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Staff Reviews by Dan Richter

Cover: 'Free Solo'

"Free Solo" (DVD)

★★★★ Alex Honnold is one of the rare, lucky people in this world who have managed to translate a beloved passion and hobby into a full-time career. As a professional rock climber, he has traveled all around the world, climbing mountain sides, boulders and cliffs in places like Borneo, Patagonia and Chad. But Honnold's way of climbing is a bit more...

Audience: adults | Genre: dvd

Cover: 'Beartown'

"Beartown" by Fredrik Backman

★★★★ Team sports can be important to a small town. In the case of Beartown, a tiny, rural town in Sweden, that sport is hockey. Boys begin skating almost as soon as they can walk, and the townspeople look at the sport as a source of pride, validation and opportunity. Beartown follows around fifteen different characters, who all have ties to the town’s beloved...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Baby Teeth'

"Baby Teeth" by Zoje Stage

★★★ How would you react if your first-grader was trying to kill you? Would you try to appeal to her with unconditional love, or would you protect yourself and wish for her to disappear from your life? That’s the dilemma stay-at-home mom Suzette finds herself in in Baby Teeth. To put it mildly, Suzette has a rocky relationship with her seven year-old daughter...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, suspense

Cover: 'Less'

"Less" by Andrew Sean Greer

★★★ Arthur Less no longer wants to be in love. On the verge of turning 50, Less is a mildly successful author who has spent a large chunk of his adult life in relationships, only to get burned in the end. His book publisher also has passed on his most recent manuscript, putting him at a unique crossroads in his life. To avoid attending the wedding of Freddy...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Lethal White'

"Lethal White" by Robert Galbraith

★★★★★ Robert Galbraith’s fourth Strike novel finds private detective Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, hired by a high-ranking British official who is being blackmailed. The minister asks Strike to gather dirt that he could use against his blackmailers, which prompts Robin to go undercover in the House of Commons to do recon. When he dies of an...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Hearts Beat Loud'

"Hearts Beat Loud" (DVD)

★★★★ Frank (Nick Offerman) is a middle-aged single father whose life is on the verge of change. He’s considering closing his small Brooklyn record store due to poor sales and his daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons), is just weeks away from going off to college in California to study medicine. Both lovers of music, Frank and Sam write and record a song one night in...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: movies

Cover: 'China Rich Girlfriend'

"China Rich Girlfriend" by Kevin Kwan

★★★★ Set two years after the conclusion of Crazy Rich Asians¸ Rachel Chu and her fiancée, Nick Young, are still happily living in New York City. On the eve of their wedding, the couple receives a visit from Nick’s mother, Eleanor, whom he hasn’t spoken to in years (and who crashes the wedding rehearsal and amazingly dramatic fashion). Eleanor tells Rachel that...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dietland'

"Dietland" by Sarai Walker

★★★ Plum Kettle has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember. Now in her late 20s, she weighs over 300 pounds and has isolated herself away from most of society. But she’s formulated a plan to change her life completely: get lap band surgery, shed the weight and adopt an entirely new, more confident personae. Plum lives in New York City and...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'An American Marriage'

"An American Marriage" by Tayari Jones

★★★ Roy and Celestial have been married for just one year. As part of their first anniversary, the couple visits Roy’s parents and the small Louisiana town where he grew up. After a disagreement in their hotel room, Roy decides to give Celestial some space and go for a walk. Later that night, the police burst into their room and arrest Roy, accusing him of rape...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Sex and the City and Us'

"Sex and the City and Us" by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

★★★ Are you a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte or a Miranda? If you know the answer to that question, chances are you’re a fan of Sex and the City. Airing on HBO from 1998-2004, Sex and the City followed the lives of four women living in New York City as they navigated the worlds of dating, sex and relationships. The show became beloved for its witty dialog...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Last Time I Lied'

"The Last Time I Lied" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Emma Davis is an aspiring painter on the verge of making it big in New York City’s art scene. But what inspires her work is something that’s haunted her since she was 13 years old, during her first (and only) summer at sleepaway camp: the mysterious disappearance of her three bunkmates. Camp Nightingale, an all-girls summer camp in upstate New York, has...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, suspense, mystery

Cover: 'Calypso'

