Mel’s 5 Second First Impression: The Shannara Chronicles

The Shannara Chronicles (2016-present)
(Season 1 cast) Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett, John Rhys-Davies, Aaron Jakubenko, Daniel MacPherson, Marcus Vanco, Emilia Burns, Brooke Williams, James Remar, Jed Brophy

the-shannara-chronicles

I read about half of the first book in the series more than 12 years ago. I don’t remember much about it, nor do I know why I stopped reading it, since I was really enjoying it. I do remember enough, however, to know that this series takes place in the second generation of books. Wil, our hero, is the son of Shea, the youngster in the first books (of which there are 3, I think). I’ve recently re-bought The Sword of Shannara, and plan to read it soon, which has me wondering how much more of this show I want to watch before I do so. But for now, let’s talk about the first episode, the two-hour pilot, called Chosen.

They certainly packed a lot of info into that 2 hours (or hour and a half, once commercials are removed). There are no less than 5 characters that seem like they’re going to be important, although with already one unexpected death under their belts, it may be that this show is going to be more surprising than anticipated. Which is good. The acting is pretty good all round, if a little melodramatic at times. The effects look pretty stellar so far, the makeups on the demons are great. The only thing I’d have to say about it is that it seems to be the same old story again. There wasn’t much that happened in the show that wasn’t in The Lord of the Rings and other such titles. But, this was only the first episode. I’ll definitely continue watching, and hopefully it’ll grow it’s own two legs to stand on.

M.

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My Top 30 Fantasy Films

Fantasy is my second-favourite film and book genre, not far behind horror. While anything that’s “not real” can be considered fantasy, I’ve kept this list down to the films that are “classic fantasy”, which is to say films that contain elements that people automatically think of when they think fantasy: magic, fairies, elves, witches and wizards, that sort of thing. So no horror, sci-fi, or anything else “fantastical” that’s not straight fantasy. There are a few that have some horror elements, but are very far from being horror films, so they’re allowed here. I also won’t be including films who’s only fantastical element is talking animals, otherwise we’d be here all day. If there are films on the list with talking animals, it’s because there are other fantasy elements as well. And finally, I haven’t included any animated Disney or Pixar films, they’ll have their own list.

The films will be in approximate order only. As I did with My Top 50 Horror Films, I will separate them into groups, then put those groups in order. They will be numbered from 5 to 1, with each number having 6 films that will be “tied”, if you will, for that place on the list.

So, without any further ado, here are my top 30 fantasy films. Enjoy! 🙂

 

NUMBERS 5

5 The Wizard of Oz

Title: The Wizard of Oz
Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Terry the Dog
Released in: 1939
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf
Based On: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Despite the bright technicolour, this is actually a pretty dark story. One of the very few films to actually scare me as a child (Freddy Krueger, no problem! Wicked Witch of the West? Flee crying. *shrug*)
Fantastical Elements: Witches, wizards, fantastical creatures (man-lion, flying monkeys, etc), magic.
5 Second Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.
Why I Love It: One of the very first fantasy films I saw as a kid, I didn’t love it as much as the others (which are mostly in my number 2s and 1s), but it’s nevertheless undeniable that this is a classic. That it’s still enjoyable today is a testament to how good it really was.

 

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Title: The Witches
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Jasen Fisher, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Paterson, Brenda Blethyn, Charlie Potter, Jane Horrocks, Anne Lambton
Released in: 1990
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Written by: Allan Scott
Based On: The Witches by Roald Dahl
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Surprisingly dark. The book is even darker (and better).
Fantastical Elements: Witches, magic, transmogrification.
5 Second Synopsis: A young boy stumbles onto a witch convention and vows to stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.
Why I Love It: From the moment I could read properly, I loved Roald Dahl. Unfortunately, most of the films based on his work are turds. Not so this one. It’s bat-shit crazy, and I love it. No other reason needed.

 

5 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Starring: Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Naseeruddin Shah, Max Ryan
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Stephen Norrington
Written by: James Robinson
Based On: The comic books by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Immortality, vampirism, invisibility, transmogrification.
5 Second Synopsis: Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as The Fantom.
Why I Love It: This film gets a lot of flack from critics and audiences alike, but I quite enjoyed. Yes, it has it’s problems, but really, what film doesn’t. It’s a fun watch, just grab your popcorn, and don’t think too hard!

 

5 Return to Oz

Title: Return to Oz
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, Sean Barrett, Denise Bryer, Brian Henson, Lyle Conway, Justin Case, John Alexander, Deep Roy, Emma Ridley, Tansy the Dog
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Walter Murch
Written by: Gill Dennis, Walter Murch
Based On: Ozma of Oz and The Land of Oz by L Frank Baum
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark. Kid’s film, my ass!
Fantastical Elements: Witches, wizards, fantastical creatures (wheelers, tin-man, man made of rocks, etc), magic.
5 Second Synopsis: Dorothy Gale (who’s somehow much younger now :-p ), saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful.
Why I Love It: It’s not often a sequel is better than the first film, and I’ll probably get yelled at for thinking so, but this one definitely is. It’s crazy on so many levels, and shit-your-pants terrifying in others, they simply don’t make them like this anymore. What a shame.

 

5 FernGully

Title: FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Starring: Samantha Mathis, Jonathan Ward, Robin Williams, Tim Curry, Christian Slater, Grace Zabriskie, Geoffrey Blake, Robert Pastorelli, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Tone Loc
Released in: 1992
Directed by: Bill Kroyer
Written by: Jim Cox
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Fairies, magic, fantastical creature (Hexxus)
5 Second Synopsis: When human Zak stumbles into the fairy world, he realizes that he needs to help them preserve their rainforest home before it’s all destroyed.
Why I Love It: Heavy-handed environmental message aside, this was another of my faves as a kid. It’s got nice animation, good voice acting, catchy songs, not to mention one of the scariest villains in a cartoon made for kids, voiced, of course, by Tim Curry.

