The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

schoolofgoodandevil_somanchainaniIn the school for Good and Evil, there are two friends: Sophie, a vain young woman who believes she is good, and loner Agatha who does not like others. They live in what appears to be a perfectly normal town. Except, two kids always go missing once a year, taken to the School of Good and Evil by the school master.

That night rolls along again, with Agatha and Sophie being taken away. But something seems wrong: Sophie, the “good” girl is taken to the School of Evil. Agatha, the “evil” girl, is sent to the School of Good. The girls go through their classes, trying everything in their power to get switched to their rightful schools until they break into the Headmaster’s office who gives them a task that, if completed, will send them home. For example, what is Sophie’s task? Sophie must do something no evil student has done before: Find love.

Soman Chainani weaves a terrific story of love and fantasy and adventure. With plot twists at every turn you never know what is going to happen next. This book is perfect for one of those lazy days when you feel like picking up a long book. It takes you though many adventures and even has you thinking about your own personality. All in all, this is a very well written book.

-Ava G.

The School for Good and Evil is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive.

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

wonder_rjpalacioI recently finished the novel Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I had seen good reviews about this book and its ability to connect with readers from a wide age group. After reading the story for myself, I found a novel that was personable and heartfelt, teeming with life lessons. The book is about a 5th grader named August Pullman who was born with a facial deformity. It’s told from the perspective of various characters in the story, explaining how their lives are affected by August. August has been homeschooled his entire life, up until the 5th grade, when his mom urges him to attend a local elementary school. Apprehensively, August complies, and is hit with the expected reactions: stares, whispers, and giggles from his fellow classmates. Naturally, I began to develop a dislike for those characters who hurt August, and excluded him just because he looked different. I’d often ask myself how characters could be so cruel, how strangers could openly gawk at him with no shame. Unfortunately, the answer was simple; people are curious and often afraid of what’s different.

This novel really makes the reader inquire on what it means to be different. August dawns the same playful and curious personality of a 5th grader, just with an alternative appearance. One of my favorite quotes from the novel was “The only reason I’m not ordinary is because no one else sees me that way.” This line captures the essence of the entire story, reminding the reader that normality is simply an idea in one’s head. Differences are a thing to be celebrated; they make the world a colorful, interesting  place. However, problems arose when characters in Wonder couldn’t just see August as a human being, similar to themselves. Flowers come in a multitude of colors, lengths, and locations, but they’re still flowers. August’s face does not fit the typical standard, but it doesn’t make him less of a person. August Pullman is different; one look and anyone could see. Nonetheless, at the end of the novel, students and parents came to realize that August Pullman is not lost cause, a sad story. Just because he dawns his differences on his face, it doesn’t make him any more unusual than the next person. I recommend this novel to anyone and everyone; it’s a well-written reminder that variety really is the spice of life.

-Diana P.

Wonder is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download on Overdrive

 

 

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

harrypotter1_jkrowlingHarry Potter is an eleven year old boy, but not an ordinary one. Certainly not ordinary. He is a wizard. But he never knew this for eleven whole years.

Harry Potter is a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own through hundreds of mysterious letters. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends, Ron and Hermione, who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents’ mysterious deaths: That they were killed by the Darkest wizard of all time, Voldemort.

Voldemort was such a powerful Dark wizard, that many feared to speak his name. He was know by common witches and wizards by “You-Know-Who.” Voldemort was part of Harry’s mysterious past, of why he was left on the doorstep of his mother’s sister’s house, eleven years ago. Harry’s mother and father, James and Lily Potter, were both of magical blood. Voldemort tried to kill Harry and his family one night at Godric’s Hollow, but failed to do so. Harry’s parents died tragically trying to save him, but Harry Potter lived on with only a lightning scar on his forehead to resemble his horrible past connected to Voldemort.

So this was why Harry Potter was brought to where his aunt, the Dursleys, lived, at the age of one year old. And he lived there for eleven years, not know he was famous, not knowing that Voldemort had tried to destroy him, not knowing he had broken the powers of one of the most powerful Dark wizards of all time. The young wizard lived with the Dursleys, where he was treated like a slave. But one day Hogwarts wrote to him, and off he went to the magical school, where he and his scar were famous.

At the magical school, Harry meets Ron, a good-natured, red-haired wizard, and Hermione, a bossy know-it-all witch at Hogwarts. Overtime, they become good friends. Harry found Hogwarts very exciting, what with all of his classes, perhaps except for Professor Snape’s class, which was Potions. He has never flown on a broomstick, played Quidditch, the popular sport in the magical world, or worn a cloak of Invisibility.

But not that his whole year at Hogwarts was fun. At the end of term, who other does he come face-to-face than Voldemort, his arch-nemesis. Harry barely manages to escape, but in the end he does, by using his wit and courage.

And there goes the story of a brave wizard, where he is remembered as the true hero at Hogwarts. However, he has to spend his summer with the Dursleys, which he is definitely not looking forward to. Oh, well. He can’t wait for his second year at Hogwarts, where he knows there will be more adventures to come.

I really liked this book, because it was really unique. Harry Potter’s adventures, Quidditch, everything, was so original. My favorite part of this book was when Harry, Ron, and Hermione went through a secret trapdoor to defeat Voldemort once and for all. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and adventure! I know I certainly enjoyed the book!

