Book Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison

Elise, Mae, Molly, and Julie are close friends, until the day Julie goes missing while hiking in Acadia National Park. Two years down the line, Elise is the only one still clinging onto hope, and her prayers are answered when Julie mysteriously reappears. However, she has no recollection of the past two years.

Keen to reconnect, the group of friends arrange a week away at a luxury hotel, but it is clear upon arrival that something has changed. Julie is different. At first, they are small dissimilarities, but, as the week progresses, it becomes glaringly obvious that the group of friends will never be the same again..

As soon as they reach the hotel, things take a menacing turn. From creepy rooms and ghostly cold spots, to extremely odd dreams and disappearing staff members, it is obvious that something is not right with Julie. The clues are evident throughout, but her friends try to ignore them and pretend everything is okay. The slow burn of menace builds up to a chaotic ending, and Julie’s true identity is finally revealed.

I bought this when I saw it advertised on Facebook. I do love a 99p Kindle book. However, upon reading some of the less than favourable reviews on Goodreads, my first impression was a little tainted. I found it slow to begin with, but it definitely improved.

I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads. I really liked it!

Book Review: The Terror by Dan Simmons

In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin and his crew set sail from England aboard two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, on an expedition to explore the Arctic. Franklin, an experienced explorer and Royal Navy officer, had taken part in three Arctic expeditions, the latter two as commanding officer. This last expedition was to be a discovery of previously un-navigated areas of the Northwest Passage. However, early on, they suffered fatalities, only to continue and eventually become icebound near King William Island, in what was previously the Canadian Arctic, now known as the territory of Nunavut.

Stuck in the ice for more than a year with no sign of a thaw, the crew abandoned both ships in April of 1848, having lost nearly two dozen members to death, including Franklin. The survivors, led by Franklin’s deputy, Francis Crozier, and Erebus’ Captain, James Fitzjames, set out to find the mainland, and were never seen again.

A search was launched for the missing expedition in 1848, and continued throughout the 19th century, with few clues. In 2014, the wreck of Erebus was finally located, and two years later, the wreck of Terror was found. However, the crews disappearance will forever be an unsolved mystery.

In The Terror, Dan Simmons has used a combination of extensive research, brilliant fiction writing, and a heavy dose of creepiness to deliver a possible explanation for the failed expedition. I don’t mind saying, it is a masterpiece. I have long been fascinated by the lost expedition, and possess a mind that will often veer towards the supernatural and unexplained. This book does not disappoint.

Stuck in the ice for their second summer aboard ships that are slowly being crushed, the crew are dropping like flies. Scurvy is spreading, their canned rations are spoiled and becoming toxic, and there is an in-house malevolence that is slowly and ominously building.

But that is nothing compared to the terror that stalks them out on the ice.

One by one, the crew are picked off by a seemingly invincible monster, an unstoppable force of pure fury unlike anything they have seen before, and hope is fast running out.

Be warned: this is a lengthy tome, and there are many characters, but each play their own, important part in the story. I love a longer read, and at no point did I become bored or feel tempted to skim-read. It was a thoroughly fascinating read and I highly recommend it.

I gave the book five stars on Goodreads. The TV series, The Terror, based on the book, is nowhere near as good.

Book Review: The House Without A Summer by DeAnna Knippling

A novel of gothic horror, this book started out excellently. It is 1816 and Marcus is summoned home from the war after news of his brother, Barnabas’s, untimely death. The new, reluctant heir to the sprawling Penderbrook, the largest pile in England, Marcus is perturbed to find that his father has lost his mind and the land is being overtaken by a strange red fungus. On top of that, his brother’s corpse, held in the basement and showing a mysterious lack of decay, suddenly disappears.

Along with Lucy, his childhood friend and Barnabas’s fiancé, he begins to investigate his brother’s final days, and his experiments with the red fungus. A subtle yet eerie ominousness creeps into the story as they unearth more and more questions that revolve around the weird red fungus, which appears to be slowly infecting the entire area. At the same time, Marcus’s father, James, is deteriorating more and more by the day, transforming the strong Earl into a shambling figure of a man, hidden away in the nursery and surrounded by unexplained shadows and inconsistencies. Early on in the story, we are presented with suggestions of a verbally abusive nature, and an altogether unpleasant man. It isn’t until later in the book that this becomes clear.

