The Extrodinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

The book The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict was inundated with adventure from beginning to end. The book had you on your seat’s edge throughout the entire story. This book was witty with great banter between the characters. There is the classic character, of a main bully, with his two friends who make the children’s life miserable. If, you are interested in fairy tales and a more whimsical story, this book is probably not the correct book for you. The story is about an orphan named Nicholas Benedict, who is a very bright boy known for being smarter than most adults. He is going to a new orphanage where he learns  that there is a mystery treasure to be found. He sets out on a hunt to find it, along the way he finds new friends. Unfortunately there are also obstacles to the treasure hunt adventure, his condition of narcolepsy, which has him falling asleep at odd times. The other obstacle is the fact that the head of the orphanage is also trying to find the treasure. It turns into a race to see who can find the treasure first. This book is for people who love to solve mysteries and enjoy the unlikely heroes, or the underdogs rising out on top. “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict” is a wonderful read and I would say you are never to old to read it and enjoy what it has to offer.

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

The death of Harry Potter’s godfather, Sirius Black, has made Harry more grown up than ever before. Now he feels that he has to put an end to Voldemort’s reign of terror, even if it kills him. Dumbledore picks Harry up before the end of summer to go on a mystery errand. The errand is to get Horace Slughorn to teach again at Hogwarts. Back at Hogwarts for Harry’s sixth year, he is extremely excited. He is now the Quidditch team captain. However, Harry also finds out and is gloomy that Professor Snape has achieved his longtime goal of being the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry has also started taking private lessons with Dumbledore to learn as much about Voldemort as he can. Hopefully this information will help if Harry ever comes face to face with Voldemort. Early on in Harry’s Potions class he acquires a mysterious book that used to be the Half Blood Prince’s. The book tells Harry everything he needs to know about potions. Harry’s sudden knowledge amazes everyone. He also grows a suspicion that Draco Malfoy has replaced his father as the leader of the Death Eaters. Harry, throughout the year, keeps a close eye on Draco just in case. Ron and Hermione see this idea as a far stretch, but Harry feels like something has to be happening with Draco frequently leaving school grounds. As the year continues, Dumbledore tells Harry that he may be able to go on a special mission to destroy a horcrux. A horcrux is an item that contains a part of Voldemort’s soul. Destroying them makes Voldemort weaker. When Harry and Voldemort leave on their mission to destroy the horcrux, Draco sneaks Death Eaters into the school, and a battle between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters takes place. Harry and Dumbledore return after getting the horcrux, but they are trapped on the Astronomy Tower. On the Tower, Draco disarms Dumbledore and Professor Snape kills him. Dumbledore’s death had a massive impact on Harry, but it helped him to see what he had to do.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

In my opinion, Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna was one of my favorite reads this summer. I’ve been pretty content to say that my summer reading list has been comprised of some pretty awesome (for a lack of a better word) books, but this combination of a mystery and thriller book blew me away.

When you first realize the plot, it’s not the most exciting one in the world (not that it stays that way). Not one like Harry Potter, where you find out about Hogwarts, and the next second, everyone’s flying on broomsticks, and you really envied all those magical children out there that were casting spells and you were sitting at home reading about them. No, Two Girls Down is a whole other story.

The story is centered around two sisters, Kylie and Bailey Brandt, and their mother, Jamie Brandt. The story started off at an intriguing pace, leaving me turning the pages hastily to keep up. I was hooked from the very beginning. I loved how the author developed her characters right off the bat, letting everyone know the sister’s similarities and yet quite noticeable differences, too. This would become essential later in the story.

Things are pretty average at the beginning of the story. The two girls’ mother, Jamie, is leading a not-so-perfect-with-a-cherry-on-top life, but she manages. Their father left them a long time ago, claiming not to have the time or energy to raise two young girls. But one day, Jamie’s world shatters and tumbles into a whirlwind of chaos as her beloved daughters, Kylie and Bailey, vanish underneath her very eyes.

The girls are last seen in the parking lot of a mall, where Jamie left them to go shopping for a gift for Kylie’s friend’s birthday. When she gets back, no traces of them remain, and she begins to become frantic.

But here, in shining armor, rise the heroines of the thriller. A very, very unlikely pair. A retired officer named Max Caplan, and a former bounty hunter, Alice Vega, brought together by strange events that could only be the doing of fate, put aside their differences and share their knowledge with each other on a wild chase from town to town, desperate to find the missing girls.

Alice Vega proved to be someone who worked in a solitary way, not needing accomplices or friends, but a tough, hardened woman who could fight life’s problems on her own. But she realizes that she could have never fight alone again after meeting Max Caplan, who proves to be a kind, more logical figure in the mystery. It was one of the weirdest crime fighting pairs I’d ever read about, but once I started, they quickly rose to one of my favorites. They balanced each other out so well, and I really enjoyed the way the author chose to incorporate that.

To read the novel was like being a detective on your own part. I felt fully immersed while reading, feeling the pair’s frustration, their anger and pain, their sorrow throughout the journey (all while I sat motionless on my couch and my eyes burned holes into the pages). My heart pounded when fight scenes emerged, and later, sighing in disappointment as different leads fell away.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who’s wanted to read a mystery thriller, because I think it’s truly exceptional. I would have never guessed the ending, since the author gave nothing away. The leads and evidence tied together so perfectly in such an intricate fashion that I was never tempted to put the book down, even after I read it twice. I promise, you won’t be disappointed by this read!

-Katherine L.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Artemis by Andy Weir

The bestselling author of The Martian returns to pen and paper in his thrilling second novel, Artemis, with a spitfire narrator and slightly different setting – that is to say, this time, it’s set on the moon instead of the strangely familiar planet we’ve come to know as Mars.

