The Tea Dragon Society Series

The Tea Dragon Society series is a series of graphic novels written by Kay O’Neill. The three-part story is set in a fantasy world in which dragons grow leaves and flowers on their horns, that are able to be brewed into tea. Whoever may drink the tea is able to see the memories of the dragon’s owner. 

The first book, The Tea Dragon Society, follows young Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, as she discovers the art of caring for a Tea Dragon after finding one lost in the marketplace and returning it to its owner. She meets Hesekiel and Erik, the owners of the tea shop that she returns the dragon to. There, she befriends Minette, a shy girl with no memories of her past. We learn that she used to be a prophetess, and in an attempt to see every future possible, lost all of her memories. The book is short, with beautiful calming art and a nice cozy story.

The second book, titles The Tea Dragon Festival, takes a turn to a new character named Rinn, when they find a real dragon in the forest outside of town. The dragon’s name is Aedhan, and it is revealed that he was assigned to look after the village, but fell asleep in the woods eighty years ago. It follows Rinn as they help Aedhan adjust to a new life, solve the mystery of his long slumber, and accept that he can not get back the time he lost.

The last book of the series is titled The Tea Dragon Tapestry, and once again follows Greta and Minette as they face challenges in their lives. Greta is tasked with creating something beautiful to impress a skilled blacksmith, and become their apprentice. All the while, she is learning how to care for a grieving tea dragon after it fell into her care when it’s previous owner died. Minette receives a mysterious gift from the place she once lived, which throws her whole life into questions and confusion. She learns over the course of the story that one must open themselves to those who care about them, to truly understand oneself. 

The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Thornlight by Claire Legrand

Thornlight is a book I picked up recently—an adventure-filled fantasy novel that exudes creativity, combined with heartfelt character development.

Before anything, though, I want to take a moment to appreciate Jaime Zollars’ beautiful illustrations that help to set the fairy-tale atmosphere straight from the get-go.

Thornlight: Legrand, Claire: 9780062696663: Books

Okay. The story follows twin sisters Thorn and Brier, who, despite being twins, have utterly distinct characterization with unique struggles, not to mention their equally unique yet lovable animal companions. On a journey to close the chasm, known as the Break, that divides their world, the story’s characters encounter witches, evil creatures, and numerous obstacles that keep you intrigued.

One thing I love about this book is that it’s told from three points of view—the twins and a third character named Celestyna—that alternate consistently. You would think you’d lose track of the story because of this, but it’s quite the opposite while reading. The story flows smoothly and the changing perspectives keep you hooked.

I also love how Legrand conveys the relationships between her characters. No matter how fantasy-driven this novel is, the interpersonal relationships and the struggles that accompany them are portrayed realistically, in a way that touches your heart.

The only criticisms I have about this novel is that the pacing can feel rushed in some moments, particularly with Thorn’s character development. A few side characters also have resolutions that come off as unsatisfying, or don’t align with prior emphasis placed on them. Other than that, Thornlight was nothing short of an entertaining read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys well-written fantasy.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

As usual, school has required readings. The third book required for me this year was The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I’m sure many other people know of it. Majority of my friends said they loved the book and remember reading it. 

This coming-of-age novel is split into vignettes–short chapters or episodes–told in the perspective of the main character, Esperanza. She tells stories about things that happen in her life, but in no particular order. It starts with her and her family moving into their new house which is on Mango Street. As she grows up in the new neighborhood, she tells plenty of short stories of different people, what has happened to her, and what has happened to them. 

This is a very short book but it’s still a great read. Most of the book is told in an almost childlike way using simple words and many variations. But even with its simplicity, it holds some very detailed descriptions and symbols. I know that a lot of people would rather not pick out the symbolism and figurative language when they read a book, especially if the book is just for enjoyment. Trust me, if it weren’t for school, then I probably wouldn’t have either. But if you’re willing to look deep into the story and really pick apart a few phrases, then it can make your reading of this book, and others, much more interesting.

This book has so many symbols that really help convey the message more clearly than it already is. It adds so much more to the theme of the book and while you don’t have to pick out symbolism and such, it can enhance this book a lot more.

While it may seem like a fun and happy story, there is a surprisingly darker undertone if you take the time to really look at it. If it didn’t have this other side to it, I don’t think I would have really liked this book. If you’re considering reading this book, just keep in mind that there are some dark messages and scenes that can definitely make you a little uncomfortable. 

Overall, The House on Mango Street was a pretty good read for me. Taking a deeper dive into the symbolism and finer details of the book was fun for me. I think I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a short, good read. But I’d mostly recommend this to people who are a little older, really anyone out of middle school. It’s a great book and a good choice if you’re looking for something to read and really delve deeper into.

-Nicole R.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: a Review

Being 517 pages, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a pretty long book. Despite this, it’s become one of my all-time favorites to pick up off the bookshelf.

Let’s talk about why. (No spoilers!)


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven’t already read that, it’s amazing, go do it. It will help make the prequel make far more sense, as well.

The book features Coriolanus Snow as the protagonist, reliving the events of his life after the Dark Days war.

Part One- Positives

The book draws from a lot of the philosophical questions in the original trilogy. Good and bad, black and white.,

The characters are phenomenal, with believable development throughout. It was hard to imagine how Suzanne Collins was going to be able to write such a downright coldhearted individual to be a believable protagonist, but it totally worked.

The book makes it clear that Snow isn’t in the right by any means – but it still makes sense why he does it.

Part Two: Negatives

Admittedly, this book features a bit of repetition, especially in the beginning. Snow goes through the same routine, over and over. Additionally, the plot can get a bit twisty and confusing, and can give you a bit of whiplash.

Part 3: Conclusion

Let’s sum up.

• Fast-paced/Action-packed

•Builds on the original trilogy

• Confusing at times

I’d say that’s a net positive!

This book is beautiful for those who have already read the original trilogy. If you have, definitely check this out!

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: Konosuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonder World: Oh! My Useless Goddess (Yes I am aware the title of this book is overly long)

Okay, so Konosuba I’m not writing out that whole title again is an isekai comedy written by Natsume Akatsuki and is the first novel in a long-running series. (Also for those who don’t know isekai is a Japanese word for other world and will be used frequently in this review). The series follows its protagonist Kazuma Sato as he blunders his way through his journey where the only thing he really has going for him is his above-average luck and genre awareness.

So as mentioned above Konosuba is extensively a comedy. Said comedy is mostly drawn from subverting tropes commonly found in its second genre: Isekai. You see the isekai genre as it currently exists mainly contains teenage male power fantasies; stories where a normal nerd can gain insane amounts of strength, power, and magic with about as much effort as it takes to open a bag of chips. This is not the case for Konosuba’s protagonist however as he is recognized in-universe as one of the weakest adventurers in the guild. Additionally, this is not something that changes later in the book with Kazuma’s biggest achievement by the end of the novel being the fact that he killed a larger-than-normal amount of sentient cabbages during the harvest.

Another bit of comedic subversion in this book is how Kazuma’s team is set up. You see in normal isekai stories the protagonist is typically surrounded by a party whose gender ratio generally leans in the opposite direction to the protagonist, i.e. if the protagonist is male there will be a disproportionate amount of females. However, the subversion with Kazuma’s group is not that they are mostly male but rather the fact that they are completely worthless. With a group that consists of a healer who refuses to do anything unless she’s in crippling debt, a wizard who only knows one spell that can be cast once per day, and a paladin who can’t hit a target that is standing right in front of her Kazuma almost has to play the role of babysitter for the group of idiots that he found himself with.

None of this is to say that Kazuma himself is not also an idiot, he is, just less than the others. For example, the only reason the group’s healer, Aqua, is with the group is because Kazuma dragged her along. You see in this novel Kazuma is brought to his new world after he died a tragic death in our own. Upon dying he met Aqua, who claimed to be a goddess who could send him to a new world with one item or power of his choosing. However since Aqua mocked the way Kazuma died, in an act of pettiness he decided to bring Aqua with him to the new world.

However, I have gushed about this book for long enough and need to finish this review somehow. All in all, I personally believe that if you are a fan of the isekai genre this is a novel worth picking up and if you aren’t this novel still contains its fair share of good jokes.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles: A Book That Will Take a Bite of Your Heart.

A book by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel.

One of my favorite books, The Traveling Cat Chronicles, had me going through a roller coaster of emotions.

The book is about a man who finds an injured stray cat, bringing him to a vet and looking after the cat. After five years of living together, the man has to rehome the cat, visiting different friends, trying to find someone who will take care of this cat.

The reader goes through the story from the cat’s point of view, who definitely gave me laughs as I read the book. The sarcastic cat made me fall in love with this book and I enjoyed going through the owner and cat’s life.

The owner reminisces on some of his old, impactful memories which is certainly hard to read for those overly sentimental. As we go through the lives of both the owner and the cat, we see how attached and connected they are.

The end of the book had me drenched in tears, I had to close the book for a few minutes and stare at the ceiling with tears falling down my cheeks. The book was beautifully written and it was the first book that made me cry. I would love to experience the same feeling reading this book again, and having no idea what I’m getting into, and re-experience the same laughter and tears when I first read the book.

I loved how the author developed the characters and the relationships within the story, and at the end of the book, what was supposed to be a joyful ending, made my heart sink in inexplicable emotions.

It’s an easy read, short book, and highly recommended for anyone looking for a heartwarming book.

Don’t miss it! The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel, is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

– Preston L.

A Memory Called Empire

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine is a two book long series including the sequel A Desolation Called Peace.

A Memory Called Empire is a 2019 science fiction novel, the first book ever published by Arkady Martine. This book is based on the Teixcalaanli Empire and it’s neighbor Lsel Station.

The book follows the main character Mahit Dzmare, just 26 years old, and named ambassador to the mighty Teixcalaanli Empire. Mahit grew up on Lsel Station, (an artificial metal planetoid), next to a Teixcalaanli jump gate, allowing them to travel throughout the galaxy with ease. This book is found in the far future where Humans have expanded throughout the Milky Way and have grown different traits and looks. For example the people of Lsel Station are taller than the people of the Teixcalaanli Empire.