Attempting to step into his brother’s shoes, Marcus visits the family cotton mill and becomes acquainted with the workforce. However, upon leaving for Penderbrook, he realises that things at the mill are not as straightforward as they seem. Along with Mr. Abbott, Lucy’s father, he returns to question the staff more closely, and things take a turn for the worse.

The first 60% of this book was amazingly good. Huge, atmospheric mansion, insane father. Eerie goings-on involving an infestation of red fungus that appears to affect people in odd ways. A dead body that disappears from the cellar without any explanation.

But then, things take a turn for the seriously weird. The last 20% of the book was a huge disappointment. What started out as an immensely absorbing gothic horror turned into some kind of fantasy, time travel thing. I’m not even entirely sure what happened in the end, but it wasn’t at all what I had expected. Unfortunately, it ruined it for me, and a book I had enjoyed and had earmarked for a solid four stars became a desultory 3 stars.

Brilliant at first. Puzzling towards the end.

Book Review: Drowning with Others by Linda Keir

3.5 stars. This was my Amazon First Reads choice from September last year, but I’ve only just got round to reading it. To be fair, my TBR pile on my Kindle is horrendously proportioned, so I’m trying to work my way through it while the library is closed – let’s face it, who doesn’t prefer a real book to the electronic variety? Although being able to pick up decent reads for next to nothing is a definite bonus!

Andi and Ian Copeland were high school sweethearts, the “It” couple at exclusive prep school, Glenlake. Twenty years on, they are married and their eldest daughter, Cassidy, is a senior at Glenlake.

A car is discovered, submerged in a local lake, along with the body of Dallas Walker, a teacher from Andi and Ian’s senior year who had mysteriously disappeared. Cassidy’s journalism class is assigned the task of uncovering what happened, but ugly secrets threaten to rear their head.

Both Andi and Ian had dubious links to the former teacher and writer-in-residence, and his arrival and subsequent departure all those years ago made a huge, largely negative, impact on their lives. Both of them had reasons to want him gone, but were they involved in his disappearance? The discovery of his body poses an important question: did Dallas Walker commit suicide, or was he murdered?

I found this quite difficult to get into at first. It was a little slow off the mark, and the characters didn’t really resonate with me. But eventually, it found its footing. The story jumps from present day back to Andi and Ian’s school days, and is told from the POV of Andi, Ian, and Cassidy. I particularly enjoyed the journal entries from teenagers Andi and Ian – I think they added an extra depth to the two characters, and definitely helped me to empathise with them after such a rocky start. Dallas was a particularly vile creature, swaggering around the school as if he was something special, although I guess he was to a bunch of naive 17 year-olds. His untimely ending was not mourned.

3.5 stars on Goodreads. Although it wasn’t bad, the journal entries were definitely the redemption song for me.

What Am I Reading? #Week 4

Well, I was going to post one of these every week. But then, I struggled to finish two books in Week 2, before racing through 4 books over the long weekend. It is therefore a fact – I’d get a lot more reading done if I didn’t have to work during the week! It ruins all my fun.

So, what have I got in store for this week?

1. When I Was You by Minka Kent

“After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence.

But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger.

What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.”

I’m actually halfway through this one already, and I’m enjoying it. I love a good psychological thriller, and this is definitely one of those. The first half of the story certainly keeps you guessing, as Brienne’s life seems to spiral out of control. Then the twist hits you, and after that, it’s a race against time.

2. Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks

“Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it?

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies Lies Lies, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.”

I am a huge fan of Adele Parks and have read every single one of her books. I would describe them as women’s fiction more than anything else; the majority of them are based on relationships gone wrong and dealing with the aftermath. I’m looking forward to reading this, and the Kindle version is currently only 0.99p!

3. Drowning with Others – Linda Keir

“They have the perfect marriage. Did one of them kill to get it?

Prep school sweethearts Ian and Andi Copeland are envied by everyone they know. They have successful businesses, a beautiful house in St. Louis, and their eldest daughter, Cassidy, is following in their footsteps by attending prestigious Glenlake Academy. Then, a submerged car is dredged from the bottom of a swimming hole near the campus. So are the remains of a former writer-in-residence who vanished twenty years ago—during Ian and Andi’s senior year.

