Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

The death of Harry Potter’s godfather, Sirius Black, has made Harry more grown up than ever before. Now he feels that he has to put an end to Voldemort’s reign of terror, even if it kills him. Dumbledore picks Harry up before the end of summer to go on a mystery errand. The errand is to get Horace Slughorn to teach again at Hogwarts. Back at Hogwarts for Harry’s sixth year, he is extremely excited. He is now the Quidditch team captain. However, Harry also finds out and is gloomy that Professor Snape has achieved his longtime goal of being the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry has also started taking private lessons with Dumbledore to learn as much about Voldemort as he can. Hopefully this information will help if Harry ever comes face to face with Voldemort. Early on in Harry’s Potions class he acquires a mysterious book that used to be the Half Blood Prince’s. The book tells Harry everything he needs to know about potions. Harry’s sudden knowledge amazes everyone. He also grows a suspicion that Draco Malfoy has replaced his father as the leader of the Death Eaters. Harry, throughout the year, keeps a close eye on Draco just in case. Ron and Hermione see this idea as a far stretch, but Harry feels like something has to be happening with Draco frequently leaving school grounds. As the year continues, Dumbledore tells Harry that he may be able to go on a special mission to destroy a horcrux. A horcrux is an item that contains a part of Voldemort’s soul. Destroying them makes Voldemort weaker. When Harry and Voldemort leave on their mission to destroy the horcrux, Draco sneaks Death Eaters into the school, and a battle between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters takes place. Harry and Dumbledore return after getting the horcrux, but they are trapped on the Astronomy Tower. On the Tower, Draco disarms Dumbledore and Professor Snape kills him. Dumbledore’s death had a massive impact on Harry, but it helped him to see what he had to do.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is a very interesting and funny book. Rick Riordan did a great job incorporating Percy Jackson’s sarcastic comments with the historical knowledge we know about the Greek gods. This book includes stories from all of the 12 main Greek gods, and what happened before the gods. This book is a very great book to out loud to your friends or family. This book was probably the funniest Rick Riordan book I have ever read! This book really shows how much humorous Percy Jackson really is, and how much thought Rick Riordan put in his character.

Another interesting thing about this book it is Percy Jackson telling the story, no one else. All of Rick Riordan’s books are the characters telling the story, but this book I think just stands out the most from all the other ones I’ve read.

There are actually another book similar to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, it is called Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. They are both very similar in the story telling, but different subjects. So if you have read Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, you should read the other one. If you are a big fan of Percy Jackson, make sure to check this book out!

-Brandon D.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Have you ever imagined the fairy tales you read as a child having different endings, different villains, different heroes? Have you ever wondered how Ursula became so evil, why kings like to assign three impossible tasks to win their daughters’ hand in marriage, or if the Minotaur was really the monster he was accused of being?

Though inspired by fairy tales, mythology, and classic stories, the six stories in Leigh Bardugo’s The Language of Thorns go beyond the basic tales. They are all short stories written in the style of a fairy tale. Although these stories are set in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s other novels, they made sense even though I hadn’t read any of her other work (now, after reading The Language of Thorns, I look forward to reading Leigh Bardugo’s other books).

Leigh Bardugo creates such a detailed, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous world, and in it she expands upon and adds her own ideas to well-known tales. These stories are elegant and some are a bit creepy (if I had known this before reading, I may not have picked up the book, but now I am glad I did–I really enjoyed reading this book despite the darker parts), and the excitement of the stories combined with the amazing writing makes the book so hard to put down.

I loved how each of the stories had a twist at the end—maybe the villain in a story was not the same character in the original fairy tale (or someone you hadn’t even considered) or the real source of the conflict was an immense surprise. These stories did not always end with a happily ever after, and although I do like happy endings, this was a refresher from the widely expected endings of fairy tales. It made the stories a bit more exciting and unpredictable.

Some of the parts I loved most about this book were the illustrations and borders created by Sara Kipin. At the start of each story there are one or two small illustrations in one corner or part of the page, and as the story continues, new images that connect to the story are added on to the illustrations. At the end of each story you can almost see the tale in the pictures that make up the border. There is also one big picture at the end of each story that shows a scene in the tale. The pictures are beautiful, so thought out, and I really liked seeing the story show through them.

If you are a fan of fantasy, fairy tales, or even just someone looking for fascinating tales to read, I would definitely recommend this book. Not only is the writing magical and detailed, but the world, characters, and illustrations are so well-developed and seem to fit together wonderfully. However, be warned: in this collection of tales the faint may not always be as they seem, and the real villains may have a story of their own.

– Mia T.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

In the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry knows that he will soon have to battle Voldemort. Now that Dumbledore is dead Harry knows what he has to do to defeat Voldemort. He goes to find and destroy the horcruxes with Ron and Hermione. The journey is tough and eventually Ron and Harry get into a fight and Ron decides to go home. Devastated, Harry and Hermione visit Godric’s Hollow to try and find a horcrux. They come way too close to being caught by Voldemort. A few weeks later Ron decides to rejoin the quest to find the horcruxes. His timing couldn’t have been better as he arrives just in time to save Harry’s life. They find another horcrux and destroy it with Gryffindor’s sword. After destroying the horcrux, they learn about three items known as the Deathly Hallows. If a person has all three, that person becomes a master of death. Harry realizes that he must find all three in order to stop Voldemort. As Harry’s journey continues he realizes that he is the last horcrux. This means that Harry must give up his life in order to destroy Voldemort once and for all. Harry meets with Voldemort in the woods and Voldemort kills Harry. Harry then sees what appears to be King’s Cross Station but all white. He can also see Dumbledore. Dumbledore gives Harry the choice of going back to the living world to defeat Voldemort or moving on. Harry knows what he must do so he returns to the world. Voldemort is shocked to see Harry alive and tries killing him again, but this time with all horcruxes destroyed, Voldemort is too weak and he is defeated by Harry Potter.

-Emilio V.

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

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

To touch, to see, to hear, are all senses given to us. What is not given to us, through birth, is the power to feel. Feeling is something humans pick up on through their surroundings and their journey through life. Being 15 years old, I have not begun to feel, until I had read The Little Prince.

Teaching us the lessons of ignorance through adults and helping us understand that keeping some part of an inner child is valid to survive through life, this story by the talented Antoine de Saint-Exupery, opens with a pilot who crashes into the middle of the desert and soon meets a blonde-headed boy, with eyes filled not with tears, but of innocence.

Realizing, he is stuck and has nothing better to do, the pilot begins to ask questions about this strange young boy, until it is revealed that this boy is from a planet far from here and is the prince of that planet (hence the title). As I read further into this book, I had realized that to repel misery from looking for you for company, that you should have a heart. Though some may argue that having a heart makes one more vulnerable, it also makes one get out of bed every morning, smile, and most of all find purpose in life.

As I have stated earlier, this book does teach to keep some part of your inner child, what I mean is that children normally have fuller, more giving hearts than adults, which is why they are so much happier. All in all, to live is to be happy and to be happy you need a heart, which is why I love this book so much, because I now know how to fully live my life.

-Kimi M.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

To begin Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Weasleys invite Harry to the Quidditch World Cup. At the game, Death Eaters, Voldemort’s servants, show up, and at the end of the match Voldemort’s sign appears above the field. Back at Hogwarts, Harry finds out that Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament. Even though Harry isn’t old enough to compete, he is still very excited to watch. The three competing schools are Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. The goblet of fire chooses one student from each school to participate. For Hogwarts, Cedric Diggory is chosen, for Durmstrang Victor Krum is chosen, and for Beauxbatons Fleur Delacour is chosen. Oddly after all three are chosen, Harry’s name flies out of the goblet. Regardless of his age, Harry is the fourth participant. This angers Ron because he thinks that Harry did put his name into the goblet, even though he didn’t. The first trial of the tournament is to steal a golden eye from a dragon. Harry does this, and somehow it convinces Ron that Harry wasn’t lying to him. The second task is to retrieve an item from the bottom of a lake filled with mer-people. Harry doesn’t know how he will do this until the very last minute. Harry is now tied for first place. Someone at the school wants Harry to die, but nobody knows who it is. Because of this, Sirius Black returns to watch over Harry. The last trial of the tournament is to find the Winner’s Cup. During the trial, Cedric gets hurt and Harry helps him. They then decide to become joint winners. They find the Winner’s Cup, but when they grab onto it they get transported to a graveyard. Confused about their whereabouts, Cedric is killed by one of Voldemort’s servants, Wormtail. Harry sees Voldemort and just barely escapes with his life. Back at Hogwarts, Harry clutches Cedric’s body and cries for the loss of his friend. Harry soon finds out who the traitor in Hogwarts is. It was Professor Moody, the newly recruited Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry tells Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, but only Dumbledore believes Harry.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Wings by E.D. Baker

Tamisin Warner was always a bit different from everyone else. She had sparkly freckles that she called spreckles, pointy ears, and always danced outside when the moon was full.  Ever since one fateful Halloween, she had been able to see strange human animal hybrids no one else could.  Jak, a new boy at Tamisin’s high school, seems to realize Tamisin is different and knows more about her than he lets on.

However, when actual fairy wings emerge from her back, Tamisin sets out to find the answers to who she truly is with Jak by her side.  Tamisin encounters many mysterious, magical creatures and strange new places during her journey and isn’t prepared for what the answers to her questions hold…

I enjoyed this book very much because it was set in present day but was still mysterious, magical, and whimsical all at once.  It’s interesting to read from both Tamisin and Jak’s point of views as you get to learn about both characters’ background stories and their seemingly separate worlds that are actually intertwined.  This is another great book that is reminiscent of a fairy tale by E.D. Baker!

-Kaitlyn S.