I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Amazon.com: I, Robot (The Robot Series) eBook: Asimov, Isaac: Kindle Store

I, Robot, a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov, tell the tales of artificially intelligent robots held in check by the Three Laws of Robotics, which are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

With these three simple directives in mind, Asimov successfully creates a world in which the behaviour of robots is governed, allowing the humans (and the reader) to watch as the robots evolve from their primitive origins to eventually reach ultimate perfection in a future where humanity is on the cusp of being rendered obsolete.

While not technically classified as a novel, the stories have been ordered in such a way as to preserve continuity. Within a frame narrative of an interview of a soon-to-be-retired division head of the U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men Corporation, “robopsychologist” Dr. Susan Calvin, stories are told depicting the key members involved in humanity’s development of a range of robots from infantile to hyper intelligent ones. An especially appealing part of the stories is that most of the characters are kept the same, and while it may seem dull to read about the same few people, the character development in each story produces well rounded characters that are interesting and realistic.

Of the 9 stories in I, Robot, my personal favorite was “Little Lost Robot,” in which Dr. Calvin and her associates lose a robot with a diminished First Law (meaning that it can harm humans), and they must find it again before it can escape to Earth and wreak havoc on the planet, resulting in a loss of support for the robot initiative. However, all the stories were definitely thought-provoking ones, and I would recommend the entire collection to all readers, sci-fi fans or otherwise.

-Mahak M.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

My Love for Spirited Away

Spirited Away.

My favorite Studio Ghibli movie.

The first Studio Ghibli movie I’ve ever seen.

Your beautiful music, extraordinary characters, breathtaking visuals, transported me to a world that I wish I could stay in for the rest of my life. You make me cry, laugh, smile, blush, and drag my cursor across my laptop to restart the entire movie all over again. It’s a story of compassion, romance, humor, and so much more to me that just animations on a screen.

Chihiro, one of the main characters, is someone that I love dearly in this movie. To be honest, she actually sort of annoyed me when I first met her; she had an annoying voice and was a bit clumsy. But as the movie progressed, she underwent this amazing character development that warms my heart every time I see it happen. She goes through homesickness, young love with a boy named Haku (which is the CUTEST thing by the way), fear, and so many more events that shape her into the person that she becomes at the end of the movie.

Though there are quite a lot of fantastical elements to follow along (which can be confusing in many cases), it blended beautifully into an intricate storyline that was still able to appeal to my young self. There are creatures that make you wonder what it would be like to live in a world with them, from talking frogs to even a giant baby! Many have unique abilities that range from magic to being able to consume large amounts of food.

All in all, Spirited Away is a movie that I think everyone needs to see at least once in their lifetime. I, for one, have seen it at least 5 times and never get tired of it at all. It is more than just a movie, it is a lesson, an emotional rollercoaster, an immersive experience that provides you with such detailed insight into the world of Spirited Away. I envy Chihiro as much as I envy every other character who has the privilege of being able to forever live in this universe, and not a day goes by when I don’t wish I lived in such a mysterious world.

But for now, I guess watching the movie on repeat will have to do 🙂

-Juliannae T.

Spirited Away is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Thunderball by Ian Fleming

Thunderball (novel) - Wikipedia

There’s no rest for Agent James Bond, code-name 007, especially after taking down the Russian counter-intelligence agency SMERSH. It has only created a new power vacuum, one that an even more dangerous organization seeks to fill in Thunderball by Ian Fleming.

The Prime Minister of the UK and the President of the US both receive a secret message from SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), detailing their latest plot. The agency, led by criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has successfully hijacked a plane carrying two nuclear bombs, which it will use to destroy two major cities in the West unless an exorbitant ransom is paid.

To avoid this, the Americans and the British launch Operation Thunderball to retrieve the two weapons of mass destruction. M, however, decides to act on a hunch of his, and, believing that the SPECTRE operative is working from the Caribbean area, and thus sends his best operative, James Bond, to eliminate the threat.

Once at the Bahamas, Bond wastes no time integrating himself with the suspected SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo by seducing the beautiful Domino Vitali, Largo’s current mistress. However, alone in the Bahamas with a lone man for backup, Bond may find himself in over his head, with Largo proving to be a more powerful nemesis than any before him…

In Ian Fleming’s Thunderball, the reader is introduced to the newest set of Bond villains, as well as one of the best action sequences in the Bond storyline. Fans of Agent 007 should not miss the ninth installment in the tale of one of the most celebrated series in history.

