The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

startouchedqueen_roshanichokshiBeautifully illustrated from the first line, Chokshi’s fantastical The Star Touched Queen shows the path an Indian queen who finds her way to the light.  Through thick and thin, obstacles and triumphs, Mayavati searches from hiding behind her own shadows to grasping the stars that lay above her.  My favorite part of the novel was the writing style, especially the amazing imagery used when describing the young queen’s journey.  Mayavati, a very dynamic character, grew along with the words throughout the tale.  At the start, when her story was a routine of palace life and a shameful astrology, the vocabulary chosen was more ominous.  However, there was always a light, a small hope, which rose and fell as Maya (for short) ventured through the times.  And, upon reaching the final few chapters, the writing climaxed to a breath of new life.

At the same time the queen was a strong, ferocious, and gallant leader, she was still the vulnerable seventeen-year-old introduced at the start of the novel.  This clashing of alternate personalities describes teenagers very well.  So, it always brought me back to the song “Vincent” by Don McLean.  The piece, emotional and ballad-like, tells the story of Vincent Van Gogh.  The first line, “Starry, starry night” is a reference to one of his most famous paintings.  But, it also ties in well with Mayavati’s destiny.  The two are both artists:  one, an illustrator of life and the other, a storyteller.

I can usually sense when a book is an author’s first publication.  However, in Chokshi’s case, the novel was very well written, and she was able to truly capture the life of the characters.  In addition, I have no doubt her second book, released in March of this year, will be no different.  It will be in the same universe, but delving more into characters briefly introduced in The Star Touched Queen.  This first book; however, was one of those novels which olds a special place and one I will definitely read again.  So, if you are intrigued, check it out!

-Maya S.

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Magnus Chase: The Hammer Of Thor by Rick Riordan

magnuschasehammerthor_rickriordanRick Riordan has done it again: with the second installment of his retelling of Norse mythology, he brings out the laughs and slightly more mature elements that add the modern world to the books. All in all, these elements add to a tale that is fun to enjoy and interesting to read once again.

First, the laughs. We see Thor again, with more arrogance and goats. We get more sass from Jack, and Sam hilariously trying to find her way through her to be marriage and her Valkyrie job. There are many new characters and Riordan rewrites old legends in his way, including one where Thor had to wear a dress.

Finally, for the mature elements, we have to remember that usually, these books are meant for 8-12 year olds. However, with his more recent books, Riordan has tapped into the LGBTQ community, like when he revealed in Percy Jackson: Heroes of Olympus series that Nico was gay and the introduction of a (literal) gender-fluid kid named Alex. While this stuff may be mature for some people of this age group, I am quite happy that the author is bringing them up front, especially as loved main characters, and not putting them on the back burner like most YA authors of this time would.

All in all, it was a worthwhile sequel for this series, and even a wonderful book for those new to the Riordan fandom, even if not many have heard of the legends of Norse mythology.

-Megan V., 11th grade

Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive and Hoopla

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

harrypotterchamberofsecrets_jkrowlingHarry Potter, ready to head back to Hogwarts after another long summer at the Dursely’s, gets an ominous message from a house elf named Dobby that he should not return to school. He returns to what he believes is just another year at Hogwarts but when messages written in blood are found on the wall declaring the Chamber of Secrets had been opened, students are petrified, and a mysterious voice that only Harry seems to hear, the entire campus is left in fear. This perplexing plot snatches the reader’s attention as Ron, Harry, and Hermione slowly find pieces to this puzzle.

In the midst of all this, Harry find a journal from a student named Tom Riddle which shows him the last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened. According to this, Aragog, a spider Hagrid had care for, was the result of the attacks. This is what really left me puzzled. Why would Hagrid let his arcomantula hurt the students? He was always nice to all the students and never would want to harm any of them. So, obviously the trio had find out what really happened on that day. Hermione, being the brains of the group, figured out what was down in the Chamber of Secrets and learned how to find it only to be petrified.

Harry, Ron, and the clueless Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gildroy Lockhart, all head down to the chamber. A rock slide separates them leaving only Harry to fight the beast hidden away in the secret room along with young spirit of Voldemort. By a miracle from Godric Gryffindor, he defeats Voldemort and his basilisk before being rescued to safety by Dumbledor’s pet Phoenix, Fawkes.

A wild ride of twists and turns, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets keeps you captivated through the very end. It is an amazing sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and a great piece of writing from J.K Rowling.

-Ava G.

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

Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

steeplejack_ajhartleySteeplejack by A.J. Hartley is a fantasy novel telling the tale of 17-year-old Anglet Sutonga, who lives in the city of Bar-Selehm; the story is a loose representation of South Africa with the rich whites and the poor blacks. In her Lani family, she is the third daughter; the Lani people hold the tradition of having the third daughter being cursed. Despite that belief, Ang continues her employment as a steeplejack. After finding the boy who was supposed to be her new apprentice dead, Ang feels responsible to investigate his death-even though she had never met him.

After the Beacon, an important symbol for the city of Bar-Selehm, is stolen, tensions escalate across the city. Regarding the murder of the apprentice, the politician, Josiah Willinghouse, hires Ang as a private investigator to look into his death. While investigating, Ang discovers a complicated layer of events that are all connected to each other. Uncovering the various truths about her city, Ang is able to bring the connection to light and make sense of all that is going on.

Having a slow start, the novel picked up the story and gripped me with the mystery. Ang is good at recognizing and making connections that make sense at the end of the novel. Speaking of the main character, I felt like she had a great personality and was relatable. Also, another great aspect of her was how she persevered, despite the difficult times she had to face. I liked the ending because it was unexpected, and it was not lacking. Overall, a great read, there is a sequel coming out for those who enjoyed this first book.

-Anmol K.

Steeplejack is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Webtoon Review: Tower of God by SIU

What is it that you so desire?

Wealth?

Fame?

Power?

“Whether you are looking for: wealth, immortality, absolute power, magical abilities or mysteries, just head up. All the glory and happiness of the world are all up there. The Tower is such a place”

But The Tower is not chosen,  The Tower chooses who enters its walls. For whatever reason, to enter The Tower means hard journey to the top. There is one, the 25th Bam also called Bam, who enters the tower on his own volition.  Not because he was seeking material want, but he was chasing his friend, Rachel, who entered the tower so she could see the stars. Bam encounters the First Floor Guardian of The Tower, Headon, who introduces Bam to the world he has forced entrance to. The Headon is the first to weed out those who are worthy to advance up The Tower. Each level of The Tower is a test to find the best of the best, who are worthy enough to reach the end. Bam, determined to find Rachel, decides to enter The Tower to find her, but once he enters The Tower, Bam realizes not everything is what it seems. The Tower contains many deep and dark secret that he will soon come to find.

The Tower of God plays on the idea where the weak will not survive and the strong determine the rules. This webtoon delved deeply into the reasons people act the way they do. What causes someone to choose betrayal over friendship and what is the meaning of a relationship between people are just two of the social question the webtoon asks.

Forewarning, there are a lot of characters. The one thing that the author does well is no character, once they are deemed important, is left without proper character development. As the entire story deals with the motives of people, SIU does an fantastic job of explaining how the character’s have come to be. The artwork is not particularly fantastic but I found his play with color interesting as color as it is involved with character development. Keep in mind, the social structure and how The Tower is quite complicated, so it may take a bit to understand The Tower. The development of The Tower, though, is integral to the story. Overall, story is fantastic despite its complexity.

This can be a very violent webtoon, so I recommend it for older audiences. Of course, this is only my opinion so why don’t you read it for yourself and decide.

The Tower of God is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

incarceron_catherinefisherThe first book in a series, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher tells of a prison world ravaged by poverty and despair. It is separated; a dark world with great technology. Outside the prison, people live a life of luxury. Claudia, a girl from the outside world, and Finn, a boy from the prison, are the main characters in this story. They meet through a magical stone they find in their respective places. With it, Claudia discovers that Finn was originally from the outside world. Later, Claudia recognizes him as her previous betrothed. This motivates her to get Finn out of the prison. A complicated process, the book follows the hardships Claudia and Finn face for his escape.

This novel has a great premise and fine element of mystery. Unfortunately, there were several flaws present in the book. The characters, Claudia and Finn, did not develop over the course of the novel. Also, there were many instances in which the story lagged; the book could have been shortened a little bit. Otherwise, the story keeps you reading till the end in order to see what will happen. Even though there is a conclusion, there is a little bit of a cliff-hanger. There is a second book, called Sapphique, and I would recommend it for anybody who enjoyed the first one.

Incarceron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

rithmatist_brandonsandersonMany years in the future there exists a place, so similar to the world we live in now, but also so different. For in this future world, magic exists. Not magic, exactly, but Rithmatics, the ability to bring chalk drawings and lines to life in fantastic ways. Rithmatists don’t get to decide to master this art, they are given the power at their Inception ceremony when they are young. If one is granted the power, they train for a few years before going off to fight in the Hell-ish land known as Nebrask. If one is not granted the power, they must live their life as an ordinary person, having no connection to this powerful art of Rithmatics, no matter how much they wish to. That is the case for the young Chalkmaker’s son, Joel, who wants more than anything else to master Rithmatics, but is shut out due to his lack of Rithmatic abilities. That is, until Joel finds himself in the middle of a series of strange kidnappings, seemingly committed by a Rithmatist, and he may be the only one who can solve them before it’s too late.

I was very impressed with The Rithmatist‘s ability to not be cliché. Brandon Sanderson does an incredible job leading the reader on to believe something will happen and then creating a completely different turn of events. While this can be disappointing at times, it helps to keep the story from being predictable. Another unique aspect of this book is the fact that there are lessons on how to draw Rithmatic lines in between the chapters, detailing different defenses and attacks, which helped me to picture the story and it’s Rithmatic scenes.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to people who love Science Fiction or Fantasy, or just books in general, because it truly is fantastic.

Evan G., 8th Grade

The Rithmatist is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.