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 Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 9780451531520 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books

Like most of Dostoyevsky’s novels, “The Idiot” has a tragic ending, but that doesn’t make “The Idiot” a work of pessimism. The tragic ending of the protagonists reflects the author’s pain caused by the yearning for a better future. The positive ideal put forward by Dostoevsky has been bankrupted, but the ardent yearning for the good ideal is forever shining with the radiance of humanism. The novel gives a broad description of the Russian upper class after the reform of serfdom, involving complex psychological and moral issues. The good, tolerant Prince Myshkin is powerless to influence or benefit those around him, a Quixotic figure whose futile efforts show the disillusionment of the author’s attempt to save the world through faith and love.

“The Idiot” develops themes of indignity and victimization. The strong rebelliousness of the heroine Nastasya Filippovna and the kindness and purity of the positive character Prince Myshkin give the novel a bright tone. But some nihilistic images used to attack revolutionaries have weakened the novel’s revealing power. The development of bourgeois social relations and the disintegration of old social relations are observed and expressed from the perspective of moral psychology. The plot of the novel takes the emotional entanglement of the hero Prince Myshkin, Nastasya Filippovna and Aglaya Yepanchina as the second main line of humanitarianism about kindness and love.

Although he was clearly called an idiot by many people around him at that time, people close to him showed to him that in the social environment at that time, people were ashamed to show their love and supreme trust and their sincere yearning for truth, goodness and beauty under the cover of false and vain appearance. The main idea of a novel is to portray an absolutely beautiful character, and there is nothing more difficult than that, especially now. All writers, not only In Russia, but all over Europe, feel powerless if they wish to depict absolute beauty. Because it’s an incredibly difficult task. Beauty is the ideal, and the ideal, whether for us or for civilized Europe, is far from being formed. There is only one absolutely wonderful person in the world – Christ. Therefore, the appearance of this incomparable and infinitely beautiful figure is certainly a permanent miracle. That’s what the Gospel of John means. He sees miracles as mere manifestations of beauty. The author modeled Prince Myshkin according to the image of Christ in his mind. He was the spokesman of Christ and the embodiment of moral beauty. As an image of pure moral beauty, Prince Myshkin embodies all the virtues of Christ — love, humility, obedience, patience, open-mindedness, selflessness, repaying good for evil, faith, keeping the suffering of mankind in one’s own heart, always ready to sacrifice for others. In Prince Myshkin, morality is religiously incarnated, that is to say, morality finds its home in faith in Christ.

The implementation of morality is guaranteed by religious belief and its system. The life brought about by the moral efforts of the inner self is also the sublimation of the soul brought about by salvation. Only the moral binding force of religion can bring people from vulgarity to sanctity, from humble to sublime. Therefore, “The Idiot” reveals that moral belief and sanctification are the only way to play the role and function of society, and the moral destination is religious faith, the Russian Orthodox Christ. The so-called “beauty” refers to the personality and moral beauty embodied in Christ, and the spirit of Christ’s beauty is the only power to save the world from suffering. Christ is the ideal entity of moral perfection, and man’s redemption in this world is Christ who is the symbol of moral perfection after the baptism of suffering, the purification of love, the removal of evil from good. In fact, the religious belief in “The Idiot” is rooted in moral necessity. Thus, on the surface, the work is a loud call for the return of religious belief and a repeated argument for the existence of God, while the real concern is that without the shadow of religious belief, morality will become homeless. If there is no God, everyone can do as he pleases. Therefore, God is needed to restrain people to realize the perfection of people and the ideal harmony of society.