Artemis follows the storyline of sarcastic protagonist Jazz Bashara, whose adventures diverge subtly from her interstellar neighbor Mark Watney’s. Neither hero nor villain, she might fall into the subcategory of antihero, which might be why she is so charming to watch through the pages. Her tripwire wit and sharp-as-cheddar intelligence propel readers through the high-stakes book with frightening speed.

What’s so attractive about reading Weir’s books is the fact that he integrates real science into his science fiction novels. Unlike many sci-fi authors swimming in imagined futuristic cities, Andy Weir weaves together a world that is almost tangible – you might even suggest that his ideas could occur in real life.

Though you wouldn’t know it, of course, being trapped in Jazz’s surreal lunar world. The thoroughly entertaining heist that we go on to see her execute, followed by the lightning-quick action that subsequently trails on its heels, is anything but reality. You’ll find yourself immersed in Weir’s real-but-not-real galactic realm, with no way out.

And that’s a good thing. Jazz’s wit and spunk keep the readers on their toes, and the secondary characters round the story out to existence. Ultimately, Weir’s fabricated, anti-gravity dimension lures audiences in with its honest science and entertaining plotline, arguably in ways The Martian never did(or could).

So, I’m first in line for an expedition to the moon. Care to join?

Esther H.

Artemis by Andy Weir is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Hunger by Michael Grant

Hunger, written by Michael Grant, is the well written sequel to Gone. In the first book, everyone above the age of fifteen disappears. The other kids, fourteen and under, need to survive. But, when the kids have their birthday and turn fifteen, they have a choice. They could either step out of the FAYZ (the area where all adults have disappeared) or they could stay. In Hunger, Sam and his friends decide to stay, and now the kids are running out of food, water, and are on the brink of death.

I really enjoyed this book; especially because of how suspenseful and gruesome it is compared to the first novel. Even in the first chapter, a innocent boy dies to a swarm of mutated worms that burrow into his body. This was a thrilling start to the book and kept me on edge throughout the novel!

Beside food shortages, Sam’s evil brother Caine is back and wants revenge. In between books, Caine has been visiting a dark creature. It has been living under ground in a mine shaft waiting for someone to find it. In order to survive, the Darkness needs  radioactive substances. Caine goes to the power plant, takes it over, and then takes the Darkness its food.

In the climax of the book, Sam and his friends try to stop Caine and the Darkness. Surprisingly, Caine ends up betraying the Darkness and burying it in the mine shaft! Sam and Caine part ways and the kids discover a way to produce food by fishing and farming. I really enjoyed this book, especially with all of its surprising twists, deaths, and an all around great story line.

-Daniel C

Hunger by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Slacker by Gordan Korman

Cameron Boxer’s life revolves around playing endless amounts of video games in his basement training for the infamous Rule the World gaming competition with his best friends, like any good slackers should.  However, Cam’s perfect ‘lifestyle’ lands him in hot water when he forgets to take the ziti out of his oven and nearly burns his house down.

To appease his parents and convince them he’s doing something else with his life besides video games, Cam starts a fake school club called the Positive Action Group, or the P.A.G., with the help of his best friends, Chuck and Pavel.  Everything’s going great and no one suspects a thing till the school guidance counselor and a bunch of kids who actually care get involved with the phony club.

Suddenly, everyone in school is a part of the P.A.G. and the only person who seems to not care about it is the founder himself, Cam Boxer. But when the P.A.G. gets shut down due to a series of suspicous events involving good deeds turned bad and the Friends of Fuzzy high school club, can Cam turn things around, win the Rule the World competition, and find a home for Elvis the beaver in the midst of it all?

I really enjoyed this book; it was funny with a good plot and relatable characters.  It was written from multiple characters’ point of views which I always find interesting.  I recommend this book if you have read and liked any of Gordon Korman’s other funny books!

-Kaitlyn S.

Gordon Korman’s Slacker is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

My 10th Grade Reading List

I am not particularly fond of reading a required set of novels for school, but these three below really changed my perspective on this. For my sophomore year, the literature was based upon the theme of “loss of innocence,” and I thoroughly enjoyed reading these classics for what they had to offer.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding:

It was the second time that I read this book, and I was absolutely astonished for all that I missed the first read through. Lord of the Flies is about a group of young boys who are stranded on an island. As they attempt to create order and society, their childish fears and greed thus bring out an unpredictable evilness that spreads among them. Golding walks us through the positive and negative aspects of human civilization and how it can be so easy to be manipulated by and drawn towards the dark nature of mankind.

1984 by George Orwell:

Although the hardest read out of the list, 1984 is still full of many mysterious and intriguing secrets throughout the entire novel. The protagonist Winston Smith lives in a dystopian society, where all its people praise their beloved leader Big Brother, who is never wrong and is never imperfect. The totalitarian government controls everything, including the past, present, and future, as well as strips their citizens of privacy and freedom of self-thought. Despite all this, Winston sees past the lies of his society and tries to solve the biggest mystery of his life. In his book, Orwell describes how ultimate totalitarian power can create an inhumane world of manipulation and can strip away the human identity.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger:

Catcher in the Rye is a lot easier to understand, but I got just as much out of it as the other classics. J.D. Salinger writes in the perspective of teenager Holden Caulfield and describes his short vacation spent in New York City after dropping out of his boarding school. Holden is a very cynical character – he believes that he is too mature and too good for anyone else. However, once Holden is exposed to the adult world and all of life’s imperfections, Salinger stresses the importance of childhood and the enjoyable experience of growing up.

-Riley W.

These titles–and other classic novels–can be checked out from the Mission Viejo Library.