A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain chronicles the experience of an engineer from the nineteenth century who goes back in time to King Arthur’s era in the sixth century. Hank Morgan, the protagonist, is bewildered at first to find himself in a strange land after taking a blow to the head. He is captured by a knight and taken to Camelot, where he makes the acquaintance of a page and learns that he is in the past. A series of events ensues, in which Morgan convinces everyone that he is a magician and secures a spot in the King’s administration for himself. Since he’s from the nineteenth century, he tries to modernize the sixth century to reflect his time period (which is probably easier for him than another person because he’s an engineer).

I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow, but it started picking up near the middle. There are funny parts to it and other parts that made me mad at some of the characters. There are also sections that were excerpted from Le Morte D’Arthur, some of which I found difficult to read (the ones describing battles), and at times, Twain seems to be criticizing some aspects of the world he himself was living in, in the nineteenth century, like slavery. The ending was a bit ambiguous, but considering the nature of the story, I felt that it was appropriate.

-Aliya A.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks

The Unfinished World and Other Stories is a beautifully written piece of literature filled with a wide variety of short stories. These stories revolve about everything from time travel and space to thrilling tales of kingdoms and magic. I was truly amazed by the sheer creativity and eccentricity which Sparks was able to spill out and expertly mold into eloquent, intriguing, and though-provoking stories. Each story is unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Although they are completely unrelated, they all seem to have some sort of other-worldy ethereal sense to them. Maybe it’s because of the style in which it’s written, or it could simply be the creative flare with which the author forms her worlds and characters. Either way, I was completely blown away by this book, and cannot get over how utterly incomparable and ingenious it is.

Because this book is composed of so many stories, I have grudgingly decided to speak about only two of them — The Unfinished World ( I suppose I must talk about this one) and my favourite out of the other short stories: And the World Was Crowded with Things That Meant Love.

The Unfinished World (for which this collection of stories was named) tells the story of a boy named Set. Set is an unusual boy who struggles to find and understand himself and his past as he grows older. When he was younger, he was attacked by a bear, and he died…well, sort of. He ended up surviving the attack, but there has always been something missing…no one can quite put their finger on it. He’s never been the same since; there’s an empty hole in his soul. Set follows in the footsteps of his older brother who travels to Hollywood in pursuit of his dreams. Set becomes well-known, and everyone sees him as a handsome, hard-working young man. Anyone who really knew Set would know that that is just a facade — part of him is missing. Then he meets Inge, and she turns his life around.

And the World Was Crowded with Things That Meant Love is a short, but deep and meaningful love story. Early in their lives, a young man and a young woman meet one another and fall in love. However, both have jobs which require constant traveling. They show their love for each other by sending wood carvings and sculptures to each other. By this means, they continue their relationship. A detail which I thought to be particularly lovely was that one would send an artistic portrait to the other, having remembered, in full and perfect detail, what they looked like.

Despite the fact that some of these stories are extremely short (just two or three pages in some cases), the author has a unique ability to weave in and evoke so much emotion. Some of the stories were slightly confusing, some more intense, and some were pretty dark (I would recommend an older audience for this book). However, I would definitely recommend this book, as it felt as if I was in a completely different world while reading it.

-Elina T.

5 Books To Read This Summer

Are you reading for the Summer Read program this summer, and are tired of reading your mandatory summer English book? Try checking one of these books out! Hopefully they won’t remind you of the pains of school all that much…

  1. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Image result for catching jordanJordan, the daughter of the famous QB Don Woods, and spent her whole life waiting to be the first girl to play QB at a college level. With the twists and turns of senior year, and as she’s torn apart between Henry and Ty, does she really want to throw away her dream of playing at Alabama?

 

  1. The Kanin Chronicles by Amanda HockingImage result for kanin chronicles

If you have read any other books by Amanda Hocking, especially her Trylle books, you’ll definitely enjoy this. Bryn Aven must protect the Troll community, before it all falls apart. Sure, she’ll eventually be charged with murder and treason, but it will all be better when it’s all over, right?

  1. Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Image result for audrey waitDo you ever hear that catchy song on the radio and wish you were that girl the guy is singing about? Well, what for what most girls wish for, it turns out be a nightmare for Audrey after she breaks up with her boyfriend. Audrey has to deal with the paparazzi, changing her cell number because it keeps getting leaked to the press, and getting escorted by the police on a date with her new boyfriend. Maybe it’s a good lesson that she should never date a musician…

4. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle 

Image result for The Infinite Moment of UsIf you loved her l8r, g8r series, you’ll love this book! This is an incredible story between Wren, the good girl who obeys her parents, and Charlie, a foster kid. And when these two people meet, everything begins to change. Not for younger audiences.

 

  1. The Unremembered series by Jessica Brody

Image result for the unremembered series

A sixteen year old girl wakes up in the middle of a plane crash, with no memories of her life.  She has purple eyes, and so people began to call her Violet. When a mysterious boy claims he has the answers, will she trust him? Or will she remember nothing for the rest of her life?

The first book is a little bit tedious, but then it starts to get complicated with time travel and other things later on. This is the kind of serious that at the second to last chapter, you want to throw the book across the room, but then at the last page, you wish the author had made another three books.

 

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

Super Human by Michael Carroll

superhuman_michaelcarrollSuper Human by Michael Carroll is about four kids teaming up to help save the world. Unlike other teenagers their age, three of them have super powers, making them superhumans. With strength and speed, Abby de Luyando has power over metal items. Rox Dalton has the ability of telekinesis, while James Klause can control and manipulate sound. The last member of this group, Lance McKendrick, may not have any superpowers, but his talking skills can get him out of sticky situations. In this adventure, these four, with the help of other established superhumans, work together in order to defeat the group named Hellotry. Intending to bring back the fifth King from four thousand years ago, the Hellotry want him to rule the world because he was the first superhuman in existence. In order to make taking over the world easier, the Hellotry release a plague in order to kill off all the adults, and only leave the kids behind. The four teenagers have to not only defeat the fifth King, after he is summoned to the real world, but also need to find a cure to the plague.

