Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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My Life as a Zucchini

Following the death of his mother, nine-year-old Zucchini is befriended by a kind police officer. After being taken to a foster home, Zucchini meets other orphans his age, and although he has a hard time fitting in at first, soon the kids have formed a tight-knit little family of their own.

Based on the novel “Autobiographie d’une Courgette” by Gilles Paris, and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, it’s easy to see why this film has become such a favorite. The art and animation are beautifully rendered, and the story, while sad, is also filled with hope, courage and humor. The American version of this film features the voice talents of Nick Offerman, Amy Sedaris, Will Forte, and Ellen Page. Rated PG-13.


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The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. On the day that his fiancée was killed, Anthony lost a treasured object that she had given him. Still in mourning 40 years later, he has made it his mission to reunite people with their lost objects. As an author, many of these objects have also found their way into his stories. As Anthony nears the end of his life, he fears that his work will be left undone, so he entrusts everything to his assistant Laura. Laura, still recovering from her divorce, feels a little lost herself, and Anthony’s bequest is overwhelming.  But she soon settles into Anthony’s home and the project at hand. She makes new friends, and with their help, begins the task of reuniting objects with their owners. Along the way, she also discovers the story behind Anthony and Therese, and the mystery of what was lost.

While this story isn’t quite a cozy mystery, it has a lot of the same elements that make it not only an easy read, but also very enjoyable. The characters are relatable and quirky, and while there are some serious bits, they are more than balanced out with a dash of humor. Perfect reading for a rainy day with a cup of tea.


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Celine by Peter Heller

Celine, a successful artist living in Brooklyn Heights, also has a side job. She works as a private investigator who specializes in reuniting families. When she is approached by Gabriela, whose father went missing 20 years ago, Celine is immediately intrigued by the case. Gabriela’s father was a famous photographer for National Geographic whose career took him to places all over the world. When he went missing, he was working on the border of Wyoming and Montana, and was assumed to have been the victim of a bear attack. Celine and her partner Pete head off to Yellowstone National Park, following a very cold trail. It soon becomes apparent that they’re being followed, and as they get closer to finding answers, more questions arise, along with the level of danger they’re facing.

Celine is one of the best P.I. characters to come along for awhile. She’s smart and elegant, and something of a mystery herself. At 68, she takes no nonsense from anyone, and she’s definitely a bit dangerous if you underestimate her. Peter Heller just keeps getting better. I don’t know if he intends to write more about Celine, but I sure hope he does! If you’re looking for something a bit different for your book club, give this one a try.


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All We Had

Thirteen year old Ruthie (Stefania Owen) and her mom Rita (Katie Holmes) are struggling to keep up their hand to mouth existence, despite the fact that Rita is working more than on job. On the brink of eviction from their apartment, they hit the road, living out of their car.  Their car breaks down, and out of money, they find themselves stranded in a small town. Luckily, they’re able to get jobs at a local diner, and soon, things start looking up for them.  They’ve got an apartment, Ruthie is settling in at school, and she’s even got a best friend – Peter Pam (Eve Lindley), a transgender teen who also works at the diner. And when Rita starts dating Vic (Mark Consuelos), a persuasive mortgage broker, the two buy their first house.  Things are going really well,  but when the recession hits, and business starts to slow down at the diner, they may find themselves right back where they started.

Based on the novel by Annie Weatherwax, and directed by Katie Holmes, this movie is a poignant portrayal of one family’s struggle to stay afloat when everything seems to be going against them. Not rated. Also featuring: Richard Kind, Judy Greer, and Luke Wilson.


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Logan

The year is 2029. The X-Men have disbanded, and the mutant population has decreased. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is driving a limo for a living, and has secreted the ailing Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a location near the Mexican border, where he takes care of him. With his regeneration powers fading, Logan has turned to alcohol to cope. Reluctantly, he agrees to drive a young girl with special powers to the Canadian border. Laura has incredible fighting powers, and is on the run from a dangerous corporation who want access to her DNA to create deadly soldiers.

Dark, and atmospheric, this movie finds Logan in a very dark place, as he struggles with his failing health and his own demons. Based in part on the X-Men story lines “Old Man Logan”, “Mutant Massacre”, “X-23”, the film doesn’t follow any of the other X-Men timeline, but is meant as more of a stand alone story. Even if you haven’t followed the X-Men franchise, I think you’ll find “Logan” easy to follow and entertaining. Rated R. Also featuring: Stephen Merchant, Eriq La Salle, and Dafne Keen.


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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.