The Relevance of The Hate You Give

If you’ve been on any type of social media, or practically any corner of the internet, you are probably aware of the current Black Lives Matter movement and its impact. As a current activist writer, it only felt right for me to talk about this subject which I am very passionate about. So, I wanted to write a little something about one of my favorite books that address racial injustice – The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. Its story follows the journey of a Starr Carter, a black 16-year old high schooler who witnesses her best friend, Khalil, become a victim of police brutality.

Reading this book and subsequently watching the movie made me feel incredibly emotional and break down into tears. It was a truly heartbreaking experiencing Starr’s inner turmoils and the fear she had about speaking out, and it highlighted the vast difference between privileged and underprivileged communities. This story was filled with all sorts of obstacles for Starr, from having to hide Khalil’s motives due to underlying gang conflicts, to deaingl with a racist friend who was insensitive and misinformed. As the story progressed, it was infuriating reading that the police officer who killed Khalil was not going to be prosecuted. However, this led to many protests that demanded justice for Khalil, a perfect parallel to current events that have been occurring all across the country, and all around the world.

Though, in the end, (spoiler alert for those who want to read it!), Khalil’s murderer does not end up being prosecuted, Starr still fights to keep his legacy alive and remains active in the fight against racism. Similar to today, people are continuing to fight for those who have not gained justice for being killed due to the prevalence of xenophobia. However, recognizing the importance of this book and the lessons and information it contains about our society can lead you one step closer to understanding how you can help raise awareness and demand change, especially in a world overrun by oppression. NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!!

Helpful link for those who want to find ways to contribute: https://blacklivesmatter.carrd.co

-Julianne T.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Film Review: The Mule

Earl Stone is a senescent horticulturist and veteran from the Korean War. For all of his life, he has dedicated his time to nurturing his plants and prioritizing work before anything. Due to this reason, he is greatly estranged from his daughter and his wife Mary. At the beginning of the movie, Earl is still earning popularity and money by selling plants to people. However, as the years passed, the internet is the new way of how people sell stuff. Due to this reason, Earl’s business has greatly fallen behind and he was facing a financial crisis. After a heated argument with his wife on how he missed his daughter’s graduation and even the wedding, Earl was headed out of the house. Nevertheless, one strange man approached him and told him to transport some cargoes which can earn him plenty of money. Earl easily agreed and that’s how he came to be the courier of illegal drugs.

There are two reasons why I believe this movie deserves some attention and views. First, it has a central theme of racism that is not outright spoken but can be clearly felt. Due to Earl’s identity as a white man, police officers didn’t bother to check his truck even after the dog has barked after the smell of the drugs. He easily believed Earl when he claims that the dog barks because of the liniment he applies to his hands for medication purposes. The second time the police officers arrested the two Hispanic bodyguards along with him but didn’t arrest Earl due to his race. The third time the police officers directly skipped Earl’s hotel room and only interrogated people of color.

The second reason is that although this movie mainly focuses on crime, its central theme is family. Earl never knows how important family is to him until he attended the performance of his granddaughter. The money he paid for her tuition is illegally earned, but it made him feel special and purposeful about being appreciated by his family members. When his wife Mary died, he deeply regrets the limited amount of time and attention he spent on her until she’s no longer with him.

Therefore, it is important that we recognize and cherish the people and things around us before they are gone.

-Coreen C.

The Mule is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Fictional Food and Illustrations: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Nearly a year ago I wrote a post about my fascination with fictional food and its function within books (“Fictional Food: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”). In the post, I discussed a few food items mentioned in the first Harry Potter book and how they contributed to the mood of certain scenes, the relatability of the characters, and the complexity of the story overall.

Here, I’d like to revisit some of the delicious food from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that I included in that post (along with unmentioned items), this time with some illustrations to accompany them. I hope you enjoy this visual feast :).


