Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley illustrates the story of a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein, who desires nothing but to create a living being. Frankenstein eventually fulfills his goals, and creates a monster out of dead body parts. However, the creature’s terrifying appearance causes Frankenstein to run away from it. As a result, the monster forges a plan to murder its creator for abandoning him, as it realizes it’s desire for compassion and love.

While reading, I found that the most impactful theme in this novel involves the dangers of too much ambition. Frankenstein had a life-long wish to “play God,” and accomplish something that no other scientist could ever dream of. However, he never considered the consequences of what his actions may bring, and still continued with his plans. One may never consider the negative effects of such lofty goals, yet Shelly was able to perfectly highlight this by causing Frankenstein to gradually lose himself and everything he loves, showing the negative impact just one decision can have when not dealt with carefully.

Overall, through her imaginative novel, Mary Shelly revolutionized science fiction, inspiring generations of authors for years to come. This story also had a great impact on pop culture and science fiction films as well, making it an excellent classic that should be read by everyone at least once in their lives.

-Aysha H.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book vs. Movie: The School For Good and Evil

Soman Chainani’s hit novel, The School For Good and Evil, was recently released as a Netflix movie on October 19th, 2022. It follows the story of two young girls, Sophie and Agatha, who are whisked away to a fairytale world where they are either trained as villains in the School for Evil or heroes in the School for Good. Despite their beliefs, Sophie is placed in the School for Evil while Agatha attends the School For Good, leading to an onslaught of adventure and excitement.

However, there are several differences between the book and movie adaption.

  1. Sophie and Agatha’s Friendship
    • Book: Sophie was extremely popular among the other villagers and was only friends with Agatha to improve her image and paint herself as a benevolent saint.
    • Movie: Sophie willingly became friends with Agatha and enjoyed her company, leading to her becoming ostracized by the other village kids who found the two of them weird.
  2. The Rules for Good and Evil
    • Book: The Rules for Good and Evil are as followed “The Evil attack. The Good defend. The Evil punish. The Good forgive. The Evil hurt. The Good help. The Evil take. The Good give. The Evil hate. The Good love”.
    • Movie: The only rule mentioned is that “The Evil attack. The Good defend”.
  3. Trial by Tale
    • Book: Trial by Tale was originally a competition between the School for Good and the School for Evil. The top students from each school were selected and would face horrific monsters and dangers in the Blue Forest. Afterwards, any student who has survived by sunrise, would be proclaimed the winner.
    • Movie: Trial by Tale is a test to see if Sophie and Tedros were actually each others true love. They would start at opposite sides of the forest and if they managed to reunite with each other, Sophie would be allowed to attend the School for Good with Tedros.
  4. The Circus of Talents
    • Book: The Circus of Talents was a show between the Evers and Nevers to decide which school would host the Theater of Tales.
    • Movie: There is no Circus of Talents.
  5. Lady Lesso’s Origin
    • Book: Lady Lesso is from The Endless Words.
    • Movie: Lady Lesso is originally from Gavaldon, like Sophie and Agatha.
  6. Gregor
    • Book: Gregor does not exist at all.
    • Movie: Gregor is the son of Cinderella and Prince Charming. However, despite his royal lineage, Gregor fails miserably at being a prince and aspires to run his own grocery store, leading to him being turned into a stymph after his third fail.
  7. Blood Magic
    • Book: There is no such thing as blood magic.
    • Movie: Blood magic is a dark but powerful type of magic that is used by both Rafal and Sophie.
  8. Sader
    • Book: Sader taught History of Heroism at the School for Good and was also a blind seer that guides Agatha along her journey by sharing his visions.
    • Movie: Sader is not present at all.
  9. Lady Lesso and Rafal
    • Book: There is no romantic relationship between Lady Lesso and Rafal.
    • Movie: Lady Lesso was originally in love with Rafal and attempted to win him over by becoming more and more evil.
  10. The Bridge
    • Book: At the bridge, there is a barrier between the two schools, preventing anybody good from going to the School for Evil as well as preventing anybody evil from going to the School for Good.
    • Movie: There is no barrier between the School for Good and the School for Evil.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Album Review: Ocean Blvd by Lana Del Rey

In March of 2023, singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey her ninth studio album, titled Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd. This Americana-pop and alternative pop album includes collaborations with artists Jon Batiste, Bleachers, Father John Misty, Tommy Genesis, SYML, and Riopy. Ocean Blvd (short for Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd) has what is perceived to be a more mature, conversational, and raw lyrical style compared to Lana’s previous albums; and in addition to its pop style, includes influences of folk, gospel, and trap.

In Ocean Blvd, Lana Del Rey’s songs touch on themes including family, grief, loneliness, heartbreak, and growth. Following are a summary of a few tracks on Ocean Blvd:

Track 1: “The Grants” – a tribute to Lana’s family and beloved ones on this song as she recounts her memories with them.

Track 8: “Kintsugi” – a song about Lana’s grief and growth from the death of her family members. She relates this to kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the broken parts with lacquer dusted with gold, silver, or platinum.

Track 13: “Margaret (feat. Bleachers)” – written about Lana’s longtime collaborater Jack Antonoff’s fiancé, Margaret Qualley. On this beautiful love song, Antonoff is featured as part of the band Bleachers.

Track 15: “Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis)” – a fun and catchy track sampling Canadian rapper Tommy Genesis’s song “Angelina.”

In conclusion, Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd ended up being one of my favorite albums! It has a very mature sound and a variety of unique sounds on each song. If you enjoy any of Lana Del Rey’s music, I would definitely recommend this album for you!

-Lam T.

Things You Can Do During Summer

Summer break has always been something we look forward to. 2 months of break after a whole school year is granted to students for not only relaxation but also a time to come across and experience different opportunities to learn and develop social skills and abilities. Various experiences can happen through family vacations, simple trips to the park, or while carrying out commitments of paid or unpaid activities.

One of the many things you can do this summer is try to get a job if you think you are ready and if you are in the right age to do so. Having a job can always be beneficial in terms of earning your own money to save it up for personal or education purposes or use it to spend on things and activities you want to do. Additionally, it can also be a nice way to develop new skills while being able to have real-world experience and start to build up your credentials at a young age.

Another thing you can do is volunteering at any type of program, event, or organization available. You can always search up available volunteer events near you and those that are within your interest like at an animal shelter, or even at events that you have not tried before in order to expand your experiences. It is always great to be able to give back to our community in any way we can.

Furthermore, students can also choose to take summer classes if they are able and willing to. You can take a class that interests you or a class that you are required to complete to get ahead of your credits. Although, just be aware that classes during summer are more fast paced. For instance, if you are a high school student and you take a class at a community college, classes are mostly only 8 weeks.

Overall, despite these suggestions to have a productive summer, do not forget to relax and have fun during this time of the year because it is only 2 months and it can happen pretty fast. Personally, during last year’s (2022) summer, I was doing these three things all at the same time as I was working for a part-time job at a fast food place, I was also volunteering at the Mission Viejo Library, and I was taking a summer class at a community college. But I was still able to successfully complete all of them, while trying to watch any show and going out during my free time. Always believe in yourself and do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone!

Peace Will Be Found

How Our Brains Can Find Peace in a Crisis

All I ever truly wanted growing up was love and peace. Mainly peace. What child wishes to suffer? What sane person wishes to struggle till the day they die. Peace is subjective. I understand that. I also believe that in order to find peace we must not only look in ourselves but we must also uncover all that’s been hidden.

There has been so much that ponders me but there is one thing that I can’t help then to feel suffocated in. Is my religion. Don’t get me wrong. I am Christian and I believe in God yes. I don’t feel Christian enough. I feel that in order for me to truly find the peace I’ve been searching for all these years is that I must reach out and trust God. As almost every Christian would tell me to stay faithful. But if I have to be completely honest it feels difficult to find peace. Even with God. I feel disturbed and unheard.

No one talks about what to do when you feel unsure. I know that no matter how hard it gets if I wish to truly find peace I must be honest with myself and others. I chose peace because I wish to be nothing like those who hurt me. I chose to move on from the girl I once was. What makes me happy is that I know there will be a day where peace is all I know and see. Peace will greet me through its doors and welcome me to stay. I know peace is on its way.

League Prelims and Finals for High School Swim Season

league champs 10 year streak

The swim season is coming to an end, and league prelims and finals competition just ended. I had the best high school swim experience as a freshman on the varsity team at Tesoro High School. Not only was it enjoyable, but I also gained new friends with whom I can now talk with at school!

There were five schools competing at leagues: San Juan HS, Capo Valley HS, San Clemente HS, Aliso Viejo HS, and Tesoro HS.

