Want by Cindy Pon

Vividly conjured from bestselling author Cindy Pon’s colorful imagination comes an alluringly dark society set in near-future Taipei, where sickness and pollution plague its inhabitants. A thriller spun into sci-fi, the book depicts a story about a group of teens who try their hand at changing their society for the better by toppling the empire of the rich minority.

With stunning prose dripping with imagery so powerful it induces incredibly lifelike images, Pon does a brilliant job highlighting the stark contrast between the privilege of the rich and the scraps the poor pick up behind them, illuminated by its futuristic setting. It’s a story about division, unity, and vigilante justice, highlighted with an ever-so-sweet touch of friendship and romance. The novel does a brilliant job of conveying a message that today in society we like to turn a blind eye to: the manipulating and unorthodox methods used in business to make money. Creating a problem to sell a solution. Eradicating those who try to stand in the way. It’s the harsh truth we always knew existed.

There are so many reasons this novel stands distinctly apart from others for me. For one, it hits close to home: the Taiwanese heritage runs in my veins as potently as it does in the novel, with its allusions to language and culture exposing the often overlooked traditions of the Taiwanese. And then, of course, the characters, so different from one another and yet sharing both a powerful bond and a common goal, become comrades on the way along the journey.

Finally, Zhou, the main character, has a voice that stays with you long after the turn of the last page. “I was going to become what I wanted to destroy,” he says bitterly, of trading his street-rat identity for esteemed upper-class socialite.

Ultimately, Want reflects, in its intrinsic essence, humanity’s inevitable tendency to divide itself, whether by wealth, race, gender, religion, sexuality, or pure hate. It’s a powerful message to recognize those who cannot speak for themselves because we do not listen.

Here’s to hoping that that message is amplified throughout the world, throughout time, and proclaimed as a lasting testament to human nature, so that we ourselves can be bettered.

-Esther H.

Want by Cindy Pon is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free for download from Overdrive

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Just as I was giving up on the monotonous plots and characters of many current YA novels, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, reminds me of how truly fantastic YA books can be. Six of Crows is the first book in its duology, followed by Crooked Kingdom. Bardugo wrote this series after The Grisha Trilogy, which is set in the same world. However, one does not need to read the trilogy beforehand (I did not), as they center around different characters and places.

My favorite part of this book is that it is set in a different world that has been so beautifully fleshed out by the author, including unique countries, cultures, and languages. Another cool part is that the band of six are so diverse and provide a wide variety of representation in race, sexual orientation, and both physical and mental disabilities. The group live in a buzzing city called Ketterdam (taking inspiration from the city of Amsterdam). This 1800s type city is right next to the sea is filled with merchants, cargo ships, gang claimed territories, and thieves. Speaking of thieves and gangs…

Six of Crows story follows a gang (literally) of antihero teenagers, each with their own bitter backstory. Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands aka Bastard of the Barrel is the leader of the gang called the Dregs. He is mysterious, cold, and delightfully sarcastic. Despite Kaz’s limp in his leg, no one in their right mind would dare cross him or his cane. Next is Inej aka The Wraith. But don’t let her small frame fool you, as she the deadliest and sneakiest one on the team. Right hand man and life of the group is Jesper. The only thing stronger than his sharpshooting ability is his gambling addiction.

Thirdly, we have Nina, a Heartrender Grisha, meaning she has special abilities that can manipulate others’ bodies. However, if Nina lived in our world, she’d be an A-lister actress for sure. Any group of fighters needs a brooding muscle man, and Matthias sure fills that part, no matter how reluctant he might be. And last but not least, we have bright young merchling, Wylan, who is new to the heathen street life, but becomes an incredible asset.

These crooked youngsters embark on an insane mission that’s filled with humor, struggle, suspense, emotions, and wonderful fight scenes. The opening scene with Inez is my favorite scene as we get to see two gangs in a “parley” meeting. It is so intriguing and thrilling, specifically with how we see it from Inej’s bird’s eye view. The amount of detail that Leigh Bardugo put in her writing and characterization is truly spectacular and I recommend this book 100%!