When Cassidy’s journalism class begins investigating the death, Ian and Andi’s high school secrets rise to the surface. Each has a troubled link to the man whose arrival and sudden disappearance once set the school on edge. And each had a reason to want him gone. As Cassidy unwittingly edges closer to the truth, unspoken words, locked away for decades, will force Ian and Andi to question what they really know—about themselves, about the past, and about a marriage built on a murderous lie.”

This was my Amazon First Reads for September last year, so I’m thinking it’s high time I gave it a read. It looks interesting enough – a body found in a lake, secrets from the past. Right up my street! I’ll review it once I’m done.

4. The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

“Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn. 

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…”

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while now. The reviews on Amazon look amazing, and I always enjoy a cult-based thriller. Watch this space for my review.

Happy Tuesday! ❤️

Book Review: Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell

If you are a fan of horror fiction yet have never read Ramsey Campbell, then you seriously need to remedy that. The power of Campbell’s writing lies in the fact that, rather than immersing his readers in out-and-out horror, he drops gems of creepiness into seemingly innocent scenes, and so weaves a thread of pure dread throughout the story. This certainly keeps the reader on their toes.

Ray and Sandra are travelling to Greece for a holiday, meeting up with their family on the small island of Vasilema. Upon arrival, they begin to notice strange occurrences which they put down to local traditions; the absence of mirrors, the habit of knocking twice before entering a room. Odd, but nothing they cannot handle. There are far more serious things to consider, such as how to break the news to their children and grand-children that Sandra is dying of cancer.

The creepy happenings seem to begin as soon as they set foot on the island, and do not diminish as the days progress, creating an underlying feeling of unrest. From strange locals seeming to take an unhealthy interest in members of their party, to vivid dreams and disturbances at night, things take a shocking turn when Ray and son-in-law Julian discover the gruesome remains of a missing tourist in a cave. Upon reporting this to the local police, Ray begins to sense that something isn’t quite right on the island and the subsequent interview leaves him with more questions than answers. What is it that the locals are hiding?

Amidst family squabbles, day trips with a sinister twist, and the constant feeling of being watched, Ray attempts to investigate the strange happenings in the nearby resort of Sunset Beach, and eventually discovers a terrifying link between the mosquito bites that have plagued his family and the legend surrounding the spooky monastery on the island.

As a fan of both Ramsey Campbell and Greece, I found this to be an excellent read. The only downside was Ray and Sandra’s insufferable family members, especially Julian, who all deserved to die, but didn’t. Their cringeworthy attempts at parenting only supplemented the uncomfortable feel of the story, and, at times, I wished I could reach into my Kindle and punch Julian in the face. Nevertheless, it was still a fantastic read.

4 stars on Goodreads.

Book Review: Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton

This is an amazing debut novel which gripped me from start to finish.

Living on the remote, windswept Shetland Islands isn’t all it was cracked up to be for obstetrician Tora Hamilton. But husband Duncan, a native of the Scottish islands, was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, and the couple uprooted their comfortable life in southern England to move north. Shetland both-and-bred, Duncan has not returned home in 20 years, until now, and Tora struggles to fit in while he works away, leaving her to fend for herself in a strange place.

After the death of her beloved, ageing horse, Jamie, Tora decides to hire a digger and bury him herself in a peat field on her land. However, while in the process, she inadvertently unearths the body of a woman, wrapped in linen and showing signs of a brutal death, buried deep in her field.

As the police swarm over her land, Tora is shocked to discover that the body is not that of a centuries-old, peat-preserved body, which isn’t an unusual occurrence, but that of a more recent murder. The woman’s heart has been removed in what appears to be a ritualistic killing, and rune marks carved into her back. Things take an even more sinister turn when it is revealed that she gave birth just days before she was disposed of.

Tora becomes intent on investigating the crime, even as she receives a number of anonymous, menacing warnings to leave it alone. She doggedly pursues the case and is dragged into a frightening mystery involving powerful men, kidnapping and baby trafficking, and age-old Shetland folklore involving troll-like creatures that steal away human wives. That, along with the desolate Shetland landscape, makes for an extremely thrilling book.

