Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Fantasy Films

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Movie Freebie

Previously, I have shared my top ten favourite film adaptations. As well as adaptations, I grew up on a large healthy dose of 80s fantasy films, which helped to make it one of my all-time favourite genres. So here are my top ten favourite fantasy films (in alphabetical order):

~ 1 ~

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Cult classic film which follows the adventures of Conan in a fantasy, pre-history word of dark magic and savagery; based on the stories of Robert E. Howard.

~ 2 ~

Dark Crystal (1982)

A Jim Henson and Frank Oz film that, for the time, uses ground breaking animatronics to bring alive the dark world of the kind Mystics, the evil Skeksis and the lone surviving Elfling.

~ 3 ~

Excalibur (1981)

Visually impressive retelling of the legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table; apparently based on the 15th century Arthurian romance by Thomas Malory

~ 4 ~

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

All of the Potter films are fun, magical and colourful with wonderful, largely British, star studded casts. The Half-Blood Prince is narrowly my favourite of the eight films.

~ 5 ~

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

An absolutely classic film which used Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion animation to vividly retell the legendary adventures of the Ancient Greek hero Jason.

~ 6 ~

Labyrinth (1986)

Another Jim Henson film which uses puppets in young Sarah’s surreal quest for her baby brother, who has been taken by the Goblin King. Starring the late, great David Bowie.

~ 7 ~

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

A beautiful adaptation of C S Lewis’ classic children’s adventure in the magical land of Narnia.

~ 8 ~

The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

Visually stunning and well-loved adaptation of J R R Tolkien’s classic, high fantasy novel, that takes us on an epic adventure across Middle Earth to destroy the one ring.

~ 9 ~

The Princess Bride (1987)

A cult classic, romantic comedy which gently pokes fun at the standard tropes of fantasy and fairy tales; adapted by William Goldman from his own novel.

~ 10 ~

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Finally, we have what is probably the best known and most successful fantasy film. An epic Technicolor musical based on L Frank Baum’s classic children’s book.

What are your favourite fantasy films? Also, please let us know and link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.

Goodbye October, Hello November 2016

month-october-2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? October brings Autumn to the UK and with it cooler weather, golden leaves and darker evenings. One of my favourite times of the year, where I am able to start wearing my comfy boots, cook hearty stews and soups, and snuggle up in a blanket with a good book.

During this month, I have been working hard with my new class at work and I had a lot of fun attending the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Convention at the NEC, but that still left me plenty of time for reading. Here’s what I managed to read:

Fiction: 5          Non-Fiction: 1

I started the month off, by finishing the amazing A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin; the fourth book in Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Staying with the dark fantasy theme, I next read Civil War by Mark Gelineau & Joe King; the second book in the crime noir thread to their epic Echo of the Ascended series. Then, I continued my R.I.P reading with the classic mystery, The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle, off my Classics Club list, and the cosy mystery, Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M C Beaton. Finally, I squeezed in supernatural, crime fiction Blood on the Bayou by D J Donaldson. My full thoughts on the last three books still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions, I also read Christian non-fiction Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright – the second choice for my church’s book club, which made for an interesting discussion. My full thoughts on this book are still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: A Feast For Crows

That’s 6 books finished – much better than in September! Through out the month, I have also been dipping in and out of The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas and 90 Days Through the New Testament by Ron Rhodes. While I have also started reading  and Christian non-fiction Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen.

In November, I am looking forward to Bonfire Night, celebrating my mum’s and stepdad’s birthdays, and getting stuck into the Pathways to Ministry course, with a few other ladies from my church. Plus, more reading of course!

What did you do and read in October? Do you have any plans for November?

New Read: Civil Blood

civil-blood

Earlier this year, I read and loved Best Left in the Shadows by Mark Gelineau and Joe King; the 1st book in the crime noir thread to their epic fantasy series. At the beginning of October, I picked up the next book, Civil Blood, hoping it would help to pick up my reading for the R.I.P reading event.

Now that Daxton Ellis is the Justiciar of Lowside, the poor and dangerous underworld of the city, he finds his position with the streetwise Lowsider and former flame Alys switched. As Alys needs his help to clear her name, after the henchman of a powerful Lowside kingpin have been found brutally murdered and strung up for all to see, and the only eyewitness’ description of the perpetrator eerily matches Alys! So Dax and Ellis team up again to solve these bloody murders by unravelling the twisting clues to find the true culprit, but all the while they have their own agendas and secrets to keep.

In this new mystery, I continued to enjoy the love/hate, tension filled but also playful chemistry between Dax and Alys; I think it helps to lighten these darker fantasy tales. Dax and Alys originally met and dated during their time training in the academy, when they were young, naïve and idealistic. However, their relationship was abruptly ended by a heart-breaking betrayal. Now all grown up, they’ve come to believe that a true blood guy and a Lowside gal can never be. Although secretly I think Dax is still pretty idealistic, but he is also acutely aware of his station and responsibilities. Alys on the other hand has become hardened as she has learnt to survive in this dangerous underworld – a world that is still alien to Dax. I found Alys less likeable in this book.

In this crime noir thread to Gelineau’s & King’s Echo of the Ascended series, it has been interesting to see more of a different, darker and seedier side to the kingdom of Aedaron. With this and the previous book set in the dangerous, poverty-stricken underworld of the capital city rather than, in the previous books, out in the large, isolated march lands. I also love a murder mystery and this was a good one with a bloody trail; a deadly, secretive perpetrator and plenty of secrets, twists and turns. While the perpetrator is identified this almost opened up more questions and threads to follow, which I presume/hope will be picked up in the next book.

Overall, I thought Civil Blood was another quick read with an interesting mystery in a dark fantasy setting. I look forward to read more from Gelineau’s & King’s Echo of the Ascended series. Good read.

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other mystery for the R.I.P reading event?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI – 2/4

New Books: October 2016

new-books-october-2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, recently I have managed to keep myself away from those tempting book shops. However, a few lovely, new books have winged their way to be by different routes. Here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle:

Class of ’59 by John A. Heldt

First, I was contacted by the author, John A. Heldt, about his new and fourth instalment to his American Journeys series. I have previously enjoyed his novel, The Mine, so I was happy to accept a review copy of his new novel.

The Lioness and the Spellspinners by Cheryl Mahoney

Recently, I hosted the wonderful author, Cheryl Mahoney, for a guest post on her use of fairy tale references in her new novel. Also, Cheryl kindly sent me a review copy of her new novel which I am super excited about reading.

The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland

Then whilst having a mooch on Netgalley, I spotted Karen Maitland’s new historical fiction being offered to ‘read now’ – I had heard good things about it so I snapped a copy up.

Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The King’s Concubine by Anne O’Brien

Finally, I went on Amazon to find a copy of Life of the Beloved which is to be the third read for my church’s book club. Whilst there I spotted The King’s Concubine, an older historical novel, from my favourite historical author, Anne O’Brien, at a bargain price – how could I not snap up a copy?!

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

New Read: A Feast For Crows

a-feast-for-crows

After watching the sixth, and I think best, season of Game of Thrones to date, I was left feeling bereft! So I decided to throw myself back into George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire book series, that the TV show is based on. Next up for me to read was the fourth book: A Feast For Crows.

After some shocking deaths, Queen Cersei is desperately trying to keep her power and position through her second son, Tommen. However, his seat upon the Iron Throne is precarious, with him being only a child and the terrible rumours of his mother’s adultery and his subsequent illegitimacy. Even with a quick, advantageous marriage, to the beautiful and popular Margery Tyrell of Highgarden, they must still contend with two other strong claimants to the throne: Stannis Baratheon and Daenarys Targaryen. As well as a rebellion brewing in the South; bloody raids by the pirate Iron Lords; a deadly gang of outlaws; a militant faith movement and the coming Winter. Peace seems a distant dream for the Seven Kingdoms.

These books are peopled with a whole host of interesting characters, with each chapter focusing on a different character’s point-of-view. This book, unlike previous books in the series, focuses heavily on the characters in and surrounding the capital, Kings Landing. Which means we get to hear a lot from the point-of-view of Queen Cersei and her twin brother Jaime. Cersei is a cruel, manipulative character who will do anything for power but she also thinks she is protecting her family – I love to hate her! While Jaime started out just as bad he does at least seem to be changing and atoning for them now.

Meanwhile, a few chapters follow Brienne, the lady knight, who is on an important mission for Jaime; Sansa Stark who is hiding from the wrath of Cersei; Arya Stark who has travelled across the sea and Samwell Tarly who is making his way to the Citadel. Some very notable characters are marked by their absence though. We hear some rumours but sadly, see nothing of Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon up on The Wall, or of Cersei’s hated brother Tyrion, or of Daenarys Targaryen across the sea in Slaver’s Bay. Jon, Tyrion and Daenarys (as well as Arya) are my favourite characters, so I really, really hope we will see more of them in the next book!

With so much action, drama and interesting characters I found it very hard to put this book down and considering the epic length, I reached the end before I knew it. Like the previous books, it is jam-packed with action, adventure, intrigue, love, war, lies, fighting, secrets, and shocks! I love Martin’s detailed and compelling writing and how he allows us to explore different cities, castles, and lands through the eyes of different characters. In particular, for the first time in this book we glimpsed the cold, brutal life on the Iron Islands and the tension growing in the hot, exotic land of Dorne. I warn you there are a lot of names, places, and events to remember in these books. However, I haven’t found it that hard to keep track, especially as there are fantastic maps and appendix to help.

A Feast For Crows is another excellent, epic fantasy adventure and drama. I can’t wait to read more and I should be able to fit another book in before the return of the TV show. Great read.

Have you read this or other books in the series? Are you watching the TV series?

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI – 1/4

Guest Post: Cheryl Mahoney on Fairy Tale Connections

blog-cheryl-mahoney

I am super excited to have Cheryl Mahoney back on my blog for the fourth time to discuss all the interesting connections she has made between her books and fairy tales. I don’t usually host guest posts but I always make a special exception for Cheryl; a fellow book blogger at Tales of the Marvelous, and the author of The Wanderers, The Storyteller and Her Sisters and The People the Fairies Forget. Take it away Cheryl…


I’m delighted to be welcomed onto Jessica’s blog for a guest post today! I love stories that draw in references and connections to other stories, creating a bigger tapestry beyond a single book.  Today, I’m going to explore a bit about some of those connections layered into my newest book—with maybe a secret or two from the author’s-eye view!

My Beyond the Tales series began with the intention to create larger, more complex, hopefully more logical (!) stories that go beyond what we see in the traditional fairy tales. The Wanderers pulls in frequent elements from fairy tales, like youngest sons always succeeding at quests; The Storyteller and Her Sisters retells “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces;” and The People the Fairies Forget retells “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” from new points of view. The Lioness and the Spellspinners is closer to the first book, more independent in plot—but still with plenty of fairy tales references for readers to spot.

In the first portion of the book, one of the chief challenges for the characters is strange spells cropping up without explanation. I hope readers won’t immediately solve the mystery of the spells, but will recognize the literary sources: I use elements of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Red Shoes,” plus a talking animal who could be from many fairy tales.

A later scene involves exploring a magician’s study. This particular magician is a collector of magical items, and I had fun thinking of objects to present from different tales.  The magician has traditional things like Snow White’s apple, walnuts from the tale of “Donkeyskin,” and a golden apple from Greek mythology.  I also couldn’t resist a teacup with a chip in the rim!

Besides connections to fairy tales, I like connecting my various novels. Each book in the series can be read independently, but readers of multiple books will spot connections.  This one links most closely to The Storyteller and Her Sisters.  The princesses in that tale must free twelve princes from a curse, and Lioness is set in the princes’ country, in pre-curse days.  Prince Dastan, the love interest in Storyteller, appears as a child in Lioness.

Magical knitting is a major theme in this book that has not directly appeared in the others—but there is a small link.  I added an extra detail at the last possible moment when I was doing final edits for Storyteller.  That book came out October, 2014, a month before I started writing Lioness, but I was already working out the magic system.  I was just barely in time to include a new detail where Dastan gives my heroine a scarf, dyed a special color that is a trade secret in their country. Lioness reveals what that scarf and color mean magically, for readers who go back to compare the details.

I also had to sneak in another character—Sam Jones is a personal favorite character of mine, who has made appearances in every novel I’ve written, including the unpublished ones I wrote in high school.  He’s always earnest, well-meaning and deeply clumsy.  He already appeared in the other books in this series, and with this one set significantly earlier he can’t really be the same person…so we have to assume that the Sam in this book is an ancestor of the other one.  But really, they’re all Sam, and I was particularly pleased to be able to give him a nice moment highlighting his best qualities.

I hope readers will enjoy looking for the connections in the story—and I haven’t given away every secret about characters or references that may turn up!


Thank you so much Cheryl for another great post. I loved your previous books and I can’t wait to read your new one:

The Lioness and the Spellspinners

Forrest can’t fathom this prickly, knife-wielding girl who so unceremoniously turns up in his family’s barn one morning. His life has never been thisthe-lioness-cover exciting.  Karina can’t make herself trust the strangely hospitable villagers on this island she’s now stuck on, and when they claim they can knit spells into their garments, that doesn’t help.  She knows magic exists, but that’s just ridiculous.

And no one can understand why the chickens have suddenly started laying gilded eggs, or why the horse is talking in rhyming couplets.

When the inexplicable magic goes from mere bad poetry to actual threats, when dancing becomes dangerous and the wrong thought could cause disaster, the only answers are in the past Karina is fleeing—and the only way to survive is for the knife-wielder to trust the spellspinner.

The Lioness and the Spellspinners is now available to buy in paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Have you read any of Cheryl’s wonderful books? Are you looking forward to reading her new one?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Villains

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

All About The Villains

For me, Autumn is a time for mysteries, thrillers and other books on the darker and creepier side, and what would they be without a good villain?! So here is a list of my top ten favourite literary villains (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Count Dracula

Transylvanian nobleman and centuries old vampire, antagonist of Bram Stoker’s gothic horror, Dracula. An alluring, dangerous and love-sick villain, who I would be in serious danger of falling for; especially when he is played by Gary Oldman!

~ 2 ~

Ebenezer Scrooge

The cold-hearted, miserly protagonist of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. While Scrooge starts out all bad, it is wonderful to watch his miraculous transformation and final redemption.

~ 3 ~

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often mistakenly called Frankenstein after his creator and/or book title, the monster or creature of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror, Frankenstein, actually has no name. A nameless, confused and shunned figure who I can’t help having some sympathy for.

~ 4 ~

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

A villain so feared and reviled that most characters in J K Rowling’s fantasy, Harry Potter series won’t even use his name out loud. Lord Voldermort or Tom Riddle is a dark wizard who will stop at nothing for power and influence over others.

~ 5 ~

Professor James Moriarty

Criminal mastermind who keeps the famous detective Sherlock Holmes on his toes in several of Arthur Conan Doyle’s crime stories – anyone who can get Holmes second guessing is a great villain in my book.

~ 6 ~

Mrs. Danvers

Manderley’s head housekeeper and chief antagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic Rebecca. A bitter, cruel and manipulative woman who seeks to undermine the new Mrs. de Winter at every opportunity.

~ 7 ~

Cersei Lannister

A central point-of-view character in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The scheming and ruthless Queen of the Seven Kingdoms – a character you love to hate; portrayed brilliantly in the TV series by Lena Headey.

~ 8 ~

Sauron

Dark lord, necromancer and main antagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. In which Sauron is an evil spirit who takes the form of a giant, unsleeping eye which wishes to cover the land in a second darkness.

~ 9 ~

Smaug

A terrible dragon who has stolen the home and treasure of the dwarves in J. R. R. Tolkien’s children’s fantasy novel, The Hobbit. A greedy, highly intelligent and cunning villain who you shouldn’t strike up a conversation with!

~ 10 ~

Jadis, the White Witch

A powerful witch and main antagonist of C. S. Lewis’ children’s fantasy novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cruel, self-styled Queen of Narnia who has brought perpetual winter and fear to the inhabitants of the land.

Who are your favourite villains? Also, link in the comments if you have also taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.