Late in the Day by Ursula Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin on Twitter: ""One way to stop seeing trees, or rivers, or  hills, only as 'natural resources,' is to class them as fellow  beings—kinfolk. I guess I'm trying to

Late in the Day by Ursula Le Guin is a poetry and prose book, encompassing Guin’s writings towards the end of her life. The book is based on nature- on subjects as vast and meaningful as the sea, to as simple as a Canada lynx walking through a forest. However, in each small poem, Guin cleanly delineates each small, but significant lesson that the natural world can teach us.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read poetry and prose for quite a while, and was a little apprehensive about a book as simplistic as this one, but I was completely surprised by the implicit depth and complexity of Guin’s writing. What I found unique about Guin’s writing is not her syntax or the breadth of her expression (both of which were, by the way, incredible), but her ability to use mundane, everyday situations, common to us all, and weave them into a detailed tapestry on every subject, from society to love to life itself.

Le Guin herself passed in October of 2018, but her writing is timeless, and as meaningful (arguably more so) to our world today as it was seven years ago. The necessity of interconnectivity and harmony with the natural world becomes more pressing day by day- and Le Guin’s writing masterfully explains why and how.

-Vaidehi B.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book truly unlike any other I’ve read.

After seeing this historical fiction-meets-romance book on TikTok (surprise, surprise) I decided to pick up a copy and see what the hype was all about. Not only did The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tremendously exceed my expectations, but it has become one of my favorite reads of all time.

The book features the biography of the fictional character Evelyn Hugo, one of the greatest actresses of all time. Hugo is known for having seven husbands (hence the title), and delves into every detail of each relationship she had and the lessons she learned from each one. Each relationship Evelyn had with a different husband was dynamic and unique, and blended together to form the story of Evelyn’s life.

Throughout the novel, Reid delivers a style of writing unlike any other I’ve read before. Each chapter ends with a level of finesse and witty elegance that seriously had me grinning ear to ear in utter awe. Even as someone who is not a historical fiction fan, this book was so phenomenal that I somehow managed to finish all 400 pages in a single day!

I have no real critiques on this incredible must-read book, and would recommend it to anyone I know. Needless to say, Taylor Jenkins Reid has outdone herself with this one.

-Anusha M.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Supper Club by Lara Williams

Supper Club by Lara Williams is a poignant, perceptive, and savagely funny novel about the disastrous realities of growing up in a modern world.

The book centers around a young British girl named Roberta- following her through various sexual, romantic, and societal exploits from her college days to her thirties. In the opening chapters, we experience Roberta’s deep dissatisfaction in college, and her all-encompassing depression at her social life. She is desperate to connect with her peers- to truly become like the effervescent social butterflies she sees in sitcoms on the television. Unable to do so, she begins cooking. What begins as a hobby soon spirals into an obsession. Roberta falls even deeper into depression- she is horrified by her body, and spends her days by herself, alone in her dorm, or working at her job in a small publishing company. Soon, she meets an intern named Stevie- the kind of woman Roberta would give everything to be like. They become very close friends, even moving in together- and then, one night, Roberta comes up with a marvelous and terrible idea: the idea of a Supper Club.

The club originally begins with the goal of letting women eat- letting them take up space, letting them exist– but soon, the women in the club are trashing stores and getting unbelievably high on various drugs. Amid this beautiful chaos, Roberta struggles to find meaning- struggling with the various men in her life, struggling with her family, struggling with herself. She pushes against the boundaries that hold her without quite knowing how to. She feels anxious and inadequate- yet, she feels beautiful and free.

That is the dichotomy that truly makes this a timeless book- uncertainty combines with melancholy combines with explosive ecstasy to truly make the novel whole. That’s also something I enjoyed about Roberta. She’s not perfect. She’s not even close. She is desperate and sad and pathetic and hopeful and strong all at once. She isn’t a perfect protagonist- but she is real. And that is the true thesis of Supper Club– about how society shrinks women and makes them fake- makes them ghosts. It’s about reclaiming space- reclaiming the true meaning of being a woman, with all its good and bad and ugly. It’s about reclaiming hope.

This book contains mature themes, such as self-harm and sexual violence, that may not be suitable for some readers.

-Vaidehi B.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

It was a cute, riveting, and young love story. It captured the maturity of literature and poetry but was also able to include light-hearted contented and funny references to the well-known DC character Batman. I liked how the book was relatable but the dream that any teen girl would have about a brooding good-looking boy. I smiled a lot because it had the classic trope where the mysterious standoffish boy would end up being soft for the nerdy shy girl. It had all the elements that a cheesy romance novel would have too. Moved into a new town, a new girl at a new school, making new friends, etc. The author was able to bring in much humor and seriousness in such a relatable and casual way that I thought was interesting.

I hope to find similar novels that have a similar style that are well written and as captivating as this one was. So if you’re looking for a sweet, giddy read this is the book you should check out next. It is great. It is great. It is great. (You’ll get the reference if you read the book haha).

-Coralie D.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a beautiful and heartwarming book about the power of friendship and a community in the face of hate.

August, by all accounts, is a normal ten-year-old kid- except for one thing. He has a rare genetic disorder and despite twenty-seven different surgeries, he will never look like other kids his age. This makes life extremely difficult for “Auggie” and his family. His older sister is overprotective of him, and gets angry when people stare at him funny in public- and his parents, who only want what is best for him, do not want to send him to a public middle school where he may be bullied. However, what Auggie finds at school is something much different- he discovers friendship, and the power of love.

This novel was an incredible journey from beginning to end- and it is no ‘wonder’ that it was adapted into an award-winning movie. Wonder is essentially a book about discomfort- the discomfort we feel when we see a person that looks different from us in public, the discomfort they feel at the inordinate stares and whispers. However, it shows that this discomfort and pity can be overcome- to make way for community, love, and acceptance.

-Vaidehi B.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Five years ago in the town of Fairview, Andie Bell, a popular senior, was killed by Sal Singh. Supposedly. Of course, Sal never admitted it, due to the fact that he had committed suicide a few days later. In A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, Pip Fitz-Amobi is assigned a capstone final project, and she chooses to examine this supposedly closed case. At first, Pip’s goal is solely to find more information, but as she continues to learn more about what really happened five years ago, she begins to believe that Sal might actually be innocent- with facts to back it up, instead of just hopeful thinking. However, a certain someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip to find out any more, and will stop at nothing for her to stay quiet.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder has quickly shot up my list of my favorite books, and I highly recommend it to any enjoyers of murder mysteries. It’s nail-biting, exciting, and keeps you on your toes. And of course, if you have already read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, I also recommend its sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood, which has the same characters, but a new gripping mystery.

-Kelsie W.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: American Betiya by Anuradha Rajurkar

American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar is a soft and bittersweet novel about an Indian-American girl’s journey through love and heartbreak.

When high school senior Rani Kelkar begins a romance with tattooed and moody school-bad-boy Oliver, she is forced to hide the fact from her Indian immigrant parents, and sneak around behind their backs, as she is not allowed to date yet.

At first, the relationship is perfect- Oliver makes her feel seen, makes her feel beautiful, in a way that no one has ever done before. But soon, Oliver’s problems with drugs and his family lead to him demanding more from Rani- pressuring her into situations she’s not comfortable with, and disguising increasingly alarming racial microaggressions as offhand comments and jokes. Eventually, things with Oliver come to a head- and Rani must choose between her first love and her family.

I really enjoyed this book, as it dealt with an issue I hadn’t really seen discussed in popular media before- the fetishization of women of color, and the seemingly harmless microaggressions and gaslighting they face. The content of the book really resonated with me as well- as a daughter of Indian immigrants, I fully understood Rani’s often-complicated relationship with her family, and what she initially saw in Oliver. Rani’s longing for India and her grandparents and extended family was a familiar feeling to me. However, Rani’s complete inability to recognize any sort of red flags in her relationship with Oliver was frankly frustrating. I understand that she was infatuated with him, but even then, she repeatedly brushed off or simply refused to acknowledge his questionable behaviors. Even so, this was an incredible read!

-Vaidehi B.

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This book is officially my new favorite young adult contemporary romance novel. It is the absolute cutest and most exciting read I’ve had in a while, so let this review be your wake-up call to go and find yourself a copy.

Anna Oliphant’s normal childhood in Atlanta, Georgia has been torn away from her ever since her father became a bestselling author. Sent away right in time for senior year, she now has to spend her last year of high school at a boarding school in Paris, France. Thus, leaving behind her best friend, Bridget and to-be dreamy boyfriend, Toph. This was the year she was going to finally get all the right people in her life, but now she has to start all over.

At the beginning of the book she finds herself in her new dorm at the School of America in Paris (SOAP) watching her parents walk out of the door. They leave her behind and abandon her to this foreign city where she can’t even speak French! However, as Anna has her first breakdown, Meredith, a girl from the dorm adjacent to hers, comes by to check up on her.

Meredith and her whole friend group are the people Anna hold close through her first few days at SOAP, and they soon become her best friends there. There’s Rashmi and her boyfriend Josh, but no one quite compares to Étienne St. Clair. When she first meets him he looks like a dream. The most perfect hair and devilish grin, his English accent and witty remarks. All the girls fawn over him, and for good reason, but there’s one thing that isn’t quite right. His flaw, his one letdown is that he already has a girlfriend.

So, as our emotionally-wrecked Anna longs for home she also finds herself appreciating the beauty of Paris. Late nights walking the streets, days spent at the movies, lab partners with you-know-who, the worst tragedies, and the most hurtful of betrayals, Anna truly experiences it all in the most romantic city on Earth.

I adamantly and seriously believe that anyone who even has the slightest interest in reading a rom-com turned book/epic boy-meets-girl should at least try to find a copy. When I tell you this book is phenomenal, it is phenomenal. It’s so phenomenal that I finished it during a 5-hour flight and could not put it down. It’s really that good. So, thank you author Stephanie Perkins for bringing this book and these characters into my life! Happy reading!

-Katherine L.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren

Yet again another perfect book by the duo Christina Lauren (Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). I will admit that when I first started this series I was sad. I was worried that this would not be like the series before it. But that is not the case in the slightest.

This book follows Harlow and Finn. Harlow is one of Mia’s friends that we meet in the first book in this series (Sweet Filthy Boy). Harlow and Finn ended up getting married just like Mia and Ansel, except they annulled it the next day.

Harlow connects with Finn again, this time in her home town. They both are going through a difficult time, and they use each other as a distraction. After each encounter they have with each other, they tell themselves that it means nothing to them and that they are just friends. But as time goes on, they both realize that it means more to both of them than just a distraction.

As always with Christina Lauren’s books, we get such a nice sweet ending! Do not skip this one!

-Skylar N.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Image result for the distance between usThe Distance Between Us is about 17 year old Camyen who thinks that the poor and the rich shouldn’t be together. Camyen helps her mom in their doll store. Her mother sees rich people as customers, as profit, as people who wouldn’t care at all about her well being. She grew up listening to her mom explain that rich people associating with the poor is just a game to them. Since Camyen’s father’s family didn’t help her mom when she found out she was pregnant, they both hate rich people in general.

But Camyen’s whole mindset is changed when she meets Xander. She first sees him as just another rich boy that she’ll never care about. She acts rude and sarcastic, like she normally is. But Xander doesn’t sneer, or act like she’s below him. Instead, we find out that he actually thinks she’s funny and later, deeply cares about her.

I didn’t actually read this book, and I instead listened to it as an online audiobook. I don’t think I’ve listened to an audiobook in years. It was a completely different experience. When you’re reading, everyone tries to get a good image of what’s happening in their head. For me, I feel that the audiobook gave me a much better imagery. I was imagining what the doll store looked like, with all those creepy dolls staring back me. It felt like some horror movie where all the dolls come to life.

I felt that it wasn’t a bad book overall, but the ending was rushed and not that great. When you’re reading an unrealistic love story, it can only be so unrealistic before you start to dislike it. The realistic part of me, just thought that the whole ending would not end up that way. And the two characters that were introduced in the end were just shoved into the book. They didn’t really flow with the whole daughter rebellion thing. I agree with the Goodreads rating of 4 stars. But if you’re a fan of Kasie West, it’s what you would expect from her, and I would say to read it. And of course, I’m on Team Mason and not Team Xander.

-Rebecca V. 9th grade

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West is available for download from Overdrive