Book Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima, is the first book within the Seven Realms series. The series follows multiple protagonists with the main two being reformed thief Hanson “Cuffs” Alister and princess heir, Raisa ana’Marianna. While the two protagonists have next to nothing in common aside from living in the same city you know that almost no authors would create two protagonists and not have them interact.

I’ll start with Raisa’s P.O.V. first because I personally like it less and I want to get it over with. Being the heir to the throne in her nation Raisa is expected to marry the second she is eligible because this is fantasy medieval Europe and how else would you start teenage rebellion without giving the protagonist something to rebel against? Anyway Raisa’s half of the story basically trying to figure out what kind of Queen she wants to be and which of the two men in her life she likes more; Amon, the son of the captain of the guard and her childhood friend or Micah Bayar, son of the high wizard and a powerful mage in his own right. Ironically, Raisa can’t be with either of them due to age-old magical ceremonies as well as politics. Nothing really gets resolved in this book however because this series has four books and there wouldn’t be a plot if everything got solved in book one.

Now onto my favorite character of the novel Han. Hanson as mentioned above is a reformed thief. Not mentioned above however is the fact that Han was actually the Streetlord of Ragmarket which is basically the equivalent of being a mob boss in real life. This isn’t really relevant to what I’m going to talk about but I just wanted to mention it. Anyway Han’s half of the story is more complicated than Raisa’s which is funny because her half involves politics. Han’s story is two fold; part of it involves him trying to find a legal way to make money to support his family while the other is more complicated. Essentially one day Han and his friend Dancer were on a sacred mountain and found some wizards setting fire to it. In order to stop them Han threatens to put an arrow through their leader and makes him hand over his amulet which is the source of a wizards power in this series. The other half of Han’s story is the tragedies that start occurring because he stole said amulet. 

Personally, I think the reason I liked Han’s character so much was because of his struggle of trying to find honest work, which as someone in the latter half of high school I can sort of relate to. Or it could be my obsession with gentleman thieves showing up, one of the two.

All in all, I think that this book is a pretty good one if you like high fantasy novels.

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son is a great sequel to Carry On; the first book of the Simon Snow series. The events of this book happen at a time very close to when the events of Carry On happened and will most likely only make sense if you have read Carry On first. Just like Carry On, Rowell has once again, done an excellent job. I definitely enjoyed this book, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Carry On. I did feel like this book progressed a lot slower than Carry On. Carry On gave us the back story and explained everything going on quickly. The plot moved forward faster than Wayward Son

Wayward Son continues to follow the four characters, Simon, who was formerly known as, ‘The Chosen One’, Baz, who is now Simons’ boyfriend, Penelope, Simons’ best friend, and Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend who is making her life now in the states. Simon and Baz are having a tough time. Simon was the hero of the story and was supposed to live his happy-ever-after, but instead, he’s dealing with some of his trauma. Baz wants to be there for him and has a hard time figuring out how. Their relationship is slowly tearing apart so to help them all heal, Penelope brings them on a vacation to America with her. They plan to visit Agatha in California but this road trip across America turns into a rescue mission to save Agatha from vampires. 

We meet some new characters such as Shepard. Shepard was an interesting and unique character who became pretty significant in the story. He interacted with our characters and moved the plot. We also got to see a lot more of Agatha. She was no longer just the “main characters’ ex”, she instead became a real character and became very important to the rest of the story. 

Although Wayward Son was a bit slow and not as great as Carry On, it was still fun to read. It was mostly about their road trip and fixing their relationships in the beginning, but nearing the end, the characters get more external problems they have to solve and get rid of. But throughout the book, they all have many internal problems, like their romantic relationships, familial relationships, and how to start fixing things. All the characters are going through their own list of problems both internal and external.

Wayward Son was an excellent book.  The characters found and healed themselves throughout the book and went through many new experiences. I found out more about characters and met some new and interesting ones in the process. I enjoyed this book a lot even though it ended in a cliffhanger. But thankfully I won’t have to wait a long time since the third and final installment of the Simon Snow trilogy just came out this July ninth and I can’t wait to get the whole series to completely finish it and then re-read it later.

-Nicole R.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Library Of Souls (miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) (hardcover) By Ransom  Riggs : Target

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs is the third installment of the wildly popular fantasy series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

This review contains spoilers for the previous two books! I highly recommend you read them before reading this review. You can find a review for the first book here.

This book picks up where the previous one left off. Jacob, Emma, and Addison the peculiar dog travel across London in an attempt to find the kidnapped Misses Peregrine and Wren (and all their peculiar friends) and rescue them from Miss Peregrine’s evil wight brother, Caul. However, Caul has secret plans that no one could have expected- and as Jacob’s ragtag group travels through the dregs of peculiar society, the battle for the soul of peculiardom brews in the distance.

I really enjoyed this book! I actually prefer this book to the one previous to it, Hollow City– I enjoyed the overall plot and especially the ending of this book a lot more than the one previous. Author Riggs does a perfect job of blending humor with vivid descriptions, and the world of Miss Peregrine and Jacob really seemed to come to life in this book. I found myself at the edge of my seat, especially in the last quarter of the book. If you read the first two books and found yourself bored, don’t worry- this book picks up the pace again! You definitely won’t be disappointed. In fact, I would highly recommend this book and series to any reader!

-Vaidehi B.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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