From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming

From Russia, with Love (novel) - Wikipedia

SMERSH, the Soviet counterintelligence agency, plans to commit a grand act of terrorism in the intelligence field, one that will completely and utterly smash any remains of respect left in that particular organization. Their chosen target – MI6 agent James Bond.

Oblivious to their coming destruction, MI6 receives word that a beautiful Russian agent, Tatiana Romanova, is willing to defect to the British intelligence along with a crucial piece of Soviet technology – a Spektor. There is, however, one catch – James Bond, the man she claims she loves, must come out to meet her at Istanbul.

However, as revealed in the first half of the book, this “love story” is a mere set up for the greatest scandal the intelligence community has ever seen – and Bond and Romanova have fallen right into the trap for their own destruction. Unless Bond can find a way to extricate himself and his organization from their impending doom, SMERSH will have free reign over all of Europe, and potentially the world.

Through a masterful use of dramatic irony and the usual Bond action scenes, Ian Fleming crafts a 007 masterpiece in From Russia With Love. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they devour the novel, only to reach the cliffhanger conclusion. From Russia With Love is a brilliant James Bond adventure that is definitely not to be missed.

-Mahak M.

From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Moonraker (novel) - Wikipedia

Sir Hugo Drax – war veteran, multi-millionaire, primary donor for Britain’s newest defense project, and…card cheater? When M requests the legendary 007, James Bond, to investigate this strange discrepancy, Bond thinks nothing of it but a lesson to teach an otherwise spotless man. But there is more to the ex-amnesiac turned benefactor than simply cheating at cards. 

As Bond delves deeper into the activities at the base of the praised Project Moonraker, Britain’s state-of-the-art defense system capable of targeting any European capital, scheduled to launch in less than a week, he realizes that some things are not as they seem. From the unusual German workers employed for construction to the mysterious death of the previous investigator, Bond must determine the truth behind both the Moonraker and its creator, Sir Hugo Drax…

Bond, however, is not alone in his endeavor. With the support of an undercover agent, Gala Brand, and, of course, MI6, he must race against time to discover the truth, which may be much, much darker than even 007 could have ever predicted…

Ian Fleming’s Moonraker, the third in the James Bond series, will not disappoint fans of 007. With plot twists and action sequences galore, Fleming manages to glorify every aspect of Bond’s newest case, from a brilliant game of bridge to the saving of millions of lives. Arguably the best Bond novel (definitely my favorite), Moonraker is a book that will be near impossible to put down.

-Mahak M.

Moonraker by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

Diamonds Are Forever | Bookogs Database

He’s risked his life in an “innocent” casino. He’s fought toe-to-toe with the dastardly Soviet spy agency SMERSH. He’s even prevented nuclear annihilation of the world by the destructive Project Moonraker.

But when Agent 007, James Bond, is called in to halt a threatening diamond smuggling crime ring with expansive influence, he may finally find himself in over his head.

Posing as a captured courier, Bond teams up with Tiffany Case, a beautiful woman with ties to the very center of the operation. Following the trail of sparkling blood from Africa through England and finally to  America, Bond must infiltrate and remove every stop between the source and his destination.

Facing dangerous assassins and secrets upon secrets, Bond will somehow need to remain undercover long enough to unveil the last link in the long and deadly chain: the mysterious syndicate leader known only as “ABC.” One false move, however, and 007 may find himself on the wrong end of the wrath of the American underworld. 

Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever is the fourth book of the 007 series, and is definitely not to be missed by any James Bond fans. Jam-packed with action, adventure, danger, and hints of romance, both diamonds, and the book will last forever in the hearts and minds of the beholder.

-Mahak M. 

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Movie Review: Spectral

If ghost and ghost hunting is your thing, then I recommend the movie Spectral on Netflix. I will firstly say that the movie is PG-13, so please do not watch if violent movies are not your thing (contrary to the previous sentence). 

Basically, researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is approached by a military general, showing him a video from a fallen soldier’s goggles. Visible in the video is a mysterious, almost translucent apparition that had suddenly attacked the soldier, killing almost instantaneously. These “anomalies” were later named as Arratare.

These “ghosts” were invisible to the naked eye and were completely bulletproof, making even the strongest military weapons useless. 

Clyne is sent to Moldova (bordered by Romania and Ukraine), where the US military is currently deployed. Clyne and CIA officer Fran Madison begin to work with the Delta Force in order to come up with a plan to defeat the anomalies with weapons that actually had an effect. 

After further observation and a scary encounter with the Arratare, Clyne realizes that these anomalies are actually man made, meaning that there was a way to stop the anomalies before they kill anymore people. 

This movie has so many unexpected twists and turns (even though I may have given away some crucial information… sorry). 

I give this movie a 8.5/10, and totally recommend watching this movie to chase away the boring days of quarantine. 

-Phoebe L. 

