Spotify vs. Apple Music: Which is Better?

The age long debate of the century: Spotify vs. Apple Music. Below are points listing off the pros and cons of each music streaming service as well as the author’s thoughts. Also, feel free to participate in the survey at the bottom of this article.



  • Users can easily navigate Spotify with its organized interface
  • Spotify can curate playlists based on one’s music taste
  • The AI DJ can introduce one to new songs
  • Offers a free version of Spotify


  • The free version offered interrupts the user with ads
  • The lists of playlists on the side on the computer version can be overwhelming at times
  • Sending too many emails containing either terrible deals or news expensive concerts
  • Some songs can only be accessed as a podcast in order to upload them to the site

Apple Music


  • Boasts more songs, podcasts, etc. than Spotify
  • No need to download an app if the user has an Apple device
  • Offers a free trial for one to even six months
  • Compared to Spotify’s sound quality, Apple Music’s is more crisper


  • Doesn’t offer a free version of its service
  • Not as “cool” because Apple Music isn’t as popular for teenagers
  • The service doesn’t encourage user engagement with others
  • Costs a dollar more than for Spotify’s premium

Author’s Thoughts

As a Spotify user, clearly I am team Spotify! What really drew me in to purchasing a subscription for the premium version was the multitude of opportunities for me to engage with my friends. I can easily look to see what my friends are currently listening to or even create a playlist with them combining our music tastes through the new Blend feature. Additionally, the overall appearance of Spotify both allows for simplicity and an aesthetically pleasing interface.

The Odyssey by Homer (Using translation by Robert Fitzgerald)

I’m sure many people know of this book. Whether you have heard of it or have even read it yourself, I’m sure that a good majority of people know of The Odyssey by Homer. It is completely fine if you don’t but do be warned, this can be a very difficult read without proper background knowledge. I had to read this in school and I couldn’t be more thankful that my teacher had given us extra pages to brief us. These papers were from Edith Hamilton’s Guide to Mythology and taken from the chapters about the Trojan War. These two chapters were relatively short but hold a lot of important information regarding the Trojan War and prior events to The Odyssey. If you can find these anywhere, they would be great to read before reading The Odyssey. You can most likely find this as a PDF online and I’m serious when I say this was one of the crucial things when it came to my understanding of this book. 

The Odyssey is one of Homer’s epics, completely centered around Greek mythology. Specifically, the Greek hero, Odysseus and his journey after the Trojan War and how he gets home. He journeys through different lands, meeting many other popular characters in Greek mythology such as Calypso, Circe, and many more. The Odyssey also includes Odysseus’ son, Telemachos, who goes on his own journey in hopes of finding his father to save their island, Ithaka. The short version of the story is that while Odysseus is out fighting in war and disappears for 10 years, his home is overtaken by suitors trying to take his wife Penelope’s hand in marriage. Telemachos cannot let this happen, so with Athena’s help, he journeys out to find news about his father. While this happens, Odysseus, who has been stuck on Calypso’s island for many years, has escaped her grasp and tries to make his way home, explaining how he had ended up on Calypso’s island and what had happened to him after the war. However, he is not done with fighting yet as when he comes back home, he must fight for it back.

I remember I tried to read this book over the summer before school started. I couldn’t understand it at all and I got frustrated and gave up on it. But when my teacher explained it all, I ended up enjoying the book a lot. There are plenty of Greek values and conventions in the book which help the story make a lot more sense if you know about them. 

Despite having given up on it before school had even started, once everything made sense, I actually enjoyed this book. A lot of people I know don’t like it or dislike it. They are in the middle of the two which is fine. I liked the unique way of storytelling. It was funny to read about the absurd things that happened like how over 100 men came to pursue Penelope’s hand in marriage. Other times, the book would have five chapters that would just be Odysseus explaining what had happened. While it may sound boring, it was really interesting to read about the places he went to and what he had done to get him to where he was now. I also enjoyed picking apart the characters and analyzing them. Many of the characters are heroic and different in their own way. 

The Odyssey is not an easy book to read due to its way it words certain phrases, the different types of spelling, and is especially hard to read without any prior knowledge. If you don’t know much about Greek mythology but are interested in reading this, I would highly suggest researching and trying to find Edith Hamilton’s Guide to Mythology which is available online. While it may take a while to get used to reading this book, The Odyssey was still enjoyable to me, even though I had to re-read a few pages every now and then. I would definitely recommend this to a Greek mythology lover and even would recommend it to those who have little to no knowledge in that area – with some hesitation.

-Nicole R.

The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane

Ahh, the good old days. Playing catch on the street with your buddies. A basketball hoop in your driveway. Block parties. The old decrepit house at the end of the street where the old lady who lived there may or may not have been murdered. 

Those rosy memories. 

The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane is a mystery novel that was written by Carolyn Keene in 2018 as the 16th installment of the Nancy Drew Diaries series. The story follows Nancy, along with her best friends George and Bess, as they try to solve the mystery of what’s really going on in that old house at the end of Heliotrope Lane. 

This book feels quite different from prior ones in the series, taking on a much eerier and more suspenseful tone than previously seen. Especially if you’re like me, and had the amazing idea to listen to it on CD with sound effects and voice acting while trying to fall asleep in a cold, dark room. You never truly know what could be lurking in the shadows.

Anyways, this is probably my favorite book in the series, solely because I’m a sucker for spooks. If you’re into a slightly haunting but still fun and (mostly) kid-friendly mystery, then I definitely recommend this one. As well as the whole series in itself. It’s a revamp of the classic Nancy Drew series, through a modern lens that isn’t actually cringey! It’s a miracle.  Sitting at a whopping 24 books, you won’t be running out of content any time soon. I highly recommend this series, even if it might seem a little childish to my peers. I hold a great nostalgia for these books in my heart, and it only seems fair to try to spread it to as many people as possible.

The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane by Carolyn Keene is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

My Time in Pasadena

Last weekend, I went to a major swimming event called the Spring Junior Olympics. The event was located in Pasadena, so it was a long drive from our home. It was very exciting! It was my first time attending, and it was a lot of fun! My mom, sister and I stayed  at a Marriott hotel called Springhill.

Although I didn’t make it back to the finals, I enjoyed swimming there because it gave me a chance to compete against the best swimmers from around the state. Sure, there were some bumps along the way, such as when my coach (Coach Cho) took us to the hottest lanes for warm up. I thought I was going to have a heat-stroke! It was worse than a sauna turned up at full heat! But overall, it was pretty enjoyable.

One of my favorite parts of this experience was going to the mall and the food we ate there. Our hotel was close to many food places, so every day after we finished swimming our events, we would go to different restaurants to try out different types of cuisine. My all-time favorite place was Ramen Nagi. It was a Japanese noodle restaurant. It was SO good! I ordered the “Luscious Signature Tonkusu Pork Broth”. It had a rich taste of sesame and seaweed, and needless to say, I finished that entire bowl of soup and ramen. So good that I actually asked my mom for another bowl(she said no). After we ate out, we would then walk around the mall. I was awed by the sights around me. My mom did get pretty upset at the fact that I stopped to go into every single toy store I could find, but that wasn’t the point. My mom stopped by a couple of stores to see what type of items they sold. She is really into Chinese and Japanese Ramen, so we bought a couple of instant ramen for her. To wrap it all together in one day, my mom decided to buy my sister and I each a boba. Without a doubt, it was delicious. The point is, I really enjoyed my time at Pasadena and swimming at the Rose Bowl Aquatics.

A Desolation Called Peace

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is part of a two book long series following the first book A Memory Called Empire.

A Desolation Called Peace is a 2021 science fiction novel following it’s predecessor A Memory Called Empire. This book also won the Hugo Awards for Best Novel in 2022 just like it’s predecessor in 2020. If you have not read the first book I would advise you do before reading this as it contains spoilers of the first book.

This book was different than the previous novel made by Arkady Martine as it follows not just Mahit Dzmare but Three Seagrass, Eight Antidote, and Nine Hibiscus as well as some different side characters. Martine weaves an incredible space opera involving the Teixcalaanli Empire moving star ships into the jump gate near the station of Lsel, the former home of Mahit Dzmare, creating an astounding new alien species, and vivid detail to their culture throughout the book.

Martine also masterfully balances the idealistic views of the imperial heir Eight Antidote with the rugged and sometimes cruel thoughts of General Nine Hibiscus, creating a massive view of the story where many different things are going on at the same time, but eventually they weave together to create a beautiful story called A Desolation Called Peace.

