The Tea Dragon Society Series

The Tea Dragon Society series is a series of graphic novels written by Kay O’Neill. The three-part story is set in a fantasy world in which dragons grow leaves and flowers on their horns, that are able to be brewed into tea. Whoever may drink the tea is able to see the memories of the dragon’s owner. 

The first book, The Tea Dragon Society, follows young Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, as she discovers the art of caring for a Tea Dragon after finding one lost in the marketplace and returning it to its owner. She meets Hesekiel and Erik, the owners of the tea shop that she returns the dragon to. There, she befriends Minette, a shy girl with no memories of her past. We learn that she used to be a prophetess, and in an attempt to see every future possible, lost all of her memories. The book is short, with beautiful calming art and a nice cozy story.

The second book, titles The Tea Dragon Festival, takes a turn to a new character named Rinn, when they find a real dragon in the forest outside of town. The dragon’s name is Aedhan, and it is revealed that he was assigned to look after the village, but fell asleep in the woods eighty years ago. It follows Rinn as they help Aedhan adjust to a new life, solve the mystery of his long slumber, and accept that he can not get back the time he lost.

The last book of the series is titled The Tea Dragon Tapestry, and once again follows Greta and Minette as they face challenges in their lives. Greta is tasked with creating something beautiful to impress a skilled blacksmith, and become their apprentice. All the while, she is learning how to care for a grieving tea dragon after it fell into her care when it’s previous owner died. Minette receives a mysterious gift from the place she once lived, which throws her whole life into questions and confusion. She learns over the course of the story that one must open themselves to those who care about them, to truly understand oneself. 

The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

TV Review: The Defenders (2017)

After I watched the show Daredevil on Netflix, I found this show suggested to me by Netflix, and decided to give it a try. However, it not only featured the famous Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) but also the heroes Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones). After I finished each of the following shows and had an idea of who each of these heroes were and the plot leading up, I watched the series. Although it told the story from multiple viewpoints and seemed a little fast at times, I really enjoyed the show and believed that it deserved a second season before its untimely cancellation by its owner at the time, Netflix.

The story takes place in New York, as each of these heroes face a common enemy in The Hand, a villainous organization that fought Daredevil and Iron Fist prior to the series and desired one thing above all — immortality. The stable consisted of the leader Alexandria Reid (Sigourney Weaver), Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez), Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), Murakami, Sowande, and Elektra (Elodie Yung) as they stormed New York, which held the key to their goal. As their plan involved the destruction of New York, these four heroes united to protect the city that they lived in and swore to protect.

Each hero faces their own conflict in the series caused by the Hand. Elektra turned out to be Daredevil’s lover who died fighting the Hand alongside him and became resurrected and manipulated by Alexandria to join and fight for the Hand, which burdened Matt and motivated him to try to bring back the Elektra that he knew. Danny faced a plane crash that killed his parents and nearly killed him before he became rescued and trained by a group of monks to earn the Iron Fist, a weapon earned by killing a dragon – before he learned of the Hand’s role in the crash. Luke Cage witnessed as Sowande forced Harlem boys to partake in illegal activities for the Hand and even killed off any potential threats to the organization. Jessica Jones failed to help one of her clients, who was worried about her husband as he helped the Hand in their business and died at the hands of Elektra, unbeknownst to his wife.

Despite the Hand threatening everyone whom the four heroes loved, the Defenders manage to overcome the Hand and save New York from mass destruction — at the price of a tear-jerking sacrifice and a heartbreaking end sequence. As the final episode came to an end, each of the heroes’ upcoming season storylines became teased and introduced before the end credits rolled.

Although the organization of the seasons to watch was very confusing at first, I still enjoyed watching the show very much and definitely recommend this show to anyone, especially Marvel fans. This show, along with the shows of the four heroes, are streaming on Disney Plus after being transferred by Netflix. It can be watched at any point, however, to get the best experience, the recommended order of the show is to start with Daredevil Season 1, then Jessica Jones Season 1, then Daredevil Season 2, then Luke Cage Season 1, then Iron Fist Season 1, and then finally getting to The Defenders.

Alex Rider TV Show Review

Alex Rider is a 2 season show that features a typical teen, Alex, in London who lives with his uncle Ian and a housekeeper. Alex spends a lot of his time with his best friend, Tom. They sneak out to parties, have movie marathons, and go to school together. Tom aside, his uncle has taken him on excursions throughout the world and has taught him a random assortment of skills. However, Alex insists that Ian is the most boring person ever because he is a banker.

