School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

‘In the forest primeval, a school for good and evil, two towers like twin heads, one for the pure, one for the wicked, try to escape you’ll always fail, the only way out is, through a fairy tale’

These are the opening words of Soman Chainani’s first book in the School for Good and Evil series, also known as SGE to many fans. The first book, which is called The School For Good and Evil, has 488 pages, and can be found in the children’s section of the library.

This is one of my favorite books, and it holds deep meaning for me. When I first met my pen pal, this was her present to me. I have cherished this book and series, because it is a reminder of her, no matter how far apart we live.

We begin our tale in a small town. We meet Sophie, the epitome of a pretty pink princess. While she goes about her daily routines, including rigorous skin care, and primping and preening, we find out that there are kidnappings in this town, every year.

The villagers of this town have come to the conclusion that there is a ‘Schoolmaster’, kidnapping two children every year. At first, it seems as though there is no pattern to this kidnapping. Some years, two girls. Others, two boys. Sometimes, one of each. But finally, the villagers make the connection. One child is pure and good. The other is wicked and ‘evil’. The adults in the town didn’t know what to make of this. But, the children did. They found their old schoolmates in the pages of their favorite stories. These kidnapped children were becoming the heroes and villains of fairytales. And they were kidnapped to go train for fairytales at the Schools of Good and Evil

We find out that Sophie is pining to be kidnapped, to go to the school of Good. We also find that Agatha, her ‘friend’, is the perfect candidate to be kidnapped alongside Sophie, and attend the school of Evil.

Well, the hopes of Sophie and the assumptions of the villagers were correct. Agatha and Sophie were kidnapped by the Schoolmaster. But, as they are dropped off at the School for Good and Evil, some things did not go according to plan.

Agatha was dropped at the School for Good, and Sophie was dropped at the School for Evil.

Well, I won’t spoil anymore. I highly suggest checking this out at the library. Happy reads!

-Sophia D.

The School of Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani is available to download for free from Overdrive.

Loot by Jude Watson

Loot by Jude Watson is about March McQuin, the son of the famous burglar Alfie McQuin. One night Alfie falls from the roof of a building onto the ground. As he is dying, he is able to say a last set of words to his son,”Find jewels.” However, soon March discovers that his father wasn’t talking about normal jewels, but his long lost sister Jules. They meet at an airport before March and Jules are sent to an orphanage that seems very much like a prison.

Once they’re at the orphanage, they meet up with two kids called Darius and Izzy. The four of them make a plan to break out of the orphanage. Once they break out, they go on the run while committing a series of crimes to look for a set of mysterious stones. March already has one of the stones. They are offered 7 million dollars to find and bring back all the stones. They must find the stones quickly, because there are multiple other people looking for the stones. March and Jules must find the stones before anyone else if they want to be able to live by themselves for the rest of their lives.

-E. Vargas

Loot by Jude Watson is avalable for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Dragon Bones by Lisa McMann

The last book I finished before my winter break was Dragon Bones, part of the The Unwanteds Quest Series written by Lisa McMann. The story follows two young twins, Thisbe and Fifer. Thisbe has been captured by the evil Reviner and must be rescued. The story follows both girls, switching perspectives and showing the reader the struggles of both girls.

The climax of the story is when Fifer gathers a group of her friends, who try to find and rescue Thisbe. Everything is going as planned until the gang encounters the Reviner. Alex, Fifer’s brother and lead wizard, starts to fight the Reviner but is quickly overrun. Eventually, Alex is killed and because he is the lead wizard, once he is gone, all of the magic the group used no longer works. Without their magic, Fifer’s group loses all their fighting ability. They quickly lose their confidence and are forced to retreat, leaving Thisbe behind. Little do they know, Thisbe and a friend of hers that she met while captive, had already escaped and are trying to survive until help arrives.

Overall, I thought this book was very well written. I like how the author switched perspectives between the two twins, so you could see what was going on in each of their lives. The ending was cliche and expected, but that was the only problem I had with the book. I would rate this book a strong eight out of ten and would recommend the story to middle schoolers.

-Daniel C.

Dragon Bones and the rest of the Unwateds Quests series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Siren Song by Anne Ursu

The “Siren Song” in the Cronus Chronicles Series is a very enticing book. It does have an unusual main character that still worries about things like popularity and looks and friends still has a legal of uniqueness to herself. The supporting character has a bit of a smaller part in this book than in the first book. The difference in the “development” of the main character is that she has a crush in this new book.

The book is mostly based on the Greek mythology but puts the gods in a negative light of being indifferent to the human race, and are the main obstacle standing in the way of the main character. In relation to the book before it I would say they hold the same weight in being entertaining but perhaps the first one has a stronger plot. Some books might want if you enjoy this book is Percy Jackson, The Oracles Of The Delphi Keep and Keeper of the Lost Cities. The book also had some very funny instances or scenes, so this made the book funny and gave it a comical ring to it all. Through every page that you turn this book becomes more enjoyable and excited, I for sure recommend the Sirens Song.

-Tonantzin L.

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

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell

Image result for the king's fifthWhat would you do if you heard of a golden city? Attempt to find it? Destroy it? Ransack it? This is the question posed by Scott O’Dell in his book The King’s Fifth. In the book, we follow the adventures of Esteban de Sandoval, a young mapmaker who is part of an expedition to the new world.

While the party explores the new world, they encounter Indians, who are usually welcoming, but sometimes hostile. However, in almost every case, the party tricks or fights the Native Americans. They do this because they have heard of vast supplies of gold. The Indians think little of the gold, taking what they need but not much more, and wonder why the Spaniards are so devoted to the material. Later, they acquire a huge amount of gold, only to have most of the members of the expedition perish or depart. Sandoval, after commandeering the remainder of the group, ends up in prison for failing to give the King his share of the treasure.

Even though the adventures of the explorers are fictional, many of the themes are all too real. Spanish expeditions did, quite often, swindle and cheat Indians out of valuables, even resorting to violence if trickery was unsuccessful. They also traveled with no respect to the land, destroying forests and slaughtering wildlife. Another aspect that truly happened was the Spanish gold rush. Many crews and expeditions deviated from their purposes to search for cities of gold. Wild tales were told of people who ate from golden platters and wore gold clothing. In the end, Scott O’Dell’s book wonderfully gives a look into the exploration of early North America.

-Joshua M.

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

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