Monday, 27 July 2015

Monster Mondays: The Mummy

If you want to share your own Monster Monday, pop on over here and put your post on the list.

Today, I'm talking about The Mummy, that plodding evil creature that, in a lot of cases, wants to strangle anyone his master sets him on. I've seen mummies used in many a horror movie. 3 times in films entitled 'The Mummy', and I've also seen them used brilliantly in science fiction as well.

First, though, I'll focus on The Mummy movies. I've seen The Mummy played both by Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, and I have to admit to not being that impressed with those movies. The lumbering form of The Mummy himself just didn't scare me, or even give me tingles. No, I was not interested in Mummy movies until I saw 'The Mummy' starring Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep, High Priest to Pharaoh Seti I, and lover of Anck Su Namun, for whom he murders and then suffers being mummified alive for all time. When he is released, Imhotep is no lumbering mummy, he's full of power and vengeance and a burning love for his princess. He's also rather dishy once the whole being a mummy thing is sorted - although that is by absorbing the life forces of those who found his canopic jars, so, y'know, he's not boyfriend material. ;P

Imhotep before the cute phase :)

I loved this movie, all the characters are engaging and Arnold makes a convincing monster who has suffered eternity for love.

Imhotep isn't the only mummy I love to hate; Sutekh from Doctor Who - The Pyramids of Mars is a nasty piece of work. An alien from a race so powerful he is godlike and wants to bring about the end of the universe. He, like Imhotep, has been imprisoned for thousands of years, and he's itching to get free from the trap his fellow Osirans laid for him and lay waste to everything. Like Imhotep, too, he has mummy minions (robots wrapped in bandages - this is sci-fi after all) and they are wandering round a Victorian manor, true to any great Hammer Horror. Sutekh's a formidable foe, and this is one of my favourite Doctor Who adventures, mainly because of my love of Gothic horror.

And, before I finish, I have to admit that real mummies give me the heebie geebies far more than the fake ones. There's something I find very unnerving about a desiccated corpse. I find Egyptology fascinating, tomb decorations, hieroglyphs, statues, but not mummies, keep me away from the mummies!

So, mummies, are you a fan, or are they a monster that doesn't do it for you?
~

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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Recipe: Mini Rosemary & Cheddar Cheese Scones

So, yesterday, I found myself watching repeats of the Great British Bakeoff, and, well, let's just say that I was inspired to do a little baking. So, I decided to make scones, which, for anyone who doesn't know, are a stalwart of English Cream Teas in their sweet form, and appear on lots of canapés' trays in their savoury form.

I went for a savoury scone, mixing a classic combination of strong English Cheddar cheese and rosemary, and I decided to make them bite-size, because I've never made scones before and I thought they'd be easier to manage. So, without further ado, here's the recipe with my tweaks.

My Scones :)


Ingredients

  • 250g Self-raising white flour and a little extra for dusting
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (I made this addition to the recipe based on the fact that the cayenne lifts the flavour of the cheese and complements the rosemary - vary the amount to your taste depending on how much spice you like)
  • 1tbsp rosemary
  • 150g strong white cheddar (grated)
  • 200ml milk (more or less to make the dough soft)
  • 1 egg, beaten


Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade
  • Sift the flour, salt, cayenne and rosemary into a bowl
  • Mix in 100g of the grated cheese
  • Pour in the milk a bit at a time, mixing until you have a soft dough (you may not need all the milk, or a little more)
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1cm thick
  • Using a 3.5 cm cutter, cut out the mini scones and place on parchment paper on baking sheets
  • Brush each with the beaten egg on top (don't drip it down the sides of the scones, this will impede an even rise in the oven - that's straight out of Paul Hollywood's mouth from Bakeoff)
  • Sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese
  • Cook in the oven for 10 min until golden brown and risen.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack
So, I did leave these to cool on the rack, but none of my family could resist trying them warm from the oven and they were an irresistible bite, so much so that, since it was tea time, half the batch is now gone ;). They were also very tasty cold later as a supper bite.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Book Review - A Gift of Time by Sarah Wynde (Tassamara #3) - paranormal adventure and a little love thrown in too - I want more!

