As you might imagine, working in a library means we come across a lot of interesting materials. Great books, movies, TV shows, albums and video games are always crossing our circulation desk; and we do our best to try and experience as many of them as we can. People are always asking us what our favorites are, so we polled the library staff to see what really caught their eyes (and ears) this year. Below is a list of each member’s favorites, along with links to get them from the library when available, and the names of where else you can get them otherwise.
What do you think of our choices? And what were yours? Let us know in the comments below.
1. The Evil Within 2
Former detective Sebastian Castellanos returns to the nightmarish landscape of the human mind in Evil Within 2, vastly improving upon the stealth, gunplay, and suspenseful elements present in the first game. Its story of personal grief and redemption is heartwarming, although the voice acting can be a bit jarring and forced at times. For a true “survival horror” experience, it’s recommended to play the game on its hardest setting.
2. Sonic Mania
Sonic Mania marks a return to its 2D roots, delivering a nostalgia-filled adventure that revisits several stages from the series’ past with interesting new twists and remixed music, as well as many new levels with obscure yet charming references that longtime fans will recognize. If you’re longing to play the sequel to the Sega Genesis Sonic games of your youth, this one’s for you.
Available on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, & Nintendo Switch.
3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7 tosses aside its usual third-person perspective to embrace first-person, and subsequently delivers what is undoubtedly the most terrifying addition to the series so far. Combine the original Resident Evil’s mansion filled with puzzles and threats with the insane family from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and you’ll end up with this gem. The usual run and gun tactics won’t work here, so manage your resources wisely.
With an art style reminiscent of an early Walt Disney cartoon, Cuphead is an intensely challenging side-scrolling shooter with a great deal of customization and a memorable cast of characters. Everything from its soundtrack to each character’s idle movements to the not-so-subtle film grain is a wonderful reminder of how animation used to be, and the love that went into Cuphead’s development.
Available on PC & Xbox One.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It’s the game that almost single-handedly sold a system. A large open world, easy to use but challenging to master controls, and memorable characters interwoven into a compelling story make this inarguably the crown jewel of the Nintendo Switch’s current game library. Some new mechanics take a bit of getting used to, like weapons with limited durability, but it’s not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment.
6. Super Mario Odyssey
There has seldom been a poorly-made Mario game, so it should be no surprise to see this on my list. Super Mario Odyssey puts an innovative spin on the classic formula and delivers a unique, almost puzzle-like action-adventure platformer that is difficult to walk away from. It beautifully combines the best aspects of a well-polished 3D Mario game, with Kirby’s signature abilities, creating a title that must be experienced at least once.
7. Night in the Woods
Some games exist to challenge you, to urge you to learn their patterns or master a new method of inputting button commands, but Night in the Woods instead pulls you inside its complex and mysterious narrative, inviting the player to explore its unique story and dynamically changing relationships with other characters, based on your choices. It’s a very somber title, but one that’s definitely worth playing, perhaps more than once.
Available on PC, Mac, Linux, Playstation 4, Xbox One, iOS, & Android.
8. “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2”
The ragtag team of heroic misfits return in this action-packed and often hilarious sequel. Some Marvel movies succeed in seamlessly blending the seriousness of the threatening antagonists with fun dynamics between our heroes, with the occasional dramatic moment, and Guardians 2 does not disappoint. While a few of its jokes fall a little flat, it’s overall an immensely enjoyable film.
9. “Wonder Woman”
Initially, I had very little reason to see Wonder Woman after feeling let down by recent DC films, but I’m glad I gave it a chance. An origin story with several twists and turns, its action sequences are top notch and each actor and actress delivered incredible performances. This movie alone has renewed my interest in seeing what else DC has up their sleeve.
10. Friday the 13th: The Game
Jason Voorhees, the supernatural scourge of camp counselors, has been poorly represented in game after game since the early days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Not until now has his legacy been done justice. Whether you choose to control one of the helpless teens struggling to escape the maniac’s clutches or the machete-wielding brute himself, prepare for a suspenseful, nail-biting experience.
A thoughtful drama.
In no particular order:
Twist by Kylie Scott
Hello Again by Brenda Novak
Now playing in theaters.
Now airing on CBS.
Now airing on CBS.
DVD | Season 13 now airing on The CW.
1. SUP Yoga
Stand up paddleboard yoga is my favorite thing to do in the summer. It mixes adventure and relaxation in a way that I can’t find anywhere else. For me, it sparked a new love of the outdoors and a way to enjoy the sunshine. I can’t wait until Memorial Day weekend, when SUP season starts again!
Check your community calendars for program availability.
2. American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
Who’s setting fires in a Virigina barrier island community? And why? Part portrait-of-a-place, part true crime journalism, this story manages to remain an intriguing mystery even after they tell you whodunit right at the beginning. My all-time favorite non-fiction book.
3. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
I’m thrilled with this trilogy’s protagonist, Rey, and this second chapter shed more light on our new villain, Kylo Ren – he’s complex and captivating. I can always find something to nitpick, but the truth is, I enjoyed every minute of this film. See it with an open mind!
Now playing in theaters.
4. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
I had to have Google up and ready to go while I read this book – it introduced me to new concepts and vocab words in every chapter! Top that off with a plucky heroine and a whimsical plot, and I’m sold.
