The Pumpkin Dive at the Sierra Rec Center

While a lot of people were probably enjoying their air-conditioning on Sunday, elementary school kids, other volunteers, and I had a blast at the Sierra Rec Center. Diving for pumpkins was a lot more fun in the 95 degree heat, instead of the rain like last year.

The event lasted from 2 to 5, and started off with kids jumping into the pool to find the perfect pumpkin. I thought that pumpkins would sink to the bottom of the pool, but who knew that they float?

After the kids found their perfect pumpkin, they got to decorate! With some paint bottles, stickers, googly eyes and pom poms, I saw a lot of creative designs. Painting the pumpkin pink was a really popular choice too.

And I can’t forget about the carnival games we had. There was a basketball hoop, some bean bag tosses, and face paint. The kids won prizes, and volunteers did an amazing job with the face paint.

Even though this wasn’t a teen event, you would’ve had a blast if you brought your siblings!

-Rebecca V.

Click here to see some photos from the event!

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

Image result for code of honor bookIf you are into current events, this is a good book to read. Kamran Smith is half Iranian, the QB of the varsity football team, and is named homecoming king. But that all comes crashing down on him.

Kamran has always looked up to his older brother Darius. He is currently in the military, and Kamran has decided to follow the same route as him. But when Darius says on video that he was in charge of several terrorist attacks, all bets are off.
Everyone at school looks at Kamran like he’s a terrorist himself. He girlfriend ignores him, his best friend doesn’t want to talk to him, and he’s distracted in football practice. At home, the phones are ringing off the hook, and his parents aren’t functioning well. Camera crews show up at his house. And it only gets worse from there.

I feel that the ending was a little bit weak, and it could have been written better. When you find out who one of the terrorists is, it’s funny. The beginning and middle of the story was well written, but then the ending was crammed.

Terrorism has been a major part of current events since 9/11. It’s been 16 years, and it’s not improving by much. This story really hit me hard, because if we were in the shoes of Kamran’s friends, we would probably do the same things. Even if you aren’t that into current events, this still is a good book to read. Sure, a lot of the action is unrealistic, but imagining it is still interesting. It’s also a short book, about 250 pages, if you’re tired of annotating your long, annoying English book.

-Rebecca V . 9th grade

5 Books To Read This Summer

Are you reading for the Summer Read program this summer, and are tired of reading your mandatory summer English book? Try checking one of these books out! Hopefully they won’t remind you of the pains of school all that much…

  1. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Image result for catching jordanJordan, the daughter of the famous QB Don Woods, and spent her whole life waiting to be the first girl to play QB at a college level. With the twists and turns of senior year, and as she’s torn apart between Henry and Ty, does she really want to throw away her dream of playing at Alabama?

 

  1. The Kanin Chronicles by Amanda HockingImage result for kanin chronicles

If you have read any other books by Amanda Hocking, especially her Trylle books, you’ll definitely enjoy this. Bryn Aven must protect the Troll community, before it all falls apart. Sure, she’ll eventually be charged with murder and treason, but it will all be better when it’s all over, right?

  1. Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Image result for audrey waitDo you ever hear that catchy song on the radio and wish you were that girl the guy is singing about? Well, what for what most girls wish for, it turns out be a nightmare for Audrey after she breaks up with her boyfriend. Audrey has to deal with the paparazzi, changing her cell number because it keeps getting leaked to the press, and getting escorted by the police on a date with her new boyfriend. Maybe it’s a good lesson that she should never date a musician…

4. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle 

Image result for The Infinite Moment of UsIf you loved her l8r, g8r series, you’ll love this book! This is an incredible story between Wren, the good girl who obeys her parents, and Charlie, a foster kid. And when these two people meet, everything begins to change. Not for younger audiences.

 

  1. The Unremembered series by Jessica Brody

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A sixteen year old girl wakes up in the middle of a plane crash, with no memories of her life.  She has purple eyes, and so people began to call her Violet. When a mysterious boy claims he has the answers, will she trust him? Or will she remember nothing for the rest of her life?

The first book is a little bit tedious, but then it starts to get complicated with time travel and other things later on. This is the kind of serious that at the second to last chapter, you want to throw the book across the room, but then at the last page, you wish the author had made another three books.

 

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

The Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols

When you open up your yearbook, there usually is a Best Of page, such as Best Dressed, Most Athletic, etc. Some people don’t know that this page is called the Superlatives, or as dictionary.com defines it: being of the highest kind, quality, or order; surpassing all else or others; supreme; extreme. Jennifer Echols weaves together a series about how three different titles affect three best friends: Tia, Harper, and Kaye.

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The first book, Biggest Flirts, starts off with Tia, the drum captain. She bilingual, 5’ 9”, is a serious underachiever, and almost has an allergic reaction if anyone tries to put her in charge. What she thinks are her values and morals all start to change when the new guy, Will, shows up from Minnesota. She states over and over again that she doesn’t want a boyfriend, but will that change as she gets to know Will better?

 

 

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The second book, Perfect Couple, is about Harper, the yearbook photographer. She’s first dating the yearbook editor, Kennedy, and then gets voted Perfect Couple with the schools quarterback, Brody. She doesn’t understand why the school would pair her with someone like Brody.  She’s a photographer with glasses and her funky homemade dresses. So why would the school think that Brody is a perfect match for her while Kennedy already is?

