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: Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie

Amazon.com: Cards on the Table: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot  Mysteries, 15) (9780062073730): Christie, Agatha: Books

When Mr. Shaitana, a flamboyant yet slightly sinister collector and party host, reveals to famous detective Hercule Poirot his newest “crime collection” – that of criminals who have evaded justice – Poirot naturally has some misgivings. These suspicions come to a head during an evening bridge party with the “collected” people, when Shaitana is murdered in full view of the entire room, all of whom have a reason to want their host dead.

The interesting aspect of Shaitana’s bridge party was the even matching of detective to murderer – four of each. The former group consisted of the previously mentioned Hercule Poirot, the mystery writer Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Battle of Scotland Yard, and secret serviceman Colonel Race. In the latter group, Shaitana had “collected” Dr. Roberts, Mrs. Lorrimer, Anne Meredith, and Major Despard, each one with a criminal past.

Lacking a clear suspect, the detectives are forced to go far back into each person’s history to find the psychological connection between previous crimes and the murder of Shaitana. However, it quickly becomes clear that the murderer has only grown bolder with time, and as red herrings abound, the killer is not afraid to strike again…or again.

Cards on the Table is certainly a departure from Agatha Christie’s usual affair, but the plot is no less tightly woven, nor the end less surprising for it. Christie keeps the reader guessing throughout the novel until the dramatic final reveal. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Christie, or investigative novels in general, because it provides a new perspective to crimes and motives.

-Mahak M.

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Manga Review: Erased by Kei Sanbe

Many of the popular manga we see nowadays center around action and fantasy. Such famous mangas still have amazing reads and obviously attract readers around the globe for a reason, but they fall short of meaning or depth in their plots. Yes, there’s a lengthy plot, lovable characters, and other factors that appeal to minds of all ages. But do these mangas also talk about the reality of our world? Do they bring heart-throbbing events where the main character can’t gain hope from a 30-minute monologue? I admit, Erased may not be the best book to those looking for a light-hearted novel, but it’s definitely worth reading and allows readers to see both the beauty and cruelty of our real world.

Erased is also referred to as Boku dake ga Inai Machi (僕だけがいない街), which is directly translated as “The Town Where Only I Am Missing.” Written by Kei Sanbe, the series is filled with thriller, mystery, and a bit of science fiction. The story entails of a young man named Satoru. He enables the ability to time-travel before a life-threatening event and prevent it from happening, also known as “Revival.” One night, his mother is murdered by an unknown killer; the pain-staking event sends Satoru eighteen years back into his childhood. After discovering that the murderer is tied to his past, Satoru is now given the opportunity to prevent his mother’s death by discovering who the murderer is, as well as solve the case of three missing children in his home town.

To be honest, there are moments where the plot doesn’t make sense—especially since the author never mentions why Satoru is able to time-travel. Regardless, the plot of the book series remains absolutely phenomenal; the author quickens the plot’s pace when necessary and fills it with extreme twists and events that leaves the audience filled with emotions. The characters themselves are either loved or despised, and every character reaches their fullest potential, regardless of being a hero or villain.

But I digress—what is most enjoyable about this book is its uniqueness and how meaningful the story is. Time-travel itself is quite a cheesy plot factor, but the connection between reality and fantasy is what makes the series interesting. Overall, the plot remains realistic; characters often make mistakes and feel lost, some moments seem hopeless, and a glimpse of light that every reader looks for rarely shines. Sanbe weaves the cruel reality of our world into the plot with regards to child abuse and kidnapping. Yet he still gives signs of faith and hope through time-traveling and fiction, giving Satoru another chance at making things right, and a bittersweet ending. Such factors are simply not found in any typical manga.

Overall, the Erased series is truly underrated. Although it does fit those who prefer the gory over glory, Erased does what any manga rarely does—give hope and faith to the hopelessness of our real world.

– Natisha P.

Erased by Kei Sanbe is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie


Agatha Christie’s books have been the 3rd best-selling books ever trailing only the Bible and Shakespeare. Why you ask? You will receive your answer after reading And Then There Were None. 

10 people are invited to Soldier Island for a vacation by a mysterious U.N. Owen. They all feel excited and lucky to have been chosen to stay there, but that turns around after a night filled with suspense and drama. Each of their guilts are announced loudly so the entire room can hear, one by one. Then, by the end of the night, one of them is dead. They are haunted by a nursery rhyme that counts down one by one and as each person guards their life with every last effort, the rhyme has their fate written out for them. Could the killer be among them, or is it someone else? Things continue to get worse and worse as each person understands that they are between life and death. 

With the drama and suspense in the novel, this book becomes glued to your hands in instants. Once you pick it up, you can’t put it down. I suggest that you read this book because it is so exciting! 

