Authors We Love: Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones was a British novelist and children’s fantasy writer born in London on August 16, 1934 as the eldest of three sisters. In her early childhood, she was evacuated to Wales as a result of the bombings taking place during the Second World War. Throughout the war the family moved frequently before settling in 1943, but the result was a very complicated relationship between her and her parents, as she was largely left to care for her younger sisters. However, this only fueled Jones’s passion for reading despite struggling with dyslexia, and later transformed into a passion for writing as she wrote many short stories for her younger sisters.

She went on to study English at St. Anne’s College in Oxford, attending lectures by two very prominent authors, C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. By the time she graduated from college, she married John Burrow and had three sons with him. She read to her children as many mothers do, but this also inspired her to create Children’s books of her own. Jones submitted her works to several publishers but they were ultimately rejected until she published the Changeover, one of her few adult novels.

Overtime, her most popular works included the Chrestomanci series, the Dalemark series, and especially Howl’s Moving Castle from the Moving Castle Series. Howl’s Moving Castle soon inspired the creation of the 2004 film Howl’s Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli and Japanese director Miyazaki Hayao. She would later go on to write dozens of many more works for both children and adults, along with winning multiple writing awards such as the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the Mythopoetic Award.

-Elia T.

The works of Diane Wynne Jones are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Film Review: Moxie

Netflix’s new teen movie Moxie largely fails in its potential and is decent overall, but still has something important to offer. Directed by Amy Poehler and based on a book of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie is a high school movie whose aim is to discuss feminist topics.

The movie follows shy 16 year-old Vivian (Hadley Robinson) who begins anonymously making zines calling out the sexism in her school after meeting the valiant new girl Lucy Hernandez (Alycia Pascual) who won’t back down to sexism so easily. Later on, the two girls along with some friends made along the way form a group called Moxie, which actively challenges the problems the group faces.  

Throughout the movie, Vivian encounters many challenges. From dress codes to more serious offenses, the movie aims to discuss a wide-range of topics in feminism but fails to do so in an effective way. Because it’s so ambitious and eager to take on all of these topics within a 2-hour time frame, the movie can’t explore them in ground-breaking depth, creating a touch-and-go effect. 

The overwhelming amount of content here also detracts from the development of the characters as well, leading most of them to appear underbaked. Several times during the movie, there seems to be an attempt to explore these characters in more depth, but there’s never any further discussion later on. The marginalized identities of some of these characters seem to suffer from the same problem as they get caught up in the fray of inclusivity and are hardly ever discussed despite being involved in the Moxie group. 

But even though Moxie is rough around the edges, when I first watched Moxie, I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting yet another poorly written Netflix high school movie with the same overdone cliches, and even though Moxie is a lot of those things, I was happy to see a teen movie eager to spread a powerful and important message rather than a televised Wattpad fanfic.

While the movie’s received a lot of criticism online, most of which I’d agree with, I still think it’s important to acknowledge that its existence is a good thing. Not many movies are willing to even attempt discussing these topics or providing the amount of representation this movie did. So to that I give it props as a good next step for future movies that want to delve in these topics too. 

The one good thing about the movie is that it’s different. It tries to discuss something important which is always something worth thinking about. So for those of you at least interested in the movie, I’d still encourage watching it and forming your own opinion of the movie and how it handles these topics. 

-Elia T.

Authors We Love: Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was, and still is, a well-renowned author known for his science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novels.

Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury’s start as a writer began very early on at the age of 12. He had a fateful encounter with a carnival magician by the name of Mr. Electrico who proclaimed “Live forever!” to which Bradbury decided to never stop writing.

Soon after this encounter at age 14, the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles. When the Great Depression hit, Bradbury couldn’t afford to attend college so he instead attended the local library three days a week for ten whole years to acquire his education.

Over the course of his career, Bradbury published thousands of literary works including 400 short stories and 50 novels. In addition to this, Bradbury has also earned dozens of awards including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award, and the Pulitzer Prize Citation.

I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury in the 6th grade with one of his short stories titled All Summer in a Day. The story is about a group of students who live on the never-ending rainy planet of Venus that have never seen the sun with the exception of a young girl named Margot who only moved to Venus five years prior. As our class read through in monotone uninterested voices (as most children do), I remember sitting there in awe at his simple yet elaborate descriptions of simple things such as the sun or the rain, the fantastical world he created on Venus, and the development of the characters in only a couple of pages. I remember that being the first time a short story truly made me feel something, like a deep pit in my chest.

The second short story I ready from Ray Bradbury was A Sound of Thunder, a story about time travelers who have something in drastic in store when they arrive in the past and return to the present. It was in this short story that I was truly enamored by his descriptions of the dinosaurs which were so incredibly elaborate that I felt like I was standing right there in front of them. It was when I read this short story that I set my own goal of creating scenes of such immaculate sensory description.

Ray Bradbury was not only a spectacular author but a person with an incredibly inspiring story and a true passion for something he loved to do. If you’re looking for a good long read or a good quick read, this is an author that will give you something interesting to read for years and years on end.

-Elia T.

The works of Ray Bradbury are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is my absolute favorite author. Her ability to retell stories we’ve heard a million times is impeccable as her imagination reshapes these stories into something completely new.

Meyer was born on February 19, 1984 and began her passion for writing very early on. At age 14 she started off writing Sailor Moon fanfics on fanfiction.net (as most of us do, let’s be honest) under a pseudonym named Alicia Blade. In fact, if you’re interested enough, you can still log on to the website and read a younger Marissa Meyer’s works of fanfiction under the same pseudonym. In college, Meyer continued to pursue her passion for writing, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Publishing later on.

I first discovered Marissa Meyer when I picked up her first series titled the Lunar Chronicles. In this series, she puts a futuristic spin on many of the classic fairy tales we’ve heard in our childhood: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. With cyborgs, robots, a few romantic side plots, and a classic evil queen, a crew of our fairy tale girls soon form to save not only the fate of their kingdom, but the world as well. This series was so well written and put me on an even bigger emotional roller coaster than the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series combined. I know that’s a big claim, but trust me on this one. Meyer did a fantastic job in her first series; the world building was spectacular and the characters were so easily lovable in their very own way.

I’ve also read one of Meyer’s standalone books called Heartless which is a backstory about how the queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland became the way she was. Like the Lunar Chronicles, this book had me so emotionally invested that I forgot the queen of hearts was the bad guy! I remember rolling in my seat out of excitement when I got close to finishing the book because of how invested I was! So if you’re looking for a love story in Wonderland, I definitely recommend this book for you.

Meyer has also released another standalone book this year titled Instant Karma and wrote a trilogy about superheros titled Renegades in 2017 which are both definitely on my “To Read Next List.”

If you haven’t heard of Marissa Meyer, or if any of her books sound interesting to you, I definitely recommend you check her out!

The works of Marissa Meyer are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.