Applying to Colleges

As I head into my senior year, the college application season is no longer a far off thought. Though you are somewhat prepared for it when you start high school, I have found the actual thing is very different from what you imagine. Though you see your friends and family apply and discuss whether or not they got in, having to do it for your own future takes on a whole new perspective. I have personally found the experience exciting, yet somewhat overwhelming. Though I am getting to select my own future and the place that I want to spend the next part of my life, I am also having to worry about grades, getting in, and moving away from family. 

A lot of people when looking into colleges, never truly talk about how much their senior year was affected by applying for colleges. Some people I’ve spoken to have said that senior year was super easy, but as I start this fall, I don’t quite feel that way. Not only am I taking my most challenging classes yet, I am also trying to balance hanging out with all my friends before we go our separate ways as well as applying to multiple colleges and get in. 

Now the application and search process has been quite fun so far. I have been able to look at schools in places I can see myself living past college as well as ones that are good for what I am looking into. I have also been able to see how what I am going into as a career can help others besides myself. This is the part where you can explore different passions outside of a major, with the wide array of classes so many schools offer. And every school is different, not every school is the one for you and that is okay. What I found I struggled with was that I didn’t like some of the schools offered to me and felt like I was letting someone down. Everyone is different and so is your search, so not fitting into one school or another is okay.

I think that college searching can be fun because you are able to look into the more superficial things such as dorm life and things to do when you aren’t in classes. College also allows you a sense of freedom you often don’t get while still in high school, in the fact that you are mostly depending on yourself to wake up, eat, get to class, and so on. The search is a way for you to see how you will be when you are off on your own and starting your own job and life away from home. 

Now while I have talked about being overwhelmed with this endeavor, I also urge you high schoolers, seniors especially, to not get too caught up in the stress of it all. Enjoy the time with your friends and family before you all go and do your own things. We will never be in a time quite like we are now, which is something a lot of my older friends who are now in college agree with. Though college application season is now, so is senior year and we should bask in that. 

-Danielle B.

Book Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I recently finished the book Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and fell in love with Reid’s writing. The book tells the story of first, a band called The Six and a girl by the name of Daisy Jones. Living separate lives trying to make it on the music scene in Hollywood during the 60s, the two groups collide to create a joint band.

The story is told in the format of an interview that takes place long after the band has split due to circumstances you find out as you continue reading. As you read the book, you get to hear about the beginning, middle, and end of the band from their own perspective. The story dives into issues of the 60s and how they impacted the band on their way to success. 

Reid is very good at putting you into the book. She is able to create a space where readers can become one with the band and the way they write, and oftentimes why they write the music in the novel. One of my favorite parts is the end of the book, after the last chapter and epilogue, shares the lyrics for a multitude of the songs that are sung by the band on tours. 

Reid also writes the characters very real. They’re not written like many books or TV shows where the characters are perfect and can do no wrong. In Daisy Jones & The Six, the characters make mistakes and own up to them. This was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I recommend this book to anyone who loves music, or wants to dive into an entirely different world. The interview format that this book takes allows people to feel almost like they’re watching a documentary about these fictional characters. Reid with Daisy Jones & The Six is able to create a beautiful story about the struggles of making it in the music industry when you don’t always take the easy path.

-Danielle B.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Streaming versus Theaters

Before COVID and quarantine, movie theaters were always the place to see the best new movies when they came out. Though streaming services were great for watching older movies or TV shows as nostalgia, they weren’t really used as a way to release new content. Now with new restrictions and most movie theaters being closed, streaming services are beginning to release brand new movies and TV shows on their own. 

This completely changes the experience of how a movie is watched. Usually when watching in theater, you get there early to grab drinks and snacks before making your way into the movie to watch previews for movies you might want to see later that year. With streaming services, such as Disney+ releasing their own movies or TV shows, people can watch movies in more relaxed settings. The downside is it seems like a much smaller deal. Plus, there are little to no previews so it becomes harder to find what to watch next.

I’ve also found with streaming services putting out their own content, I’m actually less likely to watch it than I was if it were to come out in theaters. Usually when I go onto a streaming app with the intention to watch something new, I end up clicking on something I’ve either already seen or am in the middle of rather than something entirely new. 

Now of course, streaming platforms releasing new shows and movies and documentaries has been very helpful when I find myself bored with what I’m currently watching but I don’t find the experience matches at all to that of going to a movie theater. Hopefully sometime soon, the two can merge and be released both in movies safely while also being available on multiple streaming services right away rather than limited to just one.

