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Katie

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (2018)

bellesCamellia is a Belle. Belles are the most important people in the kingdom, other than the royal family, because they control beauty. In the world of Orléans, everyone is born a "gris": gray skin, red eyes, straw colored hair. Only the Belles can grant a person a new look, using their magic to change appearance, manner, and control age.

Camellia wants to become the Favorite Belle—to work in the palace and work for the royal family. But is that life really what it seems? When dark mysteries arise, like crying girls in the middle of the night and former Belles being veiled, Camellia must decide to find her own truth in beauty.

I've listened to The Belles on audio twice. Rosie Jones, the narrator, does a wonderful job with voices and accents. She makes the city of Orléans come to life, and her take on Princess Sophia's voice still sends shivers up my spine.

I love Dhonielle Clayton's descriptions of the world of Orléans – the post balloons and petit cakes and teletropes – the world building is fantastic.

The last few pages of this book will keep readers on the edge of their seat. And when they read the last line, they'll be clamoring for the sequel The Everlasting Rose, out March 5, 2019. [Beware! There are spoilers on the linked page for The Belles.]

In the meantime, you can join me as I start my third re-listen.
Hugh

The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley (2018)

judgeThis read is a fun tour of the British and Dutch colonies of North America in the mid-17th century. The principal character, Balty, although young and inexperienced, is charged with finding the two judges who signed the death warrant for King Charles I of England. Balty links up with Huncks, an experienced agent of the Crown, who guides Balty through the new world territories populated by Puritans, Quakers, Native Americans, and finally the Dutch.

Meanwhile, back in England, Balty’s cousin, Samuel Pepys, fears a war with the Dutch might be imminent and Balty might be in great danger. Almost miraculously, Balty survives and New Amsterdam gets a new name.

Check out The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley today.
Jez

Tag (2018) R

91dceafsxzl-_sx342_If you want an action movie with low stakes, look no further than TagBased on a true story, five friends have been playing the same game of tag since childhood.  Now in their mid-30s, these men dedicate a month each year to continuing the game, pulling all kinds of tricks in order to tag someone.  A reporter from The Wall Street Journal is doing a piece on Bob (Jon Hamm) when he’s tagged and decides the game is the more interesting story.

One friend, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never once been it, so the other four are determined to make this the year it finally happens.  Full of ridiculous action scenes that beautifully spoof Renner’s other movies, this is a fun film with lots of recognizable comedy faces, including Ed Helm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, and Isla Fisher.

 
Joe

Big Hero 6 (2014) PG

844856_1_ftcBig Hero 6 is a superhero movie that adults would enjoy watching with the whole family.  The plot revolves around orphans Hiro and Tadashi, technological whiz kids living with their aunt.  College-age Tadashi created an inflatable robot named Baymax, whose purpose is to act as a portable paramedic/doctor. When someone steals younger brother Hiro’s invention to use for evil, Hiro gives Baymax a few superhero upgrades.  Also, check out our list, Great Movies: Kid Movies for Adults.

 
 
Katie

Moana (2016) PG

moana_dvd_coverMoana is a spectacular adventure movie.  Charged with returning the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, Moana leaves her island nation and sails away on her mission.  I absolutely love the animation of this movie.  The ocean is a character in and of itself because of the creative team's work.  Some of my favorite moments though are those of Moana's introspection and self-realization.  Moana is a very different Disney "princess."  First of all, she rejects the word princess, and she has her own agenda, making the decision to follow her draw to the ocean. Also, she alone solves the mystery of Te Ka in order to save Te Fiti.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful music that sets Moana soaring.  While I love Auliʻi Cravalho's voice (the voice of Moana) and "How Far I'll Go," my favorite songs are the ones that are sung in Tokelauan.  Lastly, I would encourage you to seek out reviews from Pacific Islander reviewers to speak to the culture represented in the movie.  This Buzzfeed article is a great round-up of dialogue, and so is this review from Strange Horizons.

