Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy by Jenny Nimmo

Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy is the third book in the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo.  This is my favorite book in the series so far.  These books are about a boy named Charlie Bone, who has a special magical power.  Charlie attends a school called Bloor’s Academy, where other students possess magical powers as well.  In this book, a new semester of school is beginning.  Charlie and his friends discover that a boy named Ollie Sparks has been secretly imprisoned at the school for a while.  Ollie is an “invisible boy,” because he was the victim of a magical snake that can turn its victims invisible.  Charlie and his friends try to save Ollie from his sad and lonely imprisonment.

In addition to Charlie Bone, two of my favorite characters in this book are Lysander Sage and Tancred Torsson.  Lysander is possibly the most powerful character in the book, but he is also very friendly.  Tancred also possesses very powerful abilities, and he is very helpful to Charlie throughout the book.  Charlie has other friends with special powers, and it is interesting to read about their different magical abilities.

My favorite part of the story is when Charlie and his friends help Charlie’s uncle after he was severely injured.  Charlie’s uncle, named Paton Yewbeam, had been away on a long and perilous journey.  He returns with many serious burns, and Charlie learns that he must find a special plant to cure his uncle.  The only place to find the plant is in the garden of one of Charlie’s evil aunts, so Charlie and his friends must risk their own lives to save Uncle Paton.

I enjoyed this book because Charlie and his friends take many risks to help others.  The story is very exciting, and Charlie’s life is in danger many times.  I like reading about the friendship between Charlie and his classmates, as they have many adventures together trying to save their friends and family.  I would recommend this book and the other books in the series to everyone.

-Simon H.

Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy by Jenny Nimmo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

A couple years ago, I read this book, and, though it was good, I didn’t go on to read the other two books in The Grisha Trilogy. Recently, after reading and thoroughly enjoying Leigh Bardugo’s two-book Six of Crows series (I highly recommend this series!) and learning about the forthcoming Shadow and Bone TV series, I decided to pick up Shadow and Bone again–and I’m glad I did.

As a very brief synopsis, Shadow and Bone takes place in Ravka, a country divided into two pieces by a dangerous wall of darkness. The solution to this divide may lie with Alina Starkov, who finds that she has an ability that may enable her to eradicate the wall of darkness. While this ability makes her a beam of hope for those who wish to be rid of the darkness, it also puts her at risk–her power makes her very valuable, and, if controlled by the wrong person, it could be dangerous.

One thing I love about this book is that it takes place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s other books. Even though Shadow and Bone has a different plot from her other series (Six of Crows), I enjoyed delving back into a world I was already familiar with.

In addition, one of my favorite aspects about Shadow and Bone is the characterization. Some characters are incredibly lovable; others are mysterious; some are fascinating or dangerous or a mixture of both. Because of their flaws and their complexity, I found many of the characters believable and well-rounded.

If you are planning on reading Leigh Bardugo’s books (which is amazing!), I would recommend reading The Grisha Trilogy before the Six of Crows series. Although they are not very closely related in plot (as far as I know; I have only read the first book in the trilogy so far), there are some references to The Grisha Trilogy in the Six of Crows series, as well as appearances from characters from the trilogy (if I had known this, I probably would have read the trilogy first).

I’m thoroughly enjoying reading Leigh Bardugo’s books. I highly recommend them to any fantasy lover, and reading Shadow and Bone is the perfect way to begin a journey into Leigh Bardugo’s rich and fascinating world.

-Mia T.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Melora “Lore” Perseous is done with the Agon and it’s bloody aftermath. Years ago, after her family was killed, Lore refused to take part in the Agon, which instructs the gods to become mortals for a week, allowing any mortal hunter to kill a god and recieve their power, who then becomes the leader of their ancestral family. After years of this, the only original gods that remain are Athena, Artemis, Apollo, and Dionysus. During a street fight, which is how Lore makes her money, a familiar face from her childhood shows up, warning her of danger. Lore shrugs it off and returns home, only to find a deathly injured Athena at her doorstep. With no other choice, Melora is dragged back into the ruthless world of Gods and Goddesses, to stop a power hungry new god with ambitious plans for the world.

