Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

*this review may contain spoilers

I actually decided to read this book for my English class because we had to pick out a nonfiction memoir and decided that the cover looked cool. I’m forever glad I choose this book because I’ve never been touched by a book this much.

Michelle Zauner begins talking about her childhood and her association with supermarket chain, H-mart. The story follows along Zauner’s life story and specifically her relationship with her mother. Throughout the book, it’s been evident her mom has been experiencing health complications and Zauner touches back to her Korean roots to feel a connection with her mother. When her mother got diagnosed with cancer and ended up dying shortly after treatments, the readers get to feel Zauner’s emotions and her thoughts while all of these events unravel.

This story had me on the verge of tears especially since I’m also Korean so I felt connected with the author through the various Korean terms and phrases she used. She reminds me of myself and how we connect with our heritage. However, the relationship she had with her mother makes me want to feel more sympathetic towards my family and the time I have with them.

I highly recommend this book for those trying to branch out and look for new genres such as nonfiction memoirs. While reading this book, it felt like I was invading on her personal life but there is always a reason why someone shares their story. Take the message from the story with heart and keep reading!!!!

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

The Yearling is a Pulitzer-winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.  The book is set in a remote area in the southern United States in the late 1800s.  A boy named Jody Baxter lives with his parents on a small farm.  He and his family live a relatively simple and primitive life.  Jody’s life changes when he discovers a baby deer.  He takes the fawn home and tries to raise it.  Jody develops a strong attachment to the fawn as he cares for it.  Later, Jody is forced to make difficult decisions as he tries to protect the animal from danger.

This is a classic story about boyhood and about maturing.  Jody grows up alongside his yearling, and he gradually learns to deal with the challenges of life.  Jody’s relationship with his family develops throughout the story.  I especially enjoyed reading about the development of his relationship with his father.  The dialogue in this book is immersive and captures the feeling of life in the South at that time.  The book is also highly descriptive.  I learned about plants and animals and a way of life that was almost totally unfamiliar to me beforehand.  The author seems to paint pictures with words to describe the sweeping landscapes and terrain of the southern backwoods.

I believe this is one of the best books I have read.  The story is deeply moving and seems to capture the essence of growing up in a dangerous and challenging world.  This book is considered a masterpiece, and I find it well-deserving of the Pulitzer Prize.  I highly recommend it.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Tori Spring enjoys blogging and sleeping… and that’s pretty much all she enjoys these days. Tori, a sixteen-year-old Year 12 student, is a chronic pessimist with few friends and little to no sources of happiness.

But when she follows a trail of Post-It notes to the computer lab, where she meets the mysteriously eccentric Michael Holden, she receives a message from a group called Solitaire that plots to take over the school.

Throughout the story, we follow Tori as she makes and breaks her friendships, struggles with her mental health, balances her schoolwork, learns to trust other people, and finds the motivation to get out of bed every morning. On top of everything going on in Tori’s life, she continually tries to be the best sister she can be to her brothers, Charlie and Oliver.

I absolutely loved this book, though it was a lot darker than many books I’ve enjoyed in the past. Nevertheless, I may go so far as to call Solitaire my favorite book as of now. Alice Oseman crafts a haunting, realistic, beautiful story in the mind of an imperfect main character. As usual, Alice Oseman includes lots of LGBTQ+ representation in Solitaire as well as in her other novels, which I strongly recommend as well!

Solitaire also introduces the characters Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson, who appear in the Netflix series Heartstopper. However, Solitaire may not be enjoyable for fans of Heartstopper, as it is much deeper and darker and does not work out to be a perfect happy ending. Solitaire is not a love story, the main conflict takes place inside Tori as she tries to figure herself out.

I loved that this book wasn’t like what I usually read—nothing like the cliche love story with nice characters that have a happy ending. I liked that Tori had good days and bad days, and I enjoyed diving into her introspective thoughts. I found Solitaire to be much more realistic to life, and I truly enjoyed this amazing book.

Happy reading!

-Lam T.

Book Review: The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller book written by Alex Michaelides. The story focuses on Alicia Berenson, who is said to be a murderer as she shot her husband in the face six years ago and hasn’t spoken a word since then. The murder, together with Alicia’s refusal to speak up regarding her husband’s death has caught the attention of the public and sparked the curiosity of a psychotherapist named Theo Faber. Ever since Theo had the chance to work with Alicia while she was in a psychiatric unit, he has been determined to discover the truth behind Alicia’s mystery.

