June 3rd

robocopRoboCop – Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton

The year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. When Alex Murphy, a loving husband, father, and good cop, is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing. There is still a man inside the machine, pursuing justice. Rated PG-13

 

 

son of godSon of God – Diogo Morgado

The story of Jesus’ life brought to audiences through compelling cinematic storytelling that is both powerful and inspirational. Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays the role of Jesus as the film spans from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. Rated PG-13

 

 

June 10th

jack ryanJack Ryan – Shadow Recruit – Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, Kevin Costner

A global action thriller set in the present day. This original story follows a young Jack as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. When Ryan believes he’s uncovered a Russian plot to collapse the United States economy, he goes from being an analyst to becoming a spy and must fight to save his own life and those of countless others, while also trying to protect the thing that’s more important to him than anything, his relationship with his fiancee Cathy. Rated PG-13

 

 

true detectiveTrue Detective – Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson

In 2012, Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart are brought in to revisit a homicide case they worked in 1995. As the inquiry unfolds in present day through separate interrogations, the two former detectives narrate the story of their investigation, reopening unhealed wounds, and drawing into question their supposed solving of a bizarre ritualistic murder in 1995.

 

 

June 17th

lego movieThe Lego Movie – Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks

Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure, is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared. Rated PG

 

 

grand budapest hotelThe Grand Budapest Hotel – Ralph Fiennes, F Murray Abraham, Jude Law

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. Rated R

 

 

June 24th

winters taleWinter’s Tale – Colin Farrell, Russel Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay

Set in a mythic New York City and spanning more than a century, follow a story of miracles, crossed destinies, and the age-old battle between good and evil. Rated PG-13

 

 

 

300 rise of an empire300 : Rise of an Empire – Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey

Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. He’s pitted against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal turned god Xerxes, and Artemesia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy. Rated R

February 4th

dallas buyers clubDallas Buyer’s Club – Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof’s free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Shunned and ostracized by many old friends and bereft of government-approved medicines, he decided to take matters in his own hands, tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. Bypassing the establishment, he joined forces with an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts and established a hugely successful ‘buyers’ club.’ Rated R

February 11th

riddickRiddick – Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff

Riddick must fight for his life after his people betrayed him, leaving him stranded on a desolate planet to die. On this unbearably hot planet, Riddick is up against predators of an alien race. Using his emergency signals, he summons two ships: one transporting a mercenary, and the other led by an old acquaintance. Rated R

 

 

enders gameEnder’s Game – Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis

A hostile alien race attacked Earth, and if not for the legendary heroics of Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, Colonel Hyrum Graff is training only the best young children. Ender Wiggin, a shy, but brilliant boy, is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope. Once at Command School, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham to lead them into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race. Rated PG-13

all is lostAll is Lost – Robert Redford

An open-water thriller about one man’s battle for survival against the elements after his sailboat is destroyed at sea. Using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him into a shipping lane in hopes of hailing a passing vessel. But with the sun unrelenting, sharks circling, and his meager supplies dwindling, the ever-resourceful sailor soon finds himself staring his mortality in the face. Rated PG-13

austenlandAustenland – Keri Russell, Jj Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, Jane Seymour

Jane Hayes’s adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric Austen-inspired resort, where she meets two very different gentlemen…but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life, and maybe even love, begins. Rated PG-13

 

February 25th

rushRush – Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde

Set against the golden age of Formula One racing in the 1970s, Rush is based on the true story of a spectacular sporting rivalry between English playboy James Hunt, and his structured, intelligent opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda. Directed by Ron Howard. Rated R

 

 

gravityGravity – Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Dr. Ryan Stone is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky. On a seemingly routine spacewalk, the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left, and the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space. Rated PG-13

nebraskaNebraska – Bruce Dern, Will Forte

After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his estranged son into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Getting waylaid in the father’s hometown in Nebraska, the son tries to reconnect with his impenetrable father. Rated R

 

 

thorThor – the Dark World – Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Natalie Portman

Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos, but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all. Rated PG-13

 

 

visitationstreetBored and restless on a hot summer night in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 15-year-olds June and Val decide to take a pink raft down to the docks and float out into the bay.  The next morning, Val is found unconscious under a pylon, but June remains missing.  Her absence becomes a catalyst for new relationships and a weight for the residents trying to find a way out.

Red Hook, Brooklyn has become the butt of a lot of hipster jokes in the last couple of years, and along with the gentrification of the neighborhood and the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy in 2012, Red Hook has found itself in national headlines.  Pochoda’s examination of this historic neighborhood takes place right on the cusp of this change. Visitation Street is about a specific place at a specific time, but feels remarkably universal. Most young people are reaching to move beyond the circumstances to which they’re born, and as young people from across the country move to newly cool Red Hook, many of the long-term residents of Red Hook are looking for a way out.

Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street presents the voices of this urban, changing neighborhood in the midst of tragedy.  I often speed through books I like, wanting to find my way to the conclusion.  But in Pochoda’s debut novel, I took my time.  I genuinely liked Fadi, Cree, Val, Jonathan, Ren, and Monique — flaws and all.  

When I grow up I want to be a Lady Detective just like Miss Fisher—elegant, scrappy and clever (words that also describe my other favorite Lady Detective, Jessica Fletcher!) Phryne Fisher has been dancing around the book world for a while (see my review of the first in that series here: Phryne, Rhymes with Briney), but now we can actually see her shake her beaded tassels in a new gorgeously filmed television series by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, shown in the United States on PBS.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries begins just as Kerry Greenwood’s book series does, with the Honorable Phryne Fisher, played by the seductive Essie Davis, returning to 1920’s Melbourne after being away for a decade or so. While she was away in Europe, Miss Fisher had modeled nude for artists, partied with dancers, worked as WWI nurse, and suddenly came into a title and money. Now that she is returned, Phryne decides that her charm and intellect are perfectly suited to solving murder mysteries around her old hometown. She enlists the help of her gentle butler, her communist chauffeurs/handymen, and her new maid, Dot, who finds herself constantly struggling between good Catholic values and the not-quite-legal-or-virtuous things that Miss Fisher persuades her to do. And of course, the local Detective Inspector Jack Robinson does not find Phryne’s frequent interference in his work amusing (even if he does find her annoyingly companionable.) I loved every episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, but what most puts a sparkle in my eye is Phryne’s marvelous wardrobe! The silk kimonos! The slinky wide-legged pants! And the hats oh THE HATS!

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is so charming, fun and sexy while still addressing many historically controversial issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and terrorism—all while giving us a cracking good whodunit. I highly recommend this series to fans of Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and those who love history and mysteries 😉

cuckoo's callingBack when Deathly Hallows was hot off the presses, I remember reading an interview with J.K. Rowling; when asked what she would write next, she answered: mysteries for adults. I’ve been looking forward to The Cuckoo’s Calling ever since. After her first post-Potter foray into literary fiction, Jo is back in the realm of genre, and I think it’s where she belongs. Her imagination is so fierce and wild and her observations about the real world are so raw and true that the juxtaposition of them is magical. We all saw it in Harry Potter, I missed it in The Casual Vacancy, and now it’s back in The Cuckoo’s Calling. This is a phenomenal book: thrilling and elegant and a little cheeky. The characters are vibrant, true, and endlessly entertaining. Even the dead model at the heart of the mystery, Lula “Cuckoo” Landry, has a personality, and a life, beyond her infamous lifestyle and her undignified death; the living characters, private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin, are even better.

Cormoran lost his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, and back home in the UK, he’s facing a life that’s deteriorating rapidly as his debts mount, his relationships waver, and his stream of clients dries up. When Robin appears, the product of an expensive contract with the temp agency that he tried to cancel, Strike is vexed: how can he hide from this clever, intrepid young woman that he’s sleeping on a cot in his office? But Robin and Strike are a great team, as they both tentatively realize: Strike is a gifted detective whose shadowed past has removed him from the military police for complex, unclear reasons, and Robin is a whip-smart HR rep with a natural talent for investigation.

As Robert Galbraith, Rowling wastes no words. This is a long book, but not an overlong one. There are a lot of characters, a lot of red herrings, and a lot of plot developments, but they layer on top of each other seamlessly and the payoff is extremely satisfying. The scenes are so descriptive, you’re absolutely there – I was completely drawn into this book. The best part about it was how genuine and true it all was: when Robin and Cormoran use their cell phones and the internet to track down clues, it doesn’t feel forced or fake, it’s completely natural. The same thing happened in The Casual Vacancy: whenever technology is used, it’s employed seamlessly, artfully, expertly into the plot. I propose that this comes from treating it with the same rules you’d use to write about magic wands. It was painful to set The Cuckoo’s Calling down and heartbreaking to reach the end: if Rowling wants to write any more about Cormoran Strike, I’ll be gleefully pre-ordering every new Galbraith title.

Relevant Fun Fact: the common European cuckoo reproduces by parasitic brooding, where they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and the other birds raise the baby cuckoos – leaving the adults free to flit off and do whatever birds do.

As a personal challenge, I have taken on the task of reading all of the Iowa Children’s Choice 2013-14 nominees before voting ends in March 2014.  I am currently seven books down, with 18 books left to read.  I’m really fascinated to see how my reactions to the books compare with the voting of Iowa’s 3rd-6th graders.  I am taking this opportunity to highlight some of the books that stand out from the pack.

belly upTwelve-year-old Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Fitzroy lives in a zoo.  And not just any zoo, but FunJungle, the largest animal amusement park in the world, where his parents work.  When the FunJungle mascot, Henry the Hippo, turns up dead, Teddy is convinced that it was murder. Written by Stewart Gibbs Belly Up, is a funny, clever first novel.

