Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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Fist Fight

Andy Campbell (Charlie Day) is just trying to survive as a high school teacher. It is the last day and it is chaos. Teachers are getting fired, seniors are pranking, and Andy needs to make it to his daughter’s talent show by 2:30. But he has a run in with another teacher, Strickland (Ice Cube), which results in Strickland getting fired. Strickland is a tough guy and demands that Andy meet him after school for a fight. Andy spends the rest of the day trying to get out of it but it isn’t meant to be. And then 3 o’clock hits…

This was an ok comedy for me. I chuckled a few times but overall wasn’t impressed. If you are just looking for a mindless comedy then check this one out. Also starring, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Joanna Garcia Swisher, and Christina Hendricks. Rated R


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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen finds a box on his doorstep with his name on it. He cautiously opens it to find a bunch of audio cassettes inside. Confused he pulls them out and sees that they are labeled on each side with a number. Thirteen numbers in total. What he hears  when he plays them shocks him. Hannah Baker’s voice. Hannah had killed herself a couple of weeks ago. As she talks she explains that if you are listening to the tapes then you are one of the reasons why she did it.

Clay is shocked. He continues to listen and is told to follow the map that was included and that whoever is mentioned after him on the tapes is the next person who gets the tapes. If these instructions aren’t followed someone who is watching will know and release a second set of tapes to everyone. Clay ends up staying up all night wandering around town listening, waiting to hear his name. Because he has no idea why he is on the tapes. And he can’t believe what Hannah is revealing about their classmates.

This was a very difficult book. It had a lot of serious material like suicide, date rape, and bullying. And unfortunately it is very relevant in today’s schools. Netflix made it into a thirteen episode series. It has had a lot of backlash and support. Thirteen Reasons Why is the book you need to read especially if you have teenagers.


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The Great Wall

William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) have heard about the mysterious black powder. In their search for it, they encounter a creature that William is able to kill. As they are fleeing they come across the Great Wall and are captured by the people who protect it. There William is pulled between finishing his goal and fighting for a purpose. They soon are thrust into battle to help protect the wall from the same creatures that William had killed. Will they stay and finish the fight or steal the powder and leave the people to defend the Wall by themselves?

I was shockingly surprised by how much I ended up liking this movie. I think my expectations were so low  I ended up enjoying it. I really liked all of the stunts and the story. Also starring, Tian Jing and Willem Dafoe. Rated PG-13


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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth

Leonora “Nora” Shaw is surprised to be invited to  Claire’s hen weekend (British slang for bachelorette party) and reluctantly agrees to go since her friend Nina will also be attending. Nina, Claire and Nora are childhood friends, but Nora hasn’t seen Claire since she was sixteen, which was over ten years ago, when Nora left school abruptly and never turned back. The Hen party is hosted by Flo, Claire’s maid of honor, at her aunt’s remote house in a wooded area in the middle of nowhere where there is no cell reception.

The weekend gets off to an odd start with Flo’s insistence that the guests play along with her plans so it’s the perfect weekend. To make matters worse, Nora learns that the only reason she was invited to the hen, as Nora didn’t even get a wedding invite, was so Claire could tell her in person that her husband-to-be is their fellow schoolmate and Nora’s ex, James. Devastated, although the reader doesn’t quite know what secrets she is holding yet, Nora’s goal is just to get through this weekend and get home.

But, things turn even weirder when on Saturday night, an innocent game turns into a scary premonition of future events and footprints in the snow suggest that someone is watching them. Nora ends up in the hospital covered in blood and the author unfolds the story by going back and forth between what happened leading up to Nora’s hospitalization and a murder at the house.

Murder, twists and lots of suspicion make for an engrossing page-turner in Ware’s debut psychological thriller. To be honest, I liked this one even better than her new novel The Woman in Cabin 10Be on the lookout for Ware’s next thriller, The Lying Game, out later this year.


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The Hate U Give

This was a terrific, eye-opening, Young Adult novel about Starr, a 16 year old African American girl who has to deal with the shooting death of her friend Khalil by a white police officer. Starr has a supportive mom and dad, along with two brothers, one who is her half brother. She lives in the ‘hood, but goes to a predominately white school where she has a white boyfriend, but feels she can’t be herself.

At first after the shooting, her parents try to shield her from the situation but Starr realizes she needs to stand up for Khalil and tell everyone what really happened that night.

The story follows Starr through testifying to the Grand Jury, riots in the neighborhood, her dad finding out about her white boyfriend, and protesting against the outcome of the investigation. Through it all you get a sense of her family and the love and support they give each other,  her neighborhood, as well as the racial injustice everyone deals with daily.

I loved this book. The story and characters felt so real to me, not forced or fake. The dialogue was sometimes sad, sometimes funny and always realistic. I highly recommend this book to everyone as it is a timely topic in today’s world.


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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

On the surface, the small village of Beckford is just a sleepy little town beside a river. But the river has always held some secrets, and has long been the source of a strange fascination for Nel Abbott. Nel is a single mom who grew up in the village, and she’s been working on a book about the river and its sordid past – the drowning of witches, the Drowning Pool, the suicides. When Nel herself is found in the river,  her estranged sister Jules returns to the village to care for Lena, Nel’s teenage daughter, whose best friend was also recently found in the river.  Jules finds herself caught between her duty to Lena and her memories of the past, as the mysteries of the two women’s deaths are unraveled.

In Beckford, Ms. Hawkins has created a creepily atmospheric little village where virtually everyone could have “done it”.  Although uneven in spots, there’s enough intrigue in the story to keep you reading. You might need a character chart though. There are a lot of people in the story – all of them unreliable, and it gets tricky at times to keep track. Definitely well worth reading if you enjoy the psychological genre.


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The Take

Michael Mason (Richard Madden) is a con artist, currently working in Paris. He makes his living picking pockets, taking special orders from his clients. When he steals a bag containing a teddy bear, and not much else, he tosses it. Moments later, the bag explodes, leaving 4 people dead. The next day, Michael’s face, captured on CCTV, is all over the news as a suspect. The CIA assigns agent Sean Briar (Idris Elba) to the case. Briar, never one to play by the rules, captures Michael, but instead of taking him in, takes him to a secret interrogation spot, where he finds out that Michael is indeed telling the truth. Now, they’re not only on the run from the group responsible for the attack, but they’re also trying to track them down before they strike again.

As far as action and suspense go, this movie was pretty good. And while I love both Idris and Richard, unfortunately, as hard as they tried, the chemistry just wasn’t there. I just wasn’t buying into their comic/straight guy routine. Other than that though, definitely worth watching. Rated R. Also featuring Kelly Reilly and Charlotte Le Bon.