Fan Expo 2015: Friday!

Fan Expo Book

Where do I even start? This was my first time going to Fan Expo and it was all pretty spontaneous. I only actually got my tickets the Monday before it was happening and originally planned to only go on Sunday. Then I was looking through the schedule and there was a lot going on on Friday and decided, why not?

And you know what? I’m so freaking glad I went! Friday was pretty much non-stop for me. I took the train in and, since I’d bought my tickets online, I had to go exchange them for wristbands which wasn’t nearly as confusing as I thought it would be as there were tons of signs all pointing to where people needed to go for certain things.

So, skipping all the boring stuff about trying to figure out the map and me getting lost, the first panel I went to was The Boondock Saints panel with Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco.

Sean and David for BlogThis panel was amazing! If any of you have read my review about the first Boondock Saints film then you know I’m a huge fan of these guys so seeing them in person had me completely freaking out (internally of course). The panel lasted for an hour and was better than I could ever have imagined.

Both these guys are hilarious! Rocco (David? That sounds weird to me) sat back for most of it, but when he did talk it was golden with discussions about peanut butter and salad dressing.

Sean was amazing and answered every question genuinely. Also he likes Tim Hortons which, as a Timmy’s addicted Canadian, this made me very happy.Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco 3

They talked about various projects and antics they got up to, Sean talked a bit about his book coming out next year, and it sounds like Boondocks 3 is definitely in the works so I’m incredibly excited about that.

Also at this panel I met the two girls who run boondock_girls on Instagram and you guys should definitely go and check them out!

From there I went to a panel called “Steakpunk 101”. I didn’t actually learn what Steampunk was until recently and I didn’t really understand it at all until I went to this panel. However, I have an idea for a novel that I’ve kind of unintentionally been incorporating Steampunk in to and am glad I now understand it better so things make more sense.

There was a Steampunk vendors booth there and when asked where it was located they told everyone:

“[It’s between the Daleks and the Stormtroopers. Listen for the Daleks, but if you hit the Stormtroopers you’ve gone too far].”

Amazing.

It was a really interesting panel featuring several members from different Steampunk societies and groups and I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot and am looking forward to exploring this topic more for my novel.

After that it was on to another celebrity Q&A, this time with Graham McTavish from The Hobbit and Outlander. Now I’m going to be totally honest and say that I didn’t know he was in Outlander as I haven’t watched. I want to, it definitely looks like a great show and I hear all these great things about it, but I just haven’t had the chance yet.

Graham McTavish 2

That didn’t make any difference to how fantastic this panel was. I’m not sure what I expect to happen in these Q&As, but I definitely don’t expect the actors/actresses to be as funny as they are. He spoke a lot about both The Hobbit and Outlander and the crazy stuff that had happened both on set and off. Two stories in particular stick out in my mind:

After being asked what the most physically demanding scene he’s had to film was, Graham McTavish said that it happened during The Hobbit. In the scene where they’re running from the Wargs in the field they’re loaded down with all this heavy gear and shoes that are too big to add dwarvish proportions, they had to run. For weeks.

Yes, apparently filming this scene went on for weeks and they would run and run as fast as they could in all this gear and these shoes he said felt like flippers and they’d get to the end, feeling like they were dying, and Peter Jackson would go, “Alright, that was great, but can we do it a little faster?”

Everyone died. I feel so bad for the actors having to film this, but that’s absolutely hilarious. The other story also involves Peter Jackson.

Apparently Peter Jackson owns an old tank that he’s restored and Graham and some others were over at his place firing guns and just hanging out (the police had been warned beforehand) when Peter Jackson decided to take the tank for a spin. It started out innocent enough until he started driving it through Wellington!

Graham McTavish 4

Now I tried to picture what this would look like and I couldn’t. I also couldn’t stop laughing. Just imagine being one of the people living in Wellington when this happened and you look out your window to see a massive tank driving down the road at night.

Apparently the police showed up later and Graham McTavish said they seemed kind of bored. I guess this is a regular thing with Peter Jackson which I think is something I should be surprised about, but after all these years of hearing and reading similar stories, I’m not.