-Mahak M.

Thunderball by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott’s most well-renown classic, Little Women, has been well-loved by readers everywhere for decades, and it’s easy to see why.

 Not only is the book filled with warmth and the beauty of family and childhood, but its characters and plot are incredibly believable, more so than most books you may read. It is because the story is in fact simplistic, regarding the lives of the March sisters and what happens in their beautifully ordinary life, that it so easily draws in the reader. Many stories go above and beyond what can be believable when it comes to the plot and therefore can disconnect the reader from the book because the sense of relatability is then gone. However, such is not the case with Little Women, as the story takes place on a smaller, simpler scale, seldom varying away from what goes on in the March family home, and is, therefore, all the more lovable and sweet.

Though I will not skip over the fact that yes, there were some slower, less interesting parts, overall the book was a sweet read filled with moral lessons that can still be understood and implemented today, and lovable, though humanly flawed characters. No such one character is perfect or entirely likable within this book, as is almost always the case for the protagonist, who is always the unassuming yet nearly perfect hero. Each of the March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy), all have their own fair share of flaws and imperfections, and this is clearly depicted from the beginning of the book, adding a level of realism and humanity to what otherwise would have been a rather slow-paced story. 

Little Women is indeed a very long book; but a worthwhile, cozy read, the length being attributed to the fact that it spans over a long duration of time, as the book first begins in the midst of childhood and ends many years later. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a big fan of other classics or simply want a book that is a good, light-hearted read without losing any of its lifelike qualities.

-Aisha

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica

Ellison was born in Oklahoma city, Oklahoma, on March 1, 1914. He was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous American writer and poet of the 19th century, and his father wanted him to be a poet, too. He lost his father at the age of three and grew up in a poor family. He loved music, especially jazz, and decided to be a musician. After high school, he won a scholarship to study music at the Tuskegee Institute, a black college. Because of scholarship problems, he had to go to New York after his junior year of college. He originally intended to earn some money to continue his studies, but he ended up staying in New York, where he started his literary career with the help and influence of the famous black poet Langston Hughes and the novelist Richard Wright, among others. In his early years, he mainly wrote critical articles and published two collections of essays, “Shadow and Act” and “Going to the Territory”, which elaborated his views on literature, music and the political and social life of African Americans. In 1952, the novel “Invisible Man” was published after seven years of careful creation.

The novel described the psychological maturity of a black youth in a society full of apartheid and racial discrimination, which belongs to the genre of growth fiction. Apart from the overture and epilogue, the novel can be divided into three parts: life at a black southern college, experiences in New York’s freedom paint factory, and experiences in Harlem. The novel is a combination of realism, naturalism, expressionism and surrealism. It expresses complex and profound themes through seemingly simple plots, especially the use of a large number of symbols, so that the novel can be understood from different levels and perspectives. Although he did not publish the second part of the novel for various reasons, his creative activities never ceased. After he died, his literature executors published Ellison’s second novel “Juneteenth”.

Mr. Ellison has been criticized for his advocacy of racial integration, cultural diversity, his lack of direct involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Aesthetically, his main point is that “novelists should take moral responsibility for democracy”. His novels are devoted to changing the traditional stereotype of black people and reshaping their humanity. Ellison won the National Book Award in 1953 and 1965 and received the U.S. Medal of Freedom and was accepted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

-Coreen C.

The works of Ralph Ellison are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Hufflepuff Common Room

One could safely say that Harry, with his handy Marauder’s Map, adventurous spirit, and knack for getting into trouble, explores much more of Hogwarts than the typical student does. In fact, he manages to enter both the Slytherin common room (with the help of Polyjuice Potion and a few of Gregory Goyle’s hairs) and the Ravenclaw common room–as well as his own cozy Gryffindor common room–within the span of the series.

However, although he develops friendships with a few Hufflepuff students, Harry never enters the Hufflepuff common room. And as a result, the readers never see it, either.

Thankfully, the world of Harry Potter is so richly imagined and developed that it extends beyond the books. Unsurprisingly, a vividly descriptive article on the Hufflepuff common room can be found on the Wizarding World website, written by J.K. Rowling herself (If you’re a Harry Potter lover, I encourage you to check it out–it’s very interesting to learn about the mysterious common room and to read J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on it).