 

5 Dungeons & Dragons

Title: Dungeons & Dragons
Starring: Justin Whalin, Jeremy Irons, Zoe McLellan, Marlon Wayans, Bruce Payne, Thora Birch, Kristen Wilson, Robert Miano, Lee Arenberg, Richard O’Brien
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Written by: Topper Lilien, Carroll Cartwright
Based On: The role-playing game created by TSR (Gary Gygax)
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark-ish
Fantastical Elements: Way too many to list all of them, but the basics are magic, dragons, elves, witches and wizards, and many other fantastical creatures, such as the Beholder.
5 Second Synopsis: Profion, a tyrant wizard, attempts to overthrow a peaceful kingdom ruled by a tough empress. A group of fighters, led by a cunning thief, try to stop him.
Why I Love It: This movie is awful. The effects are cartoony, the acting atrocious, and the D&D lore seriously messed up. And yet I loved it. I guess it falls into the so bad it’s good category for me.

 

NUMBERS 4

4 What Dreams May Come

Title: What Dreams May Come
Starring: Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, Max von Sydow, Jessica Brooks Grant, Josh Paddock, Rosalind Chao, Cuba Gooding Jr
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Vincent Ward
Written by: Ronald Bass
Based On: What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Afterlife, heaven, hell, reincarnation
5 Second Synopsis: After dying in a car crash, a man searches the afterlife for his wife, who committed suicide afterwards, her grief being too great.
Why I Love It: Such a beautiful story about love and loss, there’s no way not to love this film. All the acting is amazing, the depiction of heaven stunning. On the flip side, hell is terrifying, but unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The idea of people ending up in a hell of their own making is at once heart-breaking and frightening. If you somehow haven’t seen this film, I highly reccomend you go see it, right now!

 

4 The Secret of NIMH

Title: The Secret of NIMH
Starring: Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Malet, Peter Strauss, John Carradine, Paul Shenar, Shannen Doherty, Wil Wheaton, Jodi Hicks, Hermione Baddeley
Released in: 1982
Directed by: Don Bluth
Written by: Don Bluth, John Pomeroy, Gary Goldman, Will Finn
Based On: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Surprisingly dark
Fantastical Elements: Super-intelligent rats and mice, magic, telekinesis through a jewel
5 Second Synopsis: A field mouse named Mrs Brisby must move her family to a safe location before the farmer plows the field where they live, but her son Timmy cannot go outside due to his pneumonia. She enlists the aid of some highly intelligent escaped lab rats that have built a subterranean society inside a rose bush near the farmer’s garden.
Why I Love It: Such a great story with beautiful animation. I never realized how creepy some parts of it were until I’d rewatched it as an adult. How on earth did that owl not give me nightmares?? hehe Definitely one of the very best non-Disney animated films.

 

4 The Ghost and Mrs Muir

Title: The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Starring: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Edna Best, Vanessa Brown, Natalie Wood, Anna Lee
Released in: 1947
Directed by: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Written by: Philip Dunne
Based On: The Ghost and Mrs Muir by RA Dick (pseudonym of Josephine Leslie)
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Ghosts, afterlife
5 Second Synopsis: In 1900, a young, head-strong widow finds her seaside cottage is haunted, but rather than being scared off, she forms a unique relationship with the ghost.
Why I Love It: Old timey movies have to be really, really good for me to love them, and this one definitely is. Wonderfully charming and superbly acted, this unconventional love story was one of the first of the genre, and is still endlessly enjoyable, even today.

 

4 Shrek

Title: Shrek
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Jim Cummings, Vincent Cassel, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Frank Welker
Released in: 2001
Directed by: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger SH Schulman
Based On: Shrek! by William Steig
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Transmogrification, dragons, curses, fantastical storybook characters (ogres, big bad wolf, gingerbread man, etc)
5 Second Synopsis: An evil Lord banishes all fairytale creatures into the swamp, which much angers the resident ogre, Shrek. In order to regain his swamp, he agrees to go rescue the princess that the Lord wants to wed. But something is very different about this princess, and Shrek finds himself falling for her, despite himself.
Why I Love It: Tongue firmly planted in cheek, this film is hilarious and touching at the same time. The characters go through a rather astounding transformation during the film, and I’m not only referring to the obvious. I guess everyone really does have layers. Like onions, of course, not cake 😉

 

4 Edward Scissorhands

Title: Edward Scissorhands
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Conchata Ferrell, Alan Arkin, Caroline Aaron, Vincent Price
Released in: 1990
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Tim Burton
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Frankenstien-ish creature with scissors for hands
5 Second Synopsis: A kind inventor is almost finished piecing together his latest creation when fate prevents him from completing this most important project. Edward may seem dangerous, with scissors instead of hands, but when a compassionate Avon lady comes calling, she sees his pure heart, and decides to bring him home.
Why I Love It: One of Burton’s best, and his first collaboration with Johnny Depp (which should have ended with Sleepy Hollow, but maybe that’s just me). I didn’t like this film all that much the first time I saw it (I was only 9 when it came out), but once I got older, I was able to appreciate it’s quirky story, and now I love it. Classic Burton, right here.

 

4 Dragonheart

Title: DragonHeart
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, Dina Meyer, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Jason Isaacs, Brian Thompson, Peter Hric
Released in: 1996
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Charles Edward Pogue
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Dragons, magic
5 Second Synopsis: A dragon slayer teams up with the last dragon to take down an evil king.
Why I Love It: A perfect blend of funny and tense, this is one of the very best dragon films ever made. And the CGI holds up surprisingly well, despite the film being almost 20 years old. David Thewlis was so perfectly evil in this film, that I found him disgusting until his brilliant turn as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films.

 

NUMBERS 3

3 Wizards

Title: Wizards
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Steve Gravers, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Jim Connell, Mark Hamill
Released in: 1977
Directed by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, fairies, elves, mutated talking animals
5 Second Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic future, a wizard and his fairy folk comrades fight his evil brother, who’s using technology in his bid for conquest.
Why I Love It: Definitely not for kids, this is one cartoon with a lot of bite. Tense, bloody, and violent, it’s one of the very best of the genre.