After his panel I went to one called “Writers Unite!” Jim Zub, Ray Fawkes, and Charles Soule were the guys running the panel and they basically talked about comic book writing/designing, what that process is like, sending it off to people, making connections, etc.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m a writer of many things (mainly novels). But what some of you may not know is that I’ve been interesting in trying to create a comic/graphic novel/zine or something along one of those lines.

This panel helped me so much and the ideas haven’t stopped flowing. All of three of these guys weren’t originally looking at comic design as a job originally (one of them even went to law school!), but that’s where they are now.

This panel not only helped me with ideas and understanding comic book writing better, but it also really helped me with my novel writing since they talked about not making it right away and the different things they went through. Zub, Fawkes, and Soule were amazing and I highly recommend checking out their twitters which I have listed below with everyone else I talked about in this post!

The last panel I went to on Friday was for James and Oliver Phelps AKA The Weasley Twins!

James and Oliver Phelps 18

Even though I was there at the panel, it didn’t actually hit me until Saturday that I had been in the same room as two of the guys from Harry Potter! It was such a surreal moment.

These two guys are hilarious which definitely makes sense after playing two jokers for so many years (they did the first Harry Potter when they were just 14!). They answered a bunch of questions and told some great stories including one where none of their school friends believed they were in Harry Potter even when the dyed their hair red.James and Oliver Phelps Panel for Blog 1Another was the story of how *spoiler alert* James found out Fred died in the final book. Apparently they were given no heads up and they were actually on a train on holiday somewhere just after the seventh book came out. James was reading the book and got to the part where his character dies! How horrible would that be?!

James and Oliver Phelps Panel for Blog 2

Someone also asked them which death was the hardest in all the films. Hmm, yeah, I wonder? Fred’s of course!

I would love to tell you more about all these panels, but I was a little too in awe and blogging was kind of at the back of my mind. The main thing I kept thinking was “I am mere feet from [this person]” and it was insane.

Of course it wasn’t just panels all day. I wandered around the vendors area in the North building for a while (which was crazy busy and amazing!) and I bought these:

Pop Vinyl and Shot Glass

This is a Connor MacManus Pop Vinyl figure from the Boondock Saints and a Walking Dead shot glass. For anyone who doesn’t know I collect both of these thongs.  So far my shot glass collection has far more to it than my Pop Vinyl collection which really isn’t saying much as I have this Pop figure and a Daryl Dixon one.

I also saw a lot of people in amazing costumes! I saw a lot of anime characters, a lot of Walking Dead characters, many bronys, and so a huge array of others! Including this guy:

Sauron 2

I don’t know how this guy was doing it. I was in a tank top and shorts and I was dying of heat so kudos to this guy for walking around in full Sauron gear.

I didn’t take anymore pictures of cosplayers because it was either too crowded or I was too in awe of what I was seeing and by the time I remember they’d already be gone.

Seriously though, to anyone out there who cosplays, well done. I applaud you. I don’t know how you do it. The amount of time and money that must go into these costumes is crazy and I can’t even believe it. Amazing job.

I had such a great time at Fan Expo on Friday! It was so much greater than I ever could have imagined and I’m so glad I decided to go.

I’ve never blogged about a convention before, but had planning on blogging about the Supernatural convention and decided to practice with Fan Expo! I’m hoping if I go to any conventions next year I’ll have a professional camera and know more about what I’m doing.

I’ll be posting about Sunday soon! Hope anyone who was also at Fan Expo this past weekend had a great time!

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The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, 2014

Battle of the Five ArmiesDecember 17, 2014
Dir. Peter Jackson
Prod. Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Genre: Epic Fantasy Adventure
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Graham Mctavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kercher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Manu Bennett, John Tui, Billy Connolly, Mikael Persbrandt, Stephen Fry, John Bell, Peggy Nesbitt, Mary Nesbitt

****Warning: This post contains MAJOR spoilers for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and The Hobbit book****

This is it. The final Hobbit film. Probably the last film to ever be based on any work by the brilliant J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.

In this final installment of The Hobbit trilogy, loyalties are tested, families divided, and battle fought. We see death, love, and a war of epic proportions, pretty much everything that makes a good Tolkien/Jackson film.

And let me tell you, this was a good film. I actually think of all three films, Battle of the Five Armies might have been my favorite. It’s pretty close with the first one, some days it’s one and some days it’s three, but it’s definitely up there.

