Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Swan Song by Robert McCammon

When tensions between the world powers boil over, the world is made into a complete wasteland when nuclear devices are deployed.  Sister, a New York city bag lady, finds an amazing piece of glass in the rubble that has strange and wonderful powers. Joshua, a wrestler on the pro circuit who happened to be stopped at a mid western country gas station when the bombs fall, comes to the aid of Swan, a young girl with special powers. As the survivors struggle to make their way in this bleak new landscape, they find themselves caught in the final battle between good and evil.

As a long time fan of Mr. McCammon’s books, I was overjoyed to see Swan Song on the top 100 list for The Great American Read. But I had never read it – maybe the sheer size of the book? I decided to make it one of my summer reads, and boy, am I glad I did! Honestly, this book has everything you want in a good story – relatable characters, fast pace, adventure, a mission, redemption, love – and so much more! Don’t let the page count scare you away from this book. Trust me, you’ll enjoy each and every one. Sorry, Mr. McCammon, for waiting so long to read your book. And thank you for writing it.


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Stephen King’s It

MV5BY2I0ZGI0MzItN2RhZi00ZmQ3LWI5MmUtNWE2MTAxZmY5Njc1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_With the remake coming out soon, it was necessary to see the original 1990 miniseries based on King’s horror novel about a deranged clown. Compared to the CGI of today, the special effects of 1990’s are laughable, but the story has heart.

In sleepy Derry, Maine a rash of children have been murdered and the cops have no answers. Local librarian Mike, though, has a clue and can’t believe Pennywise, the clown, is back. He reunites his five childhood friends who have all left Derry for bigger and better things and who have not seen one another in over thirty years.

Avoiding school bullies and broken homes, the group bonded that one summer and took down a clown that was terrorizing their small town. It was a particularly upsetting for Bill, who’s brother Georgie was murdered. Now as adults, the group set out to destroy Pennywise once and for all.

The story takes place through present day and flashbacks from their childhood. Although horror at it’s core, It is also a story of the strong bonds we make with our childhood friends. It’s because of this aspect that viewers will be reminded of The Big Chill and Stand By Me and make this miniseries memorable. Rated TV-14

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Joyland by Stephen King

I loved, loved this book!  I need to read Stephen King more often. I am never disappointed in his books.  He just has a way with words and his stories are consistently gripping yet thoughtful, and Joyland is another example of King’s writing prowess. I think the cover art is ugly, quite frankly, but don’t let that discourage you from the treasure of a story that lies between the unattractive jacket art.

Joyland is part mystery, part ghost story, and part coming-of-age story.  It is the summer of 1973, and Devin Jones leaves the University of New Hampshire for his months off to work at Joyland, an amusement park in Heaven’s Bay, N.C., that claims to sell fun.  His girlfriend Wendy has taken a job at Filene’s Basement in Boston for the summer, so he might as well earn some cash where he can.

Dev rents a room at Ms. Shoplaw’s place where he meets fellow housemates and Joyland employees, Erin and Tom, who become lifelong friends, while he nurtures his broken heart. Ms. Shoplaw shares with Dev an chilling story of the pretty, young Linda Gray who rode the horror house ride and never came out. Her boyfriend slit her throat in the darkness, threw her body to the side, and left the park without ever being discovered.  There are rumors that Linda’s ghost even haunts the horror house ride.

They walk the beach every day to work, where Devin is assigned any number of jobs, from manning the rides to looking out for the “Hollywood Girls,” or the Joyland employees who strut around in green dresses and take pictures of customers for souvenirs.  But most of the time he finds himself “wearing the fur,” or dressing up as Howie the dog, the park’s mascot, to entertain the “conies.”  At Joyland he meets long time employee Lane hardy, who takes Dev under his wing and shows him the ropes.

On his walks to and from work, he passes a young boy in a wheelchair, who Dev befriends, near the boardwalk to their beach house. Mike, the sick boy, has a special gift and he even tells Dev that “she isn’t white,” even though neither Mike nor Dev know what this is supposed to mean.

Dev decides to take a year off college and stay through the off season where he investigates Linda Gray’s murder.  Even though he doesn’t pinpoint the killer right away, he has been too obvious in his research, which ultimately puts his own life at risk.

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Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

I don’t know what to say about Tempest Rising, the first book in the Jane True series. I didn’t LOVE it, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading.  The protagonist is likable enough, but there were a lot of different supernatural species to understand and keep track of that made for a more difficult read than I would have liked.  On the other hand, all the supernatural beings are what make this book unique and there was enough sexy love scenes for romance readers to enjoy.

