Friday Favorites

Whoohoo! It’s Friday! I never used to understand why people loved Friday so much. But now that I’ve been working a Monday-Friday office job for nearly a year, I really get it. Friday is the best. Which is why I reserve Fridays for talking about my favorite things!

This week, I’m going to be taking a little look back on 2017 to talk about the year in music. More specifically, my favorite songs of 2017.

I decided it is impossible for me to actually rank them because I like them all so much. So, this list of my top 17 songs of 2017 is just in numerical order, rather than the order I like the songs in.

Shape of You – Ed Sheeran

I’m not the biggest Ed Sheeran fan out there. There are even a few songs that I will change the station on if I’m listening to the radio.  In fact, there are only two songs of his that I actually go out of my way to listen to (by putting them on a playlist). Shape of You and Galway Girl are those two songs. This song is just so damn catchy. I wasn’t sold on it at first, but after a few listens, I was hooked.

Swalla – Jason Derulo (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)

Unlike Ed Sheeran, I am a pretty big fan of Jason Derulo. His songs are provocative and a bit racy. They are awesome for dancing, or as a workout playlist. Swalla is no different. Plus the inclusion of the Generous Queen, Nicki Minaj? Oh yeah.

Tip Toe – Jason Derulo (feat. French Montana)

I know, I know, another Jason Derulo? Hell yeah! Listen to this song and tell me it doesn’t make you want to dance. The mister sent me this song one day in either October or November and I’ve probably listened to it once a day or so since. Love it.

Thunder – Imagine Dragons

I only discovered Imagine Dragons with their song Sucker for Pain on the Suicide Squad album. I mean, I’d heard their songs before that, but that was the first one that made me actually learn their name. Now I can add a few more songs to the list of Imagine Dragon songs that speak to me. Thunder resonates with me. I guess it’s because as a teen my biggest dream was to be a musician. I was actually well on my way too. But life happens. It’s nice to live vicariously every now and then through a band that gets that incredible feeling.

Believer – Imagine Dragons

My favorite 1 of ’17 would not be complete without this one from Imagine Dragons. Believer crushes it. It is raw and real in a way few songs manage these days. I can put this on repeat while I’m drawing and just lose myself in it.

Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay

When I first heard this song in its entirety, I almost cried. Like many, music touches me emotionally. Songs that I love hit me on a level that makes me feel. This song…it’s the way I see the relationship between me and the mister. I know that a lot of times he doesn’t feel like anything special. He’s not a superhero. But he is to me. All my life, all I wanted was something just like what we have. Something just like this.

Chained to the Rhythm – Katy Perry

I love Katy Perry. Serious girl crush going on over here. But her newest album, Witness? Meh. I just can’t get into it. I mean, the songs aren’t exactly bad, but they just didn’t resonate with me the way some of her songs have in the past. All except for Chained to the Rhythm. The irony of putting a song on repeat that talks about putting a song on repeat….

How Long – Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth is another one of those artists that have very, very few songs that I truly like. At least he’s outranked Ed Sheehan with three songs that have made my playlists. I mean, who does not love Marvin Gaye with him and Meghan Trainor? Don’t answer that, because I don’t want to know. Attention is another good one, but my favorite from him this year is How Long. The idea behind the song is just awful, but it has a great beat, and watching him dance in the video is awesome. He looks far too happy to be in so much trouble.

No Frauds – Nicki Minaj (feat. Drake & Lil Wayne)

YAS QUEEN! I can’t believe there was a time (a long time ago, granted) that I didn’t like Nicki Minaj. Then again, I’d never actually listened to her music. I just brushed her off as another rap artist, and since “I don’t like rap”, I didn’t like her. Okay, so I’ve grown out of the whole “I don’t like rap” thing. I don’t like all rap, but then, I don’t like all pop. I don’t like all country. I don’t like all jazz. But there are certain artists in every genre that just slay every time they are in front of a mic. I’m sure you’ve noticed she’s been featured in a few of the other songs on this list, and she probably lends a good bit to why I like those songs so much. No Frauds though…fucking savage. Love it.

Friday

…Are You Ready For It? – Taylor Swift

So we go from that baddest of bitches, Nicki Minah, to Tay-tay. I’m not even going to say that her music is a guilty pleasure. No guilt here. I’ve loved Taylor Swift since she was exclusively on country stations. Her new album? Unlike Katy Perry’s, Taylor’s new album Reputation is killer. It feels like she’s finally grown up and feeling her power and that really comes across in a lot of the new songs on that album. …Are You Ready For It has an awesome beat and seriously kicks ass.