At the same time, for individuals in the real society, the practice of morality should be reflected as a kind of behavior of consciously obeying the teachings and strictly complying with the moral laws of religion in the world. The core of Christ’s beauty is love, and love is the eternal content of moral law. A man should be an enhancement of Christ’s virtue. The moral concept of “The Idiot” reflects a moral ideal, which in real life is more reflected as a man-made act of peace, and becomes the state of personal cultivation and pursuit to achieve. In this state, it is assumed that being is realized in love and that the development of being is accomplished in love. Love first, regardless of logic, only then can you grasp the meaning of life. If you love life, half the battle is yours. In a society where everyone loves each other, the world is becoming more and more beautiful, and all human beings are marching towards messiah and universal harmony. This is the beauty of Prince Myshkin to save the world, and this is the heaven on earth that Prince Myshkin wants to create. “The Idiot” ends with Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin killing Nastasya Filippovna, thus pushing human sin to an extreme. This destructive act means salvation for both Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin and Nastasya Filippovna. The scene of Nastasya Filippovna’s death was somewhat similar to the crucifixion of Christ in Golgotha; her body bore a striking resemblance to the image of the dead Christ hanging in Luo’s room. Nastasya Filippovna takes her name from the Greek word Anastasius, meaning resurrection, and receives death with equanimity, exactly like Christ. To her soul, death meant resurrection. She sacrificed her life to atone for her sins and overcome her spiritual death. In addition, Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin’s name is most likely borrowed from Moscow Rogozhkoe cemetery where he is on the verge of death, signifying the possibility of a new life.

-Coreen C.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Seventeen-year-old Mia Hall has everything other teenagers her age would want; a loving and relaxed family life, great grades, a charming boyfriend, and a supportive best friend. As a cello-prodigy, Mia awaits her soon-to-be acceptance letter to her dream university.

One snowy day, Mia and her family jam to their favorite songs in the car on the road. They had planned the perfect day-off. However, all goes wrong when an incoming car skids and crashes straight towards them. The moment stops and the reader waits eagerly, with palms sweating, to know what happens next through all of the author’s heart-wrenching details.

The novel follows Mia, in an out-of-body experience, as she has flashbacks on her life and loses the ones she loves. Her flashbacks are followed by heart-breaking scenes of her family and friends visiting her in a hospital while she is in a coma. The unspoken love between the Mia and her close ones makes the novel much more emotional.

The author’s style of switching between the past and present unfolds the significant purpose of a human life. The importance of sacrifice, family, love, death, and life all wrap up to tell Mia’s story. The conflict between choosing to fight endlessly to stay alive or fading away to the afterlife remains a mystery until the end.

Overall, this novel really opened my eyes and made me realize that life can change in an instant. No matter who we are, what we are going through in life, or where we are, death can take its toll. The author truly makes an important point about how fast life moves for the youth and the old. We should never take life for granted because this is all we have and there is only one shot at it.

Mia’s story emphasizes the importance of living in the moment. Our problem are just as big as we make them. However, just like Mia, our worldly problems are nothing in the face of death. Not all the readers of this book can realize that, but anyone who can relate will find its meaning. The novel, as well as the movie of If I Stay, moved me to tears and is one that sticks with you forever.

-Zohal N. 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Across the River and Into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway

Across the River and Into the Trees eBook by Ernest Hemingway ...

“Across the River and Into the Trees” is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway after a trip to Italy and his return from hunting in 1949. The protagonist Colonel Cantwell has something of the author in him. As he grew older and more depressed, Colonel Cantwell went duck hunting in Venice and to northern Italy to pay his last visit to the battlefields of the past. He thought of past love, thought of death, and felt lonely and hopeless. Shortly after the war, the hero of the two world wars goes to Fossalta di Piave, Italy, to revisit the spot where he was wounded in battle. The hero, Colonel Cantwell, hunts wild ducks with his friends and focuses on the pure love between him and the beautiful Italian girl Renata, which has no utilitarian purpose.

It reflects the author’s aversion to war, his concern for the future of human beings, and his thoughts on the value of life, love, and death. Though this novel may not be the most classic work of Hemingway, its profound themes and traumatized account of the war shock the reader. Its rich background gives the reader knowledge and its unique way of writing left an unforgettable impression on people. The book’s title, taken from the dying words of Confederate General Thomas Jackson during the American Civil War, shows Hemingway’s “tough guy” theme similar to himself, who faced down death.

-Coreen C.

The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway

The Torrents of Spring - Kindle edition by Hemingway, Ernest ...

The wife and daughter of American young writer Scripps O ‘Neill left one after another. He left home on snowy nights to find work and met middle-aged waitresses in small restaurants. In a small restaurant, he meets Diana, a middle-aged waitress and literary English. They hit it off and got married in a flash. As a result, he became a worker in the city’s water pump factory. But Mandy, Diana’s replacement waitress at the little restaurant, charmed Scripps with her literary wit and eloquent speech. Yogi Johnson, Scripps’ fellow factory worker, wanted no women after an affair in Paris during the First World War. However, a naked Indian woman broke into the small restaurant and was kicked out. Yogi, wandering the streets in a daze, followed her and walked with her into the night.

This novel is a parody of Hemingway’s. It has both romantic and naturalistic styles and belongs to alternative works. From the perspective of the narrator, it is of great value. In the way of narration, Hemingway likes to show and tell, usually presented in a conversational manner. The narration is generally a description, and the characters do not speak. But in “The Torrents of Spring,” Hemingway employs repetition, stream of consciousness, and meta-narrative in addition to presentation and dialogues.

-Coreen C.

Film Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Final Poster.jpg

I know it might sound a little bit childish for some of the people out there, but The Secret Life of Pets 2 was definitely a very good movie for me. At least, in my opinion, the addition of more characters added more flavor to the movie as a whole. Not only was it funny, but it also portrayed the theme of family, love, friendship, and loyalty

To start off, family has always been a big thing throughout the two movies. It was first the introduction of Duke, and then Liam the son of the family. By overcoming jealousy and eventually falling in love with the new members of the family, Max has demonstrated what the firstborn of many families have gone through.

And as for love, it would be the next stage of family. For one thing, Max became overprotective over Liam and was unwilling to let him cross the street, run into people and different things, and go to preschool. It was not after when Max himself was trained by Rooster to save the little lamb hanging on a branch did he know how important independence is to a person.

Friendship has always been a big thing for the movie series. From Max saving Hu to Daisy fighting off the wolves, it’s all revolving around friendship. And again, through a series of adventures and dangers, the white tiger cub was saved.

Lastly, what I really wanted to mention in this movie is something people normally don’t pay attention to—the wolves. They might look very evil, malicious, and atrocious, but at the same time, they are very loyal to Sergei no matter what he does to them. I’m pretty sure they could’ve just run away since they weren’t chained anyways. Under the threat of killing them and not giving meals, the wolves still strived to complete their missions and obey every single command Sergei the circus owner gives. This way, I think that they resemble dogs for their loyalty but not amiability.

-Coreen C.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

This story starts with a very poor Griffith family being Christian missionaries and singing on the streets. The oldest son in this family Clyde desperately wants to escape poverty and therefore left his family to work in Kansas city at a very luxurious hotel. While he was working there, he and his friends were in an accident that killed a little girl which prompted him to escape to Chicago. There, he met his wealthy uncle and appealed to him to ask if he can get a job in his collar company. Moved by his sincerity and svelte manner, Samuel Griffith agreed.

Thus, in New York Clyde witnessed the lives of the upper society after meeting his cousins Gilbert, Myra and Bella. Through Bella, he also met her friend Sondra Finchley whom he immediately has fallen in love with but due to his penury again, recoiled from courting her. After being switched from the shabby shrinking room to the sewing department, Clyde met a very pretty factory girl named Roberta, they quickly fell in love. However, as time passes Clyde found himself in love with Sondra Finchley, who wants to revenge Gilbert for his complacence also fell in love with Clyde later on. Avid to get rid of Roberta who was pregnant, Clyde unintentionally struck her on a boat when they were on a trip and thus let her drown while he could have saved her. Being captured, later on, Clyde was sentenced to death at last.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy reading this novel too much because of its straightforwardness. There weren’t a lot of surprises and twists in the plot. Greed and inhumanity prompted by money seeping into each character were too ostentatious as to paint a sheen of unreality on them. I wish murder plot could be more carefully planned, thus causing the police to take more time in investigating the crime and potentially create some more suspense.

