Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani

Just as the fairy tale in the third book of this series came to an end, a new one with unexpected twists and plots opened. Quests for Glory, the fourth book in the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani, follows the fourth-year pupils of the School for Good and Evil as they journey on the quests that have been assigned to them. 

Just a quick background on the world: The School for Good and Evil is set in a fairy tale world and has two school within it: a School for Good and a School for Evil. Based on their nature, the children are separated into these two schools. When each student reaches their fourth year, they are assigned a quest, and the Storian (and enchanted pen) writes and illustrates their adventures as a new fairy tale. King Arthur of Camelot, Cinderella, and many more were students at the School for Good and Evil. The characters who were introduced in the first book of this series, Sophie and Agatha, are now in their fourth year.

The fourth-year pupils are off on their assigned quests, but the quests do not seem to be going as hoped. Tedros cannot lift Excalibur to take what he thinks is his rightful place as king, Agatha is not as happy as she’d hoped in Camelot, and from the looks of Professor Dovey’s (Dean of the School for Good) magical quest map, the other students are not doing well either. A mysterious force seems to be working against the success of the students’ quests, and its ultimate goal becomes more and more apparent with its every move: Tedros’ place in Camelot. Professor Dovey begins to realize that perhaps the quests the fourth-year pupils have been given are not their real tales. 

I had read the first three books in The School for Good and Evil series about a year ago, and I had forgotten how full of humor and artful drama Soman Chainani’s writing is. The characters he creates are so vivid, unique, and enjoyable to read about. If you have not read this series, I would suggest it if you like books based on fairy tales (many of the students at the School for Good and Evil are children of famous fairy tale heroes and villains). This book was an exciting, magical, and humorous read which I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy.

– Mia T.

Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

Summer has been normal and boring for Harry Potter until right before the end. Dementors show up in his town and attack him and his cousin Dudley. Harry uses magic to fight off the creatures and, almost instantly, gets sent a letter from the Ministry that is requiring him to go to a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing it will be decided if Harry should be expelled from Hogwarts. At the hearing it is decided that Harry will not be expelled from Hogwarts. Once there, Harry notices a lot of strange things. Skeletal horses are pulling school carriages, but he is the only one that can actually see the horses. Also there is another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher named Dolores Umbridge. There are also rumors that Harry and Dumbledore are going crazy for thinking that Voldemort is returning. The only people that stand by Harry’s side are Ron and Hermione. Harry frequently gets detention with Professor Umbridge for lashing out at the people that think he’s crazy. Professor Umbridge soon becomes Hogwarts High Inquisitor which gives her the power to sack teachers whenever she feels that it’s necessary. Because of Harry’s frequent detentions, Professor Umbridge decides to take away the things Harry loves most like Quidditch, Sirius Black’s letters, and the ability to visit Hagrid at his hut. In retaliation, Harry forms a defense group which he calls Dumbledore’s Army. Professor Umbridge soon finds out, and Dumbledore takes the blame. In doing so, Dumbledore has to leave Hogwarts to avoid being arrested. Harry frequently has dreams of dark corridors and locked doors, and his scar prickles very often. Harry then finds out that Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, was killed, and Dumbledore tells Harry the ultimate prophecy: If Harry doesn’t kill Voldemort, Voldemort will eventually kill Harry.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

Harry’s third year at Hogwarts is stressful in the beginning. He is constantly being buried under piles of homework. He also learns that Sirius Black, a mass murderer, is out to kill Harry. Mr. Weasley makes Harry promise that he won’t go looking for Sirius and Harry agrees. At Hogwarts, Dementors have been stationed around the school to prevent Sirius from getting in. The Dementors, however, have a worse effect on Harry than any other student because of Harry’s past. Mr. Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, teaches Harry how to cast a Patronus Charm which is the only spell that works against the Dementors. Ron and Hermione are constantly arguing because Hermione’s cat keeps trying to eat Ron’s rat. Soon they altogether stop talking because Ron thinks that Hermione’s cat did eat his rat. A few days later Sirius Black breaks into Hogwarts, but is quickly captured. Then as it turns out, Ron’s rat is not only alive, but a real human that transformed himself into a rat to spy on Harry. The man’s name is Peter Pettigrew and he was spying on Harry for Voldemort. Pettigrew quickly escapes before Harry can stop him. Harry finds out that it wasn’t Sirius Black that lead Voldemort to his parents, but that it was Pettigrew. Sirius is actually Harry’s godfather. Harry hopes that he can live with Sirius instead of the Dursley’s, but Sirius has to hide from the Ministry. Professor Lupin turns out to be a werewolf, and it was Sirius that saved the kids from Lupin.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a story of the discovery of Narnia. Narnia is a fictitious land with castles and fauns. During World War II, Edmund, Peter, Susan, and Lucy move to live in the country with Professor Kirke. On a rainy day, while exploring the big house, Lucy finds a big wardrobe. Lucy steps into the wardrobe, and into Narnia. Narnia is a big snowy forest with several mythical creatures. Lucy encounters one of those creatures right away. Just as she steps into Narnia she sees a faun. A faun is a half human half goat.