All in all, I think Moana is a genuine, worthwhile story and a great Disney film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Joe

The Matrix (1999) R

51vpnbwfhrl-_sy445_Neo (Keanu Reeves) is a computer hacker with a somewhat ordinary life…but all is not as it seems.  When government agents suddenly show up at his work looking for him, Neo is forced to enlist the aid of a mysterious man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who promises to reveal the true nature of reality—the Matrix.  Should Neo join Morpheus’s secret group?  The Matrix is full of amazing visual effects with a mind-blowing plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat right ‘til the end.
IPPL Staff

Cowboy Bebop. The Complete Series (1998-2003) TV-MA

51x5myp3xxl-1If you’re a Firefly fan, then you’ll definitely love Cowboy Bebop.  Both are space-westerns with a sassy, devil-may-care crew.  Join Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, Edward, and last but not least welsh corgi, Ein, on their adventures bounty-hunting their way through space.  If you enjoy comedic action/adventures with a dramatic flair, this is the anime for you.
Jez

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

pacific-rim-uprisingLast month, I covered Pacific Rim. In the second film, Pacific Rim: Uprising, we meet Pentecost’s son, Jake (John Boyega), who is constantly getting into trouble in a post-dystopian world. He tries to steal tech from an abandoned jaeger and is thwarted by Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a young girl building her own jaeger, which is against the law. Mako—now a major player in the war on kaiju—does her best to keep her adoptive brother in line and eventually offers Jake and Amara a choice: prison or returning to the jaeger academy to help train new recruits. Though the war is supposedly over, a new enemy—a human one—threatens to reopen the rift and allow the kaiju back into our world.

Both movies are full of action and memorable characters and, honestly, who doesn’t love giant robots? Check out both films today and make it an adventure double feature. By the end, you’ll be hoping it doesn’t take another five years for the next movie to be released.
Jennifer

1356 by Bernard Cornwell (2013)

1356A gripping historical adventure filled with compelling characters, 1356 details another segment of the fight for supremacy among England, France, and the church. While this is Bernard Cornwell’s fourth novel featuring Thomas of Hookton, you can jump right in to this standalone story.

1356 is an action-packed tale of intrigue, political machinations, and a quest culminating with the Battle of Poitiers during the Hundred Years’ War. Thomas and his band of mercenaries adhere to strong moral code, often putting them at odds with others in medieval France.

For fans of history and historical fiction, military and war stories, quests, and compelling characters. Just a warning: this novel features several battles, so includes some graphic (though not gory) violence.

Pro tip: Listen to the dramatic narration by Jack Hawkins for distinctly voiced characters, gritty battle scenes, and intense adventure.

 
Jez

Pacific Rim (2013) PG-13

pacific_rim_keyartIn Pacific Rim, we’re introduced to a world plagued by monsters called “kaiju,” which are breaking through a dimensional rift and seem intent on destroying all life on Earth. The world’s militaries have found the only logical way to fight back against the kaiju: giant robots (“jaegers”). Former jaeger pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) is called out of retirement to help in the war and gets teamed up with a young recruit, Mako Mori (Rinko Kinkuchi), the adoptive daughter of the Marshal, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). The two are able to mentally bond through a process called “drifting,” which is required to operate a jaeger. Meanwhile, two scientists Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) study the kaijus and find a way to drift with a kaiju brain, giving them inside information on the coming attacks. Battles ensue as the humans fight for the fate of their planet and try to close the rift.

Come back next month for my review of the sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising.
Mary

Coco (2017) PG

au_movie_poster_coco_1_50f85f97A beautiful animated film wrapped up in the traditions and folklore of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertes (Day of the Dead). Twelve-year-old Miguel wants to be a musician, but his family has banned music from their lives for several generations. Intent on pursuing his dream, his ends up in The Land of the Dead on Dia de los Muertes to find his great-great-grandfather who was a famous musician. Miguel not only discovers his family’s real history but also finds out the importance of family in his life.

