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Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Preview: Audiobooks and Music

Written by Jon Williams

Last week we looked at some of the great moving coming out way in 2018, but that’s not all there is to look forward to. Here are some other great media titles the coming year has in store for us.

In publishing, the big question to start the year is the same as it has been for the past several years: will we finally see The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series? There’s no definitive word on that as of now (and we already know the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones isn’t coming until 2019), so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed. We do know, though, that Stephen King will follow up his packed 2017 with a new novel, The Outsider, coming in May. Other fiction titles for the year include Force of Nature by Jane Harper and Sunburn by Laura Lippman in February, Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion in April, and Lauren Groff’s Florida in June. Also, the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which sees popular contemporary authors update classic Bard tales, will have a new addition with Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth in April.

While her next novel isn’t coming until next year, a book of essays (including one on our collective love for public libraries) entitled Feel Free from Zadie Smith is part of a monumental year in non-fiction. A couple of social movements that gained steam as 2017 progressed will continue to demand attention and consideration. One is #MeToo and Time’s Up, highlighted at the recent Golden Globes ceremony. Rose McGowan’s Brave details her experience as an actress in Hollywood, while acclaimed author Roxane Gay compiles a series of essays by a number of women in Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. A co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, brings her struggle to light next week in When They Call You a Terrorist. In a related vein, a previously unpublished work from the late Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon, looks at slavery’s effect on one man and the enduring legacy of the institution. But there are some books on less weighty topics as well, such as See What Can Be Done, a collection of cultural and media criticism from Lorrie Moore, and Creative Quest, a guide to creativity and inspiration from Questlove.

The world of music is already abuzz with the recent announcement of a new album forthcoming from Justin Timberlake. Man of the Woods comes out February 2, just two days before his performance at halftime of the Super Bowl. There’s plenty of other good music on tap, including a new album from platinum rockers Fall Out Boy, M A N I A, out a week from today. The anticipated Marvel movie Black Panther has an equally anticipated soundtrack that was curated and produced by Kendrick Lamar, who also performs on it, available February 9, a week before the movie debuts in theatres. An album featuring unheard recordings from the late Jimi Hendrix, Both Sides of the Sky, comes out March 9. Because of the nature of the music industry, nailing down future releases can be an inexact science, to say the least, but there’s a good chance of new album releases this year from such names as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Tool, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Migos.

As we said on last week’s movie preview, this is just scratching the surface of all the great content we can expect to see in 2018. Is there anything in particular you and your patrons are looking forward to? Let us know, and stay tuned to CVS Midwest Tape here on our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter feeds for more information on exciting new releases as they become available.

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 Preview: Movies

Written by Jon Williams

Happy New Year from all of us here at CVS Midwest Tape! We’ve hit the ground running in 2018, and we’re excited to continue to bring the best in media to you, your libraries, and your patrons. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the most anticipated movies to watch for the in the year to come.

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe kicked off ten years ago with 2008’s Iron Man, and it’s still going strong. First up, in February, is a solo adventure from Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, who first appeared in Captain America: Civil War. That leads into May’s mega superhero team-up flick, Avengers: Infinity War, which unites all Marvel’s standalone heroes and promises to bring the Guardians of the Galaxy into the mix as well. Then in July comes Ant-Man and the Wasp, the follow-up to 2015’s Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd. But that’s by no means all for comic book movies. Another Marvel favorite, the sequel to the acclaimed Deadpool is expected in June. In November, X-Men: Dark Phoenix will continue that franchise where Apocalypse left off. And the DC Comics franchise continues in December with Aquaman, the first installment since Justice League.

A big year for adaptations kicks off next month with Fifty Shades Freed, the third installment of the trilogy adapted from E.L. James’s hugely popular book series. A month after that, on the opposite end of the spectrum, comes a new version of A Wrinkle in Time, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved Newbery Medal winner. March will also see Steven Speilberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s rollicking near-future bestseller Ready Player One roll into theaters. In October, The Girl in the Spider’s Web goes from the page to the screen, picking up the Millennium Series where David Lagercrantz took over following Stieg Larsson’s passing. And although not technically an adaptation, the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, coming in November, will expand the wizarding world set forth in J.K. Rowling’s classic Harry Potter novels.

Then there are the sequels and reboots. One of the biggest will be May’s Solo, the second standalone Star Wars story after 2016’s Rogue One, this time detailing the backstory of everyone’s favourite scoundrel and scruffy-looking nerfherder, Han Solo. In June, Ocean’s 8 will bring an all-female crew to the beloved heist movies. Later that month, the long-awaited sequel to Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles finally arrives, and the next Jurassic World installment will wreak its havoc as well. The Purge horror series gets an origin story with The Purge: The Island, due in July. In October, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga feature in a new iteration of A Star Is Born. Michael B. Jordan returns for a second Creed film, an offshoot of the Rocky franchise, in November. Then, on Christmas Day comes Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to the 1964 Disney classic starring Emily Blunt as the titular nanny and Lin-Manuel Miranda as her sidekick.

