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Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson (2004)

40signsCharley Quibler works part-time as a Senate environmental aid, which gives him plenty of time to bond with toddler son Joe, and wife Anne continues her career as a department head at the NSF.

When Anne meets the newly arrived envoy from the island nation of Khembalung (in the Bay of Bengal), she invites them to dinner to talk to Charley about flooding problems on their island. Charley arranges a meeting with a senator to discuss their concerns about the rising sea levels but to no avail. Soon the rains do come, underscoring all the Khembalung’s concerns with problems close to the Quiblers and all the Washingtonians.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain treats us to an enjoyable visit with the engaging Quibler family and raises questions of how our nation may deal with some of the very wet problems of climate change. Check out other books in the series.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham (2015)

roguelawyerSebastian Rudd treads close to the edge of the precipice as he represents clients other lawyers eschew. Among his clients are an accused child molester, a mobster who arranges an escape from death row, a homeowner who shoots a SWAT team member, and an ultimate cage fighter who dispatches a referee. A routine day for Rudd might include the threat of arrest, bodily harm, or disbarment. His personal life too has tension brought on by his lawyer ex-wife as she files court papers seeking to restrict his visits with their young son. Rudd cares deeply for his son and is greatly distressed when the boy goes missing, probably kidnapped to add to his stress. With amazing creativity, Rudd plays one against another in hope of a good outcome in John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) PG-13

missionimpossibleOnce again, Tom Cruise is great in this fast-paced action adventure movie where he has to save the world. What is different in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the high suspense situations: Tom and his crew find themselves in trying to save lives and make the world safe again.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (2015)

circlingsunAfter her acclaimed novel The Paris Wife, Paula McLain tackles yet another adventurous woman of the early twentieth century: Beryl Markham. Markham had an unconventional upbringing in Kenya after her mother's return to England. Her father loved her, but was caught up in his own business and personal concerns. She learned to survive on her own with the help of friends in the local Kipsigis tribe. Markham struggled to maintain her personal relationships and marriages. She was most comfortable around horses and wide open spaces. She finally realized her true calling flying above her beloved African landscapes.

Check out Circling the Sun today.

Jurassic World (2015) PG-13

jurassicworld2In this action movie that is full of adventure, two boys go to visit their aunt who works at Jurassic World, a theme park. When a carnivorous dinosaur escapes, it causes other dinosaurs to run from their territories—which results in huge mayhem. An animal expert (Chris Pratt) takes charge and uses his special skills to save two brothers and all the tourists from the assault of the dinosaurs in Jurassic World.

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.