Pseudonymous Bosch Event Review: February 19, 2016

pb-photoCheese is in the air, and the chants of “PB … PB … PB!” fill the room. There he appears, mysteriously dressed in a bee keeper’s mask and sunglasses. It is the world-renowned Pseudonymous Bosch, or PB for short! As he begins to talk of his travels as an adventurous author, we find out the secrets he has been holding back. Such as the secret behind the start of the Secret Series.

Have you ever wondered where the idea started or what inspired him to write the popular series? It turns out he was in elementary school when he wrote the first book. No, not enrolled in elementary school, but an adult volunteer. He participated in a pen pal program with a young student. Over time, Pseudonymous received stories and poems from his pen pal, and he felt bad that he wasn’t giving her anything in return. So, he decided to write a book chapter for her; however, he couldn’t figure out a title. He eventually realized he was writing a secret book and called it The Name of This Book Is Secret. He sent her the first chapter he wrote, but since the book was such a big secret, he had to censor the chapter to a series of XXXs. This, as you might imagine, was not the ideal first chapter of a book for his young pen pal. She wrote back admonishing him that he needed to write a real chapter. So he did, and she gave him helpful advice, or in Pseudonymous Bosch’s words, “very constructive criticism.” This continued, and before he realized it, he had almost written a novel. He had it published and dedicated it to his writing partner, May (aka WP May).

The event continued with Pseudonymous Bosch cracking hilarious jokes and everybody laughing, even the parents. During the Q and A session, I learned that through a pen name, you can be someone completely different. It must be frustrating at times for PB to have to seal away his identity; however, he does it well and has countless fans to show for it. So, kudos to you, Pseudonymous Bosch! We enjoy being entertained by you!

~Maya S., 8th Grade

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

catcherintherye_salingerThe Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is a novel that expresses the loss of innocence adolescents are required to experience in their transition into adulthood. The book begins with the main character, Holden Caulfield, talking to what is later revealed to be a therapist about his life experiences since he got kicked out of yet another school because of his bad grades. At the very beginning of the book, Holden clarifies that he doesn’t want to say all that “David Copperfield crap”, alluding to Dickens books about Copperfield that went into extreme detail about every aspect of his life.

As the story progresses, we learn that Holden’s younger brother, Allie, died from leukemia. Ever since then, Holden has been almost obsessed with the idea that innocence must be preserved in children, even going to the extent of saying his dream job would be being the catcher in the rye. He explains the job description to be hundreds of kids running around on a field of rye and whenever one of the children nears the cliff, Holden reaches down and catches them. Another way he shows his need to contain innocence in children is through his little sister Phoebe. His constant control and protection over Phoebe shows Holden’s need to preserve innocence. However, at the very end of the book, Holden accepts the fact that innocence cannot be preserved and that you must let children grow from their mistakes.

All in all, the underlying themes and ideas in this book allow for a piece of great literature that I greatly recommend. However, it should be targeted for more mature audiences because of certain scenes in the book. Although it is a generally censored book, that should not stop you from reading it because the questionable scenes all contain underlying messages that only add the book and it helps us get a better understanding of the book. In the end, The Catcher in the Rye should be a book on everybody’s reading list.

-Melika R.

The Girl is Murder & The Girl is Trouble by Kathryn Miller Haines

girlistrouble_kathrynmillerhainesThe year is 1942. The setting is New York City. Iris Anderson isn’t any normal teenager. With her dad in the detective business and her mom long gone, she has to fend for herself in her new school. But, as she grows older and starts to meddle in her dad’s business, things aren’t what they seem. Her dad was a naval officer who lost his leg during the attack on Pearl Harbor. But, now he is a private eye, specializing in missing persons. Her mom? She committed suicide six months ago. Iris left behind her rich, affluent life and is now in a dirty public school.

