May 2022

It’s May! Enjoy the warm weather with one of our Staff Picks!

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Mary – Circulation

Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, and Taika Waititi, DVD Free Guy

Guy is just a regular guy who works at the bank that is robbed daily, and is perfectly content with his life. The only thing missing? True love of course! Once he meets the woman of his dreams, and gets some new glasses, he begins to see the whole world in a different way. But things are not at all what they seem, and Guy has a lot to learn about the world around him – and the woman he thinks he loves! With Ryan Reynolds as the leading man, and Taika Waititi as the evil multimillionaire, this movie is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

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Hubbell – Circulation

Downton Abbey, starring Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens, and Hugh Bonneville, TV Series DVD Downton

It took this librarian about 10 years to finally watch this gem. It has literally everything – intrigue, the collapse of centuries old aristocrats, cars, lords, and class traitors. American TV dramas live on the slow burn with a big payoff. For Downton Abbey and the like, there is no wait. Each episode and season rifles through plot points and leaves equal parts devastated and pleased. And you’ll love when the Americans make an appearance. It truly feels like you yourself have entered into their fantasy land. WARNING: Do not get attached to any of the characters because they will die.

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Chris – Technical Services

Murder in Canaryville: The True Story Behind a Cold Case and a Chicago Cover-Up, by Jeff Coen, New Nonfiction 364.1523 COE

Goes in depth about the murder of John Hughes and how many people in Chicago covered it up. If you didn’t think Chicago was crooked, you will now!

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Paula – Circulation

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, by Rick Riordan, Juvenile Fiction J Riordan

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson has a hard time being a normal kid. He has ADHD and dyslexia, and always seems to find himself in trouble or getting kicked out of school. One fateful day during a school field trip reveals the reasons for all of Percy’s troubles: Percy is a demigod, half human and half god. Percy is then whisked away into a world where Greek mythology isn’t a myth; it’s reality. Gods and goddesses still rule the world, and, as Percy finds out, have children with mortal humans. These demigods then attend a camp, called Camp Half-Blood, where they train and learn how to be heroes in order to protect the world. As Percy attends camp and goes on dangerous quests, he makes many meaningful friendships and learns what it means to be a true hero. I absolutely loved this series. Though it is geared towards younger readers, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I just read it for the first time as an adult and I couldn’t put it down. The sense of humor is one of my favorite parts of the series. The witty banter between Percy and his friends is absolutely hilarious. And who doesn’t love Greek mythology? I had a general knowledge of the gods and goddesses before reading this series, but afterwards I had learned so many new and interesting facts about the ancient myths and legends. There were two movies made for the first two books, but don’t watch those. They were awful. Here’s to hoping that Disney+ will do the books justice when their TV series is available to stream!

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Laura – Circulation

Don’t be trashy: A Practical Guide to Living with Less Waste and More Joy, by Tara McKenna, New Nonfiction 640.286 MCK

In honor of Earth Day, here is another sustainable book pick. This quirky little book meets you wherever you are in your journey to live with less waste. This book has some great take-aways without being over the top. Cheers to the Earth!

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Send Down the Rain, by Charles Martin, Fiction Martin

I love the way Charles Martin write. Interweaving stories of the past and the present, ultimately this story is of love, loss, loyalty, and second chances.

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Margaux – Youth Services

The Love Hypothesis, by Ali Hazelwood, Fiction Hazelwood

A fun romance novel with a STEM twist. The protagonists in this book find themselves in one of my favorite romance tropes: the fake relationship!

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Homicide and Halo-Halo, by Mia P. Manansala, New Fiction Manansala

A cozy mystery for the foodie set, the whole gang from Arsenic and Adobo is back for more sleuthing. When Lila Macapagal’s fellow beauty pageant judge is found dead, there are more motives and suspects to wade through than she can muck through alone. Luckily, she’s got some good friends and good food to help get her through.

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April 2022

It’s April! Spring into the new season with one of our Staff Picks!

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Chris – Technical Services

Drawn by the Current, by Jocelyn Green, New Fiction Green

An author I just discovered and can’t wait to read more of. This is Part 3 of the Windy City Saga. Set in Chicago, June 1915, our main character Olive Pierce is about to embark on a ill-fated journey and discovers her strength and strong will to survive.

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I Am Invincible, by Norma Kamali, Nonfiction 746.92 KAM

This fashion designer guides us through her process of living boldly, and living with purpose and power. A great read!

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Mary – Circulation

The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry, Juvenile Fiction J Lowry

The Willoughbys’ are very old-fashioned children. They love stories about orphans flying away on giant peaches, orphans going off to live with mysterious relatives, and orphans in general. The Willoughbys’ only have one problem – they are not orphans. Thankfully, their parents are quite horrible, often forgetting that their children even exist, quite unintelligent, and quite unkind. Therefore, it is very easy for the Willoughby children to convince their parents to go on a dangerous cruise, while they live happily as orphans. But their parents have an evil plan of their own, and an annoying habit of staying alive. This quirky not-quite-classic story will have you laughing till your sides hurt!

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Laura – Circulation

Can You Keep a Secret?, by Sophie Kinsella, Fiction Kinsella

We all have secrets, right? From our parents, our friends, our co-workers, our bosses. Little secrets that really aren’t that big of a deal. But what happens when you spill them all to a stranger on a plane? Emma Corrigan, who is terrified of flying, does just that. Nervous, she spills her guts to the handsome man in the seat next to her. No big deal right? She will never see him again…..until she does. He just happens to be the CEO of her company. This quick, easy read will give you the giggles and lift your spirits. If you wind up enjoying the book, check out the movie on HBO.

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After Anna, by Lisa Scottoline, Fiction Scottoline

This fast-paced thriller is hard to put down. Full of twists and turns, you just have to keep reading. Maggie Ippolitti is given a second chance to be the mother she’s always wanted to be to a daughter she thought was lost forever. But when 17-year-old Anna arrives on her doorstep, everything changes. I’m not going to tell you more than that, because any details will spoil the book!

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Paula – Circulation

Give Me the Future, by Bastille, New CD 781.66 Bastille

Bastille has done it again with their absolutely astounding fourth album Give Me the Future. This album continues their themes of doom and gloom with upbeat songs about existential dread and how much the world sucks. Each song spins a narrative of plugging yourself into technology to escape the cruel reality of the real world. As usual, there are also a few songs that are more uplifting and express that things are going to be ok, such as the song “Shut Off the Lights” which I swear to you is one of the best songs ever written in the history of song writing and I’ve already listened to it like five million times because I can’t get enough of it. This album is any sci-fi fan’s dream. Being sci-fi fans and movie enthusiasts themselves, Bastille includes many references to sci-fi movies and books in their songs. The sci-fi element combined with super catchy beats that create absolute bops definitely make Give Me the Future a 10/10.

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Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village, by Maureen Johnson, New Nonfiction 818.602 JOH

Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village is a hilarious book that embodies the spirit of classic British murder lore. Any mystery fan knows that most British mysteries have similar themes. Oh, you’re new in town? Welcome to our quiet, cozy little village that seems innocent but is actually rampant with covered up crimes and murders. The town mill? Definitely a place for crime. The village church? What do you think that bell tower is actually for? The giant manor? You guessed it, many people were murdered there. The author walks you through every possible scenario where you could get murdered and gives you tips on how to stay alive. I could not stop laughing while reading this. Maureen Johnson’s excellent sense of humor combined with Jay Cooper’s morbid illustrations make this book a must-read. And remember, always avoid the vicar.