Though the method used to enter the Hufflepuff common room is rather simple (tapping a barrel to the rhythm of the founder of Hufflepuff’s name (Rowling)), and although the room lies low in comparison to the towers that house the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor common rooms, I think I would choose to live in the Hufflepuff common room above the others if I had the choice.

The Hufflepuff common room seems so cozy and bright, with “patchwork quilts,” “[a] colorful profusion of plants and flowers,” and “[s]mall, round windows [that] show a pleasant view of rippling grass and dandelions, and, occasionally, passing feet” (Rowling). Despite being so low in the ground, the Hufflepuff common room still seems cheerful and warm. I love how the majority of the decorations are plants; they add so much vibrancy and homeliness to the room, and I think the constant presence of nature would create a joyful and peaceful mood. In addition, the circular structure of the room reminds me of a cozy little hobbit hole.

The common room “feels perennially sunny”–the perfect atmosphere for keeping your spirits up while studying for exams, relaxing with your classmates, or recovering from a particularly cold and difficult Potions class (Rowling). Imagine leaving the stuffy Divination classroom or a particularly wearisome History of Magic lesson and entering a warm, inviting room lit with golden sunlight and lively plants. The environment itself, I think, could be an instant mood-lifter.

Lastly, the Hufflepuff common room lies right near the kitchens, in case you want to pay the house elves a visit.

Where else would you want to spend your seven years at Hogwarts?

– Mia T.


Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. “Hufflepuff Common Room.” Wizarding World, Wizarding World Digital, 2 Mar. 2020, http://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/hufflepuff-common-room. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is a must-read. An absolute must read, no doubts about it. 

Told in the first-person perspective of Jane herself, it’s a story about her life, written almost in an auto-biography style, though the book is indeed fictional. Beginning during Jane’s loveless childhood where she lives with her cruel, unfeeling Aunt and cousins as an orphaned little girl and then later transitioning to her life in a strict girl’s boarding school, Jane then goes on to become a teacher for a couple of years before applying herself to become a governess. She then finds herself a good job as the governess of a young French girl in a manor named Thornfield Hall, home of the brooding, seldom-seen owner, Mr. Rochester. 

Though there can be no doubt that the book does revolve around the romance that takes place in Jane’s life, the book is about Jane and her as a person more than it is anyone else. Her beautiful reflections and mature understandings of life are insightful and filled with deep wisdom and truth, often taking center stage in the book. I found myself admiring Jane many times as I read through the book simply due to how steadfast she is in staying true to herself and her beliefs. Jane exhibits this often throughout the book, refusing to step down in the face of opposition, to cave under pressure, even when it pains her greatly to do so, and instead, constantly striving to adhere to her values.

Due to this trait, Jane as a character can be described as altogether independent, brave, and steadfast, but also someone who has a heavy feeling and emotive heart, a desire for purpose, and a quiet, contemplative exterior. 

Jane is the perfect embodiment of a strong female character, but even in being so, she is not un-feminine or unfeeling, but quite the opposite, with a garnered heart that loves and is inclined to serve and care. 

With everything that makes up Jane and who she is, this masterpiece of a character feels too real to be fictional. This is much accredited to  Charlotte Bronte’s beautifully descriptive, explanatory way of writing which is what breathes life into the story. The beautiful language, the common appearance of beautiful places in nature, the slow-moving get captivating plot along with the different characters that you meet along the way altogether creates the perfect read. 

But the true heart and soul of the story lies within Jane. The book is titled Jane Eyre, for what I believe is the sole purpose being that Jane is the story. And I promise you, Jane is worth every single page of reading this book.

-Aisha

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

This is an amazing story. I highly recommend you read it. 

When Suzanne Swanson learns about how her former best friend, Franny Jackson, drowned during the summer, she is immediately convinced that there was something else that caused her death. Her mother’s explanation, “Sometimes things just happen”, Suzy believes, is not the truth. 

Suzy stops talking to everyone. She begins to think that silence is better than talking. It sometimes means more than someone’s words. 

Her search for an answer leads to many interesting facts and a possible suspect: jellyfish. Especially when she finds out so much about them during a school field trip visit to the aquarium. I also loved how this book features lots of amazing facts about jellyfish.

