Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Just as I was giving up on the monotonous plots and characters of many current YA novels, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, reminds me of how truly fantastic YA books can be. Six of Crows is the first book in its duology, followed by Crooked Kingdom. Bardugo wrote this series after The Grisha Trilogy, which is set in the same world. However, one does not need to read the trilogy beforehand (I did not), as they center around different characters and places.

My favorite part of this book is that it is set in a different world that has been so beautifully fleshed out by the author, including unique countries, cultures, and languages. Another cool part is that the band of six are so diverse and provide a wide variety of representation in race, sexual orientation, and both physical and mental disabilities. The group live in a buzzing city called Ketterdam (taking inspiration from the city of Amsterdam). This 1800s type city is right next to the sea is filled with merchants, cargo ships, gang claimed territories, and thieves. Speaking of thieves and gangs…

Six of Crows story follows a gang (literally) of antihero teenagers, each with their own bitter backstory. Kaz Brekker aka Dirtyhands aka Bastard of the Barrel is the leader of the gang called the Dregs. He is mysterious, cold, and delightfully sarcastic. Despite Kaz’s limp in his leg, no one in their right mind would dare cross him or his cane. Next is Inej aka The Wraith. But don’t let her small frame fool you, as she the deadliest and sneakiest one on the team. Right hand man and life of the group is Jesper. The only thing stronger than his sharpshooting ability is his gambling addiction.

Thirdly, we have Nina, a Heartrender Grisha, meaning she has special abilities that can manipulate others’ bodies. However, if Nina lived in our world, she’d be an A-lister actress for sure. Any group of fighters needs a brooding muscle man, and Matthias sure fills that part, no matter how reluctant he might be. And last but not least, we have bright young merchling, Wylan, who is new to the heathen street life, but becomes an incredible asset.

These crooked youngsters embark on an insane mission that’s filled with humor, struggle, suspense, emotions, and wonderful fight scenes. The opening scene with Inez is my favorite scene as we get to see two gangs in a “parley” meeting. It is so intriguing and thrilling, specifically with how we see it from Inej’s bird’s eye view. The amount of detail that Leigh Bardugo put in her writing and characterization is truly spectacular and I recommend this book 100%!

-Ava K.

The Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

“Stay gold, Ponyboy.”

The first time I heard about this book was a recommendation from my English teacher. I haven’t been reading in while and I asked my teacher for some book recommendations in YA fiction. It took me almost a year until I finally picked up and I’m glad I read it.

The story sets in time around the 1950’s about a 14-year-old boy named Ponyboy Curtis and his life as a Greaser in East side. Ponyboy is part of a gang called the Greasers, the poor working class that causes trouble with the law. They are strong enemies against the Socs (Socials), who are the West side rich kids that cause trouble with the law, and they bully and fight the Greasers for fun.

Ponyboy’s gang includes his two older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, Dallas Winston, Johnny Cade, Two-Bit “Keith” Matthews, and Steve Randle. Even though do drugs, curse, commit crimes, the gang is loyal to each other and treat each other like family.

At the beginning of the book, Ponyboy admits that he doesn’t get along with his older brother Darry or Darrel. When Ponyboy comes home later than usual, Darry, his guardian since when, becomes furious with him and leads to drastic consequences to Ponyboy’s “normal” life.

Although there is violence, illegal activities, and mature themes, I loved seeing the characters develop and grow. The friendships and close bonds in this story were fantastic to read.

Overall, I found this book an enjoyable read and I recommend it for teens and up. So far my favorite book I read in 2017.

-Ash A.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

 

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker

Image result for ashes to ashes by melissa walkerCallie McPhee is prepared to have a great summer. She has her boyfriend Nick, her best friend Carson, and a new BMW. Even though her best friend is still obsessed with ghosts, and Nick seems a little bit off lately, Callie knows that she is going to have a great summer before her junior year. Except when tragedy strikes while Callie is speeding and distracted by a phone call from Nick. This isn’t the summer she imagined.