At the beginning of chapter 2, Harry finds himself at the zoo with Dudley and his friend, Piers Polkiss, to celebrate Dudley’s birthday. While a visit to the zoo in itself is an unprecedented treat for ten-year-old Harry, Harry’s good fortune seems to persist: at the zoo, “The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice lolly. It wasn’t bad either, Harry thought” (Rowling 33). The treats for Harry didn’t stop there. When Harry and the Dursleys ate lunch at the zoo, “Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory wasn’t big enough, [and] Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first” (34). I guess some good can come out of the spoiling of Dudley Dursley. 

Chocolate ice creams, ice lollies, and knickerbocker glories are left behind when, overwhelmed by the persistence of the letters inviting Harry to attend Hogwarts, Uncle Vernon pulls his family on a wild excursion to “Shake ‘em off,” during which the Dursleys and Harry spend a night at “a gloomy-looking hotel” where they eat “stale cornflakes and cold tinned tomatoes on toast for breakfast” (50). At this same meal, the hotel owner informs them of a surplus of letters addressed to Harry with the exact number of the room he is staying in. At this point it looks as if, despite Uncle Vernon’s admirable efforts, it’s going to be a bit harder than he thought it would be to “shake ‘em off.”

Despite the apparent futility of his efforts, Uncle Vernon does try harder to escape the Hogwarts letters. His determination culminates in Harry and the Dursleys spending a night in a hut on a rock, stranded by turbulent waves and a storm of wind and rain. Did Uncle Vernon think this through? Not thoroughly. Though, to his credit, he did bring some rations: “a packet of crisps each and four bananas” (53). The insubstantiality of this meal makes the next food that enters Harry’s mouth extra delicious.

After Hagrid enters the hut (by breaking down the door) and deduces that Uncle Vernon is not going to offer him tea or a drink (or anything, for that matter), he takes a number of objects out of his coat, including “a copper kettle, a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a teapot, [and] several chipped mugs” and proceeds to cook the sausages over the fire. Soon, Hagrid offers “six fat, juicy, slightly burnt sausages to Harry, who [is] so hungry he ha[s] never tasted anything so wonderful” (57, 58).

While Harry meeting Hagrid is a defining moment in itself, Hagrid’s sausages may be the first tasty food offered solely to Harry out of kindness and care. This is one of Harry’s first tastes of a world where he is regarded as important and admirable and not as a messy-haired nephew who ought to be hidden in a cupboard under the stairs. 

The delights of Hagrid’s generosity continue when he buys Harry “chocolate and raspberry [ice cream] with chopped nuts” in Diagon Alley (89). Whenever I read this part, this ice cream sounds so delicious, and I marvel at the fact that the simple inclusion of these little details makes the story so much richer and entertaining. Where Hagrid bought these delectable desserts is not stated, but I think it’s reasonable to guess that they were crafted by Florean Fortescue, the owner of an ice cream parlour where Harry spends much of his time two summers later.

Once at Hogwarts, Harry enjoys more food with Hagrid at Hagrid’s cabin, though perhaps it’s not as tasty as the ice cream in Diagon Alley. On Harry and Ron’s first visit to Hagrid’s, Harry introduces Ron while Hagrid pours “boiling water into a large teapot and [puts] rock cakes onto a plate … The rock cakes almost broke their teeth, but Harry and Ron pretended to be enjoying them” (154). Although Hagrid’s rock cakes are not the most scrumptious or easy-to-eat delights, I think they’re still endearing and fitting to the story—Harry and Ron don’t visit Hagrid for the food. Plus, maybe if you soaked the rock cakes in tea or milk they would make a delicious treat (or at least a softer one). 

Here’s an illustration of the steak-and-kidney pie served at Hogwarts the night Professor McGonagall discovers Harry’s talent as a Quidditch Seeker (I’ve accompanied it with some pumpkin juice, though it’s not mentioned in the book). By the time Harry’s done telling Ron the news that he has been made Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Ron has “a piece of steak-and-kidney pie halfway to his mouth, but [he’s] forgotten all about it” (166). We know a piece of news is important when it makes Ron forgets about food.