-Danielle B.

Online Books vs. Physical Copies

With the recent development of many different reading apps, Kindle and Nook for two examples, I find less and less people reading with physical copies of books. Sure, sometimes it’s easier to just have to carry around a phone and have 100 books rather than have to carry around 3 and have it weigh you down. But do you lose an aspect of reading when you’re unable to see how far you’ve read, turn the pages, and close the final pages satisfied with the ending?

With online books, there is not the satisfaction of getting to turn the page when you’re ready. With a physical copy of a book, you also get all the information that comes with the book cover, like an author’s note, summary on the back and inside, as well as the beautiful covers they come with. Online books also don’t allow for the same experiences of someone asking to see what book you’re reading and deciding it looks good. 

Physical copies of books also let you read at any time, without having to worry about wasting data like some online books do. Also, the online books can often cause eye soreness with the amount of reading some people do. If they stare at the screen too long, they might not get as much reading done than they would if they were reading a physical copy without blue light issues. 

While I do read online books, I always feel more satisfied when I’ve finished a book I held with my own two hands rather than through another app. With the growing amount of cellular device usage, I think it’s a good reminder that there is no better feeling than curling up with a book. No distractions, some hot drink, and a nice book is always my idea of a perfect weekend after some homework. 

-Danielle B.

Staying Focused During Summer

Making sure to stay focused and on task is hard during the school year, but it can be especially hard over the summer. With little to no daily structure to keep us in check, we often fall into the pattern of waking up late, doing little with our days, going to bed late, and repeat. I find myself falling into this routine every summer, then finding it hard to bounce back when the school year starts again. So I’m setting goals for myself this summer and I urge you to do the same. 

One of the big things that I think helps is to make sure that the routine we keep during the school year stays around the same during the summer. Sure, waking up at 4:45 A.M. is unreasonable to ask of anyone, but maybe being awake by 8:30 A.M. is more manageable. By getting up at the same time every day, we are training our bodies to make sure that we have a schedule for the day. The same goes for going to bed. Try to go to bed at 11 P.M. rather than 1:30 A.M. With a solid schedule in place, you might find yourself with more free time than you thought. This then creates not only more time to do any summer school or reading that needs to be done, but also more time for hanging out with friends. 

Also making sure our brains stay engaged is important. Making sure that we are doing little things to stay on top of our learning, such as finding a book or topic that interests us and learning more about it, can help us as we go into the next school year. I have found in years past, and this year with summer starting out, that I am able to ease back into the school year much better with a routine and something to keep my brain focused during this break. So in between sleeping in more than usual and hanging out with friends, make sure to take the time to create your own routine and keep engaged. 

-Danielle B.

Are movie and TV show adaptations better?

When a book series gets popular, they often get turned into movies or TV series. Then begins the debate between readers and movie watchers about which is actually better. Many times, the book becomes popular first and then once it becomes a live action event, those who were avid fans of the books, and those who didn’t have the time to read them rush to watch. 

Now with series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Divergent, and Hunger Games, the movies actually turn out to be pretty good. They can act as an addition to the book that brings it to life, rather than bring it down. It often happens with the TV series that they begin to stray more to add more drama to more seasons and more episodes than a book might carry.

Personally, I always prefer reading a good book at my own pace to watching a movie or show where stylistic decisions are made for me. I like to immerse myself in the book and decide for myself what certain characters look like, or where things might take place. When watching something on a screen the directors and producers are the ones in charge. While sometimes that can turn out okay, such as the magnificent Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies, other times I feel let down. 

The thing I struggle with the most however is when the live action starts to stray a little too far from the books. When they add characters that don’t carry a purpose, or remove others who they feel are unimportant, I find they are taking characters rather than the actual plot and writing that I fell in love with when I read the books. I often have to tell myself before watching a film adaptation that this is entirely different from the book in order to fully enjoy it like I did when I read. 

All in all, I think that a movie or TV show adaptation can work for some people and film makers if they are able to stick close enough to what originally made people want to make the series. If they stray too far from what was the original, it becomes an unnecessary change to something that was already good. 

-Danielle B.

Summer Plans

With the end of the school year coming up, I’ve begun planning my summer break. With the stress of finals still looming but reaching an end, you begin to wonder what you’re going to do for the next three months. Of course, there is the usual hanging out with friends, going on family vacations, and soaking up the sun. But when the heat gets too hot and you can’t be outside any longer, I look for fun options that keep me in the house.

