I Would Leave Me if I Could by Halsey

I Would Leave Me If I Could.: A Collection of Poetry: Halsey:  9781982135607: Amazon.com: Books

As a rule of thumb, I usually stay away from books like this one- I’m of the firm opinion that most celebrities have no business releasing mediocre poetry books for huge success and profits while real writers struggle. However, I made an exception for this book on a whim, and I was pleasantly surprised. Halsey’s prowess as a master songwriter and lyricist really shines through here- not only has she managed to create an entire book of poems in perfect rhyme and meter, she has sagaciously sidestepped the usual cumbersome nature of such poetry.

Her near-perfect use of tempo and rhythm, honed during her twenty-odd years as a musician, is delicate and nimble- a refreshing read. Featuring lines from some of her more recent song releases, her writing, rather than being mediocre and hard to digest, is a raw and beautiful excavation into the deepest parts of herself and her psyche- and really, we’re just along for the ride. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a slam-poetry-type read with some deep and heavy undertones, delivered in a fun (dare I say funky) way 🙂

-Vaidehi B.

This book contains implicit sexual content that may not be suitable for all readers.

Nightfall and Other Short Stories by Isaac Asimov

Nightfall and Other Stories is a collection of works written and compiled by Isaac Asimov, who was considered a major science fiction writer in the 1900s. Though each narrative is a classic in its own right, I’ve picked out a few that stood out so that I may write a short explanation and/or analysis. Here goes! 


“Nightfall,” regardless of its age, has certain themes that are quite relatable. For one, its premise  speaks to readers with caution, as it demonstrates our stubbornness and our outright rejection to believe what we cannot see, and so when an outcome occurs the consequences are far more severe. Therefore, despite its shortness in length, Asimov is able to structure his points skillfully. To explain, as his main purpose is to establish the ease at which people lose themselves once shown a foreign situation, he creates a civilization that has never been covered in darkness. In turn, once citizens are able to see their first eclipse, none can take the experience (and go mad as a result). In this manner, Asimov illustrates the importance of balance: we cannot learn to appreciate light (yang) if we’ve never felt our way out of the dark (yin). 

Fun Fact: “Nightfall,” which was published in 1941, was soon voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as the best science-fiction short story ever written. 

Green Patches

“Green Patches” was an unexpected surprise, as it questions our private values. It asks us whether we could survive as a single “organism” (or consciousness), or if our human instincts for independent growth and movement would smash that chance. In this case, Asimov demonstrates that despite our cries for unity, society thrives on anarchy and thus prefers chaos over peace. 

Fun Fact: “Green Patches,” which was published in 1950, had its title changed to “Misbegotten Missionary” (which was later on changed back to “Green Patches”). 

Eyes Do More than See

In “Eyes Do More than See,” Asimov paints out a distant future in which humans have given up their physical forms (and become energy beams). However, these entities soon realize the repercussions of such a choice, for they can remember memories that spoke of earlier passions, love, and far off adventures. In turn, readers are met with a lesson that hints at appreciation – in other words, we should learn to value our concrete, more tangible lives that we abide to, in which we experience sorrow, passion, and loss. 

Fun Fact: “Eyes Do More than See” was nominated in 1966 for a Nebula Award under ‘Best Short Story.’ 

-Emilia D.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Amazon.com: I, Robot (The Robot Series) eBook: Asimov, Isaac: Kindle Store

I, Robot, a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov, tell the tales of artificially intelligent robots held in check by the Three Laws of Robotics, which are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

With these three simple directives in mind, Asimov successfully creates a world in which the behaviour of robots is governed, allowing the humans (and the reader) to watch as the robots evolve from their primitive origins to eventually reach ultimate perfection in a future where humanity is on the cusp of being rendered obsolete.

While not technically classified as a novel, the stories have been ordered in such a way as to preserve continuity. Within a frame narrative of an interview of a soon-to-be-retired division head of the U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men Corporation, “robopsychologist” Dr. Susan Calvin, stories are told depicting the key members involved in humanity’s development of a range of robots from infantile to hyper intelligent ones. An especially appealing part of the stories is that most of the characters are kept the same, and while it may seem dull to read about the same few people, the character development in each story produces well rounded characters that are interesting and realistic.

Of the 9 stories in I, Robot, my personal favorite was “Little Lost Robot,” in which Dr. Calvin and her associates lose a robot with a diminished First Law (meaning that it can harm humans), and they must find it again before it can escape to Earth and wreak havoc on the planet, resulting in a loss of support for the robot initiative. However, all the stories were definitely thought-provoking ones, and I would recommend the entire collection to all readers, sci-fi fans or otherwise.

-Mahak M.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

This little book of five wizarding fables is a perfect way to re-immerse yourself into the world of Harry Potter after reading the series. With writing from the brilliant Albus Dumbledore, illustrations by J.K. Rowling, and little facts about characters from the Harry Potter series, The Tales of Beedle the Bard could naturally belong on a book list underneath Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Following each story is a note by Albus Dumbledore, which provides a thoughtful and sometimes witty analysis of the story, a discussion of the wizarding world’s acceptance of it, and perhaps a humorous anecdote. Although Dumbledore’s notes are written academically, the evidence of his witty and brilliant character in his writing is exciting and entertaining. I particularly enjoyed reading Dumbledore’s note on The Fountain of Fair Fortune because it mentions Hagrid’s predecessor as professor of Care of Magical Creatures, Professor Kettleburn. Professor Kettleburn is briefly mentioned in the Harry Potter series, but in his note, Professor Dumbledore delves deeper into his character while telling a humorous story involving the Care of Magical Creatures teacher and students at Hogwarts.

Additional references to and historical information about characters from Harry Potter serve as a treat to those wanting an extra morsel of the wizarding world.

What I enjoy about this book are J.K. Rowling’s intricate and elegant illustrations of her (or Beedle’s) stories. I find it intriguing to see illustrations by the authors, as their depictions are most likely to be true to their vision.

Lastly, it’s fascinating how The Tales of Beedle the Bard not only a book of stories about the wizarding world but a book that actually exists in Harry Potter’s world, as it is first introduced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It almost appears like it was pulled from a Hogwarts bookshelf or a wizard or witch’s bedside table to be shared with the Muggle community.

Crafted with wit, magic, and a bit of the darkness you might find in a Grimm fairy-tale, these stories serve both as entertainment and as another taste of the wizarding world.

– Mia T.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Auggie and Me: Three Wonder Stories by R. J. Palacio

When Wonder, a heartwarming, soul-touching novel by R. J. Palacio, made its way onto the bestseller shelves and into the lives of readers, there was no doubt that more adventures in the world of Wonder would be just as deep and thought-provoking. With Auggie and Me, R. J Palacio brings three more Wonder stories following Julian, Charlotte and Christopher and how August Pullman touched their lives.

Originally separate ebooks, The Julian Chapter, Shingling and Pluto have now been compiled into one enthralling companion to Wonder: Auggie and Me.

As a reader, I really love how R. J. Palacio gives you each of these character’s perspectives on their experiences with Auggie. The wonderful thing about these stories is that they become each character’s own. Although Auggie is a key component to each of the stories, you also get insight into each of these character’s lives. I think it is very important to read Auggie and Me after reading Wonder not only because it may give some spoilers or some inferences which would be more appreciated if you read Wonder, but also because it shows you these three character’s point of view and in some cases justifies or makes you understand questionable actions the characters carried out in Wonder. However, Auggie and Me could also be a great book separate from Wonder, as it does create whole new stories centering around three different characters.

Auggie and Me is definitely a must-read for fans of Wonder who want to read more about or redeem the characters of Wonder. Or it could even be for someone just looking for a heartwarming read that will leave them turing pages until their eyes meet the last words R. J. Palacio left on the page.

-Elina T.

Auggie & Me by R. J. Palacio is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash

Like many others, one of my New Year’s Aspirations was to read more books. To help myself with this, I chose to do the PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge. Along with a friend of mine, I began to check books off the list.

My first read of the year was back in January, but I still find myself thinking about it in March. Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash was my “Book With a Red Spine,” and it has made its way onto my list of favorites.

Until I came across Tom Barbash’s work, I had never much gone for short stories, much less collections of them. There was always something deeply unsatisfying about their brevity. I found myself anxious and yearning for more after the final page was turned.

But Stay Up With Me was incredibly real and terrifyingly relatable. Barbash has the power to make a reader fall in love with his characters in just a few sentences. The people in these stories are complex – they have failings and flaws in addition to their successes. Each one grows as a person and learns in the short course of their time in your hands.

And just as you are invested, just as you have committed the little idiosyncrasies of these characters to memory, the story ends.

Each time, as you feel the power of the final line, you are forced to wrench yourself from the story. There is a forceful discomfort as you move on, a sense of loss when their names are not printed on the next page.

All those people you just learned about? They’re gone. Everything there is for you to know about them is contained in those last few pages.

Stay Up With Me is collection of heartbreaking tales. Love, loss, and everything in between – Barbash does it beautifully.

-Zoe K., Grade 11

Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.