Nimona

After my 11-year-old niece raved about Nimona (2015), I had to read the teen graphic novel so we could discuss it. What a story!

Are the villains really bad and are the heroes really good? That's what author Noelle Stevenson asks in this morality tale. On the surface, villain Lord Blackheart is fighting the kingdom's Institute. His nemesis and former best friend Sir Goldenloin defends the kingdom.

Nimona, a gutsy young girl and shapeshifter, offers her skills to Blackheart as his apprentice.Chaos and hilarity ensue. Quirky and engaging, with dark comedy and endearing relationships, Nimona will grab the attention of even the most reluctant reader. It's a story enhanced by the artwork.

Nimona is available to read immediately on Hoopla. You can even listen to a full cast recording.



Convenience Store Woman

At 176 pages, Convenience Store Woman (2018) is a brief, quirky story that you'll think about long after you finish the novel. Translated from Japanese, the story centers on 36-year-old Keiko. She's lived in Tokyo for her entire life and spent the last 18 years working part time at a convenience store. In so many ways, offbeat Keiko doesn't fit into society's expectations.

With wry humor, Sayaka Murata's engaging novel is thought-provoking social commentary and satire. There is so much to discuss—this would make an excellent choice for your book club. In addition to topics already mentioned, participants can discuss similarities and differences between American and Japanese culture and expectations, careers vs. jobs, and what it means to be a functioning member of society.

Available on Hoopla, read the ebook or listen to the audiobook today.



Safety

Inspirational sports movies are one of my favorite feel-good comfort watches. And there's a new movie that fits this theme perfectly: Safety (2020, PG). Set in 2008 and inspired by a true story, it follows a Clemson freshman who juggles school, football, and family. After his mother enters a drug rehabilitation facility, Ray takes in his younger brother Fay. He hides him on campus, refusing help, trying to do it all on his own.

His Clemson family teaches him that accepting help is not the same as taking charity. Throw in a fight with the NCAA about legalities and you'll enjoy a film that will have you rooting for Ray, Fay, and the rest of his teammates aka brothers.

For fans of Remember the Titans, The Blind Side, Million Dollar Arm, and Bend It Like Beckham. If you want to learn the story behind the movie, check out this ESPN article.

Check out one of our Rokus with Disney Plus to watch the film.


Series Spotlight: Bridgertons

Are you enthralled by the beauty, drama, and wit of the newest Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton? Great news—this TV show is based on the bestselling 8-book series about the Bridgerton siblings by Julia Quinn. Start with The Duke and I (2000) for Simon and Daphne's story, then check out The Viscount Who Loved Me (2000) to see Anthony fall in love (and for a hysterically competitive game of croquet).

While the Netflix adaptation shares many traits with the novels, there are, of course, differences. In the books, you'll discover even more witty banter, family antics, and a lighter tone in these Regency-set romances.

We've made the books available in as many places as we could! The Duke and I is available in regular print and large type. You'll find the audiobook in eMediaLibrary and on our preloaded iPods. Check out eMediaLibrary to read Bridgerton Collection: Volume 1, which includes the first three books in the series.

You'll find the complete series available in print at the library, and most as ebooks or audiobooks via Overdrive and Hoopla.

And if you're wondering what to read next... we've got ideas for you! Check out our lists on our website and Overdrive.

Don't have Netflix? Borrow one of our Rokus so you can binge Bridgerton too.



Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

When you're in the mood for a fun, quirky adventure, pick up Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts (2019). After eccentric billionaire Vincent Price dies, he invites the residents of Boston to go on a scavenger hunt to inherit his fortune. Tuesday Mooney is a loner, researcher, and reluctant socializer. She has secrets (who doesn't?) and soon becomes engaged in the quest to solve the puzzle.

With old and new acquaintances, Tuesday embarks on the journey of a lifetime. With wit, mystery, intrigue, and adventure, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts is a great readalike for fans of Ready Player One and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

Read Kate Racculia's latest instantly on Overdrive or Hoopla. This witty novel is also a great listen—check out the audiobook today.



March: The Complete Series

From the first page of these compelling graphic memoirs, you'll be hooked. Congressman John Lewis shares his life story, from growing up on a farm in Alabama to the infamous march in Selma on Bloody Sunday. His personal journey provides an inside look at the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. With familiar faces (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X) and lesser known figures who made incredible contributions, Lewis presents a gripping history lesson.

The black and white artwork by award winning artist Nate Powell enhances the words and emotions of Lewis' story and the nonviolent resistance movement. The words and the art complement each other immensely.There is so much to discuss—it makes a great book club pick.

Read March: Book One (2013), March: Book Two (2015), and March: Book Three (2016). Check out the graphic memoirs immediately from Hoopla. For more titles on timely issues, check out our lists: Antiracism for Adults, Social Justic & Systemic Racism, and Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry.

New Girl. The Complete Series

Pure escapism makes New Girl (2011-2018, TV-14) a perfect pandemic binge watch. Admittedly I came late to the party, but that doesn't make this sitcom any less enjoyable. The delightfully quirky Zooey Deschanel stars as the eponymous "new girl" aka Jess, a 30-something who moves into a loft apartment with three roommates found on Craigslist following a messy breakup.

Follow the zany adventures of Jess and her roommates Nick, Schmidt, and Winston (Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris), along with Jess's best friend Cece (Hannah Simone). The chemistry of the cast is apparent, making the relationships (both platonic and not) engaging and charming to watch.