-Katharine L.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone is available to checkout in multiple formats from the Mission Viejo Library and online through Overdrive

Manga Introduction: Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Haruhi Fujioka, a middle-class student, hopes to finish high school in the prestigious Ouran Academy as quietly as possible, but that is not going to happen in a school full of rich kids. She stumbles upon the Third Music Room where Ouran High School Host Club resides. The first encounter is not what would be called the most fortunate as Haruhi accidentally breaks a vase worth $80,000. To repay back this debt, she agrees to work for the host club, but to add to her misfortune the members of the host club mistake her as a boy. With this misunderstanding, she becomes the club’s errand boy.  Her story unfolds with the odd collection of high school hosts: President Tamaki Suoh, Vice-president Kyoya Ootori, Identical twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, Mitsukuni “Honey” Haninozuka and his cousin Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka. This is the story of her adventures with these characters and how she survives in the crazy world of the rich and eccentrics. From daily costume parties to romantic adventures on a island, her life is definitely not going to be as quiet as she hoped.

First off some basic facts:

  • The manga began in September 2002 and ended 8 years later in November of 2010
  • There are 18 tankobon volumes (manga books)
  • A 26-episode anime television series aired between April 5 and September 26, 2006 (Note: The anime does not cover the entire manga series, to completely finish it you will have to read the manga. Same applies the the live action)
  • There was a live action drama and film released in 2011

This is personally one of my favorites. I can admit I’m not crazy about romance and ridiculous scenarios but this manga I would read again and again. It has a female character who has her feets more or less set on the ground. A nice contrast to the rest of the host club who has a much more eccentric lifestyle. This is the only shojo manga which most of my friends have enjoyed. This most likely because the importance the manga places in friends and family. Also in how each character is properly developed and not left without a compelling backstory.

This is one manga I would recommend to everyone, even if they are not a fan of shojo manga. It will give a unexpected surprise. Of course I can say this for everyone. So discover it for yourself.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

 

Book Review: No More Dead Dogs, by Gordon Korman

no_more_dead_dogsLet me start off by saying: best book ever!

Wallace Wallace, (not a typo- that’s his name!) the most popular kid in school who is the football star, doesn’t tell lies… He has learned that lying is horrible; from his dad who lied on everything possible to Wallace, one of the big lies was that he was in the army. LIE! So that’s where Wallace learns not to lie from, so when Mr. Fogelman gives Wallace an assignment to read and give a book review about “Old Shep, My Pal” he writes this:

“Old Shep, My Pal by Zack Paris is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everyone equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said “The End”; this book couldn’t be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.”

Mr. Fogelman was enraged! How dare Wallace say that?! So after confronting Wallace, which ended in an argument, Mr. Fogelman gave a detention to Wallace where he would write a “proper’’ review, which meant he couldn’t play football until he was done with detention! And as everyone knows Wallace can’t say a lie! So how will Wallace be able to join football again…..?

And with that, something horrible keeps on happening to the school play… which Mr. Fogelman is the director; all eyes are on Wallace as the prime suspect. Nothing could be worse; the Giants are on a losing streak without Wallace! The team hates him, the drama club thinks he is the person who destroys the set of the play, and most of all how can he lie in his report!? You’ll have to read the book to find out what Wallace does…..

I would recommend this book to boy or girl ages 8-14. It’s an amazing read. Enjoy!

-Satej B., 8th grade

Book Review: Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor_parkWhile browsing Sparknotes one night for help with homework, I was lured into the “fun section.” You know, the section where you can find information about celebrities, current events, and popular books. Well, I’m very glad I did, because there was an article on great books to read during the summer. Eleanor & Park was near the top of the list. The comments on the book were mostly positive, so I decided to give it a try.

Guys, this book is really, really good. It’s funny, exciting, and relatable on so many levels. Eleanor & Park follows the lives of two teenagers in high school as they go through all of the awkward stages of love.

It’s not a typical, boring, lovey-dovey type of love story, but rather it is raw and honest. Both Eleanor and Park struggle to find their respective places in the world, and both have issues with their parents (problems I think most teenagers can easily relate to).

The story is told in a dual-narrative style, with both Eleanor and Park sharing their opinions on the events taking place.  I usually don’t like this type of narration because it can easily become repetitive and boring.  However, Rowell manages to keep it fresh, without rehashing scenes that the reader already knows about. Overall, the book was very enjoyable to read, and I definitely recommend it!

-Amanda D., 12th grade

 

 

Book Review: Struck by Lightning, by Chris Colfer

struck_by_lightning_coverIn the recently released book Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer, high school senior Carson Phillips has big dreams, unlike others in the small town of Clover. Carson wants to attend Northwestern University and, then become a journalist for the New York Times. There is one problem: Carson has not yet gotten accepted into Northwestern yet.

In the book, Carson, along with maintaining the school newspaper and his writers club, needs to submit a literary magazine in order to get into his dream school. However, nobody in the high school likes Carson, or writing, and the only way Carson can get people to submit papers for his magazine is to blackmail students in his high school.

This book follows the storyline of a boy who struggles with life; both in school (with his college challenge)and outside of school (with his grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, his only parent mother who is a dysfunctional alcoholic, and his father, whom he never sees).

This book is well written and very engrossing. I literally picked it up and did not put it down until I had finished. This is a read for both boys and girls; however, I would recommend it to people who are at least 14. This a great new book that should be on every teen’s 2014 reading list.

-Will R., 9th grade