5. The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele
This book offered me lots of little gems that helped me persist through difficulty, show up more effectively in everyday life, and find greater peace. It’s not just for yogis!
Available at fine book stores and online.
6. Women’s Rights National Historic Park
This place isn’t new, just new to me, but 2017 was the year to visit! I was in awe at the restored Wesleyan Chapel, which was the site of the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. The museum curator in me geeked out over the exhibits in the Welcome Center, especially a collection of buttons from various women’s rights protests. Rock on, ladies!
Visit the official site here: https://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm
7. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
I ripped through Fierce Kingdom in less than a day. It’s an addictively readable and devastatingly vivid novel about an active shooter in a zoo. Read it for a great example of suspense writing!
8. Tabletop Games
I landed in Pittsburgh’s “Games Unlimited” – a Mecca of a store for the board gaming community – on April 29th, which happens to be International Tabletop Day. The energy was infectious. I left with five games and haven’t looked back! Try masterful two-player games, such as “Patchwork” or “7 Ronins,” with your best friend or significant other, and check out the hilarious “What Do you Meme?” or “Anomia” for bigger groups of friends.
Visit the Games Unlimited site here: https://gamesunl.com/
9. “Rainbow” by Kesha
Kesha is the rebellious, cool, inspiring female artist for my generation, and Rainbow hits me right in the heart. I guarantee you’ll cry – AND you’ll roll down your car windows to rock out! – during your first listen.
Effortlessly funny, Superstore is a comedy in the style of “The Office,” but set in a Walmart-type retail establishment. I love the rollicking storylines and consistently entertaining ensemble cast in Season 3.
Now airing on NBC & Hulu.
1. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Now playing in theaters.
3. “Wonder Woman”
4. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
5. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Coming soon to DVD & Blu-ray.
7. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
8. “Reputation” by Taylor Swift
9. DC Universe: Rebirth by Geoff Johns
10. “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2”
1. “My Mother & Other Strangers”
A well-acted BBC production set in northern Ireland during World War II. Featuring Hattie Morahan from “The Bletchley Circle”, among others.
2. “Loch Ness”
Beautiful photography sets this BBC mystery apart, starring “Downton Abbey’s” Siobhan Finneran as DCI Lauren Quigley.
3. Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben
A great mystery.
4. Glass Houses by Louise Penny
Another great mystery.
5. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
An interesting history about child adoptions that you might not be aware of.
1. Nintendo Switch
As someone who generally prefers gaming on a PC, I wasn’t looking to be won over by a console, but Nintendo has managed to pull it off again. By making a unit that functions equally well at home on a TV and in handheld mode on the go, they have tapped into a demand that no one else knew existed. That the system and its games so far have been incredibly fun only further cements its spot on my list.
Available at leading retailers and online.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Speaking of the games, Nintendo’s latest Zelda installment is pretty perfect. Bright, fun, easy enough to pick up and play and challenging enough to keep things interesting. I haven’t had this much pure fun playing a video game in years.
3. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
A book about a group of young adults who, along with their dog, used to solve mysteries as kids that are a pastiche of the Scooby-Doo gang, now being set against a horror like something H.P. Lovecraft would have imagined sounds more than a little bit odd, but it really works. The writing style is witty and sharp, the characters well-developed, and the suspense relentless.
4. The MCU Movies (“Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2”, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, “Thor: Ragnarok”)
Marvel Studios has continued their hot streak this year, with 3 movies that really knocked it out of the park. GOTG2 brought us more of the mix of irreverent fun and genuine heart that made the first such a pleasant surprise. Spider-Man’s Marvel debut mixed in enough John Hughes inspired teen drama to put a fresh spin on the usual web-slinging formula. And Thor’s trilogy wrapped-up with what was one of the most surprisingly funny movies of the year.
“Thor: Ragnarok” now playing in theaters.
5. “Get Out”
Many of the best horror movies mix in social commentary, and comedian Jordan Peele’s directorial debut was no exception. Blending scares and suspense with a not-so-subtle commentary on race in America, he crafted a film that makes you laugh, jump and think in equal measure.
6. “Nat King Cole & Me” by Gregory Porter
Grammy-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter is sure to enlarge his fanbase with this luxuriously produced tribute album to Nat King Cole. The lush orchestration blends beautifully with his rich vocals to produce a record I can listen to over and over again.
7. “Stranger Things 2”
I had high hopes for the sequel to Netflix’s hit 80’s pop-culture riffing sci-fi show and I was not disappointed. The stellar cast continues to amaze in a story that brings thrills, laughs, and heart across all 9 episodes.
Available on Netflix.
David Fincher’s fictionalized take on the beginnings of serial-killer profiling at the FBI is eminently watchable. The performances are all stellar, the writing is superb, and the whole production is dripping with meticulous, period style.
Available on Netflix.
9. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
This perfectly plotted suspense novel has one of the wildest and most memorable endings of any book in recent memory. I think my mouth was literally agape as I read the conclusion.
10. “The Good Place”
If you had told me that NBC would air a subversive comedy about the afterlife that was full of more twists and turns than “Lost” I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are. Not only is the story surprisingly well thought out and engaging, but it’s one of the funniest shows on TV.
In no particular order:
“Big Little Lies”
Faithful to the book.
I especially enjoyed these 2 films, which were true stories.
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Late Show by Michael Connelly
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
Unsub by Meg Gardiner