I really enjoyed Bolton’s writing style, and found Tora to be a recklessly brave, socially awkward, and hilariously witty character, with quite an active imagination and an aptitude for attracting trouble, even when attempting to avoid it. I also loved the folklore and the descriptive detail of the Shetland Islands, where I would love to visit.

So good that I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Top 10 Quarantine Songs

So, I was mooching around, looking for some inspiration, and I came across http://babybutterfliesandcoffee.com’s post, Ten Songs I Am Loving Right Now. I enjoyed reading it so much that I decided to write my own version – Top 10 Quarantine Songs.

At the moment, I am working from home and listening to music as I work, mainly on Spotify and Radio X; in particular, Chris Moyles, Toby Tarrant, and Dan O’Connell. I love Radio X as it plays my kind of music, which is indie/alternative/classic rock. I am pretty clueless when it comes to current, Top 40 music, and have a tried and tested approach to music – I listen to what I love and love what I listen to.

1. Dakota – Stereophonics – this is an amazing tune, and one of the best from the band. I have been to see Stereophonics in concert four times, and this song is generally the highlight of the show.

2. You Stole the Sun from my Heart – Manic Street Preachers – there was a time when I thought the Manics were pretty depressing, but they really aren’t. They have definitely grown on me in recent years, and this is one of my favourites. I love the intro. It’s so jangly and upbeat.

3. You & Me Song – The Wannadies – I came into my own in the late 90’s and this is an anthem of the era. I remember dancing to this with my best friend in the indie club we went to, back in the day, singing to each other as we danced. Happy memories.

4. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi – I just love this song. Whenever I hear the intro, I just want to get a shaggy ‘do, grab my air guitar, and rock out! It’s ace.

5. Now That I Found You – Liam Gallagher – a current song! I really like this, and find it so uplifting and, shall I say it, anthem-y. Liam is a bit of an idiot at times, but this is great. Who needs Noel?!

6. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen – one of the best by this amazing band. Freddie’s vocals are spine-tingling, and I love to belt this out (in private), especially when I’ve had a few shandies.

7. Piano Man – Billy Joel – I don’t mind saying that I am a huge Billy Joel fan. My dad used to play his music all the time when I was a kid, and I know most of his songs off-by-heart. Piano Man is an absolute belter.

8. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse – Amy was such a huge talent and her candle was snuffed our far too soon. This song is particularly relatable for me and, although the memories no longer hurt, I still love the lyrics as, at one point, they really spoke to me.

9. Pinball Wizard – The Who – The Who are rock ‘n’ roll legends and I’d have loved to see the original line-up live, back in the day. And while I’m definitely not old enough to have been around back then, that doesn’t mean I can’t love the music.

10. High Hopes – Kodaline – I came across this band purely by accident, when I saw the advert for their first album, liked one of the songs, and decided to purchase it (yup, on CD!) This song is amazing; I love the soaring chorus, and the video is so melancholically beautiful and tells a tragic love story.

April Goals

Well, I haven’t written one of these posts in such a long time. Also, I’m aware I am a couple of days late, but are there really any rules when it comes to writing your own blog? Nope.

So, here goes. I’m not really sure what goals I have at the moment; everything is so up-in-the-air. A month ago, I thought the coronavirus scare was a huge overreaction, but now: well, now, I’m working from home, I refused to go for a walk with my mum last weekend because I worry about passing something on to her, I left the house briefly on Monday to get milk, and was so traumatised by my visit to the local shop that I don’t think I ever want to venture there again! Oh, and I woke up at 2.30am this morning and decided to do an online shop; there were actually free slots!

Of course, things could change very soon, or they might not. Nobody really knows yet, but people are growing tired of staying at home, especially as the weather improves. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’ve been self-isolating for a while now, and my ambition has always been to work from home. So this is actually quite like a dream come true, apart from the fact that people are dying, which I never wished for.

