Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase didn’t plan on dying while fighting an evil fire giant on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, but unfortunately that’s what happened.

Magnus has been homeless in the city of Boston after the strange, awful death of his mother. When his Uncle Randolph seeks him out and tells him all about his Norse father and a sword only Magnus can retrieve, Magnus doesn’t know what to think. Before he can even process what’s happened, Magnus dies trying to take out Surt, the fire giant, so he doesn’t kill all the people of Boston.

Samirah Al-Abbas, a Valkyrie, was watching Magnus as he perished, and because he died an honorable death, she brought him to Valhalla, an alternative afterlife for those who bravely died doing something righteous.

At Valhalla, the Norns themselves come to determine Magnus’s fate, which isn’t a good sign. They give Magnus a prophecy that says he must find the Sword of Summer, which he was separated from when he died, so he can stop Surt from hastening Ragnarok, the Doomsday where he will burn the Nine Worlds.  If Magnus succeeds, Ragnorok could be postponed for a considerable amount of time. If he fails, Doomsday could happen the following week. Will Magnus prevail? You must read on to find out!

This was another great book from Rick Riordan that I really enjoyed reading. I didn’t know much about Norse mythology before I read this book, so it was cool and fun learning about all the new gods and myths. This book is funny, interesting, and I definitely recommend it!

-Kaitlyn S.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Mission Viejo Haunted Escape Room

This Saturday, October 27, 2018, my friends and I went to the Mission Viejo Library escape room. I had never gone to an escape room before, and this was a great introduction. In the escape room, our group had to solve various challenges to figure out how to open the padlocked large box. In the box, there was a cure which would save us from the witch’s curse. This backstory helped motivate us to break the locks.

The first key that we found was under the lamp, which opened a smaller box. In that box, we found a battery and a key. We didn’t know what to do with these, so we started looking around and discovered that one of the books on the shelf was fake. It turned out there was a lockbox inside. We used the key we found earlier and opened the lockbox. Inside was a blacklight flashlight which we then put the batteries in. We walked around the room and looked at everything with the flashlight. We found a padlock with three different locks. One lock had different letters it that was opened by various cards we found on the table. Another padlock was solved through different highlighted numbers on a piece of paper that we found taped to the wall. Also taped to the walls were clock hands pointing in different directions that matched the third padlock. When we unlocked the final set of locks, we were finally able to open the box!

I really liked the spiderwebs and skeleton decorating the room as well as the scary music because it gave the whole atmosphere a scary vibe. Overall, this was a fun and challenging experience, and I am looking forward to doing more escape rooms!

Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani

Just as the fairy tale in the third book of this series came to an end, a new one with unexpected twists and plots opened. Quests for Glory, the fourth book in the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani, follows the fourth-year pupils of the School for Good and Evil as they journey on the quests that have been assigned to them. 

Just a quick background on the world: The School for Good and Evil is set in a fairy tale world and has two school within it: a School for Good and a School for Evil. Based on their nature, the children are separated into these two schools. When each student reaches their fourth year, they are assigned a quest, and the Storian (and enchanted pen) writes and illustrates their adventures as a new fairy tale. King Arthur of Camelot, Cinderella, and many more were students at the School for Good and Evil. The characters who were introduced in the first book of this series, Sophie and Agatha, are now in their fourth year.

The fourth-year pupils are off on their assigned quests, but the quests do not seem to be going as hoped. Tedros cannot lift Excalibur to take what he thinks is his rightful place as king, Agatha is not as happy as she’d hoped in Camelot, and from the looks of Professor Dovey’s (Dean of the School for Good) magical quest map, the other students are not doing well either. A mysterious force seems to be working against the success of the students’ quests, and its ultimate goal becomes more and more apparent with its every move: Tedros’ place in Camelot. Professor Dovey begins to realize that perhaps the quests the fourth-year pupils have been given are not their real tales. 

I had read the first three books in The School for Good and Evil series about a year ago, and I had forgotten how full of humor and artful drama Soman Chainani’s writing is. The characters he creates are so vivid, unique, and enjoyable to read about. If you have not read this series, I would suggest it if you like books based on fairy tales (many of the students at the School for Good and Evil are children of famous fairy tale heroes and villains). This book was an exciting, magical, and humorous read which I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy.

– Mia T.

Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

School of Rock Movie vs. Musical

Both the movie and play School of Rock is about a guitarist Dewey Finn who has been living off of his friend Ned who is a substitute teacher. Ned’s girlfriend gets annoyed that Dewey keeps living off of them and tells him that he has to pay rent or get kicked out. So he poses as Ned to become a substitute teacher at Horace Green, an expensive well known school. Instead of teaching his class normal things, he teaches them about rock and roll, turning them into a rock band to preform at the battle of the bands which Dewey hopes will earn him some money and be his breakthrough.

Both the movie and the musical were very good and where very similar. The movie, which was the original had a couple classic rock songs in it, which I really enjoyed. I actually enjoyed the movie even though I normally don’t like children’s movies. It was different then everything else I had recently seen. It was really nice seeing something that was different then every generic movie that has been coming out. So, even though it is 15 years old it is still a great family friendly movie.

