The Top 5 Halloween Video Games

Ah, October is finally here. Tis the season of spookery where we can indulge in all manner of occult entertainment. Video Games have a unique quality of being able to immerse you in another world and this can be really effective in a scary setting. These games I’ve picked aren’t necessarily the scariest but I do think they embody the Halloween vibe and they’ll definitely get you in the October mood.

 

5. Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon (2013)

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS

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Mario’s not the only one who can tackle ghosts, ever since his first solo game in 2001 Luigi has been linked to the spirit world. While Mario would take on ghosts with a thundering “Yahoooo!” Luigi is more likely to run from spooks and possible cry hysterically.

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This is part of what makes the game so interesting. At times you feel like you’re forcing Luigi through this haunted house filled with ghouls of all shapes and sizes. He shivers and jumps whenever anything goes bump around him, the character animation is so expressive. Your task is to suck up all the ghosts using Luigi’s ghost vacuum the Poltergust 5000. Sometimes you’ll have to solve puzzles to reveal the ghosts or just check every draw until one pops out (much to his chagrin). Luigi’s Mansion is the video game equivalent of a fairground haunted house… Dare you enter?

 

4. Costume Quest (2010)

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iOS

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Costume Quest is an underrated gem, it’s also one of the only games I can think of that’s entirely set on Halloween night. You and your friends are out trick or treating when all of a sudden these goblin guys come out and steal everyone’s candy! Even more unfortunate for your character your little brother/sister (depending on your gender choice) is kidnapped because they were dressed as a giant candy corn. So you’re forced on a quest to rescue your missing sibling before your parents find out. On your way you’ll have to fight your way through various goblin enemies but the great thing is that when you enter into battle all the kids transform into an exaggerated form of whatever costume you have on.

You start off in a cardboard box robot outfit but when you’re in battle you’re an anime style mech that shoots missiles, wear the Statue of Liberty costume and you can heal everyone with a blast from her torch and my personal favourite is the french fries costume which turns you into a Tim Burton-esque spider with fries for legs that can stun enemies with a shower of grease and salt.

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This game is just a fun time all round. It’s not especially hard so anyone could enjoy it and there are lots of goofy moments hidden around the areas so it really rewards exploration. It’s not a long game either and can probably be picked up cheap these days. It’s the definition of short and sweet… you know? like candy?…I’ll see myself out.

 

3. Mortal Kombat X (2015)

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC

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The Mortal Kombat series has always taken heavy influence from horror and action movies. In this latest instalment they ratcheted up the movie references and started adding some classic horror characters into their roster. By the time all of MKX’s DLC had been released you can play as Jason, Leatherface, Predator and the Alien Xenomorph.

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People have been debating for decades about “who would win in a fight…” regarding all of these characters and in MKX is the first time we got to test some of those theories. What makes it even better is that they’ve all been lovingly crafted to include lots of movie references in their abilities and moves. You also can’t forget about the Mortal Kombat cast of characters which includes many weird, wonderful and monstrous people. Put all this together and you’ve one hell of a hyper violent monster mash on your hands and on a dark Halloween night, what more could you ask for?

 

2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)

Platform(s): Xbox 360/One, PS3, PS1, PSP

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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night practically oozes atmosphere from the moment you start the game. The opening sees you reenact the ending of the first NES game, facing off against Dracula himself within minutes of starting up. It’s a scripted fight that you can’t lose but it really feels good to blow up Dracula with a rocking guitar soundtrack as your backing.

After this flashback you’re given control of Alucard (the son of Dracula) after he senses a disturbance at the castle. There you’ll have to fight your way through all manner of creatures including wolves, zombies, skeletons, living suits of armor, bats, venomous plants, floating acid skulls, medusa heads, hunchbacks, creepy Lovecraftian horrors and even Death himself shows up. Drac’s castle has everything you need to throw the best Halloween party in the world.

This game is like a good horror movie. It has amazing visuals but some admittedly cheesy dialogue throughout (the intro conversation with Dracula being a highlight) but Castlevania’s hallways full of macabre hell spawn are definitely worth a visit for any intrepid vampire killers.

