Authors We Love: Tahereh Mafi

taherehmafiThe abstract noun “freedom” incites hope for oppressed prisoners; the matrimonial vow “I do” begets tears in the eyes of lovers; and a pastor’s statement “Amen” generates evangelical zeal in a Christian crowd. Above all other human capabilities, the power of the written word reigns as the most impactful. As an author who acknowledges the power of the written word, Tahereh Mafi ranks as one of the best authors in both children and young adult literature.

With her eloquent writing style, Tahereh Mafi crafts her words as masterfully as a blacksmith forges metal. It’s no surprise that her Shatter Me and Furthermore series rank as high as the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series (after all, Ransom Riggs, the author of the latter series, is her husband!).

In each of her novels, Mafi pours every ounce of her heart and soul. She even states that most of the characters in her novels reflect certain aspects of her life, generating more meaning into them. Tahereh Mafi’s plotlines simply just don’t tell stories; they reflect on modern-day society, they empower people of different backgrounds, and they become personal stories for younger generations to relate to.

The following excerpt from Shatter Me serves as one of Mafi’s most popular quotes:

“I only know now that the scientists are wrong.

The world is flat.

I know because I was tossed right off the edge and I’ve been trying to hold on for 17 years. I’ve been trying to climb back up for 17 years but it’s nearly impossible to beat gravity when no one is willing to give you a hand.”

The previous quote resonates well with many of her readers, and it has been circulated so many times that there are now altered forms of the quote. Despite these changes, many young readers empathize with the speaker of the quote, for the metaphor of hardship as a heavy force is quite accurate. Both younger and older readers can agree that Tahereh Mafi’s rendition of life in her novels parallels to the plights of reality.

Both younger and older readers can agree that Tahereh Mafi’s rendition of life in her novels parallels to the plights of reality. In fact, her dystopian novel Shatter Me resonated so well with many readers that it is now moving on to the big screen. However, the whole novel simply cannot be portrayed in the 2-hour time frame of a movie, so it will be ad0pted as a TV show. Mafi’s eloquence in writing and her brilliant storyline can soon be seen on one’s TV screen, for she will also be one of the show’s producers. Fans all around the world cannot contain the excitement as they blog about their dream cast.

Whether it is through the medium of print or through the medium of film, Tahereh Mafi never fails to impress readers with her skills. Regardless of the time periods, situations, and characters in her novels, Mafi crafts fictional worlds with her outstanding language, leaving any onlooker in complete awe.

-Elaha N.

Books written by Tahereh Mafi are available to checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Show?

seriesofunfortunateevents_netflixIf you have never read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, you are missing out on an incredibly unique and amazing book series. This series is what made me fascinated in books as a child because it has such an alluring plot and intriguing narration. The story follows three bright young children named Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who have recently been orphaned due to a fire in their mansion.Violet, the oldest Baudelaire, is fourteen at the start of the series and is known for the signature black ribbon in her hair and scrappiness in inventing. Klaus, her younger brother is twelve and has read more non fiction books than all of us combined, and therefore is knowledgeable in many topics. And last but not least, we have Sunny, a mere baby who has an insane talent of biting. Because of the children’s large inheritance, a sinister man named Count Olaf hunts these children down throughout the series and continuously conjures up plots to steal their fortune. These poor siblings are left to constantly move from one home to another, forced to always look over their shoulder.

Although this is a children’s series, it is evident from the summary that interwoven are themes of survival, tragedy, and woe, which allows it to be a series that can be enjoyed by all generations. Don’t be alarmed however, because this series does not leave you depressed and solemn, but rather fascinated by the twisting plot, and heart-warmed by the Baudelaire children. There are thirteen books, but most of them are thin enough to easily be finished in a day or two, so do yourself a favor and pick up A Bad Beginning, which is the first book, and you will not be disappointed.

In 2004 there was a movie made about this series, encompassing the first three books, however it did not continue on. Excitingly, Netflix has announced a TV show of A Series of Unfortunate Events, in cooperation with Paramount Pictures. This show is said to have a slightly darker atmosphere than the series, due to the fact that the book series’ original fans are not children anymore. I have linked the newly released trailer to the TV show, which stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty, and many more.What I love about this cast is that the actors who play the Baudelaire orphans are around the same age their characters are, rather than being an 18 year old playing a 14 year old, which many book to screen adaptations do. The first season drops on Netflix THIS January, Friday the 13th. For fans like me who have been waiting for more than a decade, this is pretty monumental.

I would love to hear who else is excited about the Netflix reboot, so comment away!

