Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Sometimes you are enjoying the characters and story in a book so much you don’t want it to end. This was the case with Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng for me. I also listened to the audiobook version which was excellent.

The story is set in 1996/97 Cleveland and tells the story of two families. Mia, a single mom and her 15-year-old daughter Pearl,  and the wealthy Sanderson family, Lenore and Peter and their four children. Their lives intertwine in an interesting way, with some surprises along the way.

Mia is an artist who just moved to the area and rented a house from Lenore Sanderson. Mia’s daughter, Pearl, meets the Sanderson children at school. Trip, the popular athlete, Lexi, part of the “in” crowd, Moody, the shy, studious one that she becomes good friends with, and Izzy, the black sheep of the family.

The book begins with a fire and then flashes back to what happened before and how certain actions led up to the fire. The friendships and relationships throughout the book and the actions chosen by some of the characters make for a gripping story. I can see why it has gathered a lot of buzz this year. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Liane Moriarty or Kristin Hannah.


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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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The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth seems to be a high school in Mill Valley, CA, a town outside of  San Francisco. After reading this book I wouldn’t argue! Teenagers are so mean. You couldn’t pay me to go back to being a teen in today’s world.

The book starts with the characters in 8th grade and moves to their junior and senior years. Each chapter is told from a different point of view. Some of the chapters didn’t follow the story in the previous chapter. I found myself wanting more information about a character or story, but didn’t get it because the next chapter jumped to a new character and different story.

The characters were not very likable, but the story was interesting. A tragedy occurs in 8th grade that effects the teens in different ways throughout the book. Abby and Cally stop being friends and go down different paths in high school. Ryan and Nick move through their high school years without thought to the consequences of their actions, as well as what the future holds. Molly, the new, young teacher, wants to “reach” her students, but she makes some bad choices along the way.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend reading it.  The book would make a great pick for a book club!

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Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens does great “woman in peril” stories, and this book is no different. Lauren and her daughter Sophie tell this story in alternate chapters. Lauren’s POV also covers the history of what happened to bring them to the present day.

Lauren was married at 19 to a seemingly great guy, Andrew. It didn’t take long for him to prove that wrong, becoming abusive, possessive and an alcoholic. Lauren takes 6-year-old Sophie and runs away one night. Something happens when Andrew goes out to look for them, and he is out of the picture.

Years later Lauren thinks he is stalking her when she finds things moved around in her house. Meanwhile, daughter Sophie is secretly meeting with her dad. He was a good father to her before they left and mom had shielded her from the worst of his behavior. Sophie also meets a boy and is a typical teenager, making stupid choices, lying to her mother and being moody. Lauren has made a new life for herself, running her own cleaning business and dating a nice guy.

Andrew swears to Sophie that he isn’t stalking her mom. But if not him, then who?

I found the danger in this book was not as ramped up as in previous Stevens books. What I really enjoyed were the characters, especially the relationship between Lauren and her teen daughter Sophie. It seemed like a very realistic portrayal of the mother/daughter dynamic. I enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

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Setting Free the Kites by Alex George

Setting Free the Kites is set in Maine in the late 70’s. It is the story of childhood friends Nathan and Robert as they navigate life. The story follows their friendship through tragedy, school, first jobs and first loves.

This book was beautifully written. I felt like I was right there with the boys as they grew up in a more innocent time. They deal with major issues in each family, i.e., Robert’s brother has muscular dystrophy that affects the whole family.

Although there were many sad parts in this book, I still enjoyed the story. The characters are very engaging and the writing is addictive. I will be checking out the author’s other book, A Good American.

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Missing You by Harlan Coben

Missing You by Harlen Coben is a stand-alone novel.  It features Detective Kat Donovan looking for the person who murdered her father 18 years ago. She doesn’t believe the man in prison for his murder is guilty.
Her best friend sets her up with an online dating profile where she is shocked to see her ex-fiancé’s picture on the site. She has never gotten over their break-up from 18 years ago and reaches out to him online. He acts like he has doesn’t remember her, which seems very odd to her.
She also gets involved in a missing persons case when a young boy, Brandon, comes to her and convinces her his mother is missing. This case ends up connecting with the ex-fiancé’s profile online in a shocking way. She works to find the missing woman, uncovering a horrible crime ring, all the while looking for her father’s killer.

Throw in emotions from connecting with the ex-fiancé, and edge of your seat suspense and danger and you have one heck of a read! I highly recommend this stand-alone by Coben, and if you haven’t read any of his Myron Bolitar series, I recommend picking up one of those as well!

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The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

A killer octopus, really? Yep, Gretchen is such a hard act to follow from the previous books that in Chelsea Cain’s new novel, The Night Season, she need’s a new baddie that is out of the box!

Archie Sheridan seems to have gotten his life on track, finally. He is off of the pain killers, not thinking about serial killer Gretchen Lowell , exchanging banter with journalist Susan Ward and back to work during a huge rainstorm in Seattle that is causing major floods. Several bodies are found in the water that seems to be from drowning, but after finding the same small marks on each victim are determined to be murder. Thus begins the race to find the killer before someone else is killed. Add in a kidnapped child, a killer octopus and a back story from 40 some years before and you have an excellent thriller.

I didn’t miss Gretchen as much as I thought I would. I couldn’t put this book down. Chelsea Cain is excellent at building up suspense and fear for her characters. I also love how well she evoked the rain and flooding. I was surprised to find out it wasn’t raining outside my window while reading this!! I was glad to see Archie get his act together in this installment. I did think the killer’s motive was lame, but I enjoyed the book anyway.