Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

In this Jumanji reboot, a group of high school kids (a jock, a nerd, a popular girl, and a brainy girl) are all in detention together. Their punishment is to go through a storage room full of old magazines that need the staples removed so they can be recycled. When one of the kids discovers an old video game console with the game Jumanji loaded, they connect it to a TV and try to play after they select their characters.

Suddenly, they are magically transported into the real life game and are shocked to find out that their game characters aren’t who they thought they were. The geek is the main character who’s strength is muscle and brawn (played by the Rock); the jock is a zoologist and the main character’s weapon’s valet (Kevin Hart); the brainy girl is a kick-butt woman ninja; and the popular girl is a male map expert (played by Jack Black).

Stranded in the jungle, they have to work together to restore the eye (a precious stone) of Jumanji while fleeing from a group of bad villains and just like a video game, they have to do so with only three lives.

This funny and adventure-filled movie will appeal to the whole family. Rated PG-13


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Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

While we might have a vision of  happy retirees hitting the open road in their RV-visiting all the tourist spots, enjoying their adventures – the reality for thousands of retirement age people post-Great Recession is less rosy. For many, whose savings disappeared, who lost their job and couldn’t get another one due to their age, who lost their home, embracing a nomadic way of life is a creative solution. Journalist Jessica Bruder takes to the road in her secondhand van – christened “Halen” – and follows Linda May and others in their adventures as “workampers”. As the irrepressible Linda roams from job to job, working seasonally as a camp host, an Amazon warehouse temp, and at a sugar beet farm, her can-do spirit is reflective of many people on the road.

Bruder offers a fascinating look at a community that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, full of interesting and diverse characters. For the most part, the common thread in the community is an independent and indomitable spirit – no matter what problems they might be faced with, they just keep on moving. The book also takes a hard look at the economy that has created this community and the impact that the Great Recession and the ever widening gap between the rich and poor has had on a growing population.

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Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred (Frances McDormand) lost her daughter seven months ago. She was raped and murdered and her killer has not been found. Mildred feels like the sheriff and his department have stopped investigating. Mildred decides to rent the three billboards just outside of town and write the sheriff a message. Needless to say the sheriff is not happy. He and his fellow deputy try to convince her to take them down. But Mildred can’t be swayed. She will do whatever it takes to find her daughter’s murderer.

I really enjoyed this movie and the performances. Wasn’t a big fan of the ending but overall it was good. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both won Academy Awards for their performances in this movie. Also starring, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Abbie Cornish. Rated R

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Death of an Honest Man

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I was able to get an advanced copy of Death of an Honest Man through Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley, for an opportunity to read and review this book. My views in this review are entirely my own.

Sometimes being too honest can be a bad thing, which is what the village of Lochdubh and Cnothan find out the hard way, when newcomer, Paul English, moves to Cnothan. He tells the truth no matter how rude or forward he might sound. That is until he is killed.

The issue that Hamish has is not a lack of suspects but too many suspects. As Paul English offended most everyone he met. To top it off Hamish has lost the services of Charlie, his sidekick police officer, who has resigned due to Blair’s bullying ways.

Hamish is back in Death of an Honest Man. I have read all of the Hamish Macbeth series so far and have loved all of them. First off I would like to say something about the series as a whole. One of the major things that sets this series apart from many other book series is the characters that M.C. Beaton has created. They are very unique, each with their own personalities and quirks that add something to the series as a whole. She keeps them consistent throughout the series, having them appear when they are needed to help Hamish with the crime or to add a funny/dramatic moment to the book. Hamish would not be where he is today if not for the villagers of Lochdubh.

It was a fast read with many twists and turns that kept me, the reader, guessing as to who the murderer really was. Normally in most mysteries I have a guess at who the thief and/or murderer is. However, that was not the case this time. With as many suspects that Hamish had during this murder, it is not shocking that this was a tough one even for him. I did wish that more time could have been spent with the newer characters. I have a feeling though M.C. Beaton will bring them back in later books in the series, much like she does many of the other past characters.

I do feel bad for Hamish though. It feels as though Hamish will never find a permanent partner in crime as they are always leaving for one reason or other. I do in some ways wish that they would resolve Hamish’s love life. The random visits by Elspeth and Priscilla seemed strained in the book. The main storyline as a whole was interesting. Once I started reading it I did not want to put it down. This is a must read for any fans of the Hamish Macbeth series or for any cozy mystery fans.

My question for those who read the book- anyone catch the part about Silas?

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Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Two sisters go missing outside of a Kmart in Pennsylvania while their mom is inside, and they are supposed to be waiting in the car. Video surveillance shows Kylie Brandt and her younger sister Bailey leaving the car and being greeted by someone they might have known. Witnesses say that they got in the car and left, but other than that, there are no real leads.

Single mother Jamie Brandt has the support of her Aunt Maggie, who has hired private investigator Alice Vega from California. Vega has a reputation of finding missing children, and she teams up with ex-cop Max “Cap” Caplan. Their plan is to use Cap’s relationship with local police enforcement to join their efforts.

Their investigation brings them to a previous cold case of a disabled adult who disappeared years prior. Could this be related to the girl’s disappearance, or is it an empty trail they are following?

Two Girls Down was a decent thriller that I would recommend. There was no crazy twist at the end and although everything wrapped up smoothly, I would love to see Alice Vega make a reappearance in Luna’s next book. It is awesome to see a female lead in such a kick-ass, take no prisoners role. Also, there seems to be a budding romance between Vega and Cap that could be developed further.

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Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

New mom Anna is still reeling from the deaths of her parents when she receives a card in the mail. It’s the one year anniversary of her mother’s death, and with just a few short words, Anna’s world is turned upside down once again. The police concluded that Anna’s parents deaths were suicides, but this card implies that they were murdered. Desperate for answers, Anna contacts the police. And then things get dangerous.

Along with multiple twists and great pacing, Mackintosh has created characters that you genuinely care about. Despite the dark themes of the story, the author’s research skills and sensitivity really shine through, while at the same time creating a tension filled roller coaster ride of a thriller. Definitely put this one on your TBR pile.

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Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Finch House sits abandoned, off of a long country road in the Kansas prairie. No one has lived there for years, and the stories about the horrible things that happened there seem to be enough to keep most people away.

Best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is asked for an interview. It will take place at Finch House as part of a Halloween publicity stunt, staged by a popular web entrepreneur. Joined by 3 other best-selling authors, each with their own reasons for agreeing to the deal, the group heads off to the house. No one is prepared for what happens next.

I can’t tell you much more than that, because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will say that if you love horror, you need to read this book. It has everything you want in a good book – a well rounded cast of characters, a compelling plot, and a perfectly paced journey into the terror that resides within the wall of Finch House.

Nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, Kill Creek puts Thomas in league with Stephen King, Peter Straub, Paul Tremblay, Joe Hill, and Josh Malerman, and I for one, can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.