In his state of excitement from unwittingly finding himself on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Harry probably does not forsee the state of his nerves on the morning of his first match. While “the delicious smell of fried sausages” pervades the Great Hall, Harry does not even want to eat the “bit of toast” Hermione tries to coax him to eat. His appetite is probably diminished further when Seamus reminds him that “Seekers are always the ones who get nobbled” while “pil[ing] ketchup on his sausages” (200). 

The last two illustrations are inspired by Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts:

“Harry had never in all his life seen such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roast and boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce—and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table … Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey” (220).

After a “happy afternoon having a furious snowball fight in the grounds” with the Weasleys and a chess game with Ron, Harry enjoys “a tea of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle and Christmas cake” (221).

I really enjoyed illustrating these dishes and treats from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which wouldn’t have been possible without J.K. Rowling’s detailed and generous descriptions. I loved learning about new kinds of food when I looked up pictures and descriptions of Yorkshire puddings, rock cakes, steak-and-kidney pie, chipolatas, trifle, and flaming Christmas puddings for reference (if you’re interested and haven’t seen a flaming Christmas pudding, I would suggest looking up an image—they look so cool!). I hope these illustrations were entertaining for Harry Potter lovers and food lovers alike!

– Mia T.

Book vs. Movie: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

While re-reading the fourth Harry Potter book, I found myself enjoying the story just as much as I had the first, second, third, etc. times–maybe even more so because I was picking up on details and nuances in the plot that I hadn’t noticed before. After finishing the book, I sat down and watched the movie again, which I enjoyed also. However, as much as I admire the film, there are so many scenes, subplots, details, and even some characters from the book that don’t quite make it into the movie.

In this post, I thought I’d discuss some of these aspects, as well one part in the movie I enjoyed. In no way is this meant to criticize the movie or the book, both of which I admire very much. Hope you enjoy it!

*A little note: this post is more of a commentary on the aspects of the book that did not make it to the screen :). It also contains spoilers!


While the movie jumps to the journey to the Quidditch World Cup, book-Harry doesn’t have it quite so easy. Or at least, the book expands upon his time at the Dursley’s.

In the book, an over-stamped letter, a blasted-open fireplace, and a Ton-Tongue Toffee help chronicle Harry’s “rescue” from the Dursley’s house by the Weasley family (on the topic of Ton-Tongue Toffees, Fred and George’s desire to open a joke shop was not included much in the movie, so the trick wands and Canary Creams are treats solely from the book).

Once at the Burrow, Harry meets Ron’s two eldest brothers, Bill and Charlie, for the first time. While Charlie is mentioned in the movie by Hagrid, the faces of these characters did not make it into the movie.

Fast-forwarding to the Quidditch World Cup campsite, the movie doesn’t introduce us to a few of the fascinating characters and scenes we come across in the book. The book gives us an update on Oliver Wood, who had completed his last year at Hogwarts the previous year (congrats, Oliver!); an introduction to Seamus’ mother and her shamrock-covered tent; a scene with dear old Archie, who refuses to change out of his flowered nightgown; and an introduction to Ludo Bagman.

Though his blue-eyed innocent face doesn’t make it to the screen, Ludo Bagman does give the book an interesting subplot. His losing bet with Fred and George and his ensuing inability to pay the twins back lead to his suspicious attempts to assist Harry in the Triwizard Tournament. This and his history with the Ministry also make him a suspect for the danger that seems to be lurking at Hogwarts throughout the story. While the movie completely leaves Ludo and his subplot out, I think the subplot adds so much richness and intrigue to the book.

An interesting little scene we miss in the movie is when Mr. Ollivander inspects each of the Triwizard Champion’s wands. We get to learn the wand cores and the type of wood of each wand, and Harry also gets a clue that resurfaces in the seventh book: Krum’s wand was made by Gregorovitch, who Harry dreams about three years later.