When Ian is killed in a car accident, Alex begins to question everything. He follows his gut instincts that are telling him that his banker uncle followed the rules way too often to ever being involved in a car accident. In the midst of his denial, he pieces together that his uncle is a member of the Department of Special Operations. He then has a scary encounter with the head of these operations and is recruited into the agency. It’s not that he wants to be part of it, but he ends up having to by force. The agency wants him because they need a bright, young teen to enter and scope out a mysterious school, Point Blanc. Located in the far-flung French Alps, Point Blanc educates the troublesome kids of rich elites to become respectable citizens. But not everything is as it seems; Point Blanc is hiding some sinister secrets, and although entering the school may be easy, leaving requires a different topic of discussion. This show then follows the infiltration of Point Blanc. 

The true plot doesn’t begin until the fifth episode, but this doesn’t mean that the first few episodes aren’t boring. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, new complications are constantly introduced. It gives the audience a background and builds up to the infiltration. Then, the seventh and eighth episodes are when the show starts to become thrilling and adventurous.

The eerie Point Blanc Institute adds a strong sense of depth and a sci-fi vibe to the show. I personally loved the show and especially the finale. I would understand why it can be hard to stay interested in the first couple episodes because you want to cut to the chase, but since the show is only 2 seasons it should be a quick show to binge. Personally, I love shows that I could never predict. In the beginning the show had that typical spy show feel, but as it went on and the audience got to know Alex, it felt new and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was always being surprised and trying to figure how new plot twists would change the ending. However, these plot twists aren’t overwhelming. It doesn’t feel like you are being bombarded with random curveballs because the producers cannot come up with anything. The plot twists are seamlessly implemented. Overall, I would rate this show an 8/10. It is definitely worth watching, especially for the ending. I would recommend this to anyone who loves sci-fi and mystery.

-Kaitlyn Y.

The Alex Rider book series by Anthony Horowitz, on which this show is based, is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Netflix Series Review: Wednesday

“Wednesday” is a new-age series showing a teenager trying to find her way through high school while dealing with surreal situations. This series is centered around Wednesday Addams. She’s a bit different from our typical teen. She’s gothic and mysterious, and she has problems that I can’t even imagine having. Even though her challenges in school life are probably what most of us teens are not facing, the underlining message is the same. It takes courage to show your true self.

The “Wednesday” series tackles many typical student issues, such as bullying, self-acceptance, and trying to fit in. The character of Wednesday is confident and knows exactly what she wants. She personifies what every teen wants to be – someone sure of herself, who stands out from the crowd and doesn’t conform to the norms.

As a teenager, I found the Wednesday series an exciting take on the classic Addams Family character. Jenna Ortega’s play in the role of Wednesday is perfect, capturing the character’s rebellious teenage and strong spirit while also giving her relatable characteristics of a modern edge.

I loved this series’ believable supernatural world and the diverse characters that are in it. The series’ complexity includes many bizarre characters like vampires, ghosts, ghouls, and witches. What makes Nevermore Academy so extraordinary is that it feels like a familiar and otherworldly world, including rich historical and mythology slowly revealed throughout each episode in the season. The academy’s secret societies, mysterious artifacts, and hidden passages add to the sense of mystery and intrigue.

At its core, Wednesday is a story about finding one’s identity, making friends, and the power of love and family. Wednesday struggles to find her place in the world, torn between her love for her family and her innate desire to forge her own path. Her relationships with her classmates and teachers at Nevermore Academy are complex and nuanced. I appreciated how the series explored loyalty, betrayal, and trust issues.

Wednesday, the series is engaging and fascinating to watch. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves watching series or movies with adventure, dark humor, and excitement. Wednesday celebrates diversity, staying true to yourself, and uniqueness, no matter how different or out of the ordinary you may be.

Enjoy the show! May it take you on a journey of laughter, tears, and unforgettable moments.
Bella H.

TV Show Review: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a Japanese animated series that aired its first episode in 2016. The series is about Saiki, a high school student who possesses psychic abilities, but chooses to live a normal life while trying to hide his supernatural power from all the people around him, especially his friends and classmates. 

I really liked the animation style of this series and most especially its characters, which are very well-made. The voice actors did such great jobs, although there are certain parts wherein the dialogues are quite fast, which some people dislike, but in my opinion, it is still certainly understandable, and you would not get lost watching any episode. The series contains a lot of witty and funny jokes that did not fail to make me laugh. Whenever I watch an episode, I will always have a good laugh because each character is comedic and has their own way of being funny.

I think that The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is an underrated anime series, thus I hope that a lot more people will discover the show so that it will get the recognition it deserves. If you have always been interested in animated shows and/or movies and you have not tried watching this, you should definitely start watching, and you will not regret it! While for those who have never tried watching animated shows, I encourage you to explore and give it a shot!