Side to Side – Ariana Grande (feat. Nicki Minaj)

Damn this song is hot. Who doesn’t want a lover that makes you walk like that? Hahaha. This is definitely a not safe for work type of song. And not because of the picture Ariana Grande paints with her lyrics. When you find yourself wondering if Nicki seriously just said something about a dick bicycle? Yes. Yes, she did.

New Rules – Dua Lipa

We’ve all had that boyfriend that kept reeling us back in even when we swore it was over, right? I know I have. This song speaks to that feeling. There is nothing that hits harder in this song than the lyrics “and if you’re under him, you ain’t getting over him.” DAMN RIGHT.

Bad Liar – Selena Gomez

This is a new favorite. Just like New Rules hits that old feeling of when you’re trying to leave, this one reminds me of those initial feelings you get in a new relationship. Selena Gomez has an amazing voice, and this particular song showcases it beautifully.

Havana – Camila Cabello (feat. Young Thug)

Okay, aside from this song being incredible, you have to watch the video. It is hilarious! I loved the song, but when I saw the video, I laughed so hard. It’s difficult to listen to it in the car though. While the mister likes the song too, he always chimes in with “Banana-na-na-na.”

Feels – Calvin Harris (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, & Big Sean)

This is such a summer song. The first time I heard it was in December. Something about it reminds me of cruising down the highway with the AC cranked, just going on a road trip with my mister. This is the kind of song that makes me dance in the driver’s seat while the mister and I sing to each other.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things – Taylor Swift

Savage AF. I loved just about every song on the Reputation album ( I actually bought the whole album on iTunes!) but this one is probably my favorite one out of all of them. We all know who she’s talking about.

Happy People – Little Big Town

I dare you to listen to this song and not agree. It’s incredibly simple, but so true. This song was my theme song of 2017. I wanted to be happier in 2017 and so I made my own happiness.

2017 was a great year for music. There were a ton of great songs, and not all of my favorites made this list. I only had room for 17 after all! I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for music.

 

Friday Favorites

Tonight, the mister and I are going to do something fun. We’re heading up to Denver for  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in concert with the Colorado Symphony!

Harry Potter

#PuffPride #Hufflepuff4life

Can you tell that I’m just a little bit excited? We’ve had tickets for this for months. We got great seats too! So in honor of going to watch one of my favorite movies with a live symphony, I’ve decided to devote this week’s Friday Favorites to my favorite Harry Potter characters.

Harry Potter

5. Fleur Delacour

Harry Potter

Fleur Delacour via Pottermore

“What do I care how ‘e looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk! All these scars show is zat my husband is brave!” ― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I have to admit, for a long time I had a severe dislike for Fleur. I thought she was vain and snobbish. The mister and I were talking about side characters one day and we got into a conversation about Fleur. He insisted that there was more to her than I was giving credit to, and after going back to reread the books, I realized that he was right.

If you’ve never read the books, you might not understand that Fleur wasn’t the only girl among the Triwizard Champions because she came from an all-girl school. Beaubatons and Durmstrang were both co-ed schools. So, just as Cedric was chosen over all of the boys and girls at Hogwarts, so Fleur and Viktor were chosen.

In the later books, she showed just how worthy she was of being chosen, through her skill and bravery. When Bill was disfigured, she proved her devotion and loyalty and when I read through that part, Molly wasn’t the only one who was moved! After taking a closer look at Fleur, she became one of my favorite characters.

4. Minerva McGonagall

Harry Potter

Minerva McGonagall via Pottermore

“… Harry witnessed Professor McGonagall walking right past Peeves, who was determinedly loosening a crystal chandelier, and could have sworn he heard her tell the poltergeist out of the corner of her mouth, ‘It unscrews the other way.’”  ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Let’s talk about the badass that is Professor Minerva McGonagall. In Order of the Phoenix, she not only stood up to Umbridge and made things difficult for her, she also took four stunning spells to the chest. And survived! This one is prickly, strict, kind, smart, strong, and well, she’s pretty damn amazing.

3. Neville Longbottom

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Neville Longbottom via Pottermore

“Well, my gran brought me up and she’s a witch… but the family thought I was all Muggle for ages.”  – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

“I’ll join you when Hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort’s Silencing Charms seemed unable to hold.” ― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I loved Neville Longbottom from the moment he first lost his toad until he proved to be a total BAMF in Deathly Hallows. The fact that he could have been the chosen one, and that his story arcs in similar ways to Harry’s is an important part of the books that a lot of people overlook. This poor, shy boy whose parents suffered horribly at the hands of Voldemort’s followers is easily one of the most engaging and relatable characters for me.

