The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Adhieh

The wrath and the dawn is not your everyday fantasy novel. 

For one, it has middle eastern representation, which in my opinion is a certain demographic in fantasy that is highly underrepresented. Secondly, it is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, the fairy tale that which inspired Aladdin and many other films under the title the tales are commonly referred to, Arabian Nights

But before we continue can we take a moment to appreciate the covers? The original covers that were released with the book when it came out in 2015, are absolutely gorgeous. And I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that the reason I purchased these books was because of the covers. My quest to obtain the original covers was completed through the wonderful website of eBay, which fortunately had one or two to spare for my honorable mission.

But fear not, the covers were not the only extraordinary part of the book, because of course the most important part of any novel is the content. To that, the wrath and the Dawn upheld the high expectations I had for it. 

The Wrath and The Dawn tells the story of Sharzard, a women of noble birth in the Islamic Golden Age, and Khalid, the Caliph who takes a new bride each night only for them to die the morning after. Once Sharzard’s closest friend falls victim, she decides to volunteer to be his bride to try and kill Khalid. Sharzard convinces the Caliph not to kill her through the stories she tells each night. 

I absolutely zoomed through this book. Not only this one but the duology as well and ended up reading them both in one day. This was highly encouraged by the short and fast-paced chapters. There was never a dull moment in this book, and there was always someone to follow and root for. 

Another particular part that had me completely enthralled and hooked on was the romance. Although the premise seems somewhat problematic and troubling the romance evolves in a very cute and intimate manner that makes it hard to dislike. As with a lot of young adult novels, the main character’s remarks tend to be very witty and sarcastic. But unlike in other novels where those said remarks seem forced and unlike the character, Sharzard’s personality in my opinion is much more genuine and seems natural. These remarks make the banter much more fun to read and helped me get through the book even faster. 

But more importantly, its an enthralling tale about love, danger, and magic in ancient times that everyone should read. 

The wrath and the dawn is also available as a webtoon and although I prefer the original material, if you are short for time or quite like the cartoonish style then I highly recommend that as well. (Note, the webtoon is not completed and is currently being updated weekly.

-Asli B.

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Adhieh is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

For all the self-proclaimed literary snobs—you know, those who continually reference books and apply its meanings to the chapters of one’s life—Gabrielle Zevin introduces A.J. Fikry, a middle-aged and depressed bookseller on the coast of Massachusetts. Encompassing this universal feeling, of a storied life, Zevin characterizes all of us through him. Her novel, memoir, a minder—I’m not even sure what to call it—is nothing short of a masterpiece and warmly prompts us to recall why we read and how we love one another.

Fikry doesn’t have a lot of customers and even fewer friends. Mourning the loss of his wife, Fikry prizes his first edition copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tamerlane,” until it goes missing within the first few chapters. Left in its place is a small bundle. Spurring an unexpected change in his life, Fikry stubbornly comes to learn that the capacity of his love is not limited to paperbacks and late wife.

For the most part, Zevin’s writing is optimistic but realistically honest. As an array of characters is introduced, her writing accommodates. For Fikry, his old-fashioned life is personified by careful and calculated narration. However, as new friends find their way into his life, the style of writing expands. It seemingly mimics the path which Fikry takes in order to step outside his bookshop and into the life of others.

A bit like Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin represents the old-fashioned reader within all of us. There is something timeless and special about The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, as it provides an unexpected and touching story for almost any audience. Something Fikry may appreciate, and aligned with Zevin’s writing, I find the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road” to be a fitting song. Through tones of inevitable and haunting lonesome, the lyrics remind us that the next step is to find a door and walk through it. Until we invite someone else to walk along with us, we will continue to walk along this road of life alone.

Literary snob or casual reader, almost anybody can connect with Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It is both a New York Times Bestseller and now one of the most memorable books I have read. I highly recommend.

-Maya S.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Being an Introvert

I am an introvert. 

Now, when this word comes to mind, many automatically think of someone who is shy, meek, or quiet. I’m sorry to say that, although many introverts may happen to have these characteristics, that is not the definition of what an introvert is. Introverts are simply people who obtain their energy from being alone, rather than with people, unlike extroverts. Introverts are not always shy, however. I’d like to make that clear, despite the irony in the fact that I, an introvert, very much so identify as a shy individual until I feel comfortable with someone. Once I do feel comfortable, however, I am an incredibly talkative person and can easily spend hours discussing things from every which subject. That being said, although I do enjoy having good conversations and spending time  with friends and family like any other person, at the end, I usually will feel drained and exhausted.

That’s my introverted side. The desire to be alone, especially after a long duration of socialization– not the trait of shyness. This is because socializing, especially in large groups or in loud settings, can be overstimulating all at once, and for the introvert, the way that they can revert back to base one is by being alone, away from all of the hustle and bustle. 

So yes, contrary to popular belief, introverts do in fact like going out (on occasion).

Being an introvert does not mean you want to be alone twenty four hours of the day, seven days a week. It just means if you had to, you probably could without losing your mind. And yes, while humans are naturally social with one another, sometimes, being around other humans can be mentally exhausting, even if for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. Thus is the nature and life of an introvert.

A key point about introverts is that, when it comes to people, wanting to be away from them is honestly not personal in the slightest, nor does it signify that we dislike most people. In fact, you can love the person you’re being around and still feel exhausted after spending a long period of time with them.

For introverts, not wanting to be around other people, especially loved ones, should not be taken as a personal offense. It just means we need some time, alone and only alone, to clear our heads. Simply put, being in the presence of another person hinders us from achieving this. Introverts will simply just continue to nosedive in energy and dwindle in liveliness the longer that they are forced to stay out and about and with others. It sounds stupid, maybe, or even a bit stuck-up. But, I promise you, introverts don’t mean to be rude. They don’t hate people. But they’ll be in much better spirits if you just leave them be for a few hours when they ask to be left alone. 

All this being said, many people don’t really know if they are introverted. 

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself and think about. 

Do you thrive off of time spent alone? Find inspiration and motivation coming to you when you are alone? Wish you had more time to yourself? Feel up for doing a social activity or attending a social gathering after you’ve already spent a good portion of time alone? And, if you go out or spend time with others, upon your return, do you usually notice that you feel drained? By drained, I mean, do you often notice you feel tired? Irritable? Scouting for a place to be that is quiet? Not in any mood to talk? With a headache, maybe? If so, you are most likely an introvert.

Welcome to the club of “I-Often-Need-Time-To-Myself-Please-Leave-Me-Alone-Thank-You”.   

I know some might consider it to be awfully selfish to “need” down-time. Such a first-world problem, one might scoff. But then again, when it comes to being an extrovert, I can’t possibly begin to see how someone could get need to get their energy and their mood up from constantly being in the companionship of others. To me, this is a bizarre concept to imagine being my reality. But, see, that’s why everyone’s different. Some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts. And some of us are stuck somewhere in the middle: ambiverts, as the term has been coined. 

With all of this being said, never feel bad if you are in fact a quieter soul; an introvert in a world that seems to cater only to extroverts. Never feel that craving time to yourself and silence is a bad thing. After all, everyone’s always preaching about how good it is to begin your day in silent meditation or to have some sort of ritual where you are alone. Many have only just begun to discover the joys that come along with being alone, and the hidden wisdom’s behind it as well–something introverts have known all along. Because, truly, silence will always feed your soul thousand times more than noise.

Authors We Love: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (Author of The Old Man and the Sea)

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961) was born in Oak Park, Illinois.

Hemingway won many awards in his life. He was awarded the silver medal for bravery during the first world war; In 1953, he won the Pulitzer Prize for “the Old Man and the Sea.” This book won Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. In 2001, Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and “a Farewell to Arms” were listed by The American Modern Library as one of “The 100 Best English-Language Novels of The 20th Century.”

Hemingway committed suicide with a shotgun at his home in Idaho on July 2, 1961. He was 62 years old.

Hemingway, who had been married four times in his life, was a representative of the “Lost Generation” writers in the United States. He showed his confusion and hesitation about life, the world, and society in his works. He has always been known as a tough man in the literary world. He is a spiritual monument of the American nation.

Hemingway’s usage of language has the characteristics of no redundancy, easy style, simple sentences, and plain words. He often constructs single sentences with basic words as the center, and seldom relies on adjectives and adverbs to express thoughts. In chapter 26 of “A Farewell to Arms,” a conversation about the war between Henry and the vicar is concise and perspicuous. The absence of flashy modifiers gives the reader a strong sense of people’s aversion to war. In the novel “The Killer”, many succinct phrases are used, and the plot is developed in the form of colloquial dialogue. Hemingway avoids unnecessary explanations and complicated background twists which allow the readers to directly interact with the characters and be immersed in the plotline.

-Coreen C. 

The works of Ernest Hemingway are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye | Summary, Analysis, Reception, & Facts ...

The Catcher in the Rye is the only novel by American writer Jerome David Salinger, first published in 1951. Salinger limits the story to the three days when 16-year-old high school student Holden Caulfield leaves school to wander in New York City and explores the inner world of a teenager using streaming-of-consciousness writing. Anger and anxiety are the two main themes of the book. The experiences and thoughts of the protagonists resonate strongly among teenagers and are warmly welcomed by readers, especially middle school students.

The United States in the 1950s had just won World War II and became a supreme political, economic, and military power. In such a period, “New York” is a representative of the American materialist society. It symbolises the most “fake” of all, that people’s spiritual life is a wasteland and that no one cares about other people’s feelings. The artistic charm of this novel lies in the author’s focus on the in-depth analysis of the characters’ psychology. He depicts the ambivalence of the protagonist Holden and his complex psychopathy in a delicate and analytical manner. In this book, Salinger adopts a first-person limiting perspective, and the story is told only within the scope of Holden’s psychological activities or feelings, while Holden is a 17-year-old undergoing psychoanalytic treatment and has no normal judgment of the world around him.

Salinger takes such a figure as the narrator of the novel, which greatly negates the traditional aesthetic concept of metaphysics. The traditional aesthetic concept holds that beauty is the inherent attribute of literary and artistic works and the manifestation of the cohesion of people’s aesthetic experience. The creation of artistic works as a form of beauty includes not only the reproduction of artistic images to reality, but also the aesthetic intention and evaluation of artists to reality.

The purpose of artistic production is to edify the soul with sublimated aesthetic experience and give people pure aesthetic enjoyment. Artistic works should create beautiful atmosphere, beautiful image, beautiful ideal, so that it has moving charm, eternal value and a harmonious, unified overall form. However, Salinger’s Holden is far from such an aesthetic object. He is a teenager suffering from mild schizophrenia, whose values have not yet been fully formed and whose rational world is in chaos.

-Coreen C.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Game Review: Among Us

So as of recently, the newest trending game that everyone seems to know of and play is Among Us. Among Us is a multiplayer game developed by InnerSloth, where players are either a crewmate or an imposter on a spaceship. The crewmates are unaware of who the imposters are, so their job is to figure out who the imposters are while completing tasks assigned by the game. Tasks could include things such as cleaning out air vents, downloading files, and readjusting the navigation course of the spaceship. The imposters’ job is to kill and take out as many crewmates as possible without getting caught or before time runs out. The way crewmates figure out who the imposters are is by keeping a lookout for any suspicious activity. Suspicious activity includes killing a fellow crewmate, hiding in a vent (something only imposters can do), or not completing tasks. There are also ways to figure out who for sure is a crewmate, such as seeing if someone takes out the trash (a feature only crewmates can do). There are other features that add on to this concept, such as security cameras and imposters being able to sabotage or create a hazard that needs quick fixing, the crewmates on the spaceship.

In my opinion, I think that this game is a great game because it is fun and people can enjoy the game together. It is very easy for friends to play together, with the use of a private lobby and a game code. Playing for hours on end is super easy because the game never gets boring. To summarize, Among Us is a great time killer and bonding experience for you and your friends, so if you have a free afternoon on a weekend, get some of your friends together and hop on this great game!

Love is in the Air

Are you looking for books that make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside? Well you have come to the right place! My top three romance books are Quarantine; a love story, Windfall, and Love, Life, and the List.

The first book, Quarantine; a love story by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc, is about two teenagers that are both flying to New York to see family, get stopped by a bunch of biohazard people. The people from biohazard are studying a disease called tropical mono, and if anyone on the plane had a fever, they would be put into thirty-day quarantine. The girl Flora faked a fever and kissed Oliver so they would go to quarantine together. Now they are stuck in a room together, forced to learn things about each other, including secrets. This book is very well written and will definitely make you tear up towards the end.

My second book, Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, is about three best friends named Teddy, Alice, and Leo. Alice has had feelings for Teddy, but she does not know how to tell him. So for his birthday, she jokingly gives him a lottery ticket and a card that confesses her feelings for him. On the night she gives it to him, the card slips under the fridge so only the ticket remains. The next morning, Teddy finds out he won the lottery! This book truly demonstrates friendship and true love. I highly recommend this book.

My last and final book Love, Life, and the List, by Kasie West, is about two best friends named Cooper and Abby make a list of things to accomplish during the summer. Abby has feelings for Cooper but the first time she told Cooper about her feelings, he clearly did not feel the same. Abby also has a passion for art and is determined to get into the art museum that her boss is hosting. She also has to deal with a paranoid mother who is too afraid to even go out of her own house. Now Abby has to go through the whole summer juggling her feelings, skills, and family. This book definitely demonstrates heartbreak, friendship, and family.

