Authors We Love: J.K. Rowling

jkrowling_authorsweloveJ.K Rowling is my favorite author, by far. She is the author of the Harry Potter series including three short books designed to be textbooks from the Wizarding World. She also has written three adult crime fiction novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. She was born and raised in Britain with not a lot of money which influenced her to donate large sums of money after her publishing success.

She is famous for writing and creating the world of Harry Potter, a children’s series consisting of seven books: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (also known as Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. These books are about a boy named Harry Potter who finds out that he is a wizard. Not just any wizard, the only wizard to be able to survive the forbidden killing curse, Avada Kedavra. As the books go along, you get to see Harry and his friends (know-it-all Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley) grow up, learn magic and progress through Hogwarts, the wizarding school. You see them struggle to try and defeat Voldermort and his followers called Death Eaters who, are pretty much trying to take over the wizarding world. In the books Rowling throws in sudden twists and turns that keep you captivated and makes you not want to put the books down.

Outside of the novels, Rowling penned three mini novels that were referenced in the series. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a textbook written by Newt Scamander and it describes many types of magical creatures in the wizarding world. This book, previously “owned” by Harry, Ron, and Hermione has notes about the all the creatures written in the margins. Rowling also wrote a storyline based on some of the ideas in the book which is soon to be released as a feature film.

The Tales of Beetle the Bard is a compilation of stories meant to be an in-universe collection for children. All the stories, are all unique in its own way. The version of the book sold, had pages of notes that are said to be written by Dumbledore.

Quidditch Through the Ages in Harry Potter, is an informational book about the history and rules of Quidditch. Reading this offers an in-depth explanation of how Quidditch was created by withces and wizards and how the game works.

J.K. Rowling, is an amazing author. The books she has written are just so captivating and well written. I really enjoyed reading her works and I hope everyone likes it just as much as I do.

-Ava G.

Film Review: Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein

frankensteinAs it is that time of year again, I decided to revisit one of the most recognizable horror movies Frankenstein and its comedy counterpart, Young Frankenstein. The classic movie Frankenstein is about a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who is obsessed with using the power of electricity to bring life into a dead body. After years of work, he finally reanimates a corpse with a brain from a recently deceased corpse. However his assistant “Fritz” (Also commonly known as Igor), drops the good brain, and gives Frankenstein an abnormal brain. Due to this, the creature has a short temper and is [rone to violence. After a few incidents, the town decides to hunt down this monster and end it once and for all. They corner Frankenstein’s Monster in a windmill and burn him to death.

Young Frankenstein is hilarious comedy that really pokes fun of the original film. The main character is Fredrick Frankenstein, the son of Victor Frankenstein. Fredrick wants nothing to do with his father’s work and to disassociate himself with the family name, he pronounces the name as “Fronkensteen”. Fredrick learns that his grandfather recently passed and willed him the family’s estate in Transylvania. He travels to his family’s homeland and meets the hunchback Igor and Inga, a lab assistant. When the three of them arrives at the castle, they are greeted by the mysterious housekeeper Frau Blücher. Her name is a running joke throughout the film, as Blücher means “glue” in German, and during that time people used horses to make glue.  youngfrankensteinSo whenever her name is mentioned you always hear the horse in the background neighing.

After a short time Fredrick starts to get into his father’s work, and begins to follow the same obsession as his father Victor. Just like the classic he sends Igor to fetch the brain of a recently deceased historian, but Igor drops it and instead grabs a brain that is labeled “Abnormal! Do not use!”. Igor reads this as a name “Abby Normal” and unknowingly says it is the correct brain. When Fredrick installs the brain in the corpse  and reanimates the body, it starts to attack Fredrick and they have to sedate the monster. Fredrick then confronts Igor who confessed that he got the brain of “Abby Normal”.

This monster goes on a rampage and is hunted by a mob but is lured to the castle and Fredrick invents a machine to give the monster some of his intelligence, and then the monster is able to negotiate with the crowd, and be accepted as a sane human being. This film was a hilarious comedy that was a great comedic counterpart to the classic film, but maybe not for the younger audience.

