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!


The Client

A street smart 11-year-old boy steals the scene in this classic legal thriller. Mark Sway witnesses the suicide of mob lawyer Jerome Clifford. What did Jerome confess to this child? That's what all of the adults are trying to figure out in this fast-paced adventure. Mark hires Reggie Love, a 50ish woman who has been practicing law for four years. A fierce advocate, Reggie is strong, smart, and protective.

If you enjoy child narrators, strong female leads, gripping thrillers, or any combination of those, pick up this 1993 novel by John Grisham. The Client has aged well. I couldn't put this one down.

Check out our list of legal thrillers for more books in this genre. Also, you can judge the movie adaptation: The Client was released in 1994, starring Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones.

Read or listen to the book today via Overdrive.



The Queens of Animation

In this eye-opening, fascinating, and heartbreaking account, author Nathalia Holt takes readers through the history of female animators at the storied Walt Disney Company. Women faced great obstacles personally and professionally (harassment, intimidation, abuse), making this story difficult to read at times. And yet, it's gripping. The stories of Mary Blair, Sylvia Moberly-Holland, and Bianca Majolie intertwined with the detailed history of the studio and the larger world make for a compelling read. While the focus is on the early years, the author takes readers through the studio's renaissance of the early 90s and the 2013 blockbuster Frozen. Warning: life at Disney wasn't always a fairy tale.

If you enjoy hidden histories (such as Hidden Figures), you'll appreciate The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History (2019). The engrossing story is well worth a listen, thanks to the fantastic performance by Saskia Maarleveld.



Blinded by the Light

What kind of world do we want to live in? From Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham, comes another feel-good film about coming of age and struggling with familial expectations.

Set in 1980s England, British Pakistani teen Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, inspiring him to change his life. Loosely based on the memoir of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film Blinded by the Light (2019, PG-13) features Bruce Springsteen's words and music as a character.


The Worst Best Man

Wedding planner Carolina (Lina) Santos doesn't advertise the fact that she was left at the altar three years ago. So when she walks into the biggest meeting of her career and sees her ex-fiancé and his brother Max, she impulsively pretends she doesn't know them. When she must work with Max to pitch to a potential boss, the forced proximity makes them see each other in a new light.

The Worst Best Man (2020) is a romantic comedy full of heart, humor, and awkward situations. It also has fabulous characters: Lina's strong Brazilian family plays a large role, as do her girlfriends. If you enjoyed Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet (start with Vision in White) or Lauren Layne's Wedding Belles (start with To Have and To Hold), you'll enjoy Mia Sosa's story of weddings, family, and friendships. For another romance featuring strong family ties, try His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras.

Find more romantic comedies (we made a list!).

Join us on Tuesday, February 18 at 7pm to Celebrate Romance Reads. Hear about recent releases, books into movies/TV shows, and more. Whether you're a voracious reader or a romance newbie, there will be something for you.



Lobby Baby

In his 2019 comedy special, Seth Meyers provides plenty of heart with his humor.  Named after the infamous incident of his wife giving birth in the lobby of their apartment building, Lobby Baby (TV-MA) features funny anecdotes mostly about family, relationships, and life.  If politics aren't your thing, Netflix even built in an option to skip over the political comedy.

Former head writer of Saturday Night Live and current host of Late Night with Seth Meyers, Meyers provides sweet and charming stories throughout this hour-long standup routine.  Check out one of our Rokus with Netflix to watch this special.

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