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Margaux – Youth Services

The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers, by Arthur Parkinson, Nonfiction 635.986 PAR

If you’re looking for romantic flower inspo, look no further. This feast for the eyes features bulbs, annuals, and perennials in deep romantic reds, purples, and creams. The author is charming in his anecdotes about gardening, and gives ample information on the genus/species of each bloom. And for those of us who want flowers year-round, he even tells you the best time and method of cutting each flower, as well as how to make your arrangements last.

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One Italian Summer, by Rebecca Serle, New Fiction Serle

I am biased towards this book because I honeymooned in Positano. Even without that I would love the story. Katy decides to go on a long-anticipated trip to Positano, even if her mother just passed away instead of coming with her. A strange magic surrounds the town, and she just might find more than herself on this trip. I loved the lush descriptions of Italian life.

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Jean – Reference

Dementia Reimagined: Building a Life of Joy and Dignity from Beginning to End, by Tia Powell, Nonfiction 616.831 POW

Highly recommended for any person with a family member dealing with dementia. Dr. Powell, a bioethicist, provides a great historical background on how Alzheimer’s Disease came to be a diagnosis, and how we have treated the elderly and mentally ill in our society and the huge burgeoning cost to society to care for our aging society members. 

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Hubbell – Circulation

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink, by Juliana Barbassa, Nonfiction 981.53 BAR

Juliana Barbassa is a Rio native and journalist whose book Dancing with the Devil in the City of God chronicles Rio’s preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. That preparation showed the world Rio’s beauty but also unveiled its highly stratified society. Barbassa’s perspective as a native carioca is enlightening as someone with a deep understanding of the city’s history and culture. She tells us of Rio’s façade of beauty and prestige which is underpinned by systemic racism and corruption. All of this was made more visible to the world during the lead up to the World Cup and Olympics. Despite protests and unrest, the city found a way to pull it off.

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Michelle – Administration

The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, by Ron Howard and Clint Howard, Biography 920 HOW

I listened to the audiobook of this entertaining story, read by authors Ron and Clint Howard. They share stories of growing up in a showbiz family and behind-the-scenes stories of their hit shows The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days, and Gentle Ben, as well as the many other TV projects and movies they were a part of in their childhoods. In looking back at their family life, this book really becomes a biography of their parents as well as themselves. This biography ends well before Ron Howard becomes one of the most successful directors of his generation, but there are a few more recent stories sprinkled in. The audiobook is read by Ron and Clint and is a great way to experience this book. You feel like you are listening in on them just sitting around telling stories and reminiscing.

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Cathy – Circulation

Thyme of Death: A Mystery Introducing China Bayles, by Susan Wittig Albert, Fiction Albert

An easy cozy mystery set in the hill country of Texas. A plentiful series at this point that is not necessary to read in order. This author also has another series called The Darling Dahlias which is enjoyable as well.  Some recipes are included in the books too. With spring coming and warm weather inviting you to the patio, these are great series to read on a warm sunny day!

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Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, and James Bradshaw, TV Series DVD Endeavour Series 1

Great British mystery with quirky named characters set in Oxford. It is the continuation of the Constable Morse stories. Enjoy!

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The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck, Fiction Buck

Wonderful classic read- if you have read it before…. READ it again! You’ll find something new in it!

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March 2022

It’s March, and you’re in luck! We have more picks for you at the library!

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Michelle – Administration

Mare of Easttown, starring Kate Winslet, Guy Pierce, and Evan Peters, New TV Series DVD Mare of Easttown

This limited series stars Kate Winslet as a small-town detective investigating a murder while also trying to keep her personal life from spiraling out of control. This seven episode series has so many twists and turns along the way and almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger. You’ll be tempted to watch the whole series in one sitting. The show won a number of Emmy awards including Outstanding Actress (Winslet), Outstanding Supporting Actress (Julianne Nicholson), and Outstanding Supporting Actor (Evan Peters).

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Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds, by Huma Abedin, New Nonfiction 921 Abedin

Huma Abedin writes about her very interesting and unique life. Abedin is the child of Indian and Pakistani parents, spent most of her childhood living in Saudi Arabia, returned to the US for college, and has spent her entire adult life working for Hillary Clinton. She was also the wife of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner. However, if you are looking for a juicy tell-all, this is not the book for you. Abedin does provide a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of the highest levels of American political office. She began working as an intern for Hillary Clinton when she was the First Lady and continued to be a part of her team through her terms in the Senate and State Department as well as two presidential campaigns. The book, while detailed, is well-written, engaging, and easy-to-follow.

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Margaux – Youth Services

Living with Viola, by Rosena Fung, New Juvenile Graphic Novel J Fung (Graphic)

This was a beautiful depiction of mental illness (namely, anxiety) in adolescents. As someone who experienced this herself, it was really refreshing to see, and I’m not even the target audience. I can’t imagine how affirming it would be as a teen to see that you’re not alone in your intrusive negative thoughts. This is a great graphic novel for middle graders and teens, yes, but I also think adults could use this as an intro to how the kids and teens around them might feel. You might even learn something!

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Honor, by Thrity Umrigar, New Fiction Umrigar

I originally picked this book up because it’s a Reese’s Book Club Pick, and I thought to myself, “Hey, you’re a Librarian. People will be talking about this book so you should read it.” Honestly? After the first 50 pages, I could not put this book down. I felt like a teenager, staying up until midnight and just reading it in one go. This book is told in multiple perspectives: Meena, a Hindu woman living in rural India who is the victim of a horrible crime, and Smita, the Indian expat journalist who is assigned to Meena’s story. Both women are struggling with societal expectations put on women, and both of these women are dealing with men who want to defend their honor in some way. Whether fear of change or fear of differing opinions, both Smita and Meena are survivors of honor crimes in some way. This book has major triggers of violence against women and children, both physical and sexual. If you can make it through those parts, though, it’s such a good read!

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Laura – Circulation

In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle, Fiction Serle

Dannie has every bit of her life planned out…right down until what her five-year-plan looks like. But, when she has a dream/premonition that takes her five years into the future, it is nothing like what she has planned. She spends the next five years trying to stop that vision from happening. The description on the book jacket doesn’t even begin to describe what this book is about. When it comes down to it, it is about relationships and the unconditional love of best friends, and how they shape our lives. Not my usual genre, but a quick, thought provoking read.

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In the Heart of the Sea, starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, and Cillian Murphy, DVD In the Heart

Based on the events that would inspire Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, this is the account of the Essex whaling ship and the revenge of the mammoth sized whale that brought it down. The crew is stranded in life rafts and face the unthinkable in order to survive. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland.

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Mary – Circulation

Community, starring Joel McHale, Donald Glover, and Danny Pudi, TV Series DVD Community

Jeff Winger’s life as a successful and charming lawyer takes an unexpected turn when his degree is revoked. Why, you may ask? Because he never got a law degree in the first place. To his dismay, he is forced to attend community college at Greendale and quickly becomes ensnared within a study group for his Spanish class. But Jeff Winger has a lot to learn from his fellow study group members, downsizing his large ego for one, and becomes surprisingly close to this group of misfits. This laugh-out-loud comedy series will cure any wintry blues, and is sure to end with you asking for season two!

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Katie – Circulation

The Library of the Dead, by T. L. Huchu, Fiction Huchu

Ropa dropped out of school and makes her living talking to ghosts, taking messages from them to their still living loved ones. As long as they can pay. She’s resourceful, cynical, and determined to take care of her grandmother and little sister. Set in Edinburgh, following some unknown Apocalyptic event that is never really explained (maybe in a sequel?), she just wants to earn her dosh and pay her bills, no sentiment, no freebies. That’s life… and death. When a distraught mother ghost begs her to help locate her missing son, she discovers he is not the only young person to go missing. Her investigation leads her into a dark and dangerous plot, and she must use all her cunning and skill to get to the bottom of it and protect those she loves. The ending was satisfying while still leaving one to hope there will be more adventures of Ropa to come!