One place found solely in the book is the Hogwarts kitchens, which I find so fascinating–they provide an explanation for the magically-appearing food on the tables at Hogwarts. Additionally, the introduction of the kitchens addresses the presence of house elves in the castle, who, along with cooking delicious meals, clean the common rooms and keep the fires going. While it is unfortunate that the kitchens did not make it into the movie, it’s understandable that creating them, along with all the house elves working there, would be an enormous undertaking, also taking into account that the scenes that take place in them aren’t particularly necessary to the larger plot that the movie tells.

On that note, no house elves are seen on the screen for the fourth movie–not Dobby (Harry is helped by Neville for the second task rather than his elf friend) and not Winky, who added to the subplot with Mr. Crouch and his son. Subsequently, Hermione’s organization to support the rights of house elves–S.P.E.W., not “spew”–does not appear in the film either. While I would have enjoyed seeing the mismatched socks Dobby makes for Harry and Hermione’s valiant effort at promoting S.P.E.W., I also understand that sitting for seven-plus hours in front of a TV screen isn’t the best for one’s health.

As a side note related to the absence of house elves in the film, the movie, unfortunately, doesn’t introduce us to the Quidditch team mascots, leprechauns, and Veela; Hagrid’s Blast-Ended Skrewts (perhaps we should be thankful) and nifflers; or the sphinx Harry meets in the maze.

Another subplot unique to the book is Rita Skeeter’s. Although her embellished journalism does appear in the movie, its scope is larger in the book–which we discover (with the help of Hermione) is due to her ability to turn into a beetle. Additionally, because Rita Skeeter’s juicy journalism does not single out Hagrid for being a half-giant in the movie, Harry’s Care of Magical Creatures class does not meet Professor Grubbly-Plank, nor does it meet the pure white unicorns Professor Grubbly-Plank opts to have them work with instead of the Skrewts.

One part of the book that I loved was after the third task in the hospital wing when Mrs. Weasley hugs Harry like a mother. It’s so endearing how Mrs. Weasley cares for Harry so much, even with seven other children to love as well. By sending Harry hand-knit sweaters for Christmas, chocolate eggs for Easter, and coming to watch Harry compete in the third task as his “family,” Mrs. Weasley truly steps up as the motherly figure Harry needs.

Lastly, I wanted to mention the scene in the movie where Harry, Ron, and Hermione discuss the Yule Ball. While a similar scene takes place in the book, it does not involve Professor Snape’s attempts to get Harry and Ron to focus throughout the scene, which culminate in him forcing them to look at their paper. I also like how Fred asks Angelina to the ball in this scene (in the book he did so by yelling across the Gryffindor common room).

Phew! That was a pretty lengthy review–thank you if you read all the way (and I understand if you didn’t!). I realize this post is more about pieces found solely in the book that I enjoyed, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same.

There are so many little details and subplots that make the Harry Potter books so deep, intricate and comforting to read, and though the movies may lack the same details out of necessity, I still thoroughly enjoy them. I also love how the movie script pulls many of the lines straight from the book.

Ultimately, the movie slides over many well-loved subplots, characters, and details as a result of its fast pacing and need to capture an audience for a short amount of time. But this doesn’t make it any less interesting. Both the book and the movie are entertaining and enjoyable, as I hope they are (or will be) to you!

– Mia T.

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Amazon.com: Origin (9781595145963): Khoury, Jessica: Books

Origin is a wonderful read for any fan of science fiction and romance. Based in the depths of the Amazon jungle, you will get immediately swept into the world of labs and scientists. The main character Pia, is considered perfect, because she is invincible, one of a kind, and extremely smart. At 16 years old, the only people she knows are her family, a team of scientists, and the non-scientist residents on the secret facility called Little Cam. With five generations and a magical flower found deep in the Amazon jungle, called Elysia. But Pia has to be kept on complete lockdown and doesn’t get most types of entertainment, like books magazines, or movies, unless they are science textbooks, with blackened out paragraphs. She hasn’t even met anyone under the age of thirty. But this all changes when she’s able to escape Little Cam, and meets Eio from a local village. They start to fall in love, but the risk of deadly consequences grows more.

