The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby

The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby is about 18 year old Mari Turner, and her quest to avenge her cousin, while finding herself. Mari cultivates a perfect life to her thousands of followers on social media. She posts inspiring messages and stories, but she does not practice what she preaches. On the inside, Mari is empty and can not keep up with maintaining this fake profile. So one day she breaks down and posts a video of herself confessing to what she actually thinks: she is not happy, and does not feel the inspirational message she spreads herself.

Quickly, it goes viral, and pretty soon afterwards, she faces major backlash and people calling her a fraud. In order to escape all of this, Mari proceeds to hike the John Muir trail. She is doing this to honor her cousin, Bri, who was an avid hiker and died in an accident while doing what she loved. Her and Mari had made the promise to hike the trail together when they turned 18, but Bri did not make it till then. Mari has never had any experience hiking, but she feels that she should complete the hike for the two of them. With Bri’s diary and her hiking boots, Mari proceeds to hike the trail to the best of her ability; but it is much more than a simple hike because it helps Mari to see who she is without the people of the Internet.

This book should be read by everybody because it can help teach us about ourselves. It tells us to take a step back and to be aware of what we value in ourselves. Kirby was able to depict the growth of Mari and she was able to let go of her grief while finding what she knows about herself. Simply put, this book can help people not only see the effects of negativity on social media, but how to be mindful ourselves of what we seek in life.

-Anmol K.

The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby is available fro checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Meet Melody. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, has a photographic memory, and experiences different colors and tastes when listening to music.  The thing is, Melody is almost eleven years old and hasn’t spoken her whole life.  She has cerebral palsy which makes it impossible for her to walk, talk, and even feed herself.

At school, she is stuck learning the same boring alphabet lessons again and again because no one thinks she’s smart or can learn.  Melody is going out of her mind with being so limited until she discovers something that allows her to have a voice for the first time, but not everyone is ready to hear it and listen.

I enjoyed this book so much. I learned a lot more about cerebral palsy and how it affects people in so many ways.  You can really feel Melody’s struggles and triumphs, and this book is engaging and unique from start to finish. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to try something thought-provoking and interesting.

-Kaitlyn S.

Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Dragon Bones by Lisa McMann

The last book I finished before my winter break was Dragon Bones, part of the The Unwanteds Quest Series written by Lisa McMann. The story follows two young twins, Thisbe and Fifer. Thisbe has been captured by the evil Reviner and must be rescued. The story follows both girls, switching perspectives and showing the reader the struggles of both girls.

The climax of the story is when Fifer gathers a group of her friends, who try to find and rescue Thisbe. Everything is going as planned until the gang encounters the Reviner. Alex, Fifer’s brother and lead wizard, starts to fight the Reviner but is quickly overrun. Eventually, Alex is killed and because he is the lead wizard, once he is gone, all of the magic the group used no longer works. Without their magic, Fifer’s group loses all their fighting ability. They quickly lose their confidence and are forced to retreat, leaving Thisbe behind. Little do they know, Thisbe and a friend of hers that she met while captive, had already escaped and are trying to survive until help arrives.

Overall, I thought this book was very well written. I like how the author switched perspectives between the two twins, so you could see what was going on in each of their lives. The ending was cliche and expected, but that was the only problem I had with the book. I would rate this book a strong eight out of ten and would recommend the story to middle schoolers.

-Daniel C.

Dragon Bones and the rest of the Unwateds Quests series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall is one I have been reading for years and have yet to tire of. The series is about four sisters named Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. Shortly after Batty, the youngest, was born, their mother passed away, leaving their father to care for them. Mr. Penderwick is a botanist who throws out Latin phrases along with advice to his daughters. He can be quite lenient and unsure of his judgement, but he has his daughters’ respect and love. 

I love how each of the sisters is so unique and wonderful in their own way, and how Jeanne Birdsall writes from their perspectives is amazing. The sisters have such contrasting qualities, but these qualities compliment each other. Their father raises them with solid values, and though they make some mistakes, they are incredibly down-to-earth characters who find ways to solve any issues they have.

One aspect I find entertaining about their relationships with each other is the meetings they have, which are called “MOPS”, or Meeting of Penderwick Sisters. The sisters discuss problems they’ve noticed with their family or friends, and how they may be able to solve them. Despite their separate personalities and occasional arguments, the sisters are still so close and supportive of each other.

Rosalind is kind and compassionate, and is a wonderful older sister for her siblings. She is especially fond of her sister Batty, who is very attached to her. Her maturity and leadership results in her sisters looking up to her, even when she questions her own abilities.

Skye is adventurous and impatient with frivolity. Her relationship with Batty is entertaining to read about; Skye is uncertain with how to act with her younger sister while maintaining a tough exterior. 

Jane is a writer, with her mind constantly wandering, even during conversations (which tends to irritate Skye). On the Penderwicks’ trips throughout the series, Jane consistently manages to haul a stack of books with her. 

Batty is curious and shy, and she loves animals. Her sisters are protective of her, even if some of them pretend they aren’t. 

As the series progresses, the sisters grow older, and their changes in character are interesting to see. Though the plots of these books don’t revolve around a real villain or conflict, the stories are still so exciting, engaging, funny, and heartwarming. This really is a wonderful series, and the audiobooks read by Susan Denaker are amazing as well!

– Mia T.

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Minecraft Guide to the Nether and the End by Mojang

Any real Minecraft fan should have this book. The Minecraft Guide to the Nether and the End is the ultimate survival guide that you should be sure to pack before stepping through that portal.

The book is full of juicy facts and tips that will increase your chances of surviving in these two perilous dimensions. It includes all of the Nether and End mobs, the blocks you find in the two dimensions and their uses, and much, much more! Want to learn how make a Nether portal? You’ll find it in here! How to locate a stronghold? You will find that on page 52 and 53!

I am definitely a fan of Minecraft and I have read this book multiple times! If you liked this book, make sure to check out other Minecraft survival guides, such as the Guide To Creative PVP Minigames, and the Guide To Farming. I am not sure if this book is available at the library, but you can get your own copy at the nearest Barn’s and Noble. Good luck bold adventurers, clever crafters, and worldly wanderers! Stay safe out there and don’t die!

-Brandon D.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Written in 1930, this novel written by William Faulkner follows the Bundren family. Told from the perspective of over 10-15 different characters, the Bundrens are on a mission: to carry out the wishes of their dead mother and bury her with her family. The only problem? This will be a LONG journey. Throughout the novel, hidden desires and motives are uncovered, as the reader discovers the true reason as to why various members of the Bundren family agree to fulfill their mother Addie’s last wish. From the quiet Cash to the observant Darl, every member has a secret reason as to why they are on this trip. And it is not just to bury their mother out of respect.

Written near the start of the Great Depression, this novel completely goes against the “typical family” stereotype. Rather than everyone being very supportive and loving of each other, it is as if everyone is just a hired actor forced to spend time with everyone else in the family. Each family member goes on this trip for every reason except to actually bury their mother. Some characters are easily disliked in this novel (cough, Anse, cough), while other characters are grown to be well-liked.

-Kobe L.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I recently read this book for my English class, and it was surprisingly good to read. Normally reading books for English feels like a chore, but for this book, it was entertaining to read. 

The book is about young boys from England who crash land onto a deserted island. It is never specified where they crash land but we predicted it was somewhere in the Pacific. The main boys in the book are Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon, and Roger. The boys have to learn how to survive in this harsh society they have made. 

They first start off by appointing a leader and making up rules that are essential to follow. Throughout the book, however, we can see a natural progression of rules being broken and people fighting for power, doing whatever it takes to achieve that–even killing. The book Lord of the Flies is mainly about the innate evil in the boys and if they are affected by the environment around them, or if they naturally had the evil inside of them. 

During the book, there are sometimes where we are going to have to say goodbye to some characters (no spoilers), but overall it is an amazing book. It is probably the best book I’ve read in English ever!

-Phoebe L. 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive