Love and Luck by Jenna Evens Welch

The novel Love and Luck by Jenna Evens Welch tells the story of overcoming a broken heart and finding one’s self.  

The story stars a young Addie, the youngest of her large family. Addie and her family are on a trip to Ireland for her aunt’s extravagant destination wedding. But the only thing on Addie’s mind is the recent events that led to her heart being broken. 

No matter how hard she tries to forget, the images keep replaying in her mind- and it does not help that her brother Ian keeps reminding her of it. In fact, the two fight over the aftermath of the heartbreak situation for most of the story. However, things start to look up when Addie finds a guidebook titled Ireland for the Heartbroken. On a whim, she takes the book, hoping to escape her nagging thoughts-and her nagging brother.  

When an unexpected change in plans occurs, Addie ends up in a tiny car with Ian and his new Irish friend Rowan. The three of them take a fun-filled adventure around Ireland visiting all sorts of beautiful landmarks. Addie hopes her guidebook can help her find the peace she longs for, and, surprisingly, Rowan joins in. Along the trip, Addie works to mend her heart as well as mend her relationship with Ian. Love and Luck is an exciting read full of self-discovery, friendship, adventure, and of course, love!  I would highly recommend this book to any teen who enjoys a cute story that features travel! 

-Hidaya R.

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur's The Sun and Her Flowers

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur is a heart-wrenchingly cathartic and beautiful book about love and the journey of healing from it. Kaur explores the themes of trauma, loss, vulnerability, and self-love in simple, but unique prose pieces and thoughtful, evocative sketches. The book is divided into five sections- wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming– comparing the progression of the book to the life cycle of a flower.

Her words are deeply intimate and often emotional; she delves into difficult themes- such as womanhood, self-hate, and abusive love- with grace and poise. The approach to poetry shown in this book is unique- Kaur doesn’t utilize flowery language or excessive adjectives to get her point across, but her work is deeply moving nonetheless.

I first came across Kaur’s work when I myself was at a vulnerable point in my life. Her writing spoke to me on not only an emotional, but a spiritual level- the anecdotal nature of each piece makes her feel like a friend or an aunt speaking to you directly, rather than an aloof author miles away. If you are looking for a helping hand or a listening ear, I could not recommend this book more.

Rupi Kaur has also written Milk and Honey, and her new book, Home Body, is set to be released on November 17th, 2020. 

-Vaidehi B.

Posted by John David Anderson

We have all used sticky notes before, either in school, or just to draw on them and give them to our friends, but the characters in this book start a trend of a new way to use Post-its. They use them for bullying, and suddenly there are hundreds of sticky notes on each of the doors, spreading mean messages and statements to innocent teens who didn’t do anything wrong. 

The story starts off with Eric and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench. Eric and his friends sit together every lunch and they are best buddies. He feels like they are the “people”  his mom always tells him about. She says, “You will find your people.” Then suddenly, a new girl named Rose shows up and starts to sit with them every lunchtime. After the 1st day the new girl comes, Bench starts to avoid them at lunchtime, like he has something against her. Eric is a quiet kid, just trying to find his place in middle school and avoid trouble. 

Deedee starts off the Post-it note trend by sticking these notes onto his friends’ lockers. He draws small pictures and asks questions to his group. 

Deedee had no idea that this idea would explode to be this big and offensive. But after one of their teachers asks them to write a nice note around school, not everyone follows the exact directions, and the students find themselves in a Post-it war with hundreds of notes sticking to walls, lockers, and toilets. Right away, people start to leave bad comments about each other, and hurt each other in emotional ways. Something has to be done, but it gets worse and worse by day. It even gets to too bad at some point that Wolf has had enough and he even decides to change schools. Luckily, Wolf has good friends that help him get through this tough time for him. 

This book shows that it is always good to have great friends and to be careful in every action because bullies can cause big problems out of small things. 

This book was very enjoying to read, and I give this novel a 10/10 rating. 

-Mert A.

Posted by John David Anderson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Death On The Nile by Agatha Christie

Linnet Ridgeway has everything she could possibly ever want. She is smart, rich, charming, and beautiful. Her friend Jacqueline comes to her one day with a request; Linnet makes Jacqueline’s fiance Simon Doyle her land agent. He needs a job, and Linnet gives it to him. 

However, she falls in love with him and thinks about how lucky Jacqueline is. In fact, Jacqueline doesn’t have nearly as much as Linnet does. Eventually, Linnet ends up marrying Simon Doyle. Jacquline is mad at Linnet for “stealing” her fiance from her. She decides to follow Linnet and Simon during their honeymoon. 