-Coreen C. 

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

From this book, the biggest thing which I learned is that dogs are men’s best friends. It is hard to imagine how much our dogs love us because they cannot talk like we do, through our mouths. They talk from their eyes and hearts and actions to show us just how loyal they are to us. Like the main character in the book, Bailey, he reincarnated so many times just to be back with Ethan again. They’ve gone through so much and it’s really the hardest for either of them to forget this relationship. One scene that imprints itself in me was the part where after Ethan hurts his leg he decided to go to college in another state and Bailey chases the car to a very far distance. I’ll bet he knows what’s best for Ethan to do in this case, but it’s just that he wasn’t willing to let his best friend just leave him at that.

Actually, a lot of the movies these days are about the relationship between dogs and humans. We devote attention, love, patience, and money to dogs but they return it with their whole life. Ethan and Bailey are not just inseparable when they are happy, they take on hardships together and it’s either both of them get blamed or punished or they escape together. There was never a time when one abandons the other to danger. And I really think through these types of books and movies humans can adjust the attitude they take on to other people as well. If animals can treat people they love and love them with loyalty and dedication, why can’t we?

-Coreen C. 

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin

Image result for Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone

This book, like many other of Baldwin’s novels, includes many scenes of bisexuality and racism. Barbara and Leo Proudhammer stick together like a pack of gum, I can feel Barbara’s oppression of his love for Leo because one he is black, so this white woman under societal pressure backed up and could only watch Leo from a dark corner. However, it wasn’t long before Leo also steps in and the two crossed the line: and failed. Both eventually returned to their positions as friend and from that on I wouldn’t say the amorous aspect of their love for each other just vanished, but the two characters did an awesome job of suppressing it.

My favorite character in this book would actually be Caleb, Leo’s brother who is a World War II vet. He was falsely imprisoned when he was a young man, but through his faith in Christianity, he was able to release his grudge for white people. Now, in most books religion occupy a huge chunk of Baldwin’s plot, but usually in a negative way as he always seems to question or deny the positive influence of religion and denounce it. But in this book perhaps Caleb is the first character who actually was able to eradicate his sense of racial discrimination through the divine guidance of God. Nonetheless, though, Christianity also Caleb very orthodox and traditional. He didn’t like Leo being an actor and constantly rebukes him for being an atheist. This implies a theme of maturity because before Caleb was arrested he was a very promiscuous and frivolous person.

The reason I love Caleb is not because of his devoutness in Christianity but that his love for Leo, his little brother. It may not be conveyed in the best way, but he tries his best to create an atmosphere of family for Leo which is very heart-warming.

-Coreen C. 

Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian follows almost-16-year-old, Daria. Proudly Iranian-American, she is not ashamed of her heritage, which is different from the clique she and her friends have dubbed as the “Nose Jobs,” whose leader used to be Daria’s best friend. Daria and her friends nicknamed themselves  “the authentics” because they see themselves as real and honest. They have a great vibe in their group, and feed off each other very well. Daria’s family is another major part of this novel, and they also love and support Daria. Despite having normal, familial disputes, she values her parents. One day, she is researching her ancestry for a school project and this leads her on a journey that will forever change her life.

This novel had many different aspects, and these all came together in a beautiful way. Family was an important subject in this book, and was depicted realistically by Nazemian. He not only showed the celebrations and happy times of the family, but he included the hardships and troubled times the family faced as well. The way the family changes and grows throughout the course of the novel is done well. More than the family, Daria grew and matured into a young, intelligent lady. Facing hardship, I admired how she did not allow for anything to get to her on her self-discovery. In addition to depicting the coming of age of Daria, the author also includes commentary about Iran that enhances the novel. Overall, this is a great novel and provides the reader with an interesting outlook of life.  

-Anmol K.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be download for free from Overdrive