My Top 5 Tim Burton Movies

Tim Burton has been wowing audiences with his distinct visual and story telling style or years, earning him cult and auteur status amongst his biggest fans. His stories of outsider characters trying to fit into society has touched the many people who also feel like they do not belong. He has become a voice for the freaks, the weirdos, the misfits.

I have been a big fan of Tim Burton’s since I was a kid living in a small village. A distinctly round peg, trying to fit in a very square hole, the stories of skellington men, the scissorhanded, and the plain strange were a great comfort to me, as I knew then that I as not alone in the world. Although perhaps some of his more recent films haven’t quite hit the mark (I’m still not sure what Dark Shadows was all about) his earlier work still endures and is as popular today as they ever were.

With Tim Burton’s latest release, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children right around the corner, I thought I would compile my top 5 favourite films of Tim Burton’s for your reading pleasure.

5) Beetlejuice

beetlejuiceIt’s the ghost with the most. Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), the vile (but let’s face it, hilarious) human exorcist is employed by the ghostly Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland to get rid of the terrible Deetz’s, who have moved into their home and taking over.

One of his earlier works this is full of that typical Burton style, there’s plenty of stripes, dark humour, wonky angles everywhere (especially in the ghostly government offices) a dark twist on suburbia, there’s even an early appearance from Jack Skellington, albeit it’s just his head on top of the merry go round Beetlejuice turns himself into. It’s a rip roaring comedy with some great set pieces and memorable scenes, not to mention a great calypso soundtrack.

 

4) Big Eyes

big-eyesThe most recent of Tim’s movies to make the list, this is based on the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams). Margaret was an artist in the 60s, who met and married fellow artist, Walter (Christoph Waltz). After realising Margaret’s paintings got far more attention during shows he began to pretend the works were his own, keeping the lie going for years, making Margaret work in secret, even from her own daughter from a previous marriage. Eventually the lies and secrets take their toll on Margaret and she plans to break free from her captor.

Although there are many things that might seem like typical Burton themes, the horrors of suburbia being the biggest, though I would say that visually it is very different from a lot of his other films. It’s all about bright colours, and rather than a fantasy like setting Burton keeps it real and simply for his colour palette, costumes and settings. He also explores the theme of domestic abuse, though I felt that this came secondary to the main story and could have been explored more.

 

3) Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

pee-weeFrom the latest, to the first. Burton’s Debut feature from 1985, might seem like a silly film about a strange man child. Really though it’s a masterclass in taking the absurd reality.

Pee Wee (Paul Reubens) has the best bike in town, it’s red, shiney, and really, really cool. One day as he’s shopping for new bike accessories Pee wee’s bike is stolen! Oh no! As you can imagine he is devastated, and sets off on an adventure of a lifetime to get it back. Along his cross country trek he meets many different people who help him to his destination. Every person is weird in their own unique way. They have a dream of some kind that sets them apart, makes them different in some way.

It might not be a film that will teach you about the human condition, or help you to learn about historical figures that lived 1000 years ago. It will, however make you laugh like a 3 year old mainlining sugar, and will provide an excellent way to spend a couple hours of your life.

 

2) Edward Scissorhands

edward-scissorhandsProbably Burton’s biggest criticism of American suburbia. Though set at the time it was made, in the late 80s/early 90s the small community at the centre of the story often feel like they’re stuck in the 1950s, but in style and attitudes.

Edward (Johnny Depp) lives on his own in a big, creepy castle overlooking a pastel coloured community, one day a lovely lady called Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) wanders up to the castle, in the hopes that someone will buy her Avon products. Instead of a makeup starved housewife she find Edward, who she decides to bring down to stay with her and her family in their house. Though initially the new and unusual person is accepted by the community, though the tides turn when he does not want to sleep with one of them, and things begin to turn a little more sinister.

It’s a lesson on how suburbanites can often seem like good people, but the attitudes of the community can often be dictated by one person, and if you are not considered favourable by that one person then you do not have a chance in the community. The additional love story between Edward and Peg’s daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder) makes this a true modern fairy tale. This also marks the first collaboration between Burton and Johnny Depp.

 

1) Ed Wood

ed wood.jpgThis is my favourite Tim Burton Movie to date. It tells the tale of movie director Edward. D. Wood Jr, who was voted the worst director of all time in a 1979 poll thanks to movies such as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Bride of the Monster. If you’re not familiar with those titles, but you loved The Room, I suggest you look them up, they are a classic of the ‘so bad they’re good’ genre.