I saw some of my club friends from Aliso and Capo as well. After I moved club teams I was not able to see my closest friends, but with HS swim, I was able to reunite with one of my best friends from Aliso.

Unfortunately, our coach made us wear tech suits for prelims (which for those of you who don’t know, they are tight full body swimsuits that take around 30 minutes to put on). None of the other schools required their swimmers to wear tech suits, just ours. It was really stressful too because we were the second warm up session and I thought I had enough time to put on a tech suit (p.s I didn’t).

Anyway, the goal was to swim fast enough to get into the top eight for finals. I swam the one breast and two hundred freestyle. For the hundred breaststroke I placed top eight and my 200 fr I placed ninth in the top 16.

On Friday, we swam League Finals. My first relay was the 200 IM relay and I went personal best in the 50 breastroke.

However, I did not estimate my timing well and didn’t realize that my 200 fr final was only three minutes after the relay. After I went to grab a quick sip of water and cooled down, they called my name on the blocks. I immediately ran over, however, I was too late, they already called alternates.

I had a good cry over it, but I focused on my last relay and my 100 br. I ended up going a personal best for the 100 br and went in the fastest leg in the 200 fr relay.

After they announced the points, we realized we won, and everyone jumped into the pool (along with our two coaches)! Our coaches were pushing us into the water while we were trying to the same like sumo wrestlers. It was a really fun experience! I can’t wait for next year!

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves Book Review

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is an action-packed novel written by Meg Long. It is a rigorating story about survival and friendship.

The book starts out in a cold icy wasteland called Tundra. A lone girl who goes by Sena Korhosen, lives there with her aunt in a small cot. Sena makes a living by picking pockets, and her aunt tries to make money by fixing sleds.

On this planet, there is a very rich and important mineral called exo-carbon. To obtain this useful resource, scientists have modified wild-wolves’ DNA, creating a brand new species of wolf called vonenwolves. This type of wolf is purely meant to pull sleds for scientists with exo-carbon.

One day, Sena was running away from a person she had pickpocketed, but accidentally ran into a wild wolf’s cage. This wolf was owned by a man named Boss Kalba. Kalba made Sena a deal: if she managed to heal her fighting wolf, he would forget about Sena showing up here . So, the rest of the story is about Sena slowly developing and bonding with the wolf.

This book would really be good for kids 13 and up, because the plot-line is kind of twisted. The way Sena bonds with the wolf throughout the story really touches my heart. I loved how Sena, at the beginning of the story, always acted like that tough girl, trying to survive the harsh world of Tundra. But whether she realized it or not, Iska (that’s the wolf’s name) was the type of family she needed all along. This book also gives me a sad sense of reality and the emotion throughout this book pierces through me. One warning: This book may take a while for you to get interested in, but don’t give up! You should keep reading till the end, because the ending almost made me cry! But this book was definitely worth it! Out of 5 stars, I would give it a 4.3.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Many people make excuses on a daily basis and procrastinate on their goals. They limit themselves and settle for less. David Goggins is not one of these people. 

He has had every excuse in the world to be a failure. He has suffered from a traumatic childhood, sickle cell, learning disabilities, a congenital heart defect, and many more. Despite this, he has become a top endurance athlete and a successful public speaker. In addition, he is the only person to have completed training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Controller.

This autobiography not only tells his story but provides helpful tips to discipline yourself and begin your own self-improvement journey.

If you have goals, this book is for you. Whether you want to get fit, do better in school, learn an instrument, or land a promotion, you always need hard work and discipline. After every chapter, Goggins gives tips to help keep yourself accountable and “callous your mind”. Some of these include:

  • Journal your “excuses” and view them as things to overcome
  • Use an Accountability Mirror to list goals & insecurities
  • Do things that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Flip the script by working harder and becoming excellent
  • Visualize and meditate
  • Compartmentalize your day creating an optimal schedule

This list may seem intimidating at first. You may think that these methods only work for the best. It may surprise you, but David Goggins was once an overweight failure with a dead-end job. He was discharged from the military for medical reasons, but in reality, he had quit. But no matter how many times he failed, he always came back and pushed through.

The fact that Goggins shows his many highs and lows makes the book much more relatable. He does not always succeed. Every time he makes it over a hill, it seems like a steeper one presents itself. But, even when he achieved greatness, he always strived for more. If he is unable to serve in the army further, why not try becoming a speaker and army recruiter? Why not become an endurance athlete and break the pull-up record? Why stop?