The Crave Series: Book Review

This series is the first fantasy series that I read after I was able to finish my classical reading that was required for high school. I simply just wanted a quick and easy-to-read fantasy book to get back into reading the genre, and I was so glad I picked this series.

Simply put, the series revolves around a paranormal romance between two main characters, Grace and Jaxon which eventually leads them on a mission to save the world pretty much. Yes, it is one of those books that are pretty vanilla, but is still entertaining if you’re look for something to get your hands on really quick.

The first book starts with Grace starting a boarding school at Katmere Academy after her parents died in a car accident about six months ago. Her Uncle Finn is the principal of the school and Macy, her cousin, also attends there as well. Not even after a day at Katmere, strange accidents keep occurring and they are all targeted at her! However, as Jaxon, a boy with a mysterious and aloof aura around him keeps saving her, a romance suddenly sparks.

Later on in the series, she finds out what she truly is and why she is being targeted by all the paranormal creatures. There are also pretty major plot twists that you wouldn’t think are coming and honestly I was even surprised by some of them considering the amount of fantasy books I read!

Honestly, what I liked most about the book is the modernness of it all. It really relates to me because they include many of the famous TV shows, singers, actors that made it quite interesting. Grace is also a funny but brave character and makes many jokes along the way that are pretty amusing. I finished the first book in about two days and the second one in about three. I haven’t finished the third one yet, but there is looking to be a big plot twist up ahead so we’ll see!

This series probably should be for ages 14 and above since there are uses of cuss language and some minimal violence here and there.

– Aleena C.

Crave by Tracy Wolff is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

TV Show Review: Friends

Friends is a comedy television show that was first released in the 90’s, which shows the lives of six friends throughout its 10 seasons. The show was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman and composed of the six main characters Rachel Green, Monica Geller, Phoebe Buffay, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing, and Ross Geller.

Monica is considered as the “mother” of the friend group who likes to host occasions and parties since she has the passion of being a chef, and her best friend from childhood is Rachel, who is a fashion enthusiast and has an on-and-off relationship with Monica’s older brother named Ross throughout the series. Then Ross has a best friend, Chandler, who was his roommate during college, while their other friend named Joey became Chandler’s apartment roommate. Then Phoebe, who is my personal favorite character due to her free-spirited and eccentric characteristics, was Monica’s apartment roommate, but then later moved out, which led to Rachel moving into Monica’s apartment.

In the beginning of summer 2019, I decided to start watching Friends due to my friends’ recommendation. I finished watching the TV series after a month since I was hooked with its hilarious lines and story, and I could say that that month was full of laughs and cries. The show contains both sad and hilarious storylines from the characters’ personal lives to their experiences as a group all together. I really love their friendship in the show as it has unconditional love, bonding, and most especially, support. The show is also very relatable, especially to those people in their 20’s since it tackles the character’s work life and relationships.

To those people who really like comedy shows and movies, I highly recommend watching Friends. The show may be too long for some because it has 10 seasons, but if you want and need a good laugh, you should definitely add this show to your watch list.

Film Review: Suits

Taking place in New York, the TV show covers the life stories of Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), two people working as lawyers under the changing firm first known as Pearson Hardman. Harvey Specter is a lawyer and a junior partner at the firm at the start of the story, looking for an associate to work with as part of the firm policy. On the other hand, Mike Ross is a Harvard student interested in learning law with an eidetic memory and a great chance of success, but becomes expelled from Harvard after his friend Trevor (Tom Lipinski) accidentally sends a college test to the daughter of the head of the college, which becomes public and creates controversy. Destroyed by the news, Mike finds himself bouncing from jobs until he finds his way into a meeting with Harvey, which changes his life forever.

When Harvey first meets Mike, he develops doubt over illegally allowing Mike to take a job as a lawyer, a job that he had no legal qualifications for. However, Mike ends up impressing Harvey at the meeting with his knowledge of the Barbary legal handbook and also beats Harvey in finding loopholes in a law. Harvey questions Mike on why he isn’t a lawyer, and Mike tells Harvey the story about Trevor, as well as his dreams to be a lawyer getting ripped away. Not wanting to spend more time interviewing prospective associates, Harvey gives Mike the job and has Mike take a tour of Harvard to learn everything there is to being a lawyer.

On the first day of work, Mike receives a tour from a paralegal known as Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and meets the head of the associates, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). Mike quickly learns of all the expectations he has in his job, and Harvey gives him a case to work on for him despite his promise to Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), the managing partner of the firm, to work on it by himself. Both Mike and Harvey experience struggles, with Mike nearly bailing on the job altogether and Jessica showing her disappointment in Harvey for breaking his word, however they both end up working together well and win the case. Even though the two had a rocky start, they grow their bond and become great friends throughout the show. Plenty happens with the two over the span of 9 seasons, but all I can really say without giving too much spoilers is that the dynamic of the two makes this show interesting.

I first found out about the show from my family, and even though I initially had no interest in the series, I gave it a try and it turned out to be a very interesting show for me – and I have recommended it to several friends who have enjoyed it in the past. Even though it mainly revolves around legal drama, the show was amazing while it lasted for 9 seasons. I would recommend anyone – whether they turn out to enjoy the show or not – to watch the show and give it a chance, just like how I ended up doing.

Suits is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Nightfall by Shannon Messenger

Nightfall is the sixth book in the Keeper of the Lost Cites series (which is currently 8.5 books long), and the events come as a definite surprise to anyone who has read the other five books before it.

In this book, the main character of the series, a powerful young elf named Sophie Foster, has to rescue her human parents from a Neverseen hideout called Nightfall. (The Neverseen are a deadly rebel group that formed in the Lost Cities, and they always seem to be out to get Sophie and her friends.) But Sophie knows that the Neverseen might be using her parents as a diversion to distract her from the larger issues at hand, so, no matter how painful it is, Sophie is forced to look at the bigger picture and accept that the threat looming over her human parents might not be the problem she needs to focus on. She helps her friend, Keefe Sencen, with the issues he has with his mother, Lady Gisela, (who also happens to be a leader of the Neverseen) and attempts to figure out the identity of the prisoner who escaped from the Lumenaria dungeon in the previous installment of the series. But all of these issues seem to come together in the end of the book, when Sophie and her friends (Tam and Linh Song, Biana and Fitz Vacker, Keefe Sencen, and Dex Dizznee) and her foster father, Grady Ruewen, enter Nightfall. There, they encounter some members of the Neverseen and discover who their new ally is–the former prisoner of Lumenaria.

While all of this was going on, they also had to deal with another enemy, one whose alliance with the Neverseen hit extremely close to home. Alvar Vacker, the older brother of Fitz and Biana, was found abandoned by the Neverseen in one of their old hideouts, bleeding to death. They had discovered that Alvar was a member of the Neverseen in the earlier books, but they’d never have guessed that the group would leave him for dead. He doesn’t give any information in his interrogations except for one, crucial detail, which readers will find out in the beginning of Flashback.

The reason why I love this novel is because of all the plot twists and the fact that the characters have realistic personalities. Their problems kept me rooting for them the whole time the book was in my hands, and the storyline stuck with me for a long while after I’d finished. This book (and the series it belongs to) is a magical read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves the fantasy genre.

Nighfall by Shannon Messenger is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Better Call Saul Series Review

Better Call Saul, created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, is the spin-off and prequel to the critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad. However, the audience also gets glimpses of the events that take place after Breaking Bad throughout the show. Therefore, this show serves as a spin-off, prequel, and sequel to Breaking Bad. This can seem overwhelming, but the writers do an incredible job at making it easy for viewers to follow along. The show follows Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), a struggling lawyer who works in elder law. However, Jimmy starts to engage more with criminals and the drug cartel, transforming into a criminal lawyer (emphasis on criminal). This transition brings forth the iconic character, Saul Goodman. Furthermore, the show does a fantastic job at developing other Breaking Bad characters such as Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). 

Although Better Call Saul is a spin-off and prequel to Breaking Bad, it establishes itself as a solid television series that develops a strong focus on other characters as well. We are introduced to the fantastic lawyer and friend of Jimmy McGill, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). Kim is essential to the story, playing a significant role in the development of Odenkirk’s character, and has become a fan favorite among audiences. Additionally, we are introduced to Jimmy’s brother, Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). 

Better Call Saul takes the comedic character, Saul Goodman, and gives him an engaging backstory. Jimmy/Saul’s descent into the criminal lifestyle can resemble events in Breaking Bad, but it never feels repetitive. In fact, it can be argued that there is a deeper backstory in this series. Overall, many characters that may not have been showcased much in Breaking Bad are given enriching backstories, and new characters are also given proper development. Also, like its predecessor, Better Call Saul has a fantastic ending and arguably gets better each season. 

In the end, if you’re a fan of Breaking Bad and wish to see more, Better Call Saul is a fantastic follow-up. It offers many new perspectives while keeping elements that made people fall in love with Breaking Bad in the first place. The show recently aired its final episode, ending its phenomenal sixth season. 

-Kern M.

Better Call Saul is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.