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1. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC

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I don’t often see Batman come up when people discuss their Halloween viewing but he totally should be. The Bat’s rogues gallery is the stuff of Halloween nightmares. A killer clown, a human scarecrow, a crocodile man hybrid, a mad hatter, a roided pro wrestler and this game is all set in the insane asylum that they all call home.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an excellent game whether you’re a Batman fan or not. It can also be devilishly creepy when it wants to. You spend the entire game exploring the asylum after all the inmates have escaped. In between fighting thugs you spend most of your time investigating the tragic histories of famous batman villains. You never know what unsettling situation is round the corner but the game really knocks it up a notch when you meet The Scarecrow.

After taking a dose of his fear toxin Bats starts to hallucinate in some pretty creative and sometimes 4th wall breaking ways. Rooms start to repeat, Batman’s forced to relive the death of his parents and at one point the game resets and the intro sequence starts again making you think the game may be broken.

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You’ll never forget your first trip to Arkham Asylum, it’s masterfully crafted fun house of terror and what I think is the best game to get you in a creepy Halloween mood.

My Top 5 Harry Potter Conspiracy Theories

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I’m going to start off with apologising. I’m aware I’ve been a tad awol the last few weeks but I’ve been moving house and between my lack of Internet and the constant stream of visitors, I’ve just not had a chance to post. I’m back now, however, and I plan to stay back.

Last week Jake gave us his top five Pokémon conspiracy theories. Now I love Pokémon and I really love conspiracy theories so naturally I read the l straight away before reading it a second time to make sure I took it all in.

Now if you’ve read any of my previous articles then you’ll know how much I love Harry Potter (if you’re not aware, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned the books is in every non review piece I’ve written here) so naturally I got the idea to go hunting for some Harry related conspiracy theories. I’ll be honest, there’s not many out there and most of the ones I read about were very questionable, (I know, all conspiracy theories are ridiculous but most of time they make some sort of sense) some of them were utterly terrible with no evidence to back them up. Nevertheless, I thought I would give you my top five;

1 – Draco Malfoy is a werewolfimage

I chose to start with the worst one on the list – they get better, I swear.

After book 6, it is regularly mentioned that Draco is sickly looking and paler than normal. The theory is that after Lucius Malfoy failed to get the prophecy in book 5, Voldemort decided to punish him. We’d previously been told that if someone got on the wrong side of Voldemort, he would use Fenrir Greyback to bite the wrongdoers children by way of punishment which is how he is bought to get revenge on Lucius.

We have some evidence to support this theory, to start off with, the book never actually confirms that Draco is a Death-Eater (ignore the films-I’m aware he shows his Dark Mark at the end) so many believe that when Draco goes into Borgin and Burkes at the beginning of book 6 and shows Borgin something on his arm and mentions how he is a friend of Fenrir, he isn’t showing a Dark Mark, he is actually showing off his werewolf bite.

On top of this, when Voldemort learns that Tonks and Lupin are having a baby, he turns to Draco and says ‘maybe you can babysit the Cubs’

Yes, this is very far fetched and yes, J.K. Rowling has confirmed this one isn’t true. I kind of like the idea that Draco’s blood isn’t so pure anymore though.

2 – The Dursley’s are really lovely. They were just moody from being around a horcrux too long.image

As we know, Harry is a sort of horcrux and in order to save the wizarding world, he had to kill the sort of horcrux within him. We also know that while Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the hunt for horcruxes and are carrying around the locket, they all get really moody because of the evil spirit within the locket.

What if that’s why Vernon, Petunia and Dudley are so miserable all the time? Maybe they just got moody because of the evil spirit within Harry…

Whoever thought of this theory is clever but it doesn’t really make sense. I mean Petunia was always jealous of Lily and called her a freak when she used her magic… Harry wasn’t even an egg in Lily’s overies at this point never mind a horcrux.

3 – Harry and Ron are actually good at divination.image

I don’t know if this one can actually be classed as a conspiracy theory because it was probably written into the books on purpose but in Goblet of Fire, Ron and Harry haven’t done their homework for divination so they just make up some stuff.

They write:
-in danger of burns (Harry’s first task against a dragon)
-loses a treasured possession (Harry’s second task where he must find Ron)
-‘stabbed in the back’ (the third task where Moody-but-not-actually-Moody sets him up)

So are Ron and Harry secretly seers? Probably not but I like this one.

4 – Rita Skeeter is J.K. Rowling

This one is probably my favourite. The theory goes that after telling one too many false stories, Rita Skeeter was banished to the muggle world. Here she fell on hardliners and took up writing to get by. She decided to write about the most famous boy she knew – Harry Potter.

