The Adventure Zone: Here There be Gerblins By The McElroy Family

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is truly the definition of a good graphic novel. This graphic novel is written by Dungeons and Dragon’s loving family, the McElroys. This graphic novel features three very well developed characters. Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human fighter. Join these three lovable dummies and their dungeon master, Griffin McElroy as they go on an amazing, absolutely hilarious fantasy journey! Just be aware though, this is an adult fiction graphic novel, so there will some swearing in it. Even though there is swearing in this graphic novel, it doesn’t make any less funnier.

This novel very much excited me when I first saw it. I had just finished the library’s monthly Dungeons and Dragons game, and was hyped when I gazed open this magnificent D&D novel. I had never thought there would be a D&D book, even better a graphic novel! For all D&D fans, this is an essential to read. The story sucks you in and doesn’t let go until you finish reading! To bad the book is pretty short. But make sure to look out for the sequel, Murder on the Rockport Limited! Thanks for reading.

-Brandon D.

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

From the author of the well-known The Three Musketeers comes The Count of Monte Cristo, a classic tale of romance, adventure, and overarching revenge.

In 1815, Edmond Dantès, a talented sailor on the cusp of marriage, finds his golden life stolen away from him when he is cruelly betrayed by his supposed comrades. Branded a traitor and sentenced to life in prison, Dantès, innocent and heartbroken, has no idea the scale of the conspiracy presented against him. Of the three co-conspirators, all were considered the unfortunate man’s “friends”: M. Danglars, a fellow sailor who was desirous of supplanting Dantès as captain of their ship; M. Fernand, who loved the woman Dantès was to marry; and M. de Villefort, who ignored his duty as a man of law and sent a faultless young man to prison to protect his murderous father.

However easily they may have gotten away with their crime in round one, they certainly did not keep up their success in round two. After spending fourteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Edmond Dantès sets himself at liberty, and returns to France as the enigmatic Count of Monte Cristo, the man everyone knows yet no one does.

Receiving wealth beyond belief from a fellow inmate, the count, tenacious and patient, not only avails himself of the opportunity to exact revenge on the malicious men he blindly trusted, he also uses his immense wealth and munificence to benefit the lives of those who helped him in the past.

In the midst of all this, however, life goes on, and romantic intrigues, marriage refusals, and the like all continue on in the background of a slow-moving chess game only the Count of Monte Cristo knows is being played.

Mind racing, excitement overtaking, any reader, no matter what genre they prefer to read, will root for the vengeful Count of Monte Cristo, and condemn his enemies to their given punishments.

-Mahak M. 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Overdrive

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

Told in third person from the perspectives of Izar, the adoptive son of a wealthy and avaricious owner of the oil company Ocean Dominion; and Coralline, a gentle mermaid who is an assistant at an apothecary, The Oyster Thief is a world of juxtapositions, of mermaids and men, water and fire.

When he is young, Izar’s adoptive father tasks him to invent underwater fire so that Ocean Dominion can scour the ocean floor for treasure while destroying the settlements of merpeople in the process. As is evident from this plan, the people at Ocean Dominion regard merpeople as lesser than humans–even monstrous. In contrast to Izar, Coralline is an apothecary whose goal is to heal and care for other merpeople.

Sonia Faruqi switches between the two characters to show how their lives run both parallel to and in contradiction with each other until their storylines meld together into one. The Oyster Thief touches on the concepts of true love and why people are not always how they seem. Coralline with her healing and Izar with his destruction seem natural enemies, yet they grow steadily closer to each other as the story progresses. I liked how Izar and Coralline’s actions are contrasted with each other by how differently each reacts in a similar situation.

The underwater world Sonia Faruqi builds is very well thought out; the merpeople’s food, customs, currency, and so forth are all considered, which makes the story more realistic. I thought the story was well-researched: for instance, species of algae and sea creatures, the physics of the underwater world, and scientific explanations for anomalies that occur (such as underwater fire) are specified. The incredibly logical explanations of the world help make the novel believable and sophisticated.

I did think that sometimes too much time was spent explicitly contemplating ironies or thematic concepts in the story that usually are interpreted by the reader, and many words are also spent giving a specific reason for a character’s actions. However, the novel’s concept is quite intriguing, and the many contrasts in the novel do lend themselves to a lot of irony that might require explanation.

I particularly enjoyed the characterization of the muses Pavonis, Altair, and Nacre (a muse is basically a merperson’s chosen companion, such as Coralline’s shark friend, Pavonis), as they are very developed and lovable characters.

In The Oyster Thief, Sonia Faruqi exemplifies how even the most contradictory matches–Izar and Coralline, poison and medicine, fire and water–can combine to form something healing and possibly incredible.

– Mia T.

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Visiting the Charles M. Schulz Museum!

I went to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and it was an amazing experience! Charles M. Schulz  created the comic strip Peanuts and all the characters like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy that we know and love.

I got to learn about Schulz’s life and see a replica of his study where there was a video that showed footage of Schulz drawing his characters and describing them. There were so many old, original comics to read which was really fun and interesting. There were also descriptions beside each comic explaining why Schulz would incorporate a certain object, sport, or emotion. An example of this would be hockey because he played the sport professionally for a few years and included it in a few comics.