This is because of many reasons, the first of which is the special effects. It’s kind of funny because I know special effects (at least in regard to CGI) was something a lot of people hated about it this film, but personally it didn’t bother me.

I really can’t tell the difference between an army made up of thousands of CGI soldiers and an army of thousands of real soldiers. You know, since I’m typically more focused on the main characters and not the extras in the background. But I mean, if the CGI were really bad you would notice so I think it probably says a lot that I pay about as much attention to the armies in The Hobbit as I did in Lord of the Rings.

Besides, I think any displeasure over the use of CGI can pretty much be annihilated over the glorious being called Smaug.

I’ll admit I was kind of disappointed at how little Smaug there actually was in this film. I thought Desolation of Smaug ended in a great place, but it left so much hype for Smaug that the scene in BotFA just didn’t quite meet the mark.

However, the lack of Smaug in film three was not down to Peter Jackson and the rest of the crew, but rather the plot of the book which is something they followed very closely.

This is something I’ve always loved about Jackson’s adaptations. He sticks to, and honours, Tolkien’s story. If you look at other film adaptation like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson the story is there, the ideas are there, but there are so many changes that the emotions readers got from the book isn’t the same.

This is the total opposite of what The Hobbit does. Even when they have to cut scenes for time, Tolkien’s world and voice still shines through.

Of course, not everything is the same. Several characters were added into the films who either weren’t in the book at all or only had small roles. The most notable of these was probably Tauriel, who Jackson added because he said it didn’t feel right to have this huge film come out with now strong females characters in this day and age.

Now I did already talk about Tauriel in my review of Desolation of Smaug and I stand by what I said there, but I did a difference between films two and three that I quite liked. Tauriel is such a badass. Her character is spectacular and Evangeline Lilly did a phenomenal job bringing her to life. But in the second film, this badassery is overshadowed a bit by the love triangle she was thrust into with Kili and Legolas.

While the love triangle is still there, it didn’t feel stifling in the third film. It didn’t overpower or overshadow any of the characters and didn’t stop them from fighting or their lives when the time came. I loved what they did with Tauriel in the third film because she felt much more like the badass female character Jackson had been aiming for and less like an object of desire.

A character I wish we could have seen more of though was Fili. This was actually probably the thing that bugged me the most. They added in a love story, but Fili really didn’t get very much screen time.

Dean O’Gorman is a phenomenal actor (seriously, check out The Almighty Johnsons, it’s great) and we didn’t get to see that much in this film. But only that, but (*Spoiler Alert*) they totally changed his death scene which, in turn, changed Kili’s and Thorin’s.

In the book Kili and Fili die defending their uncle. In BotFA they die totally separately and, while both death scenes were incredibly sad (I cried), I feel like it would have been a lot more powerful if the brother had died together.

That being said, I thought Thorin’s death scene was pretty good. I thought at first it was really lame when Azog just slips off the ice and into the water. First time I saw it I was like, “Are you kidding? All that build up and… what? He just drowns?” But no, it was fine. They brought it back and Thorin’s death ended up being even more emotional than I’d thought it would be.

Overall I felt like Battle of the Five Armies was a great film, but I was a little disappointed (confused) by the ending. I feel like they really left things handing, especially if you haven’t read the book.

Like, now that Thorin, Fili, and Kili are gone, who will rule The Lonely Mountain? What happens to Bard and his children? What about Thranduil? I’ve read the book so I know all these answers, but it just really felt like their were a lot of loose ends when the credits rolled. It just didn’t feel finished.

Honestly though, I did love the film. For all the things I think could’ve been improved, Battle of the Five Armies really was a great movie and I will be watching it over and over and over again.

Have you seen Battle of the Five Armies? What did you think?

Which is your favourite out of the three?

Are you ready to say goodbye to Middle Earth?

 

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The Hobbit Book .vs. The Hobbit Films

The HObbit vsAs a writer, a lover of books, and a lover of films, one of the things I always take special notice of films adapted from books. Sometimes they turn out great, absolutely amazing (see: The Fault in Our Stars)! Other times… well, other times we don’t talk about it.

