Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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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 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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Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

During high school, tomboy Stevie Case and Ethan Rafters shared nothing more than secret glances across the room until the night before Ethan left for good. He invited Stevie to his last party, and they gave into their sexual chemistry once and for all. Stevie was a brilliant student with plans to become an engineer, whereas Ethan, unable to focus, rarely attended classes.

Fast forward seven years and now Stevie and her son Zach are on holiday from Melbourne in Byron Bay. Living nearby is Ethan, who finds Stevie’s name when looking for a painter to spruce up his house before he rents it, and thinks it might be fun to catch up. As a struggling single mother, Stevie needs to find work on their vacation and is in shock to discover her client is Ethan, a successful CEO of his own company, who she heard had died shortly after she gave birth.

Now she needs to come clean and tell him he is a father as a result of their one night stand. And even if there is a chance for him to find love with Stevie again, will he also love their son?

Ash (You For Christmas) gives good insight into dealing with ADHD in adulthood through her character Ethan in this contemporary novella. Readers will be reminiscing about young love and the challenges of love as we grow older, while rooting for Ethan, Stevie, and Zach to become a family in the end.

Originally published in Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | September 23, 2016 


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Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

For fashion mavens, every new season brings must-haves.  A must-have handbag (Birkin),  must-have shoes (Louboutin), and the eponymous little black dress.  Must-haves are always in great demand and invariably in short supply, so when only one shop in midtown Manhattan has THE little black dress (Max Hammer), store assistants scramble to fulfill their clients’ needs by allowing the dress to be worn for one-night-only appearances by nine of their best (or most deserving) shoppers (friends).

There’s Natalie, who wants to show her ex-boyfriend what he is missing, and Felicia, who wants her widower boss to see her as more than an assistant.  There’s Andrea, the private investigator trying to catch another cheating husband in the act, and the model, straight from Georgia to the runway whose career is made by wearing this lovely creation.

A charming tale full of longing, romance, and fashion, this book is for anyone looking for a light summer read.  Perfect for the beach, or for your jitney to the Hamptons, this light romp will get you 272 pages closer to earning a prize in our Summer Reading Contest.  For fans of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

***Publisher Release Date: July 12, 2016***


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The Assistants by Camille Perri

Drowning in student loan debt, and trying to survive in NYC on an assistant’s salary, hard-working thirty year-old Tina Fontana dreams of living a life free from financial worry. That’s all it is, a dream, a fantasy, like winning the lottery.

Then an accidental double reimbursement for her employer’s expenses mean Tina has access to funds to pay off her student loans. Ethically, Tina knows it’s dead wrong, but the longer she goes without returning the extra payment, the easier it is to rationalize the theft.  The money taken is a rounding error, so small in the scheme of things, it will never be missed.  So she pays off her loans, thinking no one will be the wiser.

Oops!  Seems that someone in Accounting has noticed, someone who also needs her student loan debt erased, someone who directs Tina to continue her double requests to get access to more money.  Will she bend to the extortion and embezzle more money from her trusting boss, or will she stop rationalizing and start making amends?

Readers who liked The Devil Wears Prada will enjoy taking this one to the beach or on vacation this summer.


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Born in a Burial Gown by Mike Craven

In this debut novel, DI Avison Fluke returns from sick leave to lead the case of the intriguing murder of an unidentified woman.  In addition to being strangely mutilated, the victim has undergone extensive plastic surgery to alter her appearance.  This wouldn’t be so odd, except that the modifications made the woman LESS attractive.  And much tougher to identify.

Trying to juggle this new case and fight old enemies within the department, Fluke is physically falling apart.  Turns out he might have stretched the truth about his health a wee bit to get back on the force.  OK.  A lot.  Spending hours at the hospital undergoing treatment is hardly the way to fly under the radar when others on the police force are gunning for you.  It’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down, but Fluke will pay any price to solve this case.

This fast-paced British crime novel (with the flawed detective) will appeal to fans of Robert Galbraith’s (aka J.K. Rowling)  “Cuckoo’s Calling” series.


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Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

After depleting her fortune by unwittingly investing in a Ponzi scheme, reclusive author Mimi Banning must publish a new novel or lose everything, including her gated mansion in Hollywood. To help her complete her book, the publisher sends fan and assistant Alice Whitley to troubleshoot the eccentric’s life, including playing nanny for Mimi’s delightfully quirky nine-year-old son, Frank.

There are few rules in the free-wheeling Banning household, but one must be followed.  Never touch Frank without his permission, which Alice learns the hard way.

Mimi has a way of soothing her super-intelligent child, but when she disappears without a trace, Alice is forced to care for Frank, who dresses like a 30’s movie star and acts much older than his elementary school years.  How will Alice and Frank find Mimi?  Will Frank survive until they do?

The characters in this book will keep your interest, especially the engaging, delightful, frustrating Frank.  He will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.