In the story the Nine Hibiscus must somehow find away to communicate to these new aliens past the mysterious jump gate. So she requests the help of Mahit’s former liaison Three Seagrass, who eventually drags Mahit Dzmare into all the political drama caused by the many conflicting parties throughout Teixcalaanli.

I found this novel masterfully done with many plot twists and different perspectives on the war. I also found it interesting how Martine could display the culture of Teixcalaanli and the aliens so richly.

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Dallas Mavericks’ Downfall

Wow. I don’t think anybody expected the Dallas Mavericks to be in this position heading into the playoffs. Just about two months ago, the Mavericks had a 96% chance of making the playoffs following the addition of star guard Kyrie Irving. Surprisingly, things went downhill from there. Before the trade, the Mavs were slightly above .500 (a 50% winning percentage) and were consistently in between the 4-6 seeds in a tightly packed Western Conference. They were very mediocre and their superstar player, Luka Doncic, was having to play at an extremely high level every game for the Mavericks to even have a shot at winning. It was obvious that a change was needed in order for them to become contenders, and many thought the Kyrie Irving trade was just that. However, those people could not have been more wrong.

To start off, it is important to look at what the Mavericks gave up in order to acquire Irving. As shown in the image, the Mavericks gave up Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first round pick, and two second round picks. In return, they got Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris. At first glance, it seemed like the Mavs easily won this trade. However, if you look at it more in depth, Dallas lost a lot of their defense. Dorian Finney-Smith was the best defender on the team and Dinwiddie was decent on the defensive side of the ball. The problem with this trade was that the team lost their identity, which is not a good spot for any franchise to be in. In the 2021-2022 season, the Mavericks were known as a defensive team and arguably had a top 5 defense. This was the main reason they were able to reach the Western Conference Finals, as were consistently holding teams to under 100 points a game, which is a recipe for success. There is a saying that “defense wins championships”, and although the Mavericks had an elite offense with Kyrie and Luka paired together, their defense was atrocious.

Coaching is also very important in the success of any team, regardless of the sport. The Mavericks’ head coach, Jason Kidd, was considered a solid coach in the NBA. This season, however, there were some glaring issues with his gameplans. After letting Jalen Brunson leave in free agency, the Mavs went ahead and traded for Christian Wood in hopes for him to be the solid big man that they desperately needed. In the first half of the season, Wood put up solid numbers and was helping the Mavs win games alongside Doncic. However, after the Kyrie Irving trade, his minutes plummeted, therefore causing his stats to also drop. Kidd chose to start Dwight Powell for majority of the games. Many Mavericks fans, including me, were perplexed by this move. For some reason, Kidd continued to allow Powell to get starter-type minutes, even though he was playing awful. Fans were furious with the coach and were begging for him to get fired. Although this will likely not happen this offseason, it is something for owner Mark Cuban to think about.

Ultimately, the Dallas Mavericks’ downfall this season was mainly caused by their defensive woes and a few coaching issues. There are a few ways to fix these problems in the offseason, but there is also the risk of Kyrie Irving leaving in free agency since he is only on a one year contract. If he does leave and the Mavericks get nothing in return for a half-season rental of Irving, they will find themselves in a deep hole.

Spoiler Free Book Review: The Rising of the Shield Hero Volume 1

The Rising of the Shield Hero, by Aneko Yusagi, is the first novel in a long-running series that goes by the same name. The books follow Naofumi Iwatani, an average Japanese college student. One day Naofumi finds a mysterious book in his library that transports him to another world alongside three others.

Those from the world that summon them quickly explain that the four of them are the Cardinal Heroes of legend, destined to save the world from the Waves of Destruction. However all is not as it seems and Naofumi soon finds himself betrayed stripped of his reputation, money, clothes, and everything else except the shield on his arm marking him as a hero. And now that the plot synopsis I can finally begin discussing why this book is so good. One thing this book and series does very well is writing an antihero protagonist. Now, Naofumi isn’t a great person, he commits too many morally dubious actions to qualify as a paragon hero or anything of the sort. At the same time, he also isn’t a heartless monster, as while the other three heroes are focused on fighting big monsters for fame or glory, Naofumi instead focuses on ensuring people are safe. Thus, Naofumi is neither hero nor a villain, he is an antihero, a hero with unheroic qualities.

