Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

janeeyre_charlottebronteAs it seemed to Jane Eyre, she would never be equal to her cousins, neither in status nor in physical appearance. From all angles, she was just a plain orphan, whom Mrs. Reed kept under her care only at the request of her late husband, Jane’s uncle. Constantly chided, blamed for things outside of her control, or treated like a pest, Jane’s early life was not easy.

Before long, she was sent to Lowood, a boarding school for orphaned girls, where she experienced a whole new life, though not necessarily better than her former years. She no longer had any sort of family to return home and the living conditions at Lowood were not any to be rewarded. Her eight years as a pupil did not end, however, as she continued on to become a teacher, and eventually sought a governess position elsewhere in England.

That brings Jane to the center of her story: Rochester Hall, with the stern-faced master, elderly housekeeper, spoiled French pupil, and the mystery within plaguing its halls. Before long, Jane’s governess position becomes more complicated, as she deals with Mr. Rochester. To tell you what happens from there, I would be ruining the story. But this is not even half of the story yet, as Jane embarks on a sort of journey that changes her life. That sounds extremely cliché, but it’s what happens. The events Jane experiences are so extraordinary that they do not seem realistic, but at the same time, I loved the ending.

My favorite part of this novel was the blunt way everything was depicted. Though disguised in flowery, 19th century English, Jane is quite to the point about everything she notices, and Bronte’s storytelling truly draws the reader in. Admittedly, it took me a while to read the novel because adjusting to the older style of English was difficult, but I could not have been happier to finish the book!

– Leila S., 11th grade

Jane Eyre, both the novel and its numerous television and film adaptations, 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

Reeling Through the Roaring Twenties: A Bright Young Things Series Review

brightyoungthings_annagodbersenFLAPPERS, FRINGE DRESSES, JAZZ, AND DECADENCE!

The year is 1929. Eleven years have passed since the First World War. No longer is there any grief or sorrow among the former disillusioned youth. Instead, there is an air of decadence and desire among them.

New York, the cultural capital of the era, is ruled by the Bright Young Things. This new generation of young women chase their dreams, defying the traditional patriarchal society that once stifled their passions.

Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur, inspired by the culture of New York, escape their Midwestern town for the lights and ardour of New York City. However, the two girls leave much more behind than just their old homes. Ms. Grey, raised as an orphan by her authoritarian aunt, escapes from an untimely arranged marriage to find her infamously wealthy father, Dorian Grey. Ms. Larkspur, on the other hand, escapes her extremely religious family to become the next Broadway Babe.

All Cordelia wants is to be part of a wealthy, loving family, and all Letty wants is to see her name in flashing lights. However, the two girls soon find out that their positions are ones that many girls fight for-and will even kill for. The girls find themselves in a city much more glamorous, yet equally dangerous than they have ever dreamed of. Only with the help of the young flapper Astrid Donal do these girls finally assimilate into the rich culture of the metropolis. Raised differently than the other two girls, Ms. Donal seems to epitomize perfection–she is wealthy, beautiful, and her lover is Cordelia’s greedily rich brother, Charlie. Despite Astrid’s perfect life, she faces her own plights in New York. Together, the Bright Young Things endure through the harsh circumstances of the city.

Love, drama, illegal ventures, and decadent thrills soon become an everyday part of the girls’ lives.


Personal Notes from Reading The Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godberson:

  • The book is FULL of words to expand your vocabulary. A majority of the words are SAT-level words! (For reference, the SRI reading level of the books range from 1070-1250, which is a very high lexile range)
  • The book covers are to DIE FOR! Each book comes with a visual photograph of the character. Their style of clothing and their beauty astonishes me to this day. I never pass the Young Adult section of the library without picking one up and gazing at it
  • It saddens me that these books are so underrated! Everytime I check their availability statuses at the library, none of them are ever checked out. It’s not that they are unpopular books, it is just that they are overshadowed by Godberson’s more popular series, The Luxe. 
  • I encourage all teenagers and young adults to read these books. Not only do you get to expand your vocabulary, but you also get to learn about the Roaring Twenties. It goes well with The Great Gatsby (a novel that most high school honors and AP students are required to read!)

-Elaha N.

The Bright Young Things series of novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven

magnificent7Today, western cowboy films with their gun slinging and horse riding are largely regarded a past era. Magnificent Seven may just prove otherwise.

I recently had the opportunity to watch this movie in the famed Chinese Theater in Hollywood. (If you have a chance I recommending visiting the theater as it is truly “magnificent”) This movie is actually a remake of a 1960 of the same name, which in turn was based off of 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. 