The people of Lsel Station have adapted a new way of conserving memory throughout the generations called a Imago machine. This gave young Mahit Dzmare access to her predecessor’s (Yskander Aghvan) memory. It would also allow her to use the decades of information gathered by her predecessors, creating long lines of knowledge. Allow though this tech would be incredibly useful to the Teixcalaanli Empire, they banned the use of neurological enhancements.

Into the story, we find out the Mahit only has the imago machine of her predecessor’s that was 15 years out of date, as well as learning that Yskander has mysteriously died. This would be followed be thrilling espionage, murder, and interstellar war to find out what happened to her predecessor had done in his 20 years in the Teixcalaanli Empire.

What I found interesting in this novel was how Martine had skillfully taken a dull topic and made into addicting action filled Young Adult book.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Lord Brocktree by Brian Jacques

Lord Brocktree, by Brian Jacques, is part of his popular Redwall series. This was the thirteenth book published in the series and it would be the first book chronologically. It is a prequel to Redwall, a fantasy novel based in a world of human-like woodland creatures. The story revolves around Lord Brocktree, the son of Stonepaw, the great Badger Lord. Brocktree is on a quest to find Salamandastron, the mighty mountain of the Badger Lords, where his father Stonepaw lives. Along the way, he befriends many creatures, including a young haremaid called Dotti, and a clever otter known as Ruff. These friends will prove to be vital to Lord Brocktree’s success.

Unbeknownst to Brocktree, Stonepaw is under siege by the army of Ungatt Trunn, a villainous wildcat who serves as the main antagonist of the story. Age has been catching up quickly to Stonepaw and his hare companions, so they are not able to defend themselves as well as they could in the past. Because of his ailments, Stonepaw is increasingly worried about the safety of Salamandastron. Brocktree and his friends must help Stonepaw to reclaim the mountain, so that they can restore peace to the land.

I enjoyed this book very much. The setting is vast and the storyline is highly engaging. Like other Redwall books, the characters are interesting and memorable. However, this book has some downsides compared to other books in the series. There are a few sections that seem too slow-paced, and some of the characters seem to have been a little less developed than they could have been. Still, the story is quite exciting and action-packed for the most part. This was the first book in the Redwall series that I read, so I have a certain feeling of nostalgia for it. Now that I have read other books in the series, I have a bit less regard for this one, but I still think that it is very good. I would recommend it to almost anyone, but I think some of the other books in the Redwall series are even better.

Lord Brocktree by Brian Jacques is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Murder at the Vicarage is Agatha Christie’s first mystery novel featuring the character of Miss Marple. The story is narrated by a local reverend named Leonard Clement in the seemingly quiet village of St. Mary Mead, England. This novel involves the mysterious death of Colonel Protheroe. The Colonel was generally hated by the local residents, so it was not surprising when it was discovered that he had been shot to death. However, the murderer’s identity remained a mystery. The police are baffled by the case until an elderly resident of the village decides to assist them. This unlikely detective is an elderly spinster named Jane Marple.

Miss Marple makes for an interesting character. She seems more like an observant neighborhood gossip than an actual detective. While Agatha Christie’s novels featuring Hercule Poirot may be more well-known, her Miss Marple books are almost as good, in my opinion. Miss Marple’s personality certainly differs from Poirot’s in many ways.  Hercule Poirot has a ridiculous moustache and is amusingly pompous. He is a professional detective who has achieved widespread fame for his work. Miss Marple is just an amateur detective. She is more elderly than Poirot and seems more like a nosy neighbor who happens to solve mysteries. However, she is just about as shrewd and intelligent as Poirot.

This book was certainly baffling and had me guessing at every turn. Various suspects confessed to the murder at different points in the novel, making it very difficult to guess the murderer. I enjoyed the relatively quaint setting of the story. Everything takes place in a small village, so the characters are well developed by the end of the story. Miss Marple turns out to be a very charming character, and she is surprisingly astute and perceptive. I would highly recommend this novel, as well as the other books by Agatha Christie featuring Miss Marple.

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie is available to download for free from Libby.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This isn’t the typical genre I read but I was essentially forced to for my English class. Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this book because of the witty humor Adams uses throughout the book.

Following main character Arthur Dent and his sci-fi journey with best pal Ford Prefect and the countless adventures they go on and experience throughout the book. I would say the plot of the book was all over the place, like even after finishing the book I wouldn’t be able to tell you the main message that was conveyed. Adams jumps around A LOT throughout the book which makes it confusing but also ominous for readers to figure out what is going to happen next.

Like I mentioned earlier, Sci-Fi isn’t my preferred choice of genre but knowing I was able to effortlessly get through this book says something. If you want to try getting into Sci-Fi or something similar I highly recommend reading this book. The chapters are all typically pretty short so it’s an easier read. I hope to those that do end up reading this book that you enjoy this whimsical journey throughout the “Universe.”

-Madison C.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.