Of course as an avid reader, my first thought is to start reading. Now I find this not only fun but beneficial. Oftentimes when I head out on summer vacation, I don’t do anything “academic” for those three months and then come back to school feeling unprepared for the first few weeks. However, with my plan of reading this summer, I hope to not only find books that I love but also ones that will keep me at the level I was when I left school so I can come back ready to learn.

As I head into my last year of high school, I hope to continue this love of reading over all my summers as I know school only gets busier and busier from here. So when planning your summers, make sure to keep in mind any books that you’ve been eyeing as well as ones that haven’t come out yet. When you’re looking for something to keep you busy but isn’t in the sweltering heat, make sure reading is at the forefront.

-Danielle B.

Rediscovering Reading

During quarantine, from the beginning, I have found myself straying away from reading and being pulled into the constant stream of new shows coming out of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. While these are great, I found myself missing books and wondering why I wasn’t reading more. So during the winter break, I took the time to read two books that made me fall in love with reading all over again. 

I found that it wasn’t the book specifically that got me back into reading but rather the act of picking up a book of my choosing and being able to hold it physically in my hands. I also rediscovered how therapeutic reading is, especially at a time where it is one of the only things you can do as most things are currently shut down. 

While any genre will do, I always find myself drifting towards this weird combination of romance, historical fiction, and dystopian. Perhaps this is why I am constantly reading because every book is so different. With all the social media apps now, it was very easy to find book recommendations that looked as though I would actually enjoy them and now my to- read list is almost 20 books long. 

With school picking back up, I know we all won’t have as much time to read but I set a New Year’s resolution to try and read at least one book a month to give myself a break from everything else going on it the world and be transported into a completely different place where I can be a spectator rather than a participant.

-Danielle B.

Throwback TV Show for Teens

With quarantine, I found myself bored, and without new episodes of shows coming out, I turned to Netflix and Disney+ with shows from my early childhood years. One I watched over and over in elementary and middle school was H20: Just Add Water. The Australian show originally came out in 2006 and ran until 2010. It was followed by a spin-off 3 years later that ran until 2016. The original series follows three teenage girls as they become mermaids and navigate how to keep their secret hidden from their family and friends while also still maintaining a normal social and school life. The spin off series follows three mermaids who have been mermaids since birth as they discover the human world and deal with threats towards their home.

Since becoming a teenager and entering high school, I began to find new respect for the shows I watched as a kid/pre-teen. Being in high school, especially not as a freshman, allows for me to experience the shows I used to enjoy in a new light since I know some of the struggles they are talking about more, like lots of homework and more friendship drama. Shows, specifically H20: Just Add Water allow me, for at least 30 minutes per episode, allow me to both reminiscence on the past of my childhood as well as appreciate the show in the format it provided for teenage audiences. 

I would recommend this show to anyone who enjoyed shows like this as a kid and want something both familiar and refreshing. I would also recommend that even if you have seen this show before, watch it again if you haven’t recently. Shows like this, and others on Netflix and Disney+ have been great to watch back as a teenager, especially with free time during quarantine and hybrid schooling. 

Unwind Dystology Series by Neal Shusterman

The Unwind Dystology Series by Neal Shusterman contains four main books called, in order, Unwind, UnWholly, UnSouled, and UnDivided as well as two books that are companions titled UnStrung and UnBound. The series is one of many dystopian books that Shusterman has written and the first book was released in 2007 with the most recent being released in 2015. 

The series takes place shortly after the Second Civil War, which was fought between the pro-choice and pro-life people in the United States. The outcome was parents had the right to sign an order for their children between the ages of 13 and 18 to be “unwound” or sent to “harvest kill camps” where their bodies are taken apart and supposedly used to save the lives of others. 

The first book follows Connor, Risa, and Lev who were all sent to be unwound and run away. It then follows them trying to survive while being stuck between the police trying to find them and black market sellers trying to get money off of kids. Throughout the first book, they fight to survive while also meeting other kids who are trying to escape the same fate. The rest of the books in the series follow these three characters and their friends while introducing new protagonists and antagonists with many twists and turns along the way. 

Shusterman uses his writing to illustrate the struggles that teens during this time went through, while being sent away from their families and trying to grow up while still staying alive. Shusterman tries to teach the lessons of growing up and learning who you are in the world as well as what your role is while still being a teenager. This book series would most likely appeal to others who enjoy the dystopian genre. This includes if you enjoyed books such as The Giver, Hunger Games, or Divergent

-Danielle B.

The Unwind series of novels by Neal Schusterman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.