I love this book because of all of the plot twists. Whenever I get suspicious of someone, something else happens and I get suspicious of someone else. I love this book and I can’t wait to read the other books that Agatha Christie has written. 

I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read books. This murder-mystery novel is a thriller and it will not disappoint readers who are looking for a great book. In fact, it will overachieve. I love this book and it is one of my favorite books that I have ever read.

-Mert A.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Killing November by Adriana Mather

Killing November by Adriana Mather is a murder mystery novel, surrounding a teenage girl named November and her suspected involvement of a classmates death. It’s based in a woodsy boarding school full of secrets. 

November is a clever and extroverted protagonist. She is brought to a remote boarding school after her father disappears and is informed that she is enrolled in a school for spies and assassins. The school environment however is cold and toxic. Where none of her classmates talk to her except for her roommate Layla and her brother Ash. 

Unlike most places, this school is based around “families” who control and influence the students. November, much like the reader, is clueless in the beginning but slowly begins to understand the dynamic. We learn that the main family are called “The Lions” and that they’ve killed others to gain control of everyone. We also learn that November is the daughter of two very powerful leaders and is wanted dead by the Lions. 

In order to accomplish this, someone frames her for the murder of a fellow classmate. Frantic and desperate to prove her innocence November, Ash, and Layala, investigate the school to find the true culprit.

This book was moderately twisty and a great introduction to murder mysteries. There’s not too much gore and it’s easily the least scary book I’ve read. It’s fantastic if you love dark hollowy castles, sparring matches, and knives. Lots and lots of knives. The book is also extremely plot driven and is fast paced. Personally I would recommend this book to ages 12+ and to anyone who enjoys “One of us is lying” by Karen M. McManus. 

-Ashley Y.

Killing November by Adriana Mather is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie.  The hero is the famous detective, Hercule Poirot.  Poirot is described throughout Christie’s novels as a small Belgian man with an egg-shaped head and a distinctive moustache.  The novel is set almost entirely on a train called the Orient Express.  The train was on its way to London, but becomes stuck in the middle of the night due to a snowdrift.  The next morning, a man named Mr. Rachett is found dead in his bed having been stabbed multiple times.  Poirot, intrigued by the mysterious circumstances surrounding this apparent murder, puts the “little grey cells” in his mind to work.  In other words, as he always does, Poirot uses his brain power to solve the case.

One thing I enjoyed about this novel is that we have more suspects than most Poirot stories.  The various personalities made the story quite colorful and entertaining.  Many nationalities are represented, such as American, British, Hungarian, Russian, Swedish and Italian.  One of my favorite suspects is an old woman named Mrs. Hubbard.  She tends to ramble and rattle on about her daughter or anything else that pops into her head.  I found it amusing to read about the passengers’ interactions as they all claimed alibis to absolve themselves of the murder.  The victim seems to have had a very bad reputation, so many suspects might have been motivated to kill him.  This made it very hard to guess which suspect was the actual killer.

This is one of my favorite Agatha Christie books.  There are many characters to keep track of, which makes the story interesting and exciting, but the mystery becomes difficult to figure out.  The ending was quite surprising and different from other Poirot stories that I have read.  Overall, I found this novel to be quite thrilling.  I would also recommend Agatha Christie’s other Poirot books, such as Cards on the Table and The ABC Murders.  Hercule Poirot is one of my favorite characters, and I have enjoyed all of the Poirot mysteries that I have read so far.

-Oliver H.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Death On The Nile by Agatha Christie

Linnet Ridgeway has everything she could possibly ever want. She is smart, rich, charming, and beautiful. Her friend Jacqueline comes to her one day with a request; Linnet makes Jacqueline’s fiance Simon Doyle her land agent. He needs a job, and Linnet gives it to him. 

However, she falls in love with him and thinks about how lucky Jacqueline is. In fact, Jacqueline doesn’t have nearly as much as Linnet does. Eventually, Linnet ends up marrying Simon Doyle. Jacquline is mad at Linnet for “stealing” her fiance from her. She decides to follow Linnet and Simon during their honeymoon. 

One morning, during a cruise of tranquility down the Nile, Linnet is found dead in her cabin. Hercule Poirot is on the cruise, and with one of his friends who is also searching for a criminal, they try to discover who committed the crime. However, Simon had been accidentally shot in the leg the night Linnet was killed, so they must get to their destination. A doctor on the ship has done all he can, but Simon must get to a hospital quickly, so the detectives are running out of time to find out who did it. 