Another one of my favorite ideas presented is the 40% Rule. David Goggins believes that when you feel like you are finished, you are only doing 40% of what you are capable of. Whether it is running farther than usual, working later hours, or going for one more rep, pushing yourself will have results. Breaking these limits is crucial to achieving success.

His personal experience with failure and perseverance make this book that much more effective. Unlike many self-help books that may provide temporary motivation, this autobiography may help you achieve permanent discipline. This book has changed millions of lives, including mine. If you want to achieve a goal, this book will help you.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins is available to download for free from Libby.

Learning on your own terms: the benefits of homeschooling as a teen

There are several reasons why I prefer homeschooling over traditional schooling. Some of these include:

  1. Flexibility: Homeschooling can provide more flexibility in scheduling, which can appeal to some teens with other interests or responsibilities. For example, I can write my novels any time as long as I finish all my weekly high school requirements. I can also dual enroll with a university or college, finish high school, and get college credits.
  2. Personalized education: Homeschooling allows for more personalized instruction. This means I can cater my education to my interests and needs rather than following a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Because I get to choose my curriculum with my teacher, I almost always have no problems finishing my schoolwork quickly.
  3. Avoidance of negative social situations: Some teens may prefer homeschooling to avoid adverse social problems such as bullying, peer pressure, or a lack of inclusion. I never had this problem; most homeschooled high students I met or knew were too busy with their day-to-day lives. Most of the time, we’re with older adults, so there are no such adverse social problems.
  4. Increased family time: One of the advantages of homeschooling is that it can provide more opportunities for family time and closer bonds between parent and child. I like homeschooling because I can spend time with my siblings whenever I want or need to. When my family decides to travel, I can take my schoolwork with me, and there are no missed school days to make up. This is a huge perk for my parents and me since we love to travel.
  5. Religious or philosophical beliefs: Many families homeschool because it aligns better with their religious or philosophical beliefs and values. I have many friends who homeschool for this reason. It’s important to families that their children receive an education that aligns with their ideas. Because we’re living in the US, we have the freedom to choose; we all should take advantage of how we want to do school to improve ourselves as model citizens.

It’s worth noting that homeschooling is only for some, and this form of education can also be challenging and complex. The most difficult in homeschooling is being motivated and disciplined with your schedule. You are on your own when finishing and staying on task with your schoolwork. No teachers ask you to do it and finish it on time. No classmates to compete and get you going. No- just you competing against yourself to be the best version of yourself. This is why I love homeschooling, but many teens choose not to. However, for some teens like myself, homeschooling can provide an excellent choice and preferred educational experience.

Bella H.

The Dark Side of Fishing

Throughout history, fishing has been one of the most popular pastimes for all ages, renowned for relatively passive participation required to be successful (ie. sitting on a dock waiting for the fish to come to you). But this does not take into account the negative consequences towards the other half of this game – the fish themselves. 

Conventionally, fish are thought of as dumb, unfeeling creatures, making them the perfect specimen for a practice that is essentially dragging animals from their home environment on barbed hooks solely for human entertainment. This is a treatment that we would not give to any other member of the animal kingdom that we believe to exhibit a certain level of sentience, or the ability to think for itself. For example, cruelty against dogs or cats is heavily dissuaded, whereas such violence on fish, worms, or other “non-sentient” creatures is implicitly allowed.

This assumption about the pain capacity of fish, however, has been proven false. As it turns out, fish have the same types of pain receptors that humans and other animals due, alongside the necessary nerves and senses to detect this pain. They can be shown to feel bee stings, so one can only imagine how strong their pain must be when caught on a hook. 

Additionally, fish are much more intelligent than they are shown to be. Through experimentation, fish have been shown to be able to efficiently learn geometrical relationships with landmarks and navigate mazes, thus shattering conventional stereotypes about fish and with it humanity’s casual belief in their superiority. One cannot help but wonder about the pain these intelligent animals must have felt, and what thoughts would have gone through their minds as they were abused and killed simply for the pleasure of a stronger animal. 

While it is undeniable that fishing is important on various levels, from personal to cultural, it is equally important for us to ensure that our fellow animals are not needlessly injured for our own entertainment and do our part to protect this much munched on group of the sea.

Information adapted from Victoria Braithwaite’s LA Times article “Hooked on a Myth” (

– Mahak M.