Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

Happy New Year!

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Artemis by Andy Weir

Less science focused than “The Martian”, Andy Weir’s follow-up explores life on the moon from the perspective of a native – an independent young woman who’s grown up in Artemis, the moon’s only city. Jazz Bashara is a porter, and to supplement her income, she does a little smuggling on the side. She takes on a job that gets her involved in corporate espionage, murder, and a power struggle over a new technology worth trillions.  Now, Jazz needs to find a way to protect not only herself, but the whole lunar community.

Even if you’re not a huge science fiction fan, there’s lots to really like about this book. Along with all the technical stuff, Weir manages to create characters that are easy to connect with. Add some humor, an engaging plot, and lots of adventure, and you’ve got a story that lots of fun from start to finish. It’s a fun read, but if you prefer audio, it’s read by Rosario Dawson, who in my mind would be the perfect person to play Jazz in the movie.

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Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

In this collection of 17 short stories, Tom Hanks takes us to the moon and back, time traveling, and bowling. We’ll experience life in America as a new immigrant, the first blush of new romance, and the ups and downs of a young actress who’s new to New York City. All of the stories are connected by one common thing – a typewriter, and many of the characters share a yearning for earlier, simpler times.

Don’t let the bad reviews of this book stop you from picking this one up! Mr. Hanks may need a little more time to hone his writer skills, but he’s definitely a keen observer, and he does have an eye for a good story. Reading these stories reminded me a lot of some of Mr. Hank’s movies – a good story that makes you think – but not too hard, and you usually walk away feeling pretty good. Even if you’re not a fan of Hanks’ movies, I think you’ll enjoy these stories as much as I did.

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Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

When Billie and Jonathan first met, it was love at first sight. Years later, Billie, a typical super mom with an edgy past, and Jonathan, a tech writer, have been busy building their life and raising their daughter Olive. Their life isn’t perfect, but it’s still pretty good, considering they’ve been married for about 17 years. With Olive now in high school, and Jonathan working so many hours, Billie throws herself into outdoor sports – marathon running, long distance hiking, and climbing. While on a hike, Billie disappears, and no trace is found of her. Now, one year later, Jonathan and Olive are still trying to pick up the pieces. Olive begins having trouble at school, and begins having “visions” that her mother is still alive and wants them to find her. Jonathan believes that the trauma caused by losing her mother is making Olive sick, until he discovers that Billie had been keeping some pretty big secrets from him. He begins to doubt that Billie has died, and begins following the trail of secrets she left behind.

If you like suspense that will keep you guessing, be sure to put this one on your list. It pulls you in right from the start, and if you’re like me, you won’t want to put it down until you’re through.

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The House

Kate and Scott Johansen (Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell) are so excited! Their daughter is off to college soon, and she’s won a full scholarship through their town. Imagine their surprise when they attend the town meeting where they’re supposed to accept the scholarship, only to learn that it’s no longer available. Stuck for answers, they join a friend in a scheme to open an illegal casino in his house in order to raise money.

I’m usually a huge fan of both Poehler and Ferrell, but this isn’t one of their best movies. They started with a good premise, but the humor really falls flat in this one, and the plot was really predictable. Maybe go into this one with low expectations. Rated R. Also featuring: Jason Manzoukas, Nick Kroll, Cedric Yarborough, and Jeremy Renner.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Liza is a successful author whose books haven’t been selling as well as they used to. Now, she has just one month to finish the thriller that will put her back on the best seller lists. Liza’s been distracted though – she’s been trying to have a baby with her husband, but he’s been very distant. And he becomes even more so when his best friend Nick goes missing. So Liza escapes into her writing. Her new character, Beth suspects her husband of cheating, while she’s at home caring for their new baby. Feeling very angry and betrayed, Beth tries to catch her husband in the act, and almost before she knows what’s happened, she’s throwing his lover into the river. Soon, events in Liza’s life take an eerie twist, as they begin to mirror events in the book she’s writing, and it becomes difficult to distinguish reality from fiction.

As far a psychological thrillers go, this one was just ok. The author does a great job capturing Liza’s emotional state, but it was difficult – for me anyway – to connect with her at all. There were twists in the story to be sure, but don’t expect any big gotcha moments. I just couldn’t help but feeling like I’ve read this story before.