Starring Johnny Depp as the titular character this is very different from a lot of other Burton movies, there’s no campy, twee, yet twisted setting, there’s not even a Danny Elfman score (they had a minor disagreement at the time). It’s even shot in black and white, which gives it more of an arthouse and realistic feel. A large portion of the story is about how Ed is a transvestite, and about his acceptance from the people around him, this is dealt with with sensitivity and unquestioning acceptance. Most of all this is a story about one man’s passion to get his movies made, his movies are his life and without them he is nothing, yet he is always suffering setbacks and ridicule, but he keeps going, he keeps pursuing his passion no matter the cost, and that is why this is the best Burton movie.

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My Top 5 Chill Out Games

One of the things I love about games is the mental challenge, they get the gears going as you set about trying to solve the beautiful puzzle before you. They make you stretch your noggin in ways you didn’t know you could by giving you all kinds of different scenarios and configurations to figure out before your opponents to be crowned the winner.

Sometimes, though, you want a change of pace. You just want to chill out. The other thing I love about games is how they can bring people together, you can have a few drinks and a few laughs whilst moving coloured pieces about and not having to worry too much of work too hard at building a long standing strategy in order to claim your victory.

With a chill out game it doesn’t matter who wins, it doesn’t matter too much about strategy, the most important thing is to gather people round and have a bit of a laugh, or just a nice relaxing evening together.

So get into a comfy seat, grab some snacks and your favourite beverage, and don’t forget to invite your friends for the top 5 games for chilling out with.

 

5) Last Will 

last-will-2Welcome to Brewster’s Millions: The Board Game. Your Uncle has died, Hooray! He has left you his fortune, but first you must spend a nominal amount (it changes from game to game) within  eight weeks, to get the rest of the beautiful bullion, because that’s how life works. Right? Right?!

So, you have to set about living the most lavish lifestyle you can, by buying big houses that you leave to depreciate in value, buying dogs and horses to train and feed, having many lady companions who you take to dinner and on boating trips as well as throwing stupendous parties.

It’s a great, card based game that allows you to go down many different routes, and try loads of different ways to get rid of your cash. The Edwardian England setting makes for some oddly amusing scenarios, and it’s always fun to try and spend as much as you can before time runs out.

 

4) Sea of clouds

sea-of-clouds-2Arrggghhh me mateys! Hop aboard my sky pirate ship and we’ll go hunting for sky booty!

In Sea of clouds you all play as captains of flying pirate ships, like you do. You have to work together to plunder the swag, but it also means that you have to share. Another card based game, the booty is three face down cards in the middle, you have a look at booty pile number one, and decide if you want it or not, if you do you keep it and replace it with another face down, if you don’t want it simply put it back and put another card on top, and move onto the next Booty pile. If you go through all three and don’t like anything, then you can opt for a mystery card taken from the top of the deck.

Every few rounds you all board each others boats and have a big fight, with the winner claiming loads of doubloons to add to their pile.

This is a great, quick game, perfect for chilling out to. It’s fairly streamlined without too much extra stuff going on, you’re looking at cards and deciding which ones you want. The artwork is also perfect for a chill out, as there’s lots of dreamy, floaty clouds about with a dusky colour pallette.

 

3) Roll For the Galaxy

roll-for-the-galaxyThere are some who might not think of this as a chill out game, the box boasts of a frantic game of dice rolling and worker assignment. In some respects it is. Though I have found it to be fairly smooth riding, and some of the frantic scrambling is often replaced with careful thought and consideration.

You start off with a few dice with funny symbols on them which correspond to different phases, behind your player board you roll your dice using your special coloured dice rolling cup (which are very cute and a lovely little touch) depending on what symbols they land on depends on where you can assign them and what you can do during the round. You can explore new worlds, you can produce a good on a world you’ve already explored, or you can ship a good you’ve produced (the shipping of the goods is where you win victory points).

It’s lovely space theme, cute coloured dice and little rolling cups make this an unintentionally cute game, at least for me. Recommended for anyone with a love of dice or worker assignment games.

 

2) Sherriff of Nottingham

sheriff-of-nottinghamA little more of a party game, Sheriff of Nottingham plays up to five people. It’s a bluffing game at heart as each player is trying to smuggle contraband with their apples, chickens and cheese into the marketplace to sell on the black market for a pretty penny.

Each player takes turns in playing to deplorable Sheriff, who is represented by neat little standee. You put the cards you want to take into the market in a coloured felt pouch and pass them to the sheriff, declaring what you have in your bag as you pass it (obviously not telling him about any contraband you may have hidden inside). The sheriff has to then decide if you are telling the truth, if he suspects you of lying he can open your pouch and confiscate your contraband. However, if you were telling the truth and the Sheriff opens your pouch, he then has to pay you money for the inconvenience! The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the game.

This is a perfect chill out game, as it’s all about the exchange between the traders and the Sheriff it makes for some excellent funny moments, as everyone gets a shot at being the bully Sheriff it can bring out a part of people’s personalities they might not usually show, it’s about people getting together and having a laugh. For me, this is one game I really do not care about winning, in part thanks to the convoluted scoring system at the end, it’s all about having a good time with my friends.

 

1) Ticket To Ride

ticket-to-rideI choo choo choose you Ticket to Ride!

This is one of the biggest selling games ever, it’s considered a modern classic that is soon to join to the ranks of Monopoly and Cluedo as a game that everyone has in their house for posterity. After winning the Spiel De Jahres back in 2004 it’s gone on to sell millions of copies and managing to draw in a whole carriage load of people who might have otherwise shied away from board games. Even my mother bought a copy of her own accord.

It’s simplicity is one of it’s biggest draws for new players as well as making it a great chill out game for more experienced hands . You lay trains down to claim a route and connect cities on a map of North America, most points wins the game. That’s it, the turns can go quite quickly, so it doesn’t take all night to play a game, it’s perfect for gathering people around, having a few drinks and just… Chilling out!

 

There we have it folks. All the ingredients you need for a chilled evening with some friends! Don’t forget the tasty snacks and drinks (alcoholic or not, it’s your choice!)

 

My Top 5 Studio Ghibli Films

Studio Ghibli has enraptured audiences since it’s inception in 1985. It’s produced some of the world’s most beloved characters that would give Mickey Mouse a run for his money. They have created opulent worlds full of magic, splendor and wonder. Most of all they have influenced and inspired almost everyone who watches.

For many they are the ultimate in Japanese anime, capturing Japanese culture and spreading strong messages about the preservation of nature. There are stories about loss and grief, stories about childhood innocence, about growing up. For myself they have been a big influence. I was immediately drawn in, mostly by the sense of magic that always seems to touch every single film, even those that might have more bleak story to tell, as well as the beautiful animations and captivating stories.

Here I’ve tried my hardest to pick just five of my favourite films that Studio Ghibli has produced.

5) Ponyo

ponyoWhat could be described as “Studio Ghibli does The Little Mermaid”. It’s about a little fish girl who falls in love with a boy. Her father tries his hardest to make her stay in the ocean, but the eponymous Ponyo only wants to be re-united with her friend.

That is really a bare bones description of the whimsy and beauty that lies beneath. Though Ponyo is clearly in love with Sosuke this is always portrayed as an innocent, or even platonic friendship. Compare this to the Disney version and it seems like a breath of fresh air. The characters are all adorable and you fall in love with them all. Especially little Ponyo herself, who’s cries for ham, a newfound favourite you can’t help but fall in love with.

This is a great movie that is a little more lighthearted than some other Ghibli movies, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch.

4) Howel’s Moving Castle

howlBased on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle is filled with Ghibli’s signature magic and visual style.

I found this a very interesting watch. I have read the book, and it is very, quintessentially British, even down to a joke throughout the book about Wales. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I finally got round to seeing Howl’s Moving Castle and found it to be thoroughly Japanese. It manages to take all the great things about the book and put them through a Japanese filter, whilst somehow keeping a lingering sense of British whimsy.

A great film to watch as a family as there is something for everyone in here.

3) Spirited Away

spirited-awayNow we get to the one that broke all the records and really started to get Ghibli’s name out into the wider world. It was the first anime to get a mainstream release outside of Japan, it was the highest grossing film in Japan, beating the record set by Titanic. It even garnered the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Chihiro must find work in the magical bath house to save her parents, who were turned into pigs for their greed when finding a food stall full of food. She has to go see the proprietor, Yubaba and make her way through this new world she finds herself in. Echoing Alice in Wonderland, it’s about a little girl who finds herself in a world full of strange, wonderful things and trying to make sense of the world that makes where anything can happen.

This a true cinematic delight, the story of little Chirio constantly battling on and never giving up no matter how hard the task at hand might be will win you over and have you cheering her every step of the way. The animation is stunning, it’s hard to believe that it was all hand drawn in the tradition style, it’ll knock your socks off.

2) My Neighbour Totoro

my-neighbour-totoroTotoro is one of Japan’s well known and well loved characters. To the Japanese he is like Mickey Mouse every young child knows who he is. He has inspired countless pieces of fan art and merchandise around the globe.

It follows the story of two young girls, Satsuki and Mei as they move into a new home to be closer to their mother who is being cared for in a hospital. Whilst exploring they come across the giant nature spirit, Totoro, who is part giant teddy bear, part spirit, all a bundle of love and joy. It’s a tale of innocence and exploring your surroundings. He even calls his catbus to help in the search when Mei goes missing.

A great film for young kids to help capture their imagination and inspire them to connect with nature

1) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

laputaThe first official Ghibli film (Nausicaa was made just before Ghibli was formed, though it is included in their DVD collections). It was part inspired by the flying island mentioned in Gulliver’s Travels.

It’s an epic tale following the trials of a little girl, Sheeta, who is thrust into a predicament she could never have predicted. She is protected by a magical charm passed down through her family from one generation to the next. A charm that is much sought after by sky pirates and the military. She teams up with a young boy, Pazu and together they must unlock the secrets of the amulet while trying to keep clear of those with bad intentions.

It’s a film about friendship, and finding out who you really are and taking your place in the world. It’s a beautiful film and you’ll love the robots that appear towards the end of the film.

My Top 5 Movies About Moving House

Moving, moving, moving. Everyone around me seems to be moving house at the moment, myself included. So with just a couple of weeks to go before I embark on my 10th move in 10 years (seriously) I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best movies that involve moving home in the hopes of trying to fool myself that my move will go better than some of these!

5) Inside Out

insideoutA beautiful film that follows the personified emotions inside the head of Riley, a twelve year old girl as she makes the tough move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Along the way Riley has to deal with feelings of isolation and fear as she makes her way in a new school, a new house and no moving van with all her home comforts. All whilst also pining for her old life that she loved so much.

Not only is this a movie about how sadness can be an important emotion and is integral to being happy again, but also about the art of mourning the past and being able to move forward.

4) Footloose

foortloost
Don’t tell me this doesn’t turn you on?!

So, you’ve just moved into small town America from The bright lights and wind from Chicago only to discover that these red neck hicks have banned dancing! What do you do? You start a dancing rebellion, of course! Well, that’s what Ren McCormick  did!

With his fancy city dancing and new fangled cassette Walkman Ren (Kevin Bacon), brings down the tyranny of the two left footed and really rather dour Father Shaw (John Lithgow), Moore and all the kids danced in the streets.

It’s a perfect cheesy 80s movie with the soundtrack to go with it. It’s so lovable and ban so silly you can’t help but get caught up in it all and by the end you’re dancing with the best of them!

 

3) BeetleJuice

beetleuiceAdam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are poltergeists stuck in their quaint farmhouse. Despite their best efforts to spook them away, The Deetzes will not move. In their desperation to get rid of this vile couple they employ the services of one Beetleguese, a human exorcist to do the job for them. They end up making friends with Lydia, the daughter whose interest in the ‘Strange and unusual’ allows her to be able to see Adam and Barbera.

Beetlejuice manages to marry up dark comedy and horror in a unique way. One of Tim Burton’s earliest films, it’s full of his visual style and slightly warped sense of humour (anyone who commits suicide is doomed to be a civil servant for their afterlife). It’s a great warning for anyone moving into an old house, you never know, it could be haunted!

2) Coraline

coralineOne of my favourite films, ever. Coraline Jones is a feisty young blue head. She and her parents move into an apartment in a kinda creepy looking flat. Her parents, busy working all the time leave Coraline to explore the grounds and meet the new neighbours. Her adventures bring her to the Other Mother, who tempts Coraline to sew buttons into her eyes by showing her the magical and perfect alternate world she could be inhabiting. 

It’s glorious stop motion animation combines with it’s reluctance to talk down to kids to create a wonderful world that is filled with both beautiful wonder and darkest nightmares all at once.

With a kick ass lead character who can fight for herself and stand up for what is right, this is a great story for young girls. It is also a great story about exploring new places and learning new things, and perhaps that if something appears too be good to to be true, maybe it is.

