Category Archives: reviews

Books I have read, and movies I have watched and what I thought about them.

Marshmallow World Review

One of my most favourite songs for the imagination at Christmastime is “Marshmallow World” lyrics written by Carl Sigman, the music by Peter DeRose and was a hit sung by Bing Crosby in 1949.
It captured me with the descriptions of landscapes of snow being of marshmallows, whipped cream and sugar. I often wonder if that is where Roald Dahl got his inspiration for Willy Wonka from; it isn’t very difficult to see why.
I myself have often seen in my mind similar landscapes for a certain story I love writing. Though I am not too happy about getting that particular story published as to me it is just overly descriptive with no real plot, though I often thought about making a story based around an Easter world.

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Suzy Snowflake review

I love Christmas for more reasons than just the family time, presents and food. I love Christmas for some of the songs and tunes that are available at yuletide.
Songs that feed the imagination of the fantasy writer and artist such as; “Suzy Snowflake” written by Sid Tepper and Roy C Bennett in the 1950s and sung by Rosemary Clooney. Suzy Snowflake is a little snow fairy that beckons children to go out and play in the snow, though the song isn’t exactly about Christmas per se, snow intrinsically is associated with Christmastime. Though some will argue that Suzy Snowflake is nothing more than just a little girl dressed in a snow white gown, there is a video however that shows otherwise. In the video Suzy taps at the windowpanes of little houses with a magical wand that frosts the panes over. In my opinion, that’s not to the ability of a mere mortal child.
I like to think of Suzy Snowflake as being the female counterpart or wife of Jack Frost, another Christmas/Winter hero.
I am aim to write about a Christmas song at least once a week leading up to Christmas, all of them are secular Christmas songs and could be considered food for the imagination.

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The Lovely Bones Review WITH SPOILERS

Spoiler Alert…

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold churns most reader’s stomachs whenever they pick up and read the first page, let alone chapter; it is purely because of the subject matter, a young girl barely in her teens is raped and murdered by her neighbour.  Although I did find the subject matter very difficult, I saw over all of that and continued to give the book a chance.  It is something outside of the genre I would usually read, but as I read on, I realised that actually, this book deserves to be noted as a fantasy novel rather than a crime one which most people assume it to be.

When you overcome the violence and the graphicness of this novel you will come to realise that it is a beautiful story about a young dead girl coming to terms with her own death and trying to let her living family go.  Until she lets them go in her heart, they cannot stop grieving, she is the key to how much they grieve or not – the more she clings onto the living the less likely they are to heal quickly from their loss of her.

This is a lesson that Susie Salmon is learning throughout the entire novel, as well as realising that her little experience of heaven is only the beginning of what is beyond that mysterious door she keeps seeing.  It is a story about Susie’s observations of the living, including the life of her murderer Mr. Harvey and her adventures in the limbo heaven with other murdered victims.  How they are trying to use their imagination to create a world in which they want to be in, whilst dead.

The mysterious door can only be opened to Susie once she decides to move on and try not to think and worry too much about the living, when the door is opened, she can in effect find peace.  Perhaps she gets reincarnated?  Perhaps she goes to true heaven?  Nobody knows, but it would be lovely to think of it in such terms.  That is why I find the book is beautiful.  Forget the violence; forget the sordidness, just read the book to the end.  It is a treasure; it is in my top ten favourites of all time.  It is very touching and there is justice in this book, though it is very obscure and indirect.

 

 

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Games – Civilisation VI

I always loved my PlayStation 1 when I was a teenager and one of the games I loved to play was Civilisation II, I am so excited to discover that Civilisation has since gone through another three generations which I didn’t know about until just now.  2016 has released Civilisation VI, for both PC and Mac, for me it is a must have.

I love games like these.  I wish they would make a newer version of the game Black & White and perhaps EA Games could work on making Sims 4 as good as Sims 3 instead of taking bits out of it like they have.

As well as loving fantasy, horror, writing and art, I am a huge game buff, as you shall see in the future as I mention various new games I play.

 

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Henry’s take on Dr Strange

My son is getting quite excited about a new movie coming out called ‘Dr Strange’ he is a huge Marvel fan.  I was shocked to discover that Benedict Cumberbatch will be taking the lead role, because I would have thought he’d be too busy for it, but also thrilled at the same time, he is a very talented actor.

He is looking forward to the prospect that other characters from Marvel will be having their own movies in the future that would be suitable for his age; he is six years old.  He wants Elektra, Blade and Dr Octopus.

I will say however, he has never seen Elektra or Blade the current movies, but he knows them from his Trump card collection.  He also knows Elektra from DareDevil the movie, which he watched only last week.

 

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Feather Boy

About ten years ago I watched a lovely fantasy series called “Feather Boy” on the television and I was taken by it completely enough to finally read the book; a book I was lucky to find at a charity shop a few weeks ago; such a beautiful tale about a little boy who is bullied and is then asked by his school to do a project at the local care home, where he had to befriend one of the elder residents.
He gets chosen by a lady called Edith Sorrel; this took the boy (called Robert) by surprise as he is the boy that never gets chosen for anything. Little did Robert know at the time that the reason behind Mrs Sorrel’s request for them to work together on the project was because Robert resembled her long dead son, David!
The story starts off like a mysterious ghost story; there is a mild horror element to it for the age range it’s aimed at (9 to 13yrs) and some very mild swearing. However, the gist of the story was that Mrs Sorrel wanted Robert to visit an old house she knew of thirty years ago; a house that is utterly derelict and has a bad history that gives the local children the heebie jeebies. The true story however was less adventurous and in Robert’s mind, disappointing.
The story teaches a lesson, a lesson that it’s easy to make something out of nothing; easy to misunderstand people and have an overactive imagination. The story is written around an old story about a prince who wouldn’t speak and a great firebird. This story is all about rebirth on many levels, it’s quite a spiritual book, very touching and for the first time in my life I have actually cried at an ending I knew would happen.
So, if you love tales about rebirth, revenge, growing up, courage and phoenixes, this book is very much for you.

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Vlad Dracula III

Since the 2nd January I have been slowly reading a history book with a fine comb called “Dracula, Prince of many faces; his life and his times”. I am reading this because I have never sat down at length and read an autobiography of the real legendary hero of Romania outside of short documentaries, articles and mentions in other history books.
So, because a lot of the things I knew about Vlad Dracula before I read this book seem to come from so many other sources, I feel that they are perhaps more accurate than this book. I know you probably think I am wrong to state that because the person who wrote the book was a historian, though I dispute it nonetheless; on the ground that according to my research the Florescu family were well known to be enemies of the Dracula’s and this book was no less written by Radu Florescu, possibly a descendant from those enemies.
I found the historian to be a sympathiser of the Turks and the Ottoman empire despite his apparent heritage; he also doesn’t view Dracula in the same light as other historians and other sources that I have read and he seems to have altered certain facts of major events within his life to make Dracula come across as an unstable tyrant who was unpopular from the start; quite the contrary to the fact. OK, I grant you it is tyrannical to go around killing people in the manner that he did, but by and large he is a much loved hero in Romanian culture, not something a lot of tyrants can proclaim.
So, it makes me wonder, if a lot of Romanians hold Dracula up in a favourable light, whether or not Dracula was as bad as this historian claims he was?
Obviously taking his executions into account they were evil and sadistic, but then again the same could be said for a lot of other cultures in the world at those times. He especially learned his techniques in every manner from the decade or so he was held prisoner and educated by the Turks themselves, so, he is as he was nurtured and the Turks certainly did nurture him ultimately for their own gain. They wanted money, horses, food and a certain amount of young boys integrated into the Ottoman empire to form part of their expanding armies as a sort of security against any Wallachian response and allowed Dracula to govern Wallachia for them, something of which didn’t last long once Vlad Dracula established himself back on his home soil; Dracula rightfully denied the payment and tried to juggle diplomacy between the Turks and the Hungarians for a long time, though eventually it was decided that the Turks were taking too much advantage of their supposed alliance and Dracula dealt with them promptly and harshly as would any other good ruler of the times.
The attack on German immigrants however, is a new thing that I’ve learned about him from this book. Because it is the first I have heard of these events, I cannot dispute it as a legitimate fact.
Many of the things I have learned about Vlad Dracula have made me feel in awe of his cleverness in these very tricky treaties and wars. He was very canny and wasn’t easily duped.
His reactions against the Turks taking possession of his land was by poisoning everything valuable such as wells and damaging his own crops and livestock; he also built dams to mire the edges of the Danube to protect his people from the canon fire from the Turks and then ensuring that his own people moved to safer places away from the invaders leading up to the famous “night of attack” was a very admirable feat, and showed how benevolent he was towards his people despite claims from German sources; He was also incredibly lucky, as six years before this event he was in a war where only 8000 Romanian peasants armed with only pitchforks and scythes, ousted 24000 Turkish professional troops, how he mustered that I have no idea, but to me it shows me how great he actually was, I am very taken by the history of this great and unappreciated man!
I am not taking for granted that things within this book are fact – due to the other sources I’ve learned from. I cannot vouch for whom or where those other sources came from, but I do know one of them was about the legend of Dracula in both media, fiction and fact in one of Jonathan Ross’s specials where a baroness spoke of how great a hero Vlad Dracula actually was and how rightfully offended she was of various inaccuracies and the fact that this great man was turned into a successful horror story.
Some of the events in Draculas life seems more altered in this book than from the other sources too, for example, the incident where he killed a man’s wife and replaced her – from other sources it was said that she didn’t iron his clothes properly and that he was a soldier in Dracula’s army, this book claims he was a normal peasant and his wife got the length of the shirt wrong – so there are some questions about who is right or not.
I have no formal qualifications in anything of which I am saying, but I have read a lot and watched a lot of documentaries over the years about this great prince; I am also an amateur genealogist. I like reading books about wars and royal classes from the 11th to the 17th century and all over the world not just limited to Europe. I read and study these independently to assist me to write such things accurately in any fiction I write, I write a lot containing feudalism generally in many of my fantasy works.
I also educate myself on all kinds of superstitions around the world and so-called heathen beliefs, to again, make my worlds seem more real. I have studied the social sciences to help me further, though I gave up my undergraduate qualification when I found my illness and having a toddler very difficult to juggle with university studies.
By and large I try hard to learn about all things cultural and I think if you are making worlds that aren’t based on Earth or are based on an earlier time on Earth, you need to do the same thing too, otherwise everything will seem unreal to the reader.

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Peter Pan Review

I finished reading Peter Pan in November 2015 because it is one of the children’s classics I’ve never picked up to read before; I liked it a lot and the characters seem more real, solid and not as passionate in their hatred for one and other like I thought because of various movies.
I was told by a fellow reader of the book that “it is a book about dead children”, though personally I don’t see it; because then you would need to explain to me why Wendy remembered Neverland and grew up and had a grandchild who took her place with Peter in Neverland at the end of the book.
Anyway, there are many things to note about the tale. Peter Pan was more of a bully than a hero in the book, unlike what media portrays and Hook is more of a softy than you are initially told. Perhaps I see this because I am a sympathiser of villains in most books and movies? Though from what I got from the book, Wendy and her brothers were more or less bullied into staying in Neverland for much longer than they wanted, until eventually Wendy put her foot down and went home with her brothers in tow.
I am also surprised at how young Peter Pan is supposed to be in the book, he had all of his milk teeth still, this puts him around three to six years of age, yet it’s a very popular idea that he is between nine and thirteen.
Also, my husband gave me some information about Peter Pan, because I noticed that the dog, Nana, was a Newfoundland in the book, not a St Bernard which again, is a very popular notion in movies – this was apparently popularised by the fact that Walt Disney’s artist for Nana in his Peter Pan adaption didn’t know how to draw Newfoundland’s properly, whether or not this is true or not I have no idea, but it is funny how easily lead society is with new notions, isn’t it?
The closest movie to the book in my opinion is Hook with Robin Williams, because it focuses on the most forgotten aspects of the book; such as the sheer conceitedness of Pan to Hook and how Hook was very noble and proud and despised Pan’s arrogance and the fact that he felt a little guilty fighting him because of the age difference. Then there is the fact that Wendy grew up and Pan reacted badly against her aging and developed a relationship with Moira her granddaughter. I personally think that if J.M Barrie had ever written a sequel to Peter Pan then this movie adaption would be the closest thing to what I think Barrie would have written himself!
I enjoyed the book much better than the movie adaptions out there and I have often thought of my own stories regarding the characters, which I suppose should go into my fan fiction blog, whenever I am ready to set it up.

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The Watch

I do not claim any rights to this image.

What fantasy fan would be complete without venturing into the genres of science fiction, comedy and horror occasionally?
As a Ben Stiller fan, I wasn’t too disappointed with this movie although it’s not his finest moment, but it was very funny nonetheless. Ben Stiller’s character Evan is the solid citizen of a small town in Ohio. Evan worked as the manager of Costco supermarket and one of his employees got murdered mysteriously one night whilst on security duty. Evan being very close to his employees felt that he must do something about it, so he sets up a neighbourhood watch group with which only three other local men became a member (all oddballs in some way or other).
Things turned out pretty strange for Evan and his group members as they accidentally ran something gooey over, they found a strange metallic sphere and took it home with them having no inclination that it was other worldly.
Strange people start entering the groups lives, particularly Bob’s daughters life and things get out of hand – alien sightings happen, more murders and the group becomes more and more determined to make the town safe.
The movie isn’t without its drama and ups and downs despite it being mostly a comedy, foul language rages rampant in this movie with plenty of sexual innuendos, a mass alien shoot up and twists in the plot.
By and large it was a good, if somewhat weird movie that had a very “scary movie” feel to it.

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The Lorax

Not my artwork

I had never read nor watched The Lorax by Dr. Suess until last Sunday (I watched the movie first – shock horror and gasp) and I am surprised I’ve missed such a gem in my childhood.

To be honest, I would of hazard a guess that Dr. Suess had written only about ten stories, but that is not true; I am surprised to discover via goodreads.com that he wrote a great deal more than that and I endeavor to read all he has ever written.

Dr. Suess has the kind of personality that I love. His humor is strange, nonsensical with seemingly illogical plots, though to me they are very logical and has a great understanding of creative children and eccentricity.

I loved the Lorax movie because of the color and the deep meaning behind the plot. I love anything that tries to show humanity the errors of their ways, like Bee Movie; The Lorax has a message for humanity that shows you must never take your natural roots for granted and you must protect, nurture and above all respect nature and the environment for future generations.
I am passionate about the subject behind the movie and you can find out more of what I think about this by following this link.

https://fantasyfed.com/2015/07/22/living-responsibly-2/

Dr. Suess’s worlds are beyond fantasy, they are usually worlds based deep within our consciousness. Dr. Suess takes us behind the reality of humanity in many of his stories, The Lorax being an example of one of those tales.

The artwork within the movie as in the books, are very abstract and I like that.

When I first saw the advertisement of the movie, I was puzzled as to what the storyline could possibly be? When I saw the trees I thought it was something along the lines of a candy-man story, another Willy Wonka of sorts because the trees looked like candyfloss on candy-canes, but it wasn’t. It was an adorable world.

Funny in parts and irritating in others, only in that the irritations are my own personal views of humanity and seeing how The Lorax could someday possibly become a reality, particularly as I have known a child who lived in such a dense urban area, they never ever saw grass and when they were taken to a park they were terrified of the grass and refused to walk on it with their family.

Books and movies like this should be more widely available to the public and written in many different ways; because I think society needs to have it drummed into their minds about just how precious nature is and caring for the environment should be a necessity in everybody’s daily life.

Governments should forget trying to drum into their societies minds about individual peoples lifestyles regarding image and start concentrating on lifestyle issues that affect the world as a whole; Like recycling, sea/ocean clean ups, global warming, over population, city and town expansion etc.

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