Redwall by Brian Jacques

Redwall is a series of 22 fantasy novels written by the late Brian Jacques.  The stories take place around a castle named Redwall Abbey in a land called Mossflower during a medieval period.  The main characters are animals with human-like abilities.  Most of the characters are woodland creatures that can talk and walk on their hind legs.  The good characters include mice, squirrels, otters, moles, and badgers.  The villains include rats, weasels, stoats, foxes and ferrets.  The books contain many epic adventures and are very enjoyable to read.

I have noticed a predictable pattern throughout the series.  Each book usually begins by introducing the main characters, including the main villain.  Then conflict arises between the good and bad characters.  Usually, the good characters are defending Redwall Abbey against their enemies.  Sometimes the heroes embark on long journeys or perilous adventures to defeat the villains.  By the end of each book, the bad creatures are defeated.  Though the books may seem repetitive and predictable, they are filled with surprising plot twists and many colorful personalities.

The first novel written in the series is simply titled Redwall.  The hero of the story is a small mouse named Matthias.  In this book, Matthias defends Redwall Abbey against the evil rat, Cluny the Scourge.  Matthias overcomes many challenges to save the abbey.  At one point he defeats the dreaded snake, Asmodeus, and obtains a legendary sword with which he fights against Cluny and his army.  This book is filled with action and suspense.

Another enjoyable novel in the series is Mossflower.  This book describes events that took place before the events of Redwall.  We learn about the history of Redwall Abbey.  A traveling mouse named Martin comes across a large and spacious castle inhabited by evil vermin led by tyrannical wildcats.  Martin finds a group of woodlanders who wish to overtake the giant castle and remove the dictators.  After finally succeeding in their mission and destroying the castle, they decide to build an abbey in its place.  The abbey is named Redwall because it was built with red sandstone from a distant quarry.  Redwall Abbey becomes the home of many good woodland creatures throughout the series. 

Perhaps my favorite book in the series is The Bellmaker.  This book involves a squirrel king named Gael who lives at Castle Floret.  The king is forced to flee from his home because of an evil foxwolf named Urgan Nagru.  As the story develops, heroic characters from Redwall come to the rescue to put an end to Urgan Nagru and his army once and for all.  This book may be my favorite in the series because of the gripping plot and fascinating character development.

The Redwall series is filled with adventure, action, and humor.  I enjoy reading each book because the stories are all woven together.  The characters come to life as we read about their exciting adventures from book to book.  These books may be written for young readers but I would highly recommend them to anyone.

-Oliver H. 

Brian Jacques’ Redwall series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most infamous assassin. After her capture, she is sentenced to live out her days as a slave in the Endovier Salt Mines. She serves a year before Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard appears and offers her a chance to earn her freedom. She must compete in a brutal competition against murderers, assassins, and thieves to become the next royal assassin. The winner would be paid handsomely and after four years of service to the king, they would earn their freedom.

Celaena initially plans to escape, but soon finds reasons to stay. Her relationships with Prince Dorian and Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall grow and soon lean to become more romantic. She befriends Princess of Eyllwe Nehemia Ytger, who seems to know more about Celaena’s hidden past than she should.

When contestants start turning up dead, ripped apart by some unnatural creature, Celaena scrambles to figure out who is behind the killings, and the mysterious Wyrdmarks that she finds all over the castle. And when the ancient Fae Queen Elena tasks Celaena with finding the evil that lurks in the castle, a much deeper, darker plot is uncovered.

What I love about this series is just how well thought out every single detail is. The first book has its own plot and just barely dips into the larger plot of the series. The second book lays the foundation for what’s to come. By the third book, it is a completely different story. The beginning of the series hints at the larger plot that is uncovered, but in a way that if you didn’t already know what was coming, it would just seem like extra details thrown in. Only when you realize the larger story do those details take on any meaning.

The series is epic and action-packed, along with just the right amount of romance. The incredible and complex world-building drew me in and left me wanting to know more about Erilea. I absolutely loved the characters in this series. There are so many, each with a distinct personality that makes many of them so likable, and each has a unique relationship with the others. There is not a shortage of strong female characters. All of the books in the series were hard to put down, and the last book was hard to finish. I fell in love with the characters and the world; it was hard to see their stories end.

I think it is safe to say that the Throne of Glass series is the best series I have read in a long time, and I would definitely recommend the series to anyone who enjoys action and fantasy.

-Lauren R. 

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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.

TV Review: Stranger Things Season 2

My father and I have always wanted to watch Stranger Things but we never had the time for it. When we finally had the time we watched the first season. Lucky for us at the time, the second season was at least one week away.

The second season was really cool. You could really see the character development in everyone. The thing I liked about this season was that it answered my questions that I had.

I like how Stranger Things uses a lot of Dungeon and Dragons references in the episodes. I just hope that the next villain for season 3 is another Dungeon and Dragons villain.

This season also continues with the adults in the show being completely oblivious. If you thought it was funny that Mikes dad had no idea what was happening last season, then you are in for a treat. Season two also introduced a character named Maxine who is actually a main character in the season. I feel like she is going to have a bigger role in season three.

My favorite character in the whole season was probably Dustin. He was very funny when they were in danger and always made a big commotion about everything. I hope that Dustin remains this way and never changes. I also liked how sometimes Hopper would just dive into the situation and not think of it first. It made it look like he was very committed to what he was doing. He didn’t care what the odds where he just wanted to discover what was going on.

Another thing I liked about season two was that the 1980s in Hawkins, Indiana were so real. I can say that for myself because my father lived in Indiana in the 80s. Another fun element they did again was hire actors from the 1980s. I hope they keep doing that in more seasons.

Another thing was that since Will was back he had a lot more screen time. The season also showed how Mike and Will are really good friend. They would go to the end of the earth for each other.

I would recommend Stranger Things season two for anyone who saw the first season and liked it.

-Max U.

Mirage by Kristi Cook

Mirage by Kristi Cook is the sequel to Haven, a mystery romance novel. Violet McKenna is 17 years old and going to spend her senior year at Winterhaven with her friends and vampire boyfriend Aidan. She spends her summer break at home in Atlanta away from Aidan to catch up with her best friend, Whitney. Dr. Byrne helps Violet with her visions and a transfer student, Tyler, appears in Violet’s life as well as other new characters throughout the book. While Aidan is finding a cure for his vampirism, a vampire killer is on the loose killing innocent people leading him to find out who it is. Violet starts getting visions throughout the book about what the future holds. Do you think Aidan will find his cure? Will Violet and Aidan end up together? Well you have to read the book to find out.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books that involve vampires, school life, and friendship. If you enjoyed the first book, then this book is a must. This book was a good read in my opinion and it was interesting with the intense plot twist and secrets being revealed. I love the new characters involved and Violet and Aidan’s relationship. There is a sequel to this book called Eternal and it’s the last book in the series.

-Vanessa T.

Mirage by Kristi Cook, and the rest of the titles in the Haven series, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.