Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: 9780593198025 ...

Little Women is a novel written by Louisa May Alcott and first published in 1868.

The novel was an autobiographical family ethics novel set in the American Civil War and based on the life’s trifles of four sisters in an ordinary family in New England in the 19th century. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great thinker of the time, the novel emphasizes the concept of personal dignity, independence and self-discipline. The content is simple but exquisite; the structure is simple but profound, full of strong appeal. Little Women is a semi-autobiographical novel with female characters and feminist consciousness.

During the American Civil War, Mr. March went to war as a chaplain, and his four daughters and their mother lived a poor but strong and optimistic life at home. They were poor, but willing to help their neighbors, the Hummels, who needed help more than they did. Women have vanity; they want to get beautiful clothes, eat delicious food, live like a princess. Although full of fantasy, in real life, they use their own efforts to solve the various difficulties in life. The eldest daughter, Meg, is beautiful by nature and full of longing for love; the second daughter, Jo, was independent and determined to be a writer; the third daughter, Beth, is the traditional good girl, weak and lovable. The youngest daughter, Amy, loves painting. The story follows these four women as they grow from girls into little women, recounting their unruly experiences and respective pursuit of different ideals and the processing of finding their true self.

The reason why the four March sisters, who are the true, the good and the beautiful, have such qualities as kindness, diligence, selflessness, tolerance and toughness cannot be separated from Mrs. March’s excellent education. Parents are their children’s first teachers, and there is no doubt that Mrs. March is an excellent teacher. She is generous, ready to help others, not easily angry, and grateful for life. In the eyes of the children, she is not only a good mother, but also their best friend. They liked to confide their worries to Mrs. March, who gave them good advice and help. It is because of Mrs. March’s unique family education that the four sisters became little women loved by everyone. Consequently, the courageous images of women in this book touch the heartstrings of numerous female readers.

-Coreen C.

Educated by Tara Westover

With overwhelmingly positive reviews from Bill Gates, Barak Obama, as well as consistently winning the best memoir of the year in 2018 by multiple institutions, I had to see if this book lived up to all the hype it seemed to be receiving from everywhere. 

Needless to say, it went above and beyond my expectations. 

Educated is the author’s own story of growing up in a survivalist family that did not allow anyone, least of all Tara, an education. It is the journey of her breaking free from the destructiveness of her family and ending up studying at Cambridge and Harvard.

This memoir is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, if not only for the powerfulness of it. Throughout the memoir, you go from pitying Tara, to pride for all that she’s accomplished. 

One trait I love about Tara is her determination. As she starts studying for the SAT, she knew almost nothing and had to learn almost all of it by herself. For example, when she started practicing trigonometry for the first time, she had the math level of a 5th grader. But as she studied more and more, and was so driven that she passed the SAT without receiving any instruction other than her brother Tyler and some books. 

This book affected me in such a deep way that I feel as if it will resonate with me forever. Now whenever I’m doing my schoolwork and feeling unmotivated, I think about Tara and how hard she had to work to just prove she had what it took without proper schooling to get into high prestige schools. She was very independent and as someone who is striving to do so, Tara is someone I look up to.

Now because of her upbringing she did have a lot of mental health issues. After discovering herself, she was pushed away by her family. Even though she had spoken out to her other family members about how manipulating and damaging her childhood was, almost no one believed her. Because of this, her family ignored her, and even though they have been the root of almost all her problems, she finds herself heartbroken over this. 

But the main thing her family has done to her was the manipulation of ideals they have put upon her. As she was growing up she was taught that the government and all of its institutions were part of the illuminati and were out to kill them. The only thing Tara’s parents willingly taught her about was religion. In fact, when she attended college she couldn’t write the way other student did because she learned to read and write only from mormon texts, she had almost no idea of how to function in a normal society. When going through with all this manipulation her parents justified it in their name of their faith, but it is clearly radicalism, and it is so, so frustrating to read about. 

And with that I leave with you a quote from the memoir that perfectly encompasses the idea of finding your own truth:

“Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.”

-Asli B.

Educated by Tara Westover is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

When 111-year old Bilbo Baggins, hero of The Hobbit, gifts a stunning ring to his beloved nephew Frodo, he unknowingly changes the course of Middle-Earth history forever. For the innocent-looking ring is in truth the One Ring, which the Dark Lord of Mordor has lusted after for years, and will do anything to retrieve.

Seventeen years later, Gandalf the Grey appears in the Shire, warning Frodo of great danger. In order to preserve what is yet good in Middle-Earth, Frodo sets off with only his gardener Sam and his cousins Merry and Pippin as his companions. During his travels, he encounters numerous allies that eventually form the Fellowship of the Ring, the sole task of which is to destroy the One Ring in the fire of the fittingly named Mount Doom in the dark land of Mordor. 

