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Staff Reviews by Dan Richter

Cover: 'Home Before Dark'

"Home Before Dark" by Riley Sager

★★★★ Maggie Holt’s philosophy is “every house has a story to tell and a secret to share.” And the 30 year-old contractor and home designer should know, having lived in one of the most notorious houses in the world – Baneberry Hall. When Maggie was just five years old, she and her parents fled Baneberry Hall in the middle of the night after having lived in the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, suspense, horror

Cover: 'Notes from an Apocalypse'

"Notes from an Apocalypse" by Mark O'Connell

★★★ Author Mark O’Connell writes that he’s always had a pessimistic outlook, and nothing has reinforced that attitude more than the events of recent years. O’Connell writes that an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change, the growing gap between poverty and wealth, and intense division and societal unrest in the United States and other...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'We Ride Upon Sticks'

"We Ride Upon Sticks" by Quan Barry

★★★★★ The year is 1989. The hair is big, Janet Jackson rules the radio, and practically every teen is decked out in Jordache and Z. Cavaricci. For the young women on the Danvers High School field hockey team, their senior year is expected to bring another year of disappointment, consistent with their track record of losing big-time. But after one of the girls,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Love Story of Missy Carmichael'

"The Love Story of Missy Carmichael" by Beth Morey

★★★★ Missy Carmichael is admittedly depressed. She spends nearly every day alone inside her London home, rarely venturing out and almost never engaging with strangers. She’s estranged from her daughter, and her son lives across the globe in Australia, leaving her with virtually no social connections whatsoever. While at the park one day, Missy meets Sylvie, a...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Great Successor'

"The Great Successor" by Anna Fifield

★★★★★ Kim Jong Un is known the world around as the leader of North Korea. Some view him as a ruthless dictator who keeps the people of his country under harsh, suffocating control while others see him as a power-hungry – though mostly harmless – ruler who strives for more respect and standing on the international stage. In The Great Successor, journalist Anna...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'Copperhead'

"Copperhead" by Alexi Zentner

★★★★ For a high school senior, Jessup Collins has a lot on his mind. He’s focused on leading his football team to state. He’s hoping to secure a collegiate scholarship that will take him far away from his hometown of Cortaca, New York. And he’s heavily weighing how the people in town will view him and his family now that his stepfather has been released from...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction, fiction

Cover: 'Dear Girls'

"Dear Girls" by Ali Wong

★★★★ Comedian Ali Wong is perhaps best known for her Netflix comedy specials Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife, or for her romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe. In this hilarious, side-splitting memoir, Wong recounts her youth, getting started as a comedian, and her adventures in parenting through a series of letters addressed to her two young daughters (with the...

Audience: adults | Genre: memoir, nonfiction

Cover: 'Recipe for a Perfect Wife'

"Recipe for a Perfect Wife" by Karma Brown

★★★ Leaving Manhattan was never part of Alice Hale's life plan. Yet she finds herself, on the verge of 30, moving to the sleepy suburbs with her husband, Nate. Recently fired from her public relations job (though Nate thinks she left on her own accord), Alice plans to keep busy by writing her first novel, making renovations to the outdated property...

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

Cover: 'Unfollow'

"Unfollow" by Megan Phelps-Roper

★★★★ From the time she was five years old, Megan Phelps-Roper would stand alongside her parents, siblings and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church and protest various parks, government buildings and religious institutions around the city of Topeka, Kansas. As she got older, the church grew in notoriety thanks in part to its controversial picket signs,...

Audience: adults | Genre: memoir, nonfiction

Cover: 'Me'

"Me" by Elton John

★★★★★ If you’re an inhabitant of planet Earth, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Elton John. Maybe you’re familiar with some of the wild outfits and costumes he’s worn over the years, or you know a couple of his (many) hit songs. Perhaps you know him from his work on Disney’s The Lion King, or you’ve seen the 2019 biopic Rocketman. If you know anything about...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir, biography and memoir, celebrities

Cover: 'Light of My Life'

"Light of My Life" (DVD)

★★★★ Approximately a decade after a mysterious plague killed nearly all of the world’s female population, a father (Casey Affleck) and his 11 year=old daughter, Rag (Anna Pniowsky), are on the run. Rag, it turns out, is immune to the illness and has survived all these years while her mother (played by Elizabeth Moss in flashbacks) did not. Seeing all females...

