Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter is a miserable boy living with his aunt and uncle. He is often mistreated. He sleeps in a cupboard beneath the stairs and has to wear his cousin Dudley’s hand me downs. His life gets a massive change on his 11th birthday. A giant tells Harry that he is a wizard and that so were his parents. Hagrid also tells Harry about how his parents died which made him a hero in the wizarding world. Hagrid lastly informs Harry that he’ll be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry doesn’t know what to do or think with everything he has just been told, but it turns out to be true and Harry starts school in September. Almost instantly he becomes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry loves Hogwarts more than anything ever before. Soon he starts participating in Quidditch practices and becomes the youngest Quidditch player in the last century. As the year goes on, the three discover the mystery of the three headed dog and what it could be guarding. They soon notice a professor that seems like he’s trying to steal the object, so they take action to prevent the robbery. Once they sneak past the three headed dog, they pass several challenges to get to the professor.

When they get to where the professor should be, Harry finds his parents’ killer Voldemort. Voldemort killed Harry’s parents to get to Harry, but somehow Harry survived Voldemort’s spell. He battles Voldemort and barely saves the mystical Sorcerer’s Stone. The end of the school year arrives and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are rewarded for their acts of bravery.

-Emilio V.

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

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

I rejoiced when I heard there would be an eighth Harry Potter book as I’m sure the rest of the Harry Potter fandom did.  It definitely delivers the same thrills, adventure, and fun as the other seven.

The story centers around Albus Severus Potter, Harry Potter’s youngest son.  He doesn’t fit in as well at Hogwarts, but finds a friend in Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius.  Albus and Scorpius are both sorted into Slytherin and Albus’s relationship with his father worsens over the years.  Then, everything changes as the pair meet Delphi, Amos Diggory’s niece, and set off to change the past with the help of a Time-Turner and save Cedric Diggory. The rest of the story lies within the book…

This was an interesting read because it isn’t written like a conventional book; it’s written like a script with descriptions of the surroundings, acts and scenes, and the character’s names before their dialogue.  I loved seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione all grown up with families.  It makes you feel like you’ve grown along with the characters. This book was a great addition to the series and I recommend it to everyone who loves Harry Potter and magical, fantasy adventure books!

-Kaitlyn S.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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.

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 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

The Shibboleth by John Hornor Jacobs

This book completely and utterly blew my mind. In John Hornor Jacobs’ genius masterpiece, Shreve, a misunderstood teen, works his way through iron cages, both physical and mental. He has a power that he calls the Shibboleth, and he uses it to invade minds. However, multiple characters throughout the trilogy possess the same ability, allowing Shreve to observe the full extent of this power. Other characters have wide arrays of superpowers, some including telekinesis, flight, and hypnosis.

While all of these are great, what really stood out to me was the side characters without powers, and how realistic Jacobs made them feel. This aspect of the book brought a dark, yet almost familiar vibe, and I really enjoyed it. Overall, this book is absolutely fantastic for the teen level of reading, and if you like dark humor and sarcasm, this book is perfect for you. The characters and wording will get you hooked for sure. This is definitely a must-read, as well as the first and third novels in the series, The Twelve-Fingered Boy and The Conformity. Thanks for reading!

-Luke D.

John Hornor Jacobs’ The Shibboleth, and novels that make up the Twelve-Fingered Boy trilogy, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

The Copper Gauntlet by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

The second book in the Magisterium series picks up where the first left off. Summer vacation is almost finished, and Call is looking forward to going back to school, although his dad is dead set against it. About a couple of weeks before school starts, Call learns that Alistair knows something about him that he is prepared to take desperate measures to correct (the same secret that was revealed at the end of The Iron Trial).

Once he gets to school, Call realizes that his dad is up to something when it’s rumored that someone is trying to steal the Alkahest, a powerful copper gauntlet.  Everyone thinks that the perpetrator is intending to harm the Makar and destroy the Magisterium. Call, though, knows better. He sets out to save his dad with Aaron, Tamara, Jasper, and Havoc, which turns out to have pretty unexpected results as they uncover secrets kept from even the mages.

There is quite a bit of character development, especially regarding Call. He has changed since the first book, although he still retains his characteristic personality. Call struggles with himself now more than he had in The Iron Trial, especially now that he can detect all the signs about who he really is, while at the same time kind of being in denial about it. However, he does carry himself differently and becomes more confident than the first book, and is more open than he used to be, although he doesn’t always go to his friends for help when he needs it.

-Aliya A.

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