In the Hall of the Dragon King by Stephen R. Lawhead

In the Hall of the Dragon King is the first book of The Dragon King Trilogy, by Stephen R. Lawhead.  This is a fantasy novel set in a medieval era.  The story revolves around a young religious acolyte named Quentin.  Quentin resides with elder priests in a temple.  One day, the priests are alarmed by the unexpected appearance of a knight who appears to be mortally wounded.  The mysterious man informs the priests that he is carrying an urgent message for the queen.  The elder priests had made sacred vows never to leave the temple, so Quentin volunteers to deliver the message.

Quentin had spent most of his life inside the walls of the temple, so he was not accustomed to the outside world.  He encounters many dangers as he attempts to deliver the sealed message to the queen.  Unbeknownst to Quentin, evil and mystical forces are conspiring against the king.  Quentin will need great courage to accomplish his perilous task.

This book is filled with action and adventure.  Quentin faces dark magic and dangerous creatures in this ancient world.  Many intriguing characters are introduced along the way during this epic quest, including a powerful necromancer.  Quentin demonstrates bravery and heroism as the story unfolds, and as he struggles to overcome evil.

I enjoyed this book very much.  The characters are well-developed, and the story is rich with imagery.  I was impressed by the imaginative world created by the author, and I was excited to read the other two books in the trilogy.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy adventure novels.

-Oliver H.

In the Hall of the Dragon King by Stephen R. Lawhead is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner is the first book in its trilogy by James Dashner, published in 2009. It follows the main character, Thomas, who wakes up with no memory in a strange elevator. He only remembers his name and does not know where he is. The elevator doors open, and he is exposed to an entirely new world. Thomas immediately meets new people that are trapped in his new abode, they are all teenage boys who work every day out in the Glade, an area with foliage and farms that is surrounded by a huge, stone Maze. He befriends a few of the boys, Minho, Newt, Chuck, and Alby who introduce him to everything and explain where he is. All the boys have the same backstory: They were placed in an elevator and brought down here, with no memory of their former lives except for their names.

They are surrounded by the Maze, an intricate labyrinth with moving doors and large stone walls that are impossible to climb over. There is seemingly no exit, and the boys have been trying to escape from the maze ever since they got there. While there are many jobs that keep the little community they have formed going, the most important of them all is the Runner. Runners are sent into the Maze during the day to try and map out an exit but to no avail. Runners also have the most dangerous jobs, as if they cannot find their way back to the entrance before night they are trapped in the Maze with horrible, stinging monsters called Grievers whose sole purpose is to kill the boys. Thomas’ only goal is to become a Runner, and as the Maze closes one night when his friends Minho and Alby do not return, Thomas runs into the Maze after them.

He saves them and is quickly promoted to a Runner. However, strange things begin to happen around the Glade. A girl named Teresa arrives in the Box with their last shipment of supplies, and Thomas befriends her quickly. He is the main suspect of these happenings, but his friends must learn to trust him in order to solve the puzzle of the Maze.

I loved this story. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and the ending was phenomenal, even though it was a cliff-hanger. I had to read the entire trilogy, and all of the books were amazing. I would definitely recommend checking this one out, as it has some great plot points as well as surprising twists. The Maze Runner is filled with turns that will make you want to read every chapter. One reason I like this book so much is because of its amazing descriptions. How everything was described allowed me to imagine the story and picture all the characters, especially the Maze and the Grievers inside.

If you are looking for a good read that has a great story, then you should check out Maze Runner. After reading, I checked out the next book in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, right away. This book may not be for everybody, but if you enjoy adventure and science fiction, then you should read The Maze Runner. Thanks for reading my review!

-Brandt D.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is a 336 paged book written by Rick Riordan and illustrated by John Rocco. I know all of us have heard of Percy Jackson. You have probably at some point read one of the books in Percy Jackson’s mythological world. So as a person who doesn’t know much about Greek mythology this book is great. Most people don’t much about Greek mythology. So this book is great giving you not only an interesting story but allowing you better understand and enjoy the other Percy Jackson books.

The book starts off with how the world is created in Greek mythology. So we learn about the start of Earth and the Titans. After the Titans are the Gods. It goes through the first Titan wars explaining how the Gods got into power. Zeus who is actually the youngest starts the war by freeing his five older siblings from the prison which was their father’s stomach.