Callie wakes up in something called the Prism, where she finds out she’s dead and is assigned a Guide named Thatcher. Callie isn’t a “normal” ghost, and develops a rebellious streak. She wants to live a little by hanging out with the “bad” group of ghosts and haunt on her own. But when the poltergeists, the bad group, starts turning more dangerous, Callie must figure what’s right. She has to watch her father, friend, and boyfriend go through different types of grief, and sort out her new feelings for Thatcher. When the poltergeists go past a boundary that Callie didn’t know was possible and Thatcher feared, they must do the impossible. Will the poltergeists stop? Read the book to find out.

I thought Ashes to Ashes was a great paranormal romance novel. Once you read this book, you have to know what happens next in the sequel, Dust to Dust. Ashes to Ashes makes you think a lot about ghosts. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants a good paranormal romance book.

-Rebecca V.

Ashes to Ashes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Made For You by Melissa Marr

madeforyou_melissamarrMade For You is a book that grabbed my attention right away and didn’t let it go until the end. It wasn’t necessarily the best book I’ve ever read, but it one was of the better ones in a while. This being said I really don’t know how to describe it. Its components are similar to a lot of teen books; romance with a hint of mystery. The thing that really garbed my attention though, was the darker nature of the plot. At the end of the second chapter the main character, Eva, has already had an attempt made on her life by someone know only as Judge. It was this chapter that really made me want to continue reading, his motivation for the murder attempt is what I found really intriguing, in fact his thoughts throughout the book were what I found most inserting. In my opinion Judge is easily the stronger character in the book, and my personal favorite, not because I was rooting for him to succeed but because I thought he was extremely well written and one of the more interesting characters out of a lot of books I’ve read.

But enough about Judge for now, it’s what happens after Eva walks up from his murder attempt that things start to get weird. Eva wakes in the hospital with the ability to see people’s death’s when the touch her. It is because I of this plot point that I have a hard time describing this book. This power, if you want to call it that, is very interesting and a driving force behind the plot. I thought it was very well thought out with limitations and other flaws that made it more believable. Except for one thing, we never really find out were the power came from. We find out it’s flaws and how it works, but not once is the source of the power mentioned.. As much as I loved this book, and I really did, this was a huge problem for me. I loved the story, and as mentioned early Judge’s character was very interesting, but I really feel like this was an attempt to add fantasy twist to what was other wise a book that bordered on realistic fiction that fell a little short of the goal. Honesty for a while I thought that maybe the whole thing was just in Eva’s head, or that maybe the hit and run had activated some kind of dormant magical ability, but at the end of the book I still didn’t have an answer.

Now this doesn’t mean that Made For You isn’t worth the read, I really think it is, I just think it has some flaws that should have been addressed. As a whole though the plot is very interesting, the characters and unique and three-dimensional with interesting motivates driving their actions, and a very interesting reveal at the end of the book pertaining to Judge’s identity, all of which make this a very solid read. One thing to keep in mind is since one of the driving points of the plot is an attempted murder their is some violence that may make younger readers uncomfortable, but high-school aged readers (and mature middle-school readers) probably won’t have a problem with it, as their are only a few short scenes. If you are looking for something that isn’t quite like anything else then I highly recommend giving Made For You a read.

Made For You is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Flyte by Angie Sage

flyte_angiesageThis sequel to the first book in the Septimus Heap series begins with a new foe that seems strangely familiar… ***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK***  Boy 412, or Septimus Heap, as Aunt Zelda helped him to discover, is living a normal life as Marcia’s apprentice, or as normal as a wizard can get. Then one day, on a day that Marcia gives him to spend as he likes, he decides to visit Jenna in the Palace. Then suddenly Simon Heap appears and kidnaps Jenna! And, nobody will believe Septimus that Simon has kidnapped Jenna, making it difficult for him to do anything. How will he be able to get Jenna back? What does Simon want with her? That, until you read the book, is a secret that only the readers know.

I loved Flyte just as much as I loved Magyk. The escapades of Septimus and Jenna always are able to make me laugh, and those of a new(ish) character too, Beetle. Beetle is a worker at the Manuscriptorium, a place where they keep books and other things. He became friends with Septimus after they discovered their common interest in Magyk. Beetle is a bit weird, but that’s another reason that I like him. And, he has more in store for him in the five books to come (currently available in the library).

