An Appointment With My Brother by Yi Mun-Yol

This novella, An Appointment With His Brother, talks about the unseen interaction between North and South Korea. Basically what happens is, the protagonist’s father defected to North Korea, which is unusual because it would normally be the other way around. The protagonist finds out years later that his father had a new family. Since the father lives in North Korea, visiting each other is nearly impossible. However, one day he learns about the boundary line between North Korea and China. People would cross the border with the help of a broker and essentially escape. So the main character attempts to meet his father but ends up having An Appointment With My Brother instead. Once they meet each other, they talk to each other about their lives and compare them. They come to a realization about their lifestyles after talking–their lives weren’t as different as they thought.

There was a lot learned from this story, things that aren’t usually revealed in the news, and only something that those people know. Even though the book was difficult to understand, the underlying theme and message are important to one’s everyday life. Reading this book allowed me to put the prejudice views aside and really see the true events that occur instead.

-Phoebe L.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

First off, I need to say that this book is a different genre than I normally read. I usually read romance but this novel is more of an adventure novel than a romance. Anyways, on with the review!
Ben and Ashley are complete strangers until they meet at the airport.  They start chatting and as they wait to board the same plane. The snowstorm becomes too strong and the flight gets canceled. Ben finds a way for them to get home on a private flight, he rushed back to get Ashley who is on her way home to get married.
Making things even more interesting between the both of them  after their plane crashes, leaving them stranded in the mountains. Ben protects her as their time in the mountains stretches into months. Along the story we get snippets into Ben’s life before any of this happened, as he talks to his wife.
All in all I thought this was a great book, it was a little lengthy though.
-Skylar N.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

In her new novel, American Street, Ibi Zoboi creates a different type of story which is both full of truth and meaning.  The first thing I noticed when I picked up the book, however, was the names.  And how much Zoboi was able to do with them.  Our protagonist, Fabiola Toussaint, shares an inspiring story through narrated as well as journalistic chapters, and I loved all of it.  Though not based on a true story, the author has taken the voice of each character and has written from their own fictitious hearts, almost as if she were interviewing them.  Blending the American lifestyle of today’s Detroit and a coming-of-age teenager’s story from Haiti made for a truly extraordinary read.

Fabiola:

According to my papers, I’m not even supposed to be here.  I’m not a citizen.  I’m a “resident alien.”  The borders don’t care if we’re all human and my heart pumps blood the same as everyone else’s.

Not only does this message strike home for my beliefs, but it is truly and utterly relevant.  Fabiola, conned ‘Fabulous’ by friends at school, was born in Haiti to a life supported by her American aunt. The story starts out as Fabiola leaves the airport without her mother, detained by the immigration officers.  This vulnerability reaches the reader on a deep level.  If this scene was cut from the novel, Fabiola would be treated as any other modern-day damsel in distress finding her way around twenty-first century Detroit.

What makes her story so special was the way it spoke to the reader.  It was unlike many other novels recently released, in that the reader felt something more than joy or sadness.  At some point in one’s life, they will experience being in a new and unfamiliar place.  Nothing seems to stop to allow one to catch up.  It is as if nobody else cares.  Zoboi captured this shared human feeling stunningly.

On a scale of ‘one’ to ‘amazing’, I would definitely rate American Street ‘amazing’.  Readers can also learn something new about cultures and their collision on the corner of American Street and Joy Road.

-Maya S.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

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

Forever With You by J. Lynn

Wow! I do love everything written by J. Lynn, but this may be her best yet. The book starts off with Stephanie walking into a bar and finds Nick whom she has a one night stand with–or so they thought. I won’t spoil it for you, but something happens so they have to get together again.

Stephanie has never been in love, but she believes in it. She had a bit of a tragic past, so she is a bit scared of love (listen to She’s Not Afraid by One Direction, that matches her perfectly). So when Nick comes into her life again, she tells herself not to fall in love.

Nick also has his own issues to deal with (again, not going to spoil it for you :p) and he doesn’t want to fall in love either in case he gets hurt again. But the first time he see’s Stephanie, he feels drawn to her in a way he hasn’t felt for anyone else.

