Forever With You by J. Lynn

foreverwithyou_jlynnAll of J. Lynn’s books are amazing, but this may be her best yet! The book begins with Stephanie, a girl who just moved into town. She has trouble moving boxes into her apartment, and Nick is the one who helps her out. Stephanie later goes to Mona’s, the local bar, and finds Nick working. They have a one night stand, and they are supposed to be well on their way out of their lives; however, something happens so they have to get together again.

Stephanie has never been in love, but that does not mean she does not believe in it. Her past comes up, again and again, that makes her scared of love. Even when Nick falls straight into her lap, she does not recognize that this is true love. Nick as well has a past that permits him from staying in a relationship; he is known to have flings, and nothing more, and just like Stephanie, he is scared to be in a relationship. But, for the first time, he sees something in Stephanie that he has not noticed in a girl before. “As long as I’ve known him, he’s never been serious about anyone. He’s probably going to need a substantial learning curve when it comes to not saying things that are going to pi** you off.”

Sure enough, Nick and Stephanie get back together after their one-night stand. Stephanie falls for him but is scared that he does not feel the same way about her. Nick, too, is scared to love Stephanie, because he felt the connection from the first time they met, but is he able to convince her that he loves her? “Nick seemed to sense just when I needed him. Even if he was asleep, his arms would tighten around me, sometimes, when my recklessness woke him, he would talk to me until I fell back asleep, distracting me with some of the crazy things he’d seen while working at Mona’s. He was simply there for me, and I let him in completely. And there was no denying how much I loved this man.”

This book has so many plot twists (in a good way), and even though there are MANY sad moments, there are also funny, laugh out loud ones. If someone is looking for a heartwarming, sad, laughable romance, this is the one for you!

-Hailey N.

The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks

The Unfinished World and Other Stories is a beautifully written piece of literature filled with a wide variety of short stories. These stories revolve about everything from time travel and space to thrilling tales of kingdoms and magic. I was truly amazed by the sheer creativity and eccentricity which Sparks was able to spill out and expertly mold into eloquent, intriguing, and though-provoking stories. Each story is unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Although they are completely unrelated, they all seem to have some sort of other-worldy ethereal sense to them. Maybe it’s because of the style in which it’s written, or it could simply be the creative flare with which the author forms her worlds and characters. Either way, I was completely blown away by this book, and cannot get over how utterly incomparable and ingenious it is.

Because this book is composed of so many stories, I have grudgingly decided to speak about only two of them — The Unfinished World ( I suppose I must talk about this one) and my favourite out of the other short stories: And the World Was Crowded with Things That Meant Love.

The Unfinished World (for which this collection of stories was named) tells the story of a boy named Set. Set is an unusual boy who struggles to find and understand himself and his past as he grows older. When he was younger, he was attacked by a bear, and he died…well, sort of. He ended up surviving the attack, but there has always been something missing…no one can quite put their finger on it. He’s never been the same since; there’s an empty hole in his soul. Set follows in the footsteps of his older brother who travels to Hollywood in pursuit of his dreams. Set becomes well-known, and everyone sees him as a handsome, hard-working young man. Anyone who really knew Set would know that that is just a facade — part of him is missing. Then he meets Inge, and she turns his life around.

And the World Was Crowded with Things That Meant Love is a short, but deep and meaningful love story. Early in their lives, a young man and a young woman meet one another and fall in love. However, both have jobs which require constant traveling. They show their love for each other by sending wood carvings and sculptures to each other. By this means, they continue their relationship. A detail which I thought to be particularly lovely was that one would send an artistic portrait to the other, having remembered, in full and perfect detail, what they looked like.

Despite the fact that some of these stories are extremely short (just two or three pages in some cases), the author has a unique ability to weave in and evoke so much emotion. Some of the stories were slightly confusing, some more intense, and some were pretty dark (I would recommend an older audience for this book). However, I would definitely recommend this book, as it felt as if I was in a completely different world while reading it.

-Elina T.

TV Review: The Office (U.S.)

The Office is unlike any show I’ve seen before (granted I really haven’t seen an extensive variety of shows). What I noticed first is that there is no music (aside from the intro theme music). In this show, the characters know that there is a camera there, recording everything that they say and/or do. Most of the time, the camera just follows the characters around the office, but there are times where the camera will sit with each character individually and interview them about what is happening.

All of the characters are funny and quirky in their own unique ways, which I really like. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is the regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, a paper company. He’s most likely the most flamboyant and eccentric boss you’ll ever see. His philosophy is: friend first, boss second. He’s constantly trying to fit in with all of his employees, while struggling with intermittent relationship problems. Yet, through all of this, he remains bubbly and confident in himself. Although he often says rude and unprecedented things, his true intentions are honorable (most of the time).

Throughout the show, Dunder Mifflin undergoes many changes — people come and go, there are changes in leadership, people are transferred. The camera follows and records everyone’s reactions through all the mayhem and chaos.

The other characters include the sales staff: Jim, Stanley, Dwight (Michael’s loyal Assistant to the Regional Manager), Phyllis, and Andy. In accounting: Angela, Oscar, and Kevin. Meredith, Kelly, Creed, and Ryan are each their own department. Pam, the receptionist, Toby, the HR rep (whom Michael has an unexplainable hate towards), and the warehouse workers led by Darryl. I love how well each of the characters are developed, despite the fact that there are so many of them.

If you enjoy comedy movies or shows, I’d definitely recommend this. If I’m being perfectly honest, I wouldn’t really consider myself a huge comedy fan, but I ended up really enjoying this show. So, even if you’re not sure that you’ll like it, at least give it a try — it might turn out to be your favourite show yet.

-Elina T.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is a best selling book written by author Paul Kalanithi, who majored in English literature in Stanford and would get his Masters degree in English literature. He would enter medical school in Yale and at 36 years old, he would become a resident neuroscientist and neurosurgeon. His life had full of hope and would seem to blossom with his wife Lucy. However, he was diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. His future seemed to be gone, and it looked as though his potential wouldn’t come to fruition.

Paul had learned about life and death throughout his studies in literature and philosophy. He would learn about death through the experience of studying medicine, but it was a whole new experience when death seemed to come to him. His short term and long term plan for his life would have to be revised. In the hospital, the doctor was somewhat like the “captain” of the ship, and Paul had always been the doctor, the captain, the leader. Suddenly, he became the patient, the ship, the follower. He was confused about his identity. However, he would choose to be a leader and captain of his own life. He spent time with his family, he would write his book When Breath Becomes Air, returned to the hospital, took care of patients, and would even have a daughter. He would leave this unfinished memoir behind and leave a lesson to us that we are all going to die someday, but we have to continue living our lives and making the most of it.

-Kobe L.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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My English teachers have always had an affinity for John Steinbeck- and it’s not hard to see why. The last book my 7th grade English class read was The Pearl by John Steinbeck, and while I don’t remember the plot clearly, I remember that it was a very well-written short story. My current English teacher assigned another short story by the same author, the acclaimed Of Mice and Men.

Of Mice and Men isn’t any different- set in Northern California in during times of hardship (Great Depression), it tells the tale of two friends who want to buy a ranch, own some animals, and enjoy life. But as they are extremely destitute, they must work on a farm to raise enough money first.

In just a span of a few chapters, Steinbeck weaves a touching story about friendship, freedom and confinement, suffering, and almost any other universal theme imaginable. The twist at the end was heart-rending but not surprising, and you realize that not everything will always go your way, no matter how hard you try.

There’s one thing I think could’ve been improved: the story was slightly too short. Yes, I understand that it’s a short story meant to be simple and fast, but I felt that the reader didn’t have enough time to connect with the characters other than the two main protagonists. If the book would’ve spent slightly more time on the hope and joy that the benevolent characters were experiencing, rather than just skimming over it, it may have made the ending even more effective.

All in all, I definitely recommend Of Mice and Men as well as other books written by Steinbeck (including the one I’m currently reading, The Grapes of Wrath), as all of his short stories are extremely realistic and poignant.

-Michael Z.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

ings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a fictional story, but has great significance in the literary world. Published in 1958, the novel follows the Okonkwo, who is one of the leaders of his tribe in the village of Umuofia.  In order to obtain such a prestigious position, he had to work twice as hard as the other men because he came from nothing. Okonkwo’s father was lazy and effeminate, according to Okonkwo, and only cared about playing his music. His music did not earn him any money, so Okonkwo resolved to be a better man than his father. His resolve did help him be successful, but it also hurt him because he would not accept any behaviors he considered “weak” and he was quick to anger. This tragic flaw led to horrific events in the novel and an inevitable ending.

Even though, this was a novel I read for school, I enjoyed it because it had a easy-to-follow plot line and an interesting story. Okonkwo was what made the novel interesting because his flaws made the novel intriguing. Despite his negative traits of abuse, quickness to anger, and his lack of empathy, the novel flows and the reader wants to continue reading in order to see where the story goes. Also, the reader starts to pity him because they see the struggles he is facing. The importance of the novel was to depict the exploitation of the Africans by Europeans, but this is revealed through Okonkwo’s actions and feelings. Even though some may be hesitant to read this, I would encourage people of all ages to read it because it has something for everyone.

-Anmol K.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

This book, was incredible. It follows the perspective of three teenagers, Tony, Conner, and Vanessa. All who come from different backgrounds but are connected by mental illness. Tony struggles with pills, Vanessa with cutting, and Conner with suicidal thoughts. They all meet in a mental institution called Aspen Springs where they must fight their mental illness for a better life. This book is one of the longest books I’ve ever read, 666 pages.

Although, the book is written in a poem style, I really enjoyed it. This books made me feel all kinds of emotions, happiness, sadness, nervous, and many more. This book really changed my perspective on life, and made me appreciate that I have others around me. For this book, I recommended you read it if you have a high maturity level. I would definitely read this book again and others by this author. From the moment I read the first page to when I closed the book at the end, I was obsessed. I did not think I would love this book as much as I did. This book is definitely now in my top ten favorites. I highly recommend this book, and hope you find it as intriguing as I did!

-Kyndle W.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive