My Favorite Fictional Characters!

Sodapop Curtis from The Outsiders: After I finished reading the book (The Outsiders), I was absolutely obsessed with it! I loved all the characters very much, but Soda is, by far, my favorite. He’s kind, funny, friendly, and most importantly, he’s a good brother. He protects and stands up for Ponyboy, and does everything he can to help Darry to pay the bills.

Fred Weasley from Harry Potter: (*Spoilers!) Don’t ask me why it’s Fred and not George cause I have no idea why. I do love George too, but for some reason, while I was reading the series for the first time, I decided that Fred was my favorite character. Mind you, I had decided this before I had finished the series, so I was completely heartbroken when he died in the seventh book, as I’m sure everyone was. I just love the twin’s constant bantering and jokes. Despite the fact that I’ve read the series a million times, they never fail to make me laugh.

Percy Jackson from Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus: I think it’s safe to say that this is the only series wherein my favorite character is the main character! I love Percy so much! In a way, I grew up with him as I read the books, and I think that really helped me grow to love him even more. Percy is so endearingly humorous, likable, and just… a fun guy! Even though he’s a very powerful demigod and his father is Poseidon, he acts, for the most part, like a normal teenaged guy.

Newt from The Maze Runner: (*Spoilers!) A Glader, and second-in-command to Alby, Newt is kind yet firm, and grows to be a good and loyal friend to Thomas. Perhaps not as fiery as Minho, Newt brings a more leveled personality to the story and is a very prominent character whom I grew to love and care about while reading the series. I was devastated when Janson (a.k.a. the Rat Man) read out the list of munies and Newt was not on it. It was very sad to see him lose his sanity, but I think he did contribute a lot to the team, and was sorely missed.

Azriel from A Court of Thorns and Roses: Quiet, dark, brooding, and mysterious, he doesn’t talk much, but when he does speak up, everyone pays attention because they know that whatever he has to say is important and significant. He’s an Illyrian warrior! Skilled in combat, he would make a deadly enemy. But he also has a sweet and gentle side. He’s very caring and respectful and enjoys having a laugh with his brother, Cassian, once in a while.

-Elina T.

Harry Potter – Foreign Language Edition!

This summer, my family and I took a vacation to Italy. We had so much fun, but one of the key things I remember about the trip was the different language, and how hard it was to understand things. One day while we were walking through Rome, we came across a bookstore. It was so cool to see all of these books that I recognize, but in a whole new language.

Most importantly, was the Harry Potter series. These books had their own little section at the back of an enormous bookstore. It took me a while to find them because everything was in Italian. I began to read little excerpts from each book, and even though I couldn’t read the native language, I knew these books like the back of my hand. This made it easy for me to tell what is going on without reading and understanding word for word what the pages said. Instead, I would get the general idea from what I knew was going on in the book at the time. This was helpful to improve my ability to understand Italian a little better by translating my version of Harry Potter memorized in my brain against the Italian text. I was soon able to recognize words and their meanings in Italian just by remembering who said what, what was happening, and where they were in the books.

After all this time, Harry Potter is still helping me and teaching me so much.

-Kyle H.

Back To School!

SOS! It’s that time of year again where every student excitedly buys new pencils and backpacks only to step foot onto campus and dread the long looming 180 days ahead of them. Leaving summer’s clutches and watching the warm days melt away is definitely bittersweet but the school year has so much to offer!

Needing motivation? Here, read this:

  • Remember that education is a privilege and you are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to broaden your knowledge for free. There are so many children around the world that dream of being in your shoes. Take advantage of this opportunity and spend this year making the effort to enjoy and indulge in learning!
  • Find something that makes you look forward to school each day! Maybe it’s seeing a friend in French class or maybe you love the way your history teacher makes class interesting. Maybe it’s a club you can regularly hang out with or maybe it’s heading to the library and reading all the amazing books it has to offer. School will be so much more enjoyable and tolerable if you find something good about it.
  • Make incentives! Reward yourself each day once you get home from school because you deserve it. Whether it’s allowing yourself to watch your favorite Netflix show for an hour or going outside for a bike ride, make something to look forward to throughout the day.
  • The experience. Let me explain this more thoroughly: going to school and interacting with others teaches you so many important life lessons–some of which are more important than the academic lessons taught. A humanities based education broadens your mind and improves your critical thinking skills, communicating with your peers improves your social skills, hearing opinions of others opens your eyes to new ideals and possibilities. There’s so much to gain by going to school and being attentive and engaged.

Need some good studying music? I have you covered! (*=my personal favorites!)