Of course if this one is true then it means that J.K. Rowling is actually Rita and the wizarding world is all real. That’s why this one is my favourite.

5 – Dumbledore = deathimage

When I read this one, I was so confused but then when I got my head around it all, it was brilliant.

So Harry, Snape, Voldemort and Dumbledore make up the characters in the Tale of Three Brothers.

It had previously been suggested that Voldemort, Snape and Harry made up the brothers.
Voldemort was greedy and wanted something to make him powerful (The Elder Wand) but in the end, it was the thing that made him powerful which killed him
Snape was forever in love with Lily and after her death he looked for ways to remember her (the resurrection stone) but in the end he could never really bring her back and so he died.
Harry just wanted a peaceful life really (the invisibility cloak) and when his time was up he greeted death willingly.

Now to go along with this theory, someone wrote that Dumbledore represents death and it seems to fit perfectly.

In the tale, Death gives each brother an item. In the books, Dumbledore makes sure Harry has all three items in the end and just like in the end of the Tale of Three Brothers where the third brother greets death like an old friend, Harry greets Dumbledore like an old friend when he is about to die.

J.K. Rowling has even agreed that this one is great so that’s why it’s number 1.

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.

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!)

 

The Top 5 Darkest Pokémon Fan Theories

Being one of the biggest video game series of all time, Pokémon has built up an understandably huge and rabid fanbase. In the few years between main game releases fans can sometime get a little bored and come up with theories to explain things that you never even knew needed explaining. Granted, a lot of these veer off heavily into fan fiction territory but some of them raise legitimate questions. So grab a bowl of creepy pasta and settle down for the darkest fan theories in the Pokémon world.

 

Disclaimer – There will be many PokéPuns throughout this post, I will provide explanatory links for the uninitiated.

 

5. Gary’s Raticate didn’t make it off the S.S. Anne

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Everyone who’s played Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow will remember this rival battle. The S.S. Anne is a pretty tough area, there’s no way to heal on the ship and just as you think you’re done battling all the passengers Gary Oak shows up to halt your progress. In this battle he uses a Raticate that you’ve fought before a couple of times before but unfortunately this is the last time it’s ever seen in the game.

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Some fans have theorised that Raticate was badly injured in the battle and through the confusion of being stuck on a cruise ship Gary wasn’t able to get him to the Pokémon centre in time. This is given credence by the fact that the next time we face Gary he’s in Lavender Tower which is essentially a multi storey Pokémon mausoleum and Raticate is missing from his party.

 

It’s a fun story to explain where it went but it’s more likely that Gary just boxed his Raticate like many of us did because it’s not a very good Pokémon. Or maybe his Pokémon we changed so he wouldn’t be too difficult to fight when you get there. He certainly doesn’t act sad when you meet him again, he even makes a pun that your Pokémon don’t look dead and goes on to say that he’s at the tower looking for a Cubone. Unless of course he’s using humour to cover his guilt? We may never know.

 

4. Gengar is Clefable’s dark reflection

 

Being a ghost type Pokémon makes Gengar’s very existence a dark idea. Nobody wants to think of poor cute Pokémon dying. People have noted some spooky similarities between Gengar and Clefable which have lead them to the conclusion Gengar may be a shadow version of Clefable come to life.

 

The similarities start with the body shape, their silhouettes are very close and the PokéDex entries log them at very similar heights and weights too. Their main types are also a mirror of each other, Normal type moves can’t hit a ghost type Pokémon and vise versa. According to early development art these two were also some of the first Pokémon ever designed so maybe they were supposed to be linked in some way.

gengar-clefable

The problem with this theory is that it doesn’t explain either of their respective previous evolutions. Cleffa and Clefairy don’t seem to have anything in common with Ghastly and Haunter. Plus none of the in game material makes any reference to them being related in any way. One thing is that Gengar’s name is probably a reference to a doppelgänger which is a spirit that mimics people so maybe there is some truth to this spooky theory.

 

3. Ditto is a failed clone of Mew

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Being the first super secret Pokémon in the game’s history and supposedly the progenitor of all Pokémon life, Mew has always set imaginative minds racing. Back in the 90s kids would swear blind that you could find him by using Strength on that truck next to the S.S.Anne and you would try it because Mew was so mysterious and there was no internet back then to check. This failed cloning theory however does not seem as Farfetch’d when you look at some of the in game evidence.