So I've finished book three now as well, and that's the end of the Tassamara box set! I am now bereft of more Tassamara stories. I want more, lots more! Anyway, while I wander into the corner and pine for my loss, here's my review of book 3.

A Gift of Time (Tassamara #3)A Gift of Time by Sarah Wynde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been devouring Sarah's Tassamara books with glee since I found them a couple of weeks ago, but initially I thought I wasn't going to like this third one as much as the other two. I was so wrong.

It begins as it means to go on (on hours after the end of the last book), with a wallop. Natalya sees the future like others have memories, and she has had a dreadful premonition in her mind for ten years. It is coming true as this book opens, but it's not going the way she's seen it for a decade. That's intriguing and kept me reading, but I wasn't as enamoured with Natalya as I have been with Akira and Sylvie. Turns out, she's a slow burner! So, I have to lay my concerns down at the foot of only one thing, our male protagonist is called Colin. Apparently for Americans, and I have checked with a few, this is a sexy name. Not so for Brits ;P.

Anyway, I put my English prejudice aside and carried on reading. It settles to an even pace, information slowly trickling in, Colin and Natalya failing to get back together (yes, those of you who have read book 2 will recognise the star-crossed lovers trope in use again, but the premise is different, so go with it - it's worth it ;P). I did want to bash their heads together, but then I did with Sylvie and Lucas as well.

It's while I reading this slow burn start to the book that I realised there is pattern to Sarah's stories, and I like it. They do go gradually into the story, introducing characters, giving me something to hang on to and people to empathise with, and then, when the climax hits, it's a hang on to your hats rollercoaster of action and emotion. And, the ending, well, it left me grinning all over my face, and that is all I'm going to say about it, but that's the reason for the 5 stars - Sarah is so good at endings!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Book Review: A Gift of Thought by Sarah Wynde - paranormal thriller with a hint of romance

So after A Gift of Ghosts I bought Sarah's boxset of the first 3 Tassamara books, and, let's just say that I'm hooked. Here is what I thought of number 2.

A Gift of Thought (Tassamara, #2)A Gift of Thought by Sarah Wynde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have now read two of Sarah's books, I can confirm the addictiveness of her characters and plots is not a one-off fluke. I loved Tassamara #1, and I loved this book too.

Sarah continues her excellent representation of female characters - I thought Sylvie, her lead, was a well-rounded character with believable flaws. She's sometimes pigheaded, especially when it comes to Lucas, whom she has had an on-off (mainly off) relationship with since he was fifteen and she was seventeen. The way Sarah writes these two together is just brilliant - they are madly attracted to each other, but give them five minutes and they'll be fighting. Plus, you'd think being mind readers would help them understand each other, but, oh no, their misunderstandings are spectacular :).

The plot itself is exciting, it reads like a thriller, whereas book #1 read more like a paranormal romance. I don't mind that, I think it gives the series an energy, and I have found myself trusting Sarah with where the book is going.

I read this book in two days. I'm on to #3 now - I haven't devoured books like this for a while - I'm rather enjoying myself :).

View all my reviews

Friday, 17 July 2015

Book Review: A Gift of Ghosts by Sarah Wynde - paranormal adventure with a nice little current of romance.

So I just finished a book I had to shout about, because I loved it and I want to read more about the characters of Tassamara. There aren't many books that make me feel like that. I did a review at Goodreads, so here it is :).

~

A Gift of Ghosts (Tassamara #1)A Gift of Ghosts by Sarah Wynde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book up by chance, and I am very glad I did. I loved it!

This book is a well-written, fast-paced read, which kept me turning pages, to the point where I almost made myself late for work, twice, because I was reading it on my exercise bike in the mornings, and I ignored the timer on the bike wanting to finish one more section.

Akira and her situation are not hard to get into, the book leads the reader in quickly and lightly, and, what was more, I was instantly interested in her. She's a scientist, she needs a job and she's on her way to an interview when we meet her. Neither the interview, nor the town of Tassamara are quite what she expected them to be, and they accept her and her 'quirk' like long lost friends. Plus there's a quirky, hunky boss who catches her eye as well.