2. Fred and George Weasley

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Fred and George Weasley via Pottermore

“You haven’t got a letter on yours,” George observed. “I suppose she thinks you don’t forget your name. But we’re not stupid-we know we’re called Gred and Forge.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Who doesn’t love Gred and Forge? I mean Fred and George. This two wise-cracking, joke playing twins are such a wonderful addition to the series. They are irreverent and even in the darkest moments of the series they were able to infuse tense situations with levity. As a device for humor, J.K. was at her best when she developed Fred and George.

1. Ron Weasley

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Ron Weasley via Pottermore

“Rubbish,” said Hermione. “You’ve read his books — look at all those amazing things he’s done —”  “He says he’s done,” Ron muttered. —J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Ron Weasley is the unsung hero of the entire series. From day one on the train until the very last page, he is Harry’s greatest support. He is a partner in crime, and while some might say he is just a sidekick, that’s the whole point to him! Everyone has worth, whether they are “the chosen one”, the “smartest witch of her age”, or the sixth son in a family of seven children. For me, Ron is the most well-rounded character in the series. He isn’t the smartest, he isn’t the bravest, he isn’t the most loyal, he isn’t the best Quidditch player, he isn’t the funniest guy in school (though he is pretty funny). But of all the characters in the series, he is the most real.

His struggles with feeling overlooked, unheard, unimportant…these are things that real people struggle with on a daily basis. That he is able to face them and come to terms with them makes him a real hero for me.

Here are just a few other things about Ron that put it into better words than I can!

Why Weasley is Our King

The chapter that made us fall in love with… Ron Weasley

What about Harry Potter?

Well, there wouldn’t be a series without a Harry Potter, right? But despite the series being about Harry in general, Harry isn’t really my favorite character. Don’t get me wrong, I love Harry. Especially when he’s being sassy Harry:

Harry Potter

But for me, the series is not just about Harry Potter. It’s an entire world, with a wide, diverse range of characters to relate to aside from the hero of the story.

Harry Potter

Who is your favorite Harry Potter character? Let me know in the comments!


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s right, the holidays are upon us! In just a few short weeks, we’ll be tearing into presents, lamenting the fact that we have to spend time with people who love us, judge us, and drive us insane, and eating far too many cookies for our own good. So what does that have to do with my Friday Favorites? I thought today, I might make a list of my all-time favorite holiday music.

holiday music

Holiday music huh?

Now, before you get on my case about not saying Christmas songs, I don’t have any issue with saying Merry Christmas, but I also don’t have a problem with any other holiday that people celebrate this time of year.

Personally, I’m all for celebrating the winter solstice, but since my family celebrates Christmas, I spend time with them and give them gifts because I love them. Most of the songs on my list have to do with Christmas, but some of them are just about winter in general. I consider them holiday songs, so that’s what I call them.

Music is Life

I really love holiday music. To me, it’s all about being festive and nostalgic. It awakens warm fuzzy feelings from when my son was small and still believed in Santa. It reminds me of cold, snowy Christmas eve’s as a kid, having hot chocolate and waiting for Santa (aka my orthodontist) to stop by with candy canes and tell us to be good and get to bed before he came back with our presents.

I REFUSE to listen to a single note of holiday music before December 1st. However, as soon as December arrives, you bet I’m listening to it. A lot.

The following ten songs can be found on my holiday playlist to be listened to while I wrap presents, draw, work, take a shower, or anything else I might do while listening to music. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

10. White Christmas

Oh, the feels! I was a bizarre child. I had a thing for Bing Crosby. Despite the fact that most of his movies were older than my mom, I loved to watch them. And his voice, so wow, much swoon. I really love the Drifter’s version of this song as well, but this song just says childhood to me.

9. Winter Wonderland

While any version of this song is okay by me, Amy Grant’s rendition is my favorite. I can’t even tell you why. I don’t even like Amy Grant. But I love the way she sings this song. This one has been a favorite since I was a kid. I learned the words and tune when I was about 10 years old and I’ve been singing it throughout the winter ever since.

8. Silver Bells

Yes, another rendition by good ol’ Bing. I can’t resist that crooner. But it’s not just Mr. Crosby that makes this song so good. Carol Richards lends her voice to this one and makes it that much richer in harmony. This will always be one of my favorites.

7.  White Wine in the Sun

As the heathen I am, Tim Minchin is one of my favorite comedians. And this song, though not exactly a funny song, gets me right in the feels. This, to me, is exactly what Christmas is about. When you aren’t religious, it’s still a wonderful time to celebrate and enjoy those you love.

6.  Santa Baby

Eartha Kitt’s purr is just perfect for this song. I’ve never heard anyone quite match it. It’s such a sassy song, and I’m all about sassy. This song always lifts my spirits.

5. Carol of the Bells

The first time I heard this song was when I watched Home Alone. I immediately fell in love with it, and I’ve enjoyed listening to it ever since. I’ve never actually heard a bad version of it. But this one by Lindsey Stirling just blows me away. She’s amazing.

4. Baby, It’s Cold Outside

There is a lot of controversy these days over this song, and I just don’t get it. I hear this song and think winter romance. It has been and will remain toward the top of my list of favorite holiday songs. This version by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer is the best I have found. I enjoy the classic sound.

3. Good King Wenceslas

This song is such an excellent reminder of why it is important to be charitable not just at this time of year, but always. This rendition by Blackmore’s Night suits the song so well, giving it a slightly medieval flare. So pretty!

2. The Christmas Song

Who doesn’t love this song? It’s so…Christmas! And the classic, smooth voice of Nat King Cole? I just have no words for how much I love this song. It’s everything a Christmas song should be. I actually didn’t like this song at all when I was younger. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I found an appreciation for it, and now I can’t imagine having it missing from my holiday playlist.

1. Feliz Navidad

Surprised? I know, it seems a strange choice for my number one favorite holiday song of all-time. But I cannot listen to this song without getting happy and in a festive mood. It’s the Gangnam Style of holiday music. I have to dance along with it whenever I hear it. So, thank you to Jose’ Feliciano for such a fantastic number. It’s catchy, it’s easy to learn, and I challenge you to not tap your toes when you listen to it. Go on. I’ll wait.

goodluck

What is your favorite holiday/Christmas song? Share it in the comments! And remember, if you need help getting past all those Christmas cookies, you can check out my Holiday Survival Guide.


Daily Dose of Music

There’s more? Yep! From now until December 26th, you can expect a new holiday song in this section.

Friday Favorites

It’s Black Friday, which for most people means they are out storming the stores. Luckily, I have most of my Christmas shopping already completed. So that means I get to stay home, relax, go get my nails done around noon, and then come home and play games for the rest of the day. Maybe we’ll even pop in one of my all-time favorite movies!

Since I talked about books last week I decided to make a return to movies this week. But instead of discussing series, I thought I would take a look at stand-alone movies. A few might be part of series or franchise, but you could watch any one of them and not be confused by their plot on its own.

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Special Mentions: Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

These two movies are both fantastic, but they do not make my list of favorites. Instead, they are the mister’s all-time favorite movies. He couldn’t decide between them. I love that my husband enjoys musicals as much as I do!

A great many songs on our playlists come from movies that we both enjoy. And yes, we have songs from both of these soundtracks. Favorite songs from these include Time Warp and Dentist!

5. Moana

Favorite Movies

This movie also made my list of movies we saw in 2016. It is a fantastically made tale of a Polynesian princess who must return the stolen heart of a goddess in order to save her people. I’ve noticed that there is a shift lately. A lot of movies coming out are relying more on their story than a forced love story. This is SO encouraging. So many of the love stories out there feel contrived. Not having a romance in this movie made it that much more enjoyable. Other movies that have done this lately are Thor: Ragnarok and Sing. If you really think about it, it is very difficult to find a movie out there that doesn’t have some kind of romance angle.

Moana doesn’t just make me happy with its lack of a romance. Its visuals are stunning, and the music. Oh, the music! Some of the best songs from a Disney movie I’ve ever heard.

4. The Princess Bride

Favorite Movies

Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride? Seriously, tell me, because I’ve never met anyone who didn’t. We recently went to see this movie in the theater for its 30th Anniversary. Damn does that make me feel old. I remember when it came out in theaters the first time!

It was so neat to watch it on the big screen with a bunch of other people who could recite it line for line. You know we were all chanting along to “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya..”

True love, sword fights, giants, betrayal, miracles, and RoUS’s. What more could you want in a movie?

3.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Favorite Movies

Another movie from the 2016 list. What can I say? 2016 was a great year for movies! You all know by now that I have an obsession with the Harry Potter universe. So it goes without saying that I would want to see Fantastic Beasts. What I didn’t expect was to have it become one of my favorite movies ever. I know that it will eventually be a part of a series, but for the moment, it remains a stand-alone movie, so I don’t mind including it here.

The scenes in the suitcase where you get to see all the animals are just amazing, and  Jacob is such a sweet, and tragic figure. I always cry my eyes out during the umbrella scene!