After, explaining the war the book goes over the stories of 15 of the main Greek Gods. The 15 main Greek Gods talked about were Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Ares, Aphrodite, Persephone, Hermes, Hestia, Hephaestus, and Dionysus.

We read interesting and exciting stories made centuries ago with a modern writing style. As well as background knowledge on some of the Greek gods. It’s an interesting book and a must-read for anybody planning to read Percy Jackson’s books.

-Luke G.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

My Brother Sam Is Dead by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier

This year for school, one of the required books to read for English was called My Brother Sam Is Dead written by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier. When I first heard we were going to be reading this book, I was intrigued by the title. I thought it was a bit funny to have such an important detail in the title. I wasn’t super thrilled at first when we had to read it for English class but in the end, I enjoyed the book. 

My Brother Sam Is Dead is a historical fiction novel that takes place during the Revolutionary War. The story is told by Tim Meeker. Tim Meeker is a young boy who helps his parents at their tavern and looks up to his older brother Sam. Sam Meeker is a college student at Yale and is expected to have a bright future ahead of him. One day, he comes home from college and brings home the news that he has decided to enlist in the army to fight in the war. Not only is he fighting in the war but he is also fighting on the patriots side while the rest of his family and his town he lives in are loyalists. Sam and his father argue and their family is tearing apart. Now Tim must decide who to side with, his brother he looks up to, or his father he has obeyed for his whole life.

My Brother Sam Is Dead uses a lot of accurate historical elements making the story clear to understand. I ended up really liking this book. I was never really interested in historical fiction when I was younger but I guess my taste had changed. The characterization of each character was unique with Tim being unsure of his and everyone’s decisions and Sam being ambitious and righteous. The character development through Tim showed a boy who grew up. At the beginning he was a child but throughout the years, he had to grow up and fill other people’s shoes to help himself and his family. 

The characters I really liked were Father and Tim. Father was strict on his kids but there were parts in the book that showed he was still human and he could hurt. He cared about his family and just wanted them to be safe and happy. Tim was childish and wanted to prove himself but as he grew he became like his father filling his role. Tim became independent and successful by the end of the story, and lived his life.

I liked My Brother Sam Is Dead. I hadn’t expected much from this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though it was a school required book, I had fun reading it and had some slight emotional moments in some parts of the story. I would definitely recommend this book to those who like historical fiction and even to those who don’t. 

-Nicole R.

My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Cover image for Life of Pi : a novel / Yann Martel.

This year has been a very interesting year so far, and my class has read some books that have taught me a lot of life lessons. More recently, my class read the novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This story is about a young man, Pi, who was aboard the Tsimtsum on the way to Canada from India. He survived the sinking of a ship, and escaped on a lifeboat along with four different animals on board. Right away, readers can tell this will be a roller coaster of a book. Can you imagine being in Pi’s position? Furthermore, Pi learns valuable lessons throughout his adventure including survival and family.

I can definitely take inspiration from this book into my own life. Although hopefully I won’t have to use available resources in the middle of the ocean like Pi did, I might do some more relatable activities like camping or fishing. I also learned that maybe you think you don’t need someone in your life until you realize you do. I have definitely experienced this recently, and I know now to cherish those people in your life. Just like in Life of Pi, people come and go in your life. I think it is important to value your family and friends, and even all your belongings. You never know what could suddenly go wrong in your life, just like Pi didn’t know the ship was going to sink and change his life. Overall, I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars, and I do recommend reading it. 

-Valentina N.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is a famous, well-known novel often taught amongst high school English classes. Narrated by a young sixteen year-old and protagonist named Holden Caufield, the novel begins in Pencey prep school of Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Having failed all of his classes except for English, Holden gets expelled from his fourth school and has to return home to Manhattan on Wednesday. He grows afraid of when his parents will find out and decides to leave the campus early and stay in a hotel in New York.

As Holden travels independently for the next few days, he meets different characters ranging from old friends to complete strangers and judges them based on their personalities and sincereness. He gets easily annoyed by those who are “phoney” and struggles with reaching out to those closest to him, even his own family. Throughout the novel, Holden questions his future and clings onto the past before deciding to become a catcher in the rye.

