And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is an exhilarating mystery novel revolving around the story of ten strangers, each invited to an island by a mysterious host. Their arrival was followed by a series of inexplicable murders, causing the guests to work together to catch the unknown culprit. The novel is based off a famous poem by Frank Green titled “Ten Little Indian Boys.”

Overall, I find this book to be a fairly quick read that keeps the audience engaged from beginning to end. The setting, as well as Christie’s fast-paced storytelling and mysterious tone adds an air of suspense that leaves readers feeling anxious, yet eager to find out who the murderer really is. Furthermore, the way the author flawlessly transitions between different perspectives and gives detailed descriptions of each character’s inner thoughts leaves readers relating to, and understanding the guests at a higher level. All this combines for a fully immersive experience into the world of mystery.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery read. Agatha Christie is considered one of the best selling authors of all time, and I believe everyone should encounter her phenomenal writing at least once. However, I would be aware of the violence and overall gory imagery used, which many readers could be sensitive to.

-Aysha H.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a historical novel set in late 1800s Nigeria, detailing the life of an Igbo warrior, Okonkwo, in the village of Umuofia, and the fragmentation and confusion brought by white missionaries to his family and village.

Okonkwo prides himself on being a manly, proud, strong leader of his village, but a series of misfortunes owing largely to his own arrogance lead to his exile from the village for seven years. When he returns, he struggles to reconcile his views of the world with the new village he finds- thrown into disarray by the arrival of white Christian missionaries from Europe.

I enjoyed this book. The beginning is a little slow, and the actual threads of the plot do not surface until about halfway through the book, but after that, it is a riveting read. I’ve never really read African historical fiction, but Achebe provides a valuable window into the traditional culture and religions of Nigeria, while also weaving a story from them. The ending was definitely a surprise, and the last couple of chapters were deeply and beautifully reflective of the historical phenomena the novel was describing as a whole. I’d recommend this to anyone eager to learn more about a new culture, or the effects of religious colonization on vulnerable communities.

-Vaidehi B.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I started playing the video game Fire Emblem: Three Houses on the Nintendo Switch about a month ago, and I haven’t played another game since! For those who haven’t heard of it, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy game where you recruit characters to join your class, then use them to fight in battles.

In the game, you play a mercenary with strange origins who takes a job as a teacher at the Garreg Mach Monastery. The first major choice you make is which house to join; Edelgard, Dimitri, or Claude’s. You can then recruit characters from the other houses for their help in battles, and teach them to level them up.

My favorite aspect of the game is that there are four major paths you can choose. You can join Claude, Prince Dimitri, Lady Edelgard, or Archbishop Rhea.

Every character has a different personality and an interesting background. You can learn more about characters by having personal interactions with them, or observing interactions between them and another character. My favorite characters are Petra, Bernadetta (nicknamed Bernie), Felix, Alois, Shamir, Lysithea, Edelgard, Mercedes, and Marianne.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is an incredibly fun game and I would definitely rate it 5 / 5 stars! I love the unique stories of each character and the strategic game play; I highly recommend playing it!

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Anne of Green Gables Book Review

Despite this being the first time I had ever read Anne of Green Gables, the book had an unmistakable nostalgic feel to it. Montgomery has perfectly captured the dialogue, thoughts, and emotions of 11-year-old Anne Shirley, making her character come alive and showing the reader the world through her eyes. Because of this, the reader instantly cares about Anne’s struggles in life, both large and small, and most of which were self-inflicted. However as Anne learns from her mistakes, we realize, along with the other characters in the book, that the things that seemed annoying (for example Anne’s quick and excessive talking,) were the very things that made her unique. And when Anne doesn’t talk quite as much due to all the complaints she had gotten, it shows the true impact that words can have on people, for better or for worse.

Another great aspect of this book was the scenery. From the first chapter, the reader steps into the subtle yet perfectly described city of Avonlea, Canada. Throughout the story Montgomery continues to add to the charm of the countryside descriptions, painting a vivid picture of the quiet little town.

In 320 pages, Anne Shirley has grown from a lonely orphan to a fulfilled women, on a path to an exciting future. And thanks to L. M. Montgomery, we get to experience it all right along with her.

“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.”
―L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Thor: Love and Thunder

In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. During Avengers: Infinity War, Thor creates a new weapon: Stormbreaker. Eventually, Jane Foster, Thor’s ex-girlfriend, develops cancer. While attempting to create a cure for herself, she discovers she is worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Thor is off-planet helping the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight other villains across the galaxy. One of these, Gorr, is plotting to kill every god, as he believes they are all selfish and do not deserve to live. He decides to set a trap for Thor in New Asgard, hoping to lure Thor to his own death. Jane also shows up wielding a (mostly) repaired Mjolnir and fights against Gorr with Valkyrie and Thor. It is soon revealed that every time Jane uses Mjolnir, her cancer treatments are reversed. In other words, the more Jane uses Mjolnir, the more likely she is to die. Despite this, Jane hides it from Thor and joins him in his battles against Gorr. 

Meanwhile, Gorr is trying to get to Eternity at the very center of the universe. According to a legend, the first one to find Eternity will have one wish granted to them. Knowing what could happen if Gorr gets to Eternity first, Thor, Jane, and Valkyrie are in a race against Gorr to get to Eternity first and ensure Gorr does not.

Overall, there was a lot more humor in this movie compared to other Marvel movies. I felt that this made the movie more entertaining to watch, but also subtracted a little bit from the more serious scenes at some points during the movie.

– Peri A.

A Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a classic book often assigned in many English classes. But do not automatically label the book as a boring old classic your teacher shoves in your face. Released in 1985, this novel is a futuristic dystopian storyline, unlike many stories assigned in most classes. 

The novel takes place in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state that oppresses women and glorifies men. The Republic of Gilead replaced the United States for reasons including falling birth rates. The story follows Offred, a current handmaid. In Gilead, the purpose of a handmaid is simply to give birth. But handmaid’s only mate with their specific commanders, who the handmaid’s change their names to represent. For example, Offred is the handmaid of Fred, since she is of Fred. The majority of the novel follows Offred, experiencing sexist encounters with others. Since, like many others, I knew what it was like to live in a normal country before Gilead took over. 

the cover of the novel

Now that you know the simple backstory, I will not spoil any more of the book. But, the themes discussed in the novel are what sets it apart from most books. We get to see strong female power, resisting a hierarchical society that looks down upon women. Also sending the important message that oppression and restriction of groups will never succeed since resistance will always occur. 

As the plot follows Offred, the novel has many nail-biting moments that make you feel as if you are on the edge of your seat. This book also involves some action scenes and violence, which puts a nice twist on novels that are simply all dialogue. Additionally, The Handmaid’s Tale includes a little bit of romance at the same. 

Overall, I would recommend reading this novel. For all the book worms out there, it contains action and stresses political topics while revolving around a strong female lead.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Midnight Library Book Review

This inventive book follows Nora Seed who is tired of her life and all the mistakes she made. But instead of reaching the afterlife as she assumed, she finds herself in an infinite library, greeted by her childhood librarian who invites her to pick a book off the shelves. Nora then learns that she has the opportunity to live an infinite number of lives and experience the things she could not in her original life. All she must do is pick up a book and read the first line and she is transported into that life. Nora uses this opportunity to amend every mistake she felt she made, undo every regret and open every door she imagined in her mundane root life.

Haig’s genius book shows readers the desires every human experiences. The big dreams of being a rockstar or a scientist saving the world. Haig reveals that regrets are not necessarily missed opportunities but often scapegoats for one’s life failing to meet expectations. In the book, Nora feels that she lost every opportunity to live a happy life, create relationships, or be successful as everyone expected judging by her gifted youth. She feels useless in her original life, not needed by anyone or amounted to anything she could have been. When in the midnight library she is presented with the book of regrets, a thick volume with everything she has ever regretted. As she continues to pull books off the shelves and live new lives, she realizes that though she thought she regretted not becoming a rockstar or a famous philosopher, her original life suited her best. As readers, we get to see the impacts small actions can make on others’ lives. The effect small kindnesses can have on people’s lives though they seem insignificant. “Never underestimate the big importance of small things.” This book highlights true happiness. It is not in exterior success like fame or fortune, but in creating relationships with those around you and continuing to gift a little bit of kindness.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig Alcott is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Stranger Things, Is it Worth the Hype?

