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 Charles

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.

Stranger Things, Is it Worth the Hype?

If you have opened any social media platform in the past month, various Stranger Things 4 content has probably crossed your explorer page. First airing in 2016, Stranger Things is a science fiction horror television series. Starring child stars like Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp, the show revolves around 4 middle school boys who meet a girl who is a government science experiment. One of the boys gets kidnapped by a sub-dimension monster, afterward, all the seasons follow the aftermath of this event.

Stranger Things Season 1 Promo

Without spoiling the actual series, I would recommend this show. But, I would be curious if you get scared easily. For young children, Stranger Things may get too creepy to handle. At first, I found the series slightly scary. But, each season progressively gets darker. The main reasoning for this pattern is so that the show matures alongside the child actors. Even though I found the show slightly disturbing, the plot is so intriguing it almost forces you to continue watching to find out what happens. The kids also bring a level of comedy creating a great atmosphere. Here, the kids are the ones that are always swearing and going against the adults. 

Another cool aspect of this show is that it takes place in the 1980s. The music, clothing, and horror thrill style all emulate the trends of the 80s. So, it makes the show a great piece of media to watch as a family. The parents love all of the 80s references and the children love relating to the children in the show.

On that note, the music soundtrack for Stranger Things is excellent. Many 80s classics have been brought back to the billboards of this show. Songs like “Running up That Hills” and “Should I Stay or Should I go Now” have increased in popularity after their use in the show. I have found the soundtrack makes the show seem less dark and more fun. 

Overall, after watching all of the seasons I would highly recommend this series. There is a nice mix of horror and comedy while also revolving around a very detailed plot.

Last Chance U: Basketball (Netflix TV Show)

One thing that most of us have in common is that we absolutely love watching Netflix. Whether it’s the newest sitcom TV Show or that adventure movie that you’ve already watched 5 times but can’t get enough of, Netflix has an almost unlimited array of options. Even though its known for its TV Shows and movies, the popular streaming service does not disappoint when it comes to documentaries and docuseries. 

An interesting docuseries that I recently discovered and quickly finished is Last Chance U: Basketball. While you may have heard about Last Chance U: Football, which has 5 different parts, Last Chance U: Basketball is a new docu-series that came out in 2021. It takes the viewers through the journey of the East LA Junior College basketball team’s path to the playoffs. Winning the championship would do wonders for the players who have gone through so much and ended up here. These players who are worthy of playing Divison 1 Basketball if not for the experiences they have had. These players who have lost so much and are trying to earn it back. 

Firstly, East LA’s basketball coach is a religious man, who wants the best for the players and understands them the best. John Mosley is his name, and he is like a father figure for these kids, who almost have nothing else. The players love him, but are also annoyed by his strategies. However, he always makes them earn it by teaching them about hard work and taking no days off. 

Deshaun Highler, the starting shooting guard of the team, lost his mom to cancer before the documentary. In this docuseries, he talks about how he has tried coping with the pain his mom’s death has brought him. Deshaun experiences ups and downs throughout East LA’s 2019-2020 season, but he and Coach Mosley find ways for him to fight past the struggles. 

Joe Hampton, the reserve center of East LA throughout the 2019-2020 season, could’ve been in a much better place at the time of the docuseries, except for his trouble controlling his feelings, typically of anger. As said by many during this show, Joe is incredibly talented, but his injuries when playing for Penn State, a D1 school, forced him to have to transfer to a junior college. After experiencing such lows in life, he often feels fed up and needs to calm himself down, in his own ways. 

Last Chance U: Basketball is one of my favorite docuseries I have watched on Netflix, and I definitely recommend it to anyone. You don’t need to be obsessed with basketball to enjoy this show because this isn’t only a show about basketball, but also about life.

The Summer I turned Pretty- TV Series-

The Summer I Turned Pretty (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

Warning Major Spoiler Alert!!!

The Summer I turned Pretty series came out just last month and it has been a big hit. Though the summer I turned pretty started out as a book by Jenny Han, who wrote To All the Boys I’ve loved Before which is on Netflix, and now her next book which is the Summer I turned pretty is also now a series on Amazon Prime. And without a doubt became the most talked tv show during this Summer. Even before Season 1 of the Summer I Turned Pretty became a show on Amazon prime, they renewed the show for it’s second season because they know that this series is gonna be a best one and they predicted right!

