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.

Movies During Break

During this break, I have found myself with nothing to do and lots of free time. With it, I decided to watch a whole bunch of movies from “before my time.” I found that even after my family decided to let me watch the movie alone, I would find them coming in to watch with me, then asking me to wait until they had free time to finish it with me. 

My friends also decided they wanted to watch movies with me and kept recommending more and more movies that we could eventually watch together. Then we could talk about them later and watch other movies based on the ones we liked. 

I have found that there are many benefits to watching these movies. Though it may seem to some like you are just sitting around on a couch, I have found that with finals coming up for many teens, it has been a way to destress. Often with current movies, they are all the same and watching one is like watching them all. When watching older movies, they’re often much more interesting and I pay a lot more attention to them.

Another benefit of these movies is that I have been spending a lot less time on my phone. Watching a movie is still watching a screen, but I think it’s been a lot less harmful to watch a movie from farther away than being on my phone close to my face 24/7. 

As for recommendations, if you’re into classic movies from the 80s or 90s, I recommend Dirty Dancing, Dave, and The American President. As for movies from earlier years, Singin’ in the Rain and The Aristocats as well as Breakfast at Tiffany’s are all amazing movies. I do have to warn that some of them carry a PG-13 rating, so check with a guardian before watching. 

Watching movies is something that can be done year round and every day of the week, but especially on breaks when all you want to do is get away from the modern world and all of the issues going on right now. Watching them from past years, rather than one that came out three months ago can be therapeutic in that you can look back on what was good then and what you wish you had now and vice versa. 

So next time you have a long weekend off of school, or a week-long break, take some time to make a list of movies to watch and sit down with some popcorn. You might surprise yourself with what you end up loving.

-Danielle B.

Cute Pumpkin Decorating for Fall

Although Halloween is this weekend, fall is staying for the next month. With that, pumpkins are still going to be in season before the pine trees roll in. Recently, I have seen more and more pumpkins being carved, but with that comes a lot of effort that some parents can’t take the time out of the day to help their children with. But I have also seen some fun ideas for decorating pumpkins that just takes some paint and permanent or paint makers. 

I originally saw this idea from @belleoftheball45 on Instagram. She uses both white and orange pumpkins, both large and small. When I made this, I started with pouring acrylic paint onto a plate and using gloves to make the process cleaner. I used green, white, orange, and black paint. With the green paint, you stick your thumb into the paint and place thumbprints all over the pumpkins. Then, you can repeat with the rest of the colors, although keep in mind that the white paint won’t show up on the white pumpkins and the orange paint won’t show up on the orange pumpkins. I would also recommend using a separate glove for each color.

Once all your thumbprints are on and dry, you can begin decorating them. With the green paint, you can use green and black to make little Frankensteins. With the black, you can make many things including cats, spiders, and mice. With the white, you can make ghosts and with the orange, you can make pumpkins. You are, of course, not limited to just these. Have fun and experiment with this easy pumpkin decorating idea! 

-Danielle B.