 

It is well documented through some journal excerpts you find in the Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island that Mewtwo was cloned from the newly christened Mew after scientists discovered the endless possibilities of its DNA. Throughout these “years of horrific gene splicing and DNA engineering experiments” it’s entirely conceivable that one of these failed attempts could have resulted in a Ditto. That’s not all we have to go on though, Mew and Ditto both have almost identical heights and weights, they are both gender-less and they also share the same colour for their normal and shiny variants. Ditto’s whole gimmick is that their only move is transform which copies the opponent’s appearance and moves. Who’s the only other Pokémon who can learn this? You guessed it, Mew. The last piece of evidence is that from Pokémon Yellow onward you can find Ditto in the Pokémon Mansion which is believed to be the remnants of the Lab where Mewtwo was created.

mewgavebirth

Unfortunately people finally asked the Pokémon creator if this was true at a Q&A and he had no idea what they were talking about… But isn’t that what he’d want us to think? Never give up on the conspiracy! Wake up Mareeple!

 

2. Cubone is an abandoned Kangaskhan cub

cuboneandkangaskhan

Cubone’s story is already one of the darkest and saddest things in the game. Categorised as the lonely Pokémon it is said to wear the the skull of its deceased mother, at night it cries mournfully which causes its skull helmet to rattle hollowly.

 

There are many references in the PokéDex to Cubone’s mother but it has never been formally named as another Pokémon species. This has lead people to theorise that Cubone could be an abandoned Kangaskhan cub. Kangaskhan is a kangaroo-like pokemon that is always pictured with a cub in their pouch. They are said to fiercely protect their young at any cost, perhaps even the ultimate cost in some cases. Perhaps the abandoned cub was forced to use the skull and another bone for protection thus starting off a new evolutionary line which would eventually lead Cubone to evolve into Marowak. Other people think that Marowak was originally supposed to evolve into Kangaskhan but this idea was scrapped late on in the game’s development. Again, the Pokémon creators have never confirmed any of these claims so we’re just left with our imaginations running wild.

 

1. Ash is in a coma throughout the anime series

the_very_best_by_skirt_wulf-d3lije4

Now this is one definitely crosses a line into the fan fiction. It seems to have originated on creepypasta.com which is a site where people share ghost stories. This theory concerns the Pokémon animated series and doesn’t really have anything to do with the games. In the first episode of the show the main character Ash and his Pikachu are attacked by a big flock of Spearow. In this bout Pikachu uses the power of a thunderstorm to to launch a massive attack on the angry birds which results in everyone getting knocked back by a big explosion. Some people think that in this moment Ash is put into a coma by the electric shock and the rest of the anime plays out in his head.

spearows

The theory is that Ash’s subconscious is trying to protect him from possible brain damage which also lets him live out his Pokémon trainer fantasies in piece. After this incident in the first episode the tone of the following episodes do change a bit. The series bad guys Team Rocket are a lot less menacing after this and become more of a comedy mild annoyance as the series goes on. In the now over 900 episodes of the show Ash has never physically aged a day but other characters have. The police officers and medical staff all have the same appearance and name, this is flimsily explained away by them being identical twins in the show.  His traveling partners could also represent aspects of himself. Brock being a surrogate parental figure and Misty, his ideal love interest. It might also explain why Ash always saves the world and meets all the legendary Pokémon yet nobody knows who he is and he never gets any recognition for it.

ashandpikachu

Overall this bit of fanfiction is a bit heavy handed and pretty easy to poke holes in but it would make the Pokémon anime one hell of a dark story if true. If you want to read the full coma story you can get that here.

 

So that is what I think are the darkest Pokémon fan theories on the internet, there are plenty more if any PokéFans out there have the stomach for it but for everyone else here’s the Pokémon theme song to cheer you up!

 

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 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.

The Top 5 Worst Video Game Music Tracks

Video game music can be a beautiful thing. Using relatively primitive hardware (by today’s standards) composers in the 80’s helped transport us to far off worlds and created some of the most recognisable tunes in gaming. 

However, in the wrong hands the sound chips of our old consoles can be used to create a cacophony worthy of a demon summoning. The silver lining of this is that most of these crappy games would have faded into obscurity if not for their ridiculous soundtracks and now they can live on forever in infamy.

5. Crazy Bus – Title Theme

Composer: ???