Although the novel was written in the 1950s, it remains a gem because most aspects still relate to young teenagers today—including myself. The book rightfully upholds its reputation as one of the classics. Many aspects of the novel arguably contributes to the authenticity, since it’s difficult to find a book like this one anymore. For instance, the writing style is unique and imitates an individual’s train of thought. Salinger illustrates numerous times in which Holden goes off topic and talks about different random things like the typical human brain.

Salinger also makes the novel as realistic as possible. The characters (especially Holden) and their often spontaneous actions are often relatable to teenagers. Even the plot itself is realistic, as the novel concludes with an open-ending, showing how not all problems are easily nor quickly resolved. It’s fascinating how the author provides such small details that readers may easily overlook.

As a teenager myself, The Catcher in the Rye is an amazing book that should be directed towards more mature, older readers who are willing to understand the book’s true meaning. Although it seems very simple and boring at first, Salinger intentionally wrote the book with room for open interpretation and analysis, diving deep into themes of alienation and the protection of innocence. This story truly reflects the minds of most teenagers and their uncertainty for the future. That being said, I encourage others to read the book, but I cannot promise that everyone will enjoy it.

– Natisha P.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Easy Ways to Escape Boredom

Now that summer is coming up I know that I will eventually get bored and sit scrolling on TikTok for hours on my bed. But come on, there are better and more productive ways to fill the time than mindless scrolling. I admit I also can spend hours on my phone even if I know that I am not gaining anything or even being entertained in some cases. I then develop the ick feeling of being bored, unproductive, and tired that most of you have probably gone through.

One way to get rid of that feeling when it seems like there is nothing to do is to reorganize or redecorate my room. Go through all your photos  and print them out to arrange on your walls or orientate your furniture. You can put together a collage or bulletin board with random things around your room or redo your bulletin board as I do. Then wipe down all your counters and vacuum your floor so your room is fresh, clean, and has a new atmosphere. Sometimes to get rid of the ick feeling of boredom, cleaning your room to perfection is the trick. 

Sometimes if it gets really bad, I give myself a mini spa day. Start with taking a long refreshing shower or bath, deep conditioning your hair by doing a hair mask. Then leave the shower and complete a skincare routine. Put on a face mask or moisturizer so your face will feel clean and fresh. Next up, give yourself a manicure, pedicure, or both. You use your hands and feet every day, freshen them up and it will feel great. 

When laying on your bed on your phone, force yourself to stand up and do a workout. This doesn’t have to be a high-intensity weightlifting workout. Do some yoga and meditation by finding different videos on YouTube. Yoga and meditation help clear the mind and stretch out your body that has been sitting down for hours. For all those people with lingering stress, yoga will help relieve a lot of the tension built up in your body. Or go for a walk or light jog outside or on a treadmill, giving yourself some fresh air and also forcing your body to be active. Although it will be painful to start, once your workout, whatever it may be, is over, you will feel much better.

I know most of these suggestions seem very basic, but when someone is addicted to their phone and has been stuck inside for hours, many people develop this gross feeling that is hard to go away. Over time, I have found that completing these different activities can help motivate me and honestly get rid of that gross feeling.

-Lilly G.

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

This book was the most devastating masterpiece I’ve ever read. The story starts off in the POV of one of the main characters, Rune, as a child. He just moved to Georgia from his home town in Norway because of his fathers job. He met Poppy, his next door neighbor. Rune called her Poppymin which meant “My Poppy.” They instantly became best friends creating a bond that could never be broken, or so they thought.

*This review contains spoilers.*

The next chapter was in the POV of Poppy as a child where her Grandma she called Mamaw died. Her dying wish was for Poppy to fill up a jar with pieces of paper in the shape of a heart and on each heart she had to explain every one of her boy kisses. Her Mamaw wanted Poppy to fill the jar with a thousand boy kisses because one of her favorite memories were the kisses that her greatest love gave her. She wanted the same for Poppy so gave her this task as her last adventure.

Years later, Poppy and Rune are together fulfilling Poppy’s Mamaw’s last wish. But an unexpected roadblock got in their way. Rune had to move back to Norway for his father’s job, leaving his greatest love behind. They were of course devastated and a few months later after Rune moved back to Norway, Poppy dropped all communication with him, leaving them broken up for 2 years.

Rune moved back to Georgia 2 years later a different person. Dark, sad, and alone. Little did he know the real reason why Poppy cut off communication with him was because she was trying to save him from the burden of her terminal cancer.