  • If you’re into dream pop, psychedelic rock, indie pop, or lo-fi, I suggest listening to Peach Pit*, Hippo Campus, Spissy*, Swimming Tapes, The Growlers, COIN, Yellow Days, Mac Demarco, Summer Salt, Beach Fossils, Billie Eilish, or The Kooks! They all give off a very laid back, dreamy vibe that is perfect to play as background music as you complete math homework!
  • If you’re still wishing you were sunbathing at the beach instead of studying, I recommend Sublime, Hockey Dad*, Golden Coast, Viola Beach, Bob Marley, Blossoms, Real Estate*, Cage The Elephant*, Circa Waves*, or Jon Bellion. They create a peaceful illusion that soothes you and sends you right back to sandy, sunny bliss!
  • If you’re more of a punk rock, alternative rock, grunge, pop rock type of person, you’re bound to like at least one of the following bands: All Time Low*, Green Day*, Nirvana, Boys Like Girls*, We The Kings, The All-American Rejects, The Smashing Pumpkins, Guns N’ Roses, Nothing But Thieves, or machineheart. Definitely more upbeat, slightly feisty and very fun to dance around to during a studying break!
  • Finally, if you’re one of those people who dread the uncomfortable stickiness of summer heat and you can’t wait for cool fall days, I have a sweater weather playlist for you. You can almost smell pumpkin everything when you listen to artists like Lana Del Rey*, LANY*, Little May, Arctic Monkeys, The Neighbourhood*, The 1975*, Two Door Cinema Club, Ed Sheeran, X Ambassadors, Josh Groban, or Seafret*.

In a perfect world, this post would amp all of you up about going back to school but alas, we live in a fallen society. Hopefully this at least encouraged a select few of you to view school in a positive way. Best wishes this school year, everyone!!

-Jessica T.

Harry Potter, Nineteen Years Later

*Contains spoilers for anyone who has not read the entire Harry Potter series!

In the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the final installment of the series), Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione are shown seeing their children off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. James and Albus Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley board the Hogwarts Express while Lily Potter and Hugo Granger-Weasley watch wistfully alongside their parents on platform nine and three-quarters as they are still too young to attend Hogwarts.

The Battle of Hogwarts occurred in 1998, which means nineteen years later would be 2017! This year, a new generation of witches and wizards will attend Hogwarts and have and create spectacular memories of their own. This is also the year in which Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place!

It’s extremely difficult to believe that this year marks the end of the Harry Potter series –this year Harry would’ve turned 37! Coincidentally, this year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone.

September the first was a momentous day for Harry Potter fans all around the world. This was the exact day on which the Hogwarts Express would leave platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross. Loads of die-hard fans poured into King’s Cross station in London, England so that they could be present at eleven o’clock — when the Hogwarts Express would leave and Harry and his friends would be seeing their children off.

I have always been a huge fan of Harry Potter, and, in a way, I feel as if this year sort of brought a closure to the Harry Potter series for me. But I will still love it and read it and re-read it — always.

-Elina T.

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library and online from Overdrive

Life and Society in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. I liked the fact that this novel accurately depicts what life was like in the 1920’s, and the types of people who lived it. The setting of this novel takes place in New York, and the area in which the main character, Nick, lives is set in West Egg and East Egg. Both of these cities are considered to be wealthy cities. West Egg, where Nick has a home, is considered to be “new money,” while East Egg, where his cousin, Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan live, is thought to be “old money.”

West Egg is the type of city in which people have earned their money and East Egg is where people have inherited their money from older generations. However, Nick’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is known to be the wealthiest of them all. He lives in a humongous mansion and throws parties almost every weekend where anyone is free to attend.  An example of how this novel reflects the conventions of the time period, the 1920’s was known as the “Roaring Twenties,” and the types of parties held signified how careless people were about spending money and that they did not care about ruthless behaviors.

Another example would be that one of the important characters in this novel, George Wilson, lives in an area known as the “Valley of Ashes,” a place where the poor working class live. In the Valley of Ashes, the eyes on a billboard of one of the wealthiest citizens, Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, seems to always watching the entire city. George Wilson believes that Eckleburg is a God after stating “God sees everything” while looking at the billboard. This signifies that the national religion of the United States during the twenties was business and wealth instead of God Himself.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel as this precisely described how life was like in the “Roaring Twenties” with many people becoming wealthy due to the economic boost and how those people were being careless with their money and behaviors. Also, George Wilson believing that the wealthiest are like Gods was also interesting and accurate. However, due to many careless spending, this would ultimately lead to the crash of the stock market and the rise of the Great Depression starting in the 1930’s. I would recommend this book because of how it relates to the accurate history in the United States that occurred and the outcome.

-Matt J

The Great Gatsby is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive and Hoopla

Passion For Reading

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up.

Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves.

When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K., 11th grade

Find your right book at the Mission Viejo Library. Titles are also available to download through Overdrive and Hoopla.

Passion

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up. Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves. When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K.