Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
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Friday, 12 February 2016

Ladyhawke - A Love Stronger than All Evil - #FanFridays 17

So in honour of Valentine's Day on Sunday, for Fan Fridays 17 I have chosen to geek out about one of my all time favourite fantasy movies, because it is also a gorgeous love story.

Ladyhawke - A Love Stronger than All Evil

Now if you haven't seen Ladyhawke then you are missing out. This is a film from 1985, but it's a fantasy film, so it hasn't dated. It is a wonderful story of a curse, an epic romance and bravery.

First of all this film has a magnificent cast:

Ladyhawke is medieval fantasy where the only magic is a dreadful curse cast by a man who is supposed to be holy.
  • Navarre is a brave knight on a black steed who carries his family sword, travels in the company of a hawk, and is seeking revenge.
  • Isabeau is a beautiful young woman who is only seen at night, and can calm the huge black wolf which is always close by.
  • Gaston is a very clever thief, known as "the Mouse" who escapes the dungeons of Aquila.
  • The Bishop of Aquila is a man fallen from grace, but with incredible power, which he abuses, killing all those who oppose him.
At it's heart Ladyhawke is a love story between Navarre and Isabeau. Their love created their predicament and their love is all that sustains them. When Navarre was Captain of the guard at Aquila, Isabeau came to live there and they fell in love. But the Bishop was obsessed with her and would let no man have her. In his rage at their love, the Bishop cursed them cruelly: Isabeau to be a hawk by day and a woman by night and Navarre to be a man by day and a wolf by night, only giving them the briefest of glimpses of each other every dawn and sunset.

When Navarre meets Philippe he is on his way back to Aquila to take his revenge on the Bishop, finally having decided it is time to end it. After he meets Philippe he asks him to help him get in to the fortress at Aquila to fulfil his plan. Philippe refuses, but through a mixture of circumstances he comes to find out Navarre and Isabeau's secret and from the monk Imperius, that there may be a chance to break the curse.

The theme throughout the whole film is love against evil, and the Bishop is a very evil man. He was going to hang Philippe before he escaped, along with the tens of others in the dungeons. He is a man without mercy.

The whole cast are superb. Matthew Broderick is brilliant as Mouse, sometimes funny, sometimes a little bit tragic and always loveable. Rutger Hauer is superb as Navarre, focused on his revenge and yet willing to do anything for Isabeau, even though he cannot touch her and believes he never will again. And Michelle Pfeiffer is gentle and sweet as Isabeau and yet also strong as she copes with their curse all but alone until Philippe comes along.

I cannot stress how good this film is and if you are looking for something romantic, but also with action and a great plot for Valentine's Day, you can't go wrong with this one.

What films would you recommend for Valentine's Day?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Why Writing Is the Secret Ingredient - #ThinkyThursdays 10

Why Writing Is the Secret Ingredient

So I was lying in bed this morning just pondering the whole idea of writing and why on earth some of us choose to do it. Let's face it when you look at the downsides you'd think we were crazy:
  • Those niggly little plot points keep us awake at night.
  • Characters talk to us at the most inopportune moments.
  • It's hard to turn mental images into words.
  • Sometimes vocabulary just seems to vanish for no apparent reason and we turn into Forest Gump as far as expression goes.
  • Fight/sex scenes are so complicated.
  • Research will eat our brains if we let it.
  • Sometimes just picking up a pen/ opening the document is so hard because we just can't find the energy to write.
And I could go on. All of us who are writers know we're a bit mad to have chosen to do this.

However, there is something about writing that is so wonderful we just have to keep going. We may emerge from a weekend writing binge looking like a wild person, but we feel amazing. Writing is the secret (and oft times not so secret) ingredient that makes us happy. Writing gives back.
  • Creating intricate plots makes us excited.
  • Our characters chat away so we are never bored.
  • The challenge of translating thoughts into words helps us to grow as people and writers.
  • When we're searching for that words that won't come, sometimes we find even better ones that we hadn't thought of before.
  • Coming up with an exciting/beautifully erotic scene fills us with pride as we pen the last intricate move.
  • We learn so many new and interesting things as we research, and we're never short of an odd fact to fill that awkward silence in a conversation.
  • When we kick writer's block/writer's burnout in the bottom and turn out a thousand words we are kings and queens of our world.