-Ava K.

The Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Last Time I Died By Joe Nelms

Image result for the last time i diedChristian Franco and Ella Franco are brothers and sisters, but the incident of their father murdering their mother and abusing her violently before destroyed the bond between them.

It wasn’t until Christian met his wife that he first relished the reminiscent taste of love. But as time slipped bypass his crude fingers that he realized the love he gripped it too tight that his wife was escaping because it choked her from it. He was once again abandoned by his family.

Struggling to cope, he depletes himself by testing experimental medicine from a former physician that now treats dogs bred to fight. This is a tragedy of one person’s life, but he was able to collect the pieces of his mom’s death and eventually muster them together as a complete puzzle. His life then lingered between comedy and tragedy.

-April L.

The Last Time I Died by Joe Nelms is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty

grammargirl_mignonfogartyAre you a grammar fanatic? Are you annoyed when people, including adults, mix up their grammar? Well, Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty, a book exploring the surfaces and depths of grammar and writing, is much more than a grammar book.  And more than likely, it is right for you.  It offers easy-to-understand rules of conduct to live by as a writer, or in your case, a blogger.  Throughout this book, easy lessons are explained through quick and dirty tips.  I learned everything from gerunds to objective versus subjective pronouns to complicated conjugations.

The basic definition of a gerund is a noun made from an action verb plus an ‘ing’ at the end.  Every gerund, without exception, ends in ‘ing’.  Gerunds are not, however, that easy to locate.  For example, a name of a profession counts.  Like, ‘Acting isn’t as easy as it looks.’  In this case acting is the gerund and is functioning like a noun, yet it sounds like a verb.  Here’s another one: ‘Her singing almost deafened me.’  Singing is the gerund because it is referring to the act of her singing as an object or an idea.  But, we’re not done yet. In most cases, gerunds need a possessive or objective pronoun much like some words need linking verbs. It can be pretty easy to make the mistake of saying ‘We didn’t know that was his singing.’ This sentence could mean we couldn’t tell if what he was doing was singing or if he was making some other noise.  That was a possessive pronoun, but to clarify the true meaning of these types of sentences, sometimes you need to use a possessive pronoun.  This is the correct sentence: ‘We didn’t know this was him singing.’

In sixth grade, your English teacher probably taught you about basic conjugation.  In addition to these, there are progressive and perfect progressive. Learning these are essential to speaking correctly and formally.  Progressive means that the action is ongoing, progressing, or will be progressing.  (You can see chart below for the progressive and the perfect progressive.)  Then, perfect progressive is when the action has progressed for a while before it ended or it will end.  Perfect progressive uses the words like ‘has been’ or ‘had been’.

I would definitely rate this book a 10/10 for its complete guide on grammar and tips to keep your writing in shape.  In addition to Grammar Girl, I also would recommend checking out some of Mignon Fogarty’s online resources as well.  She has a podcast, a website (http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl), and several books for you to explore and love just as I did with this one.

– Maya S., 7th grade

Grammar Girl is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

PROGRESSIVE(also called incomplete and continuous) EXAMPLE MEANING OF SENTENCE
Past progressive Jack was walking. At some point in the past, Jack was in the middle of a walk, but we don’t know when he stopped or if he did.
Present progressive Jack is walking. Jack is in the middle of a walk.
Future progressive Jack will be walking. Jack will walk in the future– and walk and walk.  Who knows when it will end?
PERFECT PROGRESSIVE (also called perfect continuous) EXAMPLE MEANING OF SENTENCE
Past perfect progressive Jack had been walking. At some point in the past, Jack started walking and did so for a while, but now it’s over.
Present perfect progressive Jack has been walking. Jack started walking sometime in the past, and he is still walking.
Future perfect progressive Jack will have been walking. Jack will walk until a specific point in the future, and then he will stop.