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Monday, May 23, 2016

Hot This Week: May 23

Just one new movie makes the list this week: the psychological suspense thriller Regression, starring Emma Watson. Two new country titles make their debuts on the music charts, led by the latest from Keith Urban. The latest from acclaimed and accomplished author Louise Erdrich makes its way onto the fiction list. Hamilton leaps to the top of the non-fiction titles, while Nathaniel Philbrick's exploration into the relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold makes the list as well.

DVD
  1. The 5th Wave
  2. Sisters
  3. The Choice
  4. Regression
  5. Daddy's Home
  6. Point Break
  7. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  8. Creed
  9. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
  10. The Hateful Eight
CD
  1. Drake, Views
  2. Beyonce, Lemonade
  3. Keith Urban, Ripcord
  4. Prince, The Very Best of Prince
  5. Cole Swindell, You Should Be Here
  6. Rihanna, ANTI
  7. Prince, Purple Rain
  8. Adele, 25
  9. Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  10. Hamilton Original Cast Recording
Fiction
  1. 15th Affair, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  2. The Last Mile, David Baldacci
  3. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  4. Extreme Prey, John Sandford
  5. The Nest, Cynthia, D'Aprix Sweeney
  6. The Apartment, Danielle Steel
  7. Everybody's Fool, Richard Russo 
  8. LaRose, Louise Erdrich
  9. Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
  10. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Non-Fiction
  1. Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  2. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
  3. Grit, Angela Duckworth
  4. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  5. Valiant Ambition, Nathaniel Philbrick
  6. Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
  7. Five Presidents, Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin
  8. Becoming Grandma, Lesley Stahl
  9. Red Platoon, Clinton Romesha
  10. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Joe Hill Heats Things Up

Written by Jon Williams

Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ CC BY-SA 2.0

When you see a photo of writer Joe Hill, it’s easy to note the resemblance he bears to another novelist famous in the horror genre. It’s no secret now that Stephen King is Joe’s father, but that wasn’t always the case. When he was starting out, Joe wanted to make sure any success he achieved was on the merits of his work rather than as a result of a famous name, particularly as he knew his work would be in a similar orbit, genre-wise. Therefore, he dropped the last name of “King” and shortened his middle name (Hillstrom) to create his pseudonym.

A fact like that can only remain a secret for so long, though (a fact King learned himself with his own pen name, Richard Bachman). The news of Hill’s parentage broke around the same time his first novel was published in 2007. That novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is a seriously creepy story of aging rock star Judas Coyne, who buys a dead man’s suit—and the ghost that comes with it—over the Internet. The novel won both the Locus and Bram Stoker Awards for Best First Novel, proving definitively that Hill’s work was capable of standing on its own under any name he chose.

His second novel came three years later, in 2010. Horns is a haunting, tragic love story of a young man accused of his girlfriend’s murder, and the bizarre transformation his rage brings upon him. It has since been adapted into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe as the man in question, Ignatius Perrish. Hill’s third novel, and most widely acclaimed so far, NOS4A2 (a vanity plate spelling of Nosferatu) came out in 2013, about a woman desperate to save her son from the clutches of a soul vampire.

While these gaps between books may seem abnormally long for a popular novelist, the multitalented Hill is far from idle during those times. Starting in 2008, he teamed up with artist Gabriel Rodriguez for Locke & Key, a dark fantasy comics series revolving around an old house and the mysterious, powerful keys that open the doors there. The last issue was published in 2013, and in 2015, it was adapted into a full-cast audio drama, and recently it was announced that a second attempt will be made to develop it into a television series as well. In 2013-14, Hill wrote the comics miniseries Wraith, which ties into NOS4A2 but also works as a standalone.  Additionally, his short story “The Cape” was adapted into a comic by Jason Ciaramella.

And now comes Hill’s fourth novel, The Fireman, published earlier this week. In it, the world has been decimated by a spore that causes people’s skin to break out in markings known as Dragonscale…until they eventually spontaneously combust. Into this world steps a man known as the Fireman, who has learned not only to manage the condition, but to use it. With this novel, Hill fully embraces his heritage, calling to mind the post-apocalyptic world his dad brought to the page in The Stand. Of course, that’s not to suggest that he’s rejected that heritage before—the two of them have fun with it, and have actually collaborated. Throttle is a tribute to classic horror writer Richard Matheson, while In the Tall Grass is an original novella the two wrote together.

The Fireman has drawn rave reviews, and will no doubt be one of the hits of the summer. Make sure you have plenty of copies for your patrons, as well as his past work for those who have yet to discover this relatively new talent.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hot This Week: May 16

Two new novel adaptations take over the top spots on this week's movie listing. The new album from Canadian superstar Drake bumps Beyonce down a spot to #2 on the music chart. The latest team-up between James Patterson and Maxine Paetro lands at #1 in fiction, while three new non-fiction titles debut, led by Angela Duckworth's exploration of success at #2.

DVD
  1. The 5th Wave
  2. The Choice
  3. Sisters
  4. Point Break
  5. Daddy's Home
  6. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  7. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
  8. Norm of the North
  9. Creed
  10. Jane Got a Gun
CD
  1. Drake, Views
  2. Beyonce, Lemonade
  3. Prince, Purple Rain
  4. Prince, The Very Best of Prince
  5. Rihanna, ANTI
  6. Rob Zombie, Electric Warlock...
  7. NOW That's What I Call Music 58
  8. Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  9. Justin Bieber, Purpose
  10. Adele, 25
Fiction
  1. 15th Affair, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  2. The Last Mile, David Baldacci
  3. The Apartment, Danielle Steel
  4. Extreme Prey, John Sandford
  5. Star Wars: Bloodline, Claudia Gray
  6. The Nest, Cynthia, D'Aprix Sweeney
  7. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  8. Everybody's Fool, Richard Russo
  9. The Obsession, Nora Roberts
  10. The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
Non-Fiction
  1. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
  2. Grit, Angela Duckworth
  3. Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  4. Becoming Grandma, Lesley Stahl
  5. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  6. Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
  7. The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington
  8. Five Presidents, Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin
  9. First Women, Kate Andersen Brower
  10. Red Platoon, Clinton Romesha

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Guide to the MCU

Written by Jon Williams

Captain America: Civil War landed in theaters last Friday and dominated the box office, and it looks to do the same this weekend. It tells the story of an ideological rift in the superhero team that leads to conflict between Captain America and Iron Man, as well as their various allies. It’s the latest installment in Marvel’s cinematic universe that dates back to 2008. In the eight years since, there have been a number of films and TV shows that have contributed to this universe, with plenty more on the horizon, and it can be difficult to keep up with everything that’s out here. With that in mind, here’s a look at what you need to know about this ultra-popular series.

The whole shebang began in 2008 with Iron Man, in which Robert Downey Jr. plays billionaire playboy and technological genius Tony Stark, who fashions a powered armor suit for himself after being abducted by terrorists. Shortly thereafter came The Incredible Hulk, with Edward Norton in the role of Dr. Bruce Banner and his rage-fueled alter ego. Iron Man 2 was the first sequel in 2010. Then, in 2011, two new superheroes were introduced: Thor starred Chris Hemsworth as the god of thunder, and Captain America: The First Avenger told the WWII-era origin story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and brought him into the modern day. In 2012, Marvel brought Phase One of their cinematic universe to a close by assembling all these heroes (plus a couple of others, and replacing Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk) into an unstoppable fighting force known as The Avengers.

Phase Two began with movies featuring three of the individual avengers: Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World in 2013 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014. That year also saw the introduction of a new team, more aliens and misfits than superheroes: Guardians of the Galaxy was popular almost as much for its classic rock soundtrack as for its fun and action-packed plot. In 2015, the Avengers came together once again for Age of Ultron; then, for the first time in Phase Two, another individual superhero made his entrance in the form of Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man.

Captain America: Civil War, which is the first film in Phase Three, actually seems much more like an Avengers movie. While the Hulk and Thor are absent, the other members of the team, including War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), all play prominent roles. In addition, it also provides an origin for a new Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who will be rebooted into this Marvel universe with Homecoming in 2017, and introduces Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who gets an individual movie in 2018. Next on Marvel’s docket is Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which releases in November; other films to look forward to include a second Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), and a two-part Avengers Infinity War (2018 and 2019).

And of course, those are just the movies; the MCU has spread to the small screen as well. It started in 2013 with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which airs its two-hour Season 3 finale next Tuesday. Starring Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, it deals with the government agency tasked with countering enemies like Hydra that pose monumental threats to humanity. In early 2015, it was joined on the airwaves by Agent Carter, in which Hayley Atwell plays Peggy Carter, a secret agent in the 1940s who works often with Howard Stark (Iron Man’s father) and played a large role in Captain America’s back story. Daredevil (starring Charlie Cox as a blind crime-fighter) and Jessica Jones (starring Krysten Ritter as a traumatized former superhero who now runs a detective agency) both debuted in 2015 as well. All those shows are ongoing (with the exception of Agent Carter, which will not continue past its second season), and Marvel has plenty more in the offing. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) will premiere at the end of September, and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) is filming now. A bit further down the line, once those two series have begun, the TV superheroes will get their own team-up in the form of The Defenders, currently slated for sometime in 2017.

(Please note: Daredevil and Jessica Jones are not yet available in a physical format. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (beyond the first season) and Agent Carter are currently unavailable to us, but are expected to become available at some point. We’ll keep you posted.)

The box office numbers for Captain America: Civil War show that the popularity of Marvel and its characters and stories continues unabated. As their universe grows, make sure you have these movies and shows on your shelves for fans who want to relive them and for new converts who want to catch up.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hot This Week: May 9

The remake of the 1991 action flick Point Break takes the top spot on this week's movie list; the other newcomer is the modern Western Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman. Beyonce's Lemonade tops the music chart, while the Prince love continues and even grows, with the Purple One placing five albums. John Sandford's newest thriller tops this week's fiction list as the only newcomer, while a memoir from Nike founder Phil Knight comes in at #3 in non-fiction.

DVD
  1. Point Break
  2. Sisters
  3. Daddy's Home
  4. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  5. Norm of the North
  6. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
  7. Jane Got a Gun
  8. Creed
  9. In the Heart of the Sea
  10. The Hateful Eight
CD
  1. Beyonce, Lemonade
  2. Prince, The Very Best of Prince
  3. Prince, Purple Rain
  4. Prince, The Hits/B-Sides
  5. Rihanna, ANTI
  6. Prince, Ultimate
  7. Prince, 1999
  8. A$AP Ferg, Always Strive and Prosper
  9. Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  10. Justin Bieber, Purpose
Fiction
  1. Extreme Prey, John Sandford
  2. The Last Mile, David Baldacci
  3. The Obsession, Nora Roberts
  4. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  5. The Nest, Cynthia, D'Aprix Sweeney
  6. Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
  7. The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
  8. As Time Goes By, Mary Higgins Clark
  9. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  10. Miller's Valley, Anna Quindlen
Non-Fiction
  1. The Rainbow Comes and Goes, Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
  2. The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington
  3. Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
  4. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  5. The Third Wave, Steve Case
  6. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  7. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli
  8. Becoming Grandma, Lesley Stahl
  9. Being Mortal, Atul Gawande
  10. First Women, Kate Andersen Brower