Category Archives: Books/Art

‘Better Than the Movies’ review

By: Kaylen Fuentez

‘Better Than the Movies’ is a book written by Lynn Painter that was published in 2021. This book is about a teenage girl Liz and her neighbor and childhood friend, Wes. They don’t get along very well but when their old childhood friend, Michael, moves back into town, Liz asks Wes to set them up. 

I think this book had a good concept but it was definitely predictable and wasn’t something that was unheard of. But I do think the characters were written really well and with a lot of substance.

 I think it was easy to get attached to the characters since they all had such engaging personalities. I think my favorite character is Wes, throughout the book he was very thoughtful of Liz and you can tell he truly cares about her. He helped her to start talking to Michael even when he knew he’d had feelings for her. He continued to be there for her when she was upset over her relationship with Michael, her friendship that was falling apart, and as well as grieving her mom and accepting her step mom.

The subplot of ‘Better Than the Movies’ was Liz trying to cope with the death of her mother who passed 2 years prior to when the story takes place. One of the ways she copes with her mom’s death is watching rom coms which she grew up watching with her mom. Throughout the book Liz’s mom is constantly mentioned and everyone always says how much she reminds them of her mother. Liz always takes her resemblance to her mother as a compliment but in a part of the book her and Wes have a fight and he says she’s trying to be her mom because that’s one way she copes. I thought that it was a really interesting concept and I’m glad that though her mom passed she’s still such a big part of the book and Liz’s thought process.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was all of the references to films and music. Liz has an obsession with films as well as creating playlists for every moment. At the beginning of each chapter there was a quote from a rom com which described how the chapter was going to go, and after finishing the chapter the quote would make a lot of sense and I thought it was a clever way to add substance and hobbies to Liz’s character.

The songs mentioned throughout were also a nice touch because it gave you more of a sense of what was going on and how Liz was feeling in that moment, and how the song could correspond to what was going on. At the end of the book, there was even a page dedicated to Wes and Liz and it’s called “Wes and Liz’s Playlist” that included about 20 songs that showed how they feel about each other and the journey of their relationship throughout the book.

Overall, I think this book was a nice easy read, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve ever read. I rate this book 3/5 stars and it’s a great book to read in a short span of time.

A review of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from: https://www.simonandschuster.
com/books/The-Perks-of-Being-a-Wallflower/Stephen-Chbosky/97819821 10994

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a young adult fiction novel written by Stephen Chbosky that is set up in the form of multiple letters being sent to an anonymous recipient. It covers the course of Charlie’s life through his freshman year of high school, with Charlie being the author of the many handwritten notes.

Charlie has lived as a loner for most of his life. He has never really had friends, but he’s always been okay with that because he’s never had the experience of having a loving community of people around him, besides his family.

The novel explored issues between family members as well. It was clear that other members of the family were struggling, and the novel displayed how relationships can form tension when there is a lack
of communication. This can be relatable to real life, as there are often times when people feel as though others are not understanding them, which can place stress on the connection they have.

My favorite part about the novel was that it explored how friends, and the ability to be yourself around these people, impact an individual’s quality of life. Charlie met a group of people who, although they were two to three years older, accepted him exactly for who he was. This was something that Charlie had never experienced before, but learning how to be a friend to others was an adventure that helped him learn and grow as a person, and he also got to discover more about himself and his personality.

Although many of these topics seem heartwarming, in reality the topics that this novel deals with are heavy at times. There are situations that make it difficult for other characters to smile, but everyone helps each other through it all.

All in all, I give this book 5/5 stars. I felt as though writing the novel in the form of letters was something new and unexpected, and it kept the book captivating for me. I also really enjoyed that it explored both the positives and negatives of growing up, as life isn’t always perfect.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something to read that is more applicable to real life. However, I strongly suggest that anyone planning to read this novel reads the trigger warnings first, as many of the events that happen are heavy and at times difficult to get through.

The “Beat Generation” of poets and their impact on art

By: Mia David

The social and poetry movement, known as the Beat Movement, was formed in the 1950s following World War II. This movement was started by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.

