Movie Directors We Love: Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg has one of the best resumes when it comes to movies he has directed. His movies have grossed more than $25 billion in the box office which is a feat that has not been passed by any other director in the business. The Movie list that Speilberg has directed is unparalleled. Let me just list a few: Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, E.T., Ready Player One, and Jaws. That’s only a few of the amazing movies that he has directed and those movies are all fantastic movies that have made hundreds of millions in the box office. His record when it comes to making movies is unparalleled in the business because he has made so many big hits at the box office and that is not a thing that many movie directors can say about the movies that they have directed. Another thing that sets Speilberg apart from other directors is his style of filming by using a cinematic style while using minimal cuts in between scenes. Also, Speilberg likes to talk about family issues in his movies often using them to help the characters overcome their struggles and end up succeeding in the end and prevailing over their foe.

-Howard M.

The films of Steven Spielberg are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan

Natalie has always been best friends with Lily. However, when her friend moves away she is upset but is still excited and confident that their friendship will continue into middle school.

However, when Natalie arrives at school on the first day of middle school, she sees her best friend Lily in a conversation with a cool-looking girl. Lily seems to be… FRIENDS with this girl. Lily’s new friendship leaves Natalie alone and confused. What happened to their friendship? Weren’t they best friends? Did Natalie do something wrong?

All of this leaves Natalie feeling like she is not enough. Not enough to be friends with Lily. Not enough to be cool. Natalie feels very wounded. She doesn’t know what to do, and her only thought is to try to win Lily back. One day, after she finds a note from Lily, she gets to work. Natalie devises a plan to get Lily back.

Meanwhile, Natalie is receiving mean notes on her locker from Lily. Natalie feels terrible and wounded but she still wants Lily back. After all, they were best friends, weren’t they? Ignoring all of Lily’s mean acts, Natalie gives up a lot of what she loves to do so that she can please Lily and get her back.

Whatever Lily thinks becomes what Natalie does. However, can Natalie overcome these feelings and move on after Lily? Can she become her true self? Or she is simply not enough?

I really loved this book because it is very fun to read. It portrays how you do not need to be what anyone else wants you to be. You only need to be yourself. I would recommend you to read this book because as you grow older, your friends and you might have different interests, and you might not be as close to them as you once were.

I rate this book a 10/10.

-Peri A

Brooklyn 99: show review

“Let’s give the people want they want.” -Gina Linetti

Don’t get mad at me or anything but personally, Brooklyn 99 is a much better show than The Office or Friends. (If you chose to skip this post, no biggie-we all have preferences). I mean I’ve seen The Office and Friends since they’re extremely popular, but I feel as if the episodes were always predictable and sometimes, boring even. But with Brooklyn 99, every episode makes me laugh until my sides hurt. From the first episode, the foundation and purpose of the 99th Precinct are laid out with the arrival of the precinct’s new captain, Raymond Holt. Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) is the childish, yet ace investigator who maintains a high rate of successfully solved cases. The two officers being polar opposites find themselves in an amazing father-son bond that only grows as the series progresses, to the point where Jake calls Holt Captain Dad.

“I highly recommended this show, you will be in a state of euphoria.” -to be read in Holt’s voice.

-Bree K.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: 9780451530271 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

In the book, Hardy described the impact of the emerging industrialization and urban civilization on the old, rural Wessex area, exposing the false morality that imprisons people’s thoughts, emphasizes chastity, and represses women’s social status. The tragic fate of Tess reflects the background of the times: economic poverty, the unfair legal system, hypocritical religion, and the hypocritical morality of the bourgeoisie. Tess’s tragedy is the product of society at that time, so Tess’s tragedy is also a social tragedy. The tragedy of Tess, a beautiful girl with a pure heart, is caused by the ugly social reality. As a poor woman with a low social status, Tess was inevitably oppressed and humiliated, both materially (including economic, powerful and physical) and spiritually (including religious, moral and traditional concepts). As a victim of society, Tess is not only hard-working and brave but also pure and kind. She was born poor, but full of beautiful ideals. In order to realize this ideal, she went out three times. But she was alone, and each time she was hit harder and harder. Tess’s tragedy not only has its deep economic and class roots but also has its moral and religious, legal factors.

Tess’s economic and class status decided that she was in a passive position in front of the morality, religion and law that served the bourgeoisie. The tragedy of Tess is that a pure and kind woman was destroyed by the decadent ethics, hypocritical religion and unjust legal system of the bourgeoisie. And Tess’s own bourgeois morality and religious morality consciousness also caused her own tragedy to some extent, because she could not get rid of the shackles of those traditional morality to herself, which was the weak side of her character. In addition, the emerging bourgeoisie represented by Alec d’Urberville was the direct cause of Tess’s misfortune, while the traditional ethics represented by Angel was an invisible and more terrible spiritual persecution. The value of this image of Tess is precisely that she dares to challenge the forces that oppress her. However, in the face of powerful social forces, her resistance inevitably brings tragedy. Her tragic fate seems to be a personal one, but in fact she symbolizes the whole fate of the British farmer at the end of the 19th century. Hardy used Tess’s tragic life to forcefully attack the patriarchal society in the Victorian era.

Women living in this patriarchal society are doomed to be oppressed and controlled, unable to escape the tragic fate. In the eyes of the guardians of the mainstream discourse in the patriarchal society, women are always in the position of dependence and subordination. The innocent victim, Tess, is considered to be the opposite of the mainstream ideology, the patriarchal society and a deviant prostitute and demon girl who is not tolerated by the society. To the destruction and oppression of the patriarchal society, although Tess began to fight and even shouted out the essence of the oppression of the patriarchal society on women, she still failed and could not get rid of the powerful and invisible control network of the patriarchal society in the end and went towards destruction. The application of painting art in the environmental description of Tess of the D ‘Urbervilles, especially the application of color and light, has an important influence on the characterization, atmosphere contrast, theme analysis and readers’ psychological reception of this work. It presents the tragedy of love and marriage in the heroine Tess’s short life in a real and appealing way, which makes readers empathize with this tragic struggle of life.

Although the scenery is based on the scenery from nature, the scenery as a landscape actually no longer exists because they have become a background, reflecting and coordinating the feelings and experiences of the characters. Whether it is a grass, a tree, a flower, a cloud or a field, Hardy reproduces it not in the way a photographer does, but in the way he paints. With the help of color, light, line and other means of painting, the writer tries to explore the color relationship between the sky and the ground, during which there is an invisible contrast effect, reflecting his sensitivity to width and strength. Hardy presents the picturesque rural living environment, lifelike characters and wonderful and moving details to the readers, giving them beauty and enjoyment. At the same time, through the pictures of specific life, he spared no effort to depict the complexity of the characters and reveal the moral theme and tragic theme of the work. In the novel, the description of each scene is to reveal a certain course of the law of Tess’s spiritual development, which also echoes Tess’s character and destiny. Before each appearance of Tess, Hardy spent a great deal of time describing the environment there.

The various stages of Tess’s life, such as the quiet valley of Brie and its surrounding mountains, meadows, valleys, and rivers, the beautiful tablecloth, and the desolate and bitter robin, give the reader a general view. The use of painting art makes the text appear in front of the reader like a picture, which is organically integrated with the characters and plots in the novel. Here, art follows nature, and the artist’s hand involuntarily obeys the eye’s sense. By means of artificial or natural symbols it is possible to reawaken in our imagination images similar to the real things. By means of the art of painting, the essence of a particular aspect of external things is captured, and a certain aspect of human mood is associated with it, which, in the form of words, arouses in the mind of the reader the kind of feeling needed. In this way, Hardy skillfully conceived, combined the changes of natural environment with the ups and downs of characters’ fate, and used special environment description to render the relationship between people, between man and nature, and between man and society, which constituted the incomparable peculiar charm of the novel. The emotions of the characters and the changes in the mood and color of the environment constitute an inseparable whole. The environment portends to reflect the character’s fate and emotion, and the character’s emotional fate endows the environment with more spirit and vitality. The emotional appeal of the environment and the soul of the character form a whole, and complement each other.

-Coreen C.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is 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.

Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin Rafferty

As an aspiring Imagineer myself, Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career was an amazing book. Kevin Rafferty, a legendary Imagineer tells the story of his life, and what led up to him working for the famous Walt Disney company.

Having to have worked from the very bottom to one of the most respected Disney Imagineers is something that is very difficult to do. Mr. Rafferty talks about his challenges and what brought him to where he is today, now working with other legends that worked with Walt Disney himself. He explains numerous projects that are now at the park, including Car’s Land, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and the new ride coming to Disneyland soon, Mickey’s Runaway Railway! As I prepare to work towards the goal of becoming an Imagineer, Kevin’s book was very informative, filled with funny anecdotes at the Walt Disney Company, and so much more! If you are a Disney fan, I would 100% recommend this book.

It was especially interesting because I had the chance to hear Mr. Rafferty speak at 2019’s D23 Convention which is a Disney convention where avid Disney fans get together and listen and meet the biggest Disney stars. This book is filled with life lessons, advice and a sense of magic, provided by one that is behind the fantasy of what happens at the Disney parks around the world.

– Amandine K.

Creative Writing: Forest Kitten

This is a little creative writing piece exploring imagery and setting. I hope you enjoy!


A snowy white kitten slinks through the grass that sparkles with pearls of dew in the soft dawn light. Droplets of water slide from the gently bent grasses onto the cat’s fur and sit like tiny gemstones on its pallid coat. Thin sprigs of thyme and sage brush rustle lightly at the disturbance of the soft, padded paws. 

As the cat swiftly shoots beneath an overhanging heliotrope bush, the cluster of little purple flowers dips and showers his pale pink nose with dew. Green eyes determined, the cat continues his flight through the underbrush, shaking off the glimmering droplets that shine like lost diamonds on the forest earth behind him. The woody scents of damp bark and soil lose prominence as the cat reaches a thin creek whose crystalline body streams like liquid glass over stones smoothed and mossy due to years, perhaps eons, of running water. 

After leaping from the soft muddy bank onto a weathered stone protruding from the center of the stream, the cat pauses to lick his left paw before jumping delicately to the other side. The only thing to indicate his crossing of the river are small prints on the surface of the river stones where his padded paws lifted the frost that curls over the gray and dusty pink surfaces. 

When he reaches a wall of dense ivy, the cat slows and dips his head beneath the dark leaves. The vines of ivy sway and rustle for several moments as the cat crawls towards the meadow beyond. Then the vines are still, and the only bits of white left visible in the forest are the reflections of dewdrops on leaves and some star lilies dusted with frost.

– Mia T.

TV Review: Legend of Korra Season One

The Legend of Korra was one of the most anticipated animated sequels for its time, given that it is the successor to the widely popular Avatar the Last Airbender. The show had a lot of expectations on its initial release and after rewatching it years later, I would say that, overall, it is actually a good show even with the harsh criticism from devoted fans.

In general, I would still recommend watching the show given that it is still an entertaining show like its predecessor and still has quality animations. I still enjoyed watching the fights and scenes overall but it felt like the story was lacking compared to the previous show.

The characters were still appealing overall, with few exceptions, and the world itself was well built and introduced an interesting dynamic that was engaging and different from the original show.

Some complaints I had were that many characters and their stories felt rushed and incomplete, with the finale of season one being very anticlimactic compared to any of the other finales in the previous show, although it is understandable given that the show was created under the pretense that it would only have one season and 12 episodes compared to the vast size of the previous seasons of Avatar. Overall the story and characters still meshed together in spite of this and the episodes were exciting up to the finale.

Overall, I would still rate the show highly given the conditions of the show, regardless if
the expectations were initially high. I think that initial expectations and comparisons between the show and its predecessor played a major role in the reaction of the fans, although if looked at as an independent show, it is still high enough quality overall to be rated well and is still a good watch.

-Benjamin L.

The Legend of Korra is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The 100: Books vs. TV Show

The book series The 100 by Kass Morgan was made into a television show on the CW, and the similarities between the books and the show stop at the title. 

The television series uses the same plotline; however, it is sped up and changed. In the show, the officials, and parents of the children, are shown regularly, unlike in the book. The entire four-book series is changed and made into one season. Then, the next 6 seasons are created from scratch. 

Not only are the plot lines modified in the television series, but the characters are as well. In the novels, the main characters are Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Glass. Whereas in the television series, the main characters are Clarke, Finn, Bellamy, Finn, Raven, Jasper, Octavia, and Monte. The show does not include the main characters Wells or Glass from the books. Furthermore, the television series features the parents of the children as main characters. In the books, the parents are barely mentioned or dead.

 I personally have not watched the entire series, but I have read the book series. If you were to pick one to read/watch, I would recommend doing both, as they are completely different stories. However, I did enjoy the book series a bit more because it was more detailed and suspenseful.  

-Hidaya R.

The 100 by Kass Morgan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

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.