Additionally, there were many interactive features such as a huge dog bowl, Snoopy dog house, and thought/speech bubbles also you could make your own comic book scene. There was also an recorded interview of Donna Wold, the real person who inspired the Little Red-Haired Girl in Schulz’s comics, that you could listen to through headphones.

It was such a fun experience to visit this museum, read comics, and learn more about Charles M. Schulz and it’s something you should definitely do if you’re in the Santa Rosa area!

-Kaitlyn S.

Earthrise: My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut by Edgar Mitchell

When I first looked at Earthrise, I did not not want read it. My mom got it for me for a Boy Scout merit badge and I was not excited to read. I did not read it for at least 2 weeks, and then I was out of other things to read. So I decided I would try it out and see what happened. It was one of the best books I have ever read.

Earthrise is about astronaut Edgar Mitchell. In the book, our astronaut friend tells us his adventures as an Apollo 14 astronaut. The Apollo 14 was the 3rd spacecraft to visit the moon! Edgar Mitchell tells us about his early days as a kid living on a farm, his life in the navy, his training to become an astronaut, and his amazing experiences in space! The narrative in this book took me away. When he would describe what the moon looked like, or what Earth looked like from space, I could easily imagine I was there with him. This book did not disappoint me. When you first look at it, it looks like some boring old biography on some astronaut no one knows about. But trust me, you’ll like it,

-Brandon D.

Earthrise: My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut by Edgar Mitchell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

An Analysis in Summary of the Political Structure Portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984

1984 is a political commentary written by George Orwell warning society of the dangers of both losing sight of truth and blindly following political doctrine. If you are a high school student, a dystopian enthusiast, or simply interested in political literature, it is likely that you will encounter this work at some point in your literary career. Although the themes conveyed by the novel are strong and often repetitively hit home by Orwell, it is undeniable that the novel is full of complicated historical background and political nuance which may not be apparent to the reader on their first, or even their second time reading it.

One of the sections of the book in which this idea is apparent is in Part 2, in which Winston reads excerpts from the book of Emmanuel Goldstein, which summarizes the complex world order which has lent itself to the rise of IngSoc. For the reader who may be confused about what this excerpt means and implies, I have compiled a simple overview of what the three principles of IngSoc really mean (be warned, minor spoilers follow!)

WAR IS PEACE
“In ​1984, war is perpetual because it is impossible to win, but necessary for the world economy and for the permanence of governing principles around the globe. War causes a ​constant drain of supplies​ which could be used for the betterment of life on Earth, which would inevitably result in an unstable society in which ​no wealth distinction would exist​, and therefore, ​no power.”

  • All powers ​are aware that it is impossible​ to conquer the other two superstates
  • All fighting occurs around the equator, over ​labor power
  • All superstates follow variations of the same doctrine, therefore ​no ideological differences actually exist
  • Human ​curiosity is harnessed​ solely in the search for new weapons
  • There are ​no undesirable or desirable consequences​ for losses or gains

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

“Throughout history, all governments have risen and fallen because the middle class overthrew the upper class- that is- before the rise of 20th century ideologies like IngSoc, which were centered around power as opposed to human instinct and thus cannot ever fall.”

  • No threat from without​- none of the superstates can be conquered
  • The masses never revolt because they are ​always prodded to do so​ by the middle class
  • The middle class cannot rise to power because ​unorthodoxy results in immediate death
  • The party will never lose motivation to rule because ​it is an organization​, not hereditary

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

“Because every member of the historically volatile middle class is brainwashed into following party doctrine, doublethink is not just a principle, it is literally a way of thought ingrained into the minds of every party official- low and high ranking alike.”

  • Officials simultaneously ​know that the war cannot​ end for the stability of the world while consciously ​striving to defeat the other superstates
  • In order to survive, a Party member must ​automatically know​ a “true belief” and a “desirable emotion” for every situation

Of course, this is just a summary analysis of the major points directly conveyed within Goldstein’s text- there is deeper metaphorical meaning which can be inferred from analysis of Orwell’s historical context, other works, and even through drawing connections between the three principles! Feel free to comment further interpretations below if you have anything to add- and remember, Big Brother is always watching.

-Mirabella S.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice is regarded as one of the most romantic stories of all time. Published in 1813, the plot centers around Elizabeth Bennett, who mistakenly makes hasty judgments and must come to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. Her father, Mr. Bennett, is the owner of a large estate, but it is entailed, meaning that none of his five daughters can inherit the property. Since Mrs. Bennett is not wealthy, one of the daughters must marry into wealth to financially support the family, should Mr. Bennett pass away. Eventually, the famous Mr. Darcy enters the scene, and he and Elizabeth fall into a passionate, albeit begrudging love. A story of the complexity of romance ensues, much to teenage girls’ delight.

I, personally, love this book. I find it amusing and intriguing, what with its layered characters and carefully developed plot. The novel has been famed for centuries and it is definitely easy to see why. Pride and Prejudice is one of the most critically acclaimed novels that has ever been written. I have read this novel countless times, and it never ceases to appeal to me. If you are ever looking for a beautifully written novel, make sure to give Pride and Prejudice a try. Simply put, it is truly a piece of art- Austen’s carefully crafted characters resonate within the reader, and one can’t help but become ensnared in the intricately woven story.  Pride and Prejudice is definitely a lovely read, and, as Caroline Bingley would say, “After all, there is no enjoyment like reading!”

-Arushi S. 

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.