I honestly have no idea what I would do if I couldn't write any more. It's a horrible thought. My imagination and putting it on paper is part of what defines me, and sharing it with others. It is a fundamental part of my nature and I have been doing it since I can remember.

Thank you to everyone who has ever read what I write and thank you to everyone who had ever written what I read.

Is writing your secret ingredient?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Guest Post: Paul DeBlassie III - How Writing and Reading Horror Make You Happy - #WriterlyWednesdays 22

Please join me today to welcome Paul DeBlassie III to my blog to talk about horror writing and how it can have beneficial properties.

How Writing and Reading Horror Make You Happy
Paul DeBlassie III

There's nothing like waking up, first thing in the morning, to horror. All night long dreams turning to nightmares have spun through hallowed recesses of consciousness. Your pulse is wild, mouth dry and hands clammy.

Well, okay maybe this isn't anything we go through on a nightly basis. But, mind-blowing horrific images and narratives swept through my sleep during the writing of The Unholy. By morning time, sun rising majestically over the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico I was both exhausted and refreshed.

I finished with weekly psychotherapy treating survivors of the dark side of religion. People suffer horror under many guises. Religion is one of the mightiest of horror machines. Suffering cripples the human psyche when guilt and fear, propagated in the name of a god in the sweet bye and bye, rule life and limb, love and relationships. At the end of a week of confronting the horrors of minds nearly swallowed whole by the dark side of religion, I’m ready to write and write horror.

From the night's twisting and turning, sheets in knots and damp, I remembered the face of the evil archbishop in The Unholy. He's a misogynist, smooth, compelling and seductive. In the nightmares of the night his nature curls through dark images that lend themselves to the momentum of the fright that laces through narrative and dialogue in The Unholy. I've met this man personally in one version or another in patients I've treated and in nightmare visions that expose his cunning and ruthlessness.

The young medicine woman and seer in The Unholy, Claire Sanchez, battles the evil archbishop. Nightmare scenes prepare her for the dangers ahead. Horror readies her for action that will either forge her womanly resolve and might or shatter her mind into tiny crumbly bits. She reads the dream symbols and psychically moves through roadblocks to growth and consciousness.

Horror sweeps the mind clean and makes us ready to live out what we need to live out. It makes me ready to write. Patients in psychotherapy and readers of horror know that terror brings to light what’s lurking in the shadows. Unconscious skeletons in the basement of the mind start rattling. Dreams in therapy and images in the reading of horror blow out the psychic tubes so we can confront unseen and unknown demons.

Writing and reading horror ushers us face to face with hidden fears. We think it's the heroine's problem or conflict or monster, but it's our masked and denied anxieties that stare up at us from page after page of riveting action. Without taking the plunge into darkness and coming out on the other side of the story, we’re left with anxieties and terrors locked up that will one day unexpectedly grab hold of us and reek havoc. What we don't face haunts us and, one day grabs us and takes us down.

So, what’s locked up inside doesn’t stay in the mind’s basement. It finds a way of escape. And, when it does, it isn’t pretty. Unnecessary problems and conflicts and traumas besiege us. So, as Claire, young medicine woman in The Unholy, discovers, running from what scares you makes it bigger.

Writing horror, reading horror, sets in play riveting unconscious forces of anxiety and bold-faced fear. They make us cringe and scream, at least on the inside. Ultimately, if we finish the story, and we're still in one piece, we sigh, glad for the ending and long-awaited emotional release. We're grateful that the weird and evil happenings are spun out and spent, the mind quieter, cleared out, happier.

