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Your Name (2017) PG

Your NameIn this beautifully animated movie, city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha embark on a life-changing journey after waking up one day in each other’s bodies. Both teenagers learn what is important to them as they attempt to deal with swapping back and forth in this vaguely familiar yet completely original coming of age story.

I would recommend Your Name to anyone who appreciates animation, as it is expertly done, blending traditional animation with beautiful hand-painted scenery. It will draw in those who are looking for a bit more in their teen romance stories.

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.

Coco (2017) PG

coco_posterCoco is Disney/Pixar's newest movie out on DVD/Blu-Ray and it is spectacular!

The animation is crisp and immediately grounds the story in modern-day Mexico before whisking viewers away to the Land of the Dead. The colors and details in the Land of the Dead were vibrant and truly captured the celebratory spirit of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos.

And this wouldn't be a true Pixar movie without its heart -- family and love and dreams. And bonus -- soaring music! Seriously, check out the CD (or Hoopla). If you're looking for a family movie, add Coco to your list.

[Fair warning to those who get teary during movies, this was definitely a two-tissue movie for me!]

 

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.

The Magicians. Season 1 (2015-2016) TV-14

magicianss1Imagine an extremely dark, adult world where Harry Potter meets Narnia, and you'll pretty much have The Magicians. Based on Lev Grossman's book series of the same name, follow a handful of young adults at a magical graduate school of sorts hidden in upstate New York. Their story is not for the faint of heart! In between classes, homework, and bizarre magical field trips, Quentin and his friends learn the fantasy world of a childhood book series is real, along with a bloodthirsty beast who has it in for not only them, but also the rest of humanity.

Watch Season 1 of The Magicians on DVD or borrow a Roku to stream it via Netflix.

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.

A Ghost Story (2017) R

ghoststoryA recently deceased husband (Casey Affleck) returns as a ghost in a white sheet to haunt his suburban home and be close to his widowed wife (Rooney Mara). When she decides to move, the ghost loses all track of time and spirals into history where he is able to see all previous and future owners of his home.

Despite its title, A Ghost Story isn’t a movie that invokes fear or horror. A very slow, quiet, and artistic movie, it takes its time to deliver its message and make the audience feel the sense of loss and longing of the characters. This movie is as beautiful as it is solemn, with well thought out camera shots and very haunting imagery. A Ghost Story may be the very first cosmic ghost story—not only does it explore themes of love and loss, it tackles the very idea of existence and time itself.

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.

Penelope (2006) PG

penelopeA darling contemporary fantasy, Penelope is the story of a girl affected by a family curse. Due to a great-grandfather's perfidy, Penelope (Christina Ricci) is born with a pig snout. Legend says only love from one of her own kind can break the curse, and so her mother (Catherine O'Hara) arranges introductions to a string of blue bloods as potential husbands.

Enter Max (James McAvoy). He and Penelope connect, yet something's not quite right. Penelope flees home, embarking on her first adventure at the age of 25. This charming modern fairy tale isn't always what it seems.

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!)