Starting off with action, this book wasted no time in getting the characters introduced and building an exposition. The first couple of chapters jumped around, and introduced each character in a relatable way because of the everyday situations he/she was in. Also, the transition in the kids joining forces was seamless. One thing that lacked a little bit in this story was character building; the story was a bit too focused on the plot, which hindered the characters to develop. Also, the plot was a bit predictable, but there were still a couple of unexpected twists. Overall, a great read for anyone looking for some superhuman adventure!

-Anmol K.

The Super Human series by Michael Carroll is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Webtoon Review: Flow by Honey B

Magic is normal. Rather, being born under a god is the norm. Some gods are weaker, others are stronger. To be born under a weak god means a lesser chance in both education and society, but a strong god means high school and training which later equals a higher status. There is only one thing in common. All of them can grant a single wish as long as the correct price is paid.

Yun Lee-Rang is a child of the cat. Not particularly bad but not strong enough for high school. His childhood friends, Suh Yul-Bi and Hong Ryun, are a pigeon and dragon respectively. Ryun, as he is a dragon, attends high school. Lee-Rang works with Yul-Bi in a delivery restaurant. He is satisfied with his life and has a crush on Yul-Bi. One day, when he is out on a delivery, Lee-Rang is severely beaten by students from a nearby high school, leaving him blind and paralyzed. Filled with despair, he wishes to turn back time. His cat god asks if he is sure and the answer is “yes.” It is done, but what Lee-Rang finds is that not only has he changed his fate but lives of everyone else. In this new timeline, Yul-Bi dies. Suddenly, the principal of Ryun’s high school invites Lee-Rang to enter his high school. Lee-Rang accepts in the hopes that he will learn to turn time again. This new timeline opens doors that shouldn’t have been opened and Lee-Rang learns that what is seen is not always what it is.

This is one of the earliest webtoons I have read and I have found it refreshing. It has a new twist to a power concept I have seen several times. There is a rollercoaster, which this webtoon takes you. There are the crazy light hearted monuments to the darkest of the dark time. The character are well developed and the changes in Lee-Rung personality and maturity is certainly strong. The artwork is simply beautiful. As webtoons are primarily released as color strips online (hence the name) artist have the opportunity to mix art styles and colors. Honey B uses a more realistic styles for the gods compared the the characters creating a incredible contrast.

It has been completed and the ending my opinion is quite satisfying. Of course, I cannot say that for you so why don’t you read it for yourself.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

hereandnow_annbrasharesMeet your every day immigrant Prenna. She comes from a place very different than our own. Because it isn’t where she came from – but when. Her future is an awful place so she, along with other like minded time travelers, take refuge in present day. But along the way, they must never try to rewrite history or worse, fall in love. Through the course of the story, Preena will break both of these rules.

All because of her long time friend Ethan who is able to see who came from the future. He helps Preena adapt to card games and other things she isn’t used to while she eventually tells him about how different the future is. When a mysterious stranger tells her to change a single event that could change the world, Preena delves deeper into a greater conspiracy she didn’t know existed. Going against every rule her society created, Preena must figure out what to do before time runs out.

As far as time travel books go, this book purely goes one direction and stays in the present day. As the title suggests, there is a seize the day/ don’t just survive but live themes going on, but they don’t make much of an impact. The characters are fairly generic and corrupt society Preena runs from is really one dimensional. The main focus is the romance, which somehow feels a bit like insta-love despite Preena knowing him for years. Preena and Ethan have their cute moments, but other times their chemistry felt forced. Not a bad book, but not spectacular either. It’s great as a light reading book to pass the time.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

The Here and Now is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

The Devil’s Intern by Donna Hosie

It all started the day Mitchell died. Actually, just kidding. It all started when “Medusa”, Mitchell’s frenemy/sort-of-girlfriend died forty years ago in San Francisco. No, it probably started back in 1666, when Mitchell’s British friend (who received a pin in Hell because of that year) died in a fire. Actually, it should probably start during Viking times, when Mitchell’s other friend died in battle. Confusing? Well, this is a book about time travel. And death. And Hell.

Mitchell, being dead for four years, wonders why he died. He knew that he died because he didn’t look when crossing the street (and that kids, is why looking both ways to cross is very important), but he wonders what made him not remember. Now, he’s stuck in Hell because of it, with his every day life being an intern to the Devil’s Secretary in Hell. Amidst the crowdedness of Hell and his three best friends in tow, he learns of a time machine being stored right near where he works. And it was Medusa, after all, who gives him the idea to change his death. Along with his three friends who want to change their deaths too. But death isn’t so easily changed, as Mitchell and his friends soon find out by paying the price.

I love the humor in this book. Mitchell is the typical hero who tries to make everything awkward but messes up. Hell, at least the interpretation of it, is my favorite since Hosie purposefully makes it not like the stereotypical Hell. Sure it’s overheated a lot, but other than that, it seems like a regular Earth, with the exception of the Devil’s daily tantrums and the fact that Hell’s going bankrupt.

It is also well thought out. I’m pretty sure that there are a multitude of books where the hero tries to think about what would happen if a certain death didn’t happen (ex: Harry with Dumbledore), but there are few that actually go into the consequences (ex: Dumbledore would’ve still died, and instead died in a way he wanted), and I like how Hosie goes into it.

Overall, if you like comedy or time-travel, I highly recommend this book.

-Megan V, 10th grade

The Devil’s Intern is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.