King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King’s Cage picks up where Glass Sword left off. Mare is now Maven’s prisoner, and will be for six long, torturous months. Although Maven wasn’t born a monster, and his mother is dead, he continues on his path while at the same time being completely aware of it–and in some ways, even choosing it. Although Elara is gone, Maven still makes his own barbaric decisions in order to keep his power. He alienates his court, and most of the Silvers at court can see that he’s unstable and his reign is weak.

During her imprisonment, Mare learns that Maven harbors feelings for her, but in a twisted way–he’s more or less obsessed with her, continually demonstrating how his mind is still affected by Elara’s manipulation.

The first part of the book was slow–it was basically just Mare’s imprisonment, but it makes the second half of the book make more sense, because it sets up the characters’ growth. We also learn more of Maven’s background and the reason for the Lakelander war (which I thought was kind of obvious, but it was interesting watching the characters’ reactions to the knowledge).

There were also two new points of view: Evangeline and Cam. Regarding Cam, I felt like she was put in to give a contrast to Mare in certain ways, but it was kind of obvious. Evangeline shows a surprising side of her that we haven’t seen before, as we were never able to read from her point of view. I thought it was interesting, and it gave some background into her house and why her parents make the decisions they do.

-Aliya A.

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Image result for the phantom tollboothIn this story, Milo can’t focus on leaning like the other kids can. One day, by accident, Milo drove his electric car and was transported to the Land Beyond where he met Tock, a dog that has a clock on its stomach. Together, they planned an adventure to explore Dictionopolis, the world of words.

I am a student who feels like being decapitated when I go to school, it’s real torture. And I really wish that I can enter this type of fantasy with my dog. But it’s also unrealistic, only recreational because a kid needs the care of his parents and without going to school, he can’t survive in this cruel society.

King Azaz, who presides Dictionopolis, assigned Milo and Tock a new mission, to rescue the two princesses Rhyme and Reason. When they left, a new companion joined them and he is the helpful but querulous Hombug. From their they will head to Digitopolis, there will be many dangers lying ahead waiting for the advent of Milo and his companions. But righteousness will also vanquish evilness.

-April L

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.

Magnus Chase: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

Image result for the ship of the dead

For fans of Rick Riordan, as I have been for the past 7 or 8 years, welcome to the last installment of his Norse mythology series: The Ship of the Dead. At first, I was very surprised that this series was a trilogy, but then again, the Kane Chronicles were also a trilogy, so the five book per series might be only for anything involving Percy Jackson as a main character. Nonetheless, it is still a great sequel to the next chapter of the mythology series.

Speaking of Percy Jackson, we see him again in the first chapter as he teaches Magnus some tricks while at sea. Aside from the story, we get to see Percy and Annabeth as regular teenagers going to college, and Magnus realizes that if he doesn’t stop Ragnarok, they won’t get the happy ending they deserve, which is a huge eye opener when we had always seen Percy and Annabeth  being the ones shouldering the burden.

Additionally, we have the regular humor, such as with chapter titles like “I inherit a dead wolf and some underwear” and of course situational humor from Magnus himself. Additionally, each of the characters get their own backstory, development, and ending fit for them. We learn how Mallory and TJ die, each of them receiving their own development, and even a hope for the future- such as even though Mallory and Halfborn may break up once every decade, they still love each other.

Each character also teaches a lesson that is not only reflecting of Norse mythology, but also is different and unique compared to regular heroic events (a symbol that I see as part of Riordan’s growth as an author)- Hearthstone teaches us that anger is not always the way to win, Mallory shows that heroes are not always good, Magnus wins with a battle of wits rather than brawn. Additionally, there are some events that although hilarious and frustrating, symbolize the true nature of the gods, and Riordan was clever enough to depict it. Most importantly, there is a relationship that is revolutionary just as Nico and Will’s was, but I feel more in great development and satisfying.

However, I do have to wonder about Magnus’s newfound power, as I don’t believed it was ever explained, but there is hope for the future. I have never read the Apollo Trials, as I’ve been putting it to the side as I never really liked Apollo (who did?) but there are many sinister hints of the future of that series, and it may come that Magnus and the others may appear in that series, although we have never seen the Kane siblings in a very long time.

Overall, I really enjoyed every moment and cannot wait for the future of the series!

-Megan V., 12th Grade

Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive and Hoopla

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Pretty much all his life, Call’s dad has warned him away from magic. Every child who has the slightest chance of being able to practice magic is summoned to the Iron Trial when they’re twelve, but often under different guises—like auditions for dancing, etc.—so most people who don’t have a background in magic don’t know that magic is real. Call has to go, otherwise (and this is implied) the mages will force him to go through the trial anyways.