I loved ‘Lore’ and enjoyed reading it, although I admit that it can be a bit confusing if you’re not a bit familiar with Greek Mythology. Melora’s perseverance and bravery is definitely to be admired. With the different characters and personalities, the author makes it hard to find any boring part. Athena, who’s a frightening and self-assured goddess, Castor, Lore’s childhood friend who will do anything to keep her safe, Van, an uptight and serious young man, has one goal: keep Castor safe. Finally, Miles, Lore’s friend who knows nothing of the Agon but is determined to help. Alexandra Bracken’s ‘Lore’ seems almost reminiscent of ‘The Hunger Games’ with it’s bloody tournament, brave and loyal protagonist, and male counterpart, who’s kind and devoted. I highly recommend ‘Lore’, for those who enjoy Greek Mythology, ‘The Hunger Games’, fantasy, and action with a bit of slow-burn romance.

-Kelsie W.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Book Without Words by Avi

The Book Without Words by Avi is a strange, chaotic novella set in a medieval and gothic time period in an alternate universe.

An eccentric old man named Thorston has devoted his entire life to look for the two greatest secrets of life- the making of gold and immortality. Seconds away from a breakthrough, he keels over, dead. His servant, Sybil, and talking pet raven, Odo, decide that their only hope is to discover the two secrets and build a better life for themselves.

The ultimate theme of this book plays on human nature itself, as the two secrets themselves represent man’s greatest flaws- greed and the desire for immortality. 

This morally-charged storyline coupled with Avi’s odd, emotionless, and almost creepy narrating style makes for an intriguingly gruesome novella that turns the happy-go-lucky magic of youth into something curiously corrupted and cruel.

-Vaidehi B.

The Book Without Words by Avi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

After reading her Six of Crows miniseries, I realized Bardugo had written a precursor trilogy introducing the Grisha world.  Naturally, I wanted to know more about world of Ravka and its beginnings.  If you are new to Six of Crows or Leigh Bardugo, both this trilogy and the Crows duology are standalone novels that can be read with or without the other.  Now, let us dive into the murky waters of the Unsea.

In an alternate-type of history, magical people lived among the common folk.  They were called Grisha.  Much like events in our own past, such as the Salem Witch Trials or religiously-driven peoples running riots, the Grisha were unliked and even killed by some.  However, as they began prominently displaying their powers in Ravka, their home country, people started to treat the Grisha as royalty.  Ruled by the Darkling, a mysterious leader flanked by highly regarded Grisha officials, everything in Ravka was alive.  Except for the Shadow Fold, an equally mysterious stretch of forlorn land, its light diminished to nothing, and its only inhabitants being vulture-like creatures.  This is where Alina Starkov’s story begins, as an orphan girl tested for Grisha powers.  She and Mal, her best friend (also an orphan) trek together through the Shadow Fold and find a force a lot larger than the both of them.

Leigh Bardugo has a talent for writing and creating a darker story, all the while still building and breaking crucial moments as another novel may. If you are new to both Bardugo and these series, I would definitely recommend checking them out, and if possible, starting with the prequel trilogy.

Maya S.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

As a rule, I don’t like dystopian fiction. 1984 was a slog, and The Hunger Games never felt real to me. So it was very strange to find myself picking up Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and being completely engrossed by it.

This novel is one read by practically every junior in high school for the last twenty years. Despite the amount of times it’s been run through the curriculum, the story holds up.

The society, called Gilead, through the eyes of the narrator is intense and fearful. It’s one of those stories that you have to pull yourself out of every once in awhile, just to stay sane. I would read through a particularly striking passage, only to realize that I had been holding my breath through the whole thing. That right there is something magical.

It’s not for the fainthearted, though. This book is a rough one to read, loaded with social commentary that feels just as relevant as it was at its publishing in 1985. Atwood manages to discuss up complex issues like abortion and freedom of religion without ever feeling heavy-handed.

This is one of the few books I’ve ever been assigned to read that I could honestly recommend to others, and the first dystopian literature I have enjoyed in a long time.

-Zoe K., 11th Grade

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive