What we’re reading in March…

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland

The Floating Feldmans: A Novel by Elyssa…

What happens when a waspy mother, her shopping addict daughter, marijuana growing son, and their families are all stuck on a luxury cruise ship together? The dysfunctional family trip of a lifetime, of course! The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland is the perfect lighthearted companion to bring the comic relief you need on your next family vacation. Beth

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon is set in Laos during the Vietnam War, when the country was continuously bombed in a covert attempt by the CIA to wrest power from the communist Pathet Lao, a group allied with North Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Three teens, Alasik and siblings Prany and Noi have lost their parents to opium and violence, and are surviving by working at a makeshift hospital, driving motorbikes to make deliveries, tending to patients and staking out paths between the unexploded bombs. Yoon’s spare, exacting prose expresses their hopes, their friendship, their humanity in the midst of heartbreaking events. Beautiful, just beautiful – I couldn’t stop reading it. Dori

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

This spooky supernatural thriller follows 20-year-old Carly Kirk as she ventures to upstate New York, having recently lost her mother to cancer, determined to solve the mysterious disappearance of her aunt Viv at the Sun Down Motel 35 years ago. Viv worked the overnight shift at the motel and completely vanished one night in November of 1982- her body was never found by authorities and her family basically wiped her from their collective memory. Carly herself signs on for the same graveyard shift at the motel, and soon discovers that the town of Fells, NY seems to have had a number of never-solved murders of local young women immediately preceding Viv’s disappearance. Readers experience the story in alternating narratives, from Viv’s point of view in 1982 and Carly in the present, with both characters experiencing terrifying moments at the motel as they dig deeper into the motel’s secrets. I haven’t made it to the end yet, but I can’t wait to see how this wraps up! Mystery and horror fans will definitely want to pick this up. Nicole

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli

This is the political rom-com I did not know I needed. Jamie Goldberg is happy to volunteer for his local senate candidate. His cousin is the campaign manager and Jamie himself has political aspirations, which will never happen because he just can’t talk to people. Maya’s life is falling apart–her parents are separating and her best friend is too busy working and getting ready for college. When her mom runs into Jamie’s mom the two mothers hatch a plan for the teens to canvass together. What’s in it for Maya? A car at the end of the summer. The reluctant duo start knocking on doors and before they know it a new friendship has developed. Jamie and Maya expertly handle their roles as activists, but the issue of cross-cultural romance is not so easy a topic to navigate. A rare YA book with present and supportive parents as well as normal and realistic friendships. While the relationship between Maya and Jamie is cute, the book doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to addressing racism, Islamophobia, and white supremacy. Megan

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Marianne and Connell are high school seniors and clandestine lovers. Both are star students, however, Marianne is an outcast, raised by her widowed mother in a wealthy home ridden with dysfunction. Connell is a popular star athlete, raised by his unwed mother, in a working class home, yet is nurtured by a caring, wonderful mom. The twist… Connell’s mother works as a maid at Marianne’s home. For the next four years, the reader follows Marianne’s and Connell’s intense yet complicated relationship that’s repeatedly muddled by secrets, miscommunication, and anxiety about their their place in the social hierarchy. As a reader, you will get mad at those two, you will root for those two, in the end, you will understand those two. If this review doesn’t draw your interest, at least treat yourself to a book taking place in Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Mary

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Journalist Lulu Randolph heads to Nassau in 1941 to investigate the governor, actually the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, for a popular New York magazine. Soon Lulu falls in love with Benedict Thorpe, a British scientist who is captured by the Nazis. Told in alternating chapters, It’s also the story of Benedict’s parents, Elfriede and Wilfred decades earlier. This is an exceptional historical novel full of romance, spies, intrigue, racial tension and murder. Emma

New Fiction Coming in March 2020

Check out some of the exciting new fiction titles coming to our shelves this spring!

 

3/03: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – A historical novel based on the life of the National Book Award-winning author’s grandfather traces the experiences of a Chippewa Council night watchman in mid-19th-century rural North Dakota who fights Congress to enforce Native American treaty rights. This powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

3/03: The Numbers Game by Danielle Steel – Setting aside her dreams to raise a family, Eileen reevaluates her sacrifices in the wake of her husband’s affair with a famous actress’s daughter, who discovers that she needs to find herself before committing to someone else. In this stunning novel, modern relationships come together, fall apart, and are reinvented over time, proving that age is just a number.

3/03: Deacon King Kong by James McBride – In the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters. From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, one of the most anticipated novels of the year: a wise and witty tale about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.

 

 

3/10: The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel – A tale inspired by the final years of Thomas Cromwell describes how after the execution of Anne Boleyn and child-bed death of Queen Jane, the former blacksmith’s son orchestrates a desperate plot to fortify England and save his own life.

3/10: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler – A gripping contemporary novel that examines the American dream through the lens of two families living side by side in an idyllic neighborhood, and the one summer that changes their lives irrevocably. A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today—what does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?

3/10: Journey of the Pharaohs by Clive Cussler – Kurt Austin and the NUMA crew race to identify a link between an ancient Egyptian treasure, a 1927 daredevil aviator’s disappearance and the sinking of a modern fishing trawler to prevent a scheme by a cutthroat arms dealer in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling grand master of adventure.

 

 

3/10: A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip Margolin – When a magician linked to suspicious deaths goes missing in the middle of performing a new trick, criminal defense attorney Robin Lockwood untangles dangerous clues to identify a killer among numerous suspects. By a New York Times best-selling author.

3/10: Devoted by Dean Koontz – A child who has not spoken since his father’s death befriends a dog who understands his wordless communications, which are complicated by the boy’s conviction that an evil is targeting his family. By a #1 New York Times best-selling author.

3/31: Fearless by Fern Michaels – Falling in love with a divorced professor she meets on a singles cruise, widow Anna Campbell accepts his proposal before uncovering disturbing facts about him and his children. By the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Godmothers series.

~Semanur

New Nonfiction Coming in March 2020

Check out this selection of nonfiction books for your enjoyment coming this spring!

 

3/03: Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong With the Fit52 Life by  Carrie Underwood – The Platinum award-winning music artist outlines common-sense approaches to health and fitness that can be incorporated into a busy schedule, sharing personal meal plans, recipes and weekly workout programs for long-term results.

3/03: Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice That Go a Long Way by Barbara Bush – Collects the best advice that First Lady Barbara Bush offered her family, staff and close friends. Full of Barbara Bush’s trademark wit and thoughtfulness, Pearls of Wisdom is a poignant reflection on life, love, family, and the world by one of America’s most iconic and beloved public figures.

 

 

3/03: Eat for Life: The Breakthrough Nutrient-rich Program for Longevity, Disease Reversal, and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman – Add years to your life and life to your years with #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Joel Fuhrman no-nonsense, results-driven nutrition plan that will help you look and feel your best inside and out. 

3/03: Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942 by Richard B. Frank – The Vietnam veteran and award-winning historian draws on rich archival research and recently discovered evidence in a revelatory account of the onset of the Asia-Pacific War. By the author of Guadalcanal. Illustrations.

 

 

3/17: The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton – John Bolton served as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump for 519 days. A seasoned public servant who had previously worked for Presidents Reagan, Bush #41, and Bush #43, Bolton brought to the administration thirty years of experience in international issues and a reputation for tough, blunt talk. In his memoir, he offers a substantive and factual account of his time in the room where it happened.

3/24: Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels—from the Jungles to the Streets by Toby Muse – With unprecedented access to Colombia’s cocaine cartels, a journalist offers a thrilling account of the journey of one kilo of cocaine, from the farmers who produce it to the killers who protect it, to the drug barons and their lovers made fabulously wealthy by it.

 

 

3/24: Had I Known: Collected Essays by Barbara Ehrenreich – A selection of the best-selling writer and political activist’s most provocative signature writings includes her groundbreaking undercover investigations, op-ed pieces, essays and reviews, including the award-winning “Welcome to Cancerland.”

3/31: More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys – The 15-time Grammy Award-winning music artist traces her journey from self-censorship to full expression, describing her complicated relationship with her father, the people-pleasing nature that characterized her early career and her struggles with gender expectations.

~Semanur

Sonic the Hedgehog

Jim Carrey, Frank C. Turner, James Marsden, Tom Butler, Neal McDonough, Adam Pally, Shannon Chan-Kent, Tika Sumpter, Elfina Luk, Ben Schwartz, Lee Majdoub, Debs Howard, and Natasha Rothwell in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

The first trailer for this film caused heavy backlash because of the initial look of the title character. After the estimated $5 million redesign of the character, people seemed to regain confidence that it would not be laughably bad. What really sold me on this film was Jim Carrey’s mannerisms in the trailer of Dr. Ivo Robotnik. I’m happy to say that Sonic the character looked presentable and Jim Carrey really delivered an eccentric version of Robotnik. The film had a good mix of action and comedy that delivers a strong family film. It’s not a fantastic film, but I think it gives multiple generations a Sonic film they can enjoy.  

The film starts off near the end of the film and Sonic (Ben Schwartz) narrates how his journey started years ago. He explains he was raised by an owl called Longclaw (Donna Jay Fulks) who tried to protect him from those who would want to steal his power from him. Baby Sonic (Benjamin Valic) thinks he’s too fast to be seen, but enemies arrive to get Baby Sonic. Baby Sonic gets handed a bag of magic rings by Longclaw and is told to escape to a planet on the other side of the universe. The rings create portals that he can flee into. If the next planet fails, he’s told to flee to a world full of only mushrooms. 

We see that Sonic has been living alone for years and has created his own hidden home underground on Earth. He’s been living in Green Hills watching the people in the town without letting himself be seen. He feels alone though as he can’t interact with them. His favorite person he calls Donut Lord who is really Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). One-night Sonic is frustrated with being alone as he plays baseball, which causes him to run fast enough that he releases an electrical charge that takes out the power grid. Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is called in to investigate this anomaly and Sonic sees that he’s being tracked. Sonic goes to hide out in Tom’s garage where Tom uses a tranquilizer dart on Sonic out of pure surprise.  

This movie feels familiar to other family films that I’ve seen before. It delivers on the premise well though. Jim Carrey helps create a threatening but strange character in Robotnik along with his sidekick Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub). The movie seems to rotate in scenes of character interaction and action scenes, which helps keep it exciting. It’s a fun family film that seems to be set in a world of strange characters. I really enjoy how it just leans into the absurd but maintains an internal logic to prevent things from being confusing. Rated PG. 

Ryan 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Last year I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and I honestly think it’s a shame that it didn’t win the Oscar for best picture, let alone receive any form of nomination. With that in mind, I had high hopes for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I’d say this is a good film, but it has a different tone and focus from what I expected. The film itself is about the real events of Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and how he came to know Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) in a difficult time in Lloyd’s life. There is almost a magical or mythical presence to Mr. Rogers which does come through amidst Lloyd’s troubles.

The film starts like an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers sits down and shows us a picture board where he reveals a picture of Lloyd Vogel. He talks about how Lloyd got injured because he couldn’t forgive someone in his life. Mr. Rogers talks about how forgiveness can be very hard as it’s hard to know what to do with the anger we feel. We then transition through a toy set (like on the tv show) to Lloyd’s life.

We see Lloyd talking to his wife Andrea Vogel (Susan Kelechi Watson) about going to Lloyd’s sister’s third wedding. Lloyd learns his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) will be there and isn’t happy about it. At the wedding Jerry tried to confront Lloyd about their past and Lloyd ends up hitting him. Lloyd shoves and is then hit back by someone breaking up the fight. Lloyd goes into work the next day and lies about his injury to everyone saying it was from “softball.” Lloyd gets assigned to a piece about Mr. Rogers despite his objections. Lloyd gets to the set at his assigned time, only to learn the show is behind schedule again as Fred Rogers is spending time with a sick child. Lloyd eventually gets a chance to talk to Fred Rogers where Rogers asks Lloyd some questions as well, like what really happened to his nose.

The movie overall is a journey from Lloyd’s own cynicism to the bright disposition Fred Rogers seems to spread around himself. Lloyd does see though that Rogers is a genuine human who tries to do his best. The story is told in a rather creative fashion so that it feels that the entire film is taking part within a special episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I think Tom Hanks does a fantastic job portraying Mr. Rogers. I will say though that last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor would at very least be a good companion piece to watch alongside this one as I think it helped better explore the life of Fred Rogers and explains the puppets a bit better. Overall this is an enjoyable film, with some darker topics than I was expecting. Rated PG.

Ryan

Jojo Rabbit

Sam Rockwell, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit (2019)

The topic matter is intended to be unsettling or uncomfortable with this film. It’s a dark comedy where they explore some unsettling historical events, so I’d say it’s not for everyone. I’ve enjoyed Taika Waititi’s films in the past including Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the better known Thor:Ragnarock. I was a bit apprehensive that it would be too comedic, disrespectful, or too sobering which would make it hard to watch. I think it struck the right balance and told us a story about a little boy living in a highly stressful environment, even if he doesn’t see it that way. 

The film starts off with a rather unsettling rendition of the Beatles’ I Want to Hold Your Hand used to introduce the fanaticism that Adolf Hitler elicited by comparing him in a way to the Beatles. We then meet Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) as he’s talking to his imaginary friend Adolf (Taika Waititi) to psyche himself up for Hitler Youth summer camp. He and other 10-year-old boys and girls including his best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) are going to learn the basics of becoming a Nazi. The boys do various training exercises like learning to shoot, throw grenades, fight, use their knives, and in general just prepare to go to war. As some older boys notice Jojo isn’t hurting anyone in a team battle, they decide to pick on him. 

The older boys try to force Jojo to kill a rabbit and when he refuses, they taunt him with the name “Jojo Rabbit” because he’s afraid like a rabbit. His imaginary friend Adolf and Yorki give him a bit of a pep talk and Jojo enthusiastically runs back during grenade training. Jojo takes a grenade from Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell). He throws the grenade and it bounces off a tree back at him. Jojo ends up being injured and he wakes up in a hospital to his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) looking at him. Jojo starts working for Captain Klenzendorf as his scars are deemed “too frightening” for the other children. As Jojo arrives home early one day he calls out for his mother and finds Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in a secret room. 

This movie really balances its topics and themes well. It’s clear that Jojo is just a boy, but what he’s raised to believe is something terrible. This movie doesn’t make any efforts to excuse his beliefs either, just try to explain them. We see the struggle of the other adults and children in this world who must deal with being in the middle of a war that they seem to be losing. This movie ranges from some silly jokes to some dark moments. I think many would enjoy this film or get something from the messages within. It’s certainly for people who enjoy a bit of history and dark humor. Rated PG-13. 

Ryan 

New Fiction Coming in February 2020

 

Check out some of the exciting new fiction coming to our shelves this winter. Whether you are looking for a literary fiction read, a historical page-turner, or biographical fiction, we have something for you!

 

 

02/04: The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata – Decades after a 1929 Dominican immigrant writer passes away believing her final manuscript was destroyed, a Chicago lawyer discovers the book and endeavors to learn the woman’s remarkable story against a backdrop of Hurricane Katrina.

02/11: Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen – When a twist of fate lands her in Queen Victoria’s kitchen, a talented young chef is selected to accompany a royal retinue only to be wrongly implicated in a murder. By the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

 

 

02/18: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin – When a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with one of the men originally suspected of killing her sister, Claire, hoping to gain his trust and learn the truth, forms an unlikely attachment with this man whose life is forever marked by the same tragedy.

02/18: The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica – Unnerved by her husband’s inheritance of a decrepit coastal property and the presence of a disturbed relative, community newcomer Sadie uncovers harrowing facts about her family’s possible role in a neighbor’s murder. By the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl.

 

 

 

02/25: Apeirogon by Colum McCann – Two fathers, a Palestinian and an Israeli, navigate the physical and emotional checkpoints of their conflicted world before devastating losses compel them to work together to use their grief as a weapon for peace. By the best-selling author of Transatlantic.

02/25: The Lost Diary of M by Paul Wolfe – A re-imagining of the life of Georgetown socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer traces her marriage to a CIA chief, presidential affair and LSD experiments before her baffling murder a year after JFK’s assassination.

~Semanur