#1s in the United States for 2022!

Have you ever wondered what the most popular fruit in the United States is for 2022? Or, perhaps, the most used application? Well, here are some #1s in the U.S. for this year so far!

#1 Vegetable: Potatoes!

Potatoes, a versatile pantry staple, are predictably the most consumed vegetable.

#1 Fruit: Bananas!

Bananas are widely enjoyed across the U.S. as the most consumed fruit.

#1 Searched Google Keyword: “Facebook”!

The keyword “facebook” stands at #1 for most searched on Google.

#1 App: TikTok!

As one may have guessed, TikTok, created in 2015, is the most popular app.

#1 Book: It Ends With Us!

Colleen Hoover’s novel It Ends With Us has been the #1 bestselling book so far.

#1 Movie: Top Gun: Maverick!

Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick has become the highest grossing movie, exceeding $400 million.

#1 Song: “As It Was”!

According to the Billboard Hot 100, Harry Styles’ lead single “As It Was” off of his newly released third album “Harry’s House” is the #1 song in the U.S. as of this week, and it has been on the top spot for 10 weeks.

Thanks for reading!

-Lam T.

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

Eighteen months ago, when Meredith Fox lost her older sister Claire, she locked everyone out and retreated within. This summer, on her family’s annual vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, she makes it her goal to reconnect with her old friends, find herself, and finally rejoin her world.

Meredith believes that winning her family’s yearly game of Assassin, this year at her cousin’s big summer wedding, is her perfect opportunity to honor Claire and move on from her depressive state. But everything changes for Meredith when she crosses paths with a charming groomsman, and a secret alliance is formed.

Meredith’s summer is flipped around when her heart—and her chances of winning the game—are suddenly put on the line. Weddings are perfect for flings, her friends tell her. But what if Meredith wants it to be more?

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther was one of the most amazing romance novels I’ve ever read. It was so beautifully written, and each intricately crafted scene made me clutch at my heart and sigh with relief, gasp with shock, or jump for joy. This book made me feel a rollercoaster of emotions, and it was like the sparks had been sprinkled into the pages themselves.

I also loved this book (and came to read it) because it was inspired by the songs of Taylor Swift. I’m a huge Swiftie, so I couldn’t resist reading it, and every Taylor Swift reference was so perfectly placed, so I just loved it. The book itself was based on one Taylor Swift song in particular, which I will not give away, because the plot will be spoiled! Definitely give The Summer of Broken Rules a try if you’re a fan of romance novels, Taylor Swift; or, like me, a lover of both! Happy reading!

-Lam T.

Tips to Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination

As a student, musician, athlete, and lazy teenager, I regularly have lots of work to complete. Sometimes in the past, it has piled up due to my astonishing procrastination skills, and I have had to complete it stressfully at the last minute, or not at all. To avoid this, here are some tips to stay focused on your work and to avoid procrastination.

1. Eliminate any distractions. Work in a quiet area and avoid listening to distracting music to maximize your efficiency.

2. Create work plans. To-do lists with deadlines are essential to getting your work done in an organized way, and setting a plan for how you will work at a given time is also important.

3. Take short breaks. To avoid getting burned out by huge workloads, take breaks to refuel your mind and body. However, don’t get carried away! Time your breaks and make sure you get back to work.

4. Reward yourself! To further motivate yourself, give yourself a reward for working hard for a certain amount of time, completing a task, or just being productive in general.

In summary, procrastination is a huge roadblock for productivity and focus. Luckily, we can avoid it with these helpful tips! Hope this helps!

-Lam T.

Album Review: Melodrama by Lorde

The Melodrama album cover, painted by Sam McKinniss

Melodrama, singer-songwriter Lorde’s sophomore album, was released 5 years ago in 2017, yet it is still one of my favorite albums I’ve ever listened to. Melodrama is an electropop album with piano-based melodies and electronic beats. It is raw, honest, profound, and thought-provoking; and it elicits sensations and emotions like no other. In this artistic masterpiece, Lorde’s immense talent as a songwriter truly shines through. 

Following are, in my opinion, some of the best tracks and lyrics on the album:

Track 2: “Sober” – “Sober” is about the magic of being involved with someone, the intense rush Lorde and her lover feel at a party. However, when the night ends and they are “sober” again, the rush ends and Lorde is unsure of what will happen to them.

Favorite lyrics from “Sober”:

“Midnight, we’re fading / Till daylight, we’re jaded / We know that it’s over / In the morning, you’ll be dancing with / All the heartache and the treason / The fantasies of leaving / But we know that, when it’s over / In the morning, you’ll be dancing with us”

Track 5: “Liability” – “Liability” is about the pressure Lorde feels of it being difficult for people to be close to her. It’s about learning to be her own best friend; to be on her own, love herself, respect herself, and take care of herself.

