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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) PG-13

manfromuncleWith a lot of action, funny parts, and some serious scenes, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was really an enjoyable movie. Starring Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, the film is set in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War.

Curious about the original TV show of the same name? Check it out – we own the complete series (seasons 1-4), which ran from 1964-1968.

Ant-Man (2015) PG-13

antmanAnt-Man is a fun movie. Although it has more comedic moments than your typical Marvel superhero film, Ant-Man faces serious threats, and there is plenty of action. Paul Rudd is great in the title role, especially when he unexpectedly battles one of the Avengers, and Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly give great performances. This origin movie is a must see for Marvel followers as Ant-Man will definitely be appearing in future films in the Marvel universe.

Gotham. Season 1 (2014-2015)

gothamIn Gotham City, everyone is used to Batman being the absolute main character. However, in the show Gotham, Batman doesn’t exist yet. There is only Bruce Wayne: a young boy overwhelmed by the trauma of witnessing the cold-blooded murder of his parents.

Instead, the show revolves around the adventures of Jim Gordon, a young detective that recently joined the Gotham City PD, who struggles to catch bad guys while dealing with the rampant corruption in the city. His first case? Solve the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony (2009)

elephantIn this compelling book, Lawrence Anthony is asked to take a troubled wild elephant herd into his wildlife reserve in Zululand, South Africa, or they will be killed. The Elephant Whisperer deals with elephants learning to trust a man and life on the reserve with his wife and dogs, including handling poachers and the Zulu people. Lawrence’s bond with the matriarch Nana is particularly touching, especially when she brings her newborn baby to meet him. His engaging and sometimes humorous stories of life with the elephants made me empathetic towards their plight.

The Elephant Whisperer will appeal to both animal lovers and adventure readers. The expressive narration by Simon Vance, a four time Audie Award winner, enhances the listening experience.

The Avengers (2012) PG-13

avengersIf you only saw one superhero movie in your life, this would be the one to see. Earth’s greatest heroes are thrown together to fight against an alien invasion led by the powerful villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Can they work together, though, to stop this overwhelming threat?

The Avengers has many characters, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), not to mention S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Despite such a large cast, the movie provides enough backstory to fully develop each character without detracting from the almost constant action and stunning visual effects. The Avengers is not simply a superhero movie, it is THE superhero movie.

The Martian by Andy Weir (2014)

martianMark Watney is an astronaut accidentally stranded on Mars with too little food, no way to communicate with Earth, and no way home. Plus, everyone thinks he’s already dead. So, this is what he does…

Did you know? The Martian by Andy Weir took a not-quite-typical journey to getting published. Read about it here. For another take on The Martian, check out Jennifer's review.

Back to the Future (1985) PG

backfutureMarty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, is accidentally sent back in time 30 years to 1955 by his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). While Marty works desperately to find a way back to the future, he inadvertently interferes with the relationship of his high school age parents. If he does not get them to unite, he may cease to exist. Christopher Lloyd is brilliant as nutty Doc Brown, and Michael J. Fox has just the right combination of awkward and cool to make you laugh and cheer at the same time. Back to the Future is a fun adventure comedy that the whole family will love.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (2014)

3bodyproblemCixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem begins with a top secret Chinese project just after the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and on into the future, Earth tries to (and perhaps does) make contact with the civilizations of Trisolaris, a planet several light years away. Trisolaris, dominated by three suns, has eons of stable, then chaotic seasons in which culture flourishes then crashes with disastrous results. Inhabitants dehydrate their bodies to survive. Scientific efforts to predict gravitational motion in a three body system have perplexed physicists on Trisolaris (and Earth) for ages. Only a few on Earth know of these extra-terrestrial efforts begun by the Chinese and later appearing in strange video games.

If the Trisolarians migrate to our solar system to escape the certain destruction of their planet, should Earth welcome them as superior beings or fight an invading enemy?

Check back in a few weeks to check out my review of the second book in the series: The Dark Forest.

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!

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.

Signal by Patrick Lee (2015)

signalWith a device that can't be explained by logic or reality, power hungry villains, and a secret government project, Signal is another fast-paced futuristic thrilling adventure. Once I got over my disappointment that we wouldn't be seeing more of Rachel, I became engrossed in Sam's next escapade. Brought in by his old colleague Claire, Sam must race against the clock to battle a sightless enemy with a constant advantage.

Just like the first in the series (Runner), you'll need to suspend your disbelief. A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen, but you'll be frantically flipping the pages to discover what comes next in Patrick Lee’s latest conspiracy novel.

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly (2014)

burningroomHarry Bosch is near retirement and is assigned to cold cases with a young but very bright partner who has received favorable publicity from her last assignment. He and his young partner find themselves investigating two unusual cases simultaneously. The first involves the recent death of a victim shot 10 years before and the second case, the death of children in a fire from which his partner, as a child, survived. The cases would appear unrelated except for an anonymous phone call (placed by Harry?) on the department tip line.

The young partner and the reader have the benefit of Harry’s experience on a fast-paced tour involving a grisly autopsy, an arrest of a loner survivalist, political and departmental pressure, along with lots of sound but risky police investigation. At the end, could there be penance and redemption for a wrongdoer, and does Harry keep his job for yet another case?

Check out Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch novel The Burning Room (for another take, check out The New York Times review). And if you enjoy the adventures of Harry Bosch, check out our list of other popular mystery and suspense series.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (2014)

louisepennyFormer Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has retired from the Quebec police and is enjoying a peaceful retirement with his wife Reine-Marie in Three Pines. Life is serene with good food, company of friends, and social gatherings. But Clara and Peter Morrow have had a riff, agreeing to separate for one year and meet again to assess their relationship. After that one year Peter fails to return and Clara, in distress, seeks help from the good inspector.

Gamache and his prior associate Guy Beauvoir join with Clara and her friend Myrna in the search. They trace Peter’s journey from Quebec to Scotland then return to visit Peter’s art professor and family in Canada and end with a stormy voyage along the St. Lawrence. Strange paintings Peter left with a young relative may be important to resolve the mystery. Jealousies, danger, and storms plague the investigators throughout the search in Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home.

Vikings. Seasons 1 & 2 (2013-2014) TV14

vikingss1Imagine Game of Thrones but with Vikings. Action, political intrigue, and betrayals only begins to describe it. Simply put...it's amazing.

Viking farmer Ragnar Lothbrok dreams of sailing west to discover new lands, but timid and conservative Earl Haraldson refuses to consider his request. Ignoring his commands, Ragnar sets sail and opens the West to Viking raids and starts off a power struggle between him and his earl.

Check out both seasons 1 and 2 of Vikings from the library today. Visit History.com for a behind the scenes look at the show, including videos, pictures, and blogs.

The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre (2001)

constantgardenerA gruesome murder of Tessa Quayle in northern Kenya sets off the action of this gripping story. The Constant Gardener is not just the story of a diplomat seeking to find those responsible for the murder of his beautiful young wife, but also a parable of the conflict between forces seeking power and money opposed by those led by human values. The title is most appropriate as Justin Quale persists in uncovering those responsible in the face of powerful and deadly opposition. The ending is sad but not unexpected as Justin in one sense does accomplish some of the goals of his most courageous wife and finds a way to reconnect with her.

Of his 23 novels, John Le Carre rates Gardener as one of his four best.