Milk and Honey

Book Title: Milk and Honey

Author: Rupi Kaur

Rating: 9/10

Reading Level: 8-12

“I am water. Soft enough to offer life. Tough enough to drown it away”

Milk and Honey is a beautifully written book by Rupi Kaur that features 4 sections: the hurting, loving, breaking, and healing of life.

Kaur has written this book with a level of finesse but also solitude that I haven’t ever read before. This book features poems and minimalistic illustrations that manage to give the book a delicateness and sense of mindfulness throughout its 226 pages.

Milk and Honey does have a bit of mature content, which is why I rated the reading level of this book a little higher, but is a must-read for those searching for a truly masterful poetry experience.

“For you to see beauty here does not mean there is beauty in me. It means there is beauty rooted so deep within you, you can’t help but see it everywhere.”

-Anusha M.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Romance in Books/Media

I have grown up reading books where romance had been the central theme of the book, a plot line on the side, and with side characters who have never actually spoken in the book. In every single book I had read, there was some sort of romance involved and it would be hard to ignore it since it is present, despite the characters not even being fully-fleshed. I have read books where the person’s personality revolves around their relationship to this one person who also doesn’t really have a personality. Even if the characters have a dynamic, it is there to compliment their lover (one wears black all the time and hates everyone while the other gives children cookies as a pastime in their rainbow clothing). These people who saw each other from across the room are kissing three seconds later which ensues a romantic relationship. These couples, primarily ones consisting of a man and a woman, start off as friends or they start off as enemies or they had just met and then all of a sudden, they are in a romantic relationship with each other.

Then, I started to watch television and it not only amplified whatever romance that was shown in the books I would read but also shown toxicity in the relationships that are deemed normal. There are toxic relationships in books but I saw it more in TV shows and at an alarming rate. The couple would disagree with something and then all of a sudden, they are screaming at each other and haven’t come to a conclusion until the next day where one apologizes and they go on upon their day. These couples don’t usually ask consent when wanting to do things which could lead to miscommunication on what they want and further damage their relationship without even realizing it. On screen, it would be surprising to everyone if the main character’s love interest asked if they wanted to kiss because it has been implemented throughout the story that they both wanted each other. But then, this logic reflects in our society and our lives. It could be the case that someone doesn’t want to kiss another and everyone would be disappointed because this person is so nice or this person really likes them so they should just do what they don’t want to do and kiss them.

Romance has been shoved down everyone’s throats, through many different platforms, to the point where everyone must have a romantic relationship in their life to lead fulfilling lives. I have grown up thinking that I must have a romantic relationship eventually in my life and if I don’t, I will be a disappointment. If someone is single at the moment, it wouldn’t last long because everyone wants to be in a relationship and they will be in one soon. I have grown up thinking that if a man or a woman were merely talking to each other or hanging out with friends, they must be dating. I know that other people in our society also feel this way.

And then, I read a book where there was no romance whatsoever. I didn’t know this beforehand so I had been surprised as I read through this book. The book is called Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. It is a story about how this girl and guy becoming friends after finding out they have affiliated with this one podcast they both love. At first, I didn’t like the book because it was boring and anti-climatic. But then, I researched why I felt so weird after reading a book that contains no romance in it and found it boring. I discovered this new concept called amatonormativity, where our society pushes people to prioritize finding romantic relationships over keeping one’s platonic relationships. I am reading the book again and now, I am finding new aspects in it and realizing how entrenched I had been in amatonormativity.

I am not saying that there shouldn’t be romance in books and in media. I believe there should be more interracial couples, queer relationships, disabled relationships, relationships dealing with people of color, and other relationships between marginalized groups. But I don’t want romance to be geared toward a certain group and to be held at such a higher pedestal than platonic love is. And for those still reading, thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end and hopefully you agree. However, this is all my opinion and no one has to agree with me. Thanks anyway!

-Saanvi V.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

The world of Dune is vast, with the first book barely scratching the surface. Leaving many fans asking author Frank Herbert for more. 4 years after the release of the first one, Frank delivered Dune Messiah. Taking many of the criticism of his previous books and proving them wrong, by introducing us to the dark side of destiny. If I were to describe the book in one word, it would be sinister. Everything about it, from the villains, the heroes, the politics, and the philosophy. There are moments when you will feel dirty as if you participated in some evil plot. But this is exactly what Herbert wanted, he wanted to show how power is corruptive, and how even the noblest of heroes have a dark side.

He broke the mold of the classic “hero’s journey” and focused on the hero’s psychological transformation. As Paul Atreides struggles to deal with his “horrible purpose”, visions of destruction, and a horrific injury. Despite this intriguing concept, the book is not without its failings. Unlike its predecessor, the book has hardly any action, focusing almost entirely on dialogue. This can lead to parts of the book coming off as filler, or self-aggrandizing philosophical nonsense. However, it makes up for it in the best endings I’ve ever read. The final act of the book is simply breathtaking, hard to put down, and yes, it’s incredibly sinister. In many ways, it’s the complete opposite of its predecessor, which had an incredibly lackluster ending. Leaving me with only one question, what could the next book have in store?

-Parker K.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Cover image for Waiting for Godot / Samuel Beckett.

On January 5, 1953, the audience members at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris entered a showing of Samuel Beckett’s En Attendant Godot, expecting to see a conventional play. However, faced with a play that lacked the key elements of Aristotelian models, viewers were torn between confusion and intrigue, and En Attendant Godot consequently became one of the most popular productions in France. When Beckett translated it into English a year later, christening it Waiting for Godot, it became a hit among British and American audiences too. Waiting for Godot chronicles two men, Vladimir and Estragon, who stand in a lonely landscape by a tree and, as the title suggests, wait for Godot, but this simple premise has a catch – it is the only premise.

All day, every day, Vladimir and Estragon do nothing but pass the time as they endlessly await Godot, and the only break from this dreary monotony is when two other characters, Pozzo and Lucky, pass through. The repetitive, inane discourse between the four characters initially irritates the audience, with good reason. After all, the seemingly illogical behavior of the characters rankles the usually more reasonable people watching or reading the play, who ask themselves: why don’t they just leave? 

However, as the play progresses, it becomes clear that they cannot leave. Even if they threaten to, there is some invisible force that keeps them tethered to the faint hope that Godot will arrive, even as it becomes increasingly obvious that he will not. As annoyed as one might be with Vladimir and Estragon’s behavior, one cannot help but draw parallels between their situation and that of humanity – after all, whether they are aware of it or not, everyone holds a secret hope or desire that they maintain despite clear evidence that it will never come to fruition. 

In the end, these men illustrate to the audience that humans as a whole, no matter what their differences may be, will continually strive for that which will never come without ever realizing its impossibility. As Vladimir and Estragon long for Godot, Pozzo for power, and Lucky for freedom, it is clear that they all are really searching for meaning in a world that has none to offer. 

– Mahak M.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman

Recently, LRMS had a school Book Fair. I wanted to support the school, so I bought a book called Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman, published in 2019. It details the true story of the sinking of the SS City of Benares, or the “Children’s Ship” during World War II. As I like survival novels and historical nonfiction/fiction books, I thought this book would be pretty good, and it was.

The book takes place in the 3rd person point of view, retelling the stories of different people related to the tragic sinking of the ship. Relying on the memories and interviews of survivors of the sinking ship, Deborah was able to capture the feeling and mood of the entire story very well, and it allowed me to imagine exactly what everyone was going through on the ship.

Now, let me get into what the story is all about. Like I said before, it tells the story of the sinking of the SS City of Benares, which was a large boat assigned to take CORB children from England to Canada, and then to America so they would be safe from the war. CORB was a program in which children were sent by their parents away from England so that they would be far away from the bombs and gunfire in their country. Most of these CORB ships delivered the usually hundreds of children that boarded them safely, but the City of Benares has a tragic story. While it was carrying children, it was also carrying government officials, meaning that it was highly targeted as it was on war business. Now, during this time, large ships like the Benares were being torpedoed by German U-boats because of their size and what they could be holding. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to the Benares. On September 18, 1940, a German U-boat shot a torpedo at the Benares, sinking it and killing many people, including children.

While it is a very sad story, it is interesting to read about, especially in Torpedoed. The author did a great job with the writing and tells about all the actions of many different people aboard the sinking ship. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves survival novels such as the I Survived series. Another thing I love about this book is that it doesn’t use fictional characters. These characters were actual people on the ship who survived to tell the tale.

Happy reading!

-Brandt D.

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Although I didn’t have many expectations going into this book, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami not long ago and although I enjoyed it, I was a bit underwhelmed by the story. The same cannot be said about Sputnik Sweetheart; this book ended up being what I hoped Norwegian Wood would be.

The story is told through the eyes of K as he recounts the events of Sumire going missing. K is also deeply in love with Sumire, but she does not feel the same way; rather than loving K, Sumire falls for another woman.

This story is very character driven rather than plot driven, which works perfectly for the story. I was so absorbed into the book because the characters, although nothing special at first glance, were very interesting to read about as they faced internal struggles and developed as characters.

K, the narrator, may easily be looked over at first, but I found him to be the perfect person to hear the story from. His longing for Sumire throughout the story adds a deeply personal touch to the entire book. His view is also relevant because although Sumire does not love him back, K remains close friends with Sumire. This allows the narration to have a good connection to Sumire’s personality as the plot develops.

The overall plot of the book may seem mundane or unoriginal, but it is not the slight mystery or plot itself that makes this story so enticing but rather the unrequited love seen through multiple perspectives. The yearning within the characters is so well developed that even when there is not a lot happening in the story, you can still feel for the characters. The book is relatively short, but it does not need to be longer to be properly executed. The story has been told; not one of a girl going missing but rather of human longing.