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Skin of the Sea, by Natasha Bowen, New Young Adult Fiction YA Bowen

A beautiful reimagining of The Little Mermaid, in Nigerian mythological style, Skin of the Sea is an enthralling and beautiful tale. Set in the early days of the slave trade, Simi has very little memory of who she was before the Goddess of the Sea made her into a Mami Wata (a mermaid), tasked with collecting the souls of those who die at sea and guiding them back to their ancestral afterlife. But one day she accidentally rescues a young man who is still alive! To her dismay, this sets off a chain of events, consequences, and dangers. This affects not only herself, the Goddess who made her, and the young man she rescued, but perhaps the whole of her world, human and supernatural alike! Filled with rich imagery, and a pantheon of traditional African gods, goddesses, spirits and the like, you’ll find it hard to put it down! Can’t wait for the next book!

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Paula – Circulation

Ace of Spades, by Faridah Abike-Iyimide, Young Adult Fiction YA Abike-Iyimide

Devon and Chiamaka are two students at an elite, high-class high school with big dreams for their futures. They have absolutely nothing in common, except that they are the only two Black students in the school. Devon spends his days flying under the radar, while Chiamaka is the Queen Bee of the school. Everything is going perfectly at the start of their senior year, until they become the targets of a series texts sent to the whole school by the mysterious Aces. The texts reveal Devon and Chiamaka’s darkest secrets, putting their futures and lives in jeopardy. Why are they the only ones being targeted? Is it because they are the only Black students in the school? I couldn’t put this book down. It starts out as an innocent mystery, but quickly turns into something much darker. Part One of Us is Lying, part Get Out, Ace of Spades dives into the darkness of racism and how deeply it still is rooted in society.

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Hubbell – Circulation

Putin’s Revenge, Nonfiction DVD 947.086 Putin’s

PBS’ Frontline provides second-to-none reporting, and its examination of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s motives in his meddling in the 2016 American election are no exception. Part biography and part political examination, journalist Michael Kirk explains Putin’s origins and worldview and why he began to feel slighted by American politic forces very early in his career. This is a timely, substantive, and wide-ranging examination of a man known by few and feared by many.

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Oliver Stone’s The Putin Interviews, Nonfiction DVD 947.0862 Putin

Oliver Stone’s are the definitive Vladimir Putin interviews. Stone gained completely unprecedented access and time with the Russian leader and Stone holds nothing back. Peeling back the strongman veneer, the viewer almost comes to know Mr. Putin through the interviews, or at least can peer through the veil to see the leader’s personality. The interviews are extraordinarily revealing, demonstrating Putin’s worldview and experience, as well as his plans for the future of his country.

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February 2022

It’s February! Fall in love with one of our Staff Picks!

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Paula – Circulation

Sarah’s Scribbles Collections, by Sarah Andersen, Graphic Novel Andersen

These compilations of Sarah Andersen’s comics are absolutely hilarious. Her “scribbles” of navigating life as an adult are extremely relatable, especially for a millennial. Being one herself, Sarah captures the struggles of being in your 20s and 30s with expert millennial humor. After reading just a few pages, you will definitely find yourself “LOL-ing.”

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Mary – Circulation

The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow, Fiction Harrow

In 1893, the United States women’s movement is fractured, feeble, and facetious, especially in the eyes of the New Salem community. Enter the Eastwood sisters: James Juniper (ferocious, passionate, the youngest), Agnes Amaranth (cautious, loyal, the middle sister), and Beatrice Belladonna (intelligent, secretive, the eldest). These three sisters, long since separated from each other by a mysterious series of events, reunite in the city of New Salem to transform the women’s movement into the witches’ movement. Haunted by shadows that don’t stay put and men who seek to stifle them, the Eastwood sisters struggle to find the words that will set them free, and to mend the broken trust between them. This simple story of three sisters weaves American culture, ancient mythology, and historical realism to formulate a truly remarkable story.

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Cathy – Circulation

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, by Marie Benedict, Fiction Benedict

Agatha Christie is popular again and this fictional book guesses as to where she is for 11 days. Her husband is unfaithful so the readers’ curiosity is peaked! The book moves from their courtship and early marriage to the investigation into her disappearance. A great read!

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Jean – Reference

Rizzio, by Denise Mina, New Fiction Mina

A short historical fiction novella which perfectly captures the atmosphere of one single violent incident during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. Although this slim book can be devoured in hours, the imagery will stay with you for days afterwards.

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The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly, New Fiction Connelly

Long-time favorite Michael Connelly comes out with another excellent detective thriller featuring Harry Bosch and his latest protagonist, Renee Ballard, set in contemporary Los Angelos.  While keeping the reader guessing about the who-dunnit, Connelly also touches upon themes including policing during the pandemic and the declining morale within the police force due to the “Defund the Police” efforts. Another masterpiece by a master storyteller.

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Small World, by Jonathan Evison, New Fiction Evison

A captivating, multi-century epic story tying together the lives of several families set in the 19th and 20th centuries, set along the west coast between San Francisco and Seattle.

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Margaux – Youth Services

Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food, by Julia Turshen, New Nonfiction 641.5 TUR

As a big home chef, I really appreciate comfort food that doesn’t take hours and hours to make. Julia’s anecdotes throughout the cookbook make this a good read as well as a good cookbook.

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The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott, Fiction Prescott

This book is told from multiple perspectives, in multiple timelines. Each story revolves around the publication of the controversial Doctor Zhivago. Two secretaries-turned-spies tell of trying to smuggle the novel out of the USSR, while Pasternak’s mistress Olga tells us of her time with the author. Espionage, censorship, world travel, and, above all, literature abound in this beautiful novel. Full-cast audiobook available on Libby.

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Chris – Technical Services

My Life is Murder, starring Lucy Lawless, Ebony Vagulans, and Rawiri Jobe, TV Series DVD My Life

It stars Lucy Lawless (of Xena fame). She is an ex-cop pulled into murder cases. It is set in Melbourne, Australia (love the accents). A really great watch!

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Laura – Circulation

The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner, New Fiction Meissner

Once again, reading from my favorite genre…historical fiction! This story revolves around the infamous earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. While much of the details surrounding the earthquake are historically accurate, the rest of the novel is fiction. We follow Sophie Whalen, a young Irish woman who answers a mail-order bride ad and marries a man she has never met. She falls in love with Martin’s daughter immediately, but his odd behavior leaves Sophie with many unanswered questions. Until, on the night of the earthquake, a pregnant stranger shows up on her door. Sophie starts getting the answers that explain why things don’t seem to add up, and together these women discover that they are connected, not only to each other, but to yet another woman who is in Arizona. This story had me gripped from the very beginning…I listened to the audiobook (available on Libby and Axis 360) in just a few short days. Five stars for me!

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Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris, Fiction Paris

The summary on the book jacket does not do this story justice. This intense psychological thriller had me gripped from the very beginning.  Grace and Jack seem to have the perfect marriage and the perfect life.  But they are so inseparable it leads you to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors. I wasn’t prepared for what lies within these pages….

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Distant Shores, by Kristen Hannah, Fiction Hannah

Elizabeth and Jackson Shore seem to have the perfect life. But after their teenage girls leave home, they begin to drift a part. Then tragedy turns Elizabeth’s world upside down. In the aftermath, she questions everything about her life—her choices, her marriage, even her long-forgotten dreams. In a daring move that shocks her husband, friends, and daughters, she lets go of the woman she has become—and reaches out for the woman she wants to be. This is a story that I think every woman who now has an empty nest can relate to on one level or another. 