 

1) Toy Story

toy-story
Woody has the cold, dead eyes of a killer

One of the greatest films ever, revolutionising not just CGI animation but how kids films are perceived by the wider public.

In this classic tale of jealousy and betrayal Woody, the rootinest tootinest sheriff in town, starts to get green eyes when a shiney new Buzz Lightyear appears on the scene taking over as the coolest toy in town. A mishap makes it look like Woody got rid of Buzz on purpose, so he goes on a quest to bring Buzz back into the fold, the clock is set, as they need to make it back before the moving van takes Andy and his family to their new home. Culminating in a tense and very emotional scene as Buzz and Woody try to catch up with the van.

This was the first feature length offering from Pixar, and it was an instant success. It’s revolution in CGI animation intrigued audiences, but they took it into their hearts because of the amazingly well developed and lovable characters and universal themes that we can all identify with, even if they are played out by toys.  

Finger crossed I don’t end up with creepy Other Mothers, ghosts or a fight between the toys!

Mid-Year Wrap Up

So we’re over half way through the year and I’m not even half way through my reading goal of 50 books. By now I should be on book 26/27 but instead I’m only on book 24 ao I thought I’d share with you the books I’ve read so far this year.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love you –Jenny Han15749186

This series follows a girl called Lola-Jean who has loved a few boys in her life but never told any of them. Instead she writes them a love letter which she addresses but never sends, choosing to hide them in a hat box instead.  One day she realises her letters have been posted and she now needs to confront each guy. This is a great read and I enjoyed the second book more than the first, a third book is to be released, I only hope it doesn’t ruin the series so far.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoonbook_cover.jpg

Maddy is allergic to everything, hence the book’s title. She lives an isolated life with her mother and her nurse, Carla, being the only people she has any interaction with. Maddy is happy with this life until she spots a new guy moving in next door. Olly also has his share of problems at home and strikes up a friendship with Maddy by sending messages through their windows and later progressing to online messaging. Maddy is soon begins to wonder what life could be like outside her own home and realises she has to take a chance in order to live a little. I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t love it either… It was good, I’ll leave it at that.

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neilldownload

In a world were only men are born naturally; women are now created and trained in the arts of pleasing men. When a woman graduates, they will become a companion, concubine or teacher and most of the girls are aiming to become a companion. Freida and her best friend Isabel have always been two of the top rated girls in school and are sure they’ll go on to become companions. In the final year however, Isabel does the worst thing she can possibly do and puts on weight. Soon Freida realises she has to decide if her friendship is worth saving and she now needs to become the perfect woman all by herself. I loved this book, it was insightful and clever.

Full review here.

Almost Famous Women – Megan Mayhew Bergman51bqo1NSzFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

A collection of short stories about women who were almost famous, some of the women are related to famous people and some are notorious women from throughout the ages. The stories are brilliant and inspiring, they shed some light on how women can do anything than a man can do and often they can do it better.

Disclaimer – Renée Knightdownload (2)

Disclaimer follows two protagonists, first we have Catherine, a prestigious documentary maker who one day finds a book on her nightstand and after a few chapters she realises that it is about herself. The book tells of her worst memory and time that she thought she had passed. Our second protagonist is Stephen, the author of the book and a man who holds a grudge. This book was great, it was full of twists and each chapter ending made me want to read more.

Full review here.

Quidditch Through the Ages – J.K. Rowling51V-oMWTcOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Harry Potter series by now, it feels like not a week does by without mentioning my favourite book series. Quidditch Through the Ages is a book which is read within the book series (book inception) and was brought to life for Comic Relief. The book tells us the history of the game of Quidditch and explains a lot of the rules.

Down the Rabbit Hole – Juan Pablo Villalobosdownload (5)

This book follows Tochtli, a child of a famous drug baron, who is living the life of luxury. He lives in a house big enough that he describes it as a palace, he has his own zoo and he has no need to leave the house; everything he needs is brought to him. He does however, have a house which often has hit men and prostitutes passing through. Tochtli’s only want is to have a pygmy hippopotamus to add to his zoo. This book is tiny and can be read in a matter of hours or possibly less depending on how fast a reader you are but it’s brilliant.

Lorali – Laura Dockrill24910026

On his sixteenth birthday, Rory is sitting by the beach when a storm hits and he has to run for shelter. He realises that he’s not alone in the shelter when he comes across Lorali, a naked girl who he instantly feels he needs to protect. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Lorali than first meets the eye, she is actually a mermaid who rejected her life under the sea but a number of people turn up at the same time as she does and it seems that they’re determined to bring Lorali back home. I was a tad disappointed with this one, I thought I would love a book about mermaids but I got bored after about 10 pages.

Meet Me In Paris – Juliette Sobanetimg_2253

Juliette’s memoirs follow her post-divorce w
hen she meets a good looking man (still married) who she begins an affair with. It’s an honest telling of life after your world changes and how with good friends and strong will, you can get through anything. I thought this was great, it was nice to see a story that is real and unashamed.

Full review here.

Shopaholic to the Rescue – Sophia Kinsella9780812987706

This is book eight in the Shopaholic series. This time Becky’s father has gone missing and he has taken Suze’s husband Tarkie with him. Becky, along with her family and friends, go on a mission across America to ensure their loved ones are ok. I think this series needs to just finish now and I’m sort of tired of hearing about Becky doing something stupid and affecting her whole family in the process. This book was better than the last few but still not half as good as when the series started

Dark Places – Gillian FlynnDark-Places-Gillian-Flynn.jpg

When Libby is a child, her mother and sisters are murdered. Libby hides throughout the whole situation but acts as a witness, at age seven, to give evidence against her brother who she thinks she heard killing the rest of her family. Twenty-Five years later and Libby is no longer able to survive on the charity money given to her as a child so she seeks other ways to get money. She comes across the Kill Club, a group who are interested in serial killers and where she realises that she might have been wrong about how her family died. I still can’t tell you how I feel about this book, it was great but disturbing.

Full review here.

The Moth Catcher – Anne Cleeves61pxu1qZLEL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

The book series which the UK TV show, Vera, is based on. This is the seventh book in the series but the only one I’ve ever read. Each book has its own story so I don’t feel it’s essential to read them all before starting this one. This book sees two bodies being found in a small town not far from Newcastle. The victims seem connected but their bodies were found apart. Vera must get to the bottom of the murders and work out who the killer was. I’ve honestly forgot who the killer was already but I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t full of suspense but seeing as I’m from Newcastle, it was great to read about places close by.

The Harry Potter Series – Books 5-7 – J.K. Rowlingdownload (3)

I’m sure I don’t need to explain these books. I re-read 1-4 last year and finished my re-read this year. I loved them. As I always do.

My five favourite things about Harry Potter.

Game of Thrones- Books 1 and 2 – George R.R. Martin9780007448036

Again, I don’t feel like I need to explain this series and even if I did, I don’t know how I would. Way too much happens in these books to really explain. I hope to finish the rest of the books by the end of the year but I’m listening to audio book versions of them and at 40+ hours per book, I’m not sure if I will.

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Massdownload (2)

The second book in the ACOTAR series, this book sees Feyre, newly turned fae and living with the fae who she believes to be the love of her life, Tamlin. Tamlin however keeps Feyre locked up and wont allow her to leave the safety of their estate in fear she will get hurt. Move aside Tamlin and allow Rhys to enter. Rhys rescues Feyre and allows her to become part of his close-knit court where she learns to use her newfound fae skills and fight for herself. I completely loved this book, along with the rest of the world, I thought it was great.

Full review here.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerrdownload (3)

Like Disclaimer, this book has two protagonists, Marie-Laure and Warner. Marie-Laure goes blind at a young ages but lives with her father who takes her with him every day when he goes to work at Paris’ Natural History Museum. As WWII progresses they realise they must leave Paris and with them they take a beautiful diamond which they plan to keep safe for the museum. Warner is an orphan who has a great skill at fixing radios. He eventually becomes part of the Hitler youth and progresses to be one of the best soldiers on field. Marie-Laure and Werner eventually meet and the book follows their childhood to show how this happens. I honestly didn’t feel anything for his book, it was well written but none of the characters felt real to me.

Full review here.

The Paris Effect – K.S.R. Burns26089265

I had to check Goodreads to check what this book was about despite the fact that I only finished it a matter of weeks ago… It follows Amy who clearly has an eating disorder and who has just recently lost her best friend. She’s not completely happy in her marriage so when he husband goes away for a week on business, she leaves for Paris. I just didn’t care for this book. Amy never seemed to get over her eating problem and I don’t feel like it was ever explained that her eating disorder was a bad thing. I love Paris but this book just didn’t give me what I needed.

Sold – Patricia McComerick201114.jpg

Lakshmi is thirteen and lives in the mountains of Nepal with her mother and step-father. Lakshmi enjoys school and looking after her goat but she can’t deny that her family have money issues. To rectify this, her step-father decides to sell Lakshmi to what she believes will be a rich family within the city where she will be a maid. It soon becomes apparent that she will not be a maid and she will actually be a prostitute, living a life she is desperate to escape. This was a brilliant book and a must read for anyone. It’s insightful and intelligent and at times it broke my heart.

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Books 1 and 2 – Lemony SnicketThe_Bad_Beginning_(UK).png

Another popular book series that I’ve started to read. There’s soon to be a Netflix TV show released and I decided to read the series before the show starts. I like the books but have series concerns about why there are no responsible adults looking after the children. I never read these books as a child so I don’t think I have the same emotional attachment as most do.

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5 Modern Sci-Fi Films You Should Probably Watch

Just do it.

The Machine (2013)

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A prime example of a film with an unoriginal concept (military trying to create super-soldier cyborg types to defeat a pesky Cold War enemy) but with great execution. Like most of the films on this list, the budget for The Machine was low (around the £1million mark) but they still managed to bag a decent cast (Toby Stephens, Denis Lawson, Caity Lotz) and make fantastic use of the low key location. Lotz steals the show, her transformation from enthusiastic young graduate to kick-ass cyborg is sublime, though Stephens puts in a decent performance as the scientist driven to obsession. There are some delightfully well choreographed fight sequences and while it is a little naval gazing and slow in parts, it does pose some interesting questions, and the ending stays with you.

 

The Final Cut (2004)

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Before Black Mirror plunged in there with its weird dystopian visions (that seem to be coming fruition scarily enough), Omar Naim produced this little known nugget of sci-fi weirdness. Released during the period where Robin Williams was throwing out some curveball performances (One Hour Photo, Insomnia), The Final Cut sees him playing it a little more straight and restrained as Alan Hakman, a cutter who is drawn into a dangerous game of intrigue and blackmail. The Final Cut is not going to win, and didn’t win, any Oscars, it’s structure and plot are pretty standard. However, the world building and concepts are where the film really comes into its own, and you sort of wish they had kept the focus on that instead of heading down the action thriller route. Either way, The Final Cut is a strong and interesting entry into Robin Williams’ filmography.

 

Grabbers (2012)

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Lots of jokes about being drunk. Check. An alcoholic lead character. Check. Excessive use of the word ‘feck’. Check. All the hallmarks of a decent Irish film, and Grabbers is no different. It’s a proper no frills, sci-fi/horror/comedy monster film, with some amusingly gory deaths, daft plot twists, and amiable character stereotypes. The monsters are fantastically realized and the one key aspect of their biology leads to residents of the island retreating to pub and getting pissed. Grabbers does nothing new, it owes a lot to Tremors, however the film has such heart and wit, and some gorgeous cinematography, that it is more than enough to make watching this film well worth your time. And have a few drinks while you’re at it.

 

Coherence (2013) 

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Coherence is an absolute mind-fuck (excuse my French). It starts as a seemingly straight forward relationship drama with a lot of smug people sitting round a dinner table, however after an astronomical anomaly passes by, things begin going south. Coherence sets out a truly fascinating ‘what if’ scenario. What if we existed on parallel realities but co-existed on the same plane? What if we saw those ‘other’ versions of ourselves but they weren’t quite ‘us’? What if we interacted with those ‘others’? The major thrill in Coherence is that you don’t know which characters or which ‘others’ you are watching at any one time, you don’t know whose reactions are legitimate. Where you watching the ‘others’ in the first place? Are the ‘others’ just as baffled as confused as the first set of characters we meet or are they already aware of the situation? Coherence is a film that deserves multiple re-watches and almost requires it, and it also deserves a first watch so get going onto Netflix and seek it out.

 

Primer (2004) 

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When I first watched Primer I didn’t quite understand what was happening. When I watched Primer for the second time I still didn’t quite understand what was happening. Primer is an obtuse, borderline impenetrable piece of work, but therein lies its charm. Shane Carruth (director/writer/producer/actor) refuses to dumb down the science or give people massive doses of exposition to help them understand exactly what is going on. The plot of Primer is a simple one to start with; two friends invent a device in a garage which they discover can send objects back in time, however, their relationship begins to fracture as does their grip on what they have created. Primer is a staggering bit of cinema when you consider the size of its budget ($7000), the fact that no one in the film had acted before, and that Carruths had never written or directed before. Like Coherence, Primer is on Netflix and it is worth keeping on your ‘to watch’ list even after you’ve watched it for the third or fourth time.

