Book Review: The City of Ember: The First Book of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember: The First Book of Ember is the first book in the city of Ember series, written by the author Jeanne DuPrau. The City of Ember is a 270-page science-fiction book. The book follows two main characters Lina and Doon. As is the custom in their city they were given jobs at 12. The city of Ember is falling into decay often having blackouts, giving citizens the fear of it forever being dark. The two main characters however learn the secret of their city and what lies beyond. However, greedy villains try to survive by themselves letting the rest die.

What makes this book so interesting is how it tells us what we might be causing in the future. It tells of a city hidden away from the world human life died. Technology keeping the city down starting break fail. It has a message to our present world on how dangerous we can be with how little regard humans have for the health of the world and nature. However, the book also teaches us hope, that there always good individuals trying to save our world and people. The book is about growing up and learning the dark secrets of their world, and trying to stop them. With puzzle solving the conflicts and problems are often solved with ingenuity rather than force. The book is placed in a city built by people who thought that a nuclear war was inevitable and created a safe haven hidden from the rest of the world before everyone on the surface died.

I would recommend this book to anyone 12 and over who is interested in dystopian, science fiction, or how humans survive Nuclear war. It’s a great book with interesting ideas, and can get you thinking more than the difficulty of the book would be expected.

Luke G.

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

This book had been sitting on my shelf with many other books I hadn’t had the time to read. I had started this book in the middle of the school year but hadn’t been able to finish it. So, I decided to pick it back up over the summer. 

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt is set sometime in the 1970’s and follows the story of four young siblings, Dicey, James, Maybeth, and Sammy. On one summer day, the mother of the Tillermans abandons them. Dicey is the eldest Tillerman sibling at thirteen and acts as the leader of the four siblings as they make their journey to their relative’s place. Throughout the different parts of their adventure, they stick together as they meet many interesting people along the way, trying to find a home.

Homecoming is a good, simple book that I enjoyed. It wasn’t anything special but it had moments that I really enjoyed. There were some characters in the book that were fun to read about. The different interactions with each character gave each character their own personality. Sometimes, I wished we had more time with certain characters, but since the four siblings are always on the move, we don’t get to spend a lot of time with some of the side characters. Depending on the point of the story, there were some characters that were more notable than others, but I found that each character that interacted with the four siblings were all interesting and important to the growth of the characters. 

The book shows a very interesting story. I liked how there was a clear main goal for the characters and there were actual struggles the characters had to worry about that are an actual struggle people have to deal with. It makes you wonder what may happen next as the book makes you feel as if you’re traveling with them. There are many different scenarios that the characters go through that can create different kinds of emotions by reading about them.

Homecoming is a good book that discusses many different kinds of problems, including mental illness, and death. It’s a nice book about a family and their adventures and difficulties to find a place to stay together. I enjoyed the book and still have some scenes stuck in my head from it. Homecoming is only the first book of the seven-part series, the Tillerman Cycle. This is a great book and is definitely a fun read.

Homecoming by Cynthia Voight is available to download for free from Libby.

Throne of Glass: Book Review by Izzy W.

Celaena Sardothein, the infamous Adarlan’s Assasin, was beginning to crumble from the ruthlessness of Endovier’s salt mines. Celaena didn’t remember her parents, nor really cared. For as long as she could remember, she had been raised by Arobynn Hamel, the man she had trusted since she was adopted. He trained her to become the world’s greatest assassin, and then stripped it all away. On her last and final mission, she and her partner Sam were supposed to overthrow a crimelord, but it was a trap. Arobynn had planned Sam’s death and framed Celaena for his ruthless murder, letting the crimelord go off free. That day had shaped Celaena for the rest of her life. It had fueled her when she snapped, going only an inch away from the walls that guard Endovier.

After almost an entire year in Endovier, a carriage arrived to take Celaena out of the mines. They had told her she was to compete in a tournament to become the King’s Champion. Although she hadn’t liked the King, she still went with them. Upon arriving she got introduced to the Captain of the Guard, Chaol. Chaol was to become her personal bodyguard and kept her from leaving.