That’s just scratching the surface of all the big movies coming our way in 2018. Next week we’ll take a look at what else we have to look forward to in pop culture. In the meantime, let us know what you’re looking forward to the most, and count on us to keep you informed on when all these blockbusters—and everything else the new year has to offer—will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces 2018 Induction Class

Written by Jon Williams

Early yesterday morning, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the bands and musicians to be inducted into its hallowed halls this coming year. It must have been a tight race: among the acts that didn’t make it this year are Radiohead (in their first year of eligibility), Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, and LL Cool J. Those that did make it in, on the other hand, are as follows:

Bon Jovi won a fan poll on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website, which garnered them an extra vote toward induction. They’re the “newest” band in this year’s class, with their self-titled debut album releasing in 1984. They hit it big in the heyday of hair metal with 1986’s Slippery When Wet, with hits like “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” propelling the album to 12x Platinum status. They’ve been going strong ever since, adjusting their rock sound over the years and releasing a total of thirteen studio albums to date, with the most recent being last year’s This House Is Not for Sale. Speculation has already begun that original members Richie Sambora and Alec John Such will reunite with the rest of the band for the induction performance.

Dire Straits got their start a bit earlier, but, like Bon Jovi, enjoyed their greatest success in the 1980s. Formed by brothers Mark and David Knopfler in 1977 with a pair of friends, the band released Dire Straits (containing their knockout first single “Sultans of Swing”) and Communique before the decade was out. The 1985 album Brothers in Arms, on the strength of “Money for Nothing” and its ultra-popular music video, became the first million-seller in the compact disc format, and also won two Grammy Awards. They released just one album after that, 1991’s On Every Street, although principal member Mark Knopfler has enjoyed a very successful solo career since then.

The Cars’ induction brings them full circle—singer Ric Ocasik and bassist Benjamin Orr originally met in Cleveland in the 1960s. The Cars came together in 1976, and they took off with their 1978 debut album, which included the hits “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Just What I Needed.” They released six albums before the band’s breakup in 1988. Founding member Orr passed away in 2000, but the remaining members reunited for the 2011 album Move Like This (currently unavailable on CD, but available digitally on hoopla). Like Knopfler and Dire Straits, Ric Ocasik has also had success as a solo artist.

The Moody Blues have their origins more than a decade before, coming together in 1964. After one album as an R&B outfit of sorts, they hit their stride with the landmark prog rock album Days of Future Passed (containing their biggest hit, “Nights in White Satin”) in 1967. Although they’ve been through a number of lineup changes, they’ve been quite prolific, with sixteen albums to their credit. The last was 2003’s Christmas-themed December, perfect for this time of year, but the band has continued to tour, and to release compilation and live albums.

Nina Simone sadly passed away in 2003, but will play a large role in the 2018 induction nonetheless. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, she adopted her stage name as a small-time singer in 1954. She became a full-fledged member of the civil rights movement with her 1964 live album Nina Simone in Concert (available on hoopla) and incorporated that message into her music going forward. She put out an incredible number of albums, both studio and live, and has influenced a generation of musicians, from the Beatles and David Bowie to Aretha Franklin and Lena Horne to Elton John and more. Whoever performs in her stead at the induction ceremony, it’s sure to be an incredible show.

As these stellar musicians are enshrined into the pantheon of rock legends, patrons are sure to crave their music, whether to relive classic sounds they’ve loved for years or to dig into these incredible discographies for the first time. Be sure to check out this collection of essential albums we’ve put together, and SmartBrowse each of them on our website to find even more.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Excitement High for The Last Jedi

Written by Jon Williams

Next week sees the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theatres, the saga’s Episode VIII, and the middle installment in the sequel trilogy that began with 2016’s The Force Awakens. Excitement is at a fever pitch for the new movie, and library patrons will be looking for all kinds of materials relating to a galaxy far, far away.

Following on from The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi returns stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac as heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe, as well as Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher in her final appearance as Leia Organa. The opposition comes in the form of the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). They’re joined in the cast by newcomers Laura Dern, who plays Resistance Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and Benicio del Toro, in the mysterious role of DJ. The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson, who has previously made such acclaimed films as Brick and Looper. It’s clear that Lucasfilm thinks the world of Johnson’s effort; they’ve already announced that he’ll be helming a new Star Wars trilogy set in a heretofore unexplored time period and area of the galaxy.

On the day the new movie is released, the score drops as well, featuring the typically outstanding work of Academy Award-winning film music icon John Williams. Fans will have to wait a bit longer for Jason Fry’s novelization, which releases in March. For those who need something sooner than that, Canto Bight, released earlier this week, tells several tales from the opulent, high-stakes casino city to be introduced in The Last Jedi, while Delilah S. Dawson’s Phasma explores the backstory of Gwendoline Christie’s chrome-armored villain.

The third and concluding installment in the current trilogy won’t come until 2019, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more Star Wars on the more immediate horizon. Coming on the heels of last year’s Rogue One, the second standalone film is scheduled for release on May 25, 2018. That movie will be Solo, the origin story of everyone’s favourite smuggler, scoundrel, and nerf-herder, Han Solo. The title character will be played by Alden Ehrenreich, while the multitalented Donald Glover will portray his good buddy Lando Calrissian; such names as Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Thandie Newton will round out the cast. That movie is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ron Howard based on a script by Lawrence Kasdan (writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as The Force Awakens) and his son Jon, while the music will be provided by John Powell.

Star Wars is arguably the most popular movie franchise of all time, and patrons will always be looking for the latest and greatest related titles. You can SmartBrowse on our website for all this media and more to lead into The Last Jedi and Solo. And if your library is a hoopla member, patrons can log in anytime to check out movie scores as well as original eBooks and comics for enjoyment at home or on the go.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A New Version of a Classic Mystery

Written by Jon Williams

The new movie Murder on the Orient Express delivered a strong debut last weekend, bringing in more than $28 million at the box office. Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, the film also features an ensemble cast consisting of Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom, Jr., Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Josh Gad. Adapted from the 1934 Agatha Christie novel of the same name, it’s a mystery in which detective Hercule Poirot must deduce the identity of a murderer from among the passengers on a train. The novel is no stranger to adaptation, having been brought to life both on film (1974) and on television (2010).

Christie’s work is incredibly popular in its own right, with the late British author holding the honour as the bestselling novelist of all time. And that’s not just in the English-speaking world; she’s also the most translated, with her works currently available in more than 100 languages. Her career began shortly after World War II when The Mysterious Affair at Styles, her first novel, as well as the first to feature the Belgian detective Poirot, was published in 1920. She returned to Poirot with her third novel, Murder on the Links, and a series was born. In all, she wrote 33 Poirot novels, including Murder on the Orient Express, as well as a number of short stories and a play. She also created a number of other recurring detective characters, such as Miss Marple, an elderly protagonist whose first published appearance came in 1927. In all, she published 66 novels; Curtain (1975) and Sleeping Murder (posthumously published in 1976), although written earlier, were the last two published, wrapping up the careers of Poirot and Miss Marple, respectively. The last she wrote was 1973’s Postern of Fate.

With such incredible popularity, it’s no surprise that Christie’s novels, stories, and characters are ripe for adaptation. Murder on the Orient Express is only the latest in a long line that dates back to 1928. Given her penchant for recurring characters, some of the most well-received adaptations have been into television series. From 1984 through 1992, actress Joan Hickson brought Miss Marple to life for the BBC; in an ITV series that spanned from 2004 through 2013, she was portrayed by Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie. ITV also had great success with its Poirot TV series which featured David Suchet in the title role. Other adaptations include Ten Little Indians (from And Then There Were None), Death on the Nile, and The Mirror Crack’d.

She’s known for her mystery writing, but there was a bit of mystery in Christie’s life as well. In 1926, during a difficult time in her first marriage, she disappeared for ten days. When she was found, she claimed to have no memory of the intervening time. This incident was explored in Carole Owen’s 1996 book The Lost Days of Agatha Christie. It was also the subject of the 1978 film Agatha starring Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman, and portrayed in a fantastical light in the Doctor Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp.”

This is just a taste of all the incredible Agatha Christie content we have to offer. Visit our website to pre-order the new version of Murder on the Orient Express on DVD and Blu-ray, and while you’re there, browse around to find all this and more to complete your Christie collection and keep your mystery-loving patrons coming back for more.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Cars 3 Expands Pixar’s Legacy

Written by Jon Williams

Cars 3 is out this week on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD. No doubt your young patrons have already cultivated quite a hold list for the latest installment in the adventures of Lightning McQueen. The series began in 2006 with Cars, which introduced Owen Wilson as the voice of the race car who learns about friendship during an unintended pit stop. The movie also featured voice work from Bonnie Hunt and Larry the Cable Guy, not to mention Paul Newman (in his final role), George Carlin, and, of course, John Ratzenberger. Cars 2 followed in 2011, and in 2013 the series spun off into Planes (which got its own sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, in 2014).