Book Information

The Unholy
by Paul DeBlassie III

A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, "The Unholy" is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

About the Author

As a psychologist I've been writing about life, love, and spirituality for over thirty years. There's nothing like being a husband, father, and grandfather to keep a serious writer grounded! Thrillers set in the mystic land of Aztlan are my forte. The Unholy is an award-winning novel exploring the dark side of religion and the human potential for spiritual freedom, love, and transformation.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Most Useful Piece of Software - Adblock Plus #TipsTuesdays 22

The Most Useful Piece of Software
Adblock Plus

So today's Tips Tuesday is very simple it is a piece of advice for every user of the internet. I am sure most of you already know, but I didn't realise how useful something like this was until a friend mentioned it. Since I installed it, so many things have become easier.

The piece of software I am talking about is Adblock Plus.

It is a FREE plugin for many browsers including Safari that blocks ads on websites for you. Thus making your browsing easier. Often it is the ads that try to put Malware etc on your computer or tie up you browser with pop-up windows that won't go away etc.

It is also configurable, so if you do want to support a site because you know it has unobtrusive ads and the site deserves the revenue you can add it to the whitelist.

This plugin makes browsing:
  • faster
  • safer
  • much less annoying.
If you don't have it yet, I thoroughly recommend it.

For those with Smartphones and Tablets, there is also AdBlock Browser for an ad free internet experience. Since I don't have a smart phone and my tablet is Win10, I haven't tried this one, but if it is as good as the browser plugin, it's awesome.

Monday, 8 February 2016

I am seeking pre-release reviewers for my new book to post during the launch week which starts on 21st Feb 2016. When you boil it down the new book is gay romance with telepathic figure skaters, so if you like that sort of thing, this is the book for you :).

I can provide an ARC of the book in PDF, Kindle (mobi) or ePub.

There was an earlier version of the story published as part of the giveaway games anthologies, but this one has been re-polished and it has grown by a third, so it is a lot different to the original. If you think you've already read it, you haven't :).

This will be an Amazon only launch (have finally caved and am trying out a new system) so the reviews would need to go there, thank you.

You can drop a comment with an email where I can contact you or drop me a line via the contact form in the left side margin and I will get back to you.

Many thanks to anyone who is interested.

The Machine - Rise of the Gifted by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Title: The Machine (Rise of the Gifted)
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Rating: PG13
Genre: Contemporary SciFi, Romance, Gay
Length: novella (22.5K)

Rafe Derouet used to be a world class, British figure skater competing against his arch rival, flamboyant American Louis Hayes. A catastrophic knee injury ended his career and now all he can do is look on from the sidelines, commentating where he used to be a star. He hates Louis and wants nothing more than to see his nemesis go down in a blaze of failure.

Then mysterious men in black with guns take over a press meet, trying to arrest Louis, awakening something dangerous in their target, and setting in motion events they cannot control. Most shocking of all, Rafe finds out Louis can literally read his mind.

Dragged into a murky world of government agents and x-files by one of those x-files, Rafe finds his world view completely changing. And, along the way, his hatred for Louis proves to be something else entirely.

Now Rafe just needs to survive so he can decide what to do about it.

If you are interested in being a pre-release reviewer for other Wittegen Press books as well, we have a reviewer pool mailing list. Simply fill in this form at the link below to apply and we will add you to the list.

Vincent Price - The Master of the Human Monster #MonsterMondays 32

Greetings and welcome to Monster Mondays 32. It is my 19th wedding anniversary today so, for a change, rather than picking one of my own favourite monsters, I asked my darling husband to pick his. His response was "All that comes to mind is Poe characters, portrayed by whats his name." This turned out to be Vincent Price :).

Vincent Price
The Master of the Human Monster

I have to admit, I am not a huge Poe fan, I find his stories a little too dark for my tastes, but I do very much like "The Masque of the Red Death" made in 1964 and directed by Roger Corman. Vincent Price is absolutely magnificent as the dastardly Prince Prospero. The film is based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe of the same name.

The story is thus: Prince Prospero, a Satanist and altogether nasty man, finds that a village in his domain is infected with the Red Death and he orders the whole village burnt while kidnapping a young woman, Francesca and her father Lodvico and suitor Gino to gain her cooperation. Then he invites local nobles to his for a Masque ball to be safe from the Red Death and enjoy themselves while the peasants are dying. Of course he ends up getting his just deserts when the Red Death, whom Prospero mistakes for an envoy of Satan, comes to the party as well.