Coco won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (for “Remember Me”). Check out the soundtrack on CD and on Hoopla.
Katie

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (2017)

hellouniversekellyHello, Universe was one book that I had to read in a single sitting because I was so enthralled with the story telling. Told by four very different characters, their storylines intertwine and meet throughout . The adventure is high-stakes (at least for a claustrophobic like me!), and I loved watching the characters develop and progress through their actions and thoughts.

My favorite character was Virgil Salinas. I loved his relationship with his pet, Gulliver, and with his lola (grandmother). He feels out of place in his family since he's not interested in sports. He's also the character who I felt the most concerned for, in terms of the adventure that he takes.

But I think what really made this a special read for me is that I read it the week before I heard Erin Entrada Kelly give her acceptance speech for winning the Newbery Award. The combination of book and speech is unforgettable and I'm so looking forward to anything Kelly writes next...including the Golden Valley High series. Ha!
Jez

Thor: Ragnarok (2018) PG-13

thorragnarokWith an overabundance of superhero films, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be easy to assume if you’ve seen some, you’ve seen them all. Thor: Ragnarok is the movie that can fix all that. Infused with humor, side eye, and some tongue-in-cheek references, the third Thor movie is a breath of fresh air that is enjoyable for all viewers, not just those deep in Marvel lore. This film can even be watched reasonably easily without having seen the two previous movies or any of the Avengers tie-ins.

20 and 30-something adults can join us for a free viewing of Thor: Ragnarok on Friday, August 3rd at 6:30 p.m. as part of our #LibSocial Popcorn & Pop Culture series. We’ll laugh along to the jokes and admire Jeff Goldblum at his most Goldblum while munching on snacks and meeting new friends. For more information, visit http://libsocial.ippl.info or follow us on Meetup.
Jez

Spotlight: Fast & Furious Films

the_fast_and_the_furious_dvd_coverLAPD officer Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) has gone undercover to take down a team of street racers, but his loyalties are tested when he has to choose between his job and his love of racing. Throughout the eight movies (so far) in the Fast & Furious series, O’Connor and Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) sometimes race against each other and sometimes with each other, but always in the most tricked out cars possible. While the series may look like just a bunch of fast cars, it actually has a strong message about family and loyalty throughout—but there’s definitely fast cars, heists, shootouts, and everything else you could want from an action flick.

My personal favorite is Fast Five, which brings together all of the best characters from the series and sets them on an Ocean’s Eleven style heist and has the best visual tricks. Tokyo Drift (third in the franchise) is a great movie if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to eight movies, but be warned, it’s going to pull at your heartstrings. F&F is infamous for its complicated naming sequence, so here’s a list of the movies in order, including the upcoming 2019 spin-off. Click on the titles to view them in our catalog.
  1. The Fast and the Furious
  2. 2 Fast 2 Furious
  3. Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
  4. Fast and Furious
  5. Fast Five
  6. Fast and Furious 6
  7. Furious 7
  8. Fate of the Furious
  9. Hobbs & Shaw (in theatres August 2, 2019)
Jez

Artemis by Andy Weir (2017)

artemisJazz Bashara, a 26 year-old Saudi-Arabian woman, has spent the last two decades living in Artemis, the only city on the moon. Even off-Earth, life is still a struggle, and Jazz survives by smuggling contraband to anyone who will pay. When one of her wealthiest clients offers her a chance to escape her poverty, she can’t say no, even to a little covert sabotage. Things do not go well, leading to a series of events that put Jazz—and the whole city of Artemis—in mortal danger.

Andy Weir brings to Artemis everything that made his previous book, The Martian, a breakaway hit. He’s given us yet another suspenseful adventure tale with excellent pacing, quick-thinking MacGyver-like escapes, and scientific know-how. Unlike The Martian’s Mark Watney, however, Jazz is not alone on her world and by the end, she’s assembled a ragtag crew to pull off a heist that could save—or end—their lives.