 

3 Pirates of the Caribbean

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Zoe Saldana, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Damian O’Hare
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Based On: The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyLand
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, curses, undead
5 Second Synopsis: When his love is kidnapped by pirates, a young blacksmith teams up with perpetually drunk pirate Jack Sparrow in the attempt to get her back. Little do they realize that the evil pirates are undead, and need Elizabeth to break the curse.
Why I Love It: A fun ride (pun intended) from start to finish, this is undoubtedly the best film in the franchise. Johnny Depp is brilliant as Jack Sparrow, and the rest of the cast also shine, especially Geoffrey Rush as the evil Captain Barbossa. The perfect blend of action and thriller that’s more than a little funny, this is one of Depp’s best. It’s really too bad that he’s fallen into the rut of always playing this same kind of character over and over now.

 

3 Merlin

Title: Merlin
Starring: Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter, Miranda Richardson, Martin Short, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Curran, Lena Headey, Jeremy Sheffield, Jason Done, John Gielgud, Rutger Hauer, James Earl Jones
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Steve Barron
Written by: Peter Barnes, Edward Khmara, David Stevens
Based On: The legends of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, elves, curses, spells, gnomes, fairy folk
5 Second Synopsis: The legendary wizard tells his story of his war against Queen Mab of the Sidhe, and his creation of Camelot.
Why I Love It: This has to be one of the very best made-for-TV movies ever. The actors they got to do it were all top notch, the writing was great, and even the effects, which are usually pretty pathetic for TV films, were quite good. And I never thought I’d say so, but Martin Short looked… hot!! hehe

 

3 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Title: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix
Released in: 1989
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, the holy grail, magical booby traps, immortality
5 Second Synopsis: Indiana Jones acquires a diary that holds clues and a map to find the mysterious Holy Grail, which was sent from his father. Learning that his father went missing while searching, Indy hops a plane to Italy to save him.
Why I Love It: The best of the three Indiana Jones films, this is the only one that I still rewatch from time to time. Fun and sometimes tense, this is a wonderful conclusion to the story. (Yes, I’m fully aware there’s a fourth, I just don’t acknowledge it.)

 

3 Hook

Title: Hook
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Charlie Korsmo, Dante Basco, Amber Scott, Caroline Goodall, Maggie Smith
Released in: 1991
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: James V Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo
Based On: Peter Pan books and play by JM Barrie
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical world, fairies, power of imagination, flying, immortality, magic
5 Second Synopsis: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.
Why I Love It: Saw this film when it first came out (I was 10), and I’ve loved it ever since. Robin Williams gives a great performance as the aged Peter Pan, while Dustin Hoffman eats up every inch of the screen when he’s on it as the (slightly insane) Captain Hook. A definite childhood favourite, a total gem of a film.

 

3 HellBoy

Title: HellBoy
Starring: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Brian Steele, Bridget Hodson, Ladislav Beran
Released in: 2004
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro
Based On: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, demons, immortality, humanoid creatures with special abilities, pyrokinesis, wizards, portals to hell
5 Second Synopsis: A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.
Why I Love It: Such a fun film, it also has surprisingly good acting, and an awesome story. The effects are absolutely stunning as well, and Ron Perlman embodies HellBoy perfectly, head to toe. One of the first in the modern superhero/comic book films, and still one of the best.

 

NUMBERS 2

2 Willow

Title: Willow
Starring: Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Kevin Pollak, Rick Overton, Pat Roach, Gavan O’Herlihy, David Steinberg, Phil Fondacaro
Released in: 1988
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Bob Dolman
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, fairy folk, witches, spells, curses
5 Second Synopsis: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.
Why I Love It: Such a wonderful, beautiful story. Good acting and surprisingly good effects for it’s time, it still holds up very well today. Plus Val Kilmer is smokin’ hot as Madmartigan, who was perhaps my very first adult crush. *swoon*

 

2 The Princess Bride

Title: The Princess Bride
Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, André the Giant, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Peter Cook, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane
Released in: 1987
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: William Goldman
Based On: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Magic, fantastical creatures (RoUS’s), miracles, fantastical machines
5 Second Synopsis: While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride, about a young princess, believing her true love to be dead, who settles with marrying a wicked prince.
Why I Love It: Pretty much every film in the rest of this list is a true classic, so I’ll stop saying it, hehe. This film is both schmoopy and full of adventures, perfect for kids and adults alive. And one more thing: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

 

2 The Crow

Title: The Crow
Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Bai Ling, Anna Thomson, David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Michael Massee, Tony Todd, Jon Polito, Sofia Shinas
Released in: 1994
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by: David J Schow, John Shirley
Based On: The Crow graphic novel by James O’Barr
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Re-incarnation, invulnerability, superhero-like prowess
5 Second Synopsis: Musician Eric Draven is brought back to life by a crow a year after he and his fiancée are murdered. The crow guides him, and leads him to his killers, whom he kills in revenge.
Why I Love It: This film would likely be found in the action section of your video store rather than fantasy, but this definitely is indeed a fantasy film. Dark and violent, this is my very favourite revenge film, by far. But with this great film came a great loss, for actor Brandon Lee was accidentally killed while filming. What a shame.

 

2 Ladyhawke

Title: Ladyhawke
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo McKern, John Wood, Ken Hutchison, Giancarlo Prete, Alfred Molina
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Edward Khmara, Michael Thomas, Tom Mankiewicz, David Webb Peoples
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, curses, transmogrification
5 Second Synopsis: An evil Bishop curses a woman and her lover when she rejects him. With the help of a sly thief, they will travel back to the Bishop and try break the curse.
Why I Love It: Such a beautiful film. Nauseatingly romantic, this film has a bit for everyone. Schmoop, laughter, action, and drama, this is simply a wonderful, wonderful film.

 

2 Harry Potter

Title: Harry Potter Octology
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, John Hurt, David Thewlis, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis, Timothy Spall, Mark Williams, David Bradley, Imelda Staunton, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Clémence Poésy, Shirley Henderson, Natalia Tena, Emma Thompson, Warwick Davis, Richard Harris
Released in: 2001 – 2011
Directed by: Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves, Michael Goldenberg
Based On: Harry Potter Septology by JK Rowling
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, magic, and more magic! Plus fantastical creatures, flying broomsticks, curses, prophecies, transmogrification, and much more.
5 Second Synopsis: Young Harry Potter finds out he’s a wizard, and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he finds out that there is a very evil wizard who wants him dead.
Why I Love It: I’m cheating a little by putting all 8 films here, but it would have taken a huge chunk out of my Top 30, or I would have had to add 7 more slots, and I really didn’t feel like doing basically the same entry 8 times. So there. These films are fun, whimsical, and at the same time, tense and even frightening (dementors, anyone?). They did such a great job of translating these books into films. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t seen these, I very highly reccomend you crawl out from under your rock and see them.

 

2 Dogma

Title: Dogma
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Bud Cort, Alanis Morissette
Released in: 1999
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Angels, demons, God, heaven, hell
5 Second Synopsis: A woman with special ancestry is enlisted to prevent two angels from reentering Heaven and thus undoing the fabric of the universe.
Why I Love It: I’m not the hugest fan of comedies, not because I don’t like laughing, but because I have a slightly peculiar sense of humour, and a lot comedies are just dumb to me. This one, though, this is my very favourite comedy, the whole thing is perfect (save one scene), beginning to end. It had me literally rolling on the floor, laughing.

 

NUMBERS 1

1 The NeverEnding Story

Title: The NeverEnding Story
Starring: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Alan Oppenheimer, Tami Stronach, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Deep Roy, Tilo Prückner, Moses Gunn, Thomas Hill, Gerald McRaney, The Horse (Googled my heart out to find his real name, but could find it, unfortunately 😦 )
Released in: 1984
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Written by: Wolfgang Petersen, Herman Weigel
Based On: Die Unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical world, magic, wishes, fantastical machines
5 Second Synopsis: A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.
Why I Love It: This was one of my favourites as a kid, and it’s still now. Despite some of the acting being rather shaky (especially the Child-like Empress, yikes), this film is simply marvelous. Fantasia is beautiful, most of the practical effects are cool, and while it’s quite different from the book, the story is still amazing, even today. Noah Hathaway as Atreyu was my very first movie crush, and remained so until I passed him in age, about 8 years later.

 

1 The Dark Crystal

Title: The Dark Crystal
Starring: Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Percy Edwards, Billie Whitelaw, Barry Dennen, Jerry Nelson, Joseph O’Conor
Released in: 1982
Directed by: Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Written by: David Odell
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical world, magic, flight, fairy folk
5 Second Synopsis: On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.
Why I Love It: Another of my childhood favourites, they simply don’t make them like this anymore. So many of the films I loved as a child are like this one, “too weird and scary” for today’s wimpy children. Well, not my child. I’ve introduced him to Labyrinth, and he loved it. Up next, the rest of my number 1’s, starting with this one.

 

1 Rock & Rule

Title: Rock & Rule
Starring: Don Francks, Susan Roman, Gregory Salata, Chris Wiggins, Brent Titcomb, Dan Hennessey, Greg Duffell, Catherine Gallant, Samantha Langevin, Catherine O’Hara
Released in: 1983
Directed by: Clive A Smith
Written by: Peter Sauder, John Halfpenny
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical technology, demons, mutants
5 Second Synopsis: A malevolent rock star kidnaps a female singer to force her to participate in the summoning of a demon, and her band must help her stop him.
Why I Love It: This little, mostly forgotten Canadian film is, in my opinion, the very best in the genre. Forget the much over-rated Heavy Metal, this adult cartoon is where it’s at. Awesome animation, kick ass soundtrack, and great story, this is a must-see for anyone who likes adult animation.

 

1 Lord of the Rings

Title: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Craig Parker, Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Ian Holm, John Noble, Sala Baker
Released in: 2001, 2002, 2003
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based On: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, hobbits, elves, dwarves, visions, immortality, fantastical creatures, and more
5 Second Synopsis: A young hobbit must get to the gates of the enemy to destroy a ring that, if in the hands of the monster, would end the world as they know it.
Why I Love It: I don’t think there’s a geek on the planet that didn’t love this one. It was so beautifully done, acted, written and shot that it’s hard not to fall in love at first sight. It has the perfect blend of practical makeup and effects, and CGI, something that was sorely lacking in the Hobbit films.

 

1 Legend

Title: Legend
Starring: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Annabelle Lanyon, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Robert Picardo
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: William Hjortsberg
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Demons, goblins, fairy folk, unicorns, magic, curses
5 Second Synopsis: A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves.
Why I Love It: Probably one of the very first fantasy films I’ve seen, and still one of the very best. It’s so beautifully done that it would be impressive even coming out today. Even all the acting is good, and that’s saying something for a film of the 80’s. So sad that they don’t make them like this anymore.

 

1 Labyrinth

Title: Labyrinth
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Brian Henson, Ron Mueck, Dave Goelz, David Shaughnessy, Michael Hordern, Denise Bryer, David Healy, Robert Beatty, Toby Froud
Released in: 1986
Directed by: Jim Henson
Written by: Terry Jones
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Magic, goblins, fairy folk, fantastical creatures
5 Second Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Sarah accidentally wishes her baby half-brother, Toby, away to the Goblin King Jareth, who will keep him if Sarah does not complete his Labyrinth in thirteen hours.
Why I Love It: If I had to absolutely choose a favourite fantasy film of all time, this would be it. I saw it at 5 years old, when it came out, and I’ve seen it well over 100 times. I learned all the words, songs and talked, in a very short time, and I still know most of them now. I’ll be sounding like a broken record, but they don’t make them like this any more. It’s an absolutely perfect piece of film. And David Bowie is so beautiful in this, I can’t help but swoon every time, hehe.

 

Finally done! It’s only been 2 months in the making… This is what happens when I get lazy. Shit just doesn’t get done, hehe. Here’s hoping at least a few people will enjoy the fruits of my labour! 😀

M.

Top 10 Favorite Book Series

It wasn’t until recently that I realized just how many book series there were out there. I mean, I knew there were a lot, but I had no idea just how many “a lot” was. I spent a good few hours hunting for new stuff to read about a year ago, and browsing series on Goodreads yielded hundreds of choices. Dare I say, thousands, even! It makes me wonder how I, an avid reader, could have missed so many. There were so many that I’d never even heard of. Some of them have 15 plus books, and there are a good amount of them about vampires, which is even more baffling that I missed them. But anyways, I’m babbling here. In this list I’ll count down my 10 favorite book series. I’ve included all genres, although to be fair, I don’t really read much else besides horror (both supernatural and “true crime” style) and fantasy. I’ve put them in order, but the order is approximate at best, especially for the top 5. The top 5 are all ongoing series (except for the Sookie books, author Charlaine Harris has made clear that the last one published was her final Sookie novel), and my favorites are pretty much based on what I’m reading at the moment. I’ve also based my rating on my enjoyment of the series, and not technical merit. I think it’s pretty obvious that someone like George RR Martin is not on the same level technically as, say, Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake) or MaryJanice Davidson (Betsy Taylor), so it’s kind of unfair to rate them the same way. Before I get started, here are a few honourable mentions:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Xanth by Piers Anthony
The Belgariad by David Eddings
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
Merry Gentry by Laurell K Hamilton
Rachel Morgan by Kim Harrison
The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

And, extra special honourable mention, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. The only reason this isn’t on the main list is because I’ve just started the series, and only have 2 of 14 books read. It’s not fair, then, for this to edge out a series of which I’ve read all (or almost all) of the books in the series.

And now, without further hubub, my top 10 favorite book series! 🙂

10 – The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

anne_rice_books

Starting off the list, unsurprisingly, is Anne Rice‘s Vampire Chronicles. I read the first three while I was still in high school, and the next 3 in college, but after The Vampire Armand, I kinda got bored with the series. Anne Rice got just too weird. And religious. Religion isn’t something I look for when I’m reading a vampire novel. I have a few of her later books, but they’re basically sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I doubt I’ll ever read them. But the series still makes the list (albeit at number ten) because of how amazing the first three are, and how much I still love them, even interview queennow. Interview with the Vampire is simply one of the best vampire books, ever. The books were so popular that of course Hollywood had to have a crack at it. Why it took them so long, though, I’ll never know. Interview was written in 1976, and the first film didn’t come out until 1994. Of which I’m forever grateful, now that I really think about it. 70’s horror films, especially vampire horror films weren’t really known for… well… being good :-p I shudder to think of what would have become of Interview with the Vampire had it been put into the hands of a 70’s horror director. Thankfully, though, we got Neil Jordan, and he gave us one of the most beautiful pieces of film in horror history. No, forget horror history, make that film history, period. True, the casting was a little off in it’s choices for most of the characters (ok, ok, it was a lot off), and many fans, myself included, even Anne Rice herself, were horrified to learn that Tom Cruise would be playing our favorite brat, Lestat de Lioncourt. After the movie came out, however, every single one of us who’d booed the casting took it back. Despite not liking Tom Cruise hardly at all, I have to admit he does a wonderful job as Lestat, and he even looks the part. He’s the only one, unfortunately. If I had anything bad left to say about this film, it would be that, that the characters don’t look like themselves. Louis is supposed to be young, with curly black hair up to his chin. And Armand looks like a 15 year old red-head. That description doesn’t bring Antonio Banderas to mind, does it? And Claudia… well I understood why they did it, but in the book she was just 5 years old. Queen of the Damned was made in 2002 and as much as I love the film, let’s just pretend that it’s not based on a book. We’ll all be much happier for it.

 

9 – Betsy, Queen of the Undead by MaryJanice Davidson

betsy

Betsy Taylor is a tall, blonde bimbo who’s only real passion in life is shoes. On her thirtieth birthday, she has the worst day anyone could possibly have, being fired from her job, then being run over by a speeding SUV. Horrified after waking in the morgue, she tries to kill herself multiple times, unsuccessfully. She then realizes why: she’s risen as a vampire. And not just any vampire, either. According to elder vampire Eric Sinclair, she’s the new vampire queen. Betsy, who’s biggest problems in life before were the stain on those new Louboutins she bought, is about to find out being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Told in the first person, Betsy’s perspective, these books are absolutely hilarious. I’m generally not a fan of reading comedy, but since this was also a vampire thing, I decided to give it a go, and boy am I glad I did. The books are short, sweet, and always fun. I’ve fallen a bit behind on this series, though, I’ve only read up to number 7. But I have so much stuff to read now, that these fluffy little comedies have been shuffled to the back of the line.

  1. Undead and Unwed
  2. Undead and Unemployed 
  3. Undead and Unappreciated
  4. Undead and Unreturnable
  5. Undead and Unpopular
  6. Undead and Uneasy
  7. Undead and Unworthy
  8. Undead and Unwelcome
  9. Undead and Unfinished
  10. Undead and Undermined
  11. Undead and Unstable
  12. Undead and Unsure
  13. Undead and Unwary 

 

8 – Zinc Chandler, Special X by Michael Slade

Special X

I discovered this author quite by accident. I got a book as a gift, I think it was for christmas, but I have no idea who from. The book was by an author I’d never heard of before, but the title was cool: Ghoul. I started reading it, and yup, it was right up my alley. Each novel follows agents from the fictional Special X department of the RCMP as they hunt horrifying serial killers. You can tell it’s fiction already, Canada doesn’t boast enough serial killers to write a new book every year, hehehe. I’m way behind on this series too, I made it to number 7 (again? That seems to be my lucky number…) and then sort of pooped out. The books, although always with fascinating stories, are a little hit and miss sometimes. Ghoul, Ripper, Headhunter and Primal Scream were all excellent, absolute page turners, while Cutthroat and Evil Eye were a little hard to get through, sluggishly paced and sometimes downright boring. I had no idea the series had grown to 14 books, though! I’ll have to pick them up again.

