Staff Picks & Reviews

May Picks

Classic Movies Available Through Hoopla Digital
Recommended by Aaron D. (Palmetto)

What better time to catch up on timeless Oscar Award-winning films you’ve long heard about but never got around to watching (or maybe it’s time for a nostalgic screening)? Hoopla has plenty of classic movie choices right at your fingertips, including:

  1. Ben Hur (1959)
  2. Chicago (2002)
  3. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  4. No Country For Old Men (2007)
  5. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  6. The English Patient (1996)

Science Fiction and Fantasy Favorites on Hoopla Digital
Recommended by Joel M. (Downtown Library)

Fans of fantasy can find some excellent classics on Hoopla, and now is a great time to read them. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is an easy introduction to Middle Earth, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is available as audio dramas that you can listen to at home or on the go. If you want a deeper dive into Middle Earth, check out Tolkien’s Silmarillion, a sweeping story that ties together all the other tales in Tolkien’s world. Another classic, but vastly different than Tolkien, is Robert Howard’s Weird Tales of Conan the Barbarian. This collection of stories about Howard’s famous hero Conan the Cimmerian paints a world of danger, intrigue, and adventure. The stories are shorter than Tolkien’s sweeping narratives and have a more intimate feel to them. Conan is a larger than life character who is never far away from peril and action.

The Princess Bride is a cult classic movie, but the book by William Goldman is a fun perspective on the story that might be new to many people. Packed with as much humor as the film, The Princess Bride is presented as an abridged version of a much longer, boring (and fictious) book by “S. Morganstern.” Look for it under the author William Goldman on Hoopla and prepare to laugh with every page.

Something newer and vastly different is Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven Trilogy; a retelling of the Robin Hood legend in a more historical setting, but not one you’ve seen before! Set not long after the Norman Conquest, young Bran must decide whether or not to take up the mystical title of King Raven and fight for the freedom of the Welsh people. Based on the author’s attempt to find the roots of the Robin Hood legend, the trilogy reinterprets the classic story in a brand-new way.

If graphic novels are more your speed, or if you’re simply looking for a new format to try, check out the Dragonlance Chronicles or Dungeons and Dragons: Drizzt. Adaptations of novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (in the case of Dragonlance) and R.A. Salvatore (Drizzt), these graphic novels are full of engaging characters and exciting story. If you’ve been bitten by the Dungeons and Dragons bug already, you might be interested to know that the first volume of Vox Machina Origins is on Hoopla as well! Catch up with the characters of Critical Role in their first graphic novel, written by Matt Mercer and Matt Colville.


April Picks

Looking for a good laugh? Try Bill Murray
Recommended by Mary F. (Braden River)

Dive into books and movies of one of the funniest actors and iconic public figures of the past few decades. HooplaDigital is just the source for all things Bill. Well, maybe not all things!

View Bill Murray in The Grand Budapest Hotel, or if reading is your passion, borrow the eBook, The Art of Being Bill: The Many Faces of Awesome by Ezra Croft and Jennifer Raiser. Adult humor and artful images abound in this book featuring this well-loved character who has graced us with his off-beat style. And if you’re missing out on your golf game or you just can’t get enough of the sport, borrow Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk.  

British Mysteries Available on HooplaDigital
Recommended by Liz Williams (Island)

Vera: Based on novels by Ann Cleeves, this TV series is set in the wilds of Northumberland and features crusty detective Vera Stanhope. Vera abuses her long-suffering staff, insults witnesses and looks shabby but always gets her criminal.

Agatha Christie’s Poirot: This classic British detective series features Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, the greatest detective in the world…according to him.

Queens of Mystery: This newer series introduces recently promoted police detective Matilda Stone, whose cases are always interfered with by her three quirky aunts. Their family history is full of secrets, including what happened to Matilda’s mom.

Agatha Raisin: Ashley Jensen stars as the stylish PR executive who retires to the Cotswolds from London and finds she is a fish out of water in the countryside. She stumbles across a murder and can’t help poking her nose into the investigation.

Foyle’s War: Set during World War II, this excellent series stars Michael Kitchen as Inspector Foyle, trying to solve murders during wartime England. His calm demeanor and trusty driver Samantha help him work through tangles of wartime espionage and intrigue. 

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
Recommended by Aileen (Palmetto)

Elliot Schafer does not fit in anywhere. Not in a home with a dad who barely acknowledges his presence and an absent mother; and definitely not at a school where he pushes away others before they can torment him. So no one is more surprised than Elliot when a magical military training academy that protects the border wall between the magical and the “real” worlds recruits him. While a pacifist by nature, Elliot is quickly attracted by the prospect of serving as a diplomatic councilor to the Borderlands, peopled by mermaids, elves, dwarves and other magical folk. Magic takes a back seat, though, to Elliot finding what he thought was never available to him, true friends and young love that can see past the walls he has steadily built around himself.

New York Times' bestselling author Brennan returns with this whip-smart novel. Firmly ensconced in a fantasy setting, the story jumps straight into steady world-building and excellent character development, neither of which feel overwhelming. Maneuvering ages 13 through 17, readers will laugh at the one-liners and tongue-in-cheek exchanges as Elliot and friends grow up, balance friendship and love, and find their places in a world that seems bent on pushing them aside. This novel impeccably weaves in LGBTQ issues, turns binary gender norms on their head, and presents the true cost of war in human terms. Perfect for teens looking for a humorous, subversive fantasy standalone that is lighter on action than many others in this genre.

Recommended by Tiffany (Palmetto)

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (Hoopla)
Genesis by Robin Cook (Overdrive) 
Funny You don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary (Hoopla/Overdrive)

Recommended by Megan (Palmetto)
Moonstruck Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel, Hoopla)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (Movie, Hoopla)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Overdrive)
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (Overdrive)
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Overdrive)

Romantic Comedies Available on Hoopla
Recommended by Callie H. (Island)

Feeling nostalgic and looking for something to watch to pass the time?  Be like Elle Woods and try something new (for her it was law school) and give Hoopla a try. Here’s a list of a few movies I’ve enjoyed that are available for check out:

Legally Blonde
13 Going on 30
Failure to Launch
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Kate and Leopold

Fantastic Voyages, books that take you on strange and imaginative journeys
Recommended by Rachel (Downtown)
Available as e-books or e-audiobooks

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende: When a lonely boy finds a special book in a bookstore, he steals it and brings it to his school’s attic where he starts to read. The boy is introduced to the magical land of Fansastica and soon learns that he has become part of the story. In order to rescue this land and its inhabitants from impending doom, he joins a quest where he is required to save the Empress. While you may have seen the film, the movie only tells half of the story and does not accurately portray the book. The book continues with the other half of the story and goes into much greater detail about his journey, all the while providing vivid descriptions of unforgettable characters and lands.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: A graduate student finds a mysterious book hidden in the library. As he reads it, it leads him to an ancient library hidden far below the earth, filled with lost cities, twisted tunnels, mysterious staircases, dark forests and magical seas. There he meets a remarkable cast of characters including pirates, magicians, a painter and an Owl King. It consists of many different stories and myths, each intricately woven together. Each one presents a unique puzzle with certain clues and is written in such an ethereal way; you just beg for more.

The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia) by CS Lewis: Although you are probably familiar with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this lesser-known chronicle is equally evocative. This is about the making of the land of Narnia, which is discovered by two children who steal magic rings from an eccentric uncle and are transported to different parts of Narnia by jumping into different pools in the woods. There they are confronted by the forces of good and evil while meeting key characters and discovering new worlds.

Worthy books your book club can enjoy without being worried about finding a copy or waiting
Recommended by Emily (Island)

Ripped apart by circumstances unseen (sounds familiar, right?): An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (audiobook)

Humor, Tenderness and Love: Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (e-book)

An uplifting story of how one man changes the world, one school at a time: Three Cups of Tea (audiobook)

A trip back in time to 1963: When We Were The Kennedys (e-book)

One of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory: Orchid Thief (audiobook)