It's almost the weekend and almost time to relax! Here are the movies, music, and books the Windows Central team is enjoying this week.

The weekend is just around the corner, and you're probably keen to put your feet up and enjoy some downtime. What better way to relax than with some great tunes, a great movie, or a real page turner? If you're looking for some suggestions, we put together a collection of some of the best stuff out there right now.

Movies and TV

Here are some of the movies and TV shows the Windows Central team is enjoying this week.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

Last weekend, horrormeister and schlock legend George A. Romero passed away at the age of 77. You know that little ol' show called The Walking Dead? That whole zombie craze that swept the world a few years back? Without Romero's seminal 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, none of that would have been a thing. But Romero's single best movie is the zombie apocalypse classic Dawn of the Dead — the original 1978 version. In honor of Romero's death, I went back to watch Dawn of the Dead, only to find that it's not available digitally, at least not that I know of. So I did the next best thing and rented the 2004 remake. It's not nearly as good, but it ain't bad either. And it does Romero justice. RIP George.

See at Microsoft Store

Blade Runner

Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

"With the upcoming movie arriving in October, it was time to revisit the classic cyberpunk film that hit screens in 1982. If you've not yet sat through the original Blade Runner, you absolutely must do so. The setting, characters, story development, and ending make for quite the roller coaster, and I thoroughly look forward to Blade Runner 2049.

See at Microsoft Store

Game of Thrones

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Have you been living under a rock for the last decade? Nothing against living off the grid, but you might have missed the worldwide sensation that is Game of Thrones. Now that the seventh (and second to last) season is airing on HBO, the time has never been better to catch up on the previous six seasons. You can get a bundled package for about $140, or you can stream each season individually.

What is Game of Thrones? It's the multilayered, gory, sexualized story of a bunch of families battling for a throne. If you're into low fantasy, this one's for you. Love to read? Don't forget to check out the books by George R. R. Martin.

See at Microsoft Store

Music

Here's some of the music the Windows Central team is listening to this week.

Wolves — Rise Against

Recommended by Daniel Rubino, executive editor

I listen to a lot of music, but I only listen to one band every day (and specifically at the gym), and that's Rise Against. Although it is a very political band, the Chicago punk rockers cross into the mainstream with catchy and less hard-hitting music than typically found in this genre.

Wolves is the band's eighth studio album, and I'd argue it's better than The Black Market (2014). Some of the best tunes on the album are 'Politics of Love,' 'Far from Perfect,' 'Wolves' and 'Miracles.' The album doesn't have a bad song on it, but it did take a few listens before the hooks sank in, and now I can't stop humming them.

Overall, it's a great album from one of the most passionate and sincere bands around. And despite the cynicism in the world right now there are some surprisingly upbeat and positive tunes here, too.

See at Microsoft Store

Waltzed In From The Rumbling — Plants and Animals

Waltzed In From The Rumbling — Plants and Animals

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

I've been a fan of Montreal indie-rock band Plants and Animals dating back to 2008's 'Parc Avenue.' Somehow I still ended up missing their 2016 release, 'Waltzed In From The Rumbling,' until this past week. So far, I'm digging it, even if it hasn't grown on me as much as the rest of the band's discography. If you're looking for a solid, slightly subdued album to just chill out to, this is definitely worth a look.

See at Microsoft Store

Learn & Burn — The Sheepdogs

Learn & Burn —  The Sheepdogs

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Ever since The Sheepdogs, a humble sextet from Saskatoon, Canada, won a contest and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, their lives have no doubt taken a dramatic turn. Their brand of prairie rock has its own unique sound while also managing to sound like all those '70s Canadian bands many of us still love. I've seen them perform live countless times, and each performance has been better than the last.

Now that it's hot and humid up here in Canada, the cold beer flows freely, and there's nothing better than some rock and roll on the speakers. Sure, they have more recent albums, but Learn & Burn from 2011 is packed with hits from start to finish.

See at Microsoft Store

Books

Here are the books we're reading this week!

Exit Strategy — Steve Hamilton

Exit Strategy — Steve Hamilton

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

Steve Hamilton is an underrated mystery and crime fiction novelist whose simple writing style and knack for creating authentic feeling tough guys is matched by few crime writers today. His outstanding Alex McKnight series is what originally morphed me into a fan. And the new Nick Mason series is off to a great start.

Book two of the Mason series, Exit Strategy, just came out in May, and it has Nick Mason, a career criminal sentenced to life in prison only to make a deal with the devil (well, a crime boss) to get another chance at life outside the penitentiary, running around Chicago and finding himself in some ridiculously tense situations. It's perfect beach (or bedtime or anytime) reading.

Pick up the first book, The Second Life of Nick Mason, and I promise you won't be able to not buy the new novel.

Download the Kindle book from Amazon Download the Audible audio book from Amazon

Cannonball — Joseph McElroy

Cannonball — Joseph McElroy

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Joseph McElroy is an American author who is one of those people who can stitch together words to create prose that is almost magical. Think of Pynchon or Gaddis, and you have a good idea of what kind of read this is going to be.

Cannonball is McElroy's ninth novel, and so far it's a real treat — I'm currently about halfway through. So far there are scrolls containing never-before-read gospel from Jesus himself, a bunch of ruined buildings in Iraq (following the U.S. invasion), and a couple of divers, one of which is obese.

The story moves around through time, and McElroy's prose doesn't miss a beat. Seriously; if you're one for fancy writin', give this one a go.

Download the Kindle book from Amazon

Your favorites?

What have you been watching, reading, and listening to this week? We want to know, so drop a comment and share your recommendations.