Jennifer

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (2016)

singlesgameAfter a devastating injury at Wimbledon, 24-year-old Charlotte "Charlie" Silver questions her coach and her sedate lifestyle, but not her future in the sport of tennis. How far is she willing to go to make it to the top? In this delightfully snarky fast-paced coming of age tale, Lauren Weisberger provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of competitive tennis. Perfect for the beach!

The Singles Game is the latest novel from the author of The Devil Wears Prada.
Jennifer

Penelope (2006) PG

penelopeA darling contemporary fantasy, Penelope is the story of a girl affected by a family curse. Due to a great-grandfather's perfidy, Penelope (Christina Ricci) is born with a pig snout. Legend says only love from one of her own kind can break the curse, and so her mother (Catherine O'Hara) arranges introductions to a string of blue bloods as potential husbands.

Enter Max (James McAvoy). He and Penelope connect, yet something's not quite right. Penelope flees home, embarking on her first adventure at the age of 25. This charming modern fairy tale isn't always what it seems.
Jennifer

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (2011)

leftneglectedYou might recognize Lisa Genova from her blockbuster book (and movie) Still Alice. But you’d be remiss to skip Left Neglected, a fascinating and compelling story about a woman forced to reexamine her life following a car accident. 38-year-old Sarah leads a high octane life, juggling an 80 hour workweek with her family (husband and three kids). When a traumatic brain injury makes her unaware of everything on the left side, Sarah must rehabilitate her brain and body while reassessing her priorities.

A thought-provoking read and a great choice for your next book club.
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Jennifer

Spotlight: Acapella

After watching Pitch Perfect, a hilarious comedy about dueling college acapella groups, I started exploring more recent music in this style.

straightnochaserThe New Old Fashioned by Straight No Chaser (2015)

The group’s fifth album includes their unique take on some of today’s biggest hits: I particularly enjoyed “All About that Bass (No Tenors)” and “Shut Up and Dance.” They also feature mashups of popular songs, but the best track is “The Movie Medley,” which features the soundtracks and hilarious commentary about famous movies including Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Forrest Gump. Also available on Hoopla.

pentatonixPentatonix  by Pentatonix (2015)

In their most recent studio album, Pentatonix moves from covering popular hits to releasing all original material. Pentatonix is a catchy mix of upbeat songs that will tempt you to sing and dance along with the group. Particularly enjoyable is “Sing.”

And did you know? You can check out Pentatonix as Team Canada in Pitch Perfect 2.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I don’t mention the soundtracks to both Pitch Perfect (especially “Bellas Finals” featuring a mashup of six songs) and its sequel Pitch Perfect 2 (look for “Anyway You Want It” performed by five groups). Also available on Hoopla.
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Jennifer

Lock In by John Scalzi (2014)

lockinRequired: a willingness to suspend disbelief and go along for the gripping ride. In this near futuristic thriller, newly minted FBI Agent Chris Shane gets thrust into a complicated case on his first day.

NPR summarizes the premise best: in this world, Haden's Syndrome is “a global, meningitis-like pandemic that, in addition to killing lots of people, also left a certain percentage of them completely paralyzed. This paralysis is called ‘lock in.’” Shane is a Haden and uses a personal transport device to navigate the world (hence the futuristic technology part).

Science fiction isn’t my go-to genre, and it may not be yours, but if you enjoy fast-paced adventures with a mystery to solve, give this one a shot. In John Scalzi’s Lock In, the world is grounded in enough reality that theoretically it could happen. And Will Wheaton does a fantastic job narrating the novel. Highly recommended.
Jennifer

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (2016)

missbridgertonWith her trademark humor and snappy dialogue, Julia Quinn introduces readers to a new generation of Bridgertons--and launches a new series with Because of Miss Bridgerton. Neighbors Billie Bridgerton and George Rokesby have bickered their entire lives. But when Billie needs rescuing after her impulsive actions land her on the roof of an abandoned farmhouse, something changes... You'll relish the journey in this sparkling, delightful historical romance.

Curious about those other Bridgertons? We own (in print and ebook) the witty novels featuring each of the eight siblings.
Jennifer

Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (2016)

befrank9-year-old Frank is quirky, lovable, and exasperating. He has trouble relating to other kids, he dresses like a 1930s movie star, and he’s full of random facts. His mother Mimi (better known as M. M. Banning) wrote an incomparable novel at 19. She’s published nothing since (think Harper Lee).