For fans of Cheers, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (there's even a crossover episode).

This screwball comedy is available on DVD from the library or on Netflix (which you stream via the library's Roku device).


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The Roommate

If you loved The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, pick up The Roommate (2020) by debut author Rosie Danan.This steamy romantic comedy will give you all the feels for the charming couple.

Respectable socialite Clara has always followed the rules and avoided scandal...until her longtime crush invites her to move cross-country. She impulsively heads to LA, and is blindsided by the news that he's sublet his room. Enter Josh, who is her opposite in every way—and, surprise, an adult film star. Together, they start a business to combat the negative realities of the adult entertainment industry and to empower women and their partners.

Clara and Josh grow together personally and professionally in this entertaining escape. For more fun reads, check out our recently updated list of Romantic Comedies.


Ashes in the Snow

Ruta Sepetys writes powerful stories based on hidden histories—pieces of our past that most don't know about. This adaptation of her first novel Between Shades of Gray shares the forgotten story of Lithuanians deported to Siberia by Joseph Stalin's Soviet army during World War II.

In Ashes in the Snow (2019), Bel Powley gives a strong performance as teenage aspiring artist Lina. When her professor father is arrested, the rest of her family is taken from their home and transported to a labor camp for so-called treasonous action against the Soviet Union. This moving film has beautiful cinematography and music.

Ashes in the Snow is achingly sad yet ultimately hopeful—a faithful adaptation of the novel inspired by true events. Watch this film on DVD or stream it instantly on Hoopla. Read a review from The Hollywood Reporter.



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We’re Going to Need More Wine

Actress Gabrielle Union shares her truth in an honest, frank, and funny way. Some stories will unexpectedly cause you to burst out laughing, while others will bring you to tears. Topics run the gamut of filming and Hollywood life (from a nostalgic look at 10 Things I Hate About You to the frustration of not having a hairstylist on set who had done Black hair), racism and colorism, family and friends, love and trauma. Her essay on raising Black boys is especially poignant.

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (2017) is candid, relevant, and engaging. Give this book a listen—Union narrates her story. Both the audiobook and ebook are available on Hoopla today.

We've got two lists of books that may be of interest if you enjoy this book: Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Author and Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry.



Dark Waters

In this compelling movie based on a true story, a corporate lawyer (Mark Ruffalo), switches sides (and finds his calling) by spearheading an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company. Rob Bilott. He recently made partner at a high powered law firm when he is approached by neighbors of his grandmother. What follows is a years-long battle against DuPont, putting his career, marriage, and health in jeopardy.

Fans of Erin Brockovich will find much to enjoy in Dark Waters (2019, rated PG-13). They are both stories of underdogs fighting for the health and safety of the public. For more behind the characters and story of Dark Waters, check out articles from The Hollywood Reporter and Slate.



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You Can't Touch My Hair

Half of the podcast (and show)Two Dope Queens (her partner Jessica Williams provides the foreword), comedian Phoebe Robinson's infectious personality is on display in her debut collection of essays. She shares personal and professional experiences in a humorous and moving way in You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain (2016).

I highly recommend listening to Robinson narrate the audiobook (available via Overdrive) to hear her take on being a Black woman in America, racism and sexism in the workplace, and current and classic pop culture topics. It's funny and engaging social commentary. If you prefer to read the memoir, that's on Overdrive too.

We've got a list of Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry. Check it out.



When We Were Vikings

Quirky and optimistic, 21-year-old Zelda is discovering her place in the world. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, Zelda's brain doesn't work like everyone else's does; she narrates her unique coming of age journey with endearing innocence.

When We Were Vikings (2020) will capture your attention from the start. For me, Andrew David MacDonald's uplifting debut was a one sitting read. It's perfect for fans of Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook today.



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Girl Gone Viral

In the second entry of her Modern Love series, Alisha Rai again gives readers a delightful story of two people falling in love. Reclusive Katrina is having an innocent chat with a stranger at a café. To her dismay, a nearby patron documents her version of their interaction on Twitter. It goes viral, sending her well-ordered private life into a tailspin.

Bodyguard and friend Jas has his own demons, but he sets those aside to bring Katrina to a place she can't be tracked—his childhood home. This slow burn romance has been building for years, and it is lovely to laugh as their relationship enters a new phase. Girl Gone Viral (2020) provides the best kind of distraction. Read it today via Overdrive or listen via Hoopla.

You don't need to read these books in order, but if you prefer to start at the beginning, The Right Swipe is the first book (read or listen instantly on Hoopla). And if you can't get enough romantic comedies, we've got lists: check out Overdrive for ebooks to read today or visit our website.



The Vienna Berlin Music Club. Volume 2

I was delighted to discover a second album from Philharmonix.  This group is comprised of members of the Vienna and Berlin philharmonics (hence the name) and plays a charming and creative array of (mostly) instrumental music.

My favorite songs from The Vienna Berlin Music Club, Volume 2 (2019), include "Don't Stop Me Now" (from Queen),"Dances from Transylvania," and "Theme from Pink Panther."  These refreshing arrangements will help lift your mood. Listen to both Volume 1 and Volume 2 today on Hoopla

Check out my review of their first album. And don't just take my word for it—another review has a positive take on their latest album.