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

Quarantine Recipe: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Because the majority of us have been staying home with lots of time on our hands, especially as it’s the middle of  Summer, I thought I’d share how to make a fun homemade treat which only uses only a couple of ingredients. Homemade peanut butter cups may sound like too much work, but it’s actually quite an easy recipe and yields good results.

What You’ll Need:

Measuring cups

Saucepan or microwave-safe glass bowl

Tablespoon

Two muffin tins

Muffin liners

Ingredients: 

-2 Cups Chocolate Chips (I used semi-sweet, but you can use milk chocolate or dark if you prefer)

-½ Cup peanut butter

– 2 tablespoons coconut oil–optional 

Directions:

  1. Measure  the chocolate chips and melt them, either over the stove in a saucepan or in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish.  Also, a quick tip–I’ve heard that adding a few tablespoons of  coconut oil to your chocolate helps it melt into a smoother consistency, so you can add some to your chocolate if you’d like.
  1. While waiting for the chocolate to melt, line your muffin tins with muffin liners. Once the chocolate is evenly melted, begin spooning about a tablespoon of chocolate per muffin liner, or as much is needed to ensure that the bottom of the wrapper is covered entirely and evenly.
  1. Now, measure the peanut butter and place it in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Afterward, stir it gently and begin spooning about a tablespoon into each of your individual muffin liners. (This part can be a little messy, and I learned the hard way! I’d recommend putting your muffin tins with just the chocolate in the freezer until it hardens, that way when you’re ready to add the melted peanut butter, you’ll have a much easier time doing so.)
  1. Using the rest of your melted chocolate, spoon some chocolate on top of the peanut butter, enough until it fully covers the peanut butter beneath it; approximately one to two tablespoons. 
  1. Place the muffin tins in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until they are fully hardened. Once hardened, take them out and allow them to reach room temperature before serving. Enjoy:)

Dessert First by Dean Gloster

The book Dessert First by Dean Gloster can be summed up in one word: beautiful. The story is about a teenage girl, Kat, who is struggling to hold everything together after her little brother Beep relapses with leukemia. With her father being distant and constantly at work, her mother uptight due to her anxiety, and her older sister’s rude remarks, Kat turns to online friends for support. And between all of this, she struggles to complete homework assignments and with her feelings towards her old best friend, who she feels betrayed by.

This book is truly something special which would make me laugh aloud, yet also induce tears. With her witty and sarcastic sense of humor and the sadness that plagues her, Kat seemed to spring out of the pages as a real person. The book very much regarded her journey, through her pain and the feelings that came with it–confusion, anger, sadness, hope, and love.

Eventually, Kat was able to find the silver lining. And as her brother Beep had said to her “Always eat dessert first”, as in to live life to the fullest, and to remember that even after the worst of times, life can be good again.

-Aisha E. 

Dessert First by Dean Glosteris available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Night by Elie Wiesel

The book Night by Elie Wiesel is an inside look at the holocaust through the eyes of a young Jewish boy. It is the real story of the author, which is why it is so astounding. I believe that his purpose for writing it was to shed light on how devastating the holocaust was, the concentration camps, and what it means to be broken as an individual. It is filled with so much pain and suffering, and yet that was what made it undeniably real. His life during this period of time was so horrible that he longed for death as opposed to the darkness of the world around him.

Without the basic human needs for food, water, shelter, and warmth, the spirit begins to weaken. This caused him to be angry at God and his initial strong beliefs to falter, which was heartbreaking, as now, without his family or religion, he was utterly and completely alone.

Though the book could be dark and upsetting due to its raw storyline, it was also very eye-opening for me, as I learned many new things about the holocaust and also perceived it through the eyes of a young boy. Although he endured the worst struggle of his life during that time and lost the ones he loved most, him telling his story can be an inspiration for people to never give up.

-Aisha E.

Night by Elie Wiesel is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

When by Victoria Laurie

Everyone knows that they will one day die, and yet we live our lives trying our best to ignore it, as death is a dark subject for most. However, the main character Maddie in the book When by Victoria Laurie, has no choice but to see death everywhere she goes. The death date of every person she sees is imprinted upon their forehead.  Living alone with her mother, money is tight, and so her mother arranged for her to earn money by telling clients who come to their home their death date.

One day a client comes in and Maddie informs her that her son’s death date is next week. Shocked and confused( as the woman had initially come in regarding the death date of her daughter who had leukemia) she leaves angrily. Of course, the woman’s son ends up dead upon the very date that Maddie predicted. After this, the FBI begins to suspect Maddie as well as her best friend Stubby for murdering the child. The book is a thrilling mystery that I enjoyed immensely, and it is the kind of book that kept me up late reading, anticipating what would happen next. 

Buried beneath the fast-paced storyline, however, is the question to the reader of what you would do if you knew the day you would die. It was something fascinating to ponder as I read, and even one of the characters in the book whom Maddie had told his death date to had turned his life around due to that. He wanted to make sure his family was supported financially and knew they were loved, as well as enjoy the last years of his life. And the meaning I found within the book as well was that death is not something to try to run away from, but rather something to remember every once in a while, to put everything into perspective and allow you to live life beautifully.

~Aisha E.

When by Victoria Laurie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library