Akira doesn't trust easily, she's hidden a secret all her life, and the book gradually works through that secret, opening her past and her future up to us. It's nicely done. Nothing leaves the reader hanging too long, just enough to ensure we stay interested. There's angst and comfort, love and loneliness, guilt and friendship, and it all balances out to a great adventure with some romance thrown in.

I really enjoyed this book and I want more. :D

View all my reviews

::UPDATE:: - After posting this review, I decided I liked the book so much I'd search out Sarah's other books, and she had a boxset of the Tassamara ones on Amazon, so I bought it! :)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The 'Love Hate' & 'Freestyle Writing' Blogging Challenges

This post is all the fault of Sara Snider, who tagged me in two blogging challenges: The Love Hate Challenge and The Freestyle Writing Challenge. So, thanks, Sara, these are my responses :).

Firstly, The Love Hate Challenge. So the rules are:
  • post ten things you love
  • post ten things you hate
  • then tag ten people to do the same.
Well, since there are two challenges here, I'll be tagging at the end of the post, but here goes with my loves and hates.

Loves:
  1. I love fanfic - it can be anything between sheer brilliance and utter awfulness, but it is always a labour of love by the writer, and that always deserves appreciation.
  2. I love watching people create things, cooking, painting, pretty much any crafts, it makes me content to see something come out of dedicated skill.
  3. I love writing, from daydreaming to polishing the final draft, it has me hooked, and the best thing is that the only limit is my own imagination.
  4. I like scaring myself by watching, or reading a good ghost story (I also write them). For me, they're the best form of horror - spooky, spine-chilling and ethereal.
  5. I love sharing my space with cats washing, they're presence is so relaxing and they never cease to calm me down after a stressful day.
  6. I love vampires - the toothy ones have been an obsession for me since I saw The Lost Boys, reading, watching and writing.
  7. I love my family, 'nuff said!
  8. I love dragons - I have a collection of dragon sculptures at home, my favourite being one of a majestic purple master who is sitting up, his chest out and his wings folded regally behind him. They also make great characters.
  9. I love storms (although I will clarify that, I love the strength in storms, the thrill as lightning flashes across the sky, the dark purple clouds, but only if I'm inside watching the storm outside).
  10. I love dancing. I'm not very good, I've never managed anything really co-ordinated like a foxtrot, but I love jigging around on the dance floor. 

Hates (I've been loose with the definition here, some of these are dislikes, some disdains and some fears):
  1. I loathe daffodils - to me they look plastic, and that overly bright yellow is just way too much for me. I will give little narcissi a break though, they're smaller and more delicate. 
  2. I dislike people who are inconsiderate to others.
  3. I have nothing but disdain for queue jumpers - I am a Brit, we know how to queue, there is a quiet order about it and anyone messing up that order is the lowest of the low, and I will huff and tut with the best of 'em! Besides, you can have the best conversations with complete strangers in a queue.
  4. I hate cheap reality TV, especially Big Brother - what a waste of manipulative psychology.
  5. I loathe clowns, in fact, I'm scared of them, that fake grin makes me nervous.
  6. I loathe driving in big cities. I'm fine on the motorway and in towns that I know my way around, but driving in strange big cities brings me out in a cold sweat. Every junction is different. Drivers in big towns just don't consider those of us who are doing it once in a blue moon.
  7. I hate swings, I can't even watch someone on one in a movie, it makes me feel sick, I will physically shrink into myself if I have to watch. It's because I hurt myself on a swing when I was a kid.
  8. I hate when the weather is too hot. I like sunshine, but when there's no breeze and the air is so warm there is no relief, I get ansty. It doesn't happen very often in the UK, but that means we don't have air con in our houses as a matter of course, so the only relief is to open the windows. Sometimes, not even that helps, though.
  9. I dislike cheaters. They ruin things for the rest of us, upsetting chances, excluding others by giving themselves unfair advantages, and even when there is no immediate perceived loser, there will be consequences for someone eventually.
  10. I am afraid of spiders. I know they are necessary and useful members of the food chain, but all those legs scare the crap out of me.
Freestyle Writing Challenge

Here’s how it goes:
  • Open a new document.
  • Set a stopwatch or your mobile phone timer to 5, 10, or 15 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  • Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!
  • Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.
  • Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it’s only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).
  • You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  • At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
  • Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).
The prompt from Sara was: On top of a lonely hill is a lonely house. What’s happening there?