Cars 3 is just the latest in a long line of high-quality, very popular animated films from Disney-Pixar. Pixar began as a division of Lucasfilm before breaking off into its own company in 1986, with Steve Jobs as chairman. In 1991, the company agreed to produce three feature-length animated movies for Disney. That resulted in the first fully computer-animated film, 1995’s classic Toy Story, and the rest is history. They finished out the 1990s with A Bug’s Life (1998) and Toy Story 2 (1999).

Pixar had a contentious relationship with Disney during the first half of the 2000s, but you wouldn’t know it from the quality of their output. They began the decade in 2001 with Monsters, Inc., starring Billy Crystal and John Goodman. That was followed in 2003 by Finding Nemo, an underwater adventure that is currently Pixar’s highest-grossing non-sequel with over $380 million at the box office in North America, good for #30 of all time. Then in 2004 came The Incredibles, about a family who (some more reluctantly than others) must use their superpowers to save each other and their city.

In 2006, Disney cemented their partnership with Pixar by purchasing the company. The first Cars movie was the first released after the sale, although it was developed and made independently. Going forward together, the two companies finished out the 2000s with Ratatouille (about a rat who learns how to be a chef), WALL-E (about a robot who finds love), and Up (about a man who attaches balloons to his house to go on a wonderful adventure).

Up to that point, Pixar had traditionally not produced sequels, with Toy Story 2 being the lone exception. That changed in 2010 with a third installment, Toy Story 3, and then Cars 2 the year after. They’ve since followed up both Monsters, Inc. (with Monsters University in 2013) and Finding Nemo (with 2016’s Finding Dory, the #9 highest-grossing film of all time with over $486 million). They’ve also continued to make quality original films, with Brave in 2012 and both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur in 2015.

Pixar makes wonderful, timeless movies that will continue to be popular with young patrons, and that their parents will enjoy just as well. With Cars 3 now available, and with their next movie, Coco, releasing in theatres on November 22, now is a great time to make sure your Pixar collection is complete.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In Memoriam: Tom Petty

Written by Jon Williams

On a day already darkened by sadness, music lovers everywhere were shocked Monday by the news of rocker Tom Petty’s passing. He was 66.

Born in 1950 in Gainesville, Florida, Petty overcame a rough childhood to find fame in the music industry. With early influences including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, and guitar lessons from Don Felder of the Eagles, he first formed a band that eventually became known as Mudcrutch. After that band struggled to find success, some lineup shuffling eventually resulted in the Heartbreakers, the band which Petty was associated with for most of his music career. In 1976, their self-titled debut album hit the charts first in Great Britain, and then spread to the U.S. Containing the classic hits “Breakdown” and “American Girl,” it kicked off a musical legacy that would grow to legendary status over the course of the next 41 years.

The band’s first taste of success soon led to more. You’re Gonna Get It!, released in 1978, was their first album to chart in North America, and 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes (currently unavailable on CD, although patrons can stream it on hoopla) gained multiplatinum status. The ‘80s were a very productive time for the band, spawning albums including Long After Dark (1982) and Southern Accents (1985). Petty’s greatest success came on 1989’s Full Moon Fever, technically a solo album, although members of the Heartbreakers did contribute.

Full Moon Fever also benefitted from the presence of a number of other musical legends: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and ELO’s Jeff Lynne. The five of them had gotten together in 1988 for a single (“Handle with Care”), and ended up recording an entire album as the Traveling Wilburys. Although Orbison passed away late that year, the remaining members put together a second album, joking titled Volume 3, which was released in 1990. Of course, Petty was no stranger to high-profile collaborations. His duet with Stevie Nicks, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” appeared on her debut solo album, while another duet, “Insider,” was released on his album Hard Promises. He and the Heartbreakers also backed Johnny Cash on the country icon’s 1996 album Unchained.

In 2007, Petty reunited his first band, Mudcrutch, and together they recorded two albums: their eponymous “debut,” released in 2008, and 2, released in 2016, which would be Petty’s final recording. Through it all, though, Petty never stopped working with the Heartbreakers. Their two most recent albums, Mojo and Hypnotic Eye, were released in 2010 and 2014. The band had just finished their 40th anniversary tour, with the final performance coming September 25 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Tom Petty is sadly gone, but his classic rock hits will endure. Make sure you have his music on your shelves for patrons to check out and enjoy again and again. You can SmartBrowse his name on our website to find all the albums listed above and more.