  1. Headhunter (1984)
  2. Ghoul (1987)
  3. Cutthroat (1992)
  4. Ripper (1994)
  5. Evil Eye (1996)
  6. Primal Scream (1998)
  7. Burnt Bones (1999)
  8. Hangman (2000)
  9. Death’s Door (2001)
  10. Bed of Nails (2003)
  11. Swastika (2005)
  12. Kamikaze (2006)
  13. Crucified (2008)
  14. Red Snow (2010)

 

7 – Victoria Nelson, The Blood Books by Tanya Huff

blood books

This series, like most others actually, now that I think of it, I came into when it was already done. Not only was the book series done, but a TV show had come and gone as well, with myself none the wiser about it. I’m not entirely sure how I came upon this series, then, but I think it was one of my Facebook friends who had mentioned the show, and how he was ticked off at all the changes they’d made, but damn did that vampire look good. And after seeing a picture of the vampire in question, I decided that this show was something I needed to see. Right now. So after I started watching the show (and falling in love with it), I went hunting for the books. I read the first one in one sitting blood tiesI think, so that should tell you what I thought of it. The first book, Blood Price, is faithfully recreated for the show’s two-part Pilot episode, but after that the show pretty much goes it’s own way. (Dexter did the same thing, but at least we got a whole season of faithfulness before the writers crapped all over it, but I’m straying from the topic again.) I don’t actually mind that much when producers take some artistic license with the material they’re adapting (mind, I’m only talking about TV here. Adapting to film is a whole other monster), as long as they’re honest about what they’re doing. Dexter‘s writers were very clear in saying that season one would be the only one based truly on the books, and the rest will only bare some similarities in the characters. Same with Blood Ties here. True Blood, on the other hand, HBO bought the rights from author Charlaine Harris with the understanding that their vision was the same, and that they were headed in the same direction with their ideas. In fact, a (more or less) direct quote from Harris about it: “I sold the rights to Alan Ball because of all the people asking for the rights, his vision of the story was the closest to my own”. I bet she really regrets that now, with the ridiculousness that has become that show. But anyways, side-tracked again, who me? Maybe I should stop ranting and tell you what the books are actually about. Vicki Nelson is an ex-cop (known by her colleagues as Victory Nelson, for her impressive record) who’s now a private detective. She left the force because a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which starts off by slowly killing night vision and peripheral vision, will eventually leave her blind, and she didn’t want to stay on the force if that meant riding a desk for the rest of her career. One day she gets a client who is positive her boyfriend was killed by a vampire, and hires Vicki to prove it. Vicki takes the case, never for one second imagining that she’d not only meet a vampire in her search for the truth, but that he’d be Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII… and an ally. Such great books, and finally, a real female role model. She’s still beautiful (of course) but she’s a “real” woman. No “waif-fu” here, Vicki kicks ass cause she works out her 5’11” frame. She’s also not a “lost little damsel, waiting for her knight”. She does most of the saving here. If you enjoy vampires and detectives, this short series is a perfect read for you. I just wish there was more of it!!

  1. Blood Price (1991)
  2. Blood Trail (1992)
  3. Blood Lines (1992)
  4. Blood Pact (1993)
  5. Blood Debt (1997)
  6. Blood Bank – a short story collection

 

6 – Harry Potter by JK Rowling

harry potter

So, of course this series will be in almost all fantasy lovers favorites list. Never mind that they were aimed at kids, this is some quality reading right here. 7 books (later made into 8 movies) of pure, unadulterated, magical fun. If I have to tell you what these books (and/or movies) are about, you really need to crawl out from under that rock you’ve been hiding under. But on the off-chance that you like it there under your rock, it goes a little something like this: 11 year old Harry Potter discovers that he’s a wizard and gets recruited by a half-giant named Hagrid to attend a harry-potterspecial wizarding school, Hogwarts. The end. No of course it isn’t, although, to be fair, that’s pretty awesome all by itself. So, wouldn’t you know, little Harry is famous all over the wizarding world for having defeated (read: didn’t die when shot at by) the evil Lord Voldemort. Voldemort’s not as dead as everyone thought, though, and with Harry’s return to the wizarding world, evil is stirring once again. A classic story of good against evil, black against white, the noseless vs the… nosed? I dunno. You get my point. The books are incredibly well written, especially for something that was originally aimed at a younger audience, so that’s even more impressive. So many YA authors think that since their stuff is aimed at teenagers, it can afford to not be well written. It’s a shame too, because some of them have good ideas, but their writing is total shite (I’m looking at YOU, Stephanie Meyer!) Thankfully, JK Rowling isn’t one of those authors, so her books are a joy to read, for the young and old alike.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

 

5 – Dexter Morgan by Jeff Lindsay

dexter

Dexter Morgan is a wonderful character, both in writing and on the TV screen. I only heard about the book series after the show started playing, and though, at that time, I didn’t like the show, the idea is wonderful, so of course when I heard this was a series of books I went out and bought the first 3 all at once. I sat down with the first one expecting a real treat, and I definitely was not disappointed. The story (for the book series and the show) goes a little something like this: Dexter Morgan is a mild-mannered employee of the crime lab of Miami Metro police Dexter Season 8department, his exact job title is blood spatter analyst. His job is to find out how all that precious life juice got out of the victim and onto wherever it is that person got killed. And he’s very good at his job. Both of them. Because by night, mild-mannered Dexter becomes the Dark Passenger, or rather, he lets the Dark Passenger drive. He is a serial killer. His prey of choice? Other killers. Brilliant!! The reason it’s not a little higher than number 5 (besides the fact that the top 4 are absolutely amazing) is that book 3 kinda… well… sucks 😦 The first 2 were absolutely amazing, but then book 3 goes ahead and spins the whole story from a supernatural angle and that, to me, was the very wrong direction to take this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love supernatural stuff (which I think most of my readers (all 104 of you!! Hi!!) know by now, hehe). But Dexter, in his first 2 books, gave absolutely no indication that he was anything other than human. And for the supernatural element to be introduced out of the blue in the third book of the series, well, I didn’t think it was a good idea. I guess Lindsay must have gotten a lot of grief after that one, because in the next two books, while he still talks about his Dark Passenger, it goes back to the way it was in the first two books, no weird demon mumbo-jumbo. There are 8 books in the series, and the author has said that this is it for Dexter. This was also (coincidentally? Who knows) Dexter’s last season on TV. I’ve read the first 5 books, and am looking forward to finishing the series (although I’m sad that there will be no more coming), and I’ve watched 7 and a half seasons of Dexter, still need to watch the last few episodes of number 8. Oh, one small word of warning. The prose is very purple, and the author has a slightly twisted sense of humour. I love it, but I thought I should give a heads up, for those that don’t like that writing style.