I own this book, and I’m really glad that I do. It’s one of my personal favorites to read over and over again. It’s such an amazing secret world to fall in love with. The first time you read this book, you’re constantly wondering what happens next, and if Pia will ever be free from all the restrictions.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new read.

-Rebecca V., 11th Grade

Animal Farm by George Orwell

George Orwell’s composition of Animal Farm tells a story of real-life actions, in a form everyone understands, through the eyes of animals. The idea of communism, or in this case what the animals refer to as “animalism”, is a sensitive topic. But, Orwell was able to explain part of the issue that power leads to corruption.

In the beginning of the novel, Napoleon the pig is shown as a protagonist that helps end the animals suffering under the farmers. But as a shock to all, he slowly his idealism changes as the animals take over the farm. This event was one of the main problems that occurred in real life in some countries.

Orwell’s ability to link a compelling story to real event in time was a very interesting connection to make. He was able to explain actions that happened in countries like Russia, and put in how these people were able to rise to power through a story. Each character or event that occurred in the story portrayed different communist leaders and ideas, along with different ideas of totalitarianism.

Before getting into the novel, I was familiar to the ideas of communism and other neighboring branches of it. Once I started reading I could see some connections of these ideas as they were portrayed in a different form. But as the story continued and the characters growth was at a point in which their true attributes were finally being showed, I could see what Orwell was doing. He allowed each different sets of animals grow into separate groups, all with different views on the situation. Each group were essentially the different types of people during these types of Revolutions.

Overall, this book was very intriguing and I would rate it a 9/10. It was one of those books where once it was started, it had to be finished. My dad constantly told me of books that even his generation was urged to read. Animal Farm was one of the classic books that he would tell me about. It was very cool to be able to relate with my dad about a book he had also read when he was a teenager. This story by George Orwell was a very fascinating read.

-Lilly G.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Books to read this summer

Some people may find it hard to find books that they like, so I am here to help. These are three books that you will absolutely find captivating. The names of the books are called Counting by Sevens When You Reach Me, and The Fault in Our Stars.

The first book Counting by Sevens by Holly G. Sloan is about a 12-year-old girl named Willow Chance. Willow is very smart and loves nature and diagnosing people with medical problems. She has never really had a great connection with anybody besides her adoptive parents. Then suddenly her parents die in a car accident and she is confused. She then starts to realize that she can connect to people. This book is extremely interesting and you will find it hard to put it down.

The second book When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is about a girl named Miranda that starts receiving mysterious letters from a person that knows her. Yet what’s even stranger is that the letters contain events that have not happened yet. The letters make her think she can prevent a very tragic death from happening until they make her think she is too late. This book will have you wondering what will happen next in each chapter.

My third and final book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is about a girl named Hazel Grace who has cancer attends a support group. She then meets a mysterious boy named Augustus Waters who also had cancer. They end up bonding and learn stuff about each other. They later find out about Hazel’s favorite book author and how they can talk to him about how they felt about the book ends. This book is one hundred percent worth your time and if you have to choose one book this would be my choice.

In conclusion these three books are my top three choices for you to read this summer.

-Veronica S.

Braveland Trilogy Review

Braveland Trilogy, produced by Tortuga Teams limited is a new, exciting, RPG strategy game. The game follows you and your team of heroes, as you encounter different bandits, monsters, etc. Throughout your journeys, you will recruit and hire different soldiers that you can use to your advantage. The main objective of the game is to make your way through the Braveland Trilogy world, fighting and increasing your power with your army.