The Girl is Murder

A boy who attends Iris’ school ends up being the subject of a case her father is working on. Naturally, she investigates further. The kid is part of a group of gangsters she met on the first day of school. But how does she get close to them? She makes them her friends; but to do this, she lies. It is not long before they find out Iris’ true identity, and things get complicated.

The Girl is Trouble

girlismurder_kathrynmillerhainesThis book begins as the situation Iris’ and her classmates is nearing a resolution. Iris asks her dad if she can work with him. He puts her on her first case, but it ends up being bogus. Iris’ father can’t trust her, but there is something bigger at hand: her mother’s death. One day as Iris was checking around the house, she notices the safe is open. When she kneels down to close it, pictures of a dead body slip out. Iris doesn’t know what to do next.

The two-part murder mystery series by Kathryn Miller Haines is one that I enjoyed. When I thought I had solved the mystery, the plot turned itself around to be something completely different. So, kudos to Miss Haines, for she developed a character who is rather unpredictable. I would definitely give these books a rating of 10/10!

-Maya S., 8th grade

The Girl Is Trouble and The Girl Is Murder are available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

pathfinder_orsonscottcardPathfinder is a fictional novel by Orson Scott Card. Twenty years after writing his most famous book, Ender’s Game, Card proves that he writes with passion and imagination. Pathfinder has a very original plot, and meshes both the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

This book tells the story of Rigg, the son of a trapper who has the unusual ability to see the paths of living beings— not your average superpower. Rigg is educated and clever, often using reason and tact to solve problems. When his father dies, Rigg receives parting instructions to travel to a faraway city to meet his long-lost family. And with that, his life changes from average to exciting as he makes his journey to uncover his real identity.
Scattered throughout the story are short passages following a completely different character, Ram Odin, who pilots a fleet of starships to colonize a planet. Though the side story is interesting enough, it is rather confusing to keep track of two storylines at once. Of course, the two stories are tied together quite nicely later in the novel.

The most important feature of Pathfinder is the creativity of its author. The plot definitely takes several twists and turns, ensuring that the ending of the story is wildly different than the opening setting. All of the characters are vivid and have distinct personalities, even the robots on Ram’s ship. Another difference separating Pathfinder from other sci-fi novels is the presence of politics. Political maneuvering and mind games take up almost as many pages as the action, and there is surprisingly little romance. Of course this can be seen as a positive or negative thing depending on what the reader enjoys, but it’s definitely worth noting.

Unfortunately, one aspect of the book keeps it from perfection. While the storyline is very original and creative, this comes at the cost of losing reader comprehension. Between multiple storylines and the poor explanation of events and people, I often had to reread sections to make sense of what was happening. Perhaps if Card had slowed down the pace to give more time to setting the scene, the book would be improved.

Overall, Pathfinder is a fun read that will give you many new ideas to think about. It’s already been out for a few years, so the entire series is completed. Perfect for a reading marathon!

-Phillip X.

Pathfinder is available for check out at the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Soundless by Richelle Mead

soundless_richellemeadHave you ever read a book where none of the characters speak to one another? In Soundless, no one speaks in a little village atop of a mountain because everyone has gone deaf from mining operations.

There are only three social classes on the mountain: artists, servants, and miners. If you don’t do your job, you won’t get meals. The only way the village survives is from food provided by zipline. There used to be a path that went down the side of the mountain, but that is impassable because of falling rocks no one can hear. To make things worse, the villagers are going blind as well, which can be dangerous in the mines.

Then one day, an artist girl named Fei suddenly develops the ability to hear. With the zipline providing less and less food, the village is desperate for a miracle. The artist girl and a miner boy take a trip down to the bottom of the mountain, but what they find will change life in their little village forever.

This book begins with a slight dystopian feel presented by its social class hierarchy. People are not allowed to marry out of their career choice, but this isn’t the main conflict of the story. As Fei and her friend climb down the mountain, there is a sense of adventure seen in fantasy novels with some romance mixed in.

The ending felt a little out of place, but on the whole, it was just felt like a different book, incorporating Chinese folklore as well as how everyone communicated using sign language. A very interesting read.

