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.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Wonders of the Ghostbusters Franchise PT 1 #FanFridays 21


The Wonders of the Ghostbusters Franchise Pt1

N.B. This post is full of spoilers for the original movie, but it's been out for over 30 years, so I hope you don't mind.

I have, along with many others, been a fan of Ghostbusters for a long time. I did not see it in the cinema because in 1984 I was pre-teen and it would have scared the pants off me :). I saw it when it hit TV, but I have no idea when that was. I just know I loved it.

Nothing the franchise has brought to the big or small screen has really disappointed me since either, no, not even Ghostbusters II.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Without a doubt my favourite ghostbuster from the original lineup has to be Ray. Dan Aykroyd plays him beautifully and I love how earnest and enthusiastic he is.

He gives everything his whole heart and seems to be the one who can cause the most trouble just by being himself.

He is, after all, the reason for one of the best lines ever:
Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES"!

Egon is definitely a close second. Harold Ramis played him so completely straight laced and academic, yet, slightly from left field. I loved the fact that here you have a highly intelligent, gifted scientist who has a complete fascination with spooks.

Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

Other things I absolutely love from the film:
This is not a perfect film, but it is a fun one. It has ghosts for a start, which is always a winner for me, but it also brought something new to the genre. It lifted it. I think it was the "science " angle that I loved. Ghostbusters mixes spooks with science fiction so very well and makes us laugh as well.

In 1991 I was lucky enough to go to Florida and I still remember the Ghostbusters experience at Universal Studios. I assume it is long gone now, but it is one of those things that has stuck in my memory, just like the film.

Ghostbusters is a good film - next week, Ghostbusters II.

Are you a fan? Who is your favourite character?


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Guest: Speculative Fiction is Better than SFF - Gwen Tolios #WriterlyWednesdays 36



Please join me today in welcoming fellow author Gwen Tolios to my blog. I know many people hear the term "speculative fiction" and are unsure what it means. Today Gwen is explaining the genre and why it is so great.

Spec fic > SF/F 

(aka Speculative Fiction is better than SFF)

by Gwen Tolios


In high school, I remember arguing with a friend about what genre to classify the film Laputa: Castle in the Sky​. Was it fantasy? One of the protagonists ​was​ a long lost princess in possession of a magical amulet. Or was it science fiction? There ​were​ robots and flying ships and advanced weaponry.


We couldn’t settle the debate, so we called it science-­fiction-­fantasy. (Older me now knows the term science-fantasy).

Science Fiction & Fantasy are often bundled, and frequently abbreviated to SFF, SF­F. SF/F, or other such variations. Sometimes stories are distinctly one genre or the other but presented side by side in short story markets. Other times, elements of both are evident in the same work. Fiction particularly like to combine the two ­ look at ​Gail Carriger’s Soulless series​. It’s got science fiction ­ steampunk technology ­ and fantasy ­ vampires and werewolves ­ elements merged seamlessly in her world.

Don’t quote me on this, but I think the term “speculative fiction” came about because saying “science fiction and fantasy” was too much of a mouthful. (Look at that, wikipedia tells me ​the term has been around since the late 40s​)

When I say I’m a speculative fiction author, I’m saying my writing isn’t confined to space stations and foreign moons, or the magical underbelly of Chicago or a medieval based fantasy world. I write whatever calls to me, from the sirens in the ocean to the child brides in the stars. Paranormal, sword and sorcery, biopunk, space operas. I’m a generalist, not a specialist in this world of fiction and I adore my infinite sandbox of worlds to play with.

It helps that I adore the word ‘speculate’.​ ​What better describes my thought process in developing a culture for a species that was created and raised by a corporation? Or contemplate the appearance of mermaid tribes based on whales? Or imagine the long term benefits of the ​Internet of Things​ and pretty much any WIRED article? I wonder and muse and speculate​ about the potential worlds in mine, along mine, and those it might become. The future of movies, the magical blessing of never having broken a bone, the banished kelpie now living in Arizona.