Information is very scarce about this “game”. All the internet seems to know about it is that it’s Venezuelan, was made in 2004 and is horrible in every way. Not only is the audio unlistenable but the visuals are a chore to look at too. The “game” consists of you picking a bus you’d like to drive which you can then move forwards and backwards on the screen while you listen to this rockin’ tune… and that’s about it.  

I don’t even know how to describe this track with words. It’s very possible that the notes have been chosen randomly because if someone actually composed this purposefully then that would actually be impressive. The reason this isn’t higher on my list is because it seems to have been created as a joke. There’s just no way something this repulsive could have been created unknowingly.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin – Swing Time 

Composer: Mr. Big

Yes, the masters of guitar wankery with the lovely hair themselves.

Mr. Big were apparently commissioned to write a song about Spider-Man. Problem is, whoever wrote the lyrics didn’t seem to know a lot about him. Sure they got in plenty of web analogies but I’ve never heard Spider-Man described as “Flying for justice” or that he “Takes no prisoners”. Apparently there’s no mercy from your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man kids!

Overall this is just a bad rock song, unless you love Mr. Big (does such a person exist?) this is just embarrassing to listen to. Once developers got hold of CD technology they probably thought this would sound really cool but all it actually does is make this game sound like a ridiculous 90s relic.

3. American Idol Gameboy Advance – Whole Soundtrack 

Composers: Various 

Now we’re getting into the good stuff. Just let that heavily compressed cover version of Jennifer Lopez’ “Waiting For Tonight” wash over you. Feel the off key auto tune penetrate your soul and gaze into the true face of fear!


I don’t know whose bright idea cramming a musical rhythm game onto a GBA cart was. If the music wasn’t so hilariously bad sounding you could even be a little impressed they managed to fit the whole game on there. Even if you perform the song flawlessly and don’t miss a note your monstrous singer still warbles aimlessly along with the backing track. This game fails in every way possible, unless they were trying to create the stupidest GBA game of all time.

2. The Adventures of Rad Gravity – Title Screen

Composer: David Warhol

I’ll admit I didn’t even know this game existed before I started researching this topic. I was happier in then. The Adventures of Rad Gravity is one of your run of the mill 2D platformers that sprung up after the success of Super Mario. You take control of Bruce Campbell wannabe Rad Gravity as he goes from planet to planet stabbing cyborg zombies and aliens with his off brand lightsaber. The game might be ok but you know what they say “you never get a second chance at a first impression” and Rad Gravity’s title screen music is just about the worst first impression in all of gaming.

The opening few seconds of this track are impressively bad. If anyone was ever curious what a descent into madness actually sounds like then I think this is the closest representation. The problem with this song is that it actually has a catchy rhythm underneath all the high pitched atonal nonsense, this is the part that infects you mind and will never go away. It…Just…Never…Stops….

The Chessmaster – Title Screen

Composer: Peter Stone


The Chessmaster theme is definitely in contention for one of the funniest songs ever created by the human race. It really is the crown jewel of bad video game music. It’s got everything: farting bass guitar, an atonal piano solo and drums that sound out of time which is almost impossible to do when you’re making digital music!

Chessmaster is exactly what it sounds like, a chess game. Can you imagine sitting down to a nice game of chess with a loved one accompanied to this track? Classical music would have been a better fit with the chess theme, not this experimental jazz-funk slop they came up with. Surely this song is some kind of joke by the developers and composer. I don’t believe that anyone could seriously create this and not be constantly laughing throughout the whole process. Even the eponymous Chessmaster himself looks pained by having to listen to this track.

 And I don’t blame him.

Top 5 Remakes That Were Better Than The Original

As we groan in abject disdain as Hollywood pumps out more and more seemingly pointless remakes (hello Robocop and the-stuck-in-development-hell Highlander) we are in danger of losing sight of the fact that sometimes the remake can actually improve on the original. Yes, the percentages are low, for every Coen Brothers True Grit there is a bargain basement Get Carter, but remakes can sometimes surprise us, adding a new dimension to an old story, and in some cases (which there are two of on this list) new technology and visual effects can provide a more visceral experience.

I admit, I am a little bit of snob when it comes to remakes, especially those that don’t seem have a point to it; doing a remake for the sake of ego boosting or raising the profile of a particular actor/director makes absolutely no sense to me, there has to be an advance or something fresh whether it be political, technological, sociological, whatever… that the original either was lacking or fudged in the first place.