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January 2022

It’s January! Spend the new year with one of our Staff Picks!

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Laura – Circulation

The Wife Upstairs, by Rachel Hawkins, Fiction Hawkins

Jane is young and broke, and decides to walk dogs in a gated community while she figures out her next move. She has a hobby of stealing from her clients, but that changes when she meets Edie. Edie’s wife and her best friend drown in a boating accident, their bodies never recovered. Jane thinks that Edie could be the answer to all her troubles. But, can she win Edie and fit into this uber rich life she’s always wanted? Will her past catch up to her? Will his? Secrets seem to be everywhere in this book. This psychological thriller kept me guessing until the end.

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The Giver of Stars, by JoJo Moyes, Fiction Moyes

If you can’t tell by now, Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres. This book follows Alice Wright, who leaves her life in England and marries a handsome American and relocates to a small Kentucky town. Quickly realizing this isn’t the change she hoped for, she seeks purpose by becoming part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library. Along with four other women, they are the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. They face many obstacles carrying out the mission of the library, whether it be the tough terrain itself, opposition from the townspeople, or struggles within their families or relationships.

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Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton, New Fiction Cleeton

This was a book that my book club chose earlier this year, and it led to a great discussion of Cuba, its history, and immigration in general. Marisol is a Cuban-American woman, who has been tasked with the job of spreading her beloved grandmother’s ashes in Cuba. While in Cuba, she discovers much more than anticipated, including realizing that modern day Cuba isn’t the same as her grandmother’s remarkable stories, old family secrets she never expected to uncover, and a romance she never dreamed of.

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Mary – Circulation

Night at the Museum, starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, and Owen Wilson, DVD Night

Need a quality comedy for this dreary start to the new year? If so, Night at the Museum is just the movie for you! When Larry, a divorced father looking for work, stumbles across a position as a night guard at the Museum of Natural History, his job turns out to be a lot tougher than he first thought. Why you ask? Because each night, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in the museum comes to life. As Larry struggles to adapt to his new job and make his son proud, a much more sinister plan begins to form behind the scenes. With a stellar cast including Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Rami Malek, and Robin Williams, this laugh-out-loud adventure will surely cure you of January blues.

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Andrea – Technical Services

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, Fiction Haig

In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed finds herself faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, and realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist. She must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

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Paula – Circulation

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, by Sarah J. Maas, Fiction YA Maas

I know I say this about most of the fantasy series’ that I read, but I kid you not when I say this is one of the TOP BEST fantasy series’ I have ever read. It’s sultry, it’s sexy, it’s adventurous and leaves you wanting more. Step into the world of the High Fae and the Seven Courts of Prythian. These beautiful people rule over the Faerie Courts that are separated by a wall from the Human Realm. Feyre, a human, finds herself thrown into the world of the Fae, a world that she has only heard horrible things about. But after spending time there, Feyre learns not everything she has learned about this place is true. So far, there are four novels and one novella in the series. The first book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but the rest of the series develops into its own story. I beg you, do not stop at the first book. It’s good, but the rest of the books are significantly better. The characters are just amazing. Their personalities and development are so well-written, and you will fall in love with just about every character. Please, do yourself a favor and read these books!

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung, New DVD Shang-Chi

Marvel steps away from its usual formula and enters a more fantasy-related world with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. After escaping from his dark family history and starting a new life in the US, Shaun, aka Shang-Chi, works as a valet with his best friend Katy, played by the hilarious Awkwafina. On their way to work one morning, Shaun’s past catches up to him when he is attacked by men from the Ten Rings, an organization of warriors run by his father. Shaun is then forced to go back to China to help his sister and prevent his father from unleashing an evil force that has been locked away in the mythical village of Ta Lo. I really enjoyed how different this movie is compared to the other MCU movies Marvel has done. The fantasy aspect of it doesn’t take away from the story at all. The action and fight sequences are fast-paced and quite beautiful, with some of the fights taking on an almost dance-like appearance. And of course, Awkwafina’s humor is as charming as ever. I’m really looking forward to Shang-Chi’s future role in the MCU.

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Chris – Technical Services

Frequently Asked Questions about the Universe, by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson, New Nonfiction 523.1 CHA

Physics professor Daniel Whiteson and scientist/cartoonist Jorge Cham explain science in humorous and uncomplicated ways.

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Michelle – Administration

Stand for Myself, by Yola, New CD 781.63 Yola

This is the second Grammy-nominated album by British singer-songwriter Yola. Her style of music is labeled as “Americana,” but she has a unique sound that is really all her own. You can see bits and pieces of a number of genres represented in this uplifting and fun-to-listen-to album. She has a beautiful voice that creates a big sound and conveys so many emotions. Like her first album, this was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and released on his record label.

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December 2021

It’s December! Enjoy the holidays with one of our Staff Picks!

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Paula – Circulation

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, and Christine Baranski, J DVD Grinch

Jim Carrey is at his absolute best in this hilarious holiday classic. And when I say hilarious, I mean laugh-out-loud hilarious. You know the story. The Grinch, who lives in isolation on top of a mountain, absolutely hates Christmas, and will stop at nothing to keep Christmas from coming to the Whos of Whoville. What this movie adds to the original tale is a backstory for the Grinch, so we learn how he has come to hate this holiday with a burning passion. The film is enjoyable for the whole family, but the subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle, adult humor is what makes this movie a holiday must-see.

A Christmas Story, Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, and Darren McGavin, J DVD Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is a classic holiday movie that the whole family will enjoy. No Christmas is complete without watching nine year old Ralphie struggle to convince his parents, teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect gift to receive. Narrated by Ralphie as an adult, the movie hilariously reflects on childhood memories that anyone with a crazy family can relate to. From leg lamps, to flat tires, to pink bunny suits, A Christmas Story will leave you laughing as Ralphie and his family celebrate the holiday season in their own unique way.

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Laura – Circulation

Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham, Fiction Grisham

This is a fun, easy read for the holiday season.  The Kranks decide that they are going to skip Christmas – no parties, no presents, no decorations, no celebrating.  Instead, they are going on a Caribbean Cruise leaving on Christmas Day.  But, skipping Christmas has all sorts of consequences they never dreamed of, and in the end they discover maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all.  If you read the book and enjoy it, check out the movie based on the book, Christmas with the Kranks, starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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Elf, starring Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, and James Caan, J DVD Elf

Starring Will Ferrell, Ed Ashnew, Bob Newhart and more, this movie is all about believing in the Christmas spirit.  When Buddy the Elf learns that he isn’t really an elf, he sets off for New York City to find his biological father.  Hilarity ensues during his journey, where in the end he must help save Christmas.  I can’t help but laugh out loud every single time I watch this movie!

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Michelle – Administration

Christmas at Holiday House, by RaeAnne Thayne, available as an ebook on OverDrive

As the holiday season approaches, I can’t wait to dive right into my selection of Christmas books. The first one I read this year is Christmas at Holiday House. It is an easy and enjoyable read. Like most Christmas books, the story is super predictable but entertaining. It follows the story of a young widow and her son who travel to help her friend’s great-aunt recover from an injury. Of course, sparks fly when she meets her friend’s brother. The characters are (mostly) likeable and the story holds your interest, as long as you aren’t in the market for something too deep.

