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Staff Reviews by Dan Richter

Cover: 'The Lager Queen of Minnesota'

"The Lager Queen of Minnesota" by J. Ryan Stradal

★★★ Craft beer and microbreweries are popular everywhere these days, especially here in the Midwest. Author J. Ryan Stradal harnesses this as the focal point of his latest novel The Lager Queen of Minnesota, which follows a family of women through multiple decades, each one with ties to the beer-making industry. The book opens with Edith, a woman in her 60s...

Audience: adults | Genre: contemporary fiction, fiction

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

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: 'This Is How It Always Is'

"This Is How It Always Is" by Laurie Frankel

★★★★ Rosie and Penn are a happily married couple living just outside Madison with a house full of delightfully eccentric sons (four, to be exact). In hopes of having a daughter, the two decide to have one more child, which turns out to be…another boy, whom they name Claude. But around the time he starts kindergarten, Claude begins to question his gender...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

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

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