Advice From A Current Senior

I am now approaching the end of my senior year and have plenty of advice to give to those either entering high school, or those who will soon be seniors.


My top advice even before getting into classes would be getting involved with your school’s sports. Join a sports team, even if you’re not very good or nervous. You will make so many friends on a team and even more memories. I ran in track and field my freshman and sophomore years and still think back to all the great times I had. I was beyond nervous joining track but have no regrets now. Being a part of a sport will also greatly improve your mental health because you’ll be outside and exercising releases serotonin. 


I recommend everyone to at least try an advanced class at some point in high school. I especially recommend taking honors courses your freshman and sophomore years because the classes are relatively easy for the GPA boost. Secondly, I recommend taking all your harder classes your first three years of high school so your senior year is easier. You really do not want to overload your schedule senior year because you will probably be worrying about college, life after high school, or working a job. Finally, my last recommendation is taking health, civics/government, or economics online over the summer. Most schools should have this as an option and typically the summer courses are shorter than a semester. This will free up time your senior year to either get out of school earlier or take other electives you’re interested in


My final recommendation is just getting involved with your school. Go to school dances, join clubs, and go to sport’s games. I never went to any dances my freshman and sophomore year of highschool and it has been one of my biggest regrets. Enjoy going to football games or watching other sports because you might regret it once you graduate. Finally, don’t be afraid to join some clubs. This will help you make friends, explore your interests and look good for college applications.

-Michelle L.

Frankenstein (1931) Movie Review

Movie Title: Frankenstein (1931)

Genre: Science Fiction Horror

My Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Henry Frankenstein, a scientist, creates a creature made out of dead body parts. The creature comes back to haunt Henry and kills and terrorizes people in Henry’s life.

Did I like the movie?: I honestly did not like the movie because it was not very exciting. The film did not make me want to keep watching it because you can predict what is going to happen next, even if you have not read Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novel. If there was more action and suspense in the movie, it would be better. At least half of the film is Henry creating the creature. This meant that there wasn’t a lot of action or screen time for the creature which is the most exciting part! Even when the creature did kill someone, it happened very quickly. I feel the directors of the movie should have brought suspense and gotten viewers wondering what would happen next.

Would I recommend this movie?: I would not recommend this movie to people who have read Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein. The movie is nothing like the novel. I read the novel first, and then watched the film, and it was a big disappointment. However, if you have not read Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein, you could watch the movie and think it is really good! However, in my opinion, I think even if you haven’t read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the movie would still be somewhat of a disappointment because the action and suspense were not very exciting.

-Abby V.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Nadya Lapteva is the last remaining cleric in her country. In Emily A. Duncan’s novel Wicked Saints, the reader follows the journey of a girl who can speak to and channel the power of gods. However, this is not just your average fantasy series. The trilogy is set in medieval Eastern Europe, following Slavic gods, frozen lands and ancient evils. 

In the country of Kalyazi, Nadya finds herself alone as the bloodthirsty Tranavians try to take over her country. While on her way to a monastery she suddenly finds herself being tracked down by none other than the Tranavian High Prince and bloodmage, Serefin Meleski. As she desperately avoids being caught she finds unexpected help – a defecting Tranavian soldier by the name of Malachiasz Czechowicz. Cautiously, she agrees to travel with the Tranavian. Together they create a plan to assassinate the Tranavian King and put an end to the war.

However, not all is as it seems. Malachiasz’s smooth words and incredible wit causes Nadya to wonder why he was banished from his home country in the first place. Blindly trusting Malachiasz, Nadya soon finds herself in the heart of enemy territory. What was supposed to be a simple plan soon turns into a storm of lies and betrayals. In the chaos, Nadya discovers she was only guided into Tranavian to be used to release gods older than her own. A territorial war escalates into a war over light and darkness.

Nadya Lapteva is the only cleric able to release evil, and the only one left to stop it.

The novel is an incredibly unique read. The effort that went into researching Slavic mythology and beliefs is so refreshing because Eastern European culture is so rarely seen in books. One of my favorite parts of the novel is the way in which it is written, the sentence structure combined with including Polish and Czech words really brings the reader into the setting. Additionally, the book is full of emotions and plot twists that have the reader anxiously turning the page. I would recommend Wicked Saints to anyone interested in fantasy novels but with a darker twist. 

– Michelle L.

Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

I thought this was a really cute story and really brought out my love for foreign love stories. Well not to foreign but it does take place in England which is foreign enough! I thought both characters were charming in their own way. Their small quirks and believable thoughts made the book seem relatable enough. Though I do wish a cute a British guy would strike up a conversation with me at an airport. I wasn’t sure how the title of the book was going to match the story, and to be honest I’m still not entirely sure how it does. Maybe it has to do with the probability of finding compatible people in an international airport, being on the same flight, etc. Haha. I find it crazy how odd the parents were. Wanting her to accept and even be happy about the marriage especially after the dad left. The soon to be step-mother, especially her real mother extremely upset me. They seemed very inconsiderate and brash in their decision making. However, the story does take a turn for the good…and bad. But mainly good. I recommend anybody who is into a quick YA read or even in an airport to give this book a glance because who knows when you might meet a cute British person.

-Coralie D.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You has quickly shot up to the top of my favorite novels list. Sally Rooney’s unique style of writing gives the novel an almost intensely somber aura. The book follows two young women: Alice, a novelist, and her best friend Eileen. Alice meets a man named Felix, and invites him to travel with her to Rome. Meanwhile, Eileen, recovering from a breakup, reawakens a flirtation with a childhood friend, Simon. 

Sally Rooney’s way of making her characters realistic and flawed is impressive. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, they don’t say things they should, and they say things they shouldn’t. Beautiful World, Where Are You is almost plotless, a narration of daily life, relationships, falling in and out of love, and intimacy. Alice being a writer also holds a deeper meaning: while critics may believe that novels should have more profound ideology than relationships, Rooney shows the value of reading about relationships, but manages to also talk about class and modernism.

Alice and Eileen’s long correspondence to each other, with their perspectives on all aspects of life and notes on humanity, is a main highlight in the book. I strongly recommend Beautiful World, Where Are You for those who enjoy novels about navigating personal relationships while going through the hardships of life.

-Kelsie W.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

Theodore Boone: The Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer - Kindle edition by Grisham, John. Children  Kindle eBooks @

Theodore Boone, a normal 13-year-old living in Strattenburg, is just like any other kid. He’s smart, polite, and a little bit undecided about his future career. However, Theodore Boone is a very lucky teenager, because he has the title that no one else in Strattenburg possesses. Theodore Boone is a KID LAWYER. 

Theo is an only child with 2 parents who are both lawyers. His dad is a real estate lawyer, while his mom works as a divorce attorney. Ike, Theo’s uncle, used to work with Theo’s parents at the Boone and Boone law firm before some unfortunate incidents took away the license that allowed him to practice the law. 

So, when Pete Duffy is accused of murder, Theo feels thrilled to get to watch another trial. He does what any kid who loves to watch trials would do: Try to skip school. When a friend at school comes up to Theo to tell him about a mysterious witness, Theo finds himself as an important part of the murder trial, too. Theo tries to help the star witness overcome his fears and attend the trial to make sure justice is served. 

Theodore Boone: The Kid Lawyer is the first book of an exciting 7 book series. Each book contains a different mystery where Theo tries to take action. Sometimes, he finds himself in trouble, but other times, he finds himself being celebrated by others as a hero. 

This novel shows how you have to work as a team to achieve goals. Theo knew what he had to do, but the mystery witness didn’t want to come out and tell what he saw, which made it harder for there to be a completely fair and honest trial. 

Throughout this book and the rest of the series, Theo fights through his problems, while also advising his friends. He never puts himself over others, helping everyone succeed and be happy. 

I would give this book a 10/10 rating because the author did a great job of including plot twists throughout the novel. Just as the trial seemed to be coming to a close, something significant would happen, creating more and more obstacles for the characters to get through. John Grisham did a great job including his knowledge of the law in this book. I learned a lot of different facts about the U.S. justice system as I was reading about Theodore Boone and the murder trial. 

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer in the future, or if you just want to read about a thrilling murder mystery, this book would be a great read for you!

-Mert A.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Love, Magic, and Dreams: An analysis of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

An entertaining and humorous read, the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare incorporates a variety of figurative language to demonstrate a number of concepts, ideas, and opinions.

To begin with, Shakespeare skillfully develops the timeless aspect of love. In the very first scene, readers are introduced to Theseus and Hippolyta planning their wedding, as Hippolyta expresses that “Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; / Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (1.1.7-8). The story of Theseus of Hippolyta is quite unique: at first, Theseus kidnapped and beat Hippolyta in battle. By introducing these enemies-turned-lovers at the beginning of the play, Shakespeare foreshadows love issues and complexes, but also suggests a happy ending. Moments later, readers learn about Hermia and Lysander’s love, despite Hermia’s father Egeus’s desire that Hermia marry Demetrius. Hermia’s friend, Helena, is already in love with Demetrius, but as Helena explains, “The more I love, the more [Demetrius] hateth me” (1.1.204). The play is mostly centralized around the loves of Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, and Lysander. Love is universal and timeless–someone from ancient Egypt would feel the same butterflies as someone in 2050. The same applies to sadness, betrayal, and jealousy, all of which are prevalent in the play. In Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, and Lysander, readers understand the timeless complicated and uncontrollable nature of love. Cleverly, Shakespeare further expands on uncontrollability when the fairy king, Oberon, sends Puck to retrieve a flower, whose juice “[w]ill make or man or woman madly dote / Upon the next live creature that it sees” (2.1.177). For the audience, the flower challenges the uncontrollability of love. Demetrius and Lysander are both affected by a simple thing as flower juice, causing them to completely change their views, dispositions, and opinions. Upon analysis, Shakespeare’s incorporation of such a magic flower, which terribly exacerbates the love complex between the characters, represents the irrational, yet consuming aspect of love. 

In addition, magic is a significant element of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and it is not too different from love. Once again, the magical flower is a crucial symbol. Magic is often understood as the ability to do and control virtually arbitrary actions and events. As already discussed, love is a prime example of uncontrollability. With the magic flower, the fairy king and Puck are given greater power over the rest of the characters. They have a greater influence on the events that will ensue in the play. Magic’s influence is further exemplified by Puck, who turns Bottom’s head into a donkey’s head during rehearsal. Unluckily, Titania (who has been spelled with the magic flower) wakes up and instantly falls in love with Puck (3.1.131-164). This situation is especially significant in the theme of magic since it is a magical being herself (Titania, the Fairy Queen) who has fallen under a spell. First of all, the overtaking influence of magic is apparent; moreover, the influence of love is also portrayed. It can be argued that Shakespeare incorporates magic into the play to accentuate its likeness to love. Both magic and love cause troubles, yet they can both completely dominate a person’s actions and way of life.

Finally, the significance of the title  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” must be recognized. Dreams are random, irrational, and absolutely overtake one’s mind, very similarly to love. Moreover, dreams are repeatedly mentioned throughout the play. For example, Hippolyta expresses that “Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (1.1.8). Referring to the day of her wedding, Hippolyta uses “dreams” to describe her wait. The word “dreams” has a very positive connotation. In this manner, “dreams” recur to represent fantastic events, situations, and emotions.

Clearly, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” well incorporates figurative language to develop a multitude of themes, lessons, and ideas.

-Ayati M.

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Significance behind the Ending of Lady or the Tiger

In 9th grade, I read Frank Stockton’s short story The Lady, or the Tiger? because it was an assignment for English class. The story leaves off with a cliffhanger with two possible outcomes and whatever outcome shows a theme that is inherent in our lives.

From what I remember about the story, the princess was caught being in love with a man who sincerely loves her. However, he has no royal blood, which infuriated her father, the semi-barbaric king. He puts the man through a trial where he would have to choose one of two doors in front of him. One of the doors holds a beautiful lady in which he would have to marry the exact moment he chooses the door, a lady that lives at the palace and the princess hates. The other holds a tiger that has been starved and is looking for a hefty meal. A large audience gathered to witness the man’s fate, the princess forced to watch from her throne above. But she knows exactly what is in which door through bribery. The man she loves turned to her and after some moments of thinking, she flickers her hand to a direction, signalling a door. The man confidently walks up to that door but in the end, it is up to the reader to know which door he actually went into.

But of course the princess told the man to go to the door that held the lady, right? This is the man that she loves and someone she genuinely cared about. The man will be forced to marry this woman she doesn’t like and he won’t love the woman as much as he loves her. But circumstances of that situation would lead to her seeing her lover with another woman at all times. Not only would he be with woman she hates, they would both see each other all the time with the knowledge of the marriage between them. They are in love with each other and there was no doubt about that but they can’t be together because it was forbidden. They are so close to each other, yet so far. Perhaps, he may fall in love with the woman he was tied to be with because all of the private time they have together.