Throughout the tournament, Celaena discovered many things about herself, the castle around her, and the magic she thought was buried for 10 years. I highly recommend any fantasy readers to read this series. It is a lot like ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Sword of Shanara’, two very important books in the fantasy genre.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

A Damsel in Distress by P. G. Wodehouse

A Damsel in Distress is a humorous novel by P. G. Wodehouse.  The book appears to be set around the time of the publication date, which was 1919.  A young American composer named George Bevan feels empty and discontent with his life.  While visiting London from his native New York, he is thrust into a tumultuous chain of events when a young woman by the name of Maud Marsh enters into his life.  This mysterious lady appears one day and asks George to hide her from her brother Percy.  George falls in love with Maud, and he tries to find out where she lives.  However, the girl’s aristocratic relatives disapprove of George, and prevent her from leaving their castle.

I found this novel to be extremely entertaining.  I have always enjoyed stories like this, with a relatively small cast of characters.  This allows the author to focus on character development.  I consider P. G. Wodehouse to be one of the best at doing this.  He is very skillful at developing funny and interesting characters.  All of the characters are humorous in their own way, and the dialogue between them is very enjoyable to read.  For example, Percy Marsh is quite pompous and self-important, but his inept schemes against George always fail miserably.  Reginald (“Reggie”) Byng always seems to be upbeat and cheerful, even though he often gets pushed around by his overbearing relatives.

This novel was an amusing read from start to finish.  P. G. Wodehouse has great command of the English language, and his characters express themselves in ways that are delightful to read.  The story takes many funny twists and turns, but eventually arrives at a satisfying conclusion.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone in the mood for a fun and lighthearted story.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Typically this isn’t the book I would generally want to read because I don’t think it’s entertaining reading about psychological ideas. However, this book came across me when I saw it at my friend’s house and asked to borrow it. The beginning of the book made it to the point where it wasn’t tolerable to read that I ended up sectioning different parts every night for me to read in order to just get it out of the way.

As time went on, I kept an open mind reading this book, to see that the information was only trying to help me. Atomic Habits turned to be one of my favorite reads this year. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons through this book especially how to maintain/break habits.

James Clear cleverly uses athletes, comedians, big brand companies to help the reader get a grasp for how they became so successful. He documents a four step process to make habits more versatile in the daily use: making it obvious, making it attractive, making it easy, and making it satisfying. Just by reading about how to maintain a habit, inspired me to start fixing a routine and lifestyle that best suited me.

If you are interested in a book that can truly changes your perspective of life I recommend reading this book. Habits are more then they seem and help dictate the way you decide to live your life.

-Madison C.

Atomic Habits by James Clear is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster tells the story of young Milo, who thought that learning was useless and never stopped to smell the roses. Milo only focused on getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. And when he did reach Point B, all he would do was lie around and complain that he was bored.

Until one day, Milo finds a mysterious package in his room addressed to ‘Milo, who has plenty of time’ Milo, having nothing better to do, opens the strange gift. Inside, is a tollbooth, instructions, rules, coins, cautionary signs, and a map. Milo pays the tollbooth and drives his toy car to a very strange and confusing place.

After traveling past the city of Expectations (where everyone starts out but few go beyond), he meets Officer Short Shrift, who thinks everyone is guilty and won’t believe otherwise; the Whether Man, who never comes to a decision; the Which, who was sentenced to jail for abusing words; and many more. Milo realizes that the only only way to bring peace and order to the Kingdoms of Wisdom is to rescue the Princess of Sweet Rhyme and the Princess of Pure Reason.To accomplish this, Milo and his loyal friends Tock (a watchdog who goes tick) and the Humbug (a boastful beetle who doesn’t like to learn) have to travel up the Mountains of Ignorance and rescue the princesses from the Castle in the Air.

During Milo’s journey he’ll learn decisiveness, the importance of hard work, the value of time, that things aren’t always as they seem, and that it’s worth the effort to gain some new knowledge. Every character and setting in The Phantom Tollbooth has a clever meaning, and people like Alec Bings and Canby have very insightful wisdom to share. The Phantom Tollbooth is a very creative book, and I would highly recommend it.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: Animal Farm

Animal Farm is a novel written by George Orwell and published in 1945. Animal Farm is about a group of mistreated and malnourished animals on a farm that is run by an alcoholic farmer that neglected his duties as a farmer. The fable reflects the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and into the Stalinist era of communism and the Soviet Union in the form of animals on a farm.

The book starts off with Old Major, oldest and wisest pig telling all the animals that he has a dream of a society where the animals would have control of the farm and everyone would have equal jobs and roles in the farm. A day passes and Old Major passes away and the rest of the animals decide to make Old Major’s dream come true and decide to start a revolution and kick the farmer off his own farm. The animals create a set of rules that make them all equal and have the same rights. The pigs are appointed to run the farm because they are the smartest and the pigs decide to slowly change the rules of the farm for their own benefit. The animals begin to run the farm and discover that the pigs are slowly becoming more human-like which was exactly what they didn’t want to happen.