Speculative fiction, however, isn’t simply fantasy, science-fiction, and science-­fantasy. It’s alternative history, magical realism, and horror too. It’s any world that’s built out of the idea of ‘what if’ and ‘wouldn’t that be cool’.

So when people ask me what I write, I always say speculative fiction. It’s the broadest label I can use to define the range of pieces I have while still informing readers of what they can expect from me. It’s so much cooler than limiting myself to science-fantasy.

~*~

About the Author


Gwen Tolios is a speculative fiction author living in Chicago with the most antisocial cat ever. She’s the author of ​Flicker​ and blogs at ​Fulfilling Dreams​. You can also follow her daily rambles on ​Twitter​.

~*~


Flicker

Living on a farm in rural Wisconsin, Cydelle has always communicated with the ghosts of the animals that visit her home. But you can't have a conversation with a ghost horse. To cure her loneliness, Cydelle goes hunting for a human ghost to talk to.



Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Recipe: Mexican Chicken and Wild Rice Soup #TipsTuesdays 37


Greetings and welcome to my blog this week for Tips Tuesday and another healthy recipe. This is based on a recipe from Goodfood, but I'm putting in more details and have changed it a little, hence the post :).

Mexican Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This is a great recipe for a hot day - it's light and (slightly) spicy and has lots of things that are good for you.

The recipe can be gluten free - none of the ingredients contain gluten on their own - you just have to be careful with a couple of them and check the label because some products are cross contaminated. All the varieties I have linked to are gluten free.

You could also make this recipe vegetarian by shredding tofu using a box grater and substituting that for the chicken, and using vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Serves 4 (or refrigerate and reheat a second day for 2 - N.B. make sure to bring the soup to the boil then simmer gently for a while, when reheating, to insure everything is back up to temperature.)

Ingredients


  • 2 tsp oil (olive, coconut or sunflower are all okay)
  • 1 onion (I used red)
  • 1 green or red pepper (I used a roasted and skinned red pepper from a jar in brine not oil)
  • ~200g sweetcorn, canned or frozen (if you get a can that is slightly smaller, don't worry)
  • 1-2 tblspn chipotle paste (check the label for gluten free) (I use 1 tbspn for mild heat)
  • 150g wild/basmati rice mix
  • 400g can of black beans (check label for gluten free - some producers warn for contamination)
  • 1L low sodium chicken stock (check the label for gluten free)
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tspn dried coriander leaf or small bunch of fresh coriander chopped
  • low fat soured cream
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tspn garlic powder (check it has not been bulked with gluten)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tsp oil gently in a frying pan and add the chicken breasts.
  2. Cook on a low heat with the lid on, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through (approx 10 mins, but always check to make sure there is no pink left and the juices run clear). Then leave to rest before shredding with 2 forks.
  3. Cook the rice as per the instructions on the packet - mine took 20mins so remember to do this in plenty of time. (You can use a precooked packet as per the original recipe, just check the ingredients to make sure there is nothing in it you do not want.)
  4. Dice the avocado and place in a bowl.
  5. Add the lime juice and garlic powder to the avocado and stir well, then leave to infuse.
  6. Finely chop the onion.
  7. In a large saucepan heat the other tsp of oil and add the onion, putting on a lid and cooking over a low heat until translucent (approx 5 mins). Stir every now and then to prevent sticking and browning.
  8. While the onion is cooking, chop the pepper.
  9. Add the pepper to the pan and cook for 2 mins.
  10. Add the sweetcorn, chipotle paste and pre-cooked rice and stir, cooking for a further 2 mins.
  11. Add the black beans and the stock and bring to the boil.
  12. Turn down to a simmer and add half the chicken and the coriander, simmering for about a minute.
  13. Allow to cool a little and then ladle into bowls.
  14. Scatter some more or the shredded chicken on top of each bowl (and a little of the coriander if you are using fresh) and add a dollop of soured cream and the prepared avocado for extra flavour. (Omit the soured cream if you are being very, very good :)).
The chipotle paste is what makes this dish sing. It gives a little bit of heat (or a lot if you add more :)) and a beautiful flavour that permeates through the whole dish and contrasts wonderfully with the soured cream and avocado. I do not like spicy food, so do not be put off by the chipotle if you are the same. I was afraid of it for a long time, but, used in smaller amounts it is wonderful even for those of us who fear chilli :).