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The Santa Suit, by Mary Kay Andrews, New Fiction Andrews

This is a nice story about a woman starting over in a new town, who finds an old Santa suit with a letter hidden in the pocket and slowly uncovers a mystery about the new people in her life. The book is engaging, though I did find it odd that the author never really describes the characters. You can read the whole book and still not have any idea how old the main character is or what she looks like. Other than that, it is a quick, uplifting read that is great for this season!

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Cathy – Circulation

Joyeux Noel, starring Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, and Giullaume Canet, Foreign Film DVD Joyeux

Set in WWI on Christmas Eve, the enemies call their own truce of sorts. While the movie has subtitles it is not hard to follow and is a wonderful story… If one realizes how much we all have in common – the world might be an easier place to live in!

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Margaux – Youth Services

The Virgin River Series, by Robyn Carr, Fiction Carr, also available as ebooks on OverDrive

I first read this series in grad school, and I haven’t looked back since. If your only experience with the Romance genre involves judgy reviews of 50 Shades (as mine did at the time), allow me to introduce you to the opposite end of the spectrum: the cozy romance. Robyn Carr’s Virgin River community is idyllic, with its own cast of characters that she fleshes out over the course of 19 books. There are three Christmas books in there, if you really do want to get into the holiday spirit. All these titles invite you to brew a cup of tea, wrap up in your family’s warmest blanket, and turn your phone to “Do Not Disturb” while you immerse yourself in this warm community. I’ll be right back: I’m off to re-read this entire series!

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, starring Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, and William Moseley, J DVD Chronicles; and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, DVD Harry…Sorcerer’s

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Alright. I’m back. Just in time to remind you of two throwbacks from my adolescence that always get me into the holiday spirit. If Narnia is my outdoor Christmas fantasy land, then HP’s Christmas where Harry and Ron open their gifts at an abandoned Hogwarts is my idyllic holiday décor dream come true. Watch these two sometime in between your Hallmark Christmas Movies, and you’re bound to be ready for your own holiday traditions by the time the end of the year rolls around.

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Mary – Circulation

The Polar Express, starring Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, and Tom Hanks, J DVD Polar

I believe I am in the minority when I declare that The Polar Express is one of the most wonderful Christmas movies to ever exist. Granted, I was eight when I first saw it, but the story of three kids who travel to the North Pole on a thrilling magical train ride to meet Santa Claus has not lost its magical quality. The film addresses the concepts of faith and doubt with each of the children, teaching them not only how to believe in the unseen, but also in themselves. Its memorable lines, powerful moments, and unforgettable characters make The Polar Express one of the best Christmas movies of all time.

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Chris – Technical Services

It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore, DVD It’s a Wonderful Life

The movie It’s a Wonderful Life is the traditional movie we re-visit each December.  A timeless story of making choices and how those choices have an effect on the world around us. We have picked up so many details (trivia) over the years, that we quiz each other, like “what is the address of the house they move into.”

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Murdoch Mysteries The Christmas Cases, starring Yannick Bisson, Helene Joy, and Thomas Craig, TV Series DVD Murdoch Mysteries Christmas

If you are of fan of the many seasons of the Canadian series Murdoch Mysteries, set in turn of the century Toronto, you will enjoy the three feature length Christmas mysteries taken from the past seasons.

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November 2021

It’s November! Give some thanks and enjoy our Staff Picks!

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Paula – Circulation

The Inheritance Games, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Lincoln Award YA Barnes

If you like murder mysteries like Clue and Knives Out, then you will love The Inheritance Games. Avery Grambs is just an ordinary teenager with a less than ordinary life. Invisible to most people, and just trying to get by in life. Her world is completely turned upside-down one day when she is summoned to the Hawthorne estate in Texas, where she finds out she has been included in the will of multi-billionaire Tobias Hawthorne. To Avery’s surprise, and the entire Hawthorne family, Tobias has left her everything. EVERYTHING. The estate, the money, the whole sha-bang. The only thing is, Avery has never met or even heard of Tobias Hawthorne in her entire life. Why did he leave everything to her? Who is she to him? What game did the dying Tobias Hawthorne leave for his family to play? Not only must Avery figure out all the answers, but she must survive living with the Hawthornes, who are all out to get her to claim the inheritance for their own. I absolutely could not put this book down. I read it in just a few days. It’s a fast-paced read with multiple plot twists that keep you guessing. Just when you think you have something figured out, the plot throws you another curveball. I have not read a mystery this exciting since One of Us is Lying.

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Michelle – Administration

How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry, Fiction Henry

This is a very enjoyable read about a small town bookshop in England. It follows the stories of a wide cast of characters, who are all looking for something. The number of characters can be overwhelming at the beginning, but the author does a good job of slowly introducing each character and providing just enough information that you become invested in their story. This is the perfect chilly weather read. Grab the book, sit in front of the fire with a hot chocolate, and immerse yourself in the story of this bookshop.

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Laura – Circulation

The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine, Fiction Constantine

This is the first book I have read by this author. The book centers around two women from very different circles.  Amber Patterson is a plain jane who feels like she deserves a much bigger life.  Daphne is an extremely wealthy socialite and philanthropist. To Amber, Daphne’s life is that straight out of a fairy tale. Amber hatches a plan to take over Daphne’s life and get everything she deserves. This thriller will keep you guessing until the very end. I really enjoyed the way the book was laid out: Part 1 narrated from Amber’s perspective, and Part 2 written from Amber’s perspective.  I finished the book in 4 short days!

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Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty, Fiction Moriarty

I finally gave this book a chance because I really wanted to watch the series on Hulu.  Once again, the book proves to be much better than the TV series for me.  Traquillum House is a luxury wellness resort that attracts a wide variety of guests for a wide variety of reasons.  Each of the nine guests have chosen a 10 day cleanse for different reasons, and each guest’s plan is catered for them specifically.  The owner of Tranquillum House is very charismatic and captivating….but has very unusual methods for her treatment plans.  Should the guests put aside their doubts and immerse in everything Tranquillum House has to offer—or run?

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Margaux – Youth Services

Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty, Fiction Moriarty (another perspective!!)

If you’ve got a streaming service, you’ve heard of Liane Moriarty and her hit TV shows based off of this book and Big Little Lies. Well I loved the latter so much that I had to read NPF. Told from-you guessed it- nine perspectives, this drama unfolds over the course of a 10-day wellness retreat. When the director herself is unwell, though, how effective can her treatments truly be? 

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Time is a Flower, by Julie Morstad, New Picture Book JE Morstad

What is time? How do you measure it? (Cue Rent theme here.) It’s a question that every child asks at one point. This big picture book tries to illustrate how difficult this question is to answer. The simple illustrations show how various everyday objects change over time.

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Jean – Reference

We Are Not Like Them, by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza, New Fiction Pride

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were little kids.  Growing up with a largely absent, single mother, Jen practically grew up in Riley’s house and never gave much thought to the fact that she is white and Riley is black.   Now as adults, Riley is a rising local news anchor and Jen is finally pregnant after a long struggle with infertility.  Their friendship is put to the test when Jen’s husband, a white male police officer, shoots an unarmed African-American teenager, and issues of racial injustice impacts each of them in very different ways.

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Mary – Circulation

And I Darken, by Kiersten White, Young Adult Fiction YA White

Lada Dragwlya is a menace. She bites her tutors, kicks her nursemaid, and threatens her father with a knife. Her younger brother Radu, on the other hand, is gentle, kind, and dependent. When the two siblings are forced from their homeland to be raised within the Ottoman Empire, they meet the lonely son of the sultan: Mehmed. Although Lada’s ruthlessness and ferocity toward the Ottoman Empire only increase and Radu feels as though he has found a true home, both siblings find a true friend in Mehmed. Together, the three children form a toxic triangle forcing each of them into different roles and paths. Based on real historical events, this YA novel has fantastic character development, and while the author takes significant liberties with the historical content, the changes only make the novel more enjoyable.