I really liked this book. It is very interesting how the society slowly evolves and the pigs begin to manipulate the rules for themselves.  I found it interesting how every character and type of animal each have their own traits that represented an aspect of the Russian Revolution and Stalinist era. Animal Farm is a true classic novel that I would recommend to anyone interested in reading it.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight is the eighth and final book in the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo.  The main character of the series is Charlie Bone, a boy who possesses magical power.  He attends a school called Bloor’s Academy, which is a school for children with special endowments.  In this thrilling conclusion to the series, the Bloor family is searching for a lost document.  The document contains a secret so important that the Bloors will stop at nothing to find it before Charlie.  Charlie hopes to obtain the document, because it would reveal the destiny of the heirs of the Red King.

Charlie faces many conflicts in this book.  For example, he confronts a magician with a sword that has a mind of its own.  Another man secretly tries to drown Charlie’s parents.  Charlie even encounters a powerful sorcerer from the past.  Charlie and his friends must combine their powers to overcome the evil forces fighting against them.  This leads to many exciting episodes, including an attempt to retrieve a powerful mirror from Charlie’s evil aunts, a dangerous mission to rescue one of Charlie’s friends from the past, and a huge battle between a sorcerer’s army and the Children of the Red King.

One of my favorite characters in this book is actually the Red Knight himself.  Not much is known about him at first, except that he rides a white horse and he wields an invincible sword.  However, his true identity is eventually revealed.  This became one of my favorite and most memorable scenes in the book.

Jenny Nimmo originally intended to write only five books for the Children of the Red King series, but fortunately she decided to write an additional three books.  This book is the last of the series, and a wonderful conclusion to this set of books.  This is my favorite book in the entire series, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has read any of the other books in the saga.

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Frances Janvier, the head girl and top of her school since 7th grade, has been determined to go to one of the most prestigious schools in England: University of Cambridge. On the downlow, she listens to her favorite podcast, Universe City, and draws fanart for the show. She never imagined her life as anything other than being a workaholic, earning good grades, and studying in university for the next few years of her life. However, everything changes when she is asked to collaborate with the creator of this podcast using her fanart. And later when she discovers out that Aled, a quiet boy a year older than her whose sister she used to be friends with, is the creator of Universe City. As the story unfolds, Frances finally discovers what it is like to have a true friend and embraces herself as more than a studious and intelligent person. But will all be destroyed over a revelation no one thought would occur?

I, personally, give Radio Silence the rating of 7/10. It wasn’t an excellent read in my opinion (which could be influenced by the book not being in the genre I usually read). However, I do recommend everyone to read it. It isn’t a typically love story between a boy and girl and shows the importance of true and beautiful friendship. It only shows many deep themes of finding one’s true identity, motivation, and connections with other people. It has shown me a different perspective to a genre of stories I never believed could be interesting to read: the main point highlighting the significance of one’s relationships other than romance. It is very rare for me to relate to characters in a book but this book definitely brought up some experiences I have had in the past and made the book all the more better. There is also a lot of representation that I didn’t expect but loved very much. I hope, if you read it, you enjoyed it as much as I did!

-Saanvi V.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman

What would you do if your parents suddenly fell asleep and you could not wake them up?  Now personally, I would probably cry for half an hour than get up, watch TV and cook brownies from a box (the batter is the best). But thankfully that has not happened to my parents, unfortunately that did happen to the fair children of St. Polonius-by-the-Fjord. After eating the traditional bear liver, the parents and everybody over the age of 12 years, 4 months and 6 days, fell into a deep sleep. Immediately the mayor’s son took control and had every child take over their parents job, appointments and basically life. Jean Hubby, the main character and awesome older sister, and her little brother Micah suddenly live their parents’ lives. When Jean goes to the storage room to find some food, her job was working in a restaurant (it was not her mother’s job, find out why in the book), she stumbles across something that explains the Great Hibernation. Once again Tara Dairman wrote a treasure that had me whipping each page. Not only did she show diverse and hilarious characters, she incorporated real problems that people face every day. This book is a great read that I loved. I recommend this book to anybody and everybody. 

The Great Hibernation  by Tara Dairman is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.