Monday, August 1, 2016

WATCH/READ/PLAY: AUGUST

Wow is the summer really almost over already. August here we come. Actually I still love this time of year. While it is a little hot I have plenty of things planned including a couple of cons, maybe even a concert or two. Plus the theaters are still air conditioned, there is a new gelato place within walking distance from my place and going to the beach sounds like a great idea. This month also has some great titles for watching, reading, and playing. Are you excited about any of these things? Did I miss something? Let me know.

FILM & TV
Beat Bugs
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: Beat Bugs is an animated series, revolving around the lives and adventures of five charming and funny child-like bugs who live in an overgrown American-style backyard. It also features the Beatles catalog with covers by Sia, The Shins, Regina Spektor, and more which is why I am interested in checking it out. Hopefully they will make a soundtrack. (August 3rd)

Suicide Squad
Genre: Action/Adventure/Comic
Stars:Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto
In short: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. Please be good. Please be good (August 5th)

2016 Rio Summer Olympics
Channel: NBC and AFFILIATES
In short: It should be interesting, but I am always a fan of gymnastics, diving and swimming. I know Hailey will be watching Fencing. (August 5th)

The Little Prince
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: Most countries have already an an opportunity to see this award-winning, feature-length animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s classic children's book, but its American distributor canceled screenings at the last minute this spring. In stepped Netflix to the rescue, which will provide an exclusive home for the film on its streaming service. This English-language version features the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti, and James Franco. (August 5th)

Pete’s Dragon
Genre: Fantasy/Family
Stars:Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley
In short: The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon. (August 12th)

The Get Down
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: Baz Luhrmann's ambitious new Netflix musical drama series is set in New York during the 1970s and traces the rise of hip-hop, punk, and disco as seen through the eyes of a group of youngsters in the South Bronx. The cast includes Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jaden Smith. Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, and Afrika Bambaataa serve as music consultants (and will be played by actors in the series). Six episodes stream today, with another six to follow at a later date. (August 12th)

Ghost Team
Genre: Comedy
Stars:Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Melonie Diaz
In short: A paranormal-obsessed man mounts his own investigation into the beyond with his depressed best friend, misfit nephew, a cable access medium and an overeager security guard. (August 12th)

Anthropoid
Genre: History/Thriller/War
Stars:Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe
In short: Based on the extraordinary true story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich's third in command after Hitler and Himmler (August 12th)

Hell or High Water
Genre: Crime/Drama
Stars:Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Dale Dickey
In short: A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's farm in West Texas. (August 12th)

Kubo and the Two Strings
Genre: Fantasy/Family/Animation
Stars:Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Art Parkinson
In short: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. (August 19th)

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Genre: Documentary
In short: Werner Herzog's exploration of the Internet and the connected world. (August 19th)

Mechanic: Resurrection
Genre: Action/Thriller
Stars:Jason Statham, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh
In short: Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents. (August 26th)

Don’t Breathe
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Stars:Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Dniel Zovatto
In short: A group of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they'll get away with the perfect heist. They're wrong. (August 26th)

BOOKS
The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy (August 2nd)
In short: Lana used to know what was real. That was before when her life was small and quiet. Her golden step-brother, Ben, was alive, she could only dream about bonfiring with the populars, their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination. Then came after. After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray (August 2nd)
In short: After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident. A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too?

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw (August 2nd)
In short: Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan's fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror. This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett (August 2nd)
In short: When Allison's best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ's weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure. Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they've built has transformed, and the battle they're in the midst of is no longer make-believe. Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group's once-fictional magical powers have also become real - including Allison's newly acquired gifts as a healer. They'll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella (August 2nd)
In short: Based on a remarkable true story, an unforgettable Somali girl risks her life on the migrant journey to Europe to run in the Olympic Games. At eight years of age, Samia lives to run. She shares her dream with her best friend and neighbor, Ali, who appoints himself her "professional coach." Eight-year-old Ali trains her, times her, and pushes her to achieve her goals. For both children, Samia's running is the bright spot in their tumultuous life in Somalia. She is talented, brave, and determined to represent her country in the Olympic Games, just like her hero, the great Somali runner Mo Farah. For the next several years, Samia and Ali train at night in a deserted stadium as war rages and political tensions continue to escalate. Despite the lack of resources, despite the war, and despite all of the restrictions imposed on Somali women, Samia becomes a world-class runner. As a teenager, she is selected to represent her country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She finishes last in her heat at the Games, but the sight of the small, skinny woman in modest clothes running in the dust of athletes like Veronica Campbell-Brown brings the Olympic stadium to its feet. Samia sets her sights on the 2012 Games in London. Conditions in Somalia have worsened, and she must make the arduous migrant journey across Africa and the Mediterranean alone. Just like millions of refugees, Samia risks her life for the hope of a better future. Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid is the unforgettable story of a courageous young woman, and it is also a remarkable window onto a global crisis.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff (August 9th)
In short: The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author. In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family. Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined. Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves. Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

The Gentleman by Forrest Leo (August 16th)
In short: A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil--then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her. When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him. Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil -- the polite "Gentleman" of the title -- who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party's over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord. Newly in love with Vivian, Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage's spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a "dalliance." Throughout, his cousin's quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana. Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé's beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

Invasive by Chuck Wendig (August 16th)
In short: Michael Crichton meets Elon Musk in this gripping sci-fi tech thriller, set in the eye-opening, paranoid world of the electrifying Zeroes. Hannah Stander is a consultant for the FBI—a futurist who helps the Agency with cases that feature demonstrations of bleeding-edge technology. It’s her job to help them identify unforeseen threats: hackers, AIs, genetic modification, anything that in the wrong hands could harm the homeland. Hannah is in an airport, waiting to board a flight home to see her family, when she receives a call from Agent Hollis Copper. “I’ve got a cabin full of over a thousand dead bodies,” he tells her. Whether those bodies are all human, he doesn’t say. What Hannah finds is a horrifying murder that points to the impossible—someone weaponizing the natural world in a most unnatural way. Discovering who—and why—will take her on a terrifying chase from the Arizona deserts to the secret island laboratory of a billionaire inventor/philanthropist. Hannah knows there are a million ways the world can end, but she just might be facing one she could never have predicted—a new threat both ancient and cutting-edge that could wipe humanity off the earth

Mabel and the Queen of Dreams by Henry L Herz (August 28th)
In short: Little Mabel is an expert at not going to sleep. She knows all the best bedtime-avoiding excuses. "I'm thirsty." "I need to use the bathroom." "Will you tell me a story?" Luckily, Mom's quiver of bedtime tales includes the story of the Fae Queen, who paints children's dreams and can only visit when their eyes are closed. Inspired by Mercutio's soliloquy in Romeo & Juliet, in which he details how the tiny fairy queen influences people's dreams as she passes by in her flying chariot, the soothing story evokes images of an ant in a worn gray coat and a hazelnut-shell chariot with a roof of grasshopper wings. Told in lyrical language that adults will also appreciate, the story helps parents get their kids to sleep. For ages 0-6.

Curioddity: A Novel by Paul Jenkins (August 30th)
In short: Will Morgan is a creature of habit―a low-budget insurance detective who walks to and from work with the flow of one-way traffic, and for whom imagination is a thing of the distant past. When a job opportunity enters the frame in the form of the mysterious Mr. Dinsdale―curator of the ever so slightly less-than-impressive Curioddity Museum―Will reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing box of levity (the opposite of gravity). What he soon learns, however, is that there is another world out there―a world of magic we can only see by learning to un-look at things―and in this world there are people who want to close the Curioddity museum down. With the help of his eccentric new girlfriend Lucy, Will will do everything he can to deliver on his promise to help Mr. Dinsdale keep the Curioddity Museum in business.

Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin (August 30th)
In short: Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel. There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments. Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…

GAMES
ABZU
Platform: PC, Playstation
In short: A stylized underwater swimming simulator that reminds me a lot like Flower or Journey where you peacefully explore your surroundings. Apparently there will be things like upgrading your equipment and the areas you can explore include caverns, coral reefs and flooded ruins. I will be checking it out on PC this month. (August 2nd)

BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES
Platform: PC, Xbox, Playstation
In short: Another episodic point and click game from Telltale this one involving the dark knight. Each situation lets you approach it either as Batman or as Bruce Wayne. I know my friend Kailey is excited and I think I might be too. (August 2nd)

NO MAN’S SKY
Platform: PC, Playstation
In short: No Man’s Sky is a game about exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy. It has been delayed a couple of times, but now it is finally coming to our happy little PC. Excited. (August 9th)

DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED
Platform: PC, Playstation, Xbox
In short: The Square Enix stealth action-adventure continues the story of Adam Jensen and his role in combatting the rise of global terrorism in the aftermath of the events in the previous game, Human Revolution. The Rogue and I saw the trailer and though we have not played the first one, this one looks like it could be fun to play (August 23rd)

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