The faun’s name is Faun Tumnus and invites Lucy to tea and Lucy accepts. While having their tea, the faun explains that Narnia has been enchanted by the White Witch so that it is always winter. Lucy then leaves Narnia to tell her siblings, but none of them believe her and continually tease her. Then one day Edmund sees Lucy go into Narnia and decides to follow her. When he gets into Narnia he doesn’t see Lucy anywhere, but instead meets the White Witch. The Witch tells Edmund that she is the Queen of Narnia. The Witch then proceeds to get Edmund on her side by feeding him Turkish Delight. The Witch also convinces Edmund to bring back the rest of his siblings. While heading back to the wardrobe, Edmund runs into Lucy. Lucy tells Edmund of the White Witch, but Edmund denies knowing anything of her. Even after this Edmund claims that Narnia is a silly lie. One day, while hiding in the wardrobe from housekeeping, all four children find themselves in Narnia. Faun Tumnus has been captured for treason, so the children must get help to defeat the White Witch from a lion named Aslan. They find Aslan and defeat the White Witch. The four children then become the rulers of Narnia for many years.

-Emilio V.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

If you enjoyed reading books like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and many more, then you’ll probably enjoy this book series. The first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, is about a young girl named Sophie Foster. But, the twist on this story is that she can read minds.

Sophie first received her powers from an accident when she was five years old. After the accident, her life was changed forever. Now she had the ability to read minds and have a photographic memory. Because of her amazing memory, she was able to be a senior in high school at only age 12! She always knew something was special about her

At a field trip to the museum, Sophie runs into Fitz, who is an elf. He had a mission, which was to find the girl with blonde hair and brown eyes. Fate must’ve been on his side because he was able to find Sophie. He took her to the “Elvin World” where she got to see fascinating creatures and animals that are extinct in the “human world”.

This book series is action-packed and great for kids who just want an easy but entertaining book to read.

-Phoebe.L

The Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive and Hoopla. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas

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I only do a series if the whole series is good or if the other books of the series are better than the first of the series. In this case, its the later.

In the first book, Feyre, strong and unbending, kills a wolf knowing that it’s a fae. She needed the food, and so did her family during a harsh winter. In return, Tamlin of the fae kidnaps her and brings her on the fae side of the wall that divided fae and human. Of course, she falls for Tamlin, and there are mysterious cute boys and sadistic evil queens in the distance.

In the second book, Feyre, without putting in too many spoilers, is having nightmares and depression after facing the evil queen in the first book, and cannot be happy even though she’s marrying Tamlin. She then gets kidnapped by this mysterious cute boy from the first book, named Rhysand, at her wedding and he takes her to his house and she helps fight the even eviler fae king, which continues into the third book.

Of course, this is myself trying not to do spoilers. Now, I have to show what I think about the series. For those who like evil fairies and magic will love this series.

For the first book, I felt that it was okay. I felt that Feyre was being treated like a princess, as she was told by everyone that she should stay behind and not move or else she would get hurt. She does get hurt by the end of the book, and it is quite nasty, but I feel that she grows from it. I would guess that readers should be at least fourteen to read it, which is typical.

Then we reach the second book, where Feyre is treated like a queen. There were a lot of events that led up to this, such as a book character that every girl wants for their husband, but this was the development of Feyre that I would want in any protagonist, and it has only been the second book. However, I would warn readers that the book is rated very older teen. Feyre going into depression is nasty, with her having bulimia and no one being there to help her, which is very depressing in itself, and there are other mature and…. er…. questionable scenes.

Finally, the third book. Not only is Feyre being treated like a queen, but she also has to bear the responsibilities of the crown and has to face her own nightmares. The rating is older teen, with the scenes not as numerous as the second book but still quite as questionable.

There are also many splendid and enjoyable characters besides Feyre: a member of one of the LGBT groups, a woman that makes everyone scared (to make you scared, she drinks blood from a bowl!), two goofy males that are supposedly the strongest of their kingdom, a man who is trying to choose between the duty to his lord and what he thinks is right, and a man that is trying to support everything and everyone, but needs an equal to support.

To sum up, I found this series to be the best I have read in quite a while, and I hope that more people could read it.

-Megan V., 12th grade

Sarah J. Maas’s books are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Dystopian science fiction is one of the most popular and appealing genres to readers of all ages, especially teens. Novels such as The Hunger Games and Divergent just don’t disappoint. And Pierce Brown’s Red Rising certainly doesn’t either.

Red Rising introduces a society much different from other dystopian settings, containing social classes ranked by color, with Gold at the top and Red at the bottom. When main character Darrow, a Red, witnesses his wife’s unjust hanging by the oppressing dictatorship of the Golds, he decides to act and avenge his loved one’s death. To overthrow such a massive power, he plans to take on the impossible task of becoming one of its own Gold leaders and overthrow the government from the inside.

What will Darrow have to do to succeed?

  • Darrow must physically and mentally become a Gold – think, act, and perform as a superior, perfect human being.
  • Darrow must enroll in The Institute, a government school that teaches its students the nature of conquering others for power. It tests them with a life-sized game similar to capture the flag, where killing opponents is permitted and highly advised. There will be only one graduate from The Institute who will be granted an apprenticeship to eventually become one of the society’s top leaders.
  • Darrow must not show his true identity as a Red and failure to do so means death.

Red Rising is an astounding novel displaying how trust can quickly turn friends into enemies. The creativity and imagination incorporated by Pierce Brown makes it such a brilliant and fantastic work of science fiction. As the first book of a trilogy, the plot really captures my attention, and I cannot wait for what the next two books will bring to the series (Golden Son, Morning Star).

I would rate this book a 9 out of 10 and would recommend it to high school audiences and above. Its use of violence and romance makes it a more mature read than other science fiction novels.

-Riley W.

Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.