Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

In this third entry from the dynamic duo Clark and Burke, “Crazy Casey” has just got out of prison for serving a fifteen year manslaughter sentence for shooting her husband, Hunter Raleigh. Despite the disapproval of her mother and cousin Angela, Casey is determined to clear her name and approaches Lorie Moran, producer of TV’s Under Suspicion, Datelinetype show that investigates cold cases, to help.

Lorie is not sure she wants to take on Casey Carter but finally relents, hoping that some of the new potential suspects she has identified might take the case in a new direction. Professing her innocence, Casey claims she had been drugged the night of the gala when Hunter died and that someone had planted the evidence in her purse. Other suspects that Lorie plans to interview include Hunter’s best friend who might have been embezzling money from his nonprofit foundation, Casey’s jealous ex-boyfriend, and Hunter’s father’s assistant, who he had despised for years.

The new episode isn’t the only challenge on Lorie’s plate at the moment. Now that Alex Buckley is no longer on the show, her supervisor has hired a new host and they have gotten off to a rocky start. At home, her romantic relationship with Alex is on hiatus as she figures out what she wants.

The Sleeping Beauty Killer is another solid, reliable entry in the Under Suspicion series. There is nothing really new to comment on here, but readers looking for a nonviolent suspense novel with enough intrigue to keep you engaged would find this series to their liking. These can be read in any order, as each book features the TV show investigating a different case.


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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.