Today though, we are going to talk about it, it being The Hobbit. I actually really enjoyed The Hobbit films and I absolutely love the book. If I’m being honest, the movies actually made the book more enjoyable for me because I could picture the characters in my head (which is helpful when twelve of the characters are dwarves with similar names!).

But I’m not here to go on about how amazing the book was or how fantastic the films are, those things will be written in my individual reviews of them. I’m here to talk the differences between the films and the book.

Well, the first and probably most obvious difference is that there is ONE book and THREE films. Why? Some people say it was a money grab, that Peter Jackson was just milking the film to be like Lord of the Rings. Personally, I think it’s because Jackson knew it would make a better trilogy than trying to squeeze everything into one, two-hour film. I mean, I can’t even imagine Bilbo leaving the Shire at the start of the film and somehow they pack everything into two hours so that they can reach the Battle at the end. Not possible.

The next difference, and probably one that stands out most in my mind, is Tauriel. She was not in the book at all. Peter Jackson included her because this is the 21st century and you can’t release a major film series that has no strong, female characters. Admittedly, her being a strong, female character was overshadowed a little bit when they stuck her in a love triangle, but hey, more on that when I review the second film.

Tauriel

The barrel scene in the film is also completely different from in the book. In the film we see the dwarves and Bilbo escape in the barrels and drift down the river. In the process Kili gets injured and this leads into a whole new storyline. Does this happen in the books? Well… sort of. They do escape in barrels, but the barrels are sealed and the elves actually deliver them themselves without ever knowing it.

*Slow clap for the Elves of Mirkwood*

Legolas, Elrond, Radagast, and Galadriel are not in the book at all, but all play quite a large role the films. Everyone who’s seen Lord of the Rings knows who Legolas, Elrond, and Galadriel are, but I doubt most people who read The Hobbit were expecting to see them in the films. As for Radagast, he was hardly even mentioned in the books, but played quite a large role in the films.

Finally, Azog is dead in the books. No really. One of the main antagonists of the entire trilogy does not exist in the books.

Whaat

Right? I was so confused when I realized this. Bolg, Azog’s second-in-command is the leader in the book, Azog was killed over a hundred years before the events in the book take place!

Now, these aren’t the only differences between the book and the films, and there are more lists out there just like this one. However, despite these changes, I genuinely enjoyed the book and the films. I like them for different things and in different ways, as I usually do with books and movies, but I still like them nonetheless.

Have you read The Hobbit? Seen the films? What did you think? Was there anything that stuck out in your mind?

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25 Books to Read Before You’re 25

25 BooksI am not 25 (yet) nor am I probably qualified to tell you all you should read these books before you reach 25. But hey, it’s the internet and even if you’re already past 25, you should read these books anyway.

1) Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter

Does this one really need an explanation? It’s Harry Potter, even if you haven’t read the books or seen the films yet, you know what it is. I don’t think it’s possible to go through life anymore without knowing what Harry Potter is. This seven-novel series influenced entire generations and it continues and will continue to do so for decades (probably centuries) to come.

Buy Harry Potter on Amazon


2) Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown Up, Grace Helbig

Grace's Guide

What better way to enter adulthood than with a guide to adulthood? Grace Helbig is exactly the same in writing as she is on Youtube and her guide to pretending to be an adult is exactly what you would expect. It’s witty and funny and totally relatable.

Buy Grace’s Guide on Amazon


3) Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is like the ultimate fantasy series. It combines magic with epic battle sequences and family drama and is unlike anything else I have ever read. I highly recommend starting it as soon as possible, but don’t worry about finishing the series before you’re 25. By the time the final two novels are published, you’ll probably have passed that age already.

Buy Game of Thrones on Amazon


4) The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Hobbit_cover

The Hobbit is one of those books that everyone needs to read. Whether you’re five, fifteen, or twenty-five, The Hobbit is a timeless classic. It is also surprisingly relatable despite the fact that majority of the main characters are dwarves, hobbits, and elves.

Buy The Hobbit on Amazon


5) Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Lord of the Rings

If you read The Hobbit you should probably read Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s trilogy is an adventure pack series that, if anything like The Hobbit, you’ll be sure to enjoy.