My Five Favourite Things About Harry Potter

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I’m fully aware that I’m obsessed with Harry Potter, it’s an addiction that I never plan to get over. I find that there are very few people who have never read Harry Potter or who have not seen the films but if you are one of these people then you may want to not read this because there may be some spoilers.

Now, let’s talk my top five favourite things about Harry Potter;

1 – There is a character for everyoneOotp076

Now this may seem obvious but recently I’ve realised that not everyone loves the same characters, I’ve just re-read the series and once again I fell in love with Snape and cried my eyes out when I once again read about his undying love for Lily, I laughed when Fred and George left Hogwarts and my heart broke when Fred died. I’ve always been a big fan of the twins and Snape and I’ve always felt a strong connection to the strong female characters that are Ginny, Hermione and Luna. I did recently find out however, a lot of my friends disagree. I have a friend who hates Snape and a friend who will always tell me how annoying she finds Ginny, to counteract this, I never really warmed to Dobby (please don’t hate me) and felt no emotions when he died. I love that the characters are so real and have such depth that the reader can get to know them and essentially form an opinion of them.

2 – The pensieve

FSHQDAYGUQ4FS36.SMALLMy favourite parts of HP will always be the scenes with the pensieve, I love going back in time and rooting through peoples memories. I thought that J.K. Rowling’s invention of the pensieve was a perfect way to show us exactly what happened and explain the story a little more. The Half Blood Prince is my favourite book and a lot of this is based on how we can go back in time and understand Riddle a little more. I loved seeing his upbringing and how he came to be Voldemort, knowing that he hated life at the orphanage and how his magic powers made him feel special, made it a little bit more understandable why he wanted to become powerful.

3 – Strong womendownload (4)

I read a lot of books and I have a love for young adult and contemporary fiction but often with these genres I find a lot of female characters who I hate because they seem to live their lives around finding a boyfriend and nothing is more important to them. Harry Potter literally has the opposite type of women, Hermione being the lead example. Yes Hermione falls in love with Ron early and it seems pretty obvious from Goblet of Fire onwards that providing both them survive, they will eventually be together but this is never what Hermione was about. We loved her because she was strong and was always the rational one, she valued her friendships with Harry and Ron more than anything else in the world and she was the one who stuck by Harry through thick and thin. She was clever and funny and beautiful all at the same time. Let’s be honest, if Harry hadn’t made friends with Hermione, he would have been dead before he even found the philosopher’s stone. On top of this we have the likes of Luna who is eccentric and weird but she’s comfortable in her own skin and never tries to change who she is just to fit in, finally she finds her best friends by just being herself and we have Ginny who starts off as a giggly schoolgirl who swoons over Harry but it’s not until she’s over him that she actually grows a personality. Ginny is strong willed and feisty and she refuses to go home in the battle of Hogwarts, she knows she is at risk but she can’t sit back and do nothing. I love how J.K. writes all her main female characters as strong women who girls can admire and look up to.

4 – Quidditch

quidditchWe’ve all wanted to fly on a broom and hit balls through a goal, right? Quidditch is on my list because I simply love the fact that it has become a real sport. There’s nothing more entertaining than going to a university quidditch game and seeing a group of 20 year olds running around on brooms pretending they’re flying. Before you accuse me of mocking the sport, I’m really not. I genuinely love that Harry Potter is so important to people that they’re trying to bring the fictional sport to life. I’ve always wanted to play seeker so maybe one day my dream will come true.

5 – The magicDiagonAlley_homepage_hero

This one sounds obvious but for me the magic is so much more than just the spells they perform in the books. Earlier this year I visited Warner Bro studios where you can walk around and look at the sets they used in the actual movies and to me it honestly felt magical. Within five minutes of me being on the tour, I was close to tears because it was all so overwhelming to me. The magic in the books is brought to life, you can perform spells and drink butterbeer, you can take the train to Hogwarts and you can fly on a broom. This is only one part of the Harry Potter world, there is a huge theme park in Orlando and all over the world there are places to go for Harry Potter lovers to make the magic come to life.

Ultimately, I love that Harry Potter is so big that it’s more than just a book, it’s a community. I love that if I meet someone new and find out that that love HP, I know I’ll be able to talk to them for hours.  Basically, I really, really love Harry Potter.