However, the Company faces great dangers during their journey, and are pursued by the hated Orcs, soldiers of Sauron himself. Nevertheless, the greatest danger proves to be the object of their quest, the One Ring, whose malignant influence on all members of the Fellowship spurs a sudden betrayal that results in a kidnapping and a death.

The first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring is sure to delight all readers, combining action and adventure with a realistic world that readers will not hesitate to thoroughly immerse themselves in.

-Mahak M.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. IT can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Is it a kid’s book or all ages one?  Madeleine L’Engle’s classic (but not too classic) story A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children focuses on Meg and Charles Wallace Murry and their new friend Calvin O’Keefe through time and space on a mission to save Mr.Murry.  While some argue that this work of science fiction is aimed at youth, it is actually a timeless piece that will transcend time and space itself.  

A Wrinkle in Time tackles different scientific theories by putting them into play and describing them with simple words and emotions making them easily comprehensible.  For example, L’Engle talks about tesseracts or anything which is four-dimensional.  As the three heroes move through time and space, or tesser, L’Engle uses simple but effective words coupled by vivid descriptions of the event.  This allows readers to fully grasp the advanced scientific and mathematical concepts.  Some confuse L’Engle’s use of basic vocabulary as a way to aim her story at children.  While I am sure that she is pleased for children to read her story, this does not mean that A Wrinkle in Time is a kid’s book.  The use of base-level vocabulary simply makes these ideas accessible to everyone and not just rocket scientists.  

Moreover, L’Engle’s characters all deal with absent and neglectful parents, a theme which is definitely not aimed solely at children.  The Murray children practically grew up without their father who was kidnapped by the evil It.  Charles Wallace had not ever even properly met his father.  Calvin O’Keefe’s mother struggled to keep the house in proper sanitation and neglected her children.  While these ideas are important for children to understand, it is certainly not limited to them.  For all I know, reading about how these parent’s identities have shaped their children could give some parents a wake up call.  In any event,  the theme of unideal parenting is one that can resonate with any generation.

Further still, A Wrinkle in Time focuses more on timeless themes and morals than anything else meaning that it will withstand the test of time for all generations, not just children.  L’Engle’s’ story, though it is classified as science fiction, is largely about love and how it connects all of us throughout the universe.  From Meg’s sisterly love of Charles Wallace, Charles Wallace’s love of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, to Calvin’s love for Meg, love is all over.  Love is something timeless and will never fade away, and neither will A Wrinkle in Time.  

It almost goes without saying that any book which has obtained a Newbery Medal is fantastic, but Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is a truly extraordinary work of science fiction. Though many declare that it is a children’s story, it is in actuality a story for all ages or anyone who likes scientific theories explained simply, themes about absent or neglectful parents and enjoys a good old fashioned story about the power of love.

– Ainsley H

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

Mokhtar Alkhanshali stands at the door of a San Francisco apartment building, day after day. As the doors swing open and close at the push of a button, Alkhanshali feels his life dwindle away. Having climbed the rungs of society from his childhood in the ghetto streets of the Tenderloin district, as the son of Yemeni immigrants, Alkhanshali’s lofty dreams and aspirations seem to have only amounted to the title of “lobby ambassador.” Unironically, he resembled a cup of Yemeni coffee. Although the coffee bean originated in Yemen, around five hundred years ago, today it is deemed some of the worst in the world. Determined to restore its honor, as well as his own passion, Alkhanshali set off on a hero’s journey. Across years, war-torn lands, rebel attacks, and surprisingly trustworthy friends in low places, Alkhanshali made history upon his return in 2015. Dave Eggers, in his elemental narrative biographical style, cultivates Alkhanshali’s story in The Monk of Mokha.

Described by the New York Times as an odyssey, with sentences of “Orwellian clarity,” Dave Eggers’ writing is as equally memorable as the epic story itself. It leaves the reader searching for more, as the pertinence of the dangers Alkhashali overcame is timely. As he was wrapping up his business in Yemen, war broke out. Seeking out the American embassy, Alkhashali revealed serious snags in the help granted from his American citizenship. Due to the escalated situation, no Americans would be able to evacuate safely. His only option was to take the last resort, a thrilling, fictional-esque escape from the country. Framing Alkhashali’s struggle of race, religion, and manhood from childhood, Eggers retells an unforgettable story.

To judge is human nature. Picking up Dave Eggers’ beautifully illustrated hardback from a library shelf one day was simply a product of such judgment. Little did I know I would be sucked into a captivating world of real-life Yemeni-American hero in his classic rags to riches story. For the coffee lover, seeker of strong protagonists, or the biography consumer, Dave Eggers has written The Monk of Mokha for you.

-Maya S.

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download for free from Overdrive

Virtual Pumpkin Decorating!

Hi everyone!