Buy Lord of the Rings on Amazon


6) F*ck! I’m in My Twenties, Emma Koenig

Fck Im in my Twenties

Similar to Grace’s Guide, Emma Koenig created a relatable guide to getting through adulthood. The perfect book for anyone entering their twenties, F*ck! I’m in My Twenties perfectly encompasses all the emotions and happenings of being a new adult.

Buy F*ck! I’m in My Twenties on Amazon


7) Chicken Soup for the Soul, Various Authors

Chicken Soup for the Sul

They have Chicken Soup books for everything: kids, teens, parents, certain careers, and even pets (which is great cause my dog loves to read). The stories in these books all come from real people which makes them easy to relate to and probably some of the best books to read as you start your journey as a real life adult.


8) Anything by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult

I could probably fill four or five spots on this list with books by Jodi Picoult. She is an amazing author and her books are great reads even for people who may not read much outside a certain genre. They deal with real people with real issues and you won’t be able to put the book down until you’ve reached the very last page.


9) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This coming-of-age novel should be a mandatory read for all high school students. It is probably one of the most realistic portrayals of what it’s like to be a teenager. The main character, Charlie, deals with friends, bullies, family, suicide, depression, drugs, and so much more. Through a series of letters he describes his first year of high school in a way that you sit back and go, “Hey, yeah, I get that. That happened.”

Buy The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Amazon


10) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great Gatsby

Most have you probably read/will probably read this book at some point as I’m pretty certain it’s a mandatory read in most schools. As it rightfully should be, though you probably won’t enjoy it very much because it’s assigned reading. Gatsby has a lot of messages and meanings behind it, including how a person can be lonely and miserable even if they have almost everything they could ever want.

Buy The Great Gatsby on Amazon


11) Matilda, Roald Dahl

Matilda

It’s a book about a little girl who loves to read and finds solace in books. Need I say more? Read it as a child, a teen, an adult, and then read it to your own kids. Whatever you do, read Matilda.

Buy Matilda on Amazon


12) Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s novel is a like The Hobbit, a timeless classic. It is a novel that can be read by anyone of any age and enjoyed just the same (though some of the stuff will probably go over the heads of kids). Carroll wrote a book that is comprised of colourful characters and fun songs that will have you reading cover to cover.

Buy Alice in Wonderland on Amazon


13) Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet

This is another one you’ll probably read in school and again, because it’s required reading you probably won’t enjoy it. So, once you’re done school read it again. Before you enter your twenties and start thinking logically about the whole situation, read it while you can still romanticize it and enjoy it without the boundaries of reality. Plus, it’s Shakespeare, you need to read Shakespeare at some point in your life.

Buy Romeo and Juliet on Amazon


14) Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Grimm Brothers

Grimms Faitytales

Everyone loves a good fairytale, right? I don’t think I know a single person who hasn’t read/seen at least one. But what about the older, more gruesome versions of the stories? Well if you want those, look no further than the Grimm Brothers book. You read the ones with happy endings as a child, now as teen/young adult, read the versions with not-so-happy endings. You’ll probably enjoy those just as much, if not more, than the cheerful ones.

Buy Grimms’ Fairy Tales on Amazon


15) The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye

There are two strong reasons as to why you should read this book. First, reading it as a teen or young adult instead of waiting until later in life will allow you to understand Holden Caulfield and all the things he talks about and deals with. Second, it’s a banned book and what better book to read than one people really don’t want you to?

Buy The Catcher in the Rye on Amazon


16) Keeping You a Secret, Julie Anne Peters

Keeping You a Secret

It’s 2015, do you know what that means? Not every couple comprises of one man and one woman. Keeping You a Secret is a very real portrayal of two girls, one who is out and confident and the other who has no idea who she is, trying to find a place in the world together despite everything that’s against them. This novel is a great coming-of-age read for anyone trying to find exactly that.

Buy Keeping You a Secret on Amazon


17) A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

Series of Unfortante Envets

Snicket deals with some pretty horrific situations in his 13-novel series, but he manages to do so in a way that keeps it humorous while still making you think about things. His writing style is so unique and you will be laughing out loud as you read and learn alongside the Baudelaires.

Buy A Series of Unfortunate Events on Amazon


18) The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

John Green is kind of like Jodi Picoult in the sense that I could fill several spots on this list with his novels. While he is known as being an author of Young Adult novels, his books aren’t just for young adults. If you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars yet go get it and read it now. Stop reading this blog post and go get the book. Go.

Buy The Fault in Our Stars on Amazon


19) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

A classic. The story about Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth’s crazy family is one that, whether you’ve read the book or seen the film, you most likely know what it is. Before you reach the age where your whole life becomes consumed with real life issues, take the time to sit down and read about one of the greatest romances written.

Buy Pride and Prejudice on Amazon


20) Inkheart Trilogy, Cornelia Funke

Inkheart

Inkheart is essentially three books written about books and it is wonderful. There is a book the characters read called “Inkheart” inside the book you’re reading called Inkheart. Not going to lie, that messed with my head a bit the first time I read it. The book also has quotes from other books and authors at the start of the chapters and it was definitely one of my favourite parts.

Buy Inkheart on Amazon


21) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne

Theboyinthestripedpyjamas

This is one of the most powerful books I think probably exists out there. Talking about the holocaust from a child’s point of view was a risky move, one that had people talking which is exactly why people need to read this. The best sort of books are the ones that leave people talking after they’ve put it down, and that exactly what The Boy in the Striped Pajamas does.

Buy The Boy in the Striped Pajamas on Amazon


22) We All Fall Down, Eric Walters

We All Fall Down

A book that detail the events of 9/11, We All Fall Down is an important read for any and all middle and high schoolers. It is the sort of book that, like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, deals with a serious and difficult issue in a way that makes younger generations understand the gravity of the situation without scaring the living daylights out of them.

Buy We All Fall Down on Amazon


23) Save the Humans, Rob Stewart

Save the Humans

Technically this falls under the category ‘biography’, but this is such a good and important read that I felt it deserved it’s own spot on the list. Rob Stewart is a long-time environmental activist, speaking out especially against shark finning. He has directed two films on environmental issues and his book goes into even greater detail about why all of this is so important. Basically, if the oceans die, people die. Everyone should read this book, but I’m including it on this list because it’s especially important for young people to read things like this as they’re the ones that are going to fix things.

Buy Save the Humans on Amazon


24) Anything by Lurlene McDaniel

Lurlene McDaniel

Lurlene McDaniel is kind of like Jodi Picoult except her books are more aimed at kids and teens rather than adults. Dealing with the same sort of issues as Picoult does, McDaniel’s books are fantastic reads. It explains so-called “adult situation” in a way younger people can understand with dumbing it down so much that they feel stupid.


25) Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

Twilightbook

I debated a lot about including this on the list and was actually slightly worried I’d be smited for putting it on here. But you know what? You take a moment to forget the teen obsession, forget the faces of the actors playing the characters, forget the fanfiction that followed. Twilight was actually a pretty good series. It gets a lot of flak, but I read it before it was the best thing since sliced bread and before there were shirts with “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” written on them and you know what? I’m really glad I read this and I think you should read it too.

Buy Twilight on Amazon

But why you should read these before you’re 25? Why not 30? Or 35?

Well first of all I couldn’t think of 30 books along with reasons to go with them. And second these books have already had such an impact on my life whether it was because they’re relatable or it was just because the story was enjoyable. Either way, I highly recommend the books on this list. There are so many others too that I almost included, but maybe I’ll save those for future posts.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a book you would recommend reading before 25? Or any age for that matter?

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The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, 2013

Desolation of Smaug

2 December 2013
Dir. Peter Jackson
Prod. Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Genre: Epic Fantasy Adventure
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Manu Bennett, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbath, John Bell, Cate Blanchett, Peggy Nesbitt, Mary Nesbitt.

Desolation of Smaug. You just know that any movie title with the word ‘desolation’ in it isn’t going to end well. In this film we see that a year has passed since Bilbo left the Shire and I think it’s also fair to say that he’s enjoying the adcewnture much more than he did before. He and the dwarves are closer than even to reaching the Lonely Monutain, but it seems that the closer they get the moren dangerous things get.

Arriving at Beorn’s house, traveling through Mirkwood and ending up locked in King Thranduil’s dungeons, arriving in Laketown via fish barrels, and finally, a showdown with Smaug himself. This entirely film is chalked full of intense moments and amazing (and funny) action sequences.