Favorite lyrics from “Liability”:

“The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy / Till all of the tricks don’t work anymore / And then they are bored of me / I know that it’s exciting, running through the night / But every perfect summer’s eating me alive until you’re gone / Better on my own”

Track 6: “Hard Feelings/Loveless” – “Hard Feelings/Loveless” has two parts: First, “Hard Feelings”, which explores the feelings that follow a breakup; then “Loveless,” which shares Lorde’s thoughts about her generation and their tendencies in a relationship.

Favorite lyrics from “Hard Feelings/Loveless”:

“Three years, loved you every single day / Made me weak, it was real for me, yeah, real for me / Now I’ll fake it every single day / ’Til I don’t need fantasy, ’til I feel you leave / But I still remember everything / How we’d drift buying groceries, how you’d dance for me / I’ll start letting go of little things / ’Til I’m so far away from you, far away from you”

Track 9: “Supercut” – “Supercut” is about dreaming of an ideal relationship, a compilation of the positive parts of a relationship. In this song, Lorde appears to be blinded by hope and her own imagination of how a relationship should be and not how it truly is.

Favorite lyrics from “Supercut”:

“’Cause in my head, in my head, I do everything right / When you call, I’ll forgive and not fight / All the moments I play in the dark / Wild, fluorescent, come home to my heart”

To conclude, Melodrama by Lorde is such a wonderfully enchanting album with beautifully written songs, and I’d recommend it to all listeners! Happy listening!

-Lam T.

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.

Coping with Stress and Emotions

Lately, in my personal life, I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and emotional mood swings, so I thought I’d share how I’m dealing with it. As a teenager growing physically and emotionally every day, I’ve recently been feeling a lot of confusing and unexplainable emotions. I’ve also been extremely stressed with school and the excessive workloads I’ve had to deal with, especially as the school year begins to come to a close.

With the help of all my loved ones, I’m doing much better now and I’m really enjoying myself amidst all the homework and stress. Without further ado, here are four ways to deal with stress and difficult emotions.

1. Write it down! When you are feeling stressed or confused, try writing it down on paper, whether it’s in a long paragraph of thought, a free verse poem, angry bullet points, or indecipherable scribbles. It feels great to release your thoughts and emotions, and you can really get creative with a pen to paper. Also, you can just throw away or shred up the paper later!

2. Talk to someone about it! One thing I’ve realized is that keeping secrets to yourself will not help. Bottling up emotions just consumes you and makes you feel so much worse, and you will feel disconnected or isolated from your loved ones. Mine have always been there for me, and I’ve found that they definitely have my back, and I can trust them and just have a nice long talk about my life with them. Talking to someone you love is a huge help.

3. Do something/find something you love! One of my favorite ways to spend my free time is listening to music. I love music because it puts me in a good mood and takes my mind off of whatever is going on at the moment. Do something that makes you happy, like reading a book or watching a nostalgic movie!

4. Don’t get distracted from your work! When you’re doing homework or trying to get something done, don’t let yourself be distracted. I’ve found that in the past, having my phone beside me when I’m working is an extremely unproductive arrangement. Every time I get a notification, I pick up my phone and can’t put it down for a long time. Recently I have been putting my phone far away from me when I work, and I’ve been so much more productive. Also, in the cases that I am productive and get a lot of work done, I’m really happy with myself and I allow myself to feel good and have a good day.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

-Lam T.

Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers

When twelve-year-old Ruth Quayle uses a face-recognition app to search for images of herself online, she finds plenty of photos of herself, as she expected. Then she stumbles across a couple images of a complete stranger—yet one that resembles Ruth almost identically. Ruth soon comes to the conclusion that the stranger, Ruby, is her identical twin!

Ruth and Ruby communicate over the Internet, learning more about each other, themselves, and their families. They share many differences and similarities—Ruth is an extroverted American adoptee, while Ruby is a shy English girl living with her single mother.

Yet both carry lives bursting with family, friends, and blooming romances. Together, Ruth and Ruby investigate the truth about their birth and separation, all the while balancing their busy lives and learning how to navigate them.

Ruth and Ruby’s story turned out to be one of my favorites! Throughout the massively complicated shift in Ruth s and Ruby s lives, they are still only twelve-year-olds learning to deal with the small changes in their lives that come with growing up.

I absolutely loved that this novel was written only in emails, handwritten letters, Tumblr entries, and film scripts. The way the characters wrote their emails and letters really helped embody their personalities, and this format was such a unique, inventive, and expressive way to write a novel.

Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers is a creatively crafted story of family, friendship, and love. I truly enjoyed it so much, and I found myself rereading certain scenes over and over after I had finished the book. I’d definitely recommend Finding Ruby Starling! Happy reading!

-Lam T.

Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

In a city near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, lives a twelve-year-old girl named Charlotte. Over a thousand miles away, in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana, lives an eleven-year-old boy named Ben.