I discovered The Silent Patient due to its rising popularity among readers. Despite not being a fan of thriller books, I was encouraged to grab the book and borrow it from the Mission Viejo Library because of the hype, and I could say that I do not regret choosing to do so. While reading the first few chapters of the book, there are certain parts where I felt like it was uninteresting. Although since Theo, the psychotherapist, continues to dig deeper into Alicia’s mystery, it kept me intrigued until the end of the book. There are various reveals presented throughout the story, making me wonder more why Alicia decided to carry out such actions. In the end, it did not disappoint me. The final twist was a shocker and I felt completely fooled as I absolutely did not see it coming. 

I highly recommend reading The Silent Patient to all the readers out there, especially those who are a lover of thriller stories. Also, even if you are not a fan of thriller books like me, it is still worth the try of reading it!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Kingdom of the Feared

by Kerri Maniscalco

This book is the culmination of the Kingdom of the Wicked Series by Kerri Maniscalco, and it does end with a bang.

If you are not familiar with this series, it follows Emilia, a young witch living in Palermo Italy whose twin sister was murdered. Eager to find her sister’s killer, she summons the Prince of Wrath to assist her.

In this finale, Emilia is reeling from her discovery that her sister is alive and as well as the revelation that she is not a witch, but the Goddess of Fury. As she fights to uncover the truth behind her and her sister, she realizes her attraction to Wrath and embarks on a mission to break their curse to secure their happy ending.

This book was intense. It packs a punch with romance, action, and lots of twists. It teleports you to the frozen world of Hell and the seven deadly courts. Though this book may have you cursing that you cannot have a Prince of Wrath for yourself, its story is enchanting and intoxicating. In this last book, you will finally meet each of the 7 sins and unravel the twisted tale of Emilia’s and her sister’s heritage. It keeps you on your toes for its entirety and contains plenty of the action the sequel promised. Kerri Maniscalco promised readers a scalding fantasy romance and that is what she delivered. This book will leave you drunk on a high as if you were influenced by a deadly sin yourself.

Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis, is part of his Chronicles of Narnia series.  This was the second book published, but it would be the fourth book chronologically.  This sequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is about the four Pevensie children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.  The children are waiting for a train so that they can return to boarding school, when suddenly they are teleported to the enchanted land of Narnia.  The Pevensie children had lived in Narnia before as king and queens, until they were returned to their native country of England.  The world of Narnia is ruled by Aslan, the great lion.  There are other kings and queens in Narnia, but Aslan rules over them all.

After wandering for a while in Narnia, the Pevensies discover a ruined castle.  They are dismayed to learn that the ruins are what remains of Cair Paravel, the castle from which they had ruled in the distant past.  A little while later, they rescue a dwarf named Trumpkin.  The dwarf explains to the children why they had been brought back to Narnia.  The world is under siege by the evil King Miraz and his army of Telmarine soldiers.  The children had been summoned by the rightful king, King Caspian the Tenth, to help defeat Miraz and reclaim the throne.

My favorite character throughout the series is Aslan, but this book features another of my favorite characters: Reepicheep the mouse.  Reepicheep is the leader of a small army of mice.  One of my favorite things about Reepicheep is his unwavering courage, despite his small stature.  There are also many exciting adventures throughout this story.  The rescue of Trumpkin, the betrayal of Nikabrik the dwarf, and the final battle against King Miraz are just a few of the highlights.

I enjoyed this book very much.  It is filled with suspense, action and adventure.  Just like the other books in the series, this story is highly symbolic and teaches many meaningful lessons.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, along with the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is a nonfiction novel that takes readers through the author’s journey of creating his own law firm and and defending his clients. Stevenson works with racial minorities, disabled people, women, and children who have been wrongfully convicted or treated cruelly in prisons. The novel mainly revolves around the case of Walter McMillian- an innocent black man who was blamed for the murder of a teenage girl named Ronda Morrison. However, the author still shares dozens of other cases that involve different groups of people.

