Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

Catherine West is forty-two and rich. From her father’s estate Catherine receives a huge monthly allowance, so money is never an issue. But she very much wants to be in love and get married. She meets William at an art show and can’t believe that he actually knows her family from when he was a kid. He had lived in Switzerland for years and is now back in New York. They start seeing each other and Catherine couldn’t be happier. He soon moves in with her and life is perfect. Except for Catherine’s family. Her dad died years ago, her mom has dementia and her sister is too needy.

When they become engaged, Catherine wants her mom to meet him. But every time Catherine mentions William, her mom doesn’t want to talk about him and when she does it is negative. Catherine tries to find out why her mom doesn’t like William, but she just won’t tell. And then Catherine finds out that the money from the estate has run out and she is about to lose it all. William assures her they will be fine but Catherine is still upset. And then she starts noticing things about William that are making her second guess this whole relationship. If only she can get her mom to tell her why she dislikes William. Is he her future or should she let him go?

This was just okay for me. I figured out the twist about halfway through so it was not a shocking ending for me. And I was not a big fan of the characters. I will try her next book, The Goddesses. Hope the characters are more likable and I don’t guess the ending.




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Final Girls by Riley Sager

Quincy Carpenter lives in NYC and works as a food blogger. She believes she has moved on from her past and is content in her relationship with live-in boyfriend, Jeff. You see, Quincy is what the media has dubbed a “final girl,” or a person who is the sole survivor of a mass killing. Pine Cottage was a rental Quincy and her college friends stayed at in Pennsylvania one weekend for a birthday celebration but it turned into a bloody massacre when everyone was slaughtered, except Quincy. Quincy had been saved that night by a cop named Coop, who was searching the woods for a missing person and shot the assailant. Coop has been looking out for Quincy ever since.

Quincy’s life is about to be turned upside down when she learns that Lisa Milner, another final girl who survived a killing at a sorority in Muncie, Indiana, has committed suicide. And then the only other living final girl, Samantha Boyd, who went off the grid after the Nightlight Inn murders, wants to talk with Quincy. Sam doesn’t believe that Quincy has really moved past what has happened to her and wants her to unleash her pent up anger.

The reader, nor Quincy, know much about Sam or her motive for contacting Quincy. And to be honest, the reader can’t really even trust Quincy, who claims to have no recollection of what happened at Pine Cottage. This of course is one of the hallmarks of psychological thrillers; that is, a narrator who you can’t quite trust.

It kept my interest throughout, although I am a bit jaded because I’ve read so many of these psychological thrillers. Authors now seem to be so intent on including a shocking twist that sometimes is stretches believably a bit, and I feel that has what has been done here. However, overall, readers who can handle creepy and dark plots will like this one.

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My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Katie Brenner works for a glamorous company in London. She is only slightly better than an intern but she doesn’t care. Her dream was always to get out of her little farming town and live in London. Her dream has come true. So what if she has to share a flat with two other people and her room is super tiny? Or that her commute is complicated and long. She is living her dream.

But before she knows it she is fired for something she didn’t do. She is forced to move back to Somerset and help her dad start his glamping business. He thinks she is just on a sabbatical to help him. When the glamping business become a big hit, Katie is surprised since none of her dad’s ideas every work out. While helping her dad, her ex-boss, Demeter,  shows up. Now she has to act happy in front of  Demeter and keep her dad from finding out her secret. As Katie continues her charade she realizes maybe Demeter doesn’t have the perfect life and that maybe Katie doesn’t have it so bad.

I love Sophie Kinsella books! This was a another great one with funny, cringe worthy moments and awkward but lovable characters. Can’t wait for her next one, Surprise Me, out in 2018.


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Sourdough by Robin Sloan

When Lois Clary moves across the country from Michigan to San Francisco, she knew it would be a change, but certain things she didn’t expect. Like paying exorbitant rent on a tiny apartment that she hardly ever uses. Or the soul crushing hours that she’ll put in on her new job. Or the loneliness that she feels, since it’s difficult to make friends when all you do is work. When a menu for a new restaurant is tucked into her door, things begin to change for Lois. She begins by ordering the spicy hot soup, and when it arrives a few minutes later, with a side of the best bread she’s ever had, something begins to shift for her. Soon, Lois becomes the restaurant’s “number one eater”, and is taken by surprise when the owners show up at her door with a ceramic crock of their sourdough starter. The two brothers are being deported, but before they go, they show her how to keep the starter alive, and how to bake bread. There’s something magical about this bread, and the starter itself is truly alive, as Lois soon finds out. There’s something so basic and life affirming about the simple act of baking bread that is so opposite of Lois’ work at General Dexterity where she teaches robotic arms to do simple tasks, and Lois soon finds herself baking for her neighbors and coworkers, and being introduced to one of the city’s underground markets.

By the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, this novel is a treat to read. Contrasting high tech and simplicity, the book takes you on kind of a pop culture magic carpet ride through the Silicon Valley, secret markets, and the underground food world, and you will not be disappointed. I can’t wait to see where Mr. Sloan takes us next!

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What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

Rachel Jenner is talking a walk in the woods with her son, Benedict, and their dog, Skittles, when Ben asks to walk ahead to ride the rope swing. Wanting to give him a little freedom and independence, she lets him go ahead. When she arrives at the rope swing, it is still in motion and Ben is nowhere to be seen. Unable to locate him after calling out and searching the area, she phones the police.

DI Clemo is assigned the case and requests Emma Chang to act as family liaison officer. Rachel is at her wits end and really only has her older sister Nicky for support.  Nicky is dealing with her own familial issues and has a secret she has kept from Rachel.

Despite massive search efforts and following up on leads, the more time passes, the less likely they are to find Ben alive. The media is attacking Rachel, suggesting she is at fault for letting her son run ahead. And social media has been crucifying her to the fullest extent as a terrible mother. But, it might take the only person who really knows her son, Rachel, to find him.

This is the second book I’ve read by Macmillan (see review for The Perfect Girland they are both strong contenders in the trending psychological thriller genre. The story unfolds between Rachel’s point of view and through DI Clemo’s, as he is seeing a therapist as a result of the Benedict Finch case. Although I am getting a bit burnt out of this genre, I would happily recommend Macmillan’s books to anyone who can handle a dark, twisty plot and child abduction.

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The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

Ronni Sunshine would never have won “Mother of the Year”. The narcissistic actress was far too busy with her career and various affairs to pay attention to her family. Her marriage crumbled and her 3 daughters were left to largely fend for themselves.  Now grown, Meredith, Lizzy, and Nell are estranged from their mother and all dealing with adult crises of their own.  When Ronni is diagnosed with a fatal disease, she reaches out to her daughters and tries to set things right with them, as the girls try to set things right with themselves.

This was not my favorite Jane Green book, but I enjoyed the story, even if some of the characters were immensely unlike-able.

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

I just read The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (author of Room). It takes place in Ireland (about 100 years ago). In a small town lives a young girl who hasn’t eaten in 40 days. She claims to be living on manna from Heaven. A committee has been formed to prove/disprove her claim. A nurse and a nun have been assigned to keep constant vigil over the girl to see if someone is sneaking her food. The nurse realizes 5 days into the watch that if people were sneaking her food before, they can’t possibly do so now. So the nurse realizes that she is watching this little girl actually starve.

Religious conviction plays heavily into the storyline. Very interesting read.