The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Have you ever been to the circus? Were you blown away by the trapeze artists and the animals who jumped through impossibly small hoops? Well, imagine a circus which operates solely on magic. A circus composed of people with real magical abilities. People who can actually make themselves disappear; people who can create wonderlands made of ice. Now imagine that this circus opens at sunset and closes at dawn; it is only open at night. What I’ve just asked you to imagine is called the Le Cirque des Rêves — the Circus of Dreams.

Even as a young child, Celia Bowen had extraordinary talent. Her father, Prospero, is a renowned and boastful magician who enters into a competition of sorts with a mysterious Mr. A.H–. Prospero teaches Celia the art of magic, specifically illusions. Mr. A.H– chooses an orphan boy as his protege: Marco Alisdair. He takes a different angle with him and reveals to Marco the art of magic through texts and glyphs.

Celia begins performing at Le Cirque des Rêves as the illusionist, while Marco takes a more subdued role as assistant to the proprietor of the circus: Chandresh. Very little of the competition is revealed to the two competitors. In fact, the only thing they know for sure is that they are involved in a competition and that giving up is not an option. Neither knows anything about their rival, much less who it is; nor do they know much about the rules or endgame. As one might expect, as the story progresses Celia and Marco begin falling in love, and neither is aware of the consequences that this might entail.

Even before I had begun reading this book, I had fallen in love with it. The cover is beautiful, and I feel as if it fits very well with the themes of the story — mystery and magic. The way in which this story is written was interesting, and I believe it too added to the mystery and fantasy behind it all. It is written from the prospective of a whole array of different characters including Celia, Marco, Prospero, Mr. A.H–, Chandresh, a German clockmaker, a boy who is completely enamoured by the circus, and other circus performers (including the contortionist: Tsukiko, and twins called Poppet and Widget).

This was a great and fairly quick read. Erin Morgenstern does a beautiful job lacing themes of fantasy, magic, and mystery into her words. This book took me to a completely different world filled with magic and wonder. I’d give anything to visit Le Cirque des Rêves

-Elina T.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Fraternize by Rachel VanDyken

Best book I’ve read so far in 2018.

So let’s see where to start…

Emerson (referred to as “Em”) was in love with her best friend Miller when they were young kids. They did everything together, and when she wasn’t allowed to play football, she became a cheerleader. When Miller left in their senior year of high school, Em kept a big secret from him.

Miller ends up being traded to the same NFL team that Em is cheerleading for. They have a really bad past at this point, so he is literally the last person she wants to see again. Then Grant Sanchez comes into the picture. He is on the NFL team as well. He is extremely cocky, and Miller starts fighting with him almost immediately.

But Sanchez see’s something in Em the first time he lays eyes on her, she doesn’t reciprocate, but he keeps trying.

Eventually, Miller and Em reform the bond that they used to share. But at that point Em likes Sanchez too. The question for her is, who will she pick?

As time goes on, the choice is obvious to Em who she will pick.
“I think…That I’ve always been yours. I just didn’t realize it.”
Yes, I know that I made this book sound like a huge cliche, but it isn’t. It is such a great, great book, and I enjoyed each and every little part of it. You will too! READ IT!

-Skylar N.

Fraternize by Rachel VanDyken is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

In the wake of the unrelenting movements spanning across the globe on gender equality, an achingly honest account on the female experience rises from contemporary beginnings. Leni Zumas masterfully crafts together a mosaic of triumph and misery through the lives of five women:

  • A desperate list-making biographer whose anguish feeds her fire
  • A student brighter than the sun, knee-deep in an undesirable predicament
  • An exhausted wife/mother, carrying in her hands her breaking marriage
  • An arrested mystic guided by her own lunacy
  • And finally, an unacknowledged polar explorer of the nineteenth century.

In brash, burning, and heartrending prose, Zumas teaches us the interconnectedness of one life to another and the vibrancy of hope in tumultuous times. Set in a United States where abortion is banned and IVF illegal, Red Clocks is a novel of forward thinking and revolution. It’s witty and full of relatable quips – a reflection of life’s pitfalls and mountains and written with the hand of a skilled writer.

Zumas writes inside the heads of her characters – each sentence a gunshot ringing clear in the minds of the protagonists. Each woman wielding her own flaws, dreams, and faulty beauty, the reader gains a true and sometimes alarming insight into their lives. The novel is incandescent with the fire of the strange, sparking with the light of life.

Ultimately, through pain and reward, the women of Red Clocks learn their own lessons in the novel’s revelation. While its mature themes are not for everyone, there are countless aspects to love in Zumas’ political, hilarious, and gorgeous testimony to the horrors and beauty of a woman’s life.