I enjoyed reading this book because there were so many plot twists and the ending was so unexpected. I also liked how there was such a variety of characters which helped to develop the story and to make it feel more realistic. The author also gives a lot of details about their backstories. As a result of these small sections about the characters and their lives, the reader has reason to suspect almost everyone. I really liked how there were multiple crimes that I kept trying to solve before the detectives in the book solved the complicated case. Almost nothing is as it seems to be.

This was an amazing book and I really enjoyed reading it. I would recommend you to read this intriguing novel.

-Peri A.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Game Review: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (spoiler-free)

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a popular game, primarily revolving around a “killing game” based on trials. It is the first main game of three, originally released in 2014. The goal is to solve the mystery of each trial and to find the killer. The game contains a wide cast of characters, including 16 students and one bear. Overall, Danganronpa is a very interactive game with a unique trial system that makes the user feel engaged while also learning about the large cast. 

One great part of the game is the art style and game design itself. The environment you are in is not only visually intriguing, but contains a wide variety of different areas. Each area is well designed and pleasant to look at. The art style also matches very well with the actual gameplay mechanics and design as the user interface contrasts the background. The art is also very unique compared to other games as the game is effectively a visual novel, making it a fresh experience. The characters in the game are also quite compelling. Every single character is a master of their craft and provides their own unique experiences. Their personalities and the way they interact with each other always brightens up the game. The characters and their designs were by far my favorite part of the game. Each invoked a certain emotion in you regardless of whether or not you liked them, making the game more enjoyable and entertaining as a whole.

In general, I would rate this game a 10/10. The game is absolutely worth the price point and the interactive visual novel is both entertaining and well written. The game may start somewhat slow but the gameplay itself and world overall make up for it. 

-Benjamin L.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

One of Us is Lying is about four high school seniors, who are all quite stereotypical people in a high school, the jock, Cooper Clay, the prom queen, Addy Prentiss,  the “nerd”, Bronwyn Rojas, and the delinquent, Nate Macauley. However, when the four of them meet in an unfair detention, along with Simon Kelleher, the self-proclaimed “omniscient narrator” and person in charge of the gossip app named “About That”, which talks about the school’s gossip, although only using initials. 

However, the detention quickly turns into a crime scene when Simon dies due to a peanut allergy, with all the epi-pens in the nurse’s office mysteriously gone. All four of them are later questioned, when the police find that Simon had drunk a large amount of peanut oil prior to his death. They all deny knowing anything, though. Later, all four students are separately called to the police station and told that before his death, Simon had queued up a post which details each of their secrets- Cooper used steroids for his baseball performance, Bronwyn stole tests, Nate is dealt drugs, which violates his parole, and that Addy had cheated on her boyfriend. With the police putting pressure on them, and more and more media coverage, the four of them band together and take the investigation upon themselves. 

The novel is very interesting, and I thought that there were many plot twists and it’s quite fun to try to piece together the mystery as more and more information is revealed. It’s also enjoyable to see the different characters grow as people, seeing Addy become her own person, and see Nate and Bronwyn grow closer together. I definitely recommend One of Us is Lying for those who enjoy murder mysteries and those who enjoy piecing together different pieces of information throughout the book.

-Kelsie W.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

This New York Times bestseller has quickly become, needless to say, a very popular book.  Murder mysteries themselves are a commonly-read, yet thrilling genre and this book falls into the category of the classic “who did it” scenario.

 One of Us Is Lying begins on a regular Monday at Bayview High School where five students are all in detention. However, what would have been a usually boring, uneventful detention session swiftly becomes a high-profile event, as one of the students, Simon, ends up dead. Though this student is known quite well, his reputation is not the best, to say the least, as Simon is known as someone who spreads rumors and secrets about people, often revealing extremely personal, uncomfortable truths.  It makes sense that many people would have a reason to dislike, or even hate him, but the real question is: does anyone truly want Simon  dead?  After all, other than his exposing, gossip-ridden app, he is an otherwise harmless teenager. That being said, if someone did want him dead, then that would mean that the most likely suspects were probably in the same room as where he took his last breaths. 

Interestingly enough, McManus switches the character point of view with almost every chapter, meaning you get an inside scope within the minds of each student. This makes it an enjoyable challenge for the reader to decipher clues as to who is guilty, because each person’s side of the story and perspective on the matter is different. None of them seem obviously malicious, though. So it’s left a guessing game until the end of the book. In my case, I was still debating between a few different characters until the end of the book when the answer was revealed to me, and I ended up being wrong entirely, which I think goes to show that McManus created the plot in such a way that it was hard to tell.

Is it Bronwyn, the smart, goody-two shoes girl with a perfect academic record? Is it Nate, the leather-jacket wearing drug dealer with a mysterious past? Is it Addy, the sweet, beautiful girl, famous for her long locks of hair? Or is it Cooper, the quiet baseball jock?

Read it and find out!

-Aisha E.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive