Monday, 17 August 2015

Monster Monday: The Evil Dead

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I first saw Sam Raimi's Evil Dead when I was a teenager and it scared the pants off me! :)

Since then I have learnt to respect the rough-around-the-edges movie with its mixture of over-the-top horror and surprisingly subtle chills. And the reason - the demons.

For those who don't know, Evil Dead is a story about a group of college kids on a weekend vacation who discover a book, Naturom Demonto/Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, or as we'd say, the Book of the Dead. Reading from it brings to life ancient Sumerian demons and gives them leave to possess the living.With the book is found a tape recording of the archaeologist who unearthed it, who helpfully reading out the cursed passages.

What follows, as I've said, on one level is a pretty OTT horror, but the bits that get me every time are when Cheryl and Linda are possessed. Cheryl is the first to succumb to the demons and thus her transformation is the most shocking. The makeup is not brilliant, but she carries with her a menace that not all the others manage.

However, it is Linda's transformation that always gets me - she goes from a bit of a whiney young woman into a girly, giggling demon with psychotic tendencies. At one point, she just sits cross-legged on the floor watching the mayhem, giggling and twirling her hair. I can hear that screeching titter now and it still gives me the creeps. ::shudder::

There is no redeeming someone once these demons have got hold (not in the first movie, anyway). All they want to do is kill and cause havoc. They are truly the Evil Dead!

Do you find horror movies involving possession scary?

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Monday, 10 August 2015

Monster Monday: Voltan (Jack Palance at his growly best)

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So, I watched Hawk The Slayer at the weekend. It's the original sword and sorcery movie. Watching it led to a long and laugh-filled conversation with my sister, Tasha, and a discussion of the reasons to watch Hawk. Tash will be talking about that on Friday for her Fan Friday post. One of the reasons to watch IMO (and for a snort behind your hand), is the over-acting of Jack Palance as Hawk's evil brother, Voltan.

There's nothing subtle about Voltan. The first thing you see him do is kill his own father, because he won't share the secret of their family's power. He's full of rage, he definitely has a screw loose, and he's all fist-clenching and snarling. And then there's the face that not even a mother could love, and that's before the disfigurement ;P.

Voltan is truly a baddie you can love to hate. He has no redeeming features (and that includes how he's acted). He kills on a whim - he must go through henchmen at an alarming rate.  He makes stunningly awful decisions, and likes to share his plans with all and sundry whem he has them at his mercy. He's a classic! :D

Do you have any favourite OTT villains?

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

Book Review: Vintage by Steve Berman (Ghost story, gay teen)

It might look like my blog is turning into a book review site, but I promise you, it's not, I have just been lucky enough to ready some really good books in the last month. It takes quite a lot for me to get over my own laziness and bother writing a review for a book, so you can take note of this book purely on that note. Anyway, here's my review of the YA Paranormal Ficiton book, Vintage.

Vintage: A Ghost StoryVintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book for a while, it was a recommendation from author Patricia Lynne during the A to Z when I was talking about ghost stories on the Wittegen Press blog. Anyway, I finally got round to reading it, and I am really glad I did.

Vintage is about a teenage boy who meets 'the boy of his dreams' on a lonely road. That meeting is between a ghost and a boy who begins to realise he is a medium. Our narrator is a kid who ran away from home because his parents condemned him for being gay. He lives with his aunt, hiding his sexuality from a small town for fear of more rejection, sharing his life with his best friend, Trace. I love their relationship - frank, supportive and gothic :).

This is a story grounded in the reality of a gay youth dealing with others' reactions to his sexuality, but with the added frisson of his visions of the undead world. He's immediately a character I warmed to and I slipped into his life, following him as he stumbled through his new found gift/curse as well as through his interactions with the living. I even cried when he finally talks to his aunt about his future with her.

This is a warm, dryly funny and real book. I really enjoyed it.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Book Series Review: Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan

So, I've been lucky over the last month, I've found two books series I love. This one, Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan, is focused around a ghost hunter, Ellie Jordan, who traps ghosts and takes them away from her clients' houses. These are (mainly) fast-paced action stories with a mystery to keep the reader guessing. These are my four reviews from Goodreads.

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #1)Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure about this book when I first started it. I picked it up because it was a freebie and I like paranormal adventures. The first half of the book is bogged down with too much explanation, introducing the reader to the techniques, processes and equipment that Ellie uses in her paranormal investigations. There are whole paragraphs giving background information, and it was a little wearing.

However, the story held me. Something I'll say about all the Ellie Jordan books, they're good plots. There are spooks and spine chilling moments, mixed with a good mystery, since Ellie has to discover the ghosts' motives for haunting in order to deal with them.

This book is very much plot driven: the ghost hunting and the mystery pull the reader in and I wanted to find out what was going on. That's why I stuck out the explainy bits (that's why I docked it one star) and I was rewarded with a fantastic climax that made me go out and buy the next book.

Cold Shadows (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #2)Cold Shadows by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, I bought this book on the off chance that the story would be as good as the first book in the series, but with a lot fewer explainy bits. My gamble paid off. This is a better story than the first book, more tightly written and with a lot fewer pauses to drop in long explanations.

Like the first, it's plot driven, but the characters do begin to blossom slowly. Ellie is a woman with a troubled background locked in to the paranormal world. She didn't go searching for ghosts, they found her in a brutal way that led her to become a ghost hunter, wanting to help others who might end up in her position. She puts herself danger to save her clients. She doesn't feel sorry for herself and her past, she just gets on woth things with a dry humour as she narrates the story.

As with the first book, this story really pays off in the climax. All the pieces comes together and its exciting, and scary and I immediately went out and bought the next two books and the pre-ordered the fifth. I found myself getting hooked to this series thanks to this story.

The Crawling Darkness (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #3)The Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book three of the series, and by the time I'd picked this up, I'd already read the first two in three days, so I had high hopes for this story too. And I loved it. I had got to know the main characters, Ellie and Stacy, well in the other stories and their repartee in this one made me smile.

This is another strong mystery that I thought I had pegged, but there's a twist at the climax, for which I tip my hat to the author.

Like any series, the ghosts get bigger and badder in this third installment and we find out some background on another character - Ellie has history with this ghost and it makes her vulnerable. That gives this story an added dimension and I couldn't put the book down. I just wanted to find out what happened.

Great mystery, growing characters. I enjoyed being scared by this book.

Terminal  (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper, #4)Terminal by J.L. Bryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As much as I love the Ellie Jordan books, I was disappointed by this one. The strongest point of these books is the plot, the mystery and this book fell short in comparison to the previous three. It's an interesting overall story about a haunted housing estate, but it just did not hang together as well as the others.

There are some gaps in the story that bothered me. For example, there is an encounter between Ellie and a large number of ghosts in a basement, there's a silent face to face and then it just gets forgotten, not mentioned again. Since EVP had already been used, I thought there might be follow up using this, but there isn't. There's also a lack of interaction with 'the clients' towards the end of the story. I was always rooting for not only Ellie, but the clients as well by the end of the other three stories, but this one felt like they were remote from the end of the story and it left me dissatisfied.

I'm only making a supposition here, but I think the gaps and the remoteness of the story are down to the fact that, as has been the case with the other stories, J. L. Bryan is going bigger with the ghosts, but rather than making an individual spectre more dangerous, he has gone with more ghosts instead, and he's opened the 'stage' of the story out from one house to a large area of country. That created a separateness for me from the people in the story and there were too many moving parts for the plot to keep track, too many ghosts, not really enough resolution.

I also found the climax this time a bit too OTT.

There are lots of good ideas in this story - J.L. Bryan's take on a banshee, which had potential, making deals with hostile ghosts, a mixture of bad guys, but there were so many that none really bore fruit.

I hope the next book focuses back down. This is an okay story, but not a great one like the rest.

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Monday, 27 July 2015

Monster Mondays: The Mummy

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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 :)


  • 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


  • 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!

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