-Esther H.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Quest For A Popstar by Katie Hamstead

I literally could not read this book, at all. It was so darn cringey, well, I know I called The Football Girl the cringiest book I ever read but  nope, it is now this one.

So let’s see… the book was written as if by a 12 year old, which was a turn off in the beginning. But I thought to my self “Skylar, it may get better, just think of all those other great books that you hated in the beginning but then loved.” Nope, nope, nope. That didn’t happen here in the slightest. But here is the part that I stopped reading:

“I grit my teeth. There are guys in the group who look worse than me and didn’t get such severe criticism.”

And with this, I DNF’d. I do not need to read a book with a female character playing the “Oh look, the man is treated better than me, must be because I am a woman.” No thank you. If you don’t want to read a book that a Junior High school student wrote, do not read this.

-Skylar N.

Suspect Red by L.M. Elliot

Suspect Red, by L.M. Elliot, was one of the most historically accurate books I’ve ever read. It takes place in the 1950’s, which was the time of the Cold War. This book has everything, from psychotic secret agents, to power-hungry communists. I used this book for an English report, and it gave me an abundance of powerful characters and vivid scenery to write about. Another factor that I really enjoyed was the length of the book. It wasn’t too long, nor too short. The book, in my opinion, is a great read for all ages.

The storyline follows the point of view of Richard, a teenage boy who loves reading. However, the nation is thrown into distrust, with communist propaganda around every corner. Hundreds of classic books are being thrown out, their authors accused of being pro-communist. His father, who Richard idolizes, happens to be working under the people responsible for this overexaggeration of fear, the FBI directors.

Overall, this is a great book for anyone looking for a good, well-rounded historical fiction read. If you’re interested in the Cold War, or just think the cover art looked cool, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Thank you for reading my review on Suspect Red, by L.M. Elliot. Definitely take this book into consideration!

-Luke D.

Suspect Red by L. M. Elliot is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

Ethan Hawley is very satisfied with his life as a market clergy. He has a happy family but they are also unhappy with the amount of money that he earns. For me though, I think the best part of a family is not the amount of money that they have, but everyone loves each other.

Mr. Banker is a nice person but he sometimes can be a little snobbish and selfish. Although I would be ecstatic to have him as a friend because he is always there for you. I don’t know how a little girl like Ella Hawley can be so mature, but she acts like a grown-up woman to her dad Ethan Hawley.

The saddest part for me was when Marullo, Ethan’s boss got deported because he was an illegal immigrant. I really want to give him a pat on the shoulder because he is a very nice and kind person, it’s just that he doesn’t reveal his geniality very easily. It’s a winter when everybody has their own dissatisfaction, but at the end, a lesson can be learned: we should be glad about our life as always.

-April L.

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa

Image result for land of the lustrous

The world has been hit by six meteors. This has made most of the world uninhabitable except for a very small coast. However, this coast is also unstable too, and any creature that we consider living lives in the ocean.

Humans do not exist anymore.  The only creatures that live on the coast are animated gems. No really, imagine people made of amethyst or topaz running around and instead of eating food they photosynthesis, which is perfect for living on the coast.

This is the setting for Land of the Lustrous, where Phos (Phosphophyllite) and 27 other “gems” live an immortal life in peace and relaxation. Well peace and relaxation except for the fact that people from the moon come and attack them every three days or so, trying to take them back to the moon forever. Since they are basically defenseless when broken and alive when it happens, there could be a chance to rescue them, but it is slim. Hence, the gems, along with their strong leader “Teacher”, train and patrol every day in order to be ready to fight against the moon people.

Everybody except Phos at least. On the Mohs scale, Phos is the weakest at 3.5, and breaks easily no matter the method. However, she still tries to fight despite not even being able to hold the lightest sword. Throughout the story, she still tries her best to change.

The first thing to notice is that the art, compared to other manga, is very plain. The manga artist is obviously very new at drawing, and some of the pictures look like the reader could draw them. However, to make up for it, the character’s design looks perfectly like each of their respective gems, in which one can tell that Diamond has shiny hair.

For geology lovers out there, each of the gems correspond accurately to their real life counterpart. Besides from aesthetics and Mohs scale, for example, I learned about the gem Cinnabar, which has mercury in it, because the character Cinnabar has poison that looks like Mercury coming out of her.

As for story, there is all types of genre, with the exception of perhaps romance. It is very comical, especially at the beginning, whenever Phos messes up, and the world that they live in looks like another planet despite being Earth, also making it dystopia. Additionally, it is a coming of age story perfect for those who feel like they don’t belong, as Phos feels that she is useless, which leads to very dark choices such as losing her memories on purpose, which is perfect for goth fans out there who think that this is just a cute, silly story (hint: we find out later that it is not that cute).

I hope that you will give yet another good manga a try!

-Megan V, 12th Grade

The Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library