Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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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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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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Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell. Illustrated by Rafael Lopez.

Mira is a little girl who loves to doodle, draw, and paint, and she fills her room with the colorful pictures that she has created. Mira also likes to give her pictures away and brightening someone else’s day. One day, she tapes a picture of the sun onto the wall of a building to make it a bit brighter. The next day, Mira meets a man with a pocket full of paintbrushes, looking at her picture and the wall. Mira asks him what he sees, and he replies “Maybe…something beautiful.” With that, the artist begins painting on the wall, inviting Mira to join in. Soon, the whole neighborhood has joined in, and there’s music and dancing and laughter as they paint walls, benches, and utility boxes, and decorate the sidewalks with poetry. “Together, they created something more beautiful than they had ever imagined”.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of how Rafael Lopez and his wife Candace brought people together in their urban neighborhood to create art and to make their neighborhood a more beautiful place to live. With the help of volunteers from all walks of life, the Urban Art Trail was created, and their East Village neighborhood in San Diego was revived through art. Communities all over the U.S. (including Chicago) have commissioned murals by Lopez, and many have implemented the model of community-based art. For more info on the Urban Art Trail, visit

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow Moon is not in a good place. He’s just been released from prison, where he’s been serving a 3 year sentence for assault, and he’s also just found out that his wife has been killed in an accident. Seated on the plane next to him is a man who calls himself Wednesday, and who seems to know an awful lot about Shadow. Wednesday offers Shadow a job, and with nothing left of his former life to keep him, Shadow accepts. Wednesday isn’t very forthcoming about what the job entails, just that Shadow will be his assistant/bodyguard/driver.

At first, it seems that Wednesday is just a first rate con man, but as Shadow comes to find out, he is actually the Norse god Odin. Furthermore, he’s on a mission to gather the rest of the old gods who’ve settled all across the country, and get them to join him in waging war against the new gods who seem to be taking over. Soon, Shadow finds himself caught up in an epic battle.

This book’s been around for awhile, but if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, there’s still time before it comes to the small screen in April. And I promise you, it’s a rollicking great read.

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Jerusalem by Alan Moore

What to say about Alan Moore’s Jerusalem? How do you even begin to describe a book that is just so gosh darn big, not just in size, but in sheer magnitude of thought? Clocking in at over 1200 pages, Jerusalem takes place in Moore’s hometown of Northhampton, and in the section of town known as the Boroughs. At the center of the story is Michael Warren, who’s just been in an industrial accident and had a very surreal experience while he was unconscious. Did he die and come back to life? If so, why?

As he talks things through later with his sister Alma, he begins to remember another experience that he had as a young child, and together they piece together a kind of living history, not only of their family, but of the Boroughs itself. Alma, an artist, then portrays the story through her art in an epic art show.

In between, the reader is taken on a journey of a thousand years of history, both past, present and future, with a cast of characters that includes politicians, artists, clergymen, prostitutes, ghosts, fiends, demons, angels, and literary characters. Using many different writing styles and told from many different points of view, Moore’s tale is much more than a detailed fictionalized historical account. It’s a dark, twisted love story for Northhampton, its people, and their ways of living. Do you need to read this book? Yes. Yes you do.

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A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

Ben just can’t seem to get it together. Drifting aimlessly throughout his days, he can’t seem to finish anything – projects around the house, a job search. He’s lost his confidence, and seems to be losing his marriage as well. And then Tang shows up.

Tang is a rather beaten up old robot who appears in Ben’s garden. After a couple of days, it’s apparent that Tang isn’t going away, so Ben tries to find out where he belongs, and how he can be repaired. Of course, Tang’s not offering up any information, and it looks like something really important has cracked inside of him, so it becomes Ben’s mission to track down Tang’s maker and get a replacement part before it’s too late.

This mission will take Ben and Tang from one side of the world to the other, both of them learning new things about the world, themselves, and each other.

This is a quirky, fun little book that will leave you wishing that you had a Tang in your life too. Recommended for readers who enjoyed The Rosie Project and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

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Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

On the invitation of an acquaintance, Scott Burroughs boards a small private plane headed to New York from Martha’s Vineyard. Also on board: a television news network magnate, a Wall Street VIP, their wives, 2 children, and the crew. Midway through the flight, the unthinkable happens – the plane crashes into the ocean, and Scott and one four year-old boy survive.

In the aftermath, Burroughs is bemused to be lauded as a hero, and tries to keep a low profile. But, as speculation into the crash grows, along with the media tumult, he begins to question his choice.

The story unfolds in a non-linear style – going back and forth between characters and time, with a plot that’s straight out of today’s headlines. The suspense continues to build, and you’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat until the very end. Loved this book, and I can’t wait to see what Mr. Hawley has in store for us next.