It is 1879, the mining town of Rose Creek has been taken over by the corrupt Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). He slaughters anyone in his way including Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) husband, who tries to stand up to him. Emma, in part for revenge and in part for justice, sets out with her friend, Teddy Q (Luke Grimes), to find someone to help their town. They meet, Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), a bounty hunter, who agrees to help after knowing Bogue was involved. With Sam’s help, they assemble a crew of men from all parts of life: gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and notorious Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). With this rag-tag crew, they will attempt to drive out Bogue and defend Rose Creek.

Overall the can be considered to be average. The storyline does not stick after very long and the main focus of the film seem to be on the fight scenes. I personally felt that Magnificent Seven was underdeveloped in terms of character, but developed the characters enough not to harm the film. There is a large group of main actors and it become very difficult to catch each of their names, but it was help with the characters being very unique in personality. Emma Cullen is a  relatively strong female character, which was refreshing. The main cast was obviously an effort to represent diversity of the film but it lead to some parts of the movie seeming to farfetched.  Cinematography wise, it does feature the classical sweeping landscapes of western films.

This was a one time movie for me. It is great for those who want to see a western film but not so much for me. Note that it has a lot of fighting, and it can go on for a while. This is not recommended for a younger audience. Of course this is only by opinion of the movie, see it for yourself to truly decide.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

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

Launch by Jeff Walker

launch_jeffwalkerWhen an Internet millionaire promises you the “secret formula to sell almost anything online, build a business you love, and live the life of your dreams,” how do you approach it?

With a very skeptical mind.

However, when I began reading Jeff Walker’s book Launch, I pushed away my doubts to try and learn a thing or two about online businesses.

To begin, Jeff Walker was a stay-at-home dad who created a successful online business using a technique he calls the Product Launch Formula. After discovering that his method was relatively unused by the rest of the business world, he began releasing training courses and books on how to emulate his success. According to Walker, the Product Launch Formula has been used by his students in a variety of different markets, from stock trading to dog agility training.

Essentially, the Product Launch Formula involves building an email list of people interested in your product, creating a close relationship with those people, and then building up anticipation to your product launch. Although I can’t personally testify to the formula, I think the book itself is very well written. Jeff Walker markets himself as someone who understands and relates to struggling entrepreneur, and not just some marketing god bestowing his eternal wisdom upon us peasants. When explaining any concept, Walker always provides at least one real-world example he’s encountered, often his peers’ success stories. Right in the beginning, he talks about a man who used PLF to sell over 600 copies of a board game using his technique.

The one change this book needs is more specifics to each step. Sometimes the success stories presented became repetitive. I would often finish the page knowing that the PLF model can work, but without knowledge of how to start. I’m sure he offers meticulous details in his online courses, but I won’t be paying thousands of dollars for those anytime soon.

For any budding entrepreneur out there, this book is a glimpse into one man’s road in online businesses. Even if Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula isn’t for your business, it might help you build your business knowledge for the future.

-Phillip X.

Partials by Dan Wells

partials_danwellsPartials by Dan Wells is an action-packed novel about the remains of humanity after a devastating virus kills 99.99% of the human population. The story takes place 11 years after the virus, RM, is exposed. Kira. the main character, is training to be a medic and interns at the only hospital. There is no cure for RM, so when babies are born they die within a couple of hours. RM is said to come from humanlike creatures called Partials. It is believed that they have the cure since they released it.

The urge to cure RM becomes stronger for Kira when she discovers that her best friend, Madison, is pregnant. She figures that her best bet would be to capture a Partial and bring it back. After embarking on a dangerous journey, Kira manages to bring one back. She is given five days to study the Partial, and to collect as much data as possible. Unfortunately, she is not able to complete her research because of unrest among the remains of the human population. They are angered by their government, and have become restless after hearing that a partial has been brought back. After the riots settle down, Kira discovers a startling secret about herself. It may make her reconsider everything she has ever known.

Overall, the book had an amazing plot. Partials had one of the best plot lines among recent dystopian novels. A major problem with this book was it dragged on and on for pages at certain points. It was as if the author just put in extra filler pages. The only thing that kept me reading was the plot-line. I wanted to see what would happen and if the cure for RM would be found. Something that I also enjoyed about this book was the whole conflict between humans and Partials. Initially, they were groups against each other; by the end of the novel, that relationship changes drastically.

-Anmol K.

Partials is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library