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!


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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!


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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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