New character aside, there’s lots of other things that I like about Flyte. It has a lot more Magyk than in the first book, a big plus for me. It also links a lot of new stuff back to the first book, like a hidden room in the castle that might have something to do with Aunt Zelda’s cottage (hint, hint). I would give this book a 10 out of 10 because it’s an awesome book and because Angie Sage did a great job of bringing her characters back for a brand new adventure.

Flyte is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Spintered by A. G. Howard

splintered_aghowardIt all started with the rabbit hole.

Of course, Alice falls down it and finds herself in the bizarre world of Wonderland. But what would happened if when she came back, something wasn’t the same?

Skip two centuries to Alyssa Gardner, the descendant of Alice Liddell and inspiration for Lewis Carroll. She just wants to live a normal life with school, artistic desires, and Jeb, a cute artist. But the curse of the Liddell family that causes their girls to go crazy (including her mom) and the strange power to hear the voices of plants and insects keeps Alyssa’s life anything but normal.

That’s when she gets a call from the boy of her dreams (literally) to help save Wonderland and fix everything her ancestor messed up. If she does, she’ll be from her family’s curse, and her mother could be saved. But Wonderland is not how it seems through Lewis Carroll’s innocent perspective.

This book, along with the other two of its series, is amazing. It’s full of humor, including the comical fights between the two edges of the love triangle Alyssa somehow gets sucked into, a sarcastic characters, and the events Alyssa has to face in Wonderland.

I actually didn’t personally like Alice in Wonderland. However, when I read this book, I liked it way better than the original. And for those of you who like horror, all I’m going to say is that one of the author’s inspirations was Tim Burton. Additionally, there are small details that lead to very interesting and well thought out plans, which made the book even cooler. And of course, the classic secret keeping, in which secrets blew my mind and were ones I didn’t figure out before. Finally, the author puts the classic story into her own words, with characters the reader will recognize by name and be intrigued with.

All in all, this is one book that should be read!

-Megan V.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

greenglasshouse_katemilfordWinter vacation. An inn for criminals. Two maps.  One massive adventure. Milo and Meddy, together.  This story begins with a young boy named Milo, returning from his last day of school before Christmas break.  It has started to snow, and he has finished his homework so he can have some fun, but some strange things start to happen.  He and his family, the Pines, live and work at an inn called the Greenglass House.  For a long, long time, it has been the temporary home of several harmless thieves, smugglers, and other suspicious criminals.  Winter is a slow time for the hotel, and customers are rare near the holidays.  However, this year it’s different.  Just as Milo shuts his math book, he hears the distant ring of the bell.  He and his mother, Mrs. Pine, rush outside to see a man trudging up the snow covered front steps.  The man introduces himself, and throughout the course of the afternoon, so do ten other guests, as he is the first of many to stop by this night.  Eleven in total arrive at the Greenglass House, while Milo is thinking this could quite possibly be the worst Christmas vacation ever.  Milo was miserable until a certain girl named Meddy comes to stay as well.

After just one day, Meddy and Milo seem to become the best of friends. Milo shows Meddy a map he found suspiciously left in a rail car.  It is quite a unique map. The two aren’t sure what it is showing, but they believe it is some kind of waterway.  This creates a curiosity in young Meddy.  In her attempt to cheer Milo up, she has an idea for a fun game they could play together.  The basic objective is to find out what the map is and whether treasure exists.  And you have to play while adopting fake characters.  They decide Milo will be a blackjack, the leader, clever and athletic, while Meddy will be incognito.  Milo’s new name is Negret and Meddy’s, Sirin.

They begin their quest in the attic where they find materials such as clothes for Sirin and necessities for Negret.  The game gets pretty fun until one morning, some of the inn’s inhabitants wake up to find they have been robbed.  The two friends put aside the game to search for the missing items.  At this point in the book, I thought of the song, Smooth Criminal, by Michael Jackson.  The tune and lyrics struck me as the smooth criminal in the story left no leading clues from his theft.  As the storyline develops, things start to get intense, violent, and secrets are out in the open.  At this point, I’m questioning whether the situations will be resolved and whether I would be able to hum Happy by Pharell Williams by the last page.