Audience: adults | Genre: movies

Cover: 'Toil & Trouble'

"Toil & Trouble" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★ Augusten Burroughs, well-known writer and memoirist of such books as Running with Scissors and Lust & Wonder, has been keeping a secret from almost everyone in his life. But in his latest work, Toil & Trouble, Burroughs finally comes clean and reveals a part of himself that he’s never shared with the world before – the fact that he’s a witch....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Fate of Food'

"The Fate of Food" by Amanda Little

★★★★★ In today’s world, more and more people want to know about the food they eat, where it comes from, and how it’s grown. But what does the future hold for consumers – and the food on their plates – in a world that’s getting increasingly hotter, drier and that has more extreme weather? In The Fate of Food, author Amanda Little explores the different...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Body in Question'

"The Body in Question" by Jill Ciment

★★★★★ Courtroom dramas almost always focus exclusively on the plaintiff and defendant at the heart of a trial. After all, that’s where some of the most compelling storytelling tends to reside. The Body in Question, however, switches things up by following a six-person jury assigned to a murder trial in central Florida, where a teenage girl is accused of setting...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

Cover: 'Escape at Dannemora'

"Escape at Dannemora" (DVD)

★★★★ In the summer of 2015, two inmates – Richard Matt and David Sweat – escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Dannemora, New York. A massive manhunt followed the escape for nearly a month afterward, with many police, government and prison officials dumbfounded by how such an elaborate escape was possible. Escape at...

Audience: adults | Genre: dvd, mini-series

Cover: 'Waiting for Tom Hanks'

"Waiting for Tom Hanks" by Kerry Winfrey

★★★★ Aspiring screenwriter Annie Cassidy loves romantic comedies. Growing up, she would watch the films relentlessly with her mom, dissecting scenes and deriving life advice from the characters and dialogue. As an adult, Annie can quote films like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail by heart and aspires to write movies herself. But she’s also unlucky...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, romance

Cover: 'The Girls'

"The Girls" by Emma Cline

★★★ It’s the summer of 1969, and 14 year-old Evie Boyd has a lot of time on her hands. She and her best friend, Connie, have had a falling out; the boy she has a crush on has left town; her father is now living with his new girlfriend in another city; and her mother is often absent after reentering the dating scene. Alone and feeling neglected, Evie becomes...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Red, White & Royal Blue'

"Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston

★★★★★ Alex Claremont-Diaz is like American royalty. His mom, Ellen, is the first female President of the United States and he aspires to follow in her political footsteps one day and also become prez. During his time in the White House, Alex has had a not-so-secret rivalry with Henry, the Prince of England. Alex has always thought of Henry as being spoiled,...

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

Cover: 'Daisy Jones & The Six'

"Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★ Classic rock bands from the 1970s and 80s are known for great music that defined a generation. But part of what also made them famous – and perhaps even inspired some of their greatest hits – were the bands’ interpersonal relationships. Groups like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Jefferson Starship were subject to infighting, firing and hiring band members,...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lock Every Door'

"Lock Every Door" by Riley Sager

★★★★ One thing New York City is known for is the exorbitant cost of rent and real estate. So when twentysomething Jules loses her job and breaks up with her cheating boyfriend all in the same day, she is instantly in need of money and a place to stay. Jules answers an ad looking for someone to live rent-free at the Bartholomew – an elite, historic and...

Audience: adults | Genre: suspense, fiction

Cover: 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey

★★★★ Order and routine are the two main tenets that keep the Salem State Hospital running smoothly. Under the strict control of Nurse Ratched, members of the ward (comprised of “acutes” and “chronics”) have a set schedule, know their limitations, and stick to the rules. That is, until R.P. McMurphy arrives. McMurphy is an unruly, insubordinate inmate...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, classics

Cover: 'Ladies Who Punch'

"Ladies Who Punch" by Ramin Setoodeh

★★★★★ The View has been a staple of daytime television for more than 20 years. Since debuting in the summer of 1997, the show has seen 23 co-hosts come and go, and has had its fair share of high-profile arguments and controversies. For creator and executive producer Barbara Walters, the show started as a labor of love. For years leading up to the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Maybe You Should Talk to Someone'

"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb

★★★★★ For most people, a breakup can be a difficult life event to process. Sometimes, it can even cause folks to seek out help in the form of talk therapy. But what if you’re a therapist and you’re the one who’s being broken up with? As a therapist, Lori Gottlieb has helped clients with a myriad of problems, from cheating spouses to adults who were abused or...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, self-help

Cover: 'Ben is Back'

"Ben is Back" (DVD)

★★★★ It’s Christmas Eve in upstate New York, and the last thing Holly (Julia Roberts) expects to see is her son, Ben (Lucas Hedges). Why? Because for the past several months, Ben has been to rehab and then gone to live in a sober living house as he battles an opioid addiction. Though she’s ecstatic to see Ben, Holly is also skeptical, wondering if he is well...

Audience: adults | Genre: movies

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