When 50ish Mimi promises to write a second novel if she has an assistant, her publisher sends Alice. A New Yorker thrust into the eccentricities of Hollywood, Alice must decipher the craziness that is now her life.

An endearing and clever novel, Be Frank with Me is easily a one-sitting read. You’ll be turning the pages of Julia Claiborne Johnson’s debut to find out just what will happen next.
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Jennifer

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (2016)

saltseaTitanic. Lusitania. Wilhelm Gustloff. All major maritime disasters, yet the latter is virtually unknown. Ruta Sepetys changes that in her latest gripping historical novel. Told in short snippets, Salt to the Sea rotates between four narrators attempting to escape various tragedies in 1945 Europe. Powerful and haunting, heartbreaking and hopeful, a must-read for adults and teens.

As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Sepetys sheds light on a little known slice of history, drawing you into the story through the eyes of unforgettable characters.
Jennifer

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean (2015)

roguenottakenSophie Talbot doesn't suffer fools...which backfires when her impulsive action involving her degenerate brother-in-law (a duke) and a fish pond is witnessed by all of society. Thwarting her escape is the rakish Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley, who thinks she's trying to trap him into marriage. What follows is a crazy adventure across England with witty repartee and unexpected discoveries. Plus, (truly) dark secrets are revealed in The Rogue Not Taken. Prepare to fall in love with Sarah MacLean in this series starter.
Jennifer

Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

emmaJuliet Stevenson's delightful rendition of this classic was the perfect way to experience Jane Austen. Her command of the many characters and their quirks brought out the humor and heart in Austen's words.

Check out the audio version of Emma in Hoopla, or read a print copy. And if you already know (and love) Emma, check out Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy. I think you’ll see a few endearing similarities between Emma and Sophy.
Jennifer

ER. Season 1 (1994-1995)

ers1I recently revisited the medical drama that started it all. Set in Chicago, ER follows the personal and professional lives of the doctors, nurses, and interns working in the emergency room of County General Hospital. While much of the technology has changed, the fast-paced electrifying show still grabs your attention for the 44 minute episodes. Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) created the show based on his own time as a resident in a busy urban hospital.

Season 1 garnered 8 Emmy wins, including Julianna Marguiles for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Check out the Variety review of the pilot. And revisit the early days of ER to get a look at a young George Clooney (as playboy pediatrician Doug Ross), a baby-faced Noah Wyle (as trauma surgery intern John Carter), plus try to spot famous guest stars including Rosemary Clooney, William H. Macy, and Ming-Na Wen. Episode “Love’s Labor Lost” nabbed 5 Emmys, features a major turning point for Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), and includes a guest appearance by Bradley Whitford.

Can’t wait to reacquaint myself with season 2!
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Jennifer

The Martian by Andy Weir (2014)

martianDid I understand all of the science? No. But it didn't matter. I challenge you not to get drawn into Mark Watney's epic quest for survival after he is accidentally left behind on Mars. A thrilling adventure, The Martian is largely told through the log entries of this snarky astronaut with glimpses of NASA personnel on Earth and in space. You may have seen the Matt Damon-led movie adaptation (or at least the previews), but I encourage you to pick up Andy Weir's novel!
Jennifer

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz (2015)

startafireIn a departure from her Spellman mysteries, Lisa Lutz explores the friendship between three women over a twenty-year span. Anna, Kate, and George meet in college. Through heartbreak and triumph, their lives are revealed in an engaging story with multiple perspectives and a non-linear timeline.

While this is women's fiction and not mystery, How to Start a Fire has the signature Lutz quirky characters and quick wit. A clever yet reflective look at the ebbs and flows of lifelong friendships.
Jennifer

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) R

olympushasfallenWhen telling a friend about Olympus Has Fallen, I called it “Die Hard for the 21st century.” If you’re in the mood for an intense action adventure film (and don’t mind the implausibility), check this one out. Gerard Butler gives a strong performance as the disgraced Secret Service agent who penetrates the White House to save the president (Aaron Eckhart) after terrorists seize the building. Also starring Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, and Dylan McDermott.
Jennifer

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (2014)

unknownamericansTold in alternating first person narratives, The Book of Unknown Americans details the experiences of multiple Latin American immigrants living in a Delaware apartment complex. Cristina Henriquez’ moving, compelling tale showcases families, communities, triumphs, and tragedies.

I loved this book – the endearing characters, the enthralling story, and the lyrical writing grabbed me, prompting me to keep frantically turning the pages, only to be disappointed when there were no more pages to turn.

For other immigrant experiences, check out our bibliography here.