I was crying throughout every chapter in this book, It completely broke me. Poppy and Rune rekindled their relationship even though Poppy had months to live. They stayed together throughout those last few months of her life trying to make those months happy for Poppy.

Towards the end of Poppy’s journey, Rune and her completed her Mamaw’s wish by completing the thousand boy kisses jar. The thousandth kiss was the one Rune gave her as she passes to the other side. Rune filled out the last paper heart for Poppy.

“Kiss 1000. With Poppymin. When she returned home. My heart completely burst.”

This book was the saddest most devastating thing I’ve ever read in my whole life. Poppy and Rune’s connection was so pure and they deserved the world. I loved this book with everything in me. 5/5 stars. Read if you want to cry but also read if you want to read a masterpiece at the same time.

-Kaitlyn D.

have you seen me? by Kate White

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have you seen me? by Kate White is an excellent novel of mystery, suspense, and nail-biting thrills.

The book opens with main character Ally Linden arriving to her workplace an hour earlier than everyone else. However, she soon remembers that she has not worked there in five years- and even more troubling, she doesn’t remember where she has been for the last three days.

Determined to find out what caused her fugue state and what she did, Ally hires two private investigators to retrace her steps for those three days. Quickly, questions begin to pop up- why didn’t her husband report her missing? Where have her purse and phone gone? Do the bloodstained tissues in her pocket mean something? Could the episode be related to a traumatic incident she experienced in her past? Every time we think we’ve figured it out, a new twist reveals that everything is not as it seems.

I really liked this book! The surprise ending left me in complete shock- I’m usually very good at guessing what’ll happen at the end of suspense novels and solving the mystery, but the resolution of this book completely caught me by surprise- it was ingenious. White used diversion and opaque writing masterfully to her advantage, weaving the perfect web of suspense. While the writing was a little too technical in some parts (financial journalism was described in excruciating detail), I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a dark suspense thriller.

-Vaidehi B.

have you seen me? by Kate White is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

Random Facts About Books!

As of 2010, there are 129 million books in existence: Google had released the number of books existing in the world to be exactly 129,864,880. The amount of books now since a decade had passed must be larger. I can’t find a more recent number of books in the world which isn’t surprising since I don’t think anyone wants to count all of the books in the entirety of the world. But you never know how bored people can get 🙂

The most popular book genre at the moment is Romance: Book sales has exposed the fan-favorite of all genres being romance. This could be since there are a lot of subgenres to romance and can be combined with another genre in many other cases. Another one to mention here would be that the most popular romance trope at the moment is enemies-to-lovers. Everyone loves a little bit of tension, especially Booktok based on the books they recommend with their very heart and soul. They have also really turned the tide against friends-against-lovers and honestly, I would like to see them proceed.

Bill Gates bought the most expensive book, sold for 30.8 million dollars: Come on, this is Bill Gates we are talking about. He probably earns that type of money in 10 minutes. But anyway, the book he bought was by Leonardo Da Vinci called Codex Leicester. This book is basically a collection of scientific writings named after Thomas Cooke who became the Earl of Leicester. Bill Gates said he bought it to share the same wonder and curiosity that Leandro Da Vinci had himself. And it was done on the 500th anniversary of his death!

Like the smell of books? Well, there is a word for it now: Those who liked the smell of books are known to be called Bibliosmia. Finally, a word that can finally describe my thought process as I first lay eyes on a book I newly purchased. Hopefully, I am not alone in this. I;m probably not. But you never know.

The longest sentence ever written contained 823 words: Victor Hugo really wants to torture his readers by having them follow along with this long sentence. But nevertheless, this occurs in one of his more famous books Les Miserables. I don’t know in what scene or act (I haven’t read the book) but even if I did, I think I would have skipped that entire sentence.

Authors’ names weren’t written on the book cover at first: This may seem like a normal sentence but the reason behind why may shock some (It shocked me). Back in the days, only the wealthy could read and purchase books because they were educated. And because the book covers could have been made with leather and actual gold so they would be able to afford it. To be honest, if I ever get a golden book, I think I will still find a way to break the spine (I don’t want to, though)

Well, I have exhausted all of crazy book facts I know from my friend’s deep dive into random facts she researched during International Read a Book Day. She got most of them from this website: https://www.yahoo.com/news/11-random-facts-books-weirdly-192533509.html. Let me know in the comments if you guys know any random book facts that I didn’t mention.

-Saanvi V.