TV Series Review: White Collar


Clever criminal Neil Caffrey has finally been caught after years of Agent Peter Burke chasing him, yet manages to escape jail only to be caught once again. While other agents would immediately put him into a different jail facility, Peter Burke sees an opportunity in Neil. They work out a deal where Neil can’t go outside his two-mile radius and is tracked at all times by his anklet and he stays out of jail by helping Peter catch other criminals. Neil had skill as he was one of the top criminals and Peter saw that as an advantage because who else would know how someone committed a crime better than a former criminal! The show, White Collar, follows Neil and Peter’s journey. It’s one of those shows with the perfect balance of new mysteries every episode and ongoing mysteries.

I watched this show at a friends house, but we watched something from season 5 out of the 6 seasons and I believe that’s why I was so drawn in. Personally, I have trouble committing to shows which is why I stick to movies, but seeing all the action made me want to continue watching it from the beginning. If I had watched the first episode, I probably wouldn’t have been motivated enough. Now I’m not saying to randomly watch an episode from the middle, but I am encouraging you to watch a couple of them in order to fully get an idea of your preference on the show. All the twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat and I continuously admired how clever Neal truly was. I would definitely recommend this show to anyone who likes crime and adventure. It has some hints of romance in there as well. This show will always be my favorite!

-Kaitlyn Y

Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

Midnight for Charlie Bone Children of the Red King Book 1 - NEW ...

Midnight for Charlie Bone was written by a British author named Jenny Nimmo.  It is the first of eight books in the Children of the Red King series.  This series is among my favorites.  The books refer to an ancient magician known as the Red King.  His magical powers have passed down through his descendants for generations.

Charlie Bone is a ten-year old boy living with his mother, uncle and two grandmothers.  Throughout his childhood, Charlie has been told that his father is missing.  Despite this, Charlie continues to hope that he will see his father someday.  Life is otherwise normal until one day he discovers that he can hear people talking in photographs.  Charlie realizes that he has a special power.

Charlie’s three strange aunts soon arrive for a visit, pleased to learn of his power.  They enroll him in a special school for gifted children called Bloor’s Academy.  Charlie begins to realize that other children in the school have magical powers as well.  He also learns that the Bloor family in charge of the school is engaged in dark and sinister schemes.  Charlie realizes that there is more than meets the eye in this academy, and he is determined to uncover the truth.

I found it hard to put down this book once I started.  The story is engrossing because of its many mysteries.  I became anxious to find out about Charlie’s missing father, and about the history of the children who possess magical powers.  Many questions are left unanswered in this book, so I was excited to read the other books in the series.  The adventures are fast-paced, so I enjoyed reading the series in quick succession.  You will likely want to read the other books in the series as well after reading this one.

-Oliver H.

Midnight For Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Bernett

No matter what age you are, almost anyone can enjoy a whimsical and well-written children’s classic. In fact, my most recent favorite is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Bernett. 

The Secret Garden tells the story of a girl named Mary Lennox who whilst residing at her uncle’s house tries to figure out how to get into the secret garden, which has been locked up for a decade. Along the way she makes friends and leaves her mark on the dull and somber manor. 

One aspect of this story I loved was the character development. When we first start out the book Mary is an insufferable, harsh brat who knows nothing about friendship because of her circumstances in the past. But once she opens up to people and learns to see the good in things and people alike, everything changes for her and she transforms into a kind and caring child. 

The character development isn’t limited to just Mary though, her uncle’s son, Colin Craven has been thought to be dying for all of his life. But with Mary’s help, everything seems to change for the better. 

The Secret Garden is very predictable, in the way almost all children’s classics are, but I am in no way complaining. In fact, the predictability makes way for you to become more attached to the characters because of all of their arcs. 

Now if you couldn’t tell I have an infatuation with children’s classics. To me, they are such simple and impacting stories that always change your outlook on life. Frances Hodgson Bernett is my favorite children’s book author right now, seeing as she’s written both of my favorites, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Both books which I wholeheartedly recommend. 

In short, if you’re a fellow devotee for good children’s classics like me, then you’ll love this book. 

-Asli B.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: 9780593198025 ...

Little Women is a novel written by Louisa May Alcott and first published in 1868.

The novel was an autobiographical family ethics novel set in the American Civil War and based on the life’s trifles of four sisters in an ordinary family in New England in the 19th century. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great thinker of the time, the novel emphasizes the concept of personal dignity, independence and self-discipline. The content is simple but exquisite; the structure is simple but profound, full of strong appeal. Little Women is a semi-autobiographical novel with female characters and feminist consciousness.

During the American Civil War, Mr. March went to war as a chaplain, and his four daughters and their mother lived a poor but strong and optimistic life at home. They were poor, but willing to help their neighbors, the Hummels, who needed help more than they did. Women have vanity; they want to get beautiful clothes, eat delicious food, live like a princess. Although full of fantasy, in real life, they use their own efforts to solve the various difficulties in life. The eldest daughter, Meg, is beautiful by nature and full of longing for love; the second daughter, Jo, was independent and determined to be a writer; the third daughter, Beth, is the traditional good girl, weak and lovable. The youngest daughter, Amy, loves painting. The story follows these four women as they grow from girls into little women, recounting their unruly experiences and respective pursuit of different ideals and the processing of finding their true self.