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Hubbell – Circulation

Broadchurch, starring David Tennant, Olivia Coleman, and Jodie Whittaker, TV Series DVD Broadchurch Season 1

British ITV’s Broadchurch is a slow burn mystery which on its own, may seem par for the course for English television. What sets Broadchurch apart is its superb acting from the Scotsman David Tennant and Briton Olivia Coleman, and its excellent cinematography in front of south England’s Jurassic Coast. The coast and crags themselves are central to the first season’s plot wherein young Danny (a friend of Coleman’s character’s son’s) is found dead on the beach one morning. The series twists and turns some but pays off tremendously with a shocking reveal that hits close to home for both of the detectives.

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Cathy – Circulation

Best in Show, starring Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Christopher Guest, DVD Best

Hilarious mockumentary of dog shows and the intensity the contestants have for their show-dogs! Any Christopher Guest movie is a winner, but this is the “Best!” In Show!

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Andrea – Tech Services

The Electric Hotel, by Dominic Smith, Fiction Smith

The Electric Hotel winds through the nascent days of cinema in Paris and Fort Lee, New Jersey—America’s first movie town—and on the battlefields of Belgium during World War I. A sweeping work of historical fiction, it shimmers between past and present as it tells the story of the rise and fall of a prodigious film studio and one man’s doomed obsession with all that passes in front of the viewfinder.



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October 2021

It’s October! Check out our Special Edition Spooky Staff Picks for some good tricks and treats!

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Paula – Circulation

The Nightmare Before Christmas, starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, and Catherine O’Hara, J DVD Nightmare

I will fight anyone who says that this movie is not Tim Burton’s finest creation ever. The songs. The scenery. The combination of Halloween and Christmas. The Nightmare Before Christmas literally has it all. The story of Jack Skellington is a humble one. The Pumpkin King of Halloween is tired of his crown, and wants to know what else is out there. After stumbling upon a portal that takes him to Christmas Town, Jack is overwhelmed by the joy and cheer he witnesses, and wants to make it his. He desperately tries to make Christmas come to Halloween Town, but some holidays are better left to themselves. I watch this movie every year, and each time I love it more and more. The amazing soundtrack will have you singing “THIS IS HALLOWEEN THIS IS HALLOWEEN” at the top of your lungs every spooky season.

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The Companion, by Katie Alender, Lincoln Award Winner YA Alender

Turn up the creep factor, this is a good one. After her family is killed in a horrific car accident, Margot is left as an orphan and sent to a group home for girls. Within a few months though, Margot is taken in by the Suttons, a super rich family who own a grand estate in the country. She soon learns that she is to be a companion to the Suttons’ daughter Agatha, who does nothing but blankly stare out at her surroundings and doesn’t say a word. Laura Sutton says her daughter is very sick, and some company might make her feel better. At first, things seem to be going well. Margot gets along nicely with Laura, and spending time with the silent Agatha isn’t so bad. But long days in the giant house start to make Margot question how good things actually are. Laura’s attitude starts changing, and Margot experiences unexplainable blackouts in addition to waking up to mysterious writing on her bedroom wall. When she starts digging for answers, things quickly go from bad to worse. I really enjoyed reading The Companion. It is the perfect blend of horror and suspense. Margot is like any other horror movie main character, making decisions that will make you yell out “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT???” The book has just the right amount of creepiness and mystery to keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat.

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Margaux – Youth Services

The Companion, by Katie Alender, Lincoln Award Winner YA Alender (Another perspective for this book!!!)

If you’re looking for an immersive read, this is it. While the main character and I share a first name (although she spells her name “Margot,”) I was still able to get into the story, which is a first for me. After her entire family is horrifically killed in an accident in which she escapes, Margot finds herself living on a remote estate with a strange family. Atmosphere abounds in this eerie old house. The whole story has a very gothic vibe, so if you’re a fan of Crimson Peak, or anything Mary Shelly, this is a good modern book for you.

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The Bone Houses, by Emily Lloyd-Jones, Young Adult Fiction YA Lloyd Jones

What if Zombies were sentient, and what if you had no guns to fight them off because it’s the middle ages? I can imagine Emily Lloyd-Jones being asked that question and deciding “I can write a book about that.” Enter Ryn, a teenage grave-digger about to lose her family’s cemetery after the death of her parents and uncle. She sets off with Ellis, a mysterious map-maker, on an adventure to try and stop the dead from rising from their graves and attacking the locals (eek!). There’s a lot of world-building here, and this book really reads more as a fantasy than horror because of the quest the two protagonists are on. It’s oddly refreshing to read a YA novel that doesn’t go on and on for five books. Might I just add: you can listen to this puppy on the Libby app like I did by going to the library’s website and looking under Electronic Resources > eMedia Library.

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Crimson Peak, starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain, DVD Crimson Peak

While this isn’t as genre-defining as some of Del Toro’s other work (Pan’s Labyrinth), this is the Gothic horror film. Bar none one of my favorite films ever. I watch this movie not only every Spooky Season, but probably every other season as well. You’ve got a murdered father, you’ve got a naïve young thing, you’ve got a dark romance, and you’ve got a blonde hunk of a hero who comes to [try to] save the day. All set against the backdrop of an English mansion charmingly named “Crimson Peak” for the blood-like clay on which the estate is built.

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Mary – Circulation 

ParaNorman, starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ana Kendrick, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, J DVD ParaNorman

Do ghosts give you goosebumps? Do zombies make your skin crawl? Do vampires make you want to wear scarves all the time just to be safe? Me too! So watch this not-so-scary Halloween movie about a boy, Norman, who lives in the sleepy town of Blithe Hollow, a town whose history comes back to haunt Norman and his friends. When an evil witch rises from the grave to take her revenge, and sets loose some of her undead minions, it seems that only Norman can save the day! But he soon learns that everything is not as it seems. Unexpectedly humorous and surprisingly touching, ParaNorman is the perfect movie for people who aren’t huge fans of horror.  

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Laura – Circulation

11.22.63, starring James Franco, Sarah Gadon, and Chris Cooper, TV Series DVD 11.22.63

This eight part miniseries is based on Stephen King’s 2011 novel of the same name. In this science fiction thriller, we follow Jake Epping as he goes back in time and tries to prevent the assassination of JFK. While he is living in 60s gathering information on the people and circumstances around the assassination, he needs to balance his “mission” as well as the life he is getting attached to. Through the course of the three years that Jake is back in time, he faces many difficult decisions, which will have profound effects on the future.  I really enjoyed this miniseries.  I loved the authenticity of the set (especially the clothes and the cars!) in the sixties.

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The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides, Fiction Michaelides

This psychological thriller had me engrossed from the beginning, and I read it in three short days! Alicia Berenson is in a criminal mental facility – she murdered her husband and hasn’t spoken a word since. Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who transferred to the failing mental institution just to work with Alicia.  The dance between these two will keep you guessing right up until the end.

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Hubbell – Circulation

A Quiet Place, starring John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, and Millicent Simmonds, DVD Quiet Place

This ain’t The Office! John Krasinski directs and stars in this thriller alongside actress wife Emily Blunt. The two try and navigate a post-apocalyptic world where lethal alien monsters are attracted by even the slightest noise with their oversensitive hearing ability. The couple travel with their children, including Regan, who is played by real-life deaf actress, Millicent Simmons. The group use sign language extensively so as not to attract attention and certain death. What’s so unique to the movie is its obvious lack of spoken dialog. Krasinski does well in creating tense and sometimes frightening scenes with very minimal spoken script.

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Chris – Technical Services

Where the Tour Buses Don’t Go: Chicago’s Hidden Sites of the Mysterious, Macabre, Ghostly and Glamorous, by Gerry Lekas, New Nonfiction 977.311 LEK

If you want to read about and visit the creepy and/or historic places in and around Chicago, this book will tell you where to go. A really interesting read and perfect for the spooky season!

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The Haunting, starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lili Taylor, and Owen Wilson, DVD Haunting

Based on Shirley Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House. A doctor investigating fear calls upon three subjects to Hill House. His plans to scare them turn real as the mansion is actually haunted by an evil spirit. A favorite of mine for every Halloween!

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Cathy – Circulation

Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder: And Other True Cases, by Ann Rule, Nonfiction 364.152 RUL

Ann Rule is a true-crime nonfiction author.  Very scary stuff especially since its true! Smoke, Mirrors, and Murder is a compilation of true crime stories. Some of the crimes occurred a while ago but the story is never old….love, lust and deception that ends in murder! Check out her other books, they’re all fantastic!

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My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf, YA Graphic Novel YA 364.152 DER (Graphic Book)

An extremely creepy story of a very creepy guy. The artwork is really great too. Perfect for the spooky season!

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Katie – Circulation

Coco, starring Anthony Gonzalez, Benjamin Bratt, and Gael Garcia Bernal, J DVD Coco

When my kids wanted to watch this movie with them, I figured it would be a typical kid flick. I was not prepared for the depth of emotions and rich enjoyment I would experience! This movie will leave you laughing and crying in the best ways, and has a soundtrack you will want to listen to again and again.

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Lady in the Water, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Paul Giamatti, and Jeffrey Wright, DVD Lady

While I like almost any Shyamalan movie, this one is my all time favorite. The intricate way he weaves suspense and humor, mystery, and the richness of the mundane ordinary life always leaves you guessing and the ending is not what you think. Flawless performance by Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard. Shyamalan always has a cameo in his movies but has a full character roll in this, which just adds to the overall excellence.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, Fiction Gaiman

While all Gaiman books have an otherworldly spooky element, this is the book that was actually scary for me! In the best way. Spooky and perfect for Halloween.

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Brigitte – Youth Services

Let the Right One In, starring Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar, Foreign Film DVD Let

Based on the Swedish novel of the same name, Let The Right One In is a vampire horror flick that is perfect for October. A love story, a murder mystery, a revenge plot. When Oskar’s parents divorce, neither of them want him, leaving him impossibly lonely. He meets a new neighbor, a girl named Eli, while a string of murders takes place in a nearby town. You can guess the rest…or can you? This film stars children but is NOT for children. Perfect if you want some gorgeous cinematography set against a horror backdrop.

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September 2021

It’s September! Get ready for Fall with one of our Staff Picks!

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Paula – Circulation

Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline, Young Adult Fiction YA Cline

Ernest Cline once again takes us through a wild ride of 80’s nostalgia with his sequel to the well-loved Ready Player One. In Ready Player Two, Wade Watts is back at it with a new virtual quest, this time to save all of humanity. After winning the contest from Oasis creator James Halliday, Wade comes across new AI technology that completely immerses you into the virtual world of the Oasis by plugging directly into your brain. Completely harmless, right? Wrong! As with any new AI, it turns out to be evil and has its own plan to take over the world by keeping everyone plugged into the Oasis and essentially turning them into vegetables. Wade rounds up his old team from the first novel and plays his way through every challenge to save the world before it’s too late. As a lover of everything 80’s related, I really enjoyed this book. Every movie, tv show, video game, and music reference was like music to my ears. From the adventure through the John Hughes dedicated planet called Planet Shermer, to the boss battle against multiple versions of Prince, Ready Player Two has everything an 80’s fan could ever want.

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Laura – Circulation

The Lions of Fifth Avenue, by Fiona Davis, New Fiction Davis

I love historical fiction, and books about books and libraries, so this one checked a few of my boxes! Intriguing from the beginning as we learn about both Laura and Sadie, and suspenseful throughout as we are left wondering who is committing the thefts (both in present day and back in the early 1900s).

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Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris, Fiction Morris

If you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, then this sequel is a must read. While this book is based on actual events, it is a work of fiction. However, it still serves as a reminder for us to never forget the things that happened during the Holocaust. In this book we follow Cilka in her journey from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Vorkuta Serbia, where she is serving a 15 year sentence to hard labor for being considered a collaborator. Cilka overcomes impossibly hard situations again and again, and her resilience is what I loved most about this book.

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Mary – Circulation

Dry, by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman, Lincoln Award Winner YA Shusterman

The average human being can live for up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water. Alyssa and her family know that there is a drought all throughout the Western United States, but it’s not until the taps run dry that she and her family begin to realize the severity of the situation. Alyssa’s doomsday-prep-neighbors, Kelton McCracken and his parents, however, are more than prepared for a crisis such as this. When Alyssa’s parents disappear while looking for water, she and her brother turn to Kelton for help. But all three teens soon realize that regardless of how prepared one might be for a crisis, people will do whatever it takes to survive. Neal and Jarrod Shusterman’s novel reveals to us the terrifying probability of what life in Western America might become if climate change continues to persist without any effort to resist it by average citizens.

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Andrea – Technical Services

The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller, New Fiction Cowley Heller

One morning, Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, wakes up at her family’s summer place called “The Paper Palace,” a place she would visit every summer. This time things are different though. Last night, Elle and her oldest friend Jonas snuck away from their families to spend the night together for the first time. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle has decide between her life with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

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Margaux – Youth Services

Good Girl, Bad Blood, by Holly Jackson, New Young Adult Fiction YA Jackson

Am I the only one who hadn’t read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder yet? Yes? The third and final installment of Holly Jackson’s series came out last month, and to honor that I wanted to bring your attention to book two. We find ourselves thrown in right where AGGGTM left off, with Pippa Fitz-Amobi having turned her crime-solving escapades into a smash hit podcast. But when the brother of a good friend goes missing, she might just get sucked back into the world she swore to leave behind. Can’t a girl just go to class and be done with it?

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Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manansala, New Fiction Manansala

I haven’t read a good “whodunit” mystery in a while, and this one really hit the spot. Main character Lila Macapagal has just moved back home after a failed stint in the city of Chicago. She now works at her Tita Rosie’s kitchen (again) and wouldn’t you know it, her past comes back to haunt her. When her high school boyfriend dies under mysterious circumstances at her family restaurant, everybody is a suspect, and family favors must be called in. You know me, I used the Libby app to download the audio version of this foodie mystery. I loved hearing the accent of the narrator and I do think it helped to get the correct pronunciations and the descriptions of chef Lila’s cooking.  

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Melissa – Technical Services

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, Fiction Tartt

Richard Papen, a disgruntled California teenager, makes his way to an East Coast college hoping for a change from his dull surroundings. While on campus, he encounters an elite group of five students who study exclusively under very private and famous tutelage. As he grows closer to the group, he learns of ancient Greek rituals and secrets that bind them together. The seven main characters are each fascinating and well drawn out. Though it’s a long book, it never drags, and in fact I wished there was more.

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Michelle – Administration

Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, and Kelly Reilly, TV Series Yellowstone

Since its debut, friends and family have been encouraging me to watch Yellowstone knowing that I would enjoy it. Somehow, it has taken me 3 years to get started, but they were right. This show is highly addictive viewing and a great show to binge watch. It stars Kevin Costner as John Dutton, owner of the fictional Yellowstone Ranch and the patriarch of the Dutton family. The problem with owning the largest ranch in the US is that everyone wants a piece. John Dutton and his family fight to hold on to their ranch in the face of developers, politicians and more who attempt to take what they see as theirs. Even more dangerous is the drama from within the Dutton family. The show also stars Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelly Reilly, Gil Birmingham and Danny Huston. There are currently 3 seasons out and the fourth is set to premiere this November.

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Hubbell – Circulation

Rome, starring Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, and Polly Walker, TV Series Rome

Before there were dragons, dwarves, and princely incest, there was HBO’s Rome, its first true attempt at high-budget period drama. The story begins in the run-up to the Roman Civil War when Julius Caesar declares himself dictator and marches on Rome. We’re graced by portrayals of famous Romans like Mark Anthony, Pompey, Cato, Cicero, Augustus, and, of course, the foreigner Cleopatra. The sets and costumes are extravagant and historically on point, though at times the plot meanders away from the history books. The two main characters are members of Caesar’s legions and find themselves inexplicably tied to the unfolding of the series’ events and even Caesar’s death. HBO chose not to renew the series after two seasons because of its outsized budget but the creators nevertheless manage to tie up the story nicely.      

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Jean – Reference 

Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response, by Andy Slavitt, New Nonfiction 362.1962 SLA

Andy Slavitt has been a leader in American health care crises and always looks for solutions to the problems, whether it’s new and unwieldy ACA enrollment website, or getting frontline doctors and nurses PPE at the start of a pandemic.  Here, he looks at the myriad failures at the beginning of the pandemic by multiple government agencies that are having a marked and prolonged effect on the country to this day.



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August 2021

It’s August! Enjoy the rest of the summer with one of our Staff Picks!

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Chris – Technical Services

The Answer Is….Reflections on My Life, by Alex Trebek, Biography 921 Trebek, A.

Alex felt compelled to share his life story after his 2019 announcement of his cancer diagnosis. The support and goodwill he received from all of his fans the world over astonished and humbled him. He never thought of himself as a star, he was only the host on a show. I learned besides being a great entertainer, he was a caring and loving father, a humanitarian involved in many organizations and a truly humble human being.

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Hour of the Witch, by Chris Bohjalian, New Fiction Bohjalian

This NY Times best-selling author has come up with another great read; a historical thriller set in a Puritan colony in Boston, MA in 1662. The plot twists and turns like a witch hanging from a noose at the gallows. Is Mary Deerfield a witch or a young woman caught up in the suspicious, evil-seeking and hypocritical righteous culture of the time? Now the hour of the witch is upon us, shall she hang or find redemption?

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Journeys: An American Story, compiled by Andrew Tisch and Mary Skafidas, Nonfiction 304.873 JOU

This work will remind people why emigration is good for America. America is greater than the sum of its parts, and aside from the indigenous people of North America, we are all immigrants. “We should embrace what it means to be the Other, the immigrant, the outsider. Because if we personally know the soul of this stranger, then the force of that memory is an ever-present bulwark against bigotry, superiority, and apathy.” -Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl.

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Jean – Reference

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe, New Nonfiction 929.2 KEE

A well-researched history of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma and how they (personally) led us into the current opioid crisis, while making billions and evading accountability for their deceptive marketing practices.

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Laura – Circulation

The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi, Fiction Joshi

This was one of my book club’s picks last year. The story is captivating. Lakshmi runs away from her abusive husband at the age of 17, and builds a successful and independent life in Jaipur, far from home. When the sister she never knew she had suddenly shows up with Lakshmi’s husband, it sometimes seems as though her independence means more to her than the people around her. In the end, she is provided with a chance to re-evaluate her choices and plan a future that is more than just being independent.

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The Mountain Between Us, by Charles Martin, Fiction Martin

If you saw the movie, please don’t let it stop you from reading the book! The book is way better than the movie (…as they usually are!). I was enthralled in this survival story from the very beginning. Ashley Know and Ben Payne are both trying to outrun a storm and get back to their hometowns. Instead, they find themselves stranded in the Utah wilderness in the dead of winter, with no one to rely on but each other. I loved the connection that they formed, and their persistent attitude of survival.

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Cathy – Circulation

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger’s, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color, by Julie Dachez, Adult Graphic Novel Dachez (Graphic)

A graphic novel about the subtle differences that folks on the Asperger’s spectrum experience.  For example, noise: if one is not on the spectrum, noises tend not to bother us. But if you might be on the spectrum, background noise really bothers and confuses the thinking processes. The author explains in drawings and words what it feels like to be slightly out of the expected norm. It certainly made me think and become more aware of the “Invisible Differences!” Enjoy!

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Narcos, starring Pedro Pascal, Wagner Moura, and Boyd Holbrook, TV Series DVD Narcos

This a historical fiction series that is nearly a documentary about the drug wars of Columbia in the 80’s. I remembered the names and the things that happened but this series really educated me on what was really going on in those days. If you would like to see Pablo Escobar in action this is a great series. One needs to use subtitles unless one understands Spanish. It was a gripping series and the spin off is Narcos: Mexico– this is great too!

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Michelle – Administration

Day Zero, by Robert C. Cargill, available as an ebook on Overdrive

This story takes place in the not-too-distant future and people have created robots with the AI capabilities to handle a number of jobs. The title refers to the day that the robots start a violent revolution to overthrow the human race. The twist is that the story is told from the point of view of Pounce, a nanny robot whose sole programming is to care for his human ward above all else. Pounce has to decide which side of the revolution he is on and what he is willing to do for his chosen side. The story has both exciting action sequences and thoughtful storytelling. Like most science fiction novels, it reflects things that are happening in our current society including wealth disparity, the subjection of a people, the dangers of technology and more. I didn’t want to put this book down! It kept me on the edge of my seat and also made me think long after the story was finished.

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Paula – Circulation

Mortal Kombat, starring Lewis Tan, Tadanobu Asano, and Hiroyuki Sanada, New DVD Mortal Kombat

MORTAL KOMBAT!!! (Insert Mortal Kombat videogame music.) Get ready for the new reboot of everyone’s favorite awful movie adaptation of the classic videogame, Mortal Kombat. Is it better than the 90’s version? Uh….slightly. The action and special effects have definitely improved. Everything else? Not so much. But you can still count on the campy dialogue and cheesy one-liners to entertain you throughout the film! Watch as all of your favorite videogame characters come to life and battle each other to the death for reasons we’re still not quite too sure of. And don’t worry, all of the famous taglines are shouted with pride by their respective characters. There is nothing so satisfying as hearing Shang Tsung say “Your soul is mine,” and Scorpion yelling “GET OVER HERE!” Mortal Kombat may not be the best film, but it serves as a flawless victory for some great nostalgia.

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Theresa – Youth Services

The Phantom Twin, by Lisa Brown, New Young Adult Graphic Novel YA Brown (Graphic)

Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters, conjoined twins in a traveling carnival freak show—until an ambitious surgeon tries to separate them and fails, causing Jane’s death. Isabel has lost an arm and a leg but gained a ghostly companion: Her dead twin is now her phantom limb. Haunted, altered, and alone for the first time, can Isabel build a new life that’s truly her own? I enjoyed this, not only for its macabre subject matter, but for the fact that it’s historical. Not only did the author/ illustrator, Lisa Brown, do an amazing job of telling the story, but she extensively researched the real lives of circus freaks in history. Can you imagine being born with a disability and being rejected by society with nowhere to turn for a livelihood but the circus freak show? That was pretty much the only choice these people had!

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