Charlotte’s and Ben’s lives intersect through only an online Scrabble game. At first glance, they seem drastically different—Charlotte possesses a rock collection and aspires to be a geologist, while Ben loves anything related to presidential history, recycling, and Harry Potter.

Yet somehow, as the story escalates, Charlotte’s and Ben’s lives begin to tie together in completely unexpected ways. Throughout their journeys, similarities between the two rise to visibility. Charlotte and Ben learn more about each other, and even more consequentially, themselves, as they figure out the obstacles and challenges thrown into their lives.

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly is a truly touching, inspiring, and reflective novel. The parallels drawn between the two main characters’ lives are skillfully crafted, and it is even more so when it is considered how different they really are. You Go First truly impressed me, and I’m sure I’ll be rereading this story countless more times, as readers may if they decide to give this one a try.

I would definitely recommend You Go First, especially for younger teenage readers. I absolutely fell in love with this book, and I’m sure you will too! Hopefully, you will enjoy this tale spun of friendship and family, humor and grief, growing up and breaking down, and finding one’s true identity. Happy reading!

-Lam T.

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

A Phở Love Story by Loan Le

Linh Mai and Bảo Nguyễn haven’t spoken since they were kids, when they met in a Buddhist temple and were shortly yanked apart by their silently enraged families. Their families own neighboring phở restaurants, but that’s not the whole story. They’re not just neighbors, they are rivals, and not friendly ones. The Mais and Nguyễns are in constant competition with each other; consistently gossiping, trash-talking, and spreading atrocious rumors about each other—aside from frequently calling each other’s phở “dở ẹc” (very, very bad).

But everything changes for Linh and Bảo on the Mais’ Phở Day, when Linh’s family will offer a two-for-one deal for their phở. Linh, a passionate artist, plans to attend an art exhibition, but she has no choice but to help her parents deal with the rush of customers. At one point, she becomes extremely overwhelmed and runs outside to an alley, where she encounters Bảo, who offers to secretly help. Linh and Bảo help make Phở Day a success—all without Linh’s mother knowing, of course! As the night ends and they escape triumphantly to the alley, both realize that everything has changed for them.

Coincidentally or not, Linh and Bảo are soon assigned a project to partner on. As they spend more time together and get to know each other, sparks begin to fly, and they embark on a secret relationship, which they are forced to hide from their families, who would no doubt break them apart once more.

In only a matter of time, Linh and Bảo come to realize that their families’ feud runs deeper than a silly restaurant rivalry, and that their situation is much more complicated than either of them could have imagined.

Throughout it all, Linh struggles to communicate to her parents her dreams of pursuing a career as an artist, as they wish her to become an engineer. Bảo, meanwhile, can’t seem to find something he is passionate about and is hesitant about who he wants to be in life.

This story uses a lot of Vietnamese cultural references, which is one of my favorite aspects of the novel. The author occasionally drops some Vietnamese terms into the dialogue and narration, and the story shows a lot of typical Vietnamese-family customs, tendencies, and conversations. As a Vietnamese person who grew up in the same environment, I found A Phở Love Story hilariously relatable, so I’d definitely recommend it especially to anyone acquainted with Asian culture. This book is also great if you are interested in or curious about Asian culture.

A Phở Love Story by Loan Le is a playful, serious, beautiful, and poignant read all at the same time, and I’m not kidding when I tell you that I started crying when I got to a certain part of the book. (I laughed out loud lots of times too!) I found this story to be very realistic and reflective on parents’ expectations of their kids’ career choices and other general plans for their futures. Definitely give this novel a try! I loved it so much and would no doubt recommend it!

-Lam T.

A Phở Love Story by Loan Le is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

Seventeen-year-old Kamran Smith is living the life—he’s the star of his football team; dates a popular, beautiful girl; and—though his family originally comes from Iran—has always felt like a 100% accepted American.

And then Kamran’s older brother, Darius, is accused of being a terrorist. Kamran can’t bring himself to believe any of it, but hard evidence has been exposed to the public—films of Darius threatening his country and implying a looming fatal attack.

Suddenly, in the whole world’s eyes, Kamran is labeled as a terrorist as well. His closest, supposedly loyal friends abruptly turn on him. Kamran is determined to prove to the world that Darius is not a terrorist.

Racing against time, Kamran discovers a sequence of clues and codes that he must unscramble to guide him to the truth about Darius and the dangers that lie ahead. As he puts his life at risk in saving his brother and the world, he never ceases to believe that his brother is not a terrorist. No matter what evidence there is, he knows Darius is innocent. No matter how much the world thinks otherwise, he is convinced Darius would never betray his country

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz, the story of Kamran Smith; is a thrilling, action-packed read that brings to light themes of loyalty, doubt, prejudice, and perseverance. Though it is slightly unrealistic, it’s still an incredible novel. I would definitely recommend Code of Honor, especially to those interested in historical fiction, current events, or action novels.

-Lam T.

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.