 

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The final book, Most Likely To Succeed is about Kaye, the head cheerleader. She’s the student body vice president, and has exceptional grades, but her mom always pushes her to work harder. She’s dating the student body president, Aidan, for the past three years. But even though similarities at first may attract at the beginning, they sometimes don’t work out in the long run. Maybe she needs to date the school’s bad boy, Sawyer, who has a father than was in jail, dresses up as the school mascot, and tries to convince her that he’s a good fit for her.

 

All three girls first start out with the jerks at the beginning, even though one isn’t a jerk at the end of book three. Each of the girls have a rocky start with the guy they’re supposed be with, but it eventually works out. And of course you have to have the curve-ball, such as when Kaye tells Harper a shocking secret in book 2, which makes you go, wait, what?

This is a nice, relaxing series by Echols. If you want a series that will make you smile, this one is for you! These books make you rethink about wanting to have one of those titles. What if you are voted a bad one, such as Sawyer’s Most Likely To Go Jail award? On the other hand, would you really want the Most Academic Award, and feel like you have to live it up, and be more pressured to be valedictorian? This series is for ages 14 and up.

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

Biggest Flirts and Perfect Couple are available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. 

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond

Image result for the darkest hour caroline tung richmondI’m normally not a huge fan of historical fiction. Although, I am okay with reading a few alternate histories, but not constantly. Caroline Tung Richmond is also the author of The Only Thing To Fear, about the present day world under Hitler’s control. Even though this book isn’t an alternate history, it is still about World War II.

The year is 1943, in France, and Lucie Blaise is a part of Covert Ops, a group of female spies. They are willing to do anything to take down Hitler. After her older brother dies in combat, Lucie wants to avenge his death and try in any way possible to defeat Hitler. She didn’t want a boring desk job, and wanted to be an actual spy. Even with her training, she is unprepared for the real world. She almost gets caught, but luckily the Nazis barely buy her cover. Also, she didn’t remember her training exactly when she had her job to do, and she almost was fired because of it. I can’t describe what her job was, because it be too much of a spoiler.

This is a really interesting book about female spies in World War II. I felt that the scenes with Dorner could have been written differently, like maybe Lucie could have been starting to fall in love with Dorner, and the book would have been longer as a result. But nothing happened between them, there was no love story for Lucie, and I feel the book would have been more interesting if something did happen. After reading this book, I wondered if some of the events mentioned were true, and reading the Author’s Note explained it. The Operation Zerfall is fiction, but I was shocked to read that the Wunderwaffe program existed.

So if you’re into World War II, spies, or historical fiction, this book is for you! If you like this book, I strongly recommend reading Richmond’s other book, The Only Thing To Fear. This book isn’t mean for younger audiences.

-Rebecca V. 8th grade

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Image result for AshfallAshfall, by Mike Mullin, is about life after a supervolcano erupts in Yellowstone. Alex is a normal teenage guy. He’s a sophomore, plays video games, has a black belt in tae kwon do, and wishes he could go on a date with a cute girl. His family is on their way to visit his uncle’s family, and he didn’t want to go.

Even though he survived the explosion, it’s only the beginning. His family isn’t with him, he doesn’t know who to trust, and traveling through the ash is exhausting.  Alex knows that he should try to track down his family, but did they even survive? But traveling to Warren, Illinois, where his Uncle’s farm is, is 140 miles away. What if his parents never even arrived at Warren? When Alex attempts to travel to Warren, some people are friendly, while others are as dangerous as the ash filled terrain. Is this new world the survival of the fittest?

Life after a volcano eruption is already scary, but a supervolcano eruption could ruin the entire world. In Ashfall, the eruption affects the whole world, not just America because of food shortages. This book also gets you thinking about a different way that the world can end because of nature, instead of disease, zombies, or other ways.

I thought that this was a well-written book, because Mullin makes it seem real. I wish I hadn’t read this book in one sitting though, because it is 450 pages long! I do recommend this book to anyone who likes any type of science fiction, or volcano eruptions. Also, this is a trilogy, with the second book titled Ashen Winter, and the third book called Sunrise. This book isn’t meant for younger audiences.

-Rebecca V. 8th grade

Ashfall by Mike Mullin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Image result for the sun is also a starThe Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon, is told through the perspective of two teenagers: Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is Jamaican senior who loves music and science.  She is going to be deported from the United States, and tries to talk to a lawyer to let her stay in America. Daniel is a Korean senior who meets Natasha by fate.  They spend the day together, trying to get to know each other better. Natasha is dealing with trying to not be deported, while Daniel is trying to avoid his Yale interview. They discuss science, life, poetry, and love. Natasha doesn’t believe that she can fall in love with him, while Daniel thinks the opposite.

Even though the author wrote back and forth between Natasha and Daniel in short paragraphs, and had background information about several topics in the book as another chapter, I thought that this book was well written. You spend the entire book hoping that Natasha isn’t deported, and think that Daniel and Natasha are meant to be together. I thought that the ending was well written, but the epilogue should have been longer.

This book is for the fans of John Green.  It’s bittersweet, and it makes you think that even though you think there’s no hope, there still is hope. It’s okay for most audiences. I would recommend this book for people who are okay with a sad and meaningful book.

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive