Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

As a flight attendant, Cassandra’s job offers her the chance to enjoy many of the pleasures that can be found in glamorous locations. This trip turns out to be different. The morning after a date with a very handsome man, when Cassandra wakes up, she’s not in her own hotel room. She can’t remember most of what happened last night, and the very handsome man is very dead. Terrified, Cassandra leaves the hotel without calling the police, and heads out to catch her flight home. She soon finds herself caught in a web of her own lies, afraid to come clean, and unsure of the truth – did she kill him?

As always, Bohjalian has crafted a a compelling and multi layered story. Cassandra is about as unreliable witness as you can get, and yet you keep hoping that she’ll somehow make it through without digging herself deeper, or caught by whoever murdered her date.

Other titles by Chris Bohjalian include: The Guest Room, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, and The Sandcastle Girls.

Leave a comment

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

At 24, Mokhtar Alkhanshali is working as a doorman. Raised in San Francicso’s Tenderloin district, in the vibrant Yemeni-American community, Mokhtar has big dreams, but is unclear which direction to follow them. Across the street from the luxury apartment building where he works, he sees the statue of the Hills Brothers Coffee Drinker – a man in Yemeni clothing drinking a cup of coffee. Curious about the connection to his home country and one of the largest coffee companies in the world, Mokhtar begins researching, and learns about the Yemini origins of coffee. Immediately, an idea is born: Mokhtar will import coffee from Yemin! But first, he needs to learn about coffee, make the necessary connections, and figure out how to get his product out of his war torn homeland.

Not only is this a fascinating read on how your morning cup of coffee is grown and processed, more importantly, it is a tale of one immigrants’ journey from poverty to success, despite the major hurdles in his way. As Mokhtar faces each impediment – including bombs and kidnapping – he never loses his determination, and he slowly builds his specialty coffee company, literally from the ground up.

Other books by Eggers include What is the What?, Zeitoun, and The Circle.

Leave a comment

Brad’s Status

As Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) prepares to accompany his son to Boston on a college visit, he reflects back on his own life, and questions some of the choices he’s made. Social media updates from his college buddies only serve to increase his doubts about his own success in life. When the two arrive in Boston, and Brad catches up with his buddies, he’s forced to confront his doubts about what success really means.

While there were some really good moments between father and son, this movie was just ok. The film’s message about social media not really showing us the real story of anyone’s life, but a filtered version is certainly relevant. But all of Brad’s angst over his first world problems was just a bit much for this viewer. Rated R. Also featuring: Jenna Fischer, Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, and Austin Abrams.