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Much Maligned Vampire Genre #ThinkyThusrdays 19


Good day to one and all, I hope you are all well. My thoughts this week are not overly deep, but have turned to vampires ... as they do every now and then. I think it is a great shame the genre is so maligned in some quarters and this is why.

The Much Maligned Vampire Genre


If there is one genre that will induce scorn, even faster than the romance genre in general (and that's not deserved either) it's the vampire genre. Thanks to the media people equate everything with Twilight and dismiss it.

Now whether you love Twilight or hate it, you have to admit that not every vampire novel out there is the same.

I've had vampire stories, both fanfiction and original compared to Twilight and they have absolutely nothing to do with it. Just because a protagonist has fangs, they are not Edward Cullen. Tarring an entire genre with the same brush as one book series is silly, especially when it breaks down into so many sub-genres anyway.

There are so many to choose from:
  • Paranormal Romance - the protagonist is usually gorgeous and sexy
  • YA vampire - there is often romance in here as well, but more innocent
  • Horror - the vampires tend to be nasty, nasty beasties
  • New Adult vampire - similar to YA, but with older characters and slightly grittier plots
  • Dark Fantasy - fantasy with elements of horror
  • Urban Fantasy - contemporary fantasy in modern settings
And I am sure there are more and crossovers between each.

I'm not a Twilight fan, but if you are, I hope it brings you great pleasure, because that's what reading is all about.

When it comes to reading about vampires, I have found that I prefer them to be on the more blood thirsty side:
I do enjoy a good paranormal romance as well, but it's the bloodier ones I always seem to come back to over and over again. Although another of my favourite series is Anita Blake Vampire Hunter by Laurell K. Hamilton. They do start getting a little silly, but mostly I'm right with it up until book 12 or so.

Just like any genre, vampires and all their many sub-genres have some great books and some truly terrible ones. It is very likely that vampire fandom will never agree on which ones deserve to be at which end of the spectrum :).

Publishers and retailers like to have books packaged neatly into genres so they can flog them to their customers by saying 'come, look at this. if you like x you'll love y', but this seems to have given the media carte blanche to try and do the same thing, when they often don't know what they're talking about. And, of course, because the most famous recent vampire book series was popular mainly with teenage girls, it must be maligned - which is a whole other post - don't get me started :).

I have read and will continue to read vampire novels of all the sub-genres. Some are fun, some scary and some are just nice. This is a genre that covers many others with its net and deserves far more respect than it often gets.

Three cheers for vampires, is what I say!

What about you? Do you love vampires? Have you given up looking because there are so many bad vampire novels out there? What is your favourite vampire novel(s)?


My Vampire Books


Wittegen Press
$0.99 | £0.99
Amazon | Other
Wittegen Press
$3.98 | £2.98
Amazon | Other

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

I Love Writing #WriterlyWednesdays 35


Welcome to my blog for another Writerly Wednesday. Today I'm going to share something very fundamental to me: the fact I love writing and why. I hope you enjoy.

I Love Writing

Writing:
  • is hard
  • takes dedication
  • is often a thankless task
  • will eat our every waking thought and sometimes the sleeping ones too
  • & sometimes makes other people think we're nuts
But, fellow authors, we love it, don't we?!

No writer I know just writes because they fancied trying it - at least, not the ones who keep at it. We write because we love to create ... and a lot of the time because we'd go completely nuts if we didn't. I know the voices in my head would never shut up if I didn't write them down.

