Comic Review: Orphan Black: Helsinki

orphanblack_helsinkiI’ve got to say, I really liked this. I read the first round of the Orphan Black comics, and while I enjoyed them, I wasn’t all that impressed as they were basically just retelling of the show. Not so here. Helsinki introduces new plot material and serves as a prequel both for the comics and the show.

There are several new clones introduced in this, it has a similar vibe to the show where they are all meeting for the first time in that regard. There are also some familiar characters that make appearances here. The story-line is great at make the reader feel connected to the new characters, and also adds to the existing characters. Being that this is basically a prequel it takes place back in 2001, when the clones are 17. Seeing this past perceptive is really great with the know characters, as it reveals more about how they got to be who they are and elaborates more on what was shown of their past in the show and original comics.

I really liked the pacing of the story, it keep things moving with lot of action, but still made sure to keep an emotional tie to the characters. Not really any bomb dropping new information was revealed in this, but rather it gave more context to the already existing plot line. My one minor grip is that is jumps around a little showing the range of characters, and while it works, it took a little getting used to (but not too much).

Finally given that this is a comic, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the art. I really enjoyed looking at it, it wasn’t the most breathtaking I have ever seen, but this wasn’t due to lack of skill, just personal preference. The art is closer to traditional comic book graphics than some of the modern day computer generated 3Dish stuff that appears in some comics. The artist did a good job of visually distinguishing the clones while still making them look the same. My only real complaint with the art was that in this bound edition each issue runs into the next one with a cover breaking them up, and I always love looking at the covers.

Overall a very fun read that should be appealing to fans of both the show and the other comics. I would recommend these for older teens as their are a view brief scenes involving partial nudity, including some sex scenes (though nothing graphic, more implied than shown), as well as some violence.

*This bound edition will be out in July 2016, but the single issues are already available for purchase.

*The review is based on a free ARC copy of this book from NetGalley, given in exchange for an honest review

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

hereandnow_annbrasharesMeet your every day immigrant Prenna. She comes from a place very different than our own. Because it isn’t where she came from – but when. Her future is an awful place so she, along with other like minded time travelers, take refuge in present day. But along the way, they must never try to rewrite history or worse, fall in love. Through the course of the story, Preena will break both of these rules.

All because of her long time friend Ethan who is able to see who came from the future. He helps Preena adapt to card games and other things she isn’t used to while she eventually tells him about how different the future is. When a mysterious stranger tells her to change a single event that could change the world, Preena delves deeper into a greater conspiracy she didn’t know existed. Going against every rule her society created, Preena must figure out what to do before time runs out.

As far as time travel books go, this book purely goes one direction and stays in the present day. As the title suggests, there is a seize the day/ don’t just survive but live themes going on, but they don’t make much of an impact. The characters are fairly generic and corrupt society Preena runs from is really one dimensional. The main focus is the romance, which somehow feels a bit like insta-love despite Preena knowing him for years. Preena and Ethan have their cute moments, but other times their chemistry felt forced. Not a bad book, but not spectacular either. It’s great as a light reading book to pass the time.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

The Here and Now is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Estella isn’t lying about playing hooky in school. She’s lying to save her life. In the book Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick, seventeen-year-old Estella is placed in WITSEC, a government protection program, after witnessing a murder. Estella has to change her name to Stella, and leaves her home, Philadelphia, in order to move to Thunder Basin, Nebraska. She leaves her dad who can never contact her again, her mom in rehab, her boyfriend, and her best friend. Stella moves in with Carmina, a retired cop. She’s very stubborn, and becomes friends with the nineteen-year-old, Chet, next door.

Stella now lives a life where she has to lie to Chet, her co-workers, and everyone else in Thunder Basin, except Carmina, who is in on her secret. She makes friends, and of course makes an enemy, Trigger, who looks strangely familiar and is intent on finding out why she’s here. Stella tries to live a normal life until her eighteenth birthday. She plays softball and discovers how to live a real country life. Can Stella stay in Thunder Basin long enough without spilling her secret to Chet? Or will Trigger find out Stella’s secret before she can remember who he is? Only time can tell.

I suggest this book to anyone who likes a good mystery. It wasn’t your ordinary plot, and you do get a little bit shocked at the end, but overall it was a great read.

-Rebecca V.

Dangerous Lives is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library. it is also available to download from Overdrive

Teen Wolf

I recommend Teen Wolf because it is one of the best TV shows out there. It has an amazing story plot line, and the graphics are beautiful. I definitely suggest everyone to watch this show on MTV.

The series is written by the amazing Jeff Davis (Criminal Minds) and his crew and involves Scott and Stiles (his nickname) in the supernatural world. Scott is bitten by a werewolf and must adapt to his new life and powers. Meanwhile, Stiles must help him to to control such powers. This helped Scott make it off of the bench of the lacrosse team and onto the field, not telling anyone about his abilities. Scott meets a girl named Allison and falls in love with her. They begin to date only to realize that Allison’s family are hunters that track down werewolves and kill them. I don’t want to spoil any more so it’s up to you guys to watch this series! There are five seasons so far with a sixth coming soon.

I would rate this show 10/10 (because I am extremely biased when it comes to TV shows). Check out Teen Wolf now and you won’t regret it.

-Kayla H. 10th grade

Solstice by P. J. Hoover

solstice_pjhooverSolstice by P.J. Hoover tells of 17-going-on-18 year old Piper living in Austin, Texas. Austin is known for its heat, but what is going on in Piper’s world is unimaginable. The whole world is in the middle of the Global Heating Crisis. Temperatures have skyrocketed to over a hundred degrees and every day brings new threats like heating bubbles. Piper has a very overprotective mother, making her life restrictive. On her 18th birthday, her mother leaves the town on an errand, and Piper seizes the opportunity for exploring. This leads her to learn about a universe that she did not exist: A universe of Greek gods and goddesses. When a bombshell changes Piper life forever, she must be able to face the new reality head on.

I loved the premise of the book and the idea of global heating going so far. Also, I admired Piper and she seemed like a nice person. I was disappointed with the bombshell reveal of the Greek gods. It did not make sense and felt out of place. Also, the direction the story takes after the first 50 pages or so was not the best. On the other hand, I liked the building of Piper’s world and how it seemed very real.

-Anmol K.

Solstice is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Creative Writing: Original Beginnings

For this month I decided to write the beginning of my own two short stories instead of writing a traditional book or movie review. I hope you enjoy!

Rain. It hadn’t stopped. Continuously, it poured from the sky, drenching the lawns and flooding the streets. I haven’t been outside for weeks because of it. No one could get anywhere. It just kept coming as if the crying sky wanted everyone else to be just as miserable.

I mean, it got its wish. I was officially miserable. With dimmed lights and a dreary view, I only had one thing to keep me happy during my days in isolation.

Sammy. My little brother didn’t understand the meaning of the oncoming rain. He almost liked it. I didn’t understand why. The constant pattering on the roof was enough to drive me crazy within the first few days. But the innocent child loved it, hoping to see a rainbow when it finally cleared. That’s innocence for you, waiting for the bright colors on a gray day. I didn’t have that luxury. I knew it would be a long while until we saw any light, if we did at all. It’d be a miracle to get outside of this dark house.


I had always been told not to walk alone at night, but I had never been told why. My imagination was left to run free with what would happen to me. What were the chances that a monster would take me? How did I even know something bad would happen? I had no idea why it was such a terrible thing; I just know it was. My mind was filled with the memories of my parents locking my door every night, trapping me in isolation once the sun went down. Now that I thought about it, I didn’t really remember what I did at night. I didn’t remember falling asleep or fighting to get out. I couldn’t even remember anything right after I was shoved into the room and all the light went away. It was as if my mind had shut down and wouldn’t let me access my thoughts or feelings. And when I woke up, the first thing I had always seen was my door. The whole situation wouldn’t have confused me so much if the wood hadn’t been cut through on the inside with claw marks.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow

lastplaceonearth_carolsnowThe Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow is about sixteen-year-old Daisy’s search for her missing best friend, Henry Hawking. Described as impish and ingenious, Henry has been Daisy’s friend ever since they started high school. After Henry misses a day of school, Daisy does not think much of it because Henry does not like going to school, and his parents let him stay home. He does not come for a few days, making Daisy suspicious.

She goes to the Hawking’s’ home, and in Henry’s room she finds a note saying, “Save me.” Determined to find Henry, Daisy ventures into the California wilderness using coordinates Henry had sent to her. She finds Henry, but it is not a happy reunion like she expected. The plot takes an unexpected twist, causing Daisy to have even more questions.

The plot line of this book intrigued me; it was the reason I picked the book of the shelf. Despite the great premise of this plot, it fell a little flat. Daisy was a great main character; she was the right balance of sarcastic and nice. Also, I admired how she was so willing to go into the woods by herself in order to save her best friend. The Last Place on Earth had a lot of potential, but it did not reach that potential. Even though the middle fell flat, the ending was not too bad. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a quick and entertaining read.

-Anmol K.

The Last Place on Earth is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

janeeyre_charlottebronteImagine a young orphan, taken in by dear uncle and aunt only to be beaten regularly by their cousin and is forced to live in a small room. They is sent away to school and inherits a fortune from a dead relative. Sound familiar? If you guess Harry Potter, that is close, but someone else also qualifies.

Imagine a girl living in a mansion. She is forbidden from a certain section of the house. The man who owns the mansion asks her to marry him. It is only after she leaves and returns that she says yes. Did you guess Beauty and the Beast? It may share similar qualities, but this isn’t dear old Belle.

Now picture a girl. Now make her the plainest girl you can think of. Plainer. Not an ounce of beauty. But smart, passionate, and a strong need for independence. Now that’s Jane Eyre.

There are so many fairy tale elements in Jane Eyre that it’s hard to keep track. But the one Jane doesn’t follow directly is that of Cinderella. Sure, Mr. Rochester loves her and showers Jane with more jewels than she knows what to do with, but this Prince Charming has a secret hiding in the west wing of the third story of his mansion. As his secret is reveal, Jane doesn’t choose love, instead choosing to be true to herself. She left the ball and the charming Rochester never found the maiden who fit the shoe.

Instead, something only a fairy tale could explain. She heard him cry out for her miles and miles away. She came back in her own good time when she was ready and Rochester’s secret had been dealt with. Is it really a spoiler when this book is such a classic? I may have read this book for school, but that didn’t stop me from loving this fairy tale of a book.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Jane Eyre is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Arts Alive Festival 2016

The annual Art’s Alive Festival is hosted by Mission Viejo at the Norman P. Murray Center. This year’s event took place on April 30 and May 1 with a 90’s theme. Street painters, youth or adult, come to showcase their skills. There are great booths set up with fun activities like henna tattoos, cookie walks, and just little shops with paintings, clothes, and plants to buy. There’s always music playing when you walk in and musicians on the stage. It’s a fun event to visit that allows you to be involved with the community.


As a street painter for the last two years, I love coming to the festival and presenting artwork as an artist, even if it’s something I’m not known for. There were many interpretations of the theme this year, but a popular one seemed to be Disney, especially The Lion King. My friends and I decided to draw a 90’s cartoon.


There were also a few Pokémon and Nirvana drawings. And how could you forget the 90’s hit show, Friends?



This year’s paintings were very colorful and vibrant. It was impressive to see what some of the artists could draw, even the younger kids were able to shade the paintings almost perfectly, which brought the festival to life. All the festivals held by Mission Viejo are worth checking out to get an up-close view of what our community means to us and how we celebrate it.


-Sabrina C., 10th Grade