If you have opened any social media platform in the past month, various Stranger Things 4 content has probably crossed your explorer page. First airing in 2016, Stranger Things is a science fiction horror television series. Starring child stars like Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp, the show revolves around 4 middle school boys who meet a girl who is a government science experiment. One of the boys gets kidnapped by a sub-dimension monster, afterward, all the seasons follow the aftermath of this event.

Stranger Things Season 1 Promo

Without spoiling the actual series, I would recommend this show. But, I would be curious if you get scared easily. For young children, Stranger Things may get too creepy to handle. At first, I found the series slightly scary. But, each season progressively gets darker. The main reasoning for this pattern is so that the show matures alongside the child actors. Even though I found the show slightly disturbing, the plot is so intriguing it almost forces you to continue watching to find out what happens. The kids also bring a level of comedy creating a great atmosphere. Here, the kids are the ones that are always swearing and going against the adults. 

Another cool aspect of this show is that it takes place in the 1980s. The music, clothing, and horror thrill style all emulate the trends of the 80s. So, it makes the show a great piece of media to watch as a family. The parents love all of the 80s references and the children love relating to the children in the show.

On that note, the music soundtrack for Stranger Things is excellent. Many 80s classics have been brought back to the billboards of this show. Songs like “Running up That Hills” and “Should I Stay or Should I go Now” have increased in popularity after their use in the show. I have found the soundtrack makes the show seem less dark and more fun. 

Overall, after watching all of the seasons I would highly recommend this series. There is a nice mix of horror and comedy while also revolving around a very detailed plot.

Movie Review: Minions: The Rise of Gru

Are you looking for a fun activity to do with friends or family before everyone heads back to school?  If you want a fun, comical and entertaining movie to watch together, look no further than Minions: The Rise of Gru. Released on July 1, 2022 by Illumination and Universal Pictures this animated movie is sure to put a smile on your face. This new prequel sequel to the Despicable Me franchise, “Minions 2” tells the story of Gru growing up in the 1970s. Kevin, Stuart and Bob are all back with their new “boss” eleven year old Gru. Added to the bunch is Otto, a new minion. Having always admired the “Vicious 6” a group of dangerous criminals and the world’s greatest super villains, Gru is excited to get to interview to become one of them and the chaos ensues.

Typical of what you’d expect from a Minion movie, mayhem and destruction, explosions, fights and battles take place during the approximately 90 minute movie. This issue of the franchise was particularly amusing as Gru is kidnapped and taken to San Francisco where a group of minions travel to rescue Gru.  You will see places you may have visited like Chinatown in true to life animation. Without revealing too much of the storyline, you can assume much of the movie revolves around comical criminal activity and hysterical animation including seeing the backside of minions with and without their trunks on. Rated PG for action/violence and rude humor, this is an animated movie that is fairly family friendly if only for a few crude jokes and animated bombings and similar. I’d recommend it to all of my family and friends looking for some lighthearted fun where you can laugh your worries away whether you are 1 or 101.

The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo

The Secret Kingdom,by Jenny Nimmo, is the first book in the Chronicles of The Red King trilogy.  The books in this trilogy are prequels to the Children of the Red King series.  The stories take place in a time when the Red King was a young boy named Timoken.  This story revolves around Timoken and his older sister Zobayda, two children who have been orphaned and forced out of their home.

The children embark on a treacherous journey through a vast desert to find a new home.  They are aided by various fantastical creatures, including a flying being called a “forest-jinni,” a trio of magical leopards, and a talking camel named Gabar.  The children are endowed with magical powers.  They rely on these powers to defend themselves against enemies, including evil beings called “viridees.”

There are many likeable characters in this book, so it would be very difficult to pick a favorite.  Timoken, his sister Zobayda, Gabar, and even the viridees are some of my favorites.  The story is filled with action and excitement.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when a flock of terrible birds wreaks havoc in the city of Toledo.  Timoken uses his magical powers to stop them.

I was excited to learn that Jenny Nimmo wrote this new series of books.  After the success of her Children of the Red King series, Jenny Nimmo decided to write more about the history of the mysterious Red King.  This new trilogy is just as enjoyable as the original series.  I would very highly recommend this book, and the rest of the trilogy, to anyone who enjoyed the Children of the Red King saga.

The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.