During Suzy’s research, she finds lots of different experts on jellyfish and decides that she should visit one of those experts and ask them to help her prove how her former best friend really died. More fueled than ever, Suzy is determined to help bring the truth into the light.

The book follows Suzy as she tries to find out the whole story and grieves this loss. She is devastated that, as she calls it, ‘The Worst Thing’ took place before she was able to make up with Franny for the terrible scene that unfolded thanks to Suzy.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I hope we can watch the movie soon. 

The Thing About Jellyfish has an amazing story and succeeds in making the reader want to keep reading more and more of the book. Filled with valuable life lessons and a wide range of character personalities, this best-seller is a novel you should read.

-Peri A.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Rocket League Game Review

Competitive games with cars playing sports, boosting up and down the courts and fields, kicking soccer balls into goals and shooting basketballs into hoops… Rocket League is a video game that transforms the impossible into the possible. With this video game, you get an exciting experience, playing against the CPU or against other online players. You have an opportunity to compete for a league championship against the Computer- Generated teams. This game is a game that shows that anything can be possible in video games! Rocket League is a game you will not want to pass up!

In Rocket League, you can customize your dream car and unlock different accessories to decorate it. Also, you don’t just have to change the car every time you want a new look, but you can make many different cars and use each one whenever you want to. Then, you can compete in a showdown against the CPU players or you can take it to the next level, and play online with other Rocket League competitors. Rocket League is a competitive game, but it is also very fun. You can score goals and baskets in the SOCCAR and Basketball game modes. You can also take it to the ice and play hockey with your cars.

This game is fantastic because you can play it online or offline. There  are many different online modes, as well as there are many different offlines modes. The online modes  include playing an online match with random people playing at the same time, or you can play with your friends in a club. If you prefer to play video games offline, you can play multiplayer with your siblings or friends simply by connecting another controller. In addition, you can play against or with bots. It is possible to compete in seasons against bot teams for the championship trophy. 

Another great thing about this video game is that whether you are a girl, boy, kid, adult, or senior, you can always trust Rocket League to make you smile and have fun! This game is for anyone with even a slight interest in sports or cars! 

Rocket League is a fantastic video game with great graphics and can teach you the game of soccer, basketball and hockey as you play. 

I would give this game a 9/10 rating because I believe that they could add daily goals and levels to the game to make it more exciting to play and beat the levels. But, overall, Rocket League is an amazing game and I would definitely recommend you to try it!

-Mert A.

Film Review: The Shining

The Shining is a horror movie about a man named Jack Torrance and his wife and son. Jack and his family stay at an isolated, massive hotel called the Overlook Hotel. Jack plans to spend his time at the hotel writing, attempting to cure his writer’s block. The Shining is based on a book written by Stephen King. The story slowly evolves as Stephen King’s character becomes an abusive and manipulative man towards his family. The audience realizes that Jack is mentally ill and his family is not safe with him staying at the hotel. Originally, it is perceived by the audience that Jack had been at the hotel before and he was not mentally ill. Jack’s son played an extremely important role in this movie because he was connected to the hotel through a concept called “shining.” He becomes apart of an alternate universe and communicates with a voice inside of his head. Originally, it was inferred that the son was the one that was mentally ill; however, the voice inside of his head was really trying to protect him and his mom from his father. The hotel was portrayed as a haunted building with no way out. Small clues such as the massive pantry and freezers with locks foreshadowed the scene when the mother locks Jack inside the pantry.

Throughout the movie, Jack plays mind games with his clearly oblivious wife and manipulates her into leaving him alone while he writes. One scene was particularly disturbing in which the wife finds Jack’s book that he had been writing while they were at the hotel. It is revealed that Jack was not actually writing a book and the papers were filled with the same sentence over and over again, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The movie the Shining transformed from a story about a family staying at a hotel by themselves to an alarming and captivating film about Jack Torrance’s disturbing mind and past at the hotel. His wife and son no longer felt safe at the hotel anymore and ran from him and hid from him until they got away. This movie displayed the disturbing effect of mental illness and how you never know who a person really is. The way Jack chased his family around the hotel and kept drifting in and out of the alternate universe kept the audience attentive.

-Sasha B.

The Shining is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.