2. Wonder Woman

Favorite Movies

OMG. Wonder Woman. This movie took my breath away! It very nearly displaced my all-time favorite movie. The only thing keeping my number one in its spot is nostalgia, I think. Because this movie just crushed it. And to see Robin Wright (from Princess Bride above) again was really cool. I loved that they put in an easter egg regarding Chief. Look it up! This movie renewed my love of comic book movies and made me excited for Justice League. I really hope she gets a sequel.

1. The Fifth Element

Favorite Movies

I can’t believe this movie turned 20 this year. I watch it a lot, and it has held up really well over the years. A space epic set in a future where we finally have flying cars, but also immense amounts of pollution and incredibly tall buildings, the story follows a retired military man who is pulled back into service to save the world by rescuing a set of stones. The cast is phenomenal, and it is both action-packed and hilarious.

This is one of Bruce Willis’ finest films. As for the writer and director, Luc Besson, this was definitely his best work in my opinion. I had such high hopes for Valerian after finding out he was the writer and director, only to be severely disappointed (I actually fell asleep at one point during that movie. In the theater.) Still, The Fifth Element stands head and shoulders above any other movie for me, excepting the other four on this list.

What are your all-time favorite movies? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Friday Favorites

Woohoo! It’s Friday! Last week I talked movies, but who is ready to celebrate the arrival of the weekend with a good book? That’s right, I’m going to be talking about books today. My list of favorites this week is not just about my favorite books, it’s about my favorite fiction book series.

Book Series

What do I mean by book series?

To clarify, I consider a series to be three or more books written by the same author and following the story of the same set of characters. There are a lot of great series out there, and some truly fantastic authors. Some of the books on my list might be familiar, as they are wildly popular. Others are not as well known and might give you the chance to read something interesting and new.

Special Mention: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Series

Available here: http://amzn.to/2zN5t6R

I can’t talk about my favorite fiction series without including these wonderful books. They are incredibly rich in storytelling and world building. They barely miss getting onto my list of top five series. The reason for this is that they tend to be a bit dry in reading. That’s not to say they are not enjoyable! They are the epitome of high fantasy, and they will always have a place on my bookshelf.

Books in this series: The Hobbit (standalone), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. There are a few other works by J.R.R. Tolkien that pertain to the series as well, but they are companions of the world, rather than strictly part of the tale told in the series.

5. The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell

Book Series

These books follow the tale of Uthred, son of Uthred. He is a Saxon kidnapped and raised by the Danes and these books follow his life, his loves, and his battles as he tries to regain the land stolen from him by his uncle. In the telling of Uthred’s story, Bernard Cornwell also tells the story of Alfred the Great, who succeeded in uniting a previously fractured England. Classed as historical fiction, these books immerse you in a world from long ago, when pagans were clawing to retain their hold in an increasingly Christian world. Cornwell paints vivid pictures of the battles he describes and leaves his readers eager for the next story every time a book is completed.

Books in this series: The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, The Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, The Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm, and The Flame Bearer

4. The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

Book Series

The Sookie Stackhouse Series are the books that True Blood was (loosely) based off. Well, the first season or two stayed pretty close, but the show quickly veered off the books. Not that the show wasn’t great. I did love it! But I had to treat the books as separate because they just became so different.

These books are supernatural and detective stories. They aren’t difficult reading, but they are a lot of fun. They follow the life and adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid in Lousiana, and her entanglements with vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, and witches. What’s not to love?

Books in this series: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked, and Dead Ever After. There is also an alphabetically ordered farewell to all of the characters in After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, and a guide to the universe with The Sookie Stackhouse Companion.

3.  The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

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I put off reading the Wheel of Time for a long time. This was mostly because I could never find all of them at any library. And I certainly wasn’t going to buy them, if I couldn’t tell if I would like them! Enter Audible.com. Instead of reading these books, I have listened to them and am still listening to them. They are just incredible. The story is difficult to describe, it is very intricate. The stories mostly follow a young farm boy and two other boys from his village, as well as several strong and stubborn women as they attempt to save the world. That was another reason I was hesitant to get into these books because no one I asked could really tell me a concrete idea of what they were about. “You just have to read them.” Well, now I understand why.

Books in this series: New Spring (Prequel), The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light.

2. The Dragoncrown War Cycle by Michael A. Stackpole

Book Series

I still remember when my brother lent me these books. I just recently got my own copies of each of them to put on my bookshelf, though I’ve read them all several times. This series is beautifully written high fantasy that invests you in all of the characters in the very first book. Like most fantasy, there is an evil villain bent on ruling the world, but this nasty character uses the reanimated dead in whole new ways to work her plans. I also really enjoyed the different take on elves that Michael Stackpole introduces with these books.

Books in this series: The Dark Glory War, Fortress Draconis, When Dragons Rage, and The Grand Crusade.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Book Series

Oh, Harry Potter. You had to know this would be on the list. I am such a Potterhead. Always wishing that the Wizarding World was a real thing. I like to think if it was, then I would have been a witch.  Though most everyone knows the premise, in case you don’t, I’ll summarize.

This series follows young Harry Potter as he is thrust into a world of magic where he attends a school for witches and wizards, makes friends, and saves the world from He Who Must Not Be Named. I don’t care if these books are supposed to be for kids. Hate on me if you like, but I’ll never stop loving these books. Ever.

Books in this series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What is your favorite book series? Comment below!


Daily Dose of Music

Mimi’s Friday Favorites

The mister and I love to go see a movie. It’s one of our favorite things to do on the weekend. We go to the movies a lot. However, we have a pretty limited type of movie that we enjoy. For instance, horror movies are out for me. Romance is out for him (and for me most of the time). We both enjoy comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, and some comic book movies. And Disney. Don’t even get me started on Disney.

2016 Movie List

Why 2016?

We’re getting close to the end of 2017, but there are still two months of blockbusters coming out that we are planning to see. No joke, we have a movie planned for every weekend between now and Christmas. I don’t want to make a 2017 list until we’ve seen all the movies we are going to between now and New Years.

So I decided to take a look at the movies we saw last year. Wow, there were some great ones! We saw 19 movies that came out last year, 18 of them in the theater. Looking back over the list, I realized that there wasn’t a single one on there that I hated. Spoilers: There will be a list of disliked movies of 2017. But for 2016, all 20 movies ranged from unbelievably fantastic to fun and enjoyable.

It was actually difficult to make a list of my favorites! So I’m going to make this list a little bit different, and break them down into categories, with commentary on my favorites in each. I’ve also included their scores from Rotten Tomatoes.

2016 Movie List

Family Fun and Re-watch Worthy

Sing

2016 Movie List

We actually bought this one on DVD to rewatch several times. This movie is fun, the music is fantastic, and the cast is stellar. We went to see this one on Christmas Day. Big mistake. But we went to see it a second time a few weeks later when the crowds had died down so we could watch it without screaming babies and children who couldn’t stay in their seats in a sold-out theater. Kids at a kids movie? Unbelievable! That was sarcasm, btw.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Zootopia

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Finding Dory 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Stupid Funny Movies

The mister and I enjoy movies stupid funny movies. It’s a guilty pleasure, I suppose. These are movies that you definitely don’t want your kids to see, but they are great if you have a sense of humor and don’t mind occasional gross jokes.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

2016 Movie List

I am a sucker for The Lonely Island. The mister and I have most of their songs downloaded on our playlists. This movie was classic Lonely Island. If you are a fan of them, you’ll love it. If you don’t like them, you’ll probably hate it.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Sausage Party

2016 Movie List

What can I say about Sausage Party? Yes, it was gross. Oh god was it offensive. A little disturbing? Yes. It was epic. Incredibly crude, the debauchery of this movie is NO joke. Do not let your kids watch this unless you want to answer some seriously uncomfortable questions. But if you don’t have little ones running about…indulge.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%

Central Intelligence 

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Zoolander No.2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

Keanu

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Chick Flicks that Made the Mister Laugh

I do enjoy an occasional chick flick. And occasionally I drag the mister along to one with me! These are the ones we saw last year that we both enjoyed.

Bad Moms

2016 Movie List

More like Bad Ass Moms. I love this movie so hard. We actually went and saw the sequel last weekend. I was stoked, the original came on Showtime the night before we went. And when we bought tickets, we got a free digital copy from Fandango. Score!

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%

The Boss

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

Super Heroes, Super Action

This is a class of movies that can be very hit and miss for me. I like action, and I like superhero movies. I don’t like ALL superhero movies, and I don’t like ALL action movies. Three of the four movies below almost made the top of my list for 2016.

Suicide Squad

2016 Movie List

Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a dismal score, but the viewer score is more than twice as high. I liked it so much that we went to the theater to see it twice. Once in our regular theater, and the second at a nearby dinner theater. And then we bought it on DVD. We also bought the soundtrack. So. Good.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26% (Audience 61%)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

2016 Movie List

Another poorly reviewed movie that the audience had something different to say. Truth be told, I didn’t want to see this movie. The mister wanted to see it, so I insisted that we go to the good theater. The one with the bar. I wasn’t sitting through two and a half hours of Ben Affleck Batman and (gag) Superman, unless I had a drink in my hand. Wow. I was SO wrong. I really enjoyed this movie! And it got me super stoked to see Wonder Woman this year. This was another movie that we ended up getting on DVD. To put this in perspective, we see 20 some movies in the theater a year, but we only buy maybe 2 or three a year. 2016 was a good year for DVD purchases.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27% (Audience 63%)

Rogue One

2016 Movie List

I really went back and forth on whether this should be in my top three. This movie just tore me up. I loved that it gave some backstory. Even if the main character was a little bland, the rest of them make this story an immersive backdrop to A New Hope.

2016 Movie List

On the back of our nerdmobile.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Doctor Strange

This wasn’t my favorite superhero movie of 2016, but I still really enjoyed it! Two words: Benedict Cumberbatch. Mmmm…

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Top 3 Movies of 2016

Deadpool

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Oh man. The first rated R superhero movie. This movie earned every bit of that R. Rakish Rascal. Rejecting Redemption. Ruthless Revenge. Oh yeah…and Ryan Reynolds. Yum. Hilarious, irreverent, gory. Also, another one to hit our DVD shelf.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84% (Audience 90%)

Moana 

2016 Movie List

This movie goes down as one of my all-time favorites. And it is definitely my favorite Disney. The songs were definitely worth purchasing the soundtrack. This DVD hit our shelf the day it came out. I can’t play some of the songs in the car because they make me cry they are so beautiful. I loved that there was no love interest in this story. The story itself was just incredible. I love everything about this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016 Movie List

Anyone who knows me, knows what a huge Potterhead I am. We bought tickets for the opening night as soon as they were available. Of course, that night turned out to also be our first major snowstorm of the season. I’m not just talking a few flakes and slushy roads. I’m talking full-on blizzard conditions. Ice. Snow. Wind. Accidents! We went anyway. We crawled up I-25 and we crawled back down after it was over. Worth it. Worth every single white-knuckled mile we had to drive to get to the good theater in Highlands Ranch. I was transported back to the Wizarding World that I wish so hard was real. Fucking Queenie and Jacob…they stole that movie! So good. SOOOOO Good. Number one movie of 2016 on my list.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

What’s the Take-Away?

The point is, we saw 20 movies that came out last year. They ranged from a score of 98% down to a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, if we had listened to critics about every movie we went to see, we would have missed out on so many good films!

Were they all life-changing masterpieces or thought-provoking social commentaries? Not even close, but they were fun. We had a great time sitting down in a dark theater with our popcorn and candy and pretzel bites and Icees and escaping into another world that could make us laugh, cry, and think. Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to enjoy a movie just for what it is, instead of what critics think it should be.

Did you see any of these movies? Did you like them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments!


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Mimi’s Friday Favorites

Welcome to a new feature here at Amazing Mimi: Friday Favorites. In my everyday life, I am very much a list maker. I make to-do lists, packing lists, grocery lists…you name it, I can make a list about it. After all, what is a menu, but a list of what you plan to eat?

List

An example of my daily to-do list.

So instead of just talking about one particular thing, I decided that I should make a list! Fridays are now dedicated to a list of favourites from a variety of sources (yes, I have a list of them).

What’s First on the List?

Video games! I am a gamer. Not a hard-core, it’s all I want to do, eat-sleep-breathe-gamer, but I do spend a lot of time playing. We have two gaming computers (desktop and laptop), a Nintendo Switch, X-Box One, and a PS4. I have favourite games that run the gamut from action to simulation to MMORPG. Here is a little more about my all-time favourites.

Mimi’s Top Ten Video Games

10. Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer

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Released in 2000, this was the very first video game that I played seriously. When I say seriously, I mean staying up until 4am, falling asleep at the keyboard kind of serious. I was SO hooked on this game. Almost twenty years later, I STILL enjoy this game. I found it over on GOG.com, and downloaded it immediately. It was the first time I’d played an rpg, and I haven’t looked back. It is jam-packed with warriors, wizards, vampires and fantastic creatures. The story itself is pretty interesting as well. This is the 8th in a long series of games, but I can’t speak to how the others play. I’ve tried playing other Might and Magic games, but I never got them to work on the computers I had.

9. Fable II

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First, I played the original. But Fable II. Oh man, I love this game so hard. This was the reason I got an XBox 360. Aside from the absolutely infuriating ending, this is hands down the best game in the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original, and I even really enjoyed the Fable III, but this beautiful game is another that holds a special place in my gamer heart. Beautiful landscapes, large open world, puzzles, action, humor…it hits all my buttons.

8. Mario Cart 8

Mario Cart - Game List

I love racing games, but I came a little bit late to the Mario Cart party. Before we got a Wii U, I’d never tried this game aside from at the arcade. But the mister is a Nintendo fan, and so we got this when we got our new Switch, along with some little steering wheel controllers. This is one of a small handful of games that I love to play with someone else. There is something very special about sitting on our little love seat, throwing shells at each other, laughing, cursing, and making sure that we both come in the top three.

7. The Wolf Among Us

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Telltale Games series are Amazing. I haven’t played a single one that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. But The Wolf Among Us takes the cake. Based on Bill Willingham‘s Fables comic series, the story is engrossing and chilling. It takes childhood fantasy characters and turns them into heroes, villains, and anti-heroes. I don’t want to give anything away on the plot, but I cannot wait until the next season comes out in 2018.

6. Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection

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I can’t just say Assassin’s Creed 2, because all three of these games have to be played together to understand the full story. The original Assassin’s Creed introduced us to a world of intrigue and death, but this takes the story to a whole new level. Altair was a bit lacking in the personality department, but there is no such problem with Ezio. Charming and hell-bent on avenging his family, and then furthering the cause of the Assassins, Ezio is what made me fall in love with this franchise, both as a young, brash rogue and as an older, wiser mentor.

5. The Sims 4

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I’ve been playing the Sims since it first came out. In fact, that game got me through a rough first year with my son! I’ve had every incarnation of this game ever since, and it has never been disappointing. There is something so cathartic about making a nice little sim, with a nice little house and nice little life, then putting them in a room with no door and only a fireplace….

Ahem. The Sims 4 gives us all new graphics, more personalities, a wealth of options for careers, living situations, relationships, hobbies, and ways to die. This game makes my list just because I can spend hours building and designing. It’s definitely a creative outlet for those who love building games.

4. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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Edward Kenway, mmmmm. Um, I mean…Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the second Assassin’s game to make my top ten, and it’s not just because Edward Kenway is incredibly hot for a video game character. That’s part of it, but not all of it. This is definitely my favourite of the Assassin’s games, however, for a reason other than the main character: Ship battles. The gameplay in Black Flag is incredible. The puzzles are more difficult, the enemies more varied, and the music is awesome. Collecting shanties is one of the best side quests in the game.

Being anonymous outside the animus was a little strange, and I didn’t like it as much as playing Desmond Miles. Ubisoft hit on a winning personality for Edward Kenway, much as they did with Ezio Auditore, and unlike the unfortunate interim character of Connor Kenway (that one might fit on a top 10 most awful games list).

3. Final Fantasy XIV

Game list

The only MMORPG to make my list of favourites, Final Fantasy XIV is really amazing. I enjoyed World of Warcraft, but I eventually got a bit bored with doing the exact same things over and over again. Some might argue that Final Fantasy XIV isn’t much different, but I find it to be vastly more entertaining.

The actual story is engaging, and you don’t have to belong to a specific faction based on the race you choose. There is a multitude of ways to advance your levels as opposed to just a handful. This keeps the game fresh and aids in levelling multiple classes without getting too frustrated to continue. This is my favourite game to play with the mister since we can run around together and help each other fight monsters, and defeat dungeons.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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You had to know this would be on here. I can count on two fingers the people I know who don’t like this game. It is the quintessential fantasy RPG! I’ve been playing it since 2011, and I still have never completed the entire game. The main quests, yes. But I am a completionist when it comes to games, and I’ve never found everything or explored every location. So, every time I play this game, I find something new and exciting about it to love.

The expansions make the gameplay more versatile and in depth. There is also the bonus of being able to download mods that almost give you an entirely new game, depending on which ones you opt to download. I have a feeling that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to go down as a legend among video games. Consider: a version of the game is coming out for the Nintendo Switch. People (including us) have had it preordered for MONTHS.

1. Fallout 4

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Another masterpiece from Bethesda, Fallout 4 tops my list of all-time favourite video games. I wasn’t really a fan of the other Fallout games, but the mister insisted that I give this one a shot. I’m sure he regrets that now. It combines so many things that I love. I can be a sneaky, sneaky sniper, but I can also build huge, sprawling communities. Mods galore change up the gameplay and in-game choices affect your relationships with companions and strangers alike.

I have a secret about this game: I’ve never finished the main quest. I get so sidetracked, and there are so many cool things to do that I’ve never actually been able to play long enough to find out what happens at the end. I’ve been playing this game for years! I get about halfway through the main quest and then a new DLC comes out and I start playing that. Like Skyrim, this game will probably remain on our game shelf for many, many years to come.

Well, there you have it. If you are looking to immerse yourself for hours, days, weeks, or even months into a game, these are ten solid choices that I can recommend to anyone. Happy Gaming!


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