“As long as I’ve known him, he’s never been serious about anyone. He’s probably going to need a substanital learning curve when it comes to not saying things that are going to [make you mad]”

But sure enough, they get back together after their one night stand. Stephanie falls for him, though she tried to ward herself off him, she just can’t.

“No. I wasn’t falling for him. Because there was a good chance I had already fallen for him.”

Stephanie fears that Nick doesn’t feel the same about her, so she tries to distance herself. Nick is scared to love Stephanie, but he knew he feel for her the first time he saw her (and no, not in a cliché way).But can he convince her he feels the same way as she does?

“Nick seemed to sense just when I needed him. Even if he was asleep, his arms would tighten around me, sometimes, when my recklessness woke him, he would talk to me until I feel back asleep, distracting me with some of the crazy things he’d seen while working at Mona’s. He was simply there for me, and I let him in completely.

And there was no denying how much I loved this man.”

I did not do this book enough justice! One of my favorite parts of this book is that even though it had many sad moment, J. Lynn always made sure to make you laugh as well, and I found myself laughing a lot about this book. In other words, you NEED to read this book.

Unfortunately, this book is not avaliable at the Mission Viejo Library, but it is avaliable from the Orange County Public Library System.

-Skylar N.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally is truly rare. How many books do you know that contain a female football player? I can only think of one (other than this one). Boy does this book hook you in. It starts off during a football game. This is Jordan’s senior year of high school so she wants to do her best as captain so her dream college (Alabama) will take notice of her as the football player she is, and not just as a female. All of the players on her team respect her for who she is, a really great football player. But her and Henry are best friends. So much so that they have sleepover’s together and they sleep in the same bed, head to toe.

“Later that night, Henry slept over at our house. He has always stayed in Mike’s room, but in the middle of the night, Henry sneaked into my bed because he’s had a horrible dream he’s been eaten by a whale.
He’s stayed in my room ever since.”

But during Jordan’s senior year, a new player comes named ‘Ty’ and he wants to be quarterback just as much as Jordan does. But Jordan feels something towards Ty, that she has never felt before. Eventually she starts dating Ty but it just doesn’t feel right to her. She starts thinking back to Henry.

“All those nights of sharing a bed
All those times he put an arm around me
All the things he’s done to make my happy
…encouraging me to give Ty a chance
He must really love me if he’ll watch me date another guy just to ensure I’m happy”

Eventually Henry and Jordan get into a fight and stop talking. Jordan’s dad talks to her

“Jordan, he’s loved you forever. It’s obvious. Have you not seen how he stares at you?”

You will need to read the book to figure out the ending though. All in all, I thought this was a super sweet book and I thought that both Henry and Ty were great people.

Unfortunately this book is not available at the Mission Viejo Library, but it is available through the OCPL system.

-Skylar N.

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

At 17, Landon Carter experienced something, or rather, someone who changed his entire outlook on life. A Walk to Remember starts with describing Landon among his community in Beaufort, North Carolina, 1958. The way he describes the town is quaint, a perfect setting to the story.

At the start of his senior year, Landon ended up in drama, expecting an easy class. Drama was the better alternative to taking Chemistry II, according to Landon.

Landon was also on student council, and thus was expected to bring a date to Homecoming. With no one left to ask, he approached Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the minister to join him. Despite her father’s reservations, he took Jamie to the dance. That was the end, or so he thought. He couldn’t bear to be seen with her in front of his more popular friends.

Yet Jamie showed him how to care for others. Landon drove around town, collecting the tip jars Jamie had set out for Christmas gifts for the orphans. That year, barely any money was collected, as Landon discovered. But by the time Jamie counted out the money herself, there was enough to buy plenty of gifts for the children.

The most touching part of this story, aside from Jamie and Landon, was between Jamie and her father. It was heart breaking to see how their relationship deteriorated after Jamie’s secret was out.

The prologue of this novel warns readers that they will laugh and cry. That is definitely true, and it is part of the reason why A Walk to Remember is worth reading.

– Leila S., 12th grade

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks is availalbe for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library