I set my timer for ten minutes, and below is what came out - I was feeling somewhat morbid (I did stop a few seconds early, since it kind of came to an end and I had nothing more to write) No of words = 342. I have to say I found this challenging, to keep the train of thought going for 10 minutes and to carry on down the rabbit hole that was the first instinct of my muse. Interesting though! ;) I have to say, reading it back in the cold light of hindsight, I think this is mostly my brain unconsciously ripping off Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel.

~

On the lonely hill stands a lonely house. It has stood solitary for many years, its windows clouded with grime, looking down on a ground grown grisled with time. No-one goes there, the path would not allow access even if they wished it, so the damp, dark place stands isolated.

Within those walls, a dance takes place, a macabre thing, a meeting of souls. This dance winds its melancholy way through rooms rich with pleasures. Yet, these pleasures are not for the dancers. The beauty around them, the tapestries, paintings, decorations from far flung places, all disappear in the intensity of the dance. Partners hold each other, their gazes vacant, their eyes fixed into the middle distance. There is not company here, just the drive to whirl, to cavort.

These poor revellers smile, their expressions fixed in the grimaced agony. Their clothes hang limp on their bodies, torn, mouldering rags that once dazzled in the flickering lights. Shoes with silver buckles, now tarnished and with soles so worn they leave a whisper of flicker-flacker on the floor.
This is the dance of the dead. They dance for memory, for the night that their troubles began. When a stranger entered their revels, his face masked, his smile twitching below. He wore red, his hair glossed and his finger tips touched by black paint. They loved him. He showed them the dance, telling them of the wonder, of the power that came to those who had travelled the route before them. He told them of riches, of plenty, of pleasure.

The stranger dressed their poor, provincial house in splendour. One flick of his hand and simple candles had become hall of flickering beauty. And they had willingly stepped up to the dance. Yet, their feet would not stop when they music changed, they could not step to the wall to rest. Man, woman, young and old, all were held in the spell.

The stranger laughed.

Riches were theirs, splendour was theirs. Eternity was theirs. Skip, hop, swirl, dip – over, and over, and over again.

~

So, that's the two challenges, so now for tagging some folks and I know I haven't got to ten, but I think some of you would enjoy the Freestyle Writing Challenge :):
~

And for those who want to accept the freestyle writing challenge, my prompt is this:
A flower blooms in a garden, who tends it and why.


~

For more information about Sophie's books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Paranormal Romance Blog Hop: Give Us Your Best Excerpt!


Thanks to Jolie Du Pre over at Precious Monsters for organising this hop :D. Pop on over here to see the other blogs involved in the hop, who are all sharing excerpts from their Paranormal Romances too.

But first, since you've stopped by, here's an excerpt from my m/m Paranormal (erotic) Romance, The Need In Me, which you could win by filling in the Rafflecopter below.


Struggling artist, Rob, has come to London to make his name. However, moving into a flat in an old house, he finds himself with some unwanted attention. Someone else is sharing the flat with him, someone he can’t see, but whose terrifyingly erotic presence makes itself known. After a series of very direct messages, Rob must head back to his home county, Cornwall, to discover who lies behind the heady encounters.


Excerpt: 
Rob woke slowly and stretched. He wasn't sure why instincts told him of familiar things until he opened his eyes and consciousness informed him that he was in his own bed in his grandmother's house. The afternoon sun was coming in through the window and, completely unaware of what had happened after he had fallen asleep in the car, Rob sat up.