During the trial to enter the Magisterium, a magic school, Call is supposed to mess up—and he does—sometimes without even meaning to—but the results are unexpected. Instead of failing (which he technically did), Call is chosen to train under the most prestigious mage at the Magisterium. Taken away from his dad, Call learns about things his father never wanted him to know, making friends along the way and learning dangerous secrets about himself.

The Magisterium series is a fantasy written in a collaboration between Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. I really like both authors, so I was stoked when I found out they wrote a book together, and I wasn’t disappointed. Each character has their own personality, interesting backstory, and the plot is intriguing. There is great world building, and the history narrated by some of the characters also reflects their respective personalities in how they deal with the knowledge of their pasts. There are parallels to Harry Potter, but I didn’t think it took away from the book—it was enjoyable as its own read.

-Aliya A.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Just as I was giving up on the monotonous plots and characters of many current YA novels, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, reminds me of how truly fantastic YA books can be. Six of Crows is the first book in its duology, followed by Crooked Kingdom. Bardugo wrote this series after The Grisha Trilogy, which is set in the same world. However, one does not need to read the trilogy beforehand (I did not), as they center around different characters and places.

My favorite part of this book is that it is set in a different world that has been so beautifully fleshed out by the author, including unique countries, cultures, and languages. Another cool part is that the band of six are so diverse and provide a wide variety of representation in race, sexual orientation, and both physical and mental disabilities. The group live in a buzzing city called Ketterdam (taking inspiration from the city of Amsterdam). This 1800s type city is right next to the sea is filled with merchants, cargo ships, gang claimed territories, and thieves. Speaking of thieves and gangs…

Six of Crows story follows a gang (literally) of antihero teenagers, each with their own bitter backstory. Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands aka Bastard of the Barrel is the leader of the gang called the Dregs. He is mysterious, cold, and delightfully sarcastic. Despite Kaz’s limp in his leg, no one in their right mind would dare cross him or his cane. Next is Inej aka The Wraith. But don’t let her small frame fool you, as she the deadliest and sneakiest one on the team. Right hand man and life of the group is Jesper. The only thing stronger than his sharpshooting ability is his gambling addiction.

Thirdly, we have Nina, a Heartrender Grisha, meaning she has special abilities that can manipulate others’ bodies. However, if Nina lived in our world, she’d be an A-lister actress for sure. Any group of fighters needs a brooding muscle man, and Matthias sure fills that part, no matter how reluctant he might be. And last but not least, we have bright young merchling, Wylan, who is new to the heathen street life, but becomes an incredible asset.

These crooked youngsters embark on an insane mission that’s filled with humor, struggle, suspense, emotions, and wonderful fight scenes. The opening scene with Inez is my favorite scene as we get to see two gangs in a “parley” meeting. It is so intriguing and thrilling, specifically with how we see it from Inej’s bird’s eye view. The amount of detail that Leigh Bardugo put in her writing and characterization is truly spectacular and I recommend this book 100%!

-Ava K.

The Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

I wouldn’t call this the worse book that I have ever read, but It wasn’t my favorite either. I must say it was interesting though.

The book starts off with Henry’s mother being “sick.” We are not told the details of the illness at the beginning, we just know that something is not right. The family has just moved into a new house (more details on why later in the book). Her older brother also recently passed. Her father has to leave for business in Italy so he leaves Henry, the housekeeper, Henry’s mother, and Henry’s baby sister Piglet at home.

Henry’s mother gets worse and eventually, the local doctor is called out, she is then told to stay in bed all day, have her door locked, and to take a certain pill. She does as the doctor says and only get’s worse.

While all of this is going in, Henry feels alone, so she starts to imagine things. One night she sees a light in the woods and goes to investigate, there she finds a “witch”.
My main problem with the book was how at the beginning it was very hard to follow and hard to get into. If a child was a reluctant reader, they would not be interested in reading this book.

While I won’t go and tell you everything that goes on in the book, I will say that it was very suspenseful and once I got through the beginning I couldn’t put it down. I would say that this is a book an older child would enjoy. A child that loves a good mystery, as to me, that is what this book really is.

I thank the publisher for sending me an ARC of this novel, it did not influence my rating of the book whatsoever.

-Skylar N.

The Secret of Nightingale World by Lucy Strange is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Pretty much all his life, Call’s dad has warned him away from magic. During the trial to enter the Magisterium (administered to all those who may have the ability to do magic when they’re twelve), Call is supposed to mess up—and he does, but doesn’t expect the result. Instead of failing, Call is chosen to train under the most prestigious mage at the Magisterium. Taken away from his dad, Call learns about things his father never wanted him to know, making friends along the way and learning dangerous secrets about himself.

I really liked this book. The characters are each their own person with their own personalities, and the plot is intriguing. The book has really good world building, and the history narrated by some of the characters also reflects some of the characters’ personalities in how they deal with the knowledge of their pasts. There are parallels to Harry Potter, but I didn’t think it took away from the book—it was enjoyable as its own read.

-Aliya A.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library