-Calvin H.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember is a dystopian novel. Although it takes place in the future, the mysterious Builders of the city from a couple of hundred years ago have greatly restricted their technology. Instead of phones, they have Messengers who run from place to place delivering messages. They have no movable lights or cars; the only light in the entire city comes from the many lamps lining the streets and in their homes, and they can only walk or run to places. 

When creating the City, the Builders knew the people would eventually need to emerge from their new home – after 200 years, to be exact. They created the Instructions and locked it into a box with a timed lock, to be passed down from mayor to mayor, set to open when those 200 years had passed. Yet, when the seventh mayor became sick and desperate for a cure, he brought the secret box, which no one but the mayor knew about, to his own home. Unsuccessful in opening it, and passing away soon afterward, he became the last to know of its existence. 

The story then skips to around the year 240 (in years of Ember), where the lights have now begun to flicker and sometimes temporarily go out, and their food, supplies, and resources are beginning to quickly run out. 12-year-old Lina re-discovers the now-open box. However, since her little sister Poppy ate some of the paper message contained inside, she struggles to make sense of it. She and Doon, her former friend and former classmate, set to work attempting to decipher it and save Ember from the imminent permanent darkness.

I usually don’t like dystopian stories, but The City of Ember was actually an enjoyable book that contained logical puzzles throughout.

-Peri A.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

12-year-old Julia wakes up one seemingly normal Saturday morning to find that the Earth’s rotation has begun to slow. As the days stretch longer and longer; gravity has been altered, birds’ behavior has oddly changed, and human behavior has shifted. Julia’s world has been shaken up in itself—the gap between her parents has begun to widen, and she has noticed strange behavior in her friends.

As the entire globe experiences an unexpected catastrophe like nothing they’ve ever known, Julia navigates shakily through her conflicted family relationships, weakened friendships, curious first love, and emotional isolation from the world around her. She struggles to understand the changes taking place at a large scale, to the Earth; and at a smaller scale, to her life and the relationships within.

I thought The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker was all in all a beautiful, magical, enchanting story. A majority of this novel’s scenes did capture me in their gorgeously crafted moments. However, the story was mostly anticlimactic, with many obvious foreshadowings that led up to no major event at all. The ending was also extremely disappointing and slightly confusing, and I didn’t enjoy it since there was no satisfaction.

Nonetheless, if you are seeking a thought-provoking read to simply contemplate life and how temporary it is, The Age of Miracles is the book for you.

“It’s never the disasters you see coming that finally come to pass—it’s the ones you don’t expect at all.”

-Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles

-Lam T.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

Charlie Bone and the Hidden King by Jenny Nimmo

Charlie Bone and the Hidden King is the fifth book in the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo.  At the time this book was written, it would have been the last book in the series.  However, Jenny Nimmo later decided to write more books to continue the saga.  In this book, Charlie Bone is on a mission to finally discover the identity of his father.  Throughout the series so far, Charlie Bone has wondered about his father.  Charlie had been told that his father died, but the circumstances surrounding his death were mysterious.  In this book, Charlie is determined to find out the truth about his father.

Other than the main character, Charlie Bone, my favorite characters throughout the series are Lysander Sage and Tancred Torsson.  These two characters do not disappoint in this book, either.  I really enjoyed reading about how they used their magical powers to help Charlie, and that they always remained loyal to their friends.

I also enjoyed a part in the story when another of Charlie’s friends, named Olivia, helped him to obtain a magical mirror.  After a battle against mysterious dark forces, Charlie is able to use the mirror to learn the truth about his father.

It was very satisfying to finally learn more about Charlie Bone’s father.  This book is exciting and action-packed, and I enjoyed reading it very much.  I would recommend it highly to anyone.  This book seems like a fitting conclusion to the series, even though the author went on to write more Charlie Bone books after this one.

-Simon H.

Charlie Bone and the Hidden King by Jenny Nimmo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

So Far So Good by Ursula K. LeGuin

So Far So Good: Le Guin, Ursula K.: 9781556595387: Books

Written over the last four years before her death, Ursula LeGuin’s (1929-2018) So Far So Good is a fascinating study of nature, aging, the past, and the end.

I’ve been reading LeGuin’s oeuvre for quite some time now- and this final book did not disappoint whatsoever. I have previously expressed admiration for her variations in vocabulary and style while still maintaining a crystal-clear theme; nowhere in her works was this more prominent than in So Far So Good. The subject matter is far more narrow in this book than it is in others, limited to only discussions of her past and the nature that surrounds her in her present- which I suppose is in keeping with her approaching the close of her life.

However, even with this narrow subject matter, LeGuin does not disappoint. Her vivid, lush imagery, and adept skill at painting landscapes was clear as day in this book- her musings about the afterlife and the ancestors also never fail to captivate and spark thought. I would highly recommend this book, and this author, to anyone looking for a meditative, easily digestable, and quick poetry read.

-Vaidehi B.

So Far So Good by Ursula K. LeGuin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.