The reason why the four March sisters, who are the true, the good and the beautiful, have such qualities as kindness, diligence, selflessness, tolerance and toughness cannot be separated from Mrs. March’s excellent education. Parents are their children’s first teachers, and there is no doubt that Mrs. March is an excellent teacher. She is generous, ready to help others, not easily angry, and grateful for life. In the eyes of the children, she is not only a good mother, but also their best friend. They liked to confide their worries to Mrs. March, who gave them good advice and help. It is because of Mrs. March’s unique family education that the four sisters became little women loved by everyone. Consequently, the courageous images of women in this book touch the heartstrings of numerous female readers.

-Coreen C.

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Many people are let down when a great book has a sequel that cannot compare with the original. For that reason I always begin sequel reads with a kind of detachment and I analyze the plot before diving headlong into the book. I am pleased to say that Wildcard did not in any way fall under this category of sequels. The sequel to the amazing book Warcross has even more riveting action and adventure than its predecessor.

Emika Chen barely survived Warcross, but the times ahead promise even more danger. Caught within an epic war between virtual reality and the physical world, Emika and her friends must play the best game of their lives if either world is to survive. With danger at ever turn who can anyone trust?

Marie Lu packs suspense, betrayal, and romance into one spectacular book. A master of words she ensures that you will grab this book off the shelf as fast as possible. Do not forget to check out the first book in the series! (Warcross) But remember…everything has a price.

-Elijah Y.

Wildcard by Marie Lu is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Paper Towns by John Green

Throughout my 14 years of existence, I’ve never read a book that amazes me as much as this. It’s plot consists of Quentin’s take on Margo as she goes on one of her crazy adventures once again, or is this one different from the rest? Margo Spiegelman is a rebellious and adventurous young woman who does things as she pleases. Her history of running away on an adventure and returning a couple days later had everyone constantly thinking of her. She often left clues, but they were never specific enough to find her. Her neighbor, Quentin, who shares a bit of history with her, finds love for her only to realize that maybe Margo isn’t exactly the girl of his dreams. When Margo goes on this adventure her senior year, they both learn things they didn’t know about themselves and each other.

The events that take place in this book are simply thrilling and manage to keep you on your toes. Personally, the ending really had me hooked because I had never read about an ending like this one before. That’s one of my favorite things about this book, the element of surprise it had. If mystery and adventure books are your calling, I’d recommend checking this one out. While it has a bit of romance involved, it’s more of an adventurous book. Paper Towns highlights how we all change in highschool and figure out who we are. John Green is an extremely talented writer, and if you choose to read it, it’ll sweep you off your feet

-Kaitlyn Y

Paper Towns by John Green is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica

Toni Morrison (February 18, 1931 — August 5, 2019) was an American writer and writer who was born in Lorain, Ohio. She graduated from Howard university. Coming to the literary scene in the late 1960s, her works were fiery, brief and poetic, and she was known for her acute observations of black life in America. Her major works include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1974), Song of Solomon (1977), and Tar Baby (1981). She became a professor at Princeton university in 1989 and won the Nobel Prize of literature in 1993. In all of Morrison’s works, one of the greatest costs of the black character’s rebellion against fate is family and kinship. For African American slaves, staying away from home and maintaining family ties was the result of their intelligence and tenacity. It also meant emotional and spiritual sustenance. Therefore, the loss of “family”, a precious treasure, as a result of the rebellion against the fate, has been a helpless sigh for the fate of black people in Morrison’s works.

How to heal the long-accumulated historical wounds in the hearts of black citizens and get rid of their misunderstanding of themselves— an urgent problem related to the destiny and future of the black nation, has led Toni Morrison to ponder. After careful consideration, Morrison realized that to completely change America’s perception of black people, we must find a real solution to make the nation be more receptive and welcoming, so that the whole nation clearly and consciously accepts African Americans as part of its whole. Therefore, on the question of exploring racial equality, Morrison put forward the idea of reclaiming the black cultural heritage. This in itself encourages the writer to heal the psychological trauma in many African Americans and help them to be hopeful and proud of their lineage again.

The works of Toni Morrison are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is the first book in a riveting dystopian fantasy series with lots of adventure and plot twists. The book is set sometime in the future when Earth has been taken over by the Reestablishment, an evil organization that is destroying the world after baiting its people with empty promises. Our main character is Juliette Ferrars, a 17-year-old girl with a deadly power: her touch can kill. No one understands what’s wrong with her, including doctors, and she is shunned by everyone she knows because of her mysterious curse. After a terrible accident occurs, Juliette is sent to a mental asylum where she stays for nearly two years before her life drastically changes. She is discovered by Warner, the son of the supreme commander of North America. He knows about her powers, and he wants to use them in nefarious ways to benefit the Reestablishment. Juliette must escape her difficult situation and figure out who she really is to find safety in her dangerous world.

The Shatter Me books are probably the best books I’ve ever read. I think the elements of dystopia and fantasy are very well combined. There are characters with fascinating abilities trying to survive in and take back a world run by a cruel, evil organization. The plot is well-written and there are plenty of surprises that you definitely don’t see coming, especially in the fourth book when you learn that Juliette is not who you thought she was. The characters are well-developed and interesting, and I enjoyed getting to read from the point of views of different characters. I would highly recommend this series to anyone interested in the dystopian/fantasy genre!

-Kaitlyn S.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Educated by Tara Westover

With overwhelmingly positive reviews from Bill Gates, Barak Obama, as well as consistently winning the best memoir of the year in 2018 by multiple institutions, I had to see if this book lived up to all the hype it seemed to be receiving from everywhere. 

Needless to say, it went above and beyond my expectations. 

Educated is the author’s own story of growing up in a survivalist family that did not allow anyone, least of all Tara, an education. It is the journey of her breaking free from the destructiveness of her family and ending up studying at Cambridge and Harvard.

This memoir is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, if not only for the powerfulness of it. Throughout the memoir, you go from pitying Tara, to pride for all that she’s accomplished. 

One trait I love about Tara is her determination. As she starts studying for the SAT, she knew almost nothing and had to learn almost all of it by herself. For example, when she started practicing trigonometry for the first time, she had the math level of a 5th grader. But as she studied more and more, and was so driven that she passed the SAT without receiving any instruction other than her brother Tyler and some books. 

This book affected me in such a deep way that I feel as if it will resonate with me forever. Now whenever I’m doing my schoolwork and feeling unmotivated, I think about Tara and how hard she had to work to just prove she had what it took without proper schooling to get into high prestige schools. She was very independent and as someone who is striving to do so, Tara is someone I look up to.

Now because of her upbringing she did have a lot of mental health issues. After discovering herself, she was pushed away by her family. Even though she had spoken out to her other family members about how manipulating and damaging her childhood was, almost no one believed her. Because of this, her family ignored her, and even though they have been the root of almost all her problems, she finds herself heartbroken over this. 

But the main thing her family has done to her was the manipulation of ideals they have put upon her. As she was growing up she was taught that the government and all of its institutions were part of the illuminati and were out to kill them. The only thing Tara’s parents willingly taught her about was religion. In fact, when she attended college she couldn’t write the way other student did because she learned to read and write only from mormon texts, she had almost no idea of how to function in a normal society. When going through with all this manipulation her parents justified it in their name of their faith, but it is clearly radicalism, and it is so, so frustrating to read about. 

And with that I leave with you a quote from the memoir that perfectly encompasses the idea of finding your own truth:

“Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.”

-Asli B.

Educated by Tara Westover is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Little Things That Count

Though it may seem cliche, it’s undeniably true that it’s the little things in life that count. Never underestimate or overlook the little things. Even if only the dewdrops clinging to the blades of grass in the morning or the sight of the setting sun, never let these little things escape your notice. Noticing and acknowledging the little things in life are keys to enriching the life you are already living in. Because sometimes, you are not able to change your circumstances and in truth, we don’t actually need to change our reality, but rather our perceptions.  And one of the simplest, yet easily undermined ways to do this is to pay attention to the little things.  Hold on to the little things, and the rest of life falls into place.

Of course, the only way to consciously make an effort to do so is to be aware. And sometimes, we don’t like feeling aware, whether it be of ourselves or our surroundings. Many of us don’t want to sit still with the thoughts in our mind or notice that piece of litter on the side of the road. And I understand that. Yet, you can’t see the wonderful things without noticing all the not-so-wonderful things, because of course,  that is how you gain perspective and gratitude for the little things that you do have. 

After all, you can’t possibly come to be grateful for a gift that you were too blind to notice that you had in the first place. So do not fail to take notice. 

Although at first, it may feel uncomfortable or unimportant to really and truly open up your mind and your heart to experiencing things in greater magnitude, more often than not, many people find this to give them a sense of peace. 

Noticing the small things means taking extra time and care, even if only mentally. But as we all know, your mental state plays a huge factor in the way that you live and see your life. If your mind can consistently remain slowed, calm, and focused on the good things no matter how small, then no matter your surroundings or the circumstances, and no matter how dark the night, you will be able to know that the sun will come again in a short while. 

There’s a common quote that’s often used simply put: “No rain, no flowers”. In order to notice and appreciate the flowers, you must also notice and come to appreciate the rain.

Hardships in life are never easy, but they are what make us learn and grow, so that when you stumble out of the storm and see the newly-bloomed flowers, you come to know what relief and gratitude mean, and you obtain the wisdom as to know that the storm you were caught in was not for nothing at all. 

So, to whoever may read this, feel no sheepishness or guilt in “stopping and smelling the roses” today. Notice the little things, but also do them. Maybe you can be someone else’s living proof that the world isn’t so bad after all, so do not hesitate in offering that kind word or extending a giving hand when the opportunity comes your way.

-Aisha E.