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.


Online Book Party

Join us Thursday, May 21 at 7 p.m. for an Online Book Party. Share what you're reading, get ideas of what to read next, and connect with a community of readers. No prep required--join this casual conversation by registering here.  

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Online Book Club: Welcome to Lagos

Join our next Online Book Club. On Wednesday, June 3 at 7pm, we will discuss Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo. Register here to receive a Zoom invite before the event. Visit Hoopla to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.

A little bit about the book: Full of humor and heart, Welcome to Lagos is a high-spirited novel about aspirations and escape, innocence and corruption. It offers a provocative portrait of contemporary Nigeria. One reviewer described it as a "tangy Ocean's 11-esque escapade."

Bad Blood

A fascinating account that proves sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018), investigative journalist John Carreyrou details the incredible rise and fall of Theranos. Charismatic founder Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout, started the company at 19 with a promise to revolutionize blood tests and healthcare. Nothing went as planned, other than the company's incredible ability to raise ridiculous amounts of funding.

Filled with narcissistic personalities, delusions, shady dealings, fraudulent claims, and a propulsive plot, Bad Blood is a book that you won't put down (I recommend the audiobook for a riveting listen). If you want to learn more about the story of this biotech company and the personalities involved, check out the documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.

This book is available to read or listen to on Overdrive.

Book Club: And Then There Were None

Join us on Tuesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. for our second online book club meeting. We are discussing And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook from Hoopla with your IPPL card.

Please register here so we can send you a Zoom invite closer to the date so you can join the online discussion.

Continue the fun with a discussion of the TV miniseries based on this book on Tuesday, May 12. Register here!



Online Book Party

Join us on Monday, April 20 at 7pm to chat all things books. Share what you're reading, catch up with fellow readers, and get ideas for what to read next. It's a casual conversation--no prep required.

Please register here so we can send you a Zoom invite closer to the date so you can join the online discussion.

Spotlight: Harry Potter Music

When I'm in search of comfort music, I return to old favorites. Among those are the soundtracks from each of the eight Harry Potter films, all available on Hoopla. I adore listening to the scores developed by composers John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat.

"Hedwig's Theme" is instantly recognizable, but it's fun to listen to the lesser known songs and see if you can picture the scene in the movie.

If the thought of listening to (even shuffling) eight soundtracks sounds overwhelming, check out The Complete Harry Potter Film Collection from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. They play the best of the eight films in a two-hour collection—and it only requires one of your monthly Hoopla borrows!