Every day, we hear new coronavirus stories; people struck down, people in hospital, people dying. Only last week, a man who lived on my estate died, and he was only in his late 40’s. It’s a scary time, yet many people don’t seem to be taking it very seriously. I see more and more people out and about, walking past my house. Of course, there are no laws against exercising, but my neighbours are letting their teenagers out with their friends, or inviting visitors in; standing outside their houses, talking to friends, or sunbathing in parks. Now, I know I’m not self-isolating and avoiding interaction with my family for nothing, yet others don’t seem to care.

In all honesty, the goals I have for the coming month are simple. To stay healthy. To protect my family by staying at home. To get from one day to the next without losing my mind. To carry on writing and expressing my emotions creatively. And to hopefully see the back of this virus, or at least the severity of it, by the end of the month.

Fingers crossed. Stay safe. ❤️

20 Feel-Good Movies

We all have our favourite go-to movies or TV programmes that we can rely on to evoke good feelings within. Whether it is a hilarious laugh-a-minute comedy or a cheesy 80’s rom-com, there is always something we choose to watch when we are feeling in need of a cheer-up.

Personally, when I’m feeling a little down, I will turn over to Comedy Central, where you are almost guaranteed to catch back-to-back Friends reruns. There is nothing quite like Chandler’s one-liners or Joey’s adorable idiocy to raise my spirits.

As for films, I also have my favourites. When I initially began writing this post, I was going to list 10 movies. But once I began jotting them down, I discovered I had more favourites than I first realised. So, I extended my post. See below for my Top 20 feel-good movies.

1. The Goonies – the tale of a group of kids who find a treasure map and embark on the hunt for pirate One-Eyed Willy’s loot, with bank robbers the Fratelli’s hot on their heels. Funny, heartwarming, and action-packed, this is fantastically entertaining and great for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

2. Harry and the Henderson’s – out on a car trip, the Henderson family accidentally knock down a Bigfoot, which they decide to take home to dispose of the body. But Harry is not dead.. I love this film. Harry becomes such a treasured member of the Henderson family, even as he causes commotion in their home town and is hunted down by opportunists.

3. Just Go With It – a womanising plastic surgeon (Adam Sandler) meets the girl of his dreams, but an elaborate story unwittingly involves his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) as his fake ex-wife. This is laugh-out-loud funny, and obviously the two protagonists fall in love along the way.

4. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – advice columnist Andie (Kate Hudson) decides to mix her column up by researching her new article, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, a little too thoroughly. Ben (Matthew McConaughey) is an executive who is so confident in his romantic prowess that he vows to make a girl fall for him – in 10 days. Hilarity and love ensues.

5. The Devil Wears Prada – dowdy Andy (Anne Hathaway) lands herself a job at prestigious Runway magazine working as assistant and general whipping girl to the infamous Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Determined to succeed and prove Miranda and everybody else wrong, Andy sets about transforming herself into the perfect assistant, even as her private life suffers. Funny and entertaining, and Miranda is amazingly diabolical. Emily Blunt is brilliant as head assistant, Emily.

6. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Kevin Costner’s attempt at playing the outlaw Robin Hood, along with his sidekick Azeem (Morgan Freeman). With a runtime of a whopping 2 hours 23 minutes, this has a star-studded cast, with the outstanding performance going to Alan Rickman as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham. In my opinion, the best RH movie there is.

7. 21 Jump Street – loosely based on the 80’s TV series of the same name, useless cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) join the secret Jump Street unit and have to go undercover as high school students. Hilariously funny, and such a refreshing change to see Tatum in this kind of comedy role.

8. Monsters Inc. – Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) work for Monsters Incorporated, the biggest scare factory in the monster world. As one of the top scarers, Sulley accesses children’s bedrooms through their closets and harvests their screams. It is dangerous work as human children are thought to be toxic, but things are about to get scarier for them all as a young girl finds her way into the factory and Sulley and Mike are dragged into a race against time to get her home before the other monsters discover her.

9. Ice Age – a woolly mammoth, a sabre toothed tiger, and a sloth are an unlikely group of heroes when they join together to look after a human child whose mother has been swept away by the river. Heartwarming, emotional, and amusing.

10. 17 Again – Mike (Matthew Perry) was a high-school basketball star with a bright future ahead of him, until he threw it all away to marry his pregnant girlfriend. Years later, his life and marriage has gone to pot, but he gets a second chance to re-write history when he wakes up in his 17 year-old body (Zac Efron). Hilarious and sweet.