Each player’s team is comprised of multiple classes, each with a special set of skills and strengths. My army was comprised of peasants, archers, and thieves, each with a different skill set. Some classes had more range, speed, or power than the other classes. Classes also had a different weakness, keeping the game challenging. For example, the archers were only good at a medium to long-distance, and the closer the enemy got, the weaker the archers became. The peasants were quite powerful up close, but due to their weapons, they were slow and vulnerable to faster enemies. There is also a huge variety in the different types of enemies that a player can face. Ranging from weak archers to magical hammer users, the different enemies keep the game interesting. 

I liked how each of the different sections of the map was themed differently and became progressively more difficult. At the beginning of the map, much of the land was green, bright, and the enemies that I encountered were easy and peaceful. Farther down the map, many of the enemies were much more difficult and the map was darker and dimmer. I really enjoyed the aspect of purchasing certain fighters to grow your army. This aspect made the game feel much more like an actual medieval time simulator. The difficulties that I faced when I played Braveland Trilogy was the coins. I usually did not make enough money or coins to buy back the soldiers that I lost in battle. Little by little, my army began to shrink more and more. Luckily, I was able to find a treasure chest that gave me enough coins to buy back my whole army. The animations and graphics themselves for the games were pretty good. The graphics were bright and fun, and very kid-friendly. The voice lines and speech bubbles reminded me of a comic book, and the action sequences were simple but well executed.

Overall, I enjoyed playing Braveland Trilogy. The gameplay was quite enjoyable, and the graphics were very beautiful. The diversity of your army, as well as your enemies, was very nice, and challenging. All in all, I would award Braveland Trilogy a score of eight out of ten.

-Daniel C.

Summer Book and Movie Recommendations

As an avid reader, I’m always looking for new books to read. Here is a list of books, many of which I consider my all-time favorites, but some are simply ones that enjoyed and would recommend to anyone in search of a good read:

  1. The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Hunger Games Series (and its newly-released prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) by Suzanne Collins
  3. When, by Victoria Laurie
  4. Dessert First, by Dean Gloster
  5. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl
  6. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  8. The Raft, by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
  9. If I Should Speak, by Umm Zakiyyah
  10. Night, by Ellie Weisel

As for a few movie recommendations, I once again have to include Harry Potter and Hunger Games! But I’ll also be adding others, once again, either more of my all-time favorites or just all-around good movies.

  1. The Harry Potter Series
  2. Pride and Prejudice
  3. The Aeronauts
  4. The Hunger Games Series
  5. The Lord of the Rings series
  6. The Rise of Skywalker
  7. Inception
  8. Little Women
  9. Interstellar
  10. Collateral Beauty

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Amazon.com: War and Peace (Vintage Classics) (9781400079988 ...

This book centers on the Great Patriotic War of 1812 and reflects major historical events from 1805 to 1820. Taking the experience of Bezuhov, Rostov, and Kuragin as the mainline, it connects many events and characters in the alternating description of war and peace. The author cross-described the two lives and two threads of “war” and “peace”, forming an encyclopedic magnificent epic. The basic theme of “War and Peace” is to recognize the just resistance actions of the Russian people during the war, and to praise the patriotic enthusiasm and heroism of the Russian people during the war. But the tone of his work is one of religious benevolence and humanitarianism. He opposes war and sympathizes deeply with the suffering of all sides.

Andrei, Pierre, and others have experienced a tortuous and dialectical development process in their pursuit of ideals and truth. The different mental manifestations of the Russian troops in different battles, such as panic, calmness, and passion, combined with the distinctive individual psychological motivations of each bearing in the specific war, melted and formed the spiritual atmosphere in every corner of the battlefield. Morale is the key to win or lose in a war. The novel War and Peace has both the magnificent color of epic novels and the depth of expression in its insight into the psychology of characters and even the entire nation. The work focuses on a panoramic overview of social life, realizing the epic aesthetic ideal of the creative subject and transcending the work itself. War and Peace powerfully exposes and criticizes the decadence of the upper-class society. In the critical autumn of their motherland, they are still fighting for power and wealth, leading a life of luxury and dissipation and shamelessness.

-Coreen C.