The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott, is a fantasy novel with both medieval European history and mythology from all around the world woven into it. The story follows Sophie and Josh Newman, two normal teenaged twins spending the summer in San Fransisco while their parents work at an archeological dig in Arizona. Little do they know that their lives are about to be changed forever. 

Sophie and Josh experience one shock after another as they come to realize that the world is full of magic. But not the type of magic we think of straight away. In their world, it is believed that, over time, the human race has neglected the full use of all of their senses. When people are Awakened, when the full extent of the capacities of their senses are activated, what they have the ability to do seems like magic. 

But magic isn’t the only thing that they discover to be true. Famous historical figures, like Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle, are still alive and have been living on this earth under different aliases for hundreds of years. And even more intriguing, the twins find that figures straight from fairy tales and myths roam the earth. 

Sophie and Josh are dragged into a thrilling and dangerous chase when they unwittingly witness the Book of Abraham the Mage being stolen from Nicholas Flamel. This book, the Codex, contains the recipe for the Elixir of Life, and without it, Nicholas and his wife will age rapidly and perish within the month. But the book also contains another spell. A spell that could compromise the liberty of the human race. Sophie and Josh must assist Nicholas in retrieving the book, else risk the existence of the world as they know it. 

What I admired most about this book was that it introduced mythological characters, creatures, and places from from a variety of different countries. In the world that Scott has created, all of these mythological figures live in the same world and interact with one another. I also enjoyed the historical content that Scott weaves into the story. European history has always piqued my interest, what with all the drama and their heavy belief in the gods. This book provided a sound union of history and mythology and was a very compelling read. 

This book is definitely not monotonous, and in fact is very fast-paced and filled with adventure. It was also easy to relate to the main characters (the twins) and what was going through their minds as their eyes were opened up to the world of magic before them. I enjoyed this book very much, and look forward to reading the remainder of the series. (There are five more books: The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock, and The Enchantress).

-Elina T.

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott, and the rest of the books in the series, are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan

apollo1_riordanApollo Haikus
Uncle Rick can do no wrong
Camp Half-Blood Part 3

After the battle with Gaea, Zeus put all the blame on Apollo. Why, you might ask? Because Gaea duped Octavian, a half-blood son of Apollo, and Zeus’ logic dictates Apollo should be punished by casting him out of Olympus and turning him into a teenage boy with acne. For the sun god, there is no worse punishment.

One of the primary characteristics of Apollo is his constant need to complain. Which, in the first few chapters in understandable. He has lost everything that defined him. His godly powers are pretty nonexistent. He is entirely mortal, even weaker than his demigod descendants. Eating ambrosia or drinking nectar won’t help him ease his pain. It’s rough for the sun god to no longer be the center of attention. It does get annoying at times, but I think it will work in showcasing Apollo’s growth over the series.

Just like Magnus Chase had cameos from his cousin Annabeth Chase, the Apollo Trials has cameos from Percy Jackson. Plus, learn about what all the rest of the half-blood gang through dialogue! Most of them are in college or preparing to do so. Even the storyline with a certain boy-who-lights-himself-on-fire’s storyline gets continued. It lets other characters like Will and Nico and other new friends get a chance to shine.

The best new face brought to this story is Meg. Don’t even think about calling her Margaret. She lives off the streets of New York and is one of the first demigods Apollo encounters. She’s a tough twelve-year-old but still is pretty naive. She’s unaware of what happened in the previous books, as would readers who haven’t finished The Blood of Olympus. There are some pretty major spoilers in this book about that one. As for her godly parent … I always find it fun to try to figure that part. But as a hint, it’s a god or goddess we haven’t heard much about. Meg has claimed Apollo to her service, the person he has to serve to prove to Zeus he’s learned his lesson. But Zeus has turned Apollo mortal twice before. Hopefully, his third strike doesn’t mean Apollo has struck out.

Filled with the great humor we have come to expect from Rick Riordan as well as hilarious haikus to open each chapter. Back at camp, everything isn’t going great. The oracle isn’t giving prophecies which makes it impossible to go on a quest to figure out why the oracle isn’t giving out prophecies. Communication isn’t working, campers are going missing, and no one knows what to do. It’s up to Apollo, Meg, and their friends to uncover and stop a conspiracy to rid the world of Olympians once and for all.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

The Hidden Oracle, the first book in the new Trials of Apollo series, is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Solstice by P. J. Hoover

solstice_pjhooverSolstice by P.J. Hoover tells of 17-going-on-18 year old Piper living in Austin, Texas. Austin is known for its heat, but what is going on in Piper’s world is unimaginable. The whole world is in the middle of the Global Heating Crisis. Temperatures have skyrocketed to over a hundred degrees and every day brings new threats like heating bubbles. Piper has a very overprotective mother, making her life restrictive. On her 18th birthday, her mother leaves the town on an errand, and Piper seizes the opportunity for exploring. This leads her to learn about a universe that she did not exist: A universe of Greek gods and goddesses. When a bombshell changes Piper life forever, she must be able to face the new reality head on.

I loved the premise of the book and the idea of global heating going so far. Also, I admired Piper and she seemed like a nice person. I was disappointed with the bombshell reveal of the Greek gods. It did not make sense and felt out of place. Also, the direction the story takes after the first 50 pages or so was not the best. On the other hand, I liked the building of Piper’s world and how it seemed very real.

-Anmol K.

Solstice is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Solstice by P.J. Hoover

solstice_pjhooverDo you like dystopias or mythology books? What about books that are both?

Solstice combines a dystopian-end-of-the-world atmosphere with a core plot that connects to mythology. Meet Piper. She’s just your average teenage girl with an overprotective mother living in a world that hasn’t seen winter for as long as she’s been alive. The heat waves that threaten the world are getting worse, which makes Piper’s mom more protective causing Piper to rebel all the more. She gets a tattoo with her friend and plans on moving away as soon as she finishes high school.

When Piper’s mom goes out of town, Piper finds herself pulled towards freedom and romance. But will it be with Reece who breaks rules for fun or Shane who makes her heart beat faster when she sees him? As she learns more about gods and the battle for the underworld, it’s hard for Piper to know who to trust. But whoever she is with, Piper can tell everyone is keeping secrets. Will she find a way to stop the world from dying and even find out who she is?

The romance here is a bit cliche with the insta-love-triangle. It isn’t bad per say, just nothing that new or special. I think I enjoyed more of the idea of the plot, how the mythology and dystopia blended together more than the characters. If the premise seems interesting enough, give it a read because it’s an interesting take of gods dealing with the end of the world.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Solstice is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

percy-jackson-greek-godsWelcome to the ancient myths you know (or vaguely remember) from Percy Jackson’s perspective. It is completely biased with Percy directly stating which gods he loves, which gods he hates, and which god should build him a golden llama (come on Hephaestus!) So why should you read this book? Are some of Greek names so hard to spell, much less pronounce, that you want to make fun of? Do you wonder what Percy would do in an ancient greek myth situation? Have you ever thought about how the Greek myths affect everyday language? Do you enjoy your public service announcements such as drugs are bad and alcohol is for adults? Well, all of those are included here (even the last one; Percy needs to cover his legal bases when talking about the god of wine).

A lot (but not all) of the Greek myths are covered, everything from Zeus’s many affairs, to Hades kidnapping his niece, to Hermes first theft, and so much more. I really don’t want to ruin too much more because it’s fun to just discover what crazy things the gods are up to next. Well, in the past, but you know what I mean.

The only thing left to wonder about is when Percy had the time to write this book. He mentions Annabeth is his girlfriend, so it has to be after the first series. Then he mentions Piper is a vegetarian, so probably after the second series, too. Maybe around the same time he encountered Carter Kane, Egyptian magician. Speaking of which, this is a great book to get you ready for the third book in the Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover that just came out– The Crown of Ptolemy. It has Percy (his perspective) , Annabeth, Sadie, and Carter against a magician trying to harness Greek and Egyptian magic to become a god. Can’t wait!

– Nicole G., 11th grade

Book Review: The Fire Seekers by Richard Farr

fire_seekersYou’ve heard the stories repeated, every religion and culture has a different way of telling them, it’s the story of the end of the human race…  Set in modern times, ancient Gods are rising, mass disappearances of people are occurring and a terrorist organization named the Seraphim is at large. 17 year-old Daniel Calder, who has a famous archeologist for a father and America’s top business woman/mountain climber for a mother, has a journey to take in order to save the human race. He has to connect the dots and discover what humanity has been denying since the very first civilizations. In this witty, fast-paced tale, Daniel must rediscover secrets long lost and find out the mystery behind the Fire Seekers.

I noticed that I kept mixing this book up with other series because the voice used by the author is similar to those of Rick Riordan, James Patterson and John Flanagan.  These happen to be some of my favorite authors.  This is a suspenseful mystery novel that relates life in other countries to that of life on American soil.  This story really helps the reader appreciate the circumstances they live in and realize all the bad things in the world that they don’t have to partake in. The reader will get a deeper look at human society in which there are problems that can and can not be fixed. Though this novel is fictional, it rings with truth.  I enjoyed the themes that occur throughout the book including world religion, mythology and childhood independence.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book vs Movie: Percy Jackson

percy_book_movieI think this is the best place to say “The books were better than the movies” because I am going to talk about the Percy Jackson series. That saying works best with this series because the books were the best books I have ever read and the movies… not so much.

If I had not read the book and I saw the movie, then I would have thought that it was a cool story and a good movie overall. But since I read the book first, I had a 10/10 rating in my hand and a less than 10/10 rating on the screen. The movie makers aren’t even going to make a third movie because they aren’t making a profit on them.

The books are written in the perspective of Percy Jackson, which is hard to do when you’re writing, and gives a whole lot more description about what is going on. First off, in the movies, there was no description as deep as the description from the books and they left out huge things from the books that the storyline barely made sense. They also added things from the last book that totally ruined what the second book was about!

But I am not just here to criticize the movies; I am also here to talk about how AMAZING the books were. You’ve got action most of all that is really cool to picture in my mind. The description is really great because I am able to visualize and make a movie in my head about what is happening in the book! My head movies are better than the movie theater movies even! (I wonder if the director even read the book…)

Also, the Heroes of Olympus series is just as good. All these books aren’t some of those “and they lived happily ever after” stories; these books actually make you think and enjoy and relate to the characters. I know I am not the only one that is waiting for the next Heroes of Olympus book that just came out and I also know that I am not the only one who is really excited for it!

I know this Book vs. Movie post is kind of late, since the books have been out a while and the movies too, but I have just recently been reading them and watching them again. I am sorry for those of you who turned 13 and did not get chased by monsters to Camp Half Blood, but those of you who are not 13 yet, don’t lose hope! If anyone, and I am sure there are a lot of you, feels the same way about these books and movies, or if you don’t, please leave a comment below!

-Kyle H., 8th grade