They chose the word ‘beat’ to mean defeated and worn, to represent how these writers felt about the world of literature at the time and the pressures of society.

The Beat movement had one main goal: to go against the traditional way of writing and behaving and embrace the unorthodox lifestyle. They achieved this goal by writing about topics that were considered taboo and writing using new rhymes and meters.

The movement focused on self-expression, fluid sexuality, and recreational drug use. The people involved in the campaign wanted to move away from what they believed was a joyless and melancholy lifestyle that society pushed.

The movement took inspiration from jazz music they heard in the cities, and they agreed with the beliefs and values found in Buddhism. According to Britannica, the point of the movement was to write poetry about the poet’s individual experiences.

The Beat Generation is considered the most impactful freedom of speech movement in literature.

The movement eventually began to fade out in the 1960s, but it had a lasting impact on the art scene. The Beat Generation inspired the next generation of writers to explore topics of war and social justice issues. This movement also pushed the hippie and bohemian styles and made them more popular.

This group of poets and writers inspired other movements, groups, writers, and artists. A group called the New Left formed, and many people involved in the Beat Generation soon joined that group and showed their support.

Poets weren’t the only ones inspired by this form of expression in writing. This movement inspired many musical artists, such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

Although the movement only lasted about a decade, it opened up a world for other artists that followed. It expressed and enforced the right to freedom of speech in writing. It allowed artists to go outside the typical “rules” enforced when writing, composing, or creating art.

Wintery reads: A compilation

By: Julia Sikorski Roehsner

What first comes to mind when you think of winter? The holidays, most likely, along with snow, hot drinks, soft blankets, freshly baked goods, and seasonal flora.

Perhaps, too, you might be reminded of books. Classics, such as ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ‘Little Women,’ ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ or even ‘The Snowy Day.’ When I think of winter, I conjure the image of curling up by a crackling fireplace and diving into a good book.

But what to read once you’ve run through the tried-and-trues? It can be a hard decision in today’s overwhelming literary industry. Hence, my compiled list of titles below. Perhaps you’ll find a new prospect for your next snowy day.

1. ‘Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances’ by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Image taken from: https://www.barnesandnoble

‘Let It Snow’ is a novel by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle written in three separate parts, each narrated by a different character. Set during a surprise blizzard on Christmas Eve, the trifecta takes place within one small town.

The first story, “The Jubilee Express,” is told by the comical Jubilee Dougal, who finds herself stuck on a snowbound train mid-journey to her grandparents’ house. Unwilling to spend the evening idle, she embarks on a trek in search of help that turns into a walk home with a stranger.

In the story that follows, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle,” we are introduced to Tobin. Tobin expected to spend his Christmas Eve at home with his two friends, the Duke and JP. However, a call to travel to the town’s Waffle House propels him out the door and into the cold. It’s a twist of festive fate when his car breaks down.

‘Let It Snow’ ends with “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” narrated by Addie, who is struggling through a recent separation with her boyfriend. In between heartache and a terribly early work shift, Addie discovers herself responsible for the retrieval of her friend’s Christmas gift—a teacup piglet.

A lighthearted and cheery holiday read, I give ‘Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances’ four out of five stars.

2. ‘Beartown’ by Fredrik Backman

Image taken from: https://www.goodreads

Fredrick Backman’s ‘Beartown’ is the first in a series of three books telling the story of a wilderness town, still standing in the ever-pressing forest due to one thing—hockey. It’s the love and talent for the sport that keeps Beartown going.

The community is full of expectations, pressure, and dreams, all of which rest heavily on the junior hockey team and the upcoming national semifinals. Hockey is what the town knows, and winning is what the players know.

Sometimes, it seems like those are the only things they know.

‘Beartown’ is not a holiday-centered book—though it carries a winter feel—but nor is it a sports book by any means. Backman weaves together a web of characters, each of them distinct and brimming with depth. I give it four and a half out of five stars.

3. ‘Trapped’ by Michael Northrop

Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.

‘Trapped,’ written by Michael Northrop, begins innocently enough, with fresh snowfall and after school shenanigans. It takes a turn once protagonist Scotty and his classmates realize that they won’t be returning home at the end of the day.

As suggested by the title, they’re trapped. For how long, no one knows.

The press of time and panic is poignant in ‘Trapped,’ and Northrop easily places the reader within the emotions of the story’s characters. I give it four out of five stars.

4. ‘Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow’ by Jessica Day George

Image taken from:

Based on the fairytale ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon,’ Jessica Day George’s ‘Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow’ tells the story of the unnamed Lass. She stands separate from the rest of her family, which is struggling to survive in the cold north.

Thus, it seems almost natural for her to accept an unnatural offer from an isbjørn bear—live with the isbjørn in its faraway palace for just one year, and her family will be provided with riches beyond imagination.

But is the trade-off worth it?

George puts a wonderful creative spin on the classic tale; I give ‘Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow’ four out of five stars.

‘I am not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’: First impressions, review

By: Alexa Ramirez

*Warning: Contains spoilers

Book by: Erika L. Sanchez

I first started reading ‘I am not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’ with a hope that I would relate on the unique experience that is growing up a Mexican girl. This book allowed me, and many other readers, a chance to explore a perspective they could either relate to or learn from (or both!).

This book explores many topics, some being: poverty, sexism, and classism. The main character is a 15-year-old high school girl named Julia Reyes who lives in an apartment in Chicago with her parents. They are both poor immigrants from Mexico who had two daughters, but early on in the story you learn that their oldest, Olga, had just recently gotten hit by a semi and died. She was the parent’s idea of a perfect daughter; she didn’t go out often, she focused on school, she helped around the house cooking and cleaning, and abided by their rules.

Julia, however, was the opposite. She wanted to go out to the city and she smoked and drank and partied, she had no idea how to cook and broke most house rules they had. But Julia was extremely smart; she had skipped a grade and read and wrote constantly.

When Olga died, she and Julia weren’t that close, but it tore apart their family. Their parents were devastated, and Julia was in complete shock. They fought all the time because her parents started comparing the two girls which hurt Julia, but she never wanted to be home anymore and was over analyzing the death of her sister, which hurt her parents.

Now Julia was going to have to figure out how to continue to learn about her sister’s death without her parents approval, since they found it disrespectful to pry in her things, but Julia felt that for her own closure, she needed to know about Olga’s life before she died, which was turning out to be more unpredictable than she had expected.

Although she faces difficulties with criticism and judgement from her mom on various aspects of her life, Julia remains a fiery and expressive person. When teachers gave her a hard time, she defended herself and on one occasion even left the classroom because her teacher was picking on her. When she was going to the university Olga had attended before her death, in search of answers to her questions about Olga’s mystery life, she got in a big argument with, and wasn’t afraid to tell off, the woman at the desk who wouldn’t give her Olga’s records even after she knew who she was and why she needed them. It shaped up to be an explosive encounter but Julia never backed down.

This aspect of her character was one I cherished and was inspired by. It was my main takeaway from this story because she goes through so much in every way imaginable; her family’s money struggles have put her through hunger and denied her many opportunities, she has a troubled relationship with both parents (and for a lot of the story with her best friend Lorena), and faces many little struggles with her school and in the area of Chicago where she lives. Plus, on top of all of this, is grieving the loss of her sister.

Despite this, she never looses the fire she has that allows her to stand up for herself throughout the story. In situations where she needs to advocate for herself with her mom, her best friend, boys and men in her life, her voice saves her and is really all she can depend on. The strength she had to continue advocating for herself, despite all of the people shrugging her off and silencing her, gave me hope for the times I’m feeling ignored or weak and inspired me to continue to encourage myself and those around me despite what I’m going through.

Another aspect of this story that was important was the amount of cultural and generational trauma that was embedded into the plot and into the characters. It was obvious that Julia had some issues with the way her family saw the world and was constantly criticizing her sister for having conformed to many dated norms that were enforced by her parents, like staying home and cooking and cleaning because she was a girl in the family, without a problem. This was something that had obviously been taught to her parents and had been the norms in their societies for a long time, which is why that was the standard for their children, too. Applying this to the plot of the story was something that made all the difference, since it left another layer to analyze and learn about from the perspective of someone going through it firsthand.

Those clever applications of the real world struggles of a young girl character, and its unique plot really raised the bar and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I rate it a 4/5 because though it was good, I would’ve liked the plot to move faster but would recommend it and am glad to have read it.

The new Botticelli and Renaissance exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art:

By: Mia David

Image taken by: Mia David

On October 16th, 2022, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) opened a new art museum called the Boticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi.

The Mia is fortunate to be the only stop for this exhibit and to feature artworks that have never left Italy until now. The display contains remarkable paintings, sculptures, and prints portraying biblical stories and Greek and Roman characters. This exhibit is the largest Botticelli and Renaissance exhibit in the US ever.

The main attractions in the exhibit are the works done by Sandro Botticelli from the late 1400s and early 1500s. He is known for how he changed the perspective on myths and legends in Italy at the time. His popularity allowed him to paint three frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

This exhibit is the first time Mia has worked with the Uffizi gallery. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, occupies a building built between 1560 and 1580. It is well known for its famous sculptures and paintings from throughout history.

This exhibition was curated to reflect the different art forms from this time period. There are statues, plaques, multiple paintings in different shapes and sizes, and even a chest with images portrayed on the outside.

Walking into the exhibit, you are immediately met with Boticelli’s famous painting ‘Pallas and the Centaur, which is one of the main attractions of this exhibit. It is a tempera painting on canvas that spans 207 x 148 cm.

This exhibit also contains sketches or drawings of people and portraits that line the walls. There are pieces based on Greek mythology, like a statue of a centaur and a relief sculpture of three Greek women. To complement these Greek pieces, many biblical stories are reflected in the art. There is a long panel of paintings representing the telling of the virgin Mary and a sculpture of Saint John the Baptist.

This exhibit will be open until January 8th, 2023. Tickets can be purchased online for $20 or free for anyone 17 and under.

‘Chalice of the Gods’, let’s talk about it

By: Abisola Dosunmu

On October 18, 2022, Rick Riordan posted on his blog the new book he’s planning on releasing sometime next year, ‘Chalice of the Gods’. The book plans on following the original trio (for the first time since 2010) from Percy’s POV, and Percy’s quest to get into college. This plot only makes sense when Rick Riordan writes it.

As many PJO fans know,  there’s an upcoming live action adaptation to the Percy Jackson series (featuring Walker Scobell as Percy, Leah Jeffries as Annabeth, and Aryan Simhadri as Grover). This book release is a direct tie to that, as Rick himself admitted to.

Many readers have varying opinions about this new book. Some fans are excited about this new book. PJO fan always-reading-fantasy wrote: I’m so glad we’re getting another book from Percy’s point of view because I’ve really missed seeing the random things that go through his head sometimes lol.

Some are more skeptical about it. Another PJO fan olympusrox wrote: Riordan. I love you. But please stop blasting out books in the pjo universe unless it’s either a continuation of the Daughter of the Deep book, a short mcga novel or a short kane chronicles novel. Stop putting Percy in unnecessary situations. We have fan fiction for that.

Some fans would claim it’s a publicity grab, and they would be right as Rick himself confirmed it. Over a decade later, however, he writes, I figured such a book would not only be fun to write once again — it would promote the show and vice versa. Everybody would win!  He finished on his blog with news Chalice will be coming out shortly before the PJO adaptation starts.

This isn’t the only book Rick plans on releasing. This spring, The Sun and the Star’, a Nico di Angelo and Will Solace novella, will be released.

I get where a lot of fans come from with being mad about the “publicity grab” and that’s valid, but I don’t think it’s that bad. I mean, it happens a lot in the media when there’s an on screen adaptation about to be released, and it’s a good idea since it catches the attention of the fans and makes them more excited to watch the show. Rick isn’t the first to do it. He won’t be the last.