Writing has several stages:
  1. planning and research (sometimes included during step 2)
  2. writing
  3. editing
  4. rewriting.
Different writers find more or less joy in different parts. 
  • Some of us love the initial planning where all the ideas start to come, 
  • Some love the actual turning their ideas into words. 
  • Others relish in pulling their manuscript apart to make it great, with or without the help of an editor. 
  • And some, I'm sure, enjoy the challenge of the rewrite to get all the new edits smoothly into the book.
Personally I love the writing part (I don't do much planning before I start) and I enjoy rewriting as well. I find rewriting much easier than the initial writing and sometimes it can be a lot of fun to make the pertinent changes. To make something better always feels good. Occasionally rewrites also lead to moments of genius and things about our own characters we never even knew.

What is your favourite stage of writing?


As I mentioned, writing is hard, but I find it gives back so much and I assume we must all find this, at least when we're not tearing our hair out trying to get from plot point A to plot point B with argumentative characters and a universe that want to give far too many details all at the same time.

They say reading expands the mind, but so does writing. I retweeted a link yesterday about daydreaming being part of a writer's job (https://t.co/U7blnZ0ZoF) and it is. Sometimes just sitting and wondering is the best thing we can do.

A writer is never not writing, even if they don't have a pen in their hand or a keyboard under their fingers. We spend our days with our heads full of ideas. Some of the places a writer may find inspiration are:
  • just before going to sleep
  • just after waking up
  • in the shower
  • on the bus
  • driving to work (this can be problematic when you realise you have reached your destination and have no idea what the journey was like - best avoided unless stuck in traffic :))
  • watching TV (either we want to fix plots or know we could do it better or ... well you get the idea)
  • just walking
  • basically anywhere.
That person sitting in the cafe staring into space might actually be a writer;  you never know.

Where is your favourite place to daydream?


When I am writing I am free. My mind can go anywhere, do anything. Sometimes it feels like every word takes hours of work, at others words come so fast typing seems too slow.

But it is always rewarding.

Of course the best thing of all, ever, if someone reading my writing and enjoying it. I cannot explain how happy this makes me feel and I suspect most of us writers are the same. Some claim they write only for themselves, but I know it's the sharing that makes me love it too.

To all the writers out there, thank you, you make the world a richer place.

To all the readers out there, thank you, you make all the struggles worth while with one kind word.

Writers, never give up what you love. Sometimes it feels like an uphill struggle, but it's worth it in the end. I wish you all luck, because it never hurts to have some, and stamina. We can do this crazy thing called writing.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Bake With Peas, Baby Corn and Mushrooms #TipsTuesdays 36


This week for Tips Tuesdays I am continuing to share some of the staple recipes I use all the time. This one is based off this recipe from allrecipes, but I've tweaked it, so I'm sharing my version. It is very tasty and filling without heavy amounts of starch, but I have to admit mine is not as low fat as the original.

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Bake With Peas, Baby Corn and Mushrooms

Serves 2 with healthy appetites or 3 who like smaller portions

Ingredients

  • ~half a head of Broccoli
  • 6 baby corns
  • 1 large flat mushroom (I find the large mushrooms much tastier than the small closed cap ones, but if that's all you can find they will do - use 4 or 5)
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 4-6 skinless chicken thigh fillets (the original recipe uses chicken breast, but I think thigh is much tastier)
  • 1 400g can Heinz Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 50g Hellmans Light Mayo
  • 2 tspn curry powder or 1 tspn of curry paste (you can add more of less to your taste if you like)
  • splash of milk (I use semi-skimmed because that's what we have in the house)
N.B. All the vegetable amounts are very hand-wavy - if you prefer one to the other, add more of that. This is a very as-you-like-it recipe and easy to adapt to personal tastes.

Gluten Free - for those who require gluten free this is a recipe for gluten free cream of chicken soup or the Pacific brand does a gluten free condensed soup (but its organic so it's expensive :)) and you will need to make sure your curry powder brand is gluten free as well - many aren't.