One morning, during a cruise of tranquility down the Nile, Linnet is found dead in her cabin. Hercule Poirot is on the cruise, and with one of his friends who is also searching for a criminal, they try to discover who committed the crime. However, Simon had been accidentally shot in the leg the night Linnet was killed, so they must get to their destination. A doctor on the ship has done all he can, but Simon must get to a hospital quickly, so the detectives are running out of time to find out who did it. 

I enjoyed reading this book because there were so many plot twists and the ending was so unexpected. I also liked how there was such a variety of characters which helped to develop the story and to make it feel more realistic. The author also gives a lot of details about their backstories. As a result of these small sections about the characters and their lives, the reader has reason to suspect almost everyone. I really liked how there were multiple crimes that I kept trying to solve before the detectives in the book solved the complicated case. Almost nothing is as it seems to be.

This was an amazing book and I really enjoyed reading it. I would recommend you to read this intriguing novel.

-Peri A.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan

Natalie has always been best friends with Lily. However, when her friend moves away she is upset but is still excited and confident that their friendship will continue into middle school.

However, when Natalie arrives at school on the first day of middle school, she sees her best friend Lily in a conversation with a cool-looking girl. Lily seems to be… FRIENDS with this girl. Lily’s new friendship leaves Natalie alone and confused. What happened to their friendship? Weren’t they best friends? Did Natalie do something wrong?

All of this leaves Natalie feeling like she is not enough. Not enough to be friends with Lily. Not enough to be cool. Natalie feels very wounded. She doesn’t know what to do, and her only thought is to try to win Lily back. One day, after she finds a note from Lily, she gets to work. Natalie devises a plan to get Lily back.

Meanwhile, Natalie is receiving mean notes on her locker from Lily. Natalie feels terrible and wounded but she still wants Lily back. After all, they were best friends, weren’t they? Ignoring all of Lily’s mean acts, Natalie gives up a lot of what she loves to do so that she can please Lily and get her back.

Whatever Lily thinks becomes what Natalie does. However, can Natalie overcome these feelings and move on after Lily? Can she become her true self? Or she is simply not enough?

I really loved this book because it is very fun to read. It portrays how you do not need to be what anyone else wants you to be. You only need to be yourself. I would recommend you to read this book because as you grow older, your friends and you might have different interests, and you might not be as close to them as you once were.

I rate this book a 10/10.

-Peri A

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: 9780451530271 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

In the book, Hardy described the impact of the emerging industrialization and urban civilization on the old, rural Wessex area, exposing the false morality that imprisons people’s thoughts, emphasizes chastity, and represses women’s social status. The tragic fate of Tess reflects the background of the times: economic poverty, the unfair legal system, hypocritical religion, and the hypocritical morality of the bourgeoisie. Tess’s tragedy is the product of society at that time, so Tess’s tragedy is also a social tragedy. The tragedy of Tess, a beautiful girl with a pure heart, is caused by the ugly social reality. As a poor woman with a low social status, Tess was inevitably oppressed and humiliated, both materially (including economic, powerful and physical) and spiritually (including religious, moral and traditional concepts). As a victim of society, Tess is not only hard-working and brave but also pure and kind. She was born poor, but full of beautiful ideals. In order to realize this ideal, she went out three times. But she was alone, and each time she was hit harder and harder. Tess’s tragedy not only has its deep economic and class roots but also has its moral and religious, legal factors.

Tess’s economic and class status decided that she was in a passive position in front of the morality, religion and law that served the bourgeoisie. The tragedy of Tess is that a pure and kind woman was destroyed by the decadent ethics, hypocritical religion and unjust legal system of the bourgeoisie. And Tess’s own bourgeois morality and religious morality consciousness also caused her own tragedy to some extent, because she could not get rid of the shackles of those traditional morality to herself, which was the weak side of her character. In addition, the emerging bourgeoisie represented by Alec d’Urberville was the direct cause of Tess’s misfortune, while the traditional ethics represented by Angel was an invisible and more terrible spiritual persecution. The value of this image of Tess is precisely that she dares to challenge the forces that oppress her. However, in the face of powerful social forces, her resistance inevitably brings tragedy. Her tragic fate seems to be a personal one, but in fact she symbolizes the whole fate of the British farmer at the end of the 19th century. Hardy used Tess’s tragic life to forcefully attack the patriarchal society in the Victorian era.

Women living in this patriarchal society are doomed to be oppressed and controlled, unable to escape the tragic fate. In the eyes of the guardians of the mainstream discourse in the patriarchal society, women are always in the position of dependence and subordination. The innocent victim, Tess, is considered to be the opposite of the mainstream ideology, the patriarchal society and a deviant prostitute and demon girl who is not tolerated by the society. To the destruction and oppression of the patriarchal society, although Tess began to fight and even shouted out the essence of the oppression of the patriarchal society on women, she still failed and could not get rid of the powerful and invisible control network of the patriarchal society in the end and went towards destruction. The application of painting art in the environmental description of Tess of the D ‘Urbervilles, especially the application of color and light, has an important influence on the characterization, atmosphere contrast, theme analysis and readers’ psychological reception of this work. It presents the tragedy of love and marriage in the heroine Tess’s short life in a real and appealing way, which makes readers empathize with this tragic struggle of life.

Although the scenery is based on the scenery from nature, the scenery as a landscape actually no longer exists because they have become a background, reflecting and coordinating the feelings and experiences of the characters. Whether it is a grass, a tree, a flower, a cloud or a field, Hardy reproduces it not in the way a photographer does, but in the way he paints. With the help of color, light, line and other means of painting, the writer tries to explore the color relationship between the sky and the ground, during which there is an invisible contrast effect, reflecting his sensitivity to width and strength. Hardy presents the picturesque rural living environment, lifelike characters and wonderful and moving details to the readers, giving them beauty and enjoyment. At the same time, through the pictures of specific life, he spared no effort to depict the complexity of the characters and reveal the moral theme and tragic theme of the work. In the novel, the description of each scene is to reveal a certain course of the law of Tess’s spiritual development, which also echoes Tess’s character and destiny. Before each appearance of Tess, Hardy spent a great deal of time describing the environment there.

The various stages of Tess’s life, such as the quiet valley of Brie and its surrounding mountains, meadows, valleys, and rivers, the beautiful tablecloth, and the desolate and bitter robin, give the reader a general view. The use of painting art makes the text appear in front of the reader like a picture, which is organically integrated with the characters and plots in the novel. Here, art follows nature, and the artist’s hand involuntarily obeys the eye’s sense. By means of artificial or natural symbols it is possible to reawaken in our imagination images similar to the real things. By means of the art of painting, the essence of a particular aspect of external things is captured, and a certain aspect of human mood is associated with it, which, in the form of words, arouses in the mind of the reader the kind of feeling needed. In this way, Hardy skillfully conceived, combined the changes of natural environment with the ups and downs of characters’ fate, and used special environment description to render the relationship between people, between man and nature, and between man and society, which constituted the incomparable peculiar charm of the novel. The emotions of the characters and the changes in the mood and color of the environment constitute an inseparable whole. The environment portends to reflect the character’s fate and emotion, and the character’s emotional fate endows the environment with more spirit and vitality. The emotional appeal of the environment and the soul of the character form a whole, and complement each other.

-Coreen C.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The 100: Books vs. TV Show

The book series The 100 by Kass Morgan was made into a television show on the CW, and the similarities between the books and the show stop at the title. 

The television series uses the same plotline; however, it is sped up and changed. In the show, the officials, and parents of the children, are shown regularly, unlike in the book. The entire four-book series is changed and made into one season. Then, the next 6 seasons are created from scratch. 

Not only are the plot lines modified in the television series, but the characters are as well. In the novels, the main characters are Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Glass. Whereas in the television series, the main characters are Clarke, Finn, Bellamy, Finn, Raven, Jasper, Octavia, and Monte. The show does not include the main characters Wells or Glass from the books. Furthermore, the television series features the parents of the children as main characters. In the books, the parents are barely mentioned or dead.

 I personally have not watched the entire series, but I have read the book series. If you were to pick one to read/watch, I would recommend doing both, as they are completely different stories. However, I did enjoy the book series a bit more because it was more detailed and suspenseful.  

-Hidaya R.

The 100 by Kass Morgan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers is the story of a beloved nanny and the magical adventures that seem to follow wherever she goes.  Travers wrote several books about Mary Poppins.  In the first book, we are introduced to the Banks family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Banks and their four children: Jane, Michael, John and Barbara.  John and Barbara are the baby twins.  After their nanny quits, Mary Poppins appears seemingly out of nowhere to become the new nanny.  Poppins turns out to be much different than any other nanny they had known before.

The children realize right away that whenever Mary Poppins is around, amazing things happen.  I enjoyed reading about their unusual experiences.  One of my favorite characters is Admiral Boom.  He yells out random nautical phrases like “Land ho!” and “Heave away there!”  I also enjoyed a chapter called “Laughing Gas,” in which Mr. Wigg (also known as Uncle Albert) fills with laughing gas and elevates in the air when he loses control of his laughter.  For some reason, Mr. Wigg finds it especially difficult to control his laughter on Fridays, and when his birthday falls on a Friday he floats like a balloon.

This book is filled with many other quirky and amusing episodes.  However, one thing that surprised me was the personality of Mary Poppins herself.  She apparently has a vanity problem, because she always seems to admire herself when she sees her reflection.  I was also taken aback by the manner in which Mary Poppins treats the children.

For example, we read: “’Ask him.  He knows—Mr. Know-All!’ said Mary Poppins, nodding her head scornfully at Michael.”

As another example, we read: “’Oh, really?  I thought it was the other way round,’ said Mary Poppins with a scornful laugh.”

Yet another example of her attitude toward the children: “Mary Poppins turned and regarded him with something like disgust.”

There are many other examples of this kind of behavior by Mary Poppins.  She is not always mean-spirited toward the children, and she seems to have their best interests at heart.  I was just surprised to read about her snapping at the children from time to time.  Still, by the end of the book, the children seem to love her (for some reason).

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.  There were many humorous and delightful elements to the story.  The book is also full of surprises, especially when it comes to the occasional rude or even scornful remark by Mary Poppins.  If you have seen the 1964 Disney movie, then you will be surprised by the differences.  I would say that the Mary Poppins character is much more gentle-hearted in the movie than in the book.  In spite of that, I would recommend this book, as well as its sequels.

-Oliver H.

Marry Poppins by P. L. Travers is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

One of the most transformative novels ever written is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This book was originally published in Portuguese in 1988, but has since been translated into numerous other languages, making it a bestseller across the globe. 

The novel chronicles the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago, who receives a prophecy from a fortune teller regarding a dream that he has had in the abandoned church he calls home. The fortune teller explains to him that he will seek great treasure at the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Santiago begins his journey across the continent to reach Egypt, when he meets King Salem. King Salem introduces one of the most pivotal ideas in the novel, which is the concept of “Personal Legend.” According to King Salem, your Personal Legend is the goal you are always destined to want to accomplish. Santiago’s “Personal Legend” is to reach the Egyptian pyramids and uncover their great treasure. As he travels through Africa, Santiago is robbed of the little money he has for his journey, so he finds a job as a merchant to earn enough money to continue. During this time, Santiago also falls in love with a girl named Fatima, who he eventually proposes to. However, she only promises to marry him after he has achieved his “personal legend.” This later teaches the resilience of true love and the importance of sacrifice in achieving one’s “Personal Legend.” 

Santiago finds another travel companion in an alchemist, who helps him achieve unity with the “soul of the world” and reach a deeper level of self-discovery and awareness. The two finally reach the pyramids, where Santiago digs for treasure to no avail. That night, Santiago is robbed yet again, but discovers that the treasure he was searching for actually resides in the church where he had the initial dream. 

Santiago’s trials and tribulations teach the reader to treasure the path to success. While the destination may be the achievement of a goal, true growth and learning come from the journey. Additionally, this novel shows the importance of personal aspiration and goals through the concept of “Personal Legend.” In order to achieve one’s goals or “Personal Legend,” one must sacrifice complacency and familiarity in favor of risk and determination. The lessons taught through the pages of The Alchemist are powerful and revolutionary in sparking a mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation. Because of this, The Alchemist is a crucial read in achieving personal growth and is highly recommended.

-Katie A.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (1996? edition) | Open Library

In the world devised by Orson Scott Card in Ender’s Game, humanity has successfully achieved interstellar travel at the speed of light, and have been forced to foil two invasions of an insectoid alien species referred to as “buggers.” Anticipating the third invasion, the military has devised the Battle School, a program in which very young children of superior intellect are trained in battle strategies and other fighting maneuvers in order to protect humanity’s future. 

At Battle School, children are sorted into “armies” and forced to devise strategies and compete against each other in a mimicry of a real alien invasion. The protagonist of the novel, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, who was taken from his family at the age of 5, is praised for possessing an undeniably brilliant and strategic mind, perhaps the best in the entire academy. 

Quickly working his way up the “ladder,” Ender becomes the youngest leader of an army with a 100% success rate, but his status as the best of the best wins him as many enemies as it does allies. Eventually, Ender graduates and joins the space force to defend Earth from the third “bugger” invasion, but his strategies come at a cost not obvious at first glance. 

While it may not be as well known as some other sci-fi classics, Ender’s Game is intriguing in that it raises some interesting psychological questions regarding the morality of training and harming children for the sake of the greater good. Personally, Ender’s Game has always been one of my favorite novels, and I would definitely recommend it to all readers, especially if they are fans of the sci-fi adventure genre.

-Mahak M.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.