For more PJO related news, please visit:

‘Until They Bring the Streetcars Back’

By: Leticia Buggs-Sam

‘Until They Bring the Streetcars Back’ serves up a nostalgic journey through the streets of post war, 1949, Saint Paul, those wistful days of sodas, big band music, and burning leaves.

A harmless prank, a chance conversation, and Cal Gant stumbles onto cruelty, incest, and murder when he attempts to save a girl, named Gretchen, from her abusive home.

‘Until They Bring the Streetcars Back’ is about teenagers and how their lives are in and out of school, and what they go through on a daily basis.

Gretchen is one of the characters where she’s so not social with people at school or anywhere, and where she has a very abusive home and a strict dad. Her dad does not let her talk to boys. And when she met Cal, she was afraid that she would get in trouble from her dad.

Gretchen also had a crush on Cal but Cal had a crush on somebody else at the time. Gretchen and Cal talk to each other everyday. At first it was hard because Cal was popular and Gretchen wasn’t. People started to say that Cal and Gretchen were together and they started to make fun of their relationship/friendship. The people in school are like that because they know that Cal can do better and find a better girl, and they just think that Gretchen is weird.

While I was reading this book, I had the following questions:

I thought she was not allowed to talk to boys?
Yes, she’s not allowed to, that’s what made their friendship/relationship so secret from her dad because she was afraid of what her dad would do to her. So, Gretchen and Cal started to make a plan to meet in secret on when to do it, how, and where. And from there, friendship started.

Who was the girl he liked if not Gretchen?
He liked a girl named Lola. In the book you can see that for homecoming he did not take Gretchen out to homecoming but instead he took someone else. And in the begging of the book he claims that he does not like Gretchen, he likes Lola and that’a what he told his friends.

Cal is another character that struggles with things from home and school, his parents fight but they’re still together. Cal is an athlete that plays football and basketball. He was having some difficult times because he got caught up in Gretchen’s problems at home.

Another difficult time is where he tries to get his dad to come to his games. His dad always says “Yes” or “I don’t know” or “Just no, I’m too busy with work”. He never ends up going, and it shows that how much Cal wants to hang out with his dad more and make memories with his him.

And another difficult time is when his mom said stay out of people’a business it’a not your problem and their’s. Well, he had a difficult time with that when he met Gretchen and got sucked into her problems at home.

In the end, it was a good book and I would give it 4/5.

A review of ‘I Fell In Love With Hope’

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from:

‘I Fell in Love With Hope’ by Lancali, which is a pen name that the author writes and promotes under, is a book about learning how to hope again in a setting clouded with doubt and despair. It is a realistic fiction novel with moments of magical realism tied in. The novel itself is representative of many different types of people, such as disabled people, gay people, and non-binary people, to an extent.

The book takes place in a hospital, and the five main characters are either always in and out of the hospital, or have lived there for the majority of their lives. They all have differing chronic illnesses that affect their way of life, but they find the strength to make it through difficult situations by sticking together. Their names are Sam, Neo, Sony, Hikari, and Coeur, and their personalities are very unique, which makes it so many different readers can see themselves reflected in different characters.

The novel itself is very character-driven, and does not have a plot that is substantially controlled by climactic events. Because of this, the words have to be laid on the page in a way that is captivating to the reader. The sentences themselves are beautifully written, shown in the line, “Our words fold over each other, dance together as our hands mimic them, act them out, that comfortable, ruinous distance the only thing keeping her mine, ghostly, unreal” (Lancali 64). However, nearly every sentence is written in this style, which inevitably takes away from the impact a line like this should have had.

Also, because the plot is so character driven, you would imagine that the characters would be easy to connect to. I imagined that, and I was proven wrong. I had difficulty connecting to any of the characters in the novel, which made the novel pass incredibly slow at times. The characters do not have much depth, or if they do, the depths of their personalities are not well explored.

Next, the representation within the novel is done well for the most part. Four of the main characters have disabilities that affect their quality of life, and Lancali writes about both the good days and the bad. The author does not make an attempt to sugar coat something that shouldn’t be sugar coated. There is also a relationship between two male characters, and a relationship between a female character and a non-binary character.