-Nicole G.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Fun Twist or Joke of the Classic Story

prideprejudicezombies_sethsmithPride and Prejudice and Zombies is set to hit theaters on Thursday and the exploding media coverage on this spin of a classic tale has me questioning whether or not I should see the movie…and read the book.

When I first heard of this strange idea for a book, I was immediately against it. I thought a classic could not possibly be transformed into a modern chaotic plot in any successful way. Especially one with zombies. I was not at all interested in reading the novel. However, both the book and the movie seem to bred quite a lot of hype. It has me thinking of reading and seeing how the story unfolds!

I wonder if Jane Austen would be okay with her novel being twisted into a sci-fi fantasy. Part of me is now intrigued because a zombie meshing with a character such as Elizabeth Bennet would certainly make for a fascinating story. Especially now it is becoming more and more common to have a strong female main character. It appears that Jane Austen may have been ahead of her time with her creation of Elizabeth Bennet. This timeless female character is still cherished today for her bold and unapologetic spirit. Undoubtedly in the updated version, Elizabeth would be the one leading the charge against zombies.

I have high hopes for reading this book. But I am also uncertain about opening its pages. Will it bring a cool new edge to the classic novel? Or will I be left disappointed wishing zombies had never entered England? I am definitely willing to find out and I’m curious what reviews or ideas you all have regarding these books and movies.

Let me know what you think!

~Posted by Kelsey H. 12th grade

Kimi Ni Todoki by Karuho Shiina

kiminitodoke_karuhoshiinaKimi Ni Todoki is a manga about a quiet, lonely girl, named Sawako who finds it difficult to make friends with, until she meets a boy named Kazehaya. He’s one of the most popular people at school and instantly makes a connection with her. He teaches her on how to be more friendly with others, but people feared and misunderstood her because of her appearance; rumors around school report that she can see ghosts and curse people.

Sawako later meets Yano and Yoshida, who become her best friends. She never dreamt of having friends, until she met Kazehaya. He showed to his fellow classmates that Sawako isn’t such a bad person. After Sawako made friends, her friendship with Kazehaya slowly developed into a romantic feeling. But what will be the result if someone else has her eyes on Kazehaya? Will Sawako and Kazehaya be together, or will something drive them apart from each other?

This is personally my favorite manga ever, so I would rank it 10/10. It’s worth reading! Go check it out.

-Kayla H. 11th Grade

Book Vs Movie: Malala Yousafzai

iammalala_malalayousafzai“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world” – Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, an inspirational girl born in Pakistan in 1997, was a very well known speaker on the topic of equal rights. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a group of Taliban men who wanted to cease the movement she had begun. “They thought they could silence me.” Malala says in the documentary, He Named Me Malala.

The first half of her book, I Am Malala, explains her family’s background. Her father, troubled by his stuttering voice as a child, grew to be a powerful speaker who inspired Malala. Her mother, fortunate to have enough money to attend school, felt out of place and shamefully traded in her books for candies and sweets. (Her mother later regretted her actions and strove for a proper education). Young Malala witnessed these and other troubles in attaining an education which sparked something in her to speak out for what was right. These actions at such a young age reminded me of the song, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. Malala knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life, and the lyrics of “Unwritten” display how you decide what you do.

henamedmemalalaHe Named Me Malala, the movie based on Malala’s life, shows the journey of her fight for education. The empowering documentary depicts her standpoint today, unlike her autobiography. She is not the “lucky 17-year-old” that some people say because all of the attention she receives. Malala struggles with schoolwork, stress, and fitting in, just like any other ordinary teenager. Another song that I think describes her life is “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. In truth, what didn’t kill her made her stronger.

Regardless of whether you get to know Malala better through print or film, I would definitely rate her story as an 11/10. Her words are indeed inspiring!

-Maya S., 8th Grade

I Am Malala is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library. He Named Me Malala is also available for rental