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F
  2. Cut the broccoli into bite sized florets.
  3. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the broccoli. Cook for 2-3 mins until almost tender.
  4. Chop the baby corns and mushroom into bite sized pieces.
  5. Trim the chicken thigh fillets and cut into bite sized pieces.
  6. Put all the veg and chicken into a medium sized oven proof dish (a standard Pyrex one is good).
  7. Put the soup, mayo, curry powder and milk into a bowl and mix together top make the sauce (a whisk is useful to make sure the curry powder is mixed in properly).
  8. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix to coat thoroughly.
  9. Put in the oven and cook for 45 mins, until you can see everything bubbling nicely and the chicken is cooked through.
The broccoli will go quite soft, but the baby corns give a nice crunch because they don't lose their texture. For me its the addition of the curry powder that really makes this recipe sing. It gives it another flavour level and brings out the taste of the mushroom.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Review: Ghostbusters ROCKS!


So I promised to tell everyone what I thought after I had seen Ghostbusters, and rather than going at the weekend I had a chance to see it yesterday. There were only four of us in the cinema (first showing on a Friday afternoon), but we all really enjoyed it if the loud laughing was anything to go by :). Now I just have to find a time I can see it again and drag my darling husband along too.

Ghostbusters ROCKS!


Cast:
Kristen Wiig...Erin Gilbert
Melissa McCarthy...Abby Yates
Kate McKinnon...Jillian Holtzmann
Leslie Jones...Patty Tolan
Neil Casey...Rowan North
Chris Hemsworth...Kevin
Rating: 12A
Summary (from IMDB):
Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

There are no two ways about it, this film is hilarious. Soph and I were laughing for almost the entire film.

That being said there was one problem with it: the beginning. The pacing at the start is just all wrong. When it first began I was rather worried it was going to be terrible. The whole bit with the Dean of Abby's college is just juvenile, stupid and unnecessary. However, once we moved past the hiccup of the first ten to fifteen minutes, this is a work or pure brilliance.

Let's start with the special effects. Soph and I saw it in 3D because that was the only option for afternoon showings. The 3D is good and is actually awesome during the closing credits (more about those later), but is really unnecessary. It's 3D for the sake of 3D, not because it enhances anything in the film.

The ghosts, on the other hand, are awesome. They echo the spirit of the original films while being one hundred percent up to date and visually spectacular. This is a film where CGI can shine and it so does.

Next we have the cameos, so many cameos. They're all brilliant. It's a shame Rick Moranis didn't do one too, because all the others were great - especially Sigourney Weaver's.

Then there is the plot, which I loved. There is a similar premise for the beginning of the Ghostbusters, but this film is not simply a remake of the original. It has its own spin, its own advanced plot and its own way of playing out. It also put the Ghostbusters in a much more modern context, Homeland Security and all. This is a well thought out, well plotted film.

There are nods to the original, lots of them, and nods to loads of other films too (watch for the Scooby Doo one, it's hilarious). This is a movie that recognises its heritage and its niche. It celebrates its genre with open enjoyment. It's not trying to be anything but a highly entertaining comedy and it goes for it, all guns blazing.

To do this, it has to have excellent characters. The Ghostbusters are superb. Each had their own back story, their own character and their own depth. These ladies and gent (because Kevin is a Ghostbuster) are not simply stereotypes, they are people who are there, at least originally, for the science. And yes, Patty is in on the science too.

Each of the Ghostbusters is based off a stereotype comic books kind of character, but what is done brilliantly, is that is not all they are.

In order of appearance:

Erin (Kristen Wiig) is the "serious scientist" with the bad suits and the high academic goals, but when it comes to actually seeing real ghosts, she totally loses it. Her eyes light up and propriety can go hang itself.

Abby (Melissa McCarthy) is the "wacky scientist" chasing the supernatural, but she's a physicist at heart and she wants not to simply prove it exists, but understand how it works. She's passionate, she's intelligent and she understands the real world.

Jillian (Kate McKinnon) is totally the "crazy engineer" who can build anything from spare parts given a few hours; the A-team has nothing on her. Yet she likes to sing and dance when she's working. She has more than one screw loose and loves her work.

Patty (Leslie Jones) is the "streetwise New Yorker", but she doesn't just know the streets, she a walking encyclopedia of the history of the place too. She's tough, but she tries to be nice to everyone in the subway too. She has brains