The only thing in the novel that lacks in representation is the non-binary aspect. As I was reading, I did not know that the narrator was non-binary until the last quarter of the book. They are never referred to in the third person until that point. Because the book is largely advertised as being representative of non-binary people, I think that aspect could have been better executed.

All in all, I give ‘I Fell in Love With Hope’ 3⁄5 stars. The novel has a very good concept, and even an unexpected plot twist at the end, but the base of the story. and the story itself. could have been structured differently in order to make it easier to read. I also believe that the writing could have been less extravagant at times in order to make the well-thought out sentences more impactful to the story. However, I do believe that if you value representation in novels and enjoy character-driven stories, you should give this novel a try.

How books have gained popularity from social media

By: Kaylen Fuentes

During the pandemic, leading up to now, I’ve noticed an increase of people (whether it’s on social media or in real life) who have started reading or picked it back up again, and I believe this is because of social media or trends on social media.

To test this I interviewed several people to see the ways these students started reading because of social media or that can make a connection between reading and social media. As well as or how much (or little) they read because of social media.

I asked every student I interviewed the same question. “What impact do you think social media has had on books and reading for you personally?”

Chloe Rocha: I have seen suggestions for books on social media, and the internet has made me want to read those books more. I usually add them to a list of books I want to read and I’ve been trying to read more.

Trevor Kristjanson: I think social media has hurt the amount I read because, usually when I’m reading I decide to stop reading because of my phone. But I also get most of my book recommendations from social media so it also allows me to read more. I also think the popularity of books and how much they are talked about on social media makes me want to read them more because those popular books are popular for a reason.

Manny Ochoa-Reeve: I don’t think social media has made me want to read more, I don’t read much and I never read before I was active on social media or now.

Alexa Ramirez: I feel like reading has been glorified, especially on TikTok. Books have been incorporated into style and aesthetics as well. So, I think I’ve seen a lot of people with style and trends I want to follow and a lot of times books are incorporated into that lifestyle. So, those people with those styles make me want to read it because it made those people look cool.

3 out of the 4 people I interviewed believe that social media has had an impact on the reasons they read.

Part of why I believe social media has seen a rise in the popularity of books is because now there is such easy access to books on the internet, with online libraries, ebooks, audiobooks, etc. According to, there were over a billion ebook users worldwide in 2021 alone.

An example of a social media platform that has boosted reading is TikTok. When quarantine began there was a trend in a side of TikTok, called BookTok. Where a bunch of readers were able to give each other book recommendations, book hauls and talk about their favorite and current reads. As of September 2022 the hashtag #BookTok has 80.3 billion views on TikTok.

TikTok has helped to boost many book based platforms through BookTok as well, like Goodreads, that has gotten more popular throughout the pandemic and quarantine. Goodreads is an app where people can rate the books they are currently reading, mark books they want to read, review books, and see what friends recommend and review. According to, the number of people on Goodreads stands at 90 million.

Another reason why I think that books have gotten more popular off of social media is authors of certain books becoming more active on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube. An example that comes to mind is John Green. John Green is known for his books ‘Looking for Alaska’, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, and ‘Paper Towns’. As of now, John Green has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, 2.1 million on TikTok, and his YouTube channel with his brother has 3.47 million subscribers.

Part of why I think authors have started posting on social media is about promotion. John Green, among other authors, have books that came out years ago, but they still get comments and questions about them daily on social media. This gives them a chance to promote his books while still answering questions. Many authors I’ve noticed who have social media, and post frequently, incorporate all types of things to post. From following trends, to talking about their personal life, which I think makes them more likeable and relatable to others.

I think social media has overall done a lot for growth in books and authors, but I do think that some toxicity lies behind it. Romanticizing reading has been something that’s increased and I’m happy to see an increase in readers but I think unrealistic expectations have been set about reading through social media. Social media shouldn’t dictate whether or not you do or don’t read a book, but certain books are popular for certain reasons. But overall, I think books gaining popularity through social media can be a good thing as long as you can stick to your own opinions and don’t let other dictate what you think of certain books.