So here we are, my own personal top 5 remakes that were better than the originals.

1. Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1978)

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The 70s remake of ‘Invasion…’ is on every single one of these remake lists and usually at the top. The reason being because it is absolutely bloody marvellous. The original ‘Invasion…’ was released in 1956 and dismissed without fanfare by the critics but as time as passed it has been widely re-assessed as an allegoric masterpiece tapping into the paranoia and fear of the US populace during the rise of communism and the Soviet Union. The remake keeps the main themes intact, the dangers of conformity, or not asking questions of those around, of just blending into the crowd, of someone exerting complete control over your mind and body, but ramps up the visuals with some deeply disturbing and Cronenberg-esque body horror (see the scene in the garden with Donald Sutherland and bunch of replicated bodies writhing on the grass). And that final scene, oh that final scene, hopeful at first and then horrific afterwards, I dare you to find a closing scene that gives you such a conflicting shock of emotions. Also you get a very, very youthful Jeff Goldblum and Donald Sutherland with a moustache and perm. I don’t know what much more you would need.

2. The Thing (1982)

The-Thing-1982

A remake of an adaptation of book that has its own prequel, The Thing has its origins and tentacles all over modern cinema, but John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi horror is unparalleled in both technical achievement and as a perfect example of how to execute a simple plot in one location with small band of actors. We all know from a previous post how much i admire Kurt Russell and his glorious beard, but credit also has to go to the supporting cast, specifically Keith David as Childs and Donald Moffat as Garry (who has a cracking one liner during the tense blood test stand off). Like ‘Invasion…’ above, the main progression from the original is the special effects. Rob Bottin and his team create some effects and pieces so disgusting and strange that it’s both mildly stomach churning yet extremely difficult to look away. The Thing is not a complex watch but is a compelling one, and again like ‘Invasion…’ and all good sci-fi horror films, the ending is bleak but open for endless theorising, and I am not ashamed to say that I have watched the videos and read the message boards about whether or not Childs or MacReady or either of them is The Thing at the end (and it’s a heck of a rabbit hole).

 

3. The Departed (2006)

The-Departed-6

A remake of the Hong Kong crime drama Infernal Affairs, The Departed is absolutely rammed to the gills of all the actors the Scorsese had on speed dial, apart from De Niro who was probably off making a shit comedy because he is De Niro. You’d think with all that talent, and egos probably, that The Departed would possibly sink under the weight but this is Scorsese and he is the king of keeping an ensemble cast in check (I’m guessing by boomeranging his eyebrows if one of them gets a bit feisty). This is one of those remakes that sort of doesn’t have a point to it apart from it being adapted from the Far East in order to suit the American market and usually that just doesn’t work (I’m looking at you Oldboy and Dark Water), but The Departed is one of those rare occasions  where everything just works. Damon and DiCaprio are the two sides of the same coin with Jack Nicholson, as unpredictable as ever, flipping between the two of them. The supporting cast is sublime (the scenes with Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg out-yelling and out-swearing each other is worth the price of a dvd alone), the script has some wonderfully ornate foul language and strong twists and turns, and while it does run on a little long, The Departed just pips Infernal Affairs in high crime drama stakes.

4. The Fly (1986)

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Of all the body horror films The Fly is the one that stays with me the most, probably because it’s the most…. juicy. A remake of the 1958 film, it sticks to the core plot of mad scientist mixes atoms with a fly after a cross-contamination incident but takes the gore and excess to new heights. There’s acid vomit, a maggot baby, Jeff Goldblum (who obviously has good taste in sci-fi because this is his second appearance on this list) falling apart in the most grotesque manner possible, and some phenomenally vile set pieces. The 1958 version was shocking at its time, the visual effects disturbed and appalled in equal measure, but watching it now it’s almost amateurish, so Cronenberg’s remake is a prime example of how advancing technology aids and gives reason to a great remake.

 
5. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Audrey-II-in-Little-Shop--007

I’m being bold here and letting you all know that I am not a fan of musicals. Most musicals bring me out in a serious case of hives. Just give me drama, give me comedy, don’t sing it at me. Ya dig? However, I will let Little Shop of Horrors through my musical defences. A remake of a Broadway musical which in turn was based on Roger Corman’s 1960 film, Little Shop of Horrors is an absolute blast. With its tongue firmly in cheek, it presents the story of sad old Seymour and Audrey, desperate to escape the NYC slum and end up in the possession of a strange plant that feeds on human blood. What follows is a bizarre, amusing and pleasingly camp 90 minutes with some wonderful musical song and dance routines, and some glorious cameos from Bill Murray and Steve Martin. The original 60s film wasn’t a musical at all, just a very low budget black comedy and it did work, but when presented with the 80s form with musical additions then you realise that this remake is exactly what Little Shop of Horrors needed.