Your Teen Librarian here! It goes without saying that 2020 has been more than a crazy year. We’ve had to stop doing the things we’d normally like to do and as we enter the autumn season, that means our Halloween plans are probably going to change. But that doesn’t mean we can’t show off our creativity!

The Mission Viejo Library’s Teen Voice Blog and the Teen Advisory Board are hosting a Virtual Pumpkin Decorating activity! Whether you’re drawing faces with markers and gluing on googly eyes or carving unique masterpieces, we want to see what you come up with!

Here’s how it works:

Decorate a pumpkin, take a picture, and email it to libraryprograms@cityofmissionviejo.org!

We’ll be accepting photos from October 19th through October 30th!

Veterans Online Game Review

Veterans Online is a free-to-play, top-down multiplayer shooter that puts ten players in an intense five vs five situation. The game requires fast reflexes and even faster sharpshooting. The players are able to customize their load-outs, characters, taunts, and more. To do this, players must use the money they earn to buy said upgrades. These currencies can be made either from spending money in the game or completing certain challenges. Players also can buy certain weapons using the buy menu, which will use your currency that you earn mid-game to give you better weaponry.

The graphics of Veterans Online was very clean. When I launched the game, I was greeted with the sounds of battle and dramatic music. I spent some time customizing my character and giving him the hair and masks that I liked. I then went into the tutorials and watched all of the video walkthroughs. The one problem I had was the movement controls and sensitivity. The sensitivity for my game was way too high, and my movement keys were not the usual WASD and were assigned to other keys. Luckily, I was able to change both of these problems to my liking, and I was ready to play.

Sadly, I was not able to get into an online match. I sat in the lobby waiting to get in a game, but the highest number of players was 2/10. I wanted to play an online match and test my skill, but it never happened. I decided to go into a custom match by myself, to get the feel for the game and controls. The game is very well made. The maps are clean and big and would work for any five vs five game mode. The guns and recoil patterns are interesting and would be challenging to get used to. It was a shame that I could not get into an online game mode.

Overall, I enjoyed Veterans Online even though I was not able to play the online version. I enjoyed the base game, with different weaponry and skills. I believe that the reason I did not get into an online match was due to the low amount of players. I do believe that if the game had more players, it would draw more attention. I hope that the game does get more popular in the future because it is a good game. Overall, I would give Veterans Online a nine out of ten.

-Daniel C. 

Animal Farm by George Orwell

George Orwell’s composition of Animal Farm tells a story of real-life actions, in a form everyone understands, through the eyes of animals. The idea of communism, or in this case what the animals refer to as “animalism”, is a sensitive topic. But, Orwell was able to explain part of the issue that power leads to corruption.

In the beginning of the novel, Napoleon the pig is shown as a protagonist that helps end the animals suffering under the farmers. But as a shock to all, he slowly his idealism changes as the animals take over the farm. This event was one of the main problems that occurred in real life in some countries.

Orwell’s ability to link a compelling story to real event in time was a very interesting connection to make. He was able to explain actions that happened in countries like Russia, and put in how these people were able to rise to power through a story. Each character or event that occurred in the story portrayed different communist leaders and ideas, along with different ideas of totalitarianism.

Before getting into the novel, I was familiar to the ideas of communism and other neighboring branches of it. Once I started reading I could see some connections of these ideas as they were portrayed in a different form. But as the story continued and the characters growth was at a point in which their true attributes were finally being showed, I could see what Orwell was doing. He allowed each different sets of animals grow into separate groups, all with different views on the situation. Each group were essentially the different types of people during these types of Revolutions.

Overall, this book was very intriguing and I would rate it a 9/10. It was one of those books where once it was started, it had to be finished. My dad constantly told me of books that even his generation was urged to read. Animal Farm was one of the classic books that he would tell me about. It was very cool to be able to relate with my dad about a book he had also read when he was a teenager. This story by George Orwell was a very fascinating read.

-Lilly G.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

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:)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This award-winning book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, guides readers through a dangerous yet exciting journey of finding what is important in one’s life and to never lose hope to accomplish any dreams.

The main character, Santiago is a confident, shepherd boy that is known to be curious about the world and to believe in what he wants to believe in. In the book, he travels to many places but his destination is the Egyptian pyramids where he hopes to find treasure. Throughout the story, he receives advice from many mentors about finding his “Personal Legend”. He is taught to never lose hope and to follow his dreams which is what Santiago does. Being beat up after every obstacle Santiago has to face, by the end, he is a powerful and gritty young boy who realizes that he has the ability to accomplish any of his dreams. Join Santiago through his long journey, battling difficult circumstances and ultimately reaching his goal. With helpful advice from many individuals Santiago meets through his trip, there is valuable information that is important for the reader to also take in.

Though the book is not very long and not very hard, it is important to not speed through it but to understand The Alchemist is trying to teach us. I really liked it and if you decide to read this book too, I think you will like it as well.

– Amandine K.

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