  1. Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004)
  2. Dearly Devoted Dexter (2005)
  3. Dexter in the Dark (2007)
  4. Dexter by Design (2009)
  5. Dexter Is Delicious (2010)
  6. Double Dexter (2011)
  7. Dexter’s Final Cut (2013)
  8. Dexter Is Dead (2015)

 

4 – Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter by Laurell K Hamilton

AnitaBlake

When one of your favourite book series is at number 27, and the author seems to have no end in sight yet, you’re bound to end up reading a series that’s run (or running) out of steam. Which is why this series is now at number 4, when it was at number 1 for so long. Trying to condense 24 books into a understandable blurb is hard, but I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet. Anita is an Animator, which means she raises the dead. She works for a firm that deals in dead raising for legal purposes (family disputes, a lost will, etc), but she’s also a sanctioned Federal Marshall and vampire executioner. When things get supernaturally hairy, the police call in Anita to take the big bad guys down. Slowly, as she moves more and more through the supernatural world, she makes friends, and soon, lovers, and discovers, through them, that she has a lot more power than she’d ever dreamed of. These were my favourite books for a very Anita_Blakelong time. I discovered them not long after high school, and they were completely amazing till about book 12 or 13. That’s when the sex started to get out of hand. I like a good, steamy sex scene as much as the next vampire fan, but when that’s all the books are, with no character development at all, and little to no plot even? No thanks. Hamilton has finally started listening to her fans, though, because the last two novels that I’ve read, Kiss the Dead and Affliction, were concentrating much less on the sex, and more on actual story, and (and this is a big deal, you Anita fans know what I mean) she finally seems to be able to let go of her hangups about sex and just do it already. Seriously, a few of her books were exactly like this: “Oh, I’m horny, need to feed the Ardeur.” *Starts to have sex, stops* “Oh no, I can’t do this again, it’s just wrong.” *After talking for two chapters, finally have the sex* “OMG, what’s happening? What did we do (this time)??” *Some new power was gained by her, or her people. “We’re so strong!! But we have the attitudes of high school drama queens!” *More sex, more complaining about the sex, and more drama, mostly with Asher* And, yup, that was pretty much all that there was to the books. Even the passing of the biggest of the bads, “Mommie Dearest”, I barely saw because it was lost in all the sex and angst. But, like I said, her last two were better, so here’s hoping we see something new soon, instead of just the same old boring porn. And for those who like comic books and graphic novels, Marvel has turned the first three of Hamilton’s books into comics. They’re sold in separate little floppy books (in sheaths, you know, those old-school comics), or you can get them all together bound in a hardcover (which is what I did). Each book made 3 hardcover comics, except the first, which made 2. I’ve got the first two  and sometime in the near future I hope to get the third one. I also have the prequel comic, The First Death, which was the story of one of her very first cases with fan-favourite Edward. I don’t know if Marvel is going to keep going with the comics, but I certainly hope so. They’re incredibly well done. Also, Hamilton has mentioned “being in talks” with producers of film and TV for the rights to film, but it seems she’s “been in talks” since the late 90’s. Not sure we’ll ever see Anita up on the big screen. A shame. Done Underworld style, it could be great fun!

  1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
  2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
  3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
  4. The Lunatic Cafe (1996)
  5. Bloody Bones (1996)
  6. The Killing Dance (1997)
  7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
  8. Blue Moon (1998)
  9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
  10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
  11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
  12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
  13. Micah (2006)
  14. Danse Macabre (2006)
  15. The Harlequin (2007)
  16. Blood Noir (2008)
  17. Skin Trade (2009)
  18. Flirt (2010)
  19. Bullet (2010)
  20. Hit List (2011)
  21. Beauty (2012)
  22. Kiss the Dead (2012)
  23. Affliction (2013)
  24. Dancing (2013)
  25. Shutdown (2013)
  26. Jason (2014)
  27. Dead Ice (June 9, 2015)
  1. Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death (2007)
  2. Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures (2008)
  3. Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse – Animator (2009)
  4. Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse – Necromancer (2009)
  5. Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse – Executioner (2010)
  6. Anita Blake: Circus of The Damned – The Charmer (2010)
  7. Anita Blake: Circus of The Damned – The Ingenue (2011)
  8. Anita Blake: Circus of the Damned – The Scoundrel (Ongoing)

 

3 – Sookie Stackhouse, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

sookie-book-set

Here’s another light fluffy series that’s just so much fun and easy to read. I can easily pick up one of these books and finish it in a single sitting, which I often did after the new book came out. It was the end not only for Dexter this year, but for Sookie as well, her 13th adventure being her last. Not to say that she’s dead (of course I can’t say she isn’t, either, because as of now I’ve yet to read book 13). The story is this: Sookie Stackhouse is a young woman living in a tiny Louisiana town called Bon Temps. She’s a waitress at the local watering hole. Oh, and she’s a telepath. Living in the world has always been difficult for her, since she could hear all the thoughts of people around her, so she’s built up a wall to protect herself, the guise of stupidity. One day, she meets a man who’s thoughts she can’t read, and she becomes excited, following him out the door. Saving his life from a gang of V (vampire blood used as a drug) dealers, their bond is immediate and quick. Here starts Sookie’s story of womanhood and survival and, yes, of course, true-blood-castromance. The show I wish I could say is a good as the books, but it’s really not. Seasons 1, 3, and 4 are good, about half of season 2 is good. But season 5 and the other half of 2 are pure shite. Especially season 5. It was just… ugh… I don’t even know. I didn’t bother continuing the show after that. When the show first started, it seemed as though they were going to try stick to the books, which is why, the author is quoted as saying, that she sold the rights to HBO in the first place, that their vision was the closest to hers (I bet she regrets that now!) So season 1, pretty good. There were changes, but nothing super dramatic. Lafayette, who was nothing but a bit player in the books, got to live in the show (which I have to admit being a wonderful change, he’s an awesome character), and Jessica doesn’t exist in the books. I guess they wanted more female main characters for the show? I dunno. But it’s not too bad. I hated her at first, while she played the brat, but once she “put on her big girl shoes”, I liked her much more. The rest is pretty similar to the books. Murdered women, murdered Gran, the culprit is Arlene’s fiancée. Then season two… oh my god. Everything dealing with the vampires (the stuff that was actually in the books) was good, but everything else… that creepy (and not in a good way) demon chick and the black-eyed orgies and stuff… ugh. I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous (until I got to season 5, that is). But anyways, I won’t keep going on about everything they’ve changed or added in that series, or I’m going to be here all night. All I’ll add is that they shouldn’t be allowed to write “Based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris” in the opening credits any more, because season 5? Yeah, there was not one single thing in that season that happened in the books. They should have to write “Based on characters created by Charlaine Harris”, or however it is they say it when they take a character, but not the authors own stories.