"Calypso" by David Sedaris

★★★★ In David Sedaris’ latest compilation of observational essays, he and his longtime partner have purchased a beach house on the coast of North Carolina. Many of the essays in the book take place at this house, which Sedaris and his family use as a place to vacation in the summer or to gather during the holidays. The book contains 21 vastly different essays...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, humor, essays

Cover: 'Hillbilly Elegy'

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

★★★ Author J.D. Vance grew up among what he refers to as “hillbillys” – white, working class (and mostly poor) folks in Appalachia. Vance spent his adolescence split between extended family in Jackson, Kentucky and in Middleton, Ohio, a town in a state of decline after its main source of local jobs closes, leaving thousands without a job. In this memoir,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Immortalists'

"The Immortalists" by Chloe Benjamin

★★★★ In the summer of 1969, siblings Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon visit a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell people the day that they will die. The siblings, just children at the time, each receive their prediction separately. Some share their supposed death date with each other while some choose to keep the information to themselves. The book...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Abstinence Teacher'

"The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta

★★★★ Ruth Ramsey is a sex educator at a suburban New England high school. A divorced mother of two tween girls, Ruth has taught her classes for years with no objection from the community. After misspeaking during one of her classes, a complaint is filed against Ruth and she becomes the subject of intense public scrutiny. In order to appease those who are...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Love Warrior'

"Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton

★★★ Since she was 10 years old, Glennon Doyle Melton didn’t feel at home in her body. Due to the pressures of society, she never felt she could be thin enough, pretty enough, accepted enough, or loved enough. So, she turned to bulimia, binge drinking and casual sex to mask her fears and insecurities. In her twenties, Glennon finds herself pregnant and at a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Flight Attendant'

"The Flight Attendant" by Chris Bohjalian

★★★ Cassie Bowden is a seasoned flight attendant who has worked for the same airline since her early twenties. Now in her late thirties, Cassie can barely keep her life in order, having fallen into a pattern of binge drinking and hooking up with random men in the various cities she flies to. While in Dubai, Cassie’s risky lifestyle catches up with her when...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Handmaid's Tale'

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

★★★ In the not-too-distant future, a restrictive, invasive patriarchy has taken over and dismantled the American government. In this new society, known as Gilead, women have few roles they can play: as cooks and housekeepers, as the wives of the society’s leaders (known as Commanders), and as handmaids. Acting as surrogates for the Commanders’ wives,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, dystopian

Cover: 'Leah on the Offbeat'

"Leah on the Offbeat" by Becky Albertalli

★★★ In this direct sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the focus shifts from Simon to one of his best friends, Leah Burke. It’s about a year after the conclusion of Simon, and Leah and her friends are in the home stretch of their senior year. The gang experiences visiting colleges, getting ready for prom and figuring out how they’ll stay in each other’...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, lgbt

Cover: 'Behold the Dreamers'

"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue

★★★★ For years, Jende Jonga dreamed of making a life for himself and his family in the United States. A native of Cameroon, Jende has been living and working in New York City on a temporary visa for three years when his wife, Neni, and six year-old son, Liomi, immigrate to Harlem to join him. It’s 2007, and a world of opportunity opens up for the Jongas while...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction, diverse

Cover: 'And She Was'

"And She Was" by Jessica Verdi

★★★ 18 year-old Dara Baker is a recent high school graduate with big dreams. Living in a small town in New York with her mother, Mellie, Dara has aspired to be a pro tennis star as long as she can remember. She’s on the verge of entering her first major tournament when she finds out a shocking secret: Mellie is transgender and is actually her biological father...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal, lgbt

Cover: 'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows'

"Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows" by Balli Kaur Jaswal

★★★★ Nikki is a modern twentysomething living and working in central London. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki has spent much of her adult life embracing a life of independence and feminism while distancing herself from the traditional Sikh lifestyle that the rest of her family prefers. While still figuring out a career path for herself, Nikki finds a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'The Last Black Unicorn'

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities, humor

Cover: 'The Upside of Unrequited'

"The Upside of Unrequited" by Becky Albertalli

★★★ Molly and Cassie are 17 year-old fraternal twins who have always been extremely close. But ever since Cassie started dating her girlfriend, Mina, the two sisters have started drifting apart. Molly feels like she’s being left behind and longs for a boyfriend to share her life with and spend time with. The thing is, Molly has had 25 crushes so far in her...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction, romance

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