But even with those consequences, she will still rather see her lover everyday than see him eaten alive by a tiger, right? If she signalled for him to be eaten by the tiger, she would be stuck with the knowledge that his death was her doing. The guilt will consume her, she killed the man she loved, and perhaps will turn her into a hollowed version of herself before the trial took place. Though that may be true, the king was said to have semi-barbaric traits. Symbolically, could those traits have passed down to his daughter? Perhaps, she is selfish and she wants all of the man’s love only for her. Perhaps the tiger appealed more to the princess because it ends a cycle of life. Sure, this man is one that she loves but the thought of violence could attract her even more because of her implied barbarism. She has this man’s fate wrapped around his finger and whatever she choose, he will go to confidently because he knows her and trusts her decision, no matter what it is.

There are many themes in this story that could be applied to reality but what I would like to discuss is the theme of fate. The king in his story put this man on trial but even he doesn’t know what is in each door and he doesn’t care what this man gets because in one way or another, it is his punishment. My 9th English teacher called him a symbol of god or the universe in a way, a person who doesn’t care about our meager lives until we have done something that not only affect them but angers them. Ultimately, our fate is decided by them but our will is not. It is decided by ourselves which door we choose to go to, whether we listen to the princess we love on which door to go to or not. The man knows all about his lover’s nature and yet chooses to go into the door she instructs him to go to. He didn’t choose to be on trial but he is going to choose what door he goes into. He is choosing the way he wants the rest of his life to go, though he was put into this predicament that the universe/God/someone else had put him into. We are put into hard situations all the time by someone else but ultimately, it is in our hands the way we decide how we must deal with it. Do we ignore it? Do we push through its obstacles? Do we give up? Whatever occurs next would be our decision, whether we would want to accredit ourselves with this information or not.

(I can’t claim credit for most of the information presented; it came from the knowledge of my 9th English teacher.)

-Saanvi V.

Writing Tips: Fantasy Worldbuilding

How Does Freelance Writing Work?

Genre: The most important part when you begin writing a novel is picking a genre. Think of all your favorite books or movies and take inspiration from all of them. Is your novel going to be set in a medieval world? Space? A dystopian civilization? Apocalyptic world? Once you decide it will be a lot easier to write out a plot and the details of your world.

Setting: The second most important part of writing a fantasy novel is choosing the setting. Typically, most fantasy novels take influence from medieval Europe, but it doesn’t always have to be that. What does the environment look like? Is it set in a cold environment, hot environment, desert, space, mountains, coastline? All of these are factors to consider when creating your world.

Plot: Typically fantasy novels follow a plot where the main character has to go on an adventure or quest to complete a task. However, this plot can have a lot of variation and provide a unique story. Some ideas to consider when working out a plot are the tools you will use to advance your plot. This could be magic, a character with a very specific skill, or any other unique additions to your book. This could also be influenced by the setting, perhaps the world is set in a dystopian setting where there are tensions between the rulers and their citizens. Maybe the main character has to go on a quest to find something. The possibilities are endless.

Characters: People like to read about relatable characters. When creating a main character it’s important to make them believable. Many times, new writers create a character that only reflects positive traits, when in reality, everyone has negative traits they’re not proud of. Insecurities and mistakes in a character give the reader an emotional attachment to said character. When writing side characters, make sure they exist to further the plot. Also try to give them their own personality to engage the reader.

-Michelle L.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby - Wikipedia

Nick Carraway, an intrepid young man from the West, moves east after World War I. Expecting a quiet and comfortable life, he instead finds himself caught up in the fast-paced, dangerous world of highballers such as his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, her husband Tom, the haughty and beautiful Jordan Baker, and the most mysterious man of them all- Jay Gatsby. As lies and betrayal pile onto each other, Nick is left starkly in the middle of a massive cultural and class divide that will leave him forever changed.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did, but I really found it riveting- after the first few chapters, it was nearly impossible to put down. The book is rife with symbolism, which gives it incredible depth- and many of the symbols and themes discussed in it are still very relevant to our world today. It’s one of America’s most quintessential and classic novels, and for good reason- even though the novel will turn ninety-six next July, The Great Gatsby will forever offer us an invaluable window into times past and present.

-Vaidehi B.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive