Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Perfection. Perfection is used to describe something that is flawless. When I think of perfection, I think of AP Calculus BC, Raising Canes Texas Toast, Allen Kessinger, and so much more. Every category has its own perfect thing. In movies, it is hands down Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo is the perfect movie, and Squirt is the perfect character. In names, I think Finn is a really nice name. But I think literature takes the cake for the most perfect item: Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Jeff Kinney was born in 1971. Back then in 1971, kids were reading novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Although these literary pieces are very good and have a lot of significance, the world was yet to experience the pure bliss and perfection of Jeff Kinney’s soon-to-come creation.

Come 2007. The class of 2025 was born (they are sophomores now by the way), the AP US History curriculum stops, and the most amazing book was released as well. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a diary of a wimpy kid. Such wimpy kid is named Greg, and well, objectively speaking, he is far from wimpy. Greg is a Chad. He is smart, handsome, tall, drippy, and loves his mom!

Despite Greg being the main character, I think it is fair to say that he is only the second-best character in the book. This is because Rowley exists. If Greg is a Chad, Rowley is a giga-Chad. Rowley is smarter, more handsome, taller, drippier, and loves his mom even more than Greg could ever imagine. Solely thanks to the creation of Rowley, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is perfection. Be like Rowley!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Album Review: Illegally Acquired Cheese by Ralphie and the Flies

At school, I was informed that one of my peers had recently released an album with his band Ralphie and the Flies. I was intrigued by the news and decided to check out their debut album, Illegally Acquired Cheese. I was not disappointed by the work and was rather quite impressed.

An embed of Illegally Acquired Cheese

Illegally Acquired Cheese has 12 songs on it, containing a variety of influences and genres from disco to rock to electronic music. One such piece is “blåhaj (where have you gone?)”, my personal favorite from the album.

It is stylistically very similar to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with disco considerably influencing the song. The production is also quite similar. Either way, it stands up on its own with the vocalist having a strong voice and the saxophone being a nice touch on the piece.

Another great song on the album is “Alien” which recalls electronic video game music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It is an energetic, fun song that anyone can get into. That has to be my second favorite piece on the album after “blåhaj (where have you gone?)”.

Illegally Acquired Cheese is definitely worth a listen with its variety. While it’s not one of my personal favorites, it’s still a fun, self-aware album. I rate it a 7.4/10. Go check it out when you have a minute. It’ll be worth it.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

This story takes place in a private school called Niveus Academy where only the prestigious and elite kids go to. Two students named Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo look forward to their senior year in the school as they were both selected to be Senior Prefects, something that puts them both in a position of being valedictorian. But soon, their year starts to take a dark turn when someone named Aces exposes secrets to everyone online about the two of them that could destroy their perfect plans for college and their futures in total. At first, the entire thing seems to be a silly prank but then it evolves to the endangerment of these two children’s lives as they battle to expose Aces and get their lives back to normal. But who exactly is Aces? And why do they target Devon and Chiamaka?

Contemporary is usually not the genre I would like to read but books such as Ace of Spades became an exception for me. I heard a little bit about this book from my friends and Tiktok before actually reading it and it exceeded the expectations I had about it, which I taught would be impossible. This book is not for everyone as it has some very triggering language and scenes that turned my stomach. But this book has shown me a new outlet to how the world could be and how some people in this world need to fight just to exist peacefully in this world. The plot twists that occur in the middle and the end of the book captured my attention and I couldn’t put the book down for hours at a time. I believe that everyone who can read this book should as it explains many complexities within life and within our society as well. I would say that this book is one of my favorite reads of this year!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Film Review: Suits

Taking place in New York, the TV show covers the life stories of Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), two people working as lawyers under the changing firm first known as Pearson Hardman. Harvey Specter is a lawyer and a junior partner at the firm at the start of the story, looking for an associate to work with as part of the firm policy. On the other hand, Mike Ross is a Harvard student interested in learning law with an eidetic memory and a great chance of success, but becomes expelled from Harvard after his friend Trevor (Tom Lipinski) accidentally sends a college test to the daughter of the head of the college, which becomes public and creates controversy. Destroyed by the news, Mike finds himself bouncing from jobs until he finds his way into a meeting with Harvey, which changes his life forever.

When Harvey first meets Mike, he develops doubt over illegally allowing Mike to take a job as a lawyer, a job that he had no legal qualifications for. However, Mike ends up impressing Harvey at the meeting with his knowledge of the Barbary legal handbook and also beats Harvey in finding loopholes in a law. Harvey questions Mike on why he isn’t a lawyer, and Mike tells Harvey the story about Trevor, as well as his dreams to be a lawyer getting ripped away. Not wanting to spend more time interviewing prospective associates, Harvey gives Mike the job and has Mike take a tour of Harvard to learn everything there is to being a lawyer.

On the first day of work, Mike receives a tour from a paralegal known as Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and meets the head of the associates, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). Mike quickly learns of all the expectations he has in his job, and Harvey gives him a case to work on for him despite his promise to Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), the managing partner of the firm, to work on it by himself. Both Mike and Harvey experience struggles, with Mike nearly bailing on the job altogether and Jessica showing her disappointment in Harvey for breaking his word, however they both end up working together well and win the case. Even though the two had a rocky start, they grow their bond and become great friends throughout the show. Plenty happens with the two over the span of 9 seasons, but all I can really say without giving too much spoilers is that the dynamic of the two makes this show interesting.

I first found out about the show from my family, and even though I initially had no interest in the series, I gave it a try and it turned out to be a very interesting show for me – and I have recommended it to several friends who have enjoyed it in the past. Even though it mainly revolves around legal drama, the show was amazing while it lasted for 9 seasons. I would recommend anyone – whether they turn out to enjoy the show or not – to watch the show and give it a chance, just like how I ended up doing.

Suits is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Nightfall by Shannon Messenger

Nightfall is the sixth book in the Keeper of the Lost Cites series (which is currently 8.5 books long), and the events come as a definite surprise to anyone who has read the other five books before it.

In this book, the main character of the series, a powerful young elf named Sophie Foster, has to rescue her human parents from a Neverseen hideout called Nightfall. (The Neverseen are a deadly rebel group that formed in the Lost Cities, and they always seem to be out to get Sophie and her friends.) But Sophie knows that the Neverseen might be using her parents as a diversion to distract her from the larger issues at hand, so, no matter how painful it is, Sophie is forced to look at the bigger picture and accept that the threat looming over her human parents might not be the problem she needs to focus on. She helps her friend, Keefe Sencen, with the issues he has with his mother, Lady Gisela, (who also happens to be a leader of the Neverseen) and attempts to figure out the identity of the prisoner who escaped from the Lumenaria dungeon in the previous installment of the series. But all of these issues seem to come together in the end of the book, when Sophie and her friends (Tam and Linh Song, Biana and Fitz Vacker, Keefe Sencen, and Dex Dizznee) and her foster father, Grady Ruewen, enter Nightfall. There, they encounter some members of the Neverseen and discover who their new ally is–the former prisoner of Lumenaria.

While all of this was going on, they also had to deal with another enemy, one whose alliance with the Neverseen hit extremely close to home. Alvar Vacker, the older brother of Fitz and Biana, was found abandoned by the Neverseen in one of their old hideouts, bleeding to death. They had discovered that Alvar was a member of the Neverseen in the earlier books, but they’d never have guessed that the group would leave him for dead. He doesn’t give any information in his interrogations except for one, crucial detail, which readers will find out in the beginning of Flashback.

The reason why I love this novel is because of all the plot twists and the fact that the characters have realistic personalities. Their problems kept me rooting for them the whole time the book was in my hands, and the storyline stuck with me for a long while after I’d finished. This book (and the series it belongs to) is a magical read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves the fantasy genre.

Nighfall by Shannon Messenger is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Authors We Love: Dr. Seuss

Going into my first years of school, I was always skeptical of reading. I mainly enjoyed playing with video games or even toys when I was a young child, but I never really found books interesting. I would often find myself wanting to do something else, which distracted me from developing an interesting in reading or even learning how to read. However, my parents introduced me to Dr. Seuss, and his books ended up creating that interest that I greatly needed growing up.

Known for his books such as The Cat in the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss mainly wrote children’s books with illustrations meant to grab the young reader’s attention. Since many people in their younger ages – including me – found plain text in books boring to look at and read for as long as a given book could last for. The fact that Dr. Seuss made reading interesting with the illustrations created interest and motivation to read that was not found prior to that. Without Dr. Seuss, many would probably have no interest in reading books and would struggle in finishing many school assignments that involves heavy reading and analysis of the text.

With Dr. Seuss, I found reading to be fun and looked forward to every story that he had to tell about some of the characters. Even though I have not read Dr. Seuss in a while, I vividly remember the joy I found in hearing my parents read the stories to me before I went to bed. The joy he brought with his books made me interested in reading and even though many of us feel like we are too old to read it anymore – I know I certainly feel that way at times -, I also feel that sometimes it is important to look back and remember some things that made up our childhood and how it made us who we are today.

Several titles by Dr. Seuss are available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They are also available to download for free from Libby.

Album Review: Midnights by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s tenth studio album, Midnights, was released on October 21, 2022, barely over a week ago, and is already shattering world records. Midnights is a lyrical pop album with 13 tracks, which she has shared are the stories of 13 sleepless nights throughout her life. These beautifully written songs are deeply personal, and Taylor sings about emotional struggles in a raw and honest way.

Let’s get into some of the songs on Midnights:

Track 2: “Maroon”

“Maroon” tells the story of a failed relationship and the powerful emotions she felt throughout it. Taylor sings of many different shades of red, a color that symbolizes passion. Taylor has said that “red emotions” are the most powerful; with affection, love, and warmth on one side and jealousy, frustration, and miscommunication on the other; which are shown in “Maroon.”

“The burgundy on my t-shirt / When you splashed your wine into me / And how the blood rushed into my cheeks / So scarlet, it was / The mark thеy saw on my collarbone / The rust that grew bеtween telephones / The lips I used to call home / So scarlet, it was maroon”

Track 5: “You’re On Your Own, Kid”

In “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” Taylor sings of waiting to be noticed and loved. She tells of how she still felt alone after reaching fame; and how she hosted celebrity parties and struggled with an eating disorder, waiting for love to save her, but ultimately realized that she is on her own.

“From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes / I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this / I hosted parties and starved my body / Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss / The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money / My friends from home don’t know what to say / I looked around in a blood-soaked gown / And I saw something they can’t take away / ‘Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned / Everything you lose is a step you take / So, make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it / You’ve got no reason to be afraid”

Track 12: “Sweet Nothing”

“Sweet Nothing” is a sweet and beautiful song about finally meeting someone who feels like home and just being comfortable around them. Taylor sings about how her romantic partner isn’t constantly demanding more from her and loves her unconditionally.

“They said the end is coming / Everyone’s up to something / I find myself running home to your sweet nothings / Outside, they’re push and shoving / You’re in the kitchen humming / All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing”

Track 13: “Mastermind”

In “Mastermind,” Taylor confesses to her partner that she was determined to win him over from the moment she saw him, so she “masterminded” a plan to make him fall in love with her. She confesses that she only manipulated him because of feelings of anxiety, because she cared so much. In the end, she realizes that her partner knew the entire time and played into her trap because he saw who she truly was and loved her anyways.

“No one wanted to play with me as a little kid / So I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since / To make them love me and make it seem effortless / This is the first time I’ve felt the need to confess / And I swear / I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian / ‘Cause I care”

Also, 3 hours after the release of Midnights, Taylor surprise released 7 more tracks on what she called Midnights (3am Edition). Her lyrical genius clearly shines through on this album, and I loved every minute of it! Give Midnights a listen!

-Lam T.

Review of Hamilton: Live at Segerstrom

Recently, Hamilton came and performed at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. My parents got my brother, themselves and me tickets to the last show on the final day of their tour. I’ve been a fan of Hamilton ever since my friends and cousins got me into it a few years ago. Ever since then, I’ve listened to the soundtrack, watched the animatics on YouTube, and even got Disney+ just to watch it. But nothing I’ve watched could beat seeing the show live. Seeing the full show in person was a completely different experience than from seeing it through a screen. 

For those who don’t know, Hamilton is a musical based around the life of Alexander Hamilton, who was one of the founding fathers of America. It goes through all his accomplishments and everything he took part in, such as the Revolutionary War and the makings of the financial system in America. However, the musical also shows everything that happened in his personal life, and everything he had done or failed to do. If you haven’t taken a look at Hamilton (the songs or the story or both) I would highly recommend you do.

Despite how many times I listen to the songs, none of the recordings will blow me away in the same way hearing and seeing it live will. All the visual effects and sound effects within the songs created a whole new sense and feeling. You could feel the vibrations of the effects throughout the theater allowing shivers to run through my body. Being able to see and hear all the effects and visuals in person made everything more intense. The actors did a great job, and for the most part, I could understand what they said (probably because I’ve listened to it so many times). The choreography was stunning, the different kinds of lighting was awesome and connected well with the scenes, and the acting was phenomenal. The actors really did an amazing job, and they were very fun to watch. What’s even more exciting when seeing something live, is the fact that no show is going to be the same. The night my family and I went, the cast was different from any of the other days they showed. I won’t ever get to know what the other shows were like, how the characters sounded or anything. I am only going to know what my show was like, which makes the experience feel even more special. 

Hamilton was great to listen to and watch through a screen, but seeing it live was a completely new and amazing experience and I couldn’t be happier to have been there to see it. Once again, if you haven’t taken a look at any of the songs or anything even pertaining to Hamilton, then I would highly recommend you do. It has an impressive soundtrack that somehow manages to tell the entire story, even without hearing the parts in between (especially since the story is told through the music). Even if the music isn’t your cup of tea, just try listening to it at least once. Now, if you do find interest in the musical and end up liking it, I would definitely recommend you to watch the next showing of it whenever they come to your area. Seeing this show live is something you wouldn’t regret if you already like the music.

-Nicole R.

Why Harry Potter is Completely Overrated

Okay, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read Harry Potter, because some people might appreciate it, but I’m very opinionated and I want to point out two of the most glaring problems with the series. If you stay until the end, I’ll also point out a much better alternative to Harry Potter, where things actually make sense.

Why is the Weasley family poor?

The Weasley family, regardless of their magical powers, are poor. This doesn’t make sense, because why don’t they just use their powers to spawn some gold? Or clothing, books, and food? There might be a wizard law against using magic like that, but Muggles wouldn’t know the difference between real money and magic money! The Weasleys could just magic up some gold, then trade it with a Muggle for whatever they need. Or, if magic gold isn’t convincing enough, they could magic some clothing and sell it to the Muggles for cash. So why are they still poor?

Why do wizard families send their kids to Hogwarts?

Hogwarts might turn out some of the most brilliant wizards in the realm of Harry Potter, but at Hogwarts, students are surrounded by incompetent and occasionally murderous teachers, dangerous classes, and multiple deaths each semester. In addition to this, Lord Voldemort and his minions are continuously attacking the school. This is definitely not safe, and if I was a parent I wouldn’t even consider sending my child to Hogwarts. Also, what kind of name is Hogwarts? You might as well call your school Pig Pimples.

Now, My Suggestion

Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read Harry Potter. Just because I think it’s badly written and poorly thought out doesn’t mean other people can’t enjoy it. But, if you agree with me and want a fantasy book with superior logic, then try reading The Scholomance, by Noami Novik. It has an explanation for everything I think is wrong with the Harry Potter series, and it’s just an overall good book.

If you know how to explain any of the two major faults I found in Harry Potter, please explain it to me in the comments. Thanks again for putting up with my criticism, and goodbye.

A Deadly Education (Lesson One of The Scholomance) by Naomi Novik is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Road to Redemption

The Golden State Warriors were unstoppable.  They completely dominated the mid-late 2010s.  Obliterating everyone in their way, the Warriors went to five straight NBA finals, won three, and lost the other two due to injuries.  

However, during their journey to win their third championship in a row in 2019, the Warriors faced a multitude of injuries.  With Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala out, plus Klay Thompson missing game three in the NBA finals, the Warriors found themselves down in a 3-1 deficit.  The Warriors got the win in game five to make the series 3-2.  During the third quarter of game six with the game going back and forth,  Klay was ahead in a fast break, and Danny Green jumped up behind him trying to block him. Klay fell because of Danny Green’s block attempt and tore his ACL.  He missed the rest of the game and the entirety of next season.  The Warriors lost in game six by five points and the Toronto Raptors won the championship.

Kevin Durant left the Warriors in the offseason and Klay was injured for the entire next season. With two of their three best players out of the roster, Stephen Curry had to carry the team.  Unfortunately, he broke his left arm five games into the season vs the Phoenix Suns in the first quarter.  The Warriors went on to finish the season 15-50, last in the Western Conference. 

The next year, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were set to return.  The Warriors were contenders again until … Klay Thompson tore his Achilles during a basketball practice before the season started.  The Warriors were left stunned once again.  Curry had to try to carry the team again.  The Warriors ended the season 39-31, as the eighth seed.  But the Warriors lost two straight play-in games and were eliminated from the 2021 postseason.

After suffering a torn ACL and a torn Achilles, Klay Thompson has finally returned to the game of basketball.  But Steph Curry and the Warriors were doubted, everyone thought the stars were aging, Klay won’t be the same after two major injuries, and the bench was inexperienced.  The Warriors finished as the third seed in the West. Then in the playoffs, the Warriors went on to beat the Nuggets 4-1 in the first round.  Beat the Grizzlies in six games in the second round. Demolishing the Mavericks in five games with Klay hitting eight threes in the final game to send the Warriors to the NBA finals.  The Warriors shockingly lost the opening game one to the Celtics but bounced back in game two to tie the series at 1-1.  Game three was a back-and-forth game through three quarters.  But in the fourth quarter, the Celtics completely outplayed the Warriors and won the game by sixteen.  Down 2-1, the world was sure the Warriors were done, on the road and down 2-1 in the series.  But Steph Curry shocked the world, playing the greatest game of his playoff career.  Scoring 43 points along with 10 rebounds and the Warriors tied the series at 2-2. In game five, Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson combined for 47 points and carried the Warriors to win by 10 despite Curry’s terrible shooting. Curry sealed the deal in game six, scoring 34 points with six threes, he lifted the Warriors over the Celtics in game six to win the finals four games to two.  Curry won the first Finals MVP of his career.  Stephen Curry and the Warriors simply owned the 2022 playoffs and did something very few thought they could do.