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The Shape of Water (2017) R

shapeofwaterGuillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor’s masterpiece is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. The cinematography is matched only by Alexandre Desplat’s score that captures and enhances the emotions in each scene. Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who has been mute since she was a baby, works as a janitor at a top-secret government research facility; there, she encounters something that changes the course of her life. At its core, The Shape of Water is a story that questions just what is it that makes us human.

The Shape of Water won four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Original Score, and Production Design) and was nominated in nine other categories.

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (2017)

scribeofsienaIn the present day, neurosurgeon Beatrice travels to Siena after her brother, a medieval historian, dies. Somehow, Beatrice travels in time to medieval Siena during the plague (around 1350). As you read The Scribe of Siena, you’ll feel that you were there too—the writing and descriptions are so vivid. Check out Melodie Winawer’s captivating debut novel today. For fans of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (2017)

wishtreeRed, a wishtree, has been around her community for a long time. She's seen people come together and now she is seeing her community torn apart by a single word carved into her trunk: LEAVE. Red—and her residents, which include owls, skunks, possums, raccoons, and a crow—work to bring their community back together.

Wishtree was recommended to me by one of the K&T librarians, Monica, and it did NOT disappoint!

Katherine Applegate's writing style is accessible and natural. Her words flow and easily tell the story. I was utterly captivated by the history of the wishtree and all that Red has seen in her life. And I love the idea of bringing a community together, so needless to say, I was rooting for everyone!

I listened to this book on audio and it would make a great car trip read for families. I think that fans of Erin Hunter's Warriors series or of Applegate's Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan would absolutely enjoy this title as well.

 

Firstlife by Gena Showalter (2016)

firstlifeImagine if our lives right now weren’t our only lives, that if after we die, there’s another life. But there’s one caveat, we have to choose a side: Myriad or Troika. One, a world of eternal darkness but luxury beyond your deepest desires. The other, a world of eternal light and joy. If you die before choosing, you’re stuck in the Land of Many Ways: a place where you're rumored to be terrorized for all eternity before eventually experiencing your second and final death. Troika and Myriad are rivals trapped in a bitter, never-ending war, looking to recruit the most souls.

Both afterlives are in a race to recruit Tenley Lockwood, but how does she know which is the right choice? This is the afterlife, after all. Once you decide, there’s no going back. Check out Firstlife by Gena Showalter.

Signs (2002) PG-13

220px-the_signs_movieGraham—formerly Reverend Hess—is a grieving husband, who has lost not only his wife but his faith too. He hasn’t by any means fallen apart, though, or stopped caring about the people around him. Graham is a good dad to his two young kids, and the people in his small town can’t help still calling him “Father.” When crop circles appear on his farm and then around the world, Graham reasons that there must be a logical explanation, and he struggles to hold on to this—even as his kids and his younger brother, who lives with them, jump on the alien-theory bandwagon.

Signs is one of those quiet films that rings true to life, often feeling more like a family drama than a supernatural thriller. And yet true to form, writer and director M. Night Shyamalan injects just enough oddity and suspense into the film to make you feel that things are not quite right—and that there’s something creepy lurking just around the corner.

Spotlight: Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

Do you love vampires, werewolves, and faeries? Then Patricia Briggs’ New York Times best-selling Mercy Thompson series is for you! It revolves around character Mercy Thompson, a mechanic who can shapeshift into a coyote at will. All she wants to do is fix Volkswagons in peace, but unfortunately, trouble has other plans. Start with Moon Called to dive into her exploits today!

Spotlight: Rick Riordan

swordofsummerWhile author Rick Riordan’s focus is currently aimed at children/teenagers, that doesn’t mean they’re off limits for adults. If you’re a fan of action/adventure and different types of mythology, you’re in for a treat! The characters are well developed and have great senses of humor despite the trying circumstances.

If you love Greek or Roman mythology, start with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (first book: The Lightning Thief). For Egyptian, give the Kane Chronicles a shot (first book: The Red Pyramid). Have a fix for Norse? Riordan has recently started on that with Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer!

Spotlight: Psy/Changeling Series by Nalini Singh

slavetoIn Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series, there are three main classes of humans and humanoids that can intermarry and have children: humans, changelings, and the psy. Humans are well, human; pretty self-explanatory! The psy, like their name suggests, are psychic beings with different powers depending on the person. Some can predict the future or are empaths, while other still are insanely powerful telekinetics that can kill a person just by thinking about it. The changelings have nothing to do with the type in commonly known in mythology that steal children away in the night and replace them with their own. Actually, they are similar to were-creatures. The main two types that Singh’s series focuses on are wolf or leopard changelings but there are changelings of many animal types, no one is quite sure how many!

Dive into this universe where the changelings, humans, and psy are on the brink of war with each other. only two changeling clans and a few rogue psy can help prevent disaster. Start with book 1 – Slave to Sensation.

Spotlight: Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh

angelsbloodWouldn’t it be weird if angels and vampires were a part of our daily life? Just try to picture angels launching off skyscrapers and gliding through the air with wings as many colors as you can imagine, their feathers softly floating down for a small child to add to her collection.

For the characters of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, this is completely normal, average even! But what does a guild hunter do? The series namesake comes from humans who hunt down rogue vampires to protect ordinary citizens going about their day. The plot primarily revolves around the adventures of Elena, a guild hunter, and Raphael, the archangel in charge of North America. However, some books also branch out to develop other important characters without Elena and Raphael being the focus. This keeps the stories fresh and the overarching plot (that spans several books, though each individual book does have its own ending, no worries!) moving.

If you love a good fast-paced paranormal romance with plenty of action, this is the series for you! Start with Angel’s Blood.

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney (2006)

revengewitchAre you looking for something action packed to satisfy your fantasy fix? Give Joseph Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch a try! It is the first novel of his Last Apprentice series and doesn’t disappoint.

Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son which makes him exceedingly extraordinary. There are only a few others like him in the county and he’s about to be apprenticed to one that is older and wiser: Mr. Gregory, aka the Spook. Their special births causes Tom and other seventh sons to be able to see spirits and detect dark magic that normal people would have no idea is there.

Follow along on Tom’s and the Spook’s adventures, and you’ll be turning the pages into the wee hours of the night! (Though make sure to keep the light bright because these adventures are not for the faint of heart!)

Angels in the Outfield (1951)

angelsAngels in the Outfield is a lighthearted baseball movie about Guffy, the belligerent coach of a losing team who “meets” an angel. The angel, who is by no means tender or sweet, challenges Guffy to shape up. With a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, the angel offers to help Guffy win some ball games if he can stop fighting and using foul language. Guffy, who is convinced of the angel’s existence and power, sets out be a better man—at first if only for the sake of winning more games.

Guffy is played by Paul Douglas, with great turns by: Janet Leigh, as the reporter obsessed with covering Guffy’s every move; Spring Byington, as the pragmatic nun—and baseball enthusiast—who runs the orphanage; and Donna Corcoran as the adorable orphan whose prayers for her losing team prompt a band of angels to come to the rescue.

For another look at this movie, check out Bill's review.

Being John Malkovich (1999) R

MV5BMTUyMjI4OTE3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzMxMTUxMQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Being John Malkovich is one of those quirky, funny movies that you just can’t miss. Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a puppeteer who discovers…well, let’s just come out and say it…he discovers a portal directly into the brain of John Malkovich. Anyone who walks through the door will actually see what John Malkovich sees for about 15 minutes.

Look back at what Roger Ebert had to say.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin (2015)

knight7kingdomsNeed something to fulfill your Martin fix while waiting on The Winds of Winter?

Try George R.R. Martin’s A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms! While it is grim like all of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, it has a more lighthearted feel to it than the main series. It’s a compilation of three short stories that take place 90 years before the events in A Game of Thrones. They follow the adventures of Dunk and Egg as they traipse their way across the Seven Kingdoms, finding lords that require their services in exchange for money and housing.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) PG

nbcburtonTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas  is timeless movie magic and a visual delight. Burton created this stop-motion animation film in which Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of dreary Halloweentown, finds a secret passageway to Christmastown. He likes what he finds so he decides to better himself by taking over for Santa! This ghoulish fairy tale is in no way mean-spirited. It is more playful than nasty so go ahead and add it to your Christmas movie list!

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)

americangodsThe novel opens in the very realistic setting of a prison where model prisoner and likable character Shadow finds himself about to be released into society. Tragedy strikes and Shadow is released into a dismal, lonely future.

When Shadow believes he has nothing to lose, he agrees to work for Mr. Wednesday. In American Gods, Neil Gaiman creatively switches gears and the reader is on a fantasy quest in a strange world where gods and goddesses are as real as prison was just hours before.

Enjoy this novel? Check out our list of the best fantasy novels for adults.