  1. Dead Until Dark (2001)
  2. Living Dead in Dallas (2002)
  3. Club Dead (2003)
  4. Dead to the World (2004)
  5. Dead as a Doornail (2005)
  6. Definitely Dead (2006)
  7. All Together Dead (2007)
  8. From Dead to Worse (2008)
  9. Dead and Gone (2009)
  10. Dead in the Family (2010)
  11. Dead Reckoning (2011)
  12. Deadlocked (2012)
  13. Dead Ever After (2013)

 

2 – Special Agent Pendergast by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

pendergast

I honestly don’t remember if I saw the film The Relic first, or if I read the book. But what I can tell you is that I didn’t remember about one before I read/saw the other, which is a very, very good thing. Because these two could not have been more different. The biggest case in point being the fact that Pendergast, the heart of the book series, isn’t theReliceven in the film. But enough about that. I’ll just say that it’s a good, fun creature feature, and if you’ve read the book, put it out of your mind and you’ll be fine. As for the rest of the series, it’s amazing. The only book that I enjoyed a little less was the second one, Reliquary, the others I all but inhaled after buying them. The stories revolve a very peculiar FBI agent named Aloysius Pendergast. He’s absolutely brilliant at detecting things others cannot, and his knowledge about, well, everything really, is unmatched. He’s a modern day Sherlock Holmes, if you will, minus the deerstalker and cocaine. The stories are all based in scientific fact, but let’s say they really stretch that limit. The things that are “possible” in the books are very much akin to the fact that light speed travel could be “possible”. Possible, but not very likely, especially not with our current technology. Each book has it’s own evil-doer, but three books follow the other Pendergast, Diogenes. And he’s Moriarty to Pendergast’s Sherlock. These books are so good, but again, with everything on my list to read, I’ve fallen a bit behind. I’ve read 9 out of 13 books. And (I just found out, right this second on Wikipedia) that the next three books I have to read are another trilogy inside the series, this one about Pendergast’s wife, Helen. I just got it on audiobook, too, if I’m not mistaken. I’m looking forward to reading it now, more, since I’m writing about it. These books are just brilliant, very entertaining. If you like detective stories mixed with a little horror, this is definitely for you, and I’d highly recommend it. Hell, I’ll recommend it even if you don’t like horror. The books are good enough that I think even non-horror-lovers will enjoy them.

 

1 – A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin

game of thrones

This series, which now occupies the number one spot and is one of my very favourite book sets ever, I came upon as a complete accident. I had never heard of the books before, and this was before the show. I’d never  even heard of the author before. So one night, around 4am or so, I was visiting with my husband at his parents. As usual, I couldn’t sleep, but being away from home, I had nothing really to do, so I hunted around for something to read. My eyes set upon A Game of Thrones, but at that point I wasn’t interested. I’d asked my husband about it and he said something like “kinda like Lord of the Rings, with mostly humans and less magic”. Well that description got a big old “meh” from me, and I was uninterested. But, after rummaging around some more, there was nothing else. So with a resigned sigh, ice and fireI took the book and began to read. My mind, as you can probably tell, was blown, right from chapter one. The writing is so good, the characters are so real, you could literally almost see them coming to life on the page. I read it, and the following four, and am now impatiently awaiting book six, which, as of yet, doesn’t have a release date. Martin likes to keep his fans waiting I’ve heard. Books 3 and 4 are 5 years apart; books 4 and 5, 6 years. That’s an insane amount of time to keep fans waiting. It’s a testament to how good the books are that the fans haven’t just given up on him. There’s also the fact that we’ve now got a show to keep ourselves occupied, if only for a while. When I first heard that they were doing a show, I was super excited. I had read the first three books by that time, and had fallen deep in love with the world and was happy to see it was going to get filmed. My happiness faded once I heard who had bought the rights: HBO. After what they did to another of my favourite series (True Blood), I was scared that they’d put these books through the blender, too. But thankfully for me, and everyone else who loves the books, HBO has been doing a pretty damn good job of sticking to the story. There’s changes, of course, more sex (this is HBO, after all), and quite a bit of the “boring” descriptive stuff is cut out, but that’s only natural when you have to condense a book so big. There’s a thing or two they changed that I’m kinda hmm-ing about, as to how they’re going to fix it when that story line comes back later, but nothing overly dramatic. Season 5 of the show just started this month, I can’t wait! As for book 6? I guess we all just have to wait and see.

 

And I’m done! Phew!! Not sure why, but this post took me 3 days to complete. I had my layout all done, I knew approximately what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t seem to get it out. Or I’d zone out, just stare blankly at the screen. I hope you enjoy this, cause it almost did me in! But tonight I persevered! This laptop won’t be getting the best of me! Mwahahahaha!!! *ahem* Ok, I’m done…

M.

Mel’s 5 Second Review: Frozen

Frozen
(2013) Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Williams and Stephen J Anderson

Film Review Frozen

So I finally got around to seeing this film. And while it wasn’t as good as all the hype made it seem (there was no way anything could live up to that kind of hype), it was still very good, with a few laugh out loud moments, a few stupidly romantic moments, and a few heart-breaking moments. Seriously, a few scenes were so heart-breaking that my husband and I were surprised that they were in a children’s film. We watched the film together with our 4 year old son, and he sat through the whole thing, not looking away from the screen for even a second. He hardly ever does that, even to his favourite shows, so that just go to show how well Disney succeeded with this one. I give it an 8.5/10. Fine family fun! 🙂

This movie isn’t currently on Netflix, but just give it a little more time and I’m sure it’ll pop on sometime soon. In the meantime, have a song…

 

M.