This film stars were mostly new actors and the main actor is Lola Tung who plays Belly in the series and book. Another one is the Fisher brothers Conrad and Jeremiah played by Chris Brinley and Gavin Casalegno. Belly’s brother Steven played by Sean Kaufmen. Lastly, the parents (mothers) who are best friends Laurel Fisher and Susannah, who is played by Rachel Blanchard and Jackie Chung.

The Summer I Turned pretty is a story about Belly and her family ever since they were young have spent the summer at the Fishers’ house at Cousin’s Beach. Ever since then Belly has a crush on the oldest Fisher Conrad. Then when she turned 15 she finally got a glow up. Then the time comes when they were going to the beach house. From here Conrad changed from being sweet to Belly to not caring about her. So now Belly’s feelings gets all mixed up when she figured out that Jeremiah (Conrad’s younger brother) likes her. At the debutante ball instead of Conrad asking Belly to be his escort Jeremiah did and they continued with their relationship. But then during the dance Jeremiah is no where to be found so Conrad steps in and became Belly’s dance partner. As the dance was going on, Jeremiah is actually at the beach and found out that her mother is dying. The story ends with Conrad and Belly at the beach talking and they kissed.

I really like the series because they added details that weren’t in the book, like the deb ball. It was really cheesy at the end but then it was amazingly filmed and the added details made the film better. And also the story line at the book and the series was on point and was really good. This series is definitely a 10/10 for me and I am also excited for the next one. I don’t know if it’s just me but, I like to read the book and then I also, like to watch the movie or series because I want to see it visually and to compare it. If it’s the same thing with few added minor details or if they totally changed it. But overall I would recommend this for the other people to watch. Especially if you love to watch Summer romance.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Something Dark and Holy Trilogy: Character Analysis

Amazon.com: Wicked Saints: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 1):  9781250195661: Duncan, Emily A.: Books

Overview:

The book series, Something Dark and Holy (shortened to SD+H), is a dark fantasy trilogy written by Emily A. Duncan. The whole series revolves around a cleric by the name Nadya Lapteva. Her character is particularly interesting in the way she grows over the course of the series. Here’s some quick background information first. The series takes place in medieval Eastern Europe and follows Slavic mythology. Her country, Kalyazi, has been at war with Tranavia for centuries. The main difference between the two is that Kalyazi has clerics, individuals who can communicate directly with gods, while the Tranavians do not follow the gods and use blood magic. Nadya finds herself as the last remaining Cleric and last remaining hope to end the war. Fair warning, this will contain spoilers.

Wicked Saints:

Amazon.com: Ruthless Gods: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 2):  9781250195692: Duncan, Emily A.: Books

In the beginning of the first book Nadya is a very timid girl. As the last cleric, she has been constantly protected and on the move. This, of course, leads to problems. In the first half of the book, she is separated from her countrymen and meets Malachiasz. He is a Tranavian who claims he was exiled from his country. Nadya sees him as a lost boy, pities him, and eventually agrees to travel with him. Malachiasz uses this story in order to gain her trust and lead her into the capital of Tranavia. Throughout this part of the novel, Nadya’s gods try to communicate with her and warn her. However, she ignores them. 

Around the middle of the novel, Malachiasz begins to show his true colors. However, Nadya is still too naïve and blindly in love with him. Nadya’s character continues down this path until the final chapter of the novel. In the last half of the book, Malachiasz admits he was never exiled. He only brought Nadya to Tranavia because she contained the power to turn him into a god. Nadya is absolutely torn and heartbroken with this betrayal. She not only lost the only boy she ever loved, but now her gods won’t even speak to her.

Ruthless Gods and Blessed Monsters

Amazon.com: Blessed Monsters: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 3):  9781250195722: Duncan, Emily A.: Books

In the beginning of the second novel, it is revealed that Nadya has fallen into a deep depression. She was in solitude for nearly a year before she decided to try and track down Malachiasz; he now has the power of a god and was terrorizing her home country. Her depression disappears when she finally finds him and tries to work out problems. This is where Nadya’s character truly emerges. She gains strength, bravery and grows in power. She becomes her own character as she makes the discovery that her magic doesn’t come from her gods, but rather herself. By the end of the series her character is nearly unrecognizable from the first novel.

I highly recommend this series if you like a strong female protagonist and lots of character development. 

-Michelle L.