Curse of the Dead Gods Review

Curse of the Dead Gods, produced by Focus Home Interactive, is an exciting new third-person adventure game. As you follow an exotic adventurer journey through ancient temples, you will face multiple traps, enemies, and challenges. You can unlock certain abilities, as well as different weapons that can help you in your challenges. You can mix and match different combinations of the weapons to give you the best advantage against the enemies. The game also implements a new and interesting concept known as corruption.

The first thing that caught my eye was the combat, as well as the animation. Both are extremely clean and are very, very high quality. As the player switches from their torch, to their weapon, darkness surrounds them and the enemies start swarming. As the players start to wipe out the foes, more and more start to appear. The players must be extremely careful because if they take damage, they can not recharge their health. If a player dies, they must restart from the beginning of the map, and work their way through the entire temple again.

The enemies themselves are very interesting. From monsters that have simple melee attacks to giant monsters that have giant war hammers and floating heads, the variety is endless. This large amount of adversaries keeps the game interesting, as well as challenging. The player will also run into multiple traps. These can harm the players in multiple ways, such as poisoning them, catching them on fire, and stabbing them. Both of these challenges can totally change what the player needs to do.

To help counter these problems, the player is given a wide variety of weapons. The player is provided with a sword, revolver, and torch at the beginning of the game. They can then unlock a broad assortment of weapons through chests as well as through enemies that will drop them. There are certain weapons that work better against different enemies, such as the battle hammer that is efficient against large groups.

The most interesting concept of this game is the curses and corruption. When a player completes each level, they will get a certain amount of points that count towards corruption. When they reach 100 points, they will receive a certain “curse” that can either help or hinder them. This is a really interesting concept, but I do not think players should be punished just because they finish a mission.

Overall, I really enjoyed Curse of the Dead Gods. I really enjoyed the combat and customization options, and I think that for an early access game, Curse of the Dead Gods is really well produced. This game reminded me of the old arcade games that I used to spend hours playing. I feel that when the game has new temples and maps released, I will definitely play more of the game. I can’t wait to see what the producers have in mind for the game, and I believe the game will become one of my favorites!

-Daniel C

TV Review: The Umbrella Academy

Earlier this year, Netflix took the streaming world by storm once again with the release of its own original superhero ensemble TV-show, The Umbrella Academy. It follows the Hargreeves family, a family composed of seven adopted children, six of whom are superpowered. When the family learns that the world is going to end in eight days, they are forced to confront their childhood traumas and reunite to save the world. The show itself was released on February 15th, but it took me an appalling two months before I actually got around to watching it. When I finally did, it is safe to say that I was absolutely blown away. I binged the entire show in a single day. 10 hours worth of content, and I was riveted to the screen for every moment of it. So, what exactly makes this show so special?

There is no single answer to such a complex question, but after several re-watches, I can identify several elements which make the show so extraordinary (if you’ve seen the show- you see what I did there). When a viewer begins to watch The Umbrella Academy, the first thing which strikes them is how different this view of the superhero genre is from what we are so used to seeing. Most ensemble TV shows focus on the heroes, well, becoming heroes. The Umbrella Academy adeptly avoids this classic trope by presenting us with characters who are not learning to become heroes, but struggling with the fallout of their heroic childhoods. These so-called superheroes are deeply damaged, and their family dynamic is highly dysfunctional. The members of the Academy are not learning how to become heroes, but learning to cope with the struggles of everyday life after an abusive childhood. Of course, they have to save the world along the way, but the show leaves you with the impression that this plot is not as important as the development of the characters within it. Further, the plot itself is deeply shaped by character development of certain key characters who are coming to terms with their powers, or, their lack thereof.

Aside from subversion of the classic superhero origin story, The Umbrella Academy also sets itself apart from the pack through its depiction of relationships between characters. Each of the Hargreeves siblings has a unique connection with each other sibling, a fact which is never brushed over nor forgotten throughout the series. The tapestry of character connections is artfully written, artfully acted, and artfully produced. In essence, at every level of this show, attention was paid to depicting the interactions between its characters in a nuanced, cohesive way. Each character has highly specific thoughts and emotions towards each other character, many of which are unveiled gradually throughout the season.

There are so many other ways that The Umbrella Academy kept me hooked: the random, whimsical, yet dark nature of the show, multiple plotlines which eventually converge, leaving the viewer simultaneously dumbfounded and awestruck, LGBTQ+ representation, and an absolutely fire soundtrack. It would take an eternity for me to detail everything that I adored about this show.

I would recommend this show to any fans of the superhero genre who want to see a fresh take on the definition of heroism. However, one does not need to be a fan of superheroes to enjoy this show. If a whimsical, dark, time-travel centered mystery sounds at all interesting to you- give it a watch! I promise you will not be disappointed (A quick disclaimer- this show does discuss some mature themes and has several violent action sequences, hence its TV-14 rating, so it is definitely more suited to older audiences).