I saw the musical first and when I saw the movie pretty much the same story line, which I liked. Because, it meant that the musical adaption of the movie didn’t take to many liberties and didn’t completely change the meaning of the story. Though, the musical did have some differences, it was obvious that it was purely just to make it work as a musical adaption. They had also added some modern day jokes and themes into the musical which kept it interesting. It was also nice that they had kept some of the original songs from the movie as well as adding some originals. They also had all the kids playing their instruments live which was cool to see.

Overall, I really enjoyed both the movie and the musical. Though the entire story is a bit childish and dumb. It was different and I liked that. I would totally suggest seeing the movie and the musical if you have a chance. I found it as something that was just kind of fun to see.

-Ava G.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Image result for death on the nileMost murders are committed in one of two ways. The first is a crime of passion, of spur-of-the-moment violence, while the second is a crime of mediation, carefully thought out and carried out accordingly. Usually, a murder can be classified as one or the other quite easily, but what happens when the two run together and become a bloody mix of accident and intention, heart and brain? This is exactly the sort of crime faced by Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective with a big brain and an even bigger mustache, is called to action once more by newlywed Linnet Doyle. After unceremoniously stealing her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort’s love, Simon, and marrying him, the wealthy young woman seeks protection from her rival in love.

Unfortunately for Mrs. Doyle, even Poirot cannot stop a crime of passion, and the next day finds Linnet Doyle lying dead with a bullet shot straight through her head. Jacqueline is obviously suspected, but when she is revealed to have an airtight alibi, Poirot is confronted with a seemingly endless selection of twists, turns, and backstabbers, leaving even him at a temporary loss of suspects. Luckily for Poirot (and the reader), the killer is uncovered, and the events behind the murder are so unforeseen that it is impossible for even the most dedicated reader to correctly deduce them.

Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie, is an extremely compelling novel that combines good writing, a neat plot, and a startling conclusion into four hundred pages of action and mystery. Fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot or any detective will not be disappointed by this intriguing Egyptian thriller novel.

-Mahak M.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Variant by Robinson Wells

Variant, written by Robinson Wells, is a well-written mystery/ thriller novel. The book follows Benson Fisher, a foster child who grew up in Pittsburgh. In the story, Benson applies to a private school and gets in! But this is not a regular school. Even though this school is very nice, has good food, and nice people, it also has no teachers or gangs, and the school is completely isolated from any outside world interactions.

When I first started reading this book, I immediately thought it was really good. Wells introduces you to the characters, the school, and the story easily and naturally. I also loved all of the twists and turns in this book; they definitely add to the storyline.

Benson begins to get used to life at the school. He has new friends, eats great food, and even begins to like a girl, Jane. But, just as life is beginning to become comfortable, it goes downhill. One night, Benson and Jane decide to go out for a walk. During the walk, the two get attacked from behind and Benson is knocked out. When Benson wakes up, he finds Jane’s beaten body. Worse yet, she turns out to not even be human but an android!

When I first figured this out, I was so shocked! I did not expect this twist at all and when it came, it blew me away! Because of all the twists, I never knew what was coming or what to trust. This was a major factor in why I liked this book so much.

After this major twist, Benson cannot stand his school and tries to recruit people to escape. The small group of rebels all tries to escape but only Benson and his friend Becky succeed. The book ends with an injured Benson and Becky left alone in the forest.

I enjoyed this book so much and really look forward to reading the sequel. My favorite character is Benson because he is always loyal and never gives up. Thrilling and exciting, Variant is a great novel for eighth graders and above.

-Daniel C.

Variant by Robinson Wells is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Are Libraries Still Necessary?

Since the beginning of time, libraries have been an important part of human culture. For
over thousands of years, people have met to discuss, gain, and impart wisdom in
libraries across the globe.

Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century, people are starting to rely more and more on technology than on these beautiful buildings stuffed with books, and are questioning the necessity of libraries today.

The fact is, more people visit libraries every year than they do any other establishment. There was actually a study in New York that showed that the number of people who attend sporting events, museums, live performances, zoos, etc., adds up to about 30 million. Though this seems to be a rather large number, the NYC libraries counted about 37 million visitors, meaning that libraries attract more people than all other attractions do – combined!

Despite this, some people are suggesting that we do away with these wonderful libraries in favor of the internet. However, not only has overexposure to screens been
proven to damage one’s eyesight, reading books online is not nearly as thrilling
or satisfying as holding an actual library book in one’s hand.

Notwithstanding this, there are some people who still believe that libraries can be replaced with a simple Google search. What these people refuse to understand, though, is that libraries have become so much more than a place to store books. Nowadays, one can enter a library and find jobs, homework help, and many other activities, such as trivia nights and book talks, ice-cream socials and reading programs, that enrich and empower the community.

For these reasons, it is as plain as day that these power plants of knowledge are exceedingly necessary for our society and our world to not only survive, but to thrive.

-Mahak M.