instead, the rebellious generation simply lives in a “divided state” with every part of their body still alive, but not making up them anymore. Connor is turned in by his parents rebellious behavior. Risa is an orphan the state can no longer afford, since she has reached her musical potential. Lev is a sacrifice, knowing since birth he was going to be unwound for religious reasons. Fate brings these unlikely teenagers together and keeps them on the run because what will happen if they are caught might be even worse than death.

There are plenty other types of dystopias, not to mention the ones I’ve named have multiple meanings and interpretations. That’s the cool thing about dystopias– you can see, from an author’s perspective, how the world might change for the worst. It just makes me that much more grateful it’s only a story.

-Nicole G., 11th grade