-Mirabella S.

The Umbrella Academy graphic novel by Gerard Way is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Recently, I read Golden Son written by Pierce Brown. I really enjoyed this book and I am currently reading the third book in the series. The story is set in the future, when mankind has evolved. Now, humans are split into different levels, based off of the color of their skin. The story takes place right after Red Rising and still follows Darrow. He is getting closer and closer to his goal. In this novel, Darrow is having trouble getting the golds to start a civil war.

I chose this excellent book for many reasons. Overall, the book is well written. It has a good mix of action and suspense. One thing I liked about Golden Son was the relationship between Darrow and the Belonna family. Going off of the first book, Darrow and Cassius still have a vendetta.  One of my favorite parts of the book was when Cassius and Darrow finally meet after two years. Darrow challenges Cassius to a duel, and of course Cassius accepts. Cassius is known for being good at dueling, so he is over confident. At first, Darrow acts very bad at dueling, building up Cassius’s confidence. Then, Darrow pulls out all of his tricks. He tells Cassius that he has been training everyday for this moment. He easily beats Cassius, cutting off his arm, and starting a civil war, starting his goal. Overall, I would rate this book nine out of ten, and would recommend this to any middle-schoolers and up.

-Daniel C.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is about an alien invasion split into five parts. Nobody was expecting the first wave to happen like it did. People saw a mothership and thought maybe the aliens were peaceful. However after the first wave, which cut off all electricity, people realized the real intentions of aliens. Now that there is no electricity anywhere on the planet, the aliens invade earth and kill tons of people.

After that, aliens dropped a massive metal rod onto a fault line with so much force that it caused lots of earthquakes and tsunamis. The third wave unleashed a genetically modified virus created by the Others to wipe out most of the earth. The virus succeeds, and 97% of the earth is killed. The fourth wave was when the aliens made contact with those that were lucky, or unlucky, enough to survive. They inserted themselves into the minds of people and took out the remaining humans.

Finally, the fifth wave takes place. This wave is about the young soldiers trained by the alien infested humans. The soldiers’ job is to wipe out any humans left that somehow survived the fourth wave. The story follows Cassie, and her journey through all five waves trying to stay alive and rescue her brother Sammy.

-Emilio V.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Alex Rider Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

The first Alex Rider book is defiantly one to remember. Stormbreaker is about a boy named Alex Rider whose uncle was supposedly a banker. But when Alex discovers his uncle didn’t die from a car crash, and his uncle actually worked for a spy agency, his life gets flipped upside down!

The Alex Rider series is consists of 12 lengthy novels plus a prequel, so Alex Rider will keep you entertained for hours every day! These books will keep you on your toes through every page. Every once in a while, I had to flip the page to check what was going to happen because the suspense was killing me! Anthony Horowitz does an amazing job creating a protagonist that we can love and crazy adventures for our hero to do. If you thought that the bad guy in Stormbreaker was scary, you will be surprised how escalated the villain’s get. Alex Rider has all of the true qualities of a hero, bravery, courage, being smart, and of course, sarcasm. If you didn’t like Stormbreaker (I doubt you won’t like it) Anthony Horowitz has written many other book series, so make sure to check those out!

-Brandon D.

Inferno by Dan Brown

You have probably read or watched the Da Vinci Code by the famous author Dan Brown, who created an extraordinary character mirroring himself. But, here comes the greatest escapist read ever! If you are chomping at the bit for some crossover action reads with amazing intellectual cliffhangers, definitely check out his Inferno!

Featuring the well-known Harvard professor Robert Langdon, an incredibly intelligent and adventurous expert in the study of symbols, Inferno sets its scenes in Florence, the city of renaissance and mystery. Lying in the local hospital, the professor was half-conscious with no recollection of the past events. A series of accidents lead him to a resourceful doctor of the hospital — maybe a little too resourceful. Sienna Brooks is the new “Sophie Neveu”, only that she is a more intelligent female with a great many secrets. Together, the two goes on a treacherous journey in order uncover the hidden messages revealed in arts, details, and hints from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Through the adventure, the team meets various characters that makes them doubt the true purpose and direction of this mission, including the meddling of the Consortium, the World Health Organization, as well as a female assassin’s relentless pursuit. But in the end, we find out that everything is but a pre-planned “coincidence.” Protagonists become antagonists, and the antagonists are not what we think who they are…

Nobody is more skilled in plot twist and global conspiracies than Dan Brown. I am mesmerized by his usage of symbols, analogies, and innuendos. He is able to incorporate such a massive amount of historical knowledge into a science-related thriller that reflects his distinct view of current crises and schemes 

“Nothing is more creative…nor destructive…than a brilliant mind with purpose.”

-Kate L.

Inferno by Dan Brown is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library