This story twists and twists into a whole new plot.  It changed so much that I vaguely remembered the beginning!  Kudos to Kate Milford on Greenglass House.  This well-written and heartwarming novel deserves 10/10 stars.

-Maya S.

Greenglass House is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

daybefore_lisaschroederToday is different
For Amber,
Running away
To be alone.

She needs a day
For herself
That isn’t filled
With tears.
This is her last day

Of her before.

The day before it all changes.

Amber expected
To be alone
With her drumsticks,
Just because;
Her camera,
Just for fun;
And a box jelly beans,
Just like always.

She takes a limo
To the beach.
Today is not
About holding back.

She goes to the
Aquarium where
She meets
A boy
By the jellyfish tank.

They connect
Instantly
“Did you see that movie?” he asks,
And Amber knows
What he’s talking about.

They see the sharks
And the sea stars,
Not exchanging many words,
Not at first.

Cade, the boy,
Thought he
Was alone today, too,
But they decide to spend
Today together.

He has a condition for today,
Not to ask
Why the other is
At the beach, by themselves.

The have fun
Building sandcastle,
Climbing lighthouses,
Enjoying the day.

Both Amber and Cade
Are hiding a secret.

Tomorrow will
Never
Be the same again.

Cade.
Loves the ocean so much.
Writes songs everywhere he goes.
Lives today like its his last.

What secret is he hiding?

Cade told her
Not to ask.

Yet she wants
To know.

Written in verse
Amber’s day
Is told.

Th secrets
The style
The story.

It’s beautiful.

-Nicole G., 11th Grade

The Day Before is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor

silksinger_lainitaylorWarning: Contains spoilers if you haven’t read the first book.

In this sequel to Dreamdark: Blackbringer, Magpie, Talon, and the crows return. Magpie, now champion of the Magruwen, who is the Djinn King, sets out on a quest to find and wake the remaining five Djinn so that the Tapestry, which weaves the world and keeps it together, will not be lost forever. It also introduces the mysterious Hirik, and Whisper Silksinger, guardian of the Azazel, one of the very Djinn that Magpie is searching for. Together they must bring the Azazel to his temple before the demons catch them and destroy them all.

This sequel is just as good and maybe better than the first. It contains more action and many plot twists as well. To any who have read the first book, I would recommend this one. To those who have not, read the first book before considering this one, as much of the plot and characters contain elements from the first book and would confuse someone who did not have that information. This book contains slight violence, so I would not recommend this to anyone who is under the age of ten. I would rate this book a 10 out of 10, as it is just as good as the first. The only downside is that, for some reason the author left the series to start another and so even though this book leaves off at a point that implies that there will be other books, there aren’t any other books in the series. Dreamdark: Silksinger is a thrilling, enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone in middle school or who likes fantasy.

Dreamdark: Silkbringer is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

-Linna C.

Winterling by Sarah Prineas

winterling_sarahprineasWinterling was written by the same author of The Magic Thief, and it really lived up to my expectations. Winterling centers around a girl named Jennifer, “Fer” for short. She discovers the Way between her world and another after saving a boy named Rook from a pack of wolves. When she crosses the Way to return Rook to where he belongs, she discovers a strange power corrupting the land. She then sets out to find the cause and heal the land, before the evil Mor, the one corrupting the land, can finally achieve her goal: to rule a land that is hers and hers alone.

Winterling is fantastic. Prineas did just as good of a job on this book as The Magic Thief. It is of the fantasy genre, also similar to The Magic Thief. However, there are no spells in Winterling, only charms and oaths that bind two people by a promise. And, thankfully, Winterling is not the only book in its series. There are two others, Summerkin and Moonkind, each as thrilling as the first. These books are suitable for those in 4th grade and up. It contains slight violence, but laughs and magic as well. I would give this book 10 out of 10 stars, because it is a wonderful book that I really enjoyed.

-Linna C.

Winterling is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.