-Max G.

Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Corpse Bride (2005) vs Coraline (2009)

In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided have my two favorite spooky stop-motion animations compete for the titles of “Creepiest”, “Most Epic”, “Most Creative”, and “Most Fun”. So grab some candy corn and lets get started! (Warning: There will be a plot spoilers, so watch the movies first if you haven’t seen them yet :))

First in the category of creepiest, both films definitely have that aspect down. In Corpse Bride, the bride herself’s introduction and rise from the grave inciting major chills. The underworld layout of  dancing skeletons and insects, no matter how colorful and whimsical, can get creepy at times, especially with the worms crawling around inside Emily’s head. However, this title must go to Coraline. The thought itself of carving out eyeballs and sewing on buttons in its place is terrifying, let alone the actual images of button eyed parents. The “other mother’s” body shape towards the end of the movie had morphed into a contorted spider witch, and the lighting of this movie itself was more sinister than the jolly atmosphere of Corpse Bride‘s underworld. The sickly sweet nature of the “other world” was uncomfortable on its own, not to mention the mysterious and spooky tasks Coraline had to accomplish to save the day, including fighting a severed hand.

corpse-bride

Next, we have the most epic category, which gets a little more challenging. Again, both films were plenty epic. The scene in Corpse Bride with all of the dead people from the underworld going up to the living world was a grand moment indeed, along with the previously mentioned scene where Emily reaches up and drags Victor down with her to the underworld. And in Coraline, the several tasks that she had to get through were all filled with anticipation and close calls, especially when she manages to barely escape the “other world”. The winner for this category goes to Corpse Bride however, because for me, there were more people involved in the climax scenes, making it even more epic and there were more risks taken in general.

coralineThirdly, in the most creative category, it gets even MORE difficult to choose. Both films are incredible works of art with unique stories. Corpse Bride revolutionizes the idea that the world of the living is drab, and cold, while the underworld is full of parties, color, and joy. The accidental marriage between a human and a dead woman and their adventures is not something you see in an average movie. And in Coraline, you have an unhappy girl craving attention from her distracted parents, be taken in to an alternate universe where things are a little too perfect. Having button eyed people and a woman claiming to be your mother, wanting to suck your soul also isn’t your average blockbuster. Although this is a virtual tie, I must give this one to Coraline, especially because I became very fascinated by the fact that a voodoo doll that looked like Coraline showed up and lured her into a world of button eyed family and friends. Also, the characters such as the divination sisters and circus artist were quirky and unusual.

Lastly, we have the “Most Fun” category, choosing specifically which movie was the most enjoyable to watch. Coraline’s relatable character, intriguing plot, and eccentric characters were no doubt a lot of fun to watch. However I must give this title to Corpse Bride because the underworld itself was a huge party with dancing and singing. There was more comic relief in this movie and it provided multiple character perspectives on the several different dramatic plot lines going on. Coraline itself isn’t necessarily a “feel good” movie, whereas Corpse Bride in my opinion, can be very cheerful at times.

Well, there you have it folks, a Corpse Bride versus Coraline rundown. I hope this got you into the mood to watch some good old Halloween classics tonight, because it did for me! Happy Halloween!

Webtoon Review: Dr. Frost by Lee Jong Beom

Psychology. What is it?

Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, according to the dictionary.

To Dr. Frost, it is a study which will hopefully help him understand the what, where and why of feelings like love and sorrow. With snow white hair and a icy personality, it is no wonder he was given that name. At the same time, those traits were not of his doing. In his childhood, Dr. Frost sustained a frontal lobe injury, which resulted in him receiving genius intellect and the lost of the ability of empathy. Yoon Sung-ah is a college student working in her school counseling center as an assistant. Cheerful, outgoing and rather emotional, compared to Dr. Frost, she is the complete opposite of Dr. Frost. These two met as counselor and assistant and begin their story. Sung-ah strives to help Dr. Frost understand emotions again as they assist clients who come to them for help.

This is one of the more unusual stories I have read. Firstly, this webtoon does include real facts and methods used by psychologist. Of course, there are several things that are not really true for dramatic purposes. Please keep this in mind while reading. The webtoon has a fantastic blend of comedy and serious moments. There are extra chapters between the main story arc that feature the character in short comedic strips. Art wise, Dr. Frost is not fancy and does not have mixed between styles but the simple style helps when there is complicated explanations concerning the physiological part of the webtoon.

I would recommend this for an older audience as it does deal with the darkness of the human mind and what can happen to it.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J.,11th Grade

Beowulf

beowulfMany have heard of Beowulf, though many know nothing of it. Many actually believe that Beowulf is the monster in the tale. That certainly is not the case – at least, not a literal monster-in this tale. It’s one of the oldest fantasy tales ever written, and quite possibly the most and important as it had a heavy influence on modern day powerhouses such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

The story takes place in Europe, describing a great beast known as Grendel, who was said to be the descendant of Cain. He was in constant pain, while the Danish people were always happy and celebrating. One day, his anger and desires got the best him. Calling that which follows “gruesome” would be an understatement. Word gets out, and a famous warrior named Beowulf shows an interest in slaying the beast. I wouldn’t want to spoil the rest, but it is quite a tale.

Though I only read a shortened version of the epic in school, I was quite impressed with its deep symbolism and rich attention to detail. I’ll admit, I was underwhelmed at first, simply because the story can seem quite shallow and generic if merely looked through. But if looked through carefully, and with proper research, you can see the depth. For example, Grendel represents an outcast or an outsider, and since he is linked with the Bible, many also link him to the devil. It is symbols such as these that provide new layers of context to the tale, and sheds new light on the characters and their characteristics.

Also, being a fan of the medieval genre, I appreciated the world that the author created, with all of the traditional aspects that make a great fantasy story, from monsters to magic, kingdoms to knighthood. Beowulf is quite an impressive story, and a must read for any fantasy genre fan, since this is what truly kicked off the entire genre. There are different versions of Beowulf, so best to choose the one that suites your time and interest.

-Ahmed H., 12th grade

Beowulf is available, in various translations and critical thought, for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download on Overdrive and Hoopla

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

wonder_rjpalacioI recently finished the novel Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I had seen good reviews about this book and its ability to connect with readers from a wide age group. After reading the story for myself, I found a novel that was personable and heartfelt, teeming with life lessons. The book is about a 5th grader named August Pullman who was born with a facial deformity. It’s told from the perspective of various characters in the story, explaining how their lives are affected by August. August has been homeschooled his entire life, up until the 5th grade, when his mom urges him to attend a local elementary school. Apprehensively, August complies, and is hit with the expected reactions: stares, whispers, and giggles from his fellow classmates. Naturally, I began to develop a dislike for those characters who hurt August, and excluded him just because he looked different. I’d often ask myself how characters could be so cruel, how strangers could openly gawk at him with no shame. Unfortunately, the answer was simple; people are curious and often afraid of what’s different.

This novel really makes the reader inquire on what it means to be different. August dawns the same playful and curious personality of a 5th grader, just with an alternative appearance. One of my favorite quotes from the novel was “The only reason I’m not ordinary is because no one else sees me that way.” This line captures the essence of the entire story, reminding the reader that normality is simply an idea in one’s head. Differences are a thing to be celebrated; they make the world a colorful, interesting  place. However, problems arose when characters in Wonder couldn’t just see August as a human being, similar to themselves. Flowers come in a multitude of colors, lengths, and locations, but they’re still flowers. August’s face does not fit the typical standard, but it doesn’t make him less of a person. August Pullman is different; one look and anyone could see. Nonetheless, at the end of the novel, students and parents came to realize that August Pullman is not lost cause, a sad story. Just because he dawns his differences on his face, it doesn’t make him any more unusual than the next person. I recommend this novel to anyone and everyone; it’s a well-written reminder that variety really is the spice of life.

-Diana P.

Wonder is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download on Overdrive

 

 

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