Jane True works at a bookstore in a small town called Rockabill, Maine and is somewhat of an outcast.  Ever since her boyfriend died and her mother disappeared, the town’s rumor mill began their vicious lies about Jane, so she has never quite fit in.  The only reprieve she has is her secret swimming adventures in the aggressive sea, which Rockabill is known for.

On one of her late night swimming excursions, Jane comes across a body that she pulls onto shore.  Unfortunately, the body, which belongs to tourist, Peter Jakes, is already dead. Not wanting to give the town more reason to despise Jane, she leaves it for the police to discover, hoping the authorities don’t connect her to the body.

What she doesn’t expect is to be contacted by a different kind of authority.  On her walk home, Jane is approached by Nell (part Gnome), Trill (a kelpie; part pony), and Anyan (a hellhound) who fill her in on her history.  Jane is what is known to the supernatural world as a half-ling  as she is half human, half selkie, which means she is part seal and explains why the water is always calling her.  Trill informs her that she will receive a visit from Ryu, an investigator for supernatural beings, regarding Jakes death.

Ryu, a sexy vampire who feeds on the lust of humans, brings Jane in on his investigation.  The two work together to figure out who and why Jakes was killed, and why two of goblins investigating the murder were also killed.  Along the way, Jane learns a little more about her secret past and is introduced to a whole world of supernatural beings she never knew existed.

Like I said, this wasn’t my favorite book, but it kept me intrigued enough that I hope to pick up the second book in the series.

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Mile 81 by Stephen King

This new story by Stephen King has been published in eBook format only. Unfortunately, Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) does not license their content for library lending. The only way to get this title is by shelling out the $2.99 to buy it from your eBook retailer. Although I did enjoy this quick and intense read, it probably is not worth the money for a 43 page book!

In Mile 81, too young to do bike jumps with his older brother and friends, Pete Simmons decides to seek his own danger by checking out the abandoned rest stop on a Maine expressway where all the teens hang out. In the deserted and dilapidated Burger King, he finds an awesome treasure, a half full bottle of vodka, which he proceeds to take shots of until he passes out on a stained mattress.

Meanwhile, Doug Clayton pulls into the rest stop when he sees a station wagon covered in mud with its front door left open. He is concerned the driver is hurt and is hoping he can help. What he doesn’t know is that the car will take his life, and poor Mr Clayton won’t be the last person whose life will end at the hands of this car.

This was such a good set-up for a full length novel, and I was disappointed to see it end so quickly. However, be on the look out for his novel coming out this fall called 11/22/63, which is about a man who travels back in time to prevent JFK’s assassination. This should be something different from the prolific King.

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The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose

Malachai Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation is still on Special Agent Lucien Glass’s (of the Arts Crime Team) radar as Glass also pursues the powerful artifacts, “memory tools, ” that allow entree to past memories, in this third installation in the Reincarnationist series of murder, romance, supernatural, suspenseful mystery of ancient and current menaces.

This complex, page turning stunner takes you through the savage destruction of a stolen Matisse — and threats of more art to be destroyed. Art smuggling, terrorism, hypnosis and past lives, and a chase for the memory tools play significant roles and focus Glass’s dealings with a treacherous milieu of international intrigue.

In the midst of all of this, Lucien becomes drawn to Andre Jacob’s niece who shares an alarming resemblance to his first love, Solange, daughter of Andre and who could hold the significant key to his pursuit.

An intricate, exciting, haunting read that will have you on the edge of your seat. Plan an all-nighter for this one.

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Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Julia and Valentina Poole are 20 year old American sisters who have an intense attachment to one another. At loose ends, not interested in college or getting jobs, they are intrigued when they recieve a letter from a London solicitor informing them that their English aunt has died of cancer and left them her flat – with the stipulation that they live in it for a year before they sell it, and that their parents do not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins, and so were their mother, Edie and their Aunt Elspeth, whom they had never met.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat in London, which borders on the Highgate Cemetary, final resting place to George Eliot, Karl Marx, and Christina Rossetti. Also living in their apartment building are Robert, Elspeth’s lover, who is a scholar of the cemetary, Martin, a crossword puzzle setter, who is crippled by his obsessive compulsive disorder, Martin’s wife, Marijke, and their Aunt Elspeth’s ghost, who is finding it difficult to move on.

As the girls come to know their neighbors, they also become tangled up in their lives, and long held secrets come into the open.

Highgate Cemetary provides the perfect background for this unusual ghost story, and Elspeth Noblin makes an unforgettable ghost. Even if you don’t usually read “ghost stories”, give this one a try. Audrey Niffenegger is quite good at writing a multi-dimentional love story, and this haunting tale does not disappoint.