Personally, I found this novel very eye-opening, as it informed me of the situations involving our country’s justice system and current prison conditions. It caused me to rethink the conditions in which someone should receive a capital punishment, as well as whether or not the death penalty is considered inhumane. I was also impressed by the several themes in the novel that could be applied to not only my own life, but society as a whole. For example: It shouldn’t be okay to judge someone without considering the situation they are currently in, or what they have been through in the past.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about criminal justice and law. Although there are some legal terms that require extra research to understand the meaning of, the overall plot is very easy to comprehend, especially with the clear, detailed descriptions of each case.

-Aysha H.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives

Impossible Views of the World, by Lucy Ives, centers around protagonist Stella, an assistant curator at a prestigious New York art museum, in her quest to solve a twisted American history mystery.

“The day Paul Coral vanished, it snowed.” Thus opens the novel. We quickly find out that Paul was one of Stella’s coworkers, mysteriously gone missing. Stella is assigned to take over his position, but finds, on his laptop, a mysterious manuscript from the 1800s that draws her deeper and deeper into a mystery unfolding over a century and a half.

I would give this book a 7/10. I really enjoyed the plot, and I liked the way the mystery part of the story ran in parallel to Stella’s own journey of self-discovery re: her relationships with her ex-husband and her mother. However, Ives seems to have used a thesaurus on every word in this book. The language is often murky and difficult to understand- even I, as someone who enjoys reading slightly more dense and prose-like writing, had trouble understanding phrases in certain parts. It was a bit of a slog, but worth it for the most part!

-Vaidehi B.

To Kill A Mockingbird

To be honest, I was definitely hesitant to begin reading this book. I thought it would be like one of those really slow books with little to no plot. This book definitely proved me wrong. 

Among the main characters are Jean Louise Finch (also known as Scout), and her older brother Jeremy Finch (Jem). Their father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer, and their mother died when Scout was very young. Another major character in this book is Charles Baker Harris, but he is simply called Dill. Dill visits Maycomb and his aunt during the summertime. To Kill A Mockingbird takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama.

Despite the ideals of that time period (the early 1900s) Scout frequently gets into fights. This only increases when the boys in her class begin to tease her for her father’s most recent case. He has taken on the difficult case of defending Tom Robinson. The issues of racism are brought up in this book frequently, especially in Tom Robinson’s court trial. Mayella Ewell, a 19-year-old girl, and her father have falsely accused Tom of trying to rape Mayella. Atticus must try to prove that Tom did not do anything to Mayella, but it is challenging because there were no witnesses besides Mayella Ewell, Tom, and, Mayella’s father Bob Ewell. It is especially challenging because the majority of the town is already on the Ewells’ side despite not liking them much, simply because of Tom’s race. They, and Bob Ewell, go as far as threatening Tom, Atticus, and Atticus’s children Jem and Scout.

I think that despite some portions of this book being as unfair and upsetting to read as they were, it is a book that everyone should read as it provides another important perspective.

-Peri A.

To Kill A Mockingbird  by Harper Lee is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Perfection. Perfection is used to describe something that is flawless. When I think of perfection, I think of AP Calculus BC, Raising Canes Texas Toast, Allen Kessinger, and so much more. Every category has its own perfect thing. In movies, it is hands down Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo is the perfect movie, and Squirt is the perfect character. In names, I think Finn is a really nice name. But I think literature takes the cake for the most perfect item: Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Jeff Kinney was born in 1971. Back then in 1971, kids were reading novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Although these literary pieces are very good and have a lot of significance, the world was yet to experience the pure bliss and perfection of Jeff Kinney’s soon-to-come creation.

Come 2007. The class of 2025 was born (they are sophomores now by the way), the AP US History curriculum stops, and the most amazing book was released as well. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a diary of a wimpy kid. Such wimpy kid is named Greg, and well, objectively speaking, he is far from wimpy. Greg is a Chad. He is smart, handsome, tall, drippy, and loves his mom!

Despite Greg being the main character, I think it is fair to say that he is only the second-best character in the book. This is because Rowley exists. If Greg is a Chad, Rowley is a giga-Chad. Rowley is smarter, more handsome, taller, drippier, and loves his mom even more than Greg could ever imagine. Solely thanks to the creation of Rowley, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is perfection. Be like Rowley!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.