I really enjoyed the Desolation of Smaug. A lot of people I spoke to said they didn’t enjoy it as much as the first or third one and honestly I wasn’t really surprised by that. Not because it isn’t as good, but because the first film in a trilogy you’re excited at the newness of the adventure and what might happen. Then in the third you have the epic final battle and “oh my goodness who will live and who will die?”. Most of the time in trilogies the second film pretty much just consists of getting from Point A to Point B.

It’s like driving to Disney World. The first hour is great cause “Holy crap you’re going to Disney World!” Then after that it’s just a constant stream of “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Then you get there and you’re all excited again cause DISNEY WORLD.

But yes, personally, I enjoyed the second film. I’ve seen the extended version of the film multiple times (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it as it contains a lot of scenes that were in the book). One of the cut scenes is a longer look at Beorn’s house, which is already awesome in itself because everything is so ginormous compared to the dwarves. But then in the uncut version we see the dwarves introducing themselves to Beorn and it is probably one of the funniest parts of the film.

I really loved the scene with the dwarves in Thranduil’s kingdom. From the first time I saw Lord of the Rings I loved the elves. How can you not? Thranduil is such a great character and he plays great opposite Thorin. Lee Pace does an amazing job with this character and it’s not an easy one to play. Playing an elf must be intimidating enough. You have to look regal and beautiful and perfect. Now play the King who is all of those things at the same time as being both caring and cold and so many other things all at once. Somehow Lee Pace managed this. We also get to see Legolas in his pre-Lord of the Rings years in this film which was amazing.

Before I go any further, I would just like to wish a very Happy Birthday to Lee Pace (March 25)!

Lee Pace

Also in this scene we meet Tauriel (Lilly), a character not originally in the book. Peter Jackson brought this character into the films because there are no strong, lead females in the book and Jackson knew he couldn’t send a film to theatres in the 21st century like that. I have a love/hate relationship with this character.

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On one hand, I love how badass she is. She’s strong and tough and rescues the dwarves on more than one occasion, easily proving herself though she really has nothing to prove. On the other hand I found it incredibly frustrating that they introduced this character and then gave her the plot line of a love triangle. It’s hard to hate even this though because she and Kili are so adorable (Confession: I ship Kiliel so much). But while I love their relationship and think they’re adorable, I feel it kind of lessened the character by giving her a love triangle when it really wasn’t necessary.

Laketown. What can I say about Laketown? This whole sequence was amazing. The set they built, the Laketown song (which you can hear in the video below), and the characters introduced here were great. The set was phenomenal, I can’t even imagine how long that took to build. The song was my favourite piece out of the whole movie, possibly the whole trilogy if you don’t include Billy Boyd’s song in Battle of the Five Armies. As for the characters, we finally meet Bard (Evans) and his three children (played by John Bell, Peggy Nesbitt, and Mary Nesbitt).

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Finally, Smaug (Cumberbatch). I don’t know what I was expecting Smaug to be like when I first saw the film, but the animators definitely blew me away with their work. Smaug is huge and if I didn’t know any better I almost would have believed they had actually found a dragon to play opposite the actors. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the dragon and did a great job in his role. Thankfully he didn’t have to say the word ‘penguins’ in this film.

There’s so much more I could talk about, but it’s currently 12:30am (I was a little behind writing this one) and I don’t want to be here forever and I doubt any of you want to be here forever either! Or maybe you do, which is cool, I don’t mind. Maybe I’ll talk about my favourite parts of the whole trilogy in more detail one day after I review the third film, would anyone like that?

Well, until that day comes, I want to know what you think!

Did you enjoy Desolation of Smaug? What was your favourite part?

 

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2012

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December 14, 2012
Dir. Peter Jackson
Prod. Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Genre: Epic Fantasy Adventure
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Andy Serkis, Manu Bennett, Barry Humphries, Elijah Wood

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘hobbit’?

Personally, I think of this:

And apparently when Gandalf thinks of hobbits, he thinks they’re the best companion to take on a dangerous adventure. In the first film in the prequel trilogy to The Lord of the Rings, we are introduced to Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (McKellen), and thirteen dwarves (Armitage, McTavish, Stott, Turner, O’Gorman, Hadlow, Brophy, Brown, Callen, Hambleton, Kircher, Nesbitt, Hunter). The film follows this company of fifteen as they battle various enemies on their way to reclaim the dwarves home in the mountain of Erebor which has been taken from them by the dragon, Smaug.

In most films, having fifteen characters front and centre majority of the time wouldn’t end well. Things would become too muddled and confusing. However, in the case of Peter Jackson’s, The Hobbit, each of the characters is so individualized that it actually isn’t too difficult telling them apart. The hair, makeup, and costume departs truly had their work cut out for them with this film and they far exceeded any and all expectations. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the cast and crew to have to get ready each day.

Of course, this wouldn’t be The Hobbit without some of Tolkien’s wonderful music. One of the things that sticks out in the books is the songs, three of which Jackson incorporated into this first film: “Blunt the Knives”, “Misty Mountains”, and “The Goblin King’s Song”. These three songs all have such different feels to them and the inclusion of them definitely enhanced the film in a way that couldn’t have been done if the music hadn’t been there. An extended version of “Misty Mountains” can be heard during the end credits, performed by Neil Finn. I also can’t really talk about the music in The Hobbit without mentioning the score. There are some familiar melodies in there that anyone who has seen Lord of the Rings will recognize, but there are also some others that are brand new. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was scored by Howard Shore, who also did all three Lord of the Rings films.

Now, there wouldn’t be much of a film without actors. The casting for this film must have taken so long, what with there being so many important roles. However, whether we look at the dwarves, the orcs, or the hobbit himself, the casting in this film was spot on. Martin Freeman is a phenomenal actor and in the role of Bilbo Baggins he truly does a marvelous job. There really is no one else I could picture playing this character. Ian McKellen, of course, came back to play Gandalf the Grey and he is just as amazing this time around as he was in The Lord of the Rings. While the hair and makeup department played a huge role in making the dwarves distinguishable from one another, it really was up to the actors to make their characters memorable and each one succeed. Richard Armitage, who plays dwarf leader, Thorin Oakenshield, particularly did a fantastic job at portraying a character who is both caring of his people and who is ready to kill some orcs at any time.

As someone who is a fan of the book, I will admit that I was worried, despite how good Lord of the Rings is, that The Hobbit would fail to meet expectations. However, it did the complete opposite and far exceeded any and all expectations. Peter Jackson once again brought a marvelous story to life and, while keeping to Tolkien’s original image, managed to add his flair to the tale.

Have you seen The Hobbit? What did you think?

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Top Five Reads of 2014

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to read in 2014. Between school and then work and life in general, I really didn’t read as much as I wish I could have and I’ll definitely be making sure to read a lot more this year! Nonetheless, here are my top five reads of 2014 (not in any specific order)!

1) The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

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I am a huge fan of Tolkien and I am so happy I was finally able to read this book from cover to cover this year. I would always start it, get about half way through, and then have to stop so I could read something for school. But this year I was determined to read it and I was so thankful I did. It is an absolutely amazing book and I enjoyed it immensely.

Full Review of The Hobbit Here

Buy The Hobbit on Amazon

2) A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket

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I’ve read this book multiple times and actually made my way through most of the series. I made it up to book ten and then didn’t have the chance to read the last four. I decided to start the series over and am glad I did as I am enjoying the books just as much as I did the first time.

Full Review Coming Soon

Buy A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning on Amazon

3) Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

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I read this one twice this year for school. I love Alice in Wonderland, whether it’s the novel or the films or anything else. It’s a great story that is enjoyable no matter who you are.

Full Review of Alice in Wonderland Here

Buy Alice in Wonderland on Amazon

4) Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

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Like Alice, this was read for class. Also like Alice, I love this story and have read it several times, previous to the three I did for class. Full of poems and songs and stories, Through the Looking Glass is truly a magical read.

Full Review Coming Soon

Buy Through the Looking Glass on Amazon

5) The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

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I absolutely loved this book! I read it twice this year and can tell it’s going to become one of my annual reads. John Green wrote a true masterpiece here that can be enjoyed by anyone, young adult or not.

Full Review of The Fault in Our Stars Here

Buy The Fault in Our Stars on Amazon

What were your top reads of 2014?

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