11. Mrs Doubtfire – the late, great Robin Williams stars as Daniel, a loser dad whose marriage to Miranda (Sally Field) has failed. Desperate to still see his kids despite the ongoing custody battle, he dresses as an older British woman and answers Miranda’s ad for a nanny. Hilarity ensues. A classic.

12. Ghostbusters – I’m talking about the original, of course. Who hasn’t seen this comedy classic? If you haven’t, you really need to. Three disgraced scientists-turned-ghost-hunters (Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis) wage a war against the paranormal activity in New York City. With guests stars Zuul, Slimer, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

13. The Hangover – amazingly hilarious stag party escapade as Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zak Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms) and the elusive Doug (Justin Bartha) head to Las Vegas to celebrate Doug’s upcoming nuptials.

14. Dirty Dancing – coming-of-age story set in the 1960’s when Daddy’s girl Baby (Jennifer Grey) and her family vacation at Kellerman’s, an upmarket holiday resort in the Catskills, and Baby meets the sexy and talented dancer, Johnny (Patrick Swayze). If you haven’t seen this, why? Fantastic film with a fantastic soundtrack. Makes you want to take up dancing lessons!

15. Bridget Jones’ Diary – based on the novel by the same name by Helen Fielding, this is a hilarious look into Bridget’s (Renée Zellweger) life as an adorably imperfect, sadly single 32 year-old. After an embarrassing incident at a family Christmas party, she decides to cut out on the fags, lose weight, and find her Mr. Right. Hilarity ensues, with a beautifully happy ending for Bridget.

16. Labyrinth – fantasy adventure starring the late, great David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King. 15 year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is tired of her normal, teenage life and dreams of faraway lands. When she is forced to babysit for her brother Toby, she unwittingly conjures up Jareth, who whisks Toby away to the Goblin City, which lies at the centre of a huge, otherworldly maze. Sarah vows to find her way through the labyrinth to rescue her brother, with the help of numerous puppet friends, created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. A must-see for all the family.

17. Finding Nemo – this is the animated story of clown fish Marlin, overprotective single parent to his physically impaired son, Nemo, after his mate was eaten by a shark. One day, disobeying his father’s strict orders, Nemo swims out onto the reef and is taken by humans. Marlin embarks on an epic journey across the Coral Sea, accompanied by new friend, Dory, an Angel fish with a six-second memory, to rescue his son from a dentist’s aquarium in Sydney, Australia. This is a heartwarming story of a father’s love for his son and the lengths he will go to to protect him, and even if you think you’re too old for cartoon films, you won’t be when it comes to this.

18. Shrek – if you haven’t seen Shrek, why?! Hilarious tale of the ogre, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers), who is forced to leave his happy home in the swamp to rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon-guarded tower for the repulsive Lord Farquaad, who is desperate to marry into royalty and become king. In return, Lord Farquaad promises Shrek the eviction of all fairytale creatures from his once-quiet swamp. Along the way, Shrek is befriended by a talking donkey called Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and falls in the love with the beautiful and feisty Princess Fiona, who has a very special secret. Can Shrek and Fiona find their Happy Ever After?

19. The Fifth Element – Bruce Willis stars as Korben Dallas, a taxi driver in the 23rd century who is dragged into a battle to save the planet when a humanoid woman called Leelou (Mila Jovovich) falls into his cab. Leelou has been created from alien DNA and is the perfect being, and she enlists Korben’s help to find the four elemental stones that, along with the mystical Fifth Element, are the only things that can save Earth. This was former supermodel Mila’s first acting role, and she smashed it!

20. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – there was no way I could finish my blog post without including this film. Comedy act, Monty Python, put their spin on the legend of King Arthur and the Knight’s of the Round Table in this hilarious depiction of the quest for the Holy Grail. This version involves rude French soldiers, a holy hand grenade (3, not 5!), a killer rabbit, the persistent Black Knight, Sir Robin’s extremely honest minstrels, a group of knights whose weapon of choice is the word “Ni!”, and a lot of running away. Absolutely bonkers and hysterically funny.