Stewart Gibbs has a degree in biology, and worked in a zoo while in college (at one point he was the foremost expert on capybaras).  He has also written a number of screenplays.  These two occupations are evident in his writing.  This book is filled with interesting animal and zoo facts, cleverly sprinkled throughout the story. The action in the novel is fast paced, well-timed, exciting. Overall, the book feels a lot like a well-informed animated movie, which seems to be a pretty great selling point for a children’s mystery novel.  I would recommend this book for fans of Swindle by Gordon Korman, Scat by Carl Hiaasen, and M.T. Anderson’s Pals in Peril series.

badmonkeyI have an embarrassing admission…

I’ve never read anything by Carl Hiaasen before.  I’ve never read Hoot or Skinny Dip or Native Tongue.  And I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I picked up his newest novel, Bad Monkey.  With reviewers calling the novel a “misadventure” and described Hiaasen as a “premier humorist”,  my expectations were high.  I was not disappointed.

Bad Monkey introduces Andrew Yancy, a former Miami Police detective and soon to be former Monroe County sheriff’s officer, who now spends his days counting the cockroaches in local restaurants as a restaurant inspector.  Wanting to leave behind his “roach patrol” duties, Yancy believes he may have found his way back onto the force when a tourist fisherman pulls in a human arm and the scandal adverse county sheriff declares the arm’s loss an accident.  Yancy believes that there is more going on than meets the eye, so he begins his own investigation.

There is a lot going on in this book, but it never feels weighted down or overly ambitious.  The stories weave together in a way that feels natural, and Yancy is perfectly imperfect in the way of all the best anti-heroes.   Employing a dark sense of humor, Bad Monkey is moralistic without ever coming off as preachy and weird without forgetting reality.  Revenge fantasy at it’s best, Bad Monkeyis a seriously fun read.  I feel kind of lucky that I have such a backlog of Hiaasen books to read until his next book is released.

 

Here are some of the new releases from popular authors that are coming out in April. Reserve your favorites today!

pirate alleydead ever after bannon brothersflorazero hourinferno

 

 

Dan Brown – Inferno

Stephen Coonts – Pirate Alley

Clive Cussler – Zero Hour

Janet Dailey – Bannon Brothers: Triumph

Richard Paul Evans – A Step of Faith

Gail Godwin – Flora

Charlene Harris – Dead Ever After

delicate truthophelia cutlost daughterssilken prey deeply oddand the mountains echoed

 

 

Khaled Hosseini – And the Mountains Echoed

Dean Koontz – Deeply Odd

John Le Carre – A Delicate Truth

John Lescroart – Ophelia Cut

Mary Monroe – Lost Daughters

John Sandford – Silken Prey

Jeff Shaara – A Chain of Thunder

Fay Weldon – Long Live the King

For more new titles, be sure to check out Upcoming Releases on the Davenport Public Library webpage!

 

Here are some of the new releases from popular authors that are coming out in April. Reserve your favorites today!

mayas notebook

the hittapestry of fortunesdaddys gone a huntingstarting now

 

 

 

Isabelle Allende – Maya’s Notebook

Kate Atkinson – Life After Life

David Baldacci – The Hit

Elizabeth Berg – Tapestry of Fortunes

Mary Higgins Clark – Daddy’s Gone a Hunting

Debbie Macomber – Starting Now

12th of never

midnight at marble archmystery womanwhiskey beachparis

 

 

 

James Patterson – 12th of Never

Anne Perry – Midnight at Marble Arch

Amanda Quick – The Mystery Woman

Nora Roberts – Whiskey Beach

Edward Rutherfurd – Paris: the Novel

Stuart Woods – Unintended Consequences

For more new titles, be sure to check out Upcoming Releases on the Davenport Public Library webpage!

 

divinersOne of my favorite Young Adult books that I’ve read recently is The Diviners by Libba Bray.  Set in the Roaring ’20s, it’s about a teen girl named Evie O’Neill who is sent away from her Ohio hometown after an incident at a party.  Shipped off to live with her uncle in New York, Evie is secretly thrilled at the prospect of life in the big city.  The excitement begins immediately when the police seek out the help of her uncle, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, in the hope that he can help solve a series of disturbing occult-related murders.  The possessor of secret supernatural gifts, Evie gets more than she bargained for when she is quickly tangled up in the investigation and begins to suspect that the killer is no ordinary man.

Despite all the glowing reviews I read, I was hesitant to pick up this book at first because it is HUGE.  Luckily we had a copy of the audio book on shelf, which seemed less daunting, and I am so glad that I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed the setting and thought that Libba Bray did a great job of making the time period come to life for the reader.  I’m not usually up for creepy stories at all, but from minute one I was completely hooked on this engrossing tale couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the compelling characters next.  The Diviners is the first book in a planned quartet, and I can’t wait for the next installment in the series!  While I’m waiting, I think I’ll have to pick up a few of her other books like A Great and Terrible Beauty, Going Bovine, or Beauty Queens.