My Top 5 Books Set In Paris

I’m addicted to Paris. There, I said it.

Around six year ago, my best friend and I decided to travel to Paris, this was my first ever real visit to the city (I’d previously stopped off for a ten minute break while en route to Spain) and the beginning of my obsession. Once I was home I missed Paris more than I can explain so I decided to pretend I was still there by living through books, soon I realised I’d read quite a few books set in Paris and I thought I’d share my favourites.

 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barberyimages

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first picked it up. It ticked a box by being set in Paris but I’d seen a number of mixed reviews, it seemed some people loved it and some people hated it. The book is translated from French and follows Renée, a concierge for an elite Paris apartment block, who is seen to be fat, lazy and addicted to TV by the residents of the block. In reality Renée is well cultured and actually loves philosophy and art. Paloma is a resident, a twelve year old genius who plans to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday. The two form an unlikely friendship, they both hide their true selves from the world and this forms a strong bond between the pair.

When I first went in to read this, I was worried that the book would be pretentious and boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with Paloma instantly and cared about her more than I’d cared about a fictional character in a long time. The story was charming and the bond between the two characters was heart-warming.

 

A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore22845483

A romance novel set in Paris during the war? Sounds like everything I’ve ever needed from a book.

It was. Hore’s A Week in Paris was everything I look for in a book.

Fay was born on the day WWII started but she can’t remember the first five years of her life, she has a photograph of her dad but again she cannot recall him, she only knows what people have told her, that he died in an air raid. On a trip to Paris with her orchestra, Fay feels a bond with the city and a feeling she has been there before. She sets out on a quest to learn more about her mother’s past and her own childhood.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. The story was beautiful and seeing a young mother struggle to keep her child safe during WWII was endearing. Before I started the read I assumed it was your typical chic lit read but after a few chapters I realised it was much more than that. It was an enjoyable read and I would tell any of my friends to read it. I laughed and cried all the way through.

 

An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris18007532

This was the first book I read by Harris and instantly I knew I loved his writing. An Officer and a Spy follows Georges Picquart, an ambitious officer who has just been promoted to head of counterespionage. Picquart has been pivitol in the case against Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, convicted of treason. At first Picquart is sure of Dreyfus’ guilt but as things progress he realises it may not be as black and white as he thought.

This is based on a true story and after reading I was surprised by how easy I found it to read. At times I cried and at times I rejoiced but in the end I came out feeling like I’d read about an important part of history and was better off for it.

 

Sleeping with Paris – Juliette Sobanetparis

Charlotte has everything she’s dreamed of. She’s a French teacher with her dream of moving to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University with the love of her life, merely  days away. Then she finds her finacee’s secret online dating profile along with the messages he’s been sending to a beautiful redhead and her life is thrown into turmoil. Charlotte confronts the situation and decides to move to Paris alone where she can forget her past and embark on a new adventure.

Now I loved this story, this was the first book that really made me want to move to Paris. I loved seeing Paris through Charlotte’s eyes and you could tell that the author loved Paris just as much as I did, if not more. The story and the characters felt real from the beginning, I felt Charlotte’s struggles and I felt her love for the city and the new friends.

And can we just take a second to appreciate Luc… Perfect fictional man alert!

 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan17618928

Now this is the biggest chic lit novel on the list. Anna works in a chocolate factory in England and she loves her job but after an accident at work she finds herself jobless and very upset. While recovering in hospital Anna meets Claire who helps to teach Anna French during their time in hospital. To help Anna recover, emotionally and physically, Claire offers to help Anna out, she puts her in touch with an old friend from Paris who offers Anna a job in their chocolate factory. Anna soon finds out that Parisian chocolate factories are a lot different than English and she realises that Paris might be everything she needs.

This story was beautifully written, I’d previously read a Colgan book before but struggled to get into it. This time however I was hooked within a few pages. The description of Paris was beautiful and after reading, all I wanted to do was run around those cobbled streets with an attractive Frenchman on my arm.