-Veronica S.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander, is the first book of his well-known fantasy series called the chronicle of Prydain.  This is the story of a young man named Taran, an Assistant Pig-Keeper in a place known as Caer Dallben.  Taran leads a simple life, caring for farm animals and making horseshoes, but he dreams of making a sword and becoming a hero.  One day, something strange happens to the farm animals.  They begin running away as though they are frightened.  Most troubling is that the special pig, named Hen Wen, manages to escape.  Taran dashes after her, leading to an unexpected adventure to save the land of Prydain.

Many elements of the story are inspired by Welsh legends and mythology.  I found some of the names difficult to pronounce, but I think the Welsh influence adds to the charm of the book.  The ancient feel of this fantasy makes the book very enjoyable to read.  Taran joins with several unusual characters who aid him on his quest and add humor and intrigue to the story.  For example, Taran encounters a bard named Fflewddur Fflam, who possesses a magical golden harp.  Fflewddur is prone to exaggeration, and whenever he stretches the truth, at least one of his harp strings breaks.

This book is a wonderful blend of action, adventure and humor.  We also learn many good life lessons, as Taran seems to learn something valuable from each of his companions.  After reading this book, I highly recommend reading the other four books in the series.  The titles of the other books are The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King.  These books are worth reading not just for the delightful characters and engrossing story, but for their portrayal of the true meaning of heroism.

-Oliver H.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Authors We Love: William Faulkner

William Faulkner - Wikipedia

(William Faulkner William Faulkner on September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962), one of the most influential writers in the history of American literature is the representative figure of a stream of consciousness literature in the United States, and the 1949 Nobel Prize winner, won the prize for “because he has made a strong and art to contemporary American novel unparalleled contribution”.

In his lifetime, he wrote 19 novels and more than 120 short stories, among which 15 novels and the vast majority of short stories took place in Yoknapatawpha County, known as “Yoknapatawpha lineage”. The main thread is the story of generations of several families of different social classes in the county town of Jefferson and its suburbs, from 1800 until after World War II. More than 600 characters with family names are interspersed in novels and short stories. The most representative work is “The Sound and the Fury.”

Faulkner reflected the reality of southern society facing the invasion of industrial civilization through subjective refraction. The Civil War ended with the defeat of the south. After the war, the traditional values of the south collapsed. Raised in the southern tradition, Faulkner grew up with tales of courage, honor, compassion, pride, justice, and freedom from his ancestors His pride in his family and love of his native land were sown in his heart. However, the rapid collapse of the south, the impact of the first world war, and the postwar American society led him to make a reflection on the traditions. He learned to face the reality to make new thinking, peel off the beauty of the southern spiritual heritage, and see the evil of the southern slavery and plantation owners of corruption, slavery, and inhumanity. This realization was painful for Faulkner, who was deeply attached to his home. He did not shy away from the pain, but with the artist’s keen eye to see the facts, willing to become a spiritual vagabond. And he could not find sustenance in the industrial civilization brought by the north. What he saw was the suffering of the people of the south in the development of capitalism. In the new south, simple human relations were replaced by money, and peaceful life was destroyed by a chaotic and noisy urban life. Everyone loses his or her individuality and becomes a machine that is manipulated or abused. So they involuntarily turn to the old ways of life, but immediately recall the guilt of history and fear. It was with such a complex feeling that Faulkner depicted the southern society and conceived his own art world.

-Coreen C. 

The works of William Faulkner are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Movie Review: The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Many of us find the struggle of picking a movie to watch relatable. Unlike other movies, The Pursuit of Happyness emotionally moves the audience as it is inspired by a true story.

Following Chris Gardner’s life in poverty, the movie captures the sense of chaos and struggles he faces. Chris, as a single father, does anything and everything for his (adorable) son to keep him happy. Will Smith’s acting along with his son, Jaden Smith’s acting makes the audience keep their eyes glued to the screen.

This family movie is a breath of fresh air in a world of chaos and fast-pasted materialism. It makes the audience empathize with the hard work and failures that Chris faces. From sleeping at a public restroom to chasing a bus, the main character’s efforts inspire the audience.

Chris’s optimism and spontaneous trait despite his situation can move viewers to heart-felt tears. The famous scene of Chris telling his son to never give up uplifts all our spirits:

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Not even me…People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Also, the movie reminds us of how short life truly is to not be as happy as we can be. We forget to be grateful in this fast-paced world, and this movie reminds us just that. Reality can break you, but it is up to you how you deal with it all. For me, it reminded me to be thankful for being with the ones I love.

Overall, the movie teaches that happiness is something that we often try to pursue when we miss the smaller “happiness” in our lives. Personally, this message in the movie was exactly what I needed to hear.

If you find yourself bored or you feel helpless or down during quarantine, sit together with your family and watch “The Pursuit of Happyness.” You can thank me later!

-Zohal N.

The Pursuit of Happyness is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.