He was naked, covered only by his duvet, which was rather a surprise, since he had been in jeans and a shirt when he could last remember. However, what had to have been a long sleep made more sense to Rob than what he had been feeling the night before and guilt about how he had treated Buki crept up on him. Rob climbed out of bed, grabbed a set of painting overalls from the back of the door and, pulling them on, left the room to find out what he had put his new friend through since practically passing out on him.

As soon as he was in the corridor, Rob heard voices coming from downstairs in the conservatory, which was where his grandmother usually worked, and so, feeling quite lively, he trotted down the stairs to find her. What he found was Buki, all long limbs and dark eyes, lying on a chaise and his grandmother at her easel, sketching him. Rob paused at the door, admiring the way the would-be actor was stretched out over the chaise and knew exactly why his grandmother had decided to draw. However, his arrival did not go unnoticed for long, and Buki sat up when he noticed Rob and that alerted his grandmother.

"Darling!" she dropped the charcoal she was using and hurried over to him. "Are you alright now? Buki and I were quite worried."

"I'm fine, thank you," Rob kissed his grandmother and then nodded his open gratitude to Buki.

The swipe he then received across his bicep was not unexpected, but Rob made a hurt face at his grandmother for good measure as she scolded, "Don't do anything so foolish again."

"Me?" he objected, "You gave me the card case."

"You didn't have to go making love to ghosts," his grandmother replied and then hugged him again. "Go and sit down with Buki, I'll see if your clothes are finished in the tumble drier yet."

Rob did as he was told, there was no point in arguing with his grandmother when she was in control mode, and whatever he had done had clearly uneased her. Buki shifted over and made room for him and as he sat down, Rob smiled at his new friend and asked cautiously, "What did I do that meant my clothes had to be washed?"

"You fell in the puddle in the driveway," Buki replied. "That's when I realised you weren't all there and had to carry you inside."

"You lifted me?" Rob didn't quite believe it: there was nothing of Buki.

"Fireman's lift, you'd be amazed who can carry what like that," Buki shrugged.

"Thank you," Rob replied sincerely and suddenly found emotions coming at him in a rush. "Thank you for everything. You don't even know me, and you put me up for a night and then drove me all the way down here."

Buki smiled then and Rob recognised the look in his eyes.

"You're too cute to let you get your bum kicked by a ghost," he quipped and elbowed Rob in the ribs.

It wasn't the best come-on in the world, but Rob recognised it and took a closer look at the sparkle in Buki's dark eyes.

"You barely know me," he repeated, leaning in a little just to check he was reading the man right.

Buki's cheeks were the most attractive shade of pink then and his gaze gained a faraway look as he admitted, "I feel I got to know you quite well last night."

Rob didn't usually jump guys, but then he didn't normally get them to drive him two hundred miles after knowing him for less than 24 hours either, so he was beginning to realise the rules didn't apply in his life at the moment. Buki was good looking and easy going and generous, three things that meant Rob was not inclined to refuse the instinct to close the gap between them. Smiling, he leant forward all the way and, just as their lips touched, he closed his eyes. A thrill took him from head to foot when Buki pushed back rather harder than he was expecting and he had no choice but to go with the movement that aimed him down against the end of the chaise longue.

Rob quickly discovered that Buki was not backward in his approach to the embrace, because once he was partially underneath the other man, Rob found hands wandering not only over his overalls, but the poppers were no hindrance to Buki's fingers as he pushed them inside. The clothing was loose and Rob gasped his pleasure as nails teased his hip bone. Buki was wearing far too much clothing to make it that easy for Rob, but he did pull up Buki's T-shirt and stroked his spine. That made Buki push against him in a delightfully titillating way and Rob murmured into the kiss.

~


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Other erotic romance stories (multiple genres) by Sophie Duncan:
Bonds of Fire by Sophie Duncan (eBook)The End of The Journey by Sophie Duncan (eBook)
Mouse Trap by Sophie Duncan (eBook)Supernature by Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake (eBook)Romantics by Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake (eBook)
An Amusement by Sophie Duncan (eBook)Rage by Sophie Duncan (eBook)The Other Half of Everything by Sophie Duncan (eBook)


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Members of Paranormal Romance Blog Hop
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For more information about Sophie's books of all genres, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required