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker

Image result for ashes to ashes by melissa walkerCallie McPhee is prepared to have a great summer. She has her boyfriend Nick, her best friend Carson, and a new BMW. Even though her best friend is still obsessed with ghosts, and Nick seems a little bit off lately, Callie knows that she is going to have a great summer before her junior year. Except when tragedy strikes while Callie is speeding and distracted by a phone call from Nick. This isn’t the summer she imagined.

Callie wakes up in something called the Prism, where she finds out she’s dead and is assigned a Guide named Thatcher. Callie isn’t a “normal” ghost, and develops a rebellious streak. She wants to live a little by hanging out with the “bad” group of ghosts and haunt on her own. But when the poltergeists, the bad group, starts turning more dangerous, Callie must figure what’s right. She has to watch her father, friend, and boyfriend go through different types of grief, and sort out her new feelings for Thatcher. When the poltergeists go past a boundary that Callie didn’t know was possible and Thatcher feared, they must do the impossible. Will the poltergeists stop? Read the book to find out.

I thought Ashes to Ashes was a great paranormal romance novel. Once you read this book, you have to know what happens next in the sequel, Dust to Dust. Ashes to Ashes makes you think a lot about ghosts. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants a good paranormal romance book.

-Rebecca V.

Ashes to Ashes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Reeling Through the Roaring Twenties: A Bright Young Things Series Review

brightyoungthings_annagodbersenFLAPPERS, FRINGE DRESSES, JAZZ, AND DECADENCE!

The year is 1929. Eleven years have passed since the First World War. No longer is there any grief or sorrow among the former disillusioned youth. Instead, there is an air of decadence and desire among them.

New York, the cultural capital of the era, is ruled by the Bright Young Things. This new generation of young women chase their dreams, defying the traditional patriarchal society that once stifled their passions.

Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur, inspired by the culture of New York, escape their Midwestern town for the lights and ardour of New York City. However, the two girls leave much more behind than just their old homes. Ms. Grey, raised as an orphan by her authoritarian aunt, escapes from an untimely arranged marriage to find her infamously wealthy father, Dorian Grey. Ms. Larkspur, on the other hand, escapes her extremely religious family to become the next Broadway Babe.

All Cordelia wants is to be part of a wealthy, loving family, and all Letty wants is to see her name in flashing lights. However, the two girls soon find out that their positions are ones that many girls fight for-and will even kill for. The girls find themselves in a city much more glamorous, yet equally dangerous than they have ever dreamed of. Only with the help of the young flapper Astrid Donal do these girls finally assimilate into the rich culture of the metropolis. Raised differently than the other two girls, Ms. Donal seems to epitomize perfection–she is wealthy, beautiful, and her lover is Cordelia’s greedily rich brother, Charlie. Despite Astrid’s perfect life, she faces her own plights in New York. Together, the Bright Young Things endure through the harsh circumstances of the city.

Love, drama, illegal ventures, and decadent thrills soon become an everyday part of the girls’ lives.

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Personal Notes from Reading The Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godberson:

  • The book is FULL of words to expand your vocabulary. A majority of the words are SAT-level words! (For reference, the SRI reading level of the books range from 1070-1250, which is a very high lexile range)
  • The book covers are to DIE FOR! Each book comes with a visual photograph of the character. Their style of clothing and their beauty astonishes me to this day. I never pass the Young Adult section of the library without picking one up and gazing at it
  • It saddens me that these books are so underrated! Everytime I check their availability statuses at the library, none of them are ever checked out. It’s not that they are unpopular books, it is just that they are overshadowed by Godberson’s more popular series, The Luxe. 
  • I encourage all teenagers and young adults to read these books. Not only do you get to expand your vocabulary, but you also get to learn about the Roaring Twenties. It goes well with The Great Gatsby (a novel that most high school honors and AP students are required to read!)

-Elaha N.

The Bright Young Things series of novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

janeeyre_charlottebronteImagine a young orphan, taken in by dear uncle and aunt only to be beaten regularly by their cousin and is forced to live in a small room. They is sent away to school and inherits a fortune from a dead relative. Sound familiar? If you guess Harry Potter, that is close, but someone else also qualifies.

Imagine a girl living in a mansion. She is forbidden from a certain section of the house. The man who owns the mansion asks her to marry him. It is only after she leaves and returns that she says yes. Did you guess Beauty and the Beast? It may share similar qualities, but this isn’t dear old Belle.

Now picture a girl. Now make her the plainest girl you can think of. Plainer. Not an ounce of beauty. But smart, passionate, and a strong need for independence. Now that’s Jane Eyre.

There are so many fairy tale elements in Jane Eyre that it’s hard to keep track. But the one Jane doesn’t follow directly is that of Cinderella. Sure, Mr. Rochester loves her and showers Jane with more jewels than she knows what to do with, but this Prince Charming has a secret hiding in the west wing of the third story of his mansion. As his secret is reveal, Jane doesn’t choose love, instead choosing to be true to herself. She left the ball and the charming Rochester never found the maiden who fit the shoe.

Instead, something only a fairy tale could explain. She heard him cry out for her miles and miles away. She came back in her own good time when she was ready and Rochester’s secret had been dealt with. Is it really a spoiler when this book is such a classic? I may have read this book for school, but that didn’t stop me from loving this fairy tale of a book.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Jane Eyre is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Made For You by Melissa Marr

madeforyou_melissamarrMade For You is a book that grabbed my attention right away and didn’t let it go until the end. It wasn’t necessarily the best book I’ve ever read, but it one was of the better ones in a while. This being said I really don’t know how to describe it. Its components are similar to a lot of teen books; romance with a hint of mystery. The thing that really garbed my attention though, was the darker nature of the plot. At the end of the second chapter the main character, Eva, has already had an attempt made on her life by someone know only as Judge. It was this chapter that really made me want to continue reading, his motivation for the murder attempt is what I found really intriguing, in fact his thoughts throughout the book were what I found most inserting. In my opinion Judge is easily the stronger character in the book, and my personal favorite, not because I was rooting for him to succeed but because I thought he was extremely well written and one of the more interesting characters out of a lot of books I’ve read.

But enough about Judge for now, it’s what happens after Eva walks up from his murder attempt that things start to get weird. Eva wakes in the hospital with the ability to see people’s death’s when the touch her. It is because I of this plot point that I have a hard time describing this book. This power, if you want to call it that, is very interesting and a driving force behind the plot. I thought it was very well thought out with limitations and other flaws that made it more believable. Except for one thing, we never really find out were the power came from. We find out it’s flaws and how it works, but not once is the source of the power mentioned.. As much as I loved this book, and I really did, this was a huge problem for me. I loved the story, and as mentioned early Judge’s character was very interesting, but I really feel like this was an attempt to add fantasy twist to what was other wise a book that bordered on realistic fiction that fell a little short of the goal. Honesty for a while I thought that maybe the whole thing was just in Eva’s head, or that maybe the hit and run had activated some kind of dormant magical ability, but at the end of the book I still didn’t have an answer.

Now this doesn’t mean that Made For You isn’t worth the read, I really think it is, I just think it has some flaws that should have been addressed. As a whole though the plot is very interesting, the characters and unique and three-dimensional with interesting motivates driving their actions, and a very interesting reveal at the end of the book pertaining to Judge’s identity, all of which make this a very solid read. One thing to keep in mind is since one of the driving points of the plot is an attempted murder their is some violence that may make younger readers uncomfortable, but high-school aged readers (and mature middle-school readers) probably won’t have a problem with it, as their are only a few short scenes. If you are looking for something that isn’t quite like anything else then I highly recommend giving Made For You a read.

Made For You is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Flyte by Angie Sage

flyte_angiesageThis sequel to the first book in the Septimus Heap series begins with a new foe that seems strangely familiar… ***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK***  Boy 412, or Septimus Heap, as Aunt Zelda helped him to discover, is living a normal life as Marcia’s apprentice, or as normal as a wizard can get. Then one day, on a day that Marcia gives him to spend as he likes, he decides to visit Jenna in the Palace. Then suddenly Simon Heap appears and kidnaps Jenna! And, nobody will believe Septimus that Simon has kidnapped Jenna, making it difficult for him to do anything. How will he be able to get Jenna back? What does Simon want with her? That, until you read the book, is a secret that only the readers know.

I loved Flyte just as much as I loved Magyk. The escapades of Septimus and Jenna always are able to make me laugh, and those of a new(ish) character too, Beetle. Beetle is a worker at the Manuscriptorium, a place where they keep books and other things. He became friends with Septimus after they discovered their common interest in Magyk. Beetle is a bit weird, but that’s another reason that I like him. And, he has more in store for him in the five books to come (currently available in the library).

New character aside, there’s lots of other things that I like about Flyte. It has a lot more Magyk than in the first book, a big plus for me. It also links a lot of new stuff back to the first book, like a hidden room in the castle that might have something to do with Aunt Zelda’s cottage (hint, hint). I would give this book a 10 out of 10 because it’s an awesome book and because Angie Sage did a great job of bringing her characters back for a brand new adventure.

Flyte is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library