Vincent Price is wicked, charming and magnificent as Prospero. You hate him and yet are charmed by him at the same time. Prospero plays with human beings like toys, killing them for pleasure and using them as he will, and yet, to those he likes he is the epitome of hospitality. His terror at the end of the film is simply beautifully done.

I think this is my favourite Poe adaptation of the era.

The thing about Vincent Price is that he is so very good at playing bad. And he has the most magnificent voice, so distinctive and so captivating. There has never been any one quite like him.

He was a very prolific actor and appeared in many different genres, but he will always be remembered the most for his horror films. His human monsters or, sometimes, monsters hiding behind a human guise were always so superb.

The House on Haunted Hill is another of my favourites in which he starred and House of Wax.

Do you have a favourite Vincent Price film/appearance?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Disturbed - The Sound of Silence - Awesome version of the song

So I know this is a little late since this song was uploaded in Dec last year, but it is brilliant.

I grew up with Simon and Garfunkel in that my parents were fans, so I have always loved their music and this version of "The Sound of Silence" by Disturbed is brilliant. The powerful ending is simply amazing and the lead singer has a fantastic voice.

The video is beautiful as well.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Vampire Prosecutor - Korean Drama with Fangs! #FanFriday 16

Welcome to Fan Fridays 16 and another chance for me to share with you some of my geeky nature. Today is about a recent discovery of mine that I just have to share. :)

Vampire Prosecutor
Korean Drama with Fangs!

So I have recently begun to try out Asian drama as well as Asian films, which I have been a fan of for a long time, and I am so glad I started down this road. Some of them just fit me to a tee :). Vampire Prosecutor is a South Korean television show staring Yeon Jung-hoon as Min Tae-yeon a prosecutor who leads a team that solve the most bizarre murders.

Seven years ago Tae-yeon was investigating a series of murders and caught up with the perpetrator, only to nearly be killed and ultimately turned into a vampire. He is still trying to solve that crime and he uses his vampire powers to solve other cases. These powers all revolve around blood:
  • At a crime scene he can trace back where blood evidence came from and how the crime occurred.
  • If he drinks the blood of the victim he experiences their death and sees what they saw.
Of course this leads to questions about his investigation technique.

Yoo Jung-In and Min Tae-yeon
The only person in the know is detective Hwang Soon-bom (Lee Won-jong) who runs interference for Tae-yeon when necessary. The other two members of the team are Yoo Jung-in (Lee Young-ah) a rookie prosecutor and Choi Dong-man (Kim Joo-young) their intern. Trouble arises as Jung-in starts to question Tae-yeon's methods, even though they keep bringing in the bad guys.

From the first episode of this I was hooked - I love it. This is a police procedural, like CSI, but with a vampire as the lead investigator. The team solve murders and the crimes are whodunnits just like your average cop show, but with an extra edge that makes it for me.

The characters are great too.

Tae-yeon tries to be all aloof with most of his team, keeping himself emotionally unavailable because of his secret and yet they begin to get to him. He had to care about them.

Soon-bom is loud and a forthright detective with a side of funny. He sometimes plays the fool, but there is a brain working away in his head.

Yoo Jung-In and Hwang Soon-bom
I have to admit I found Jung-in a little annoying to begin with, but she has really grown on me, just as her character has grown. She's a good investigator and keeps Tae-yeon on his toes.

Dong-man is underpaid and often overworked and something of a dork, but also highly entertaining.

The vampire effects are beautiful and understated and, yes, I'm not going to lie, incredibly sexy. These are my kinds of vampires.

If I could get my hands on the DVDs of this I would, but unfortunately Amazon UK only seem to have season 1 and that is ridiculously expensive. If you're in the US you can see both on Amazon Video with a DramaFever Instant add on (and there is a 7 day free trial period if you feel like main-lineing it) and while s1 is also ridiculous on DVD, s2 is a reasonable price.

Do you have any Asian drama recommendations?

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Joy of Science - #ThinkyThursdays 9

The Joy of Science

So I've been thinking about science and how amazing it is. This was brought on by the fact that I have finally seen The Martian and it's brilliant (Rob is currently reading the book and I have dibs once he's finished).

I feel that I was very lucky growing up. I have a father who, although went into the Church of England as a vicar, started off a technician in the RAF and a mother who was a dairy chemist, so our family is very much about the science. We were always encouraged in the ways of science and engineering which, in the seventies, were not considered what girls did.

Soph and I also went to an all girls secondary school that was very much known for its science teaching as well as its classics. Our school (Ashford School for Girls as was - it's now co-ed) won a competition to put an experiment on the NASA shuttle in conjunction with ITN just after we started and, due to the Challenger disaster, it was delayed so much that at least three generations of pupils got to work on it, including us, who were only lowly first years when the original group won. Helping with that and going to Florida to see the experiment go up in the Shuttle in 1992 was utterly brilliant and helped fuel my love for science.

The experiment was to see how a crystal garden would grown in zero gravity.

Soph and I even went on national television when the experiment was set to go on the Juno mission (Anglo/Russian) as well. We were on This Morning with Heinz Wolff and we set the experiment off before a commercial break and had to hastily improvise because it didn't work. It was a prototype and got stuck, so we had to fix it :). In the end it didn't pan out, but it was fun while on the books.

You'll be happy to know the experiment gave some really interesting results when it flew on STS-47 Endeavour.

I feel so privileged to have grown up in an environment that inspired my love of science and engineering. I know many women were discouraged from the area simply because it was seen as the male domain. I very much hope this has changed, but from what I see on social media I fear, not everywhere.

Science is amazing and should be open to everyone.

If you're wondering, I became a computer systems engineer before I dived into this whole writing thing with both feet. :) My Alevels are in Maths, Physics and Art, which probably give away my enjoyment of both sides of the line, I still love science as well as the arts and am so very, very glad I had so many wonderful experiences over the years.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Guest Blog: How Serious Am I? Patricia Lynne - #WriterlyWednesdays 21

Welcome to Writerly Wednesdays 21 and help me to make fellow author Patricia Lynne feel at home today. Patricia is talking about a very important question that come to all writers.

How Serious Am I?
Patricia Lynne

There comes a time for every writer when they decide to publish, be it independently or through a publisher, that they have to figure out how serious they want to be about it. The hope is to gain rabid fans, and make some money. ;)

Every writer would love to be the next big thing. It’s something I've mused on more than once. Imagining my books optioned for movies and sold around the world gives me shivers. But I've also had a time when writing was my only job. It was no walk in the park. Building an audience was hard when I didn't have money to spend on marketing.

It led me to ask myself, How serious do I want to take my writing?

Yes, I’d like to make money with my books, but I also enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about sales. I have a day job to pay the bills. It also allows me to set aside money for marketing my books in the hopes of growing my audience.

But I still grapple with that question. I published my first book in 2011, and I still don’t know if I want this to be a career or hobby. All I can really say is I enjoy writing and have no plans on stopping any time soon. If it results in sales and fans, then hooray. =D

Until fame and fortune find me, I think I’ll just enjoy the ride. I’ll still be asking myself how serious am I being, but as along as I’m happy, I think that’s the more important thing.

About the Author:

Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes new adult under the name Patricia Josephine.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.


Book Info

Being Human

For Tommy, the only thing he needs to do is survive.

But surviving isn’t easy. The hunt for blood is tricky when humans fear the night. Vampire Forces, a special branch of police who hunt the undead, are determined to turn every vampire to ash. Desire sits on the edge of his mind, urging him to become the monster humans believe he is.

Tommy can only trust his twin brother. With Danny’s help, Tommy must navigate the human world he’s forgotten. He’ll discover friendship and betrayal, find that the worst monsters are very human, and understand that family means more than blood.

As the number of humans that mean more than a meal growing, Tommy learns there’s more to life than simple survival. Sometimes being human doesn’t mean being a human.