Now there is definitely more I could touch on with this review but that would result in delving into spoiler territory so I’ll just end off with an overall review. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a well-executed revenge fantasy novel so if you’re a fan of that sort of thing I would recommend checking it out.

Life Skills for Teens

Book Review: Life Skills for Teens: The Ultimate Guide for Young Adults on How to Manage Money, Cook, Clean, Find a Job, Make Better Decisions, and Everything You Need to Be Independent

“Life Skills for Teens” by Vivian Foster is an inclusive guidebook that provides young adults with essential skills they will need to maneuver through the real world. The book covers various topics, from cooking, cleaning, managing money, fixing cars, performing first aid, and many more.

She presented the material in an easy-to-understand manner. The book is organized in a way that is easy and accessible for beginners. It is organized into various chapters covering different skills. Every chapter begins with an introduction to the specific topic and step-by-step instructions for the task.

The book includes many practical tips and real-life examples that young people can practice and relate to. One of the chapters is about managing money and the expected financial problems for teens, and she suggests ways to avoid them.

The author also includes valuable advice on creating a budget that you can stick to, which is an important life skill for anyone. It’s one I am learning, and it’s tough. But hey, the teen years are the best time to learn these habits.

This book includes abundant illustrations and photographs, which make it easy to follow the instructions. The accurate and details images provide a perfect visual reference for each step in the process.

“Life Skills for Teens” is an excellent resource for teens starting out and learning to maneuver the adult world. This book covers various topics and provides practical advice on how to master essential life skills. It is very well-written, precise, easy to understand, and packed with helpful resources. I recommend it to anyone looking to develop life skills and a successful mindset.

Happy Learning!

Bella H.

Extended Play (EP) Review: Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains

Thanks to the unexpected success of Nirvana’s Nevermind, alternative rock (especially grunge from Seattle) became one of America’s most popular genres of music during the 1990s. Many bands saw their heyday during this period, including Seattle’s Alice in Chains (AIC). They were an extremely successful band, but had a variety of internal issues such as lead singer Layne Staley’s heroin addiction. After their 1993 world tour, the band found themselves homeless and then moved into the London Bridge Studio in Seattle where they lived and recorded their 1994 extended play (EP) Jar of Flies.

The cover of Jar of Flies

Unlike the majority of their work, Jar of Flies heavily features acoustic guitars, primarily out of the band’s desire to relax and make music. It still features electric guitars and has elements of grunge. Out of all of the songs on the EP, “Nutshell” has to be my favorite.

“Nutshell” heavily features acoustic guitars and, unlike a good chunk of their songs, doesn’t feature major vocal harmonies from guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Instead, Layne Staley sings his heart out on this gut-wrenching piece. This has to be AIC’s saddest song which has only become more depressing with the 2002 overdose of Staley. The song is now dedicated to him.

Jar of Flies was the first and only EP to top the Billboard 200. It was also the first AIC release to do so and deservingly. All the songs on the EP are amazing and are worth your time. I give it a 9/10. Check it out when you have the chance.

“Flipped” Book Review

Flipped is a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen about two neighbors whose relationship starts to “flip”. I love how the novel is told from different points of view between the two main characters throughout the book and how the layout and the plot of the story ties in with the title.

At the beginning of the story, young Juli Baker introduces herself to Bryce Loski, a boy her age who had just moved in across the street. She is mesmerized by Bryce and provides help to move the boxes from the moving truck, but Bryce feels the complete opposite and he finds her annoying. Throughout the years, Juli is head over heels for Bryce and does things that seem to “annoy” Bryce while Bryce seems to dislike Juli and goes out of his way to avoid her. It can be seen that Juli’s feelings for Bryce do not seem to be reciprocated. 

However, as they grow older and start to enter 8th grade, the book gets more interesting as their relationship starts to flip around and Juli starts to find herself falling out of love with Bryce. On the other hand, Bryce starts to acknowledge Juli and slowly develops feelings toward her. Nevertheless, Juli starts avoiding Bryce and he feels he wants to win her back. Then, Bryce realizes he must apologize to Juli for all his wrongdoings towards her. At the end of the story, Juli watches as Bryce digs up a hole in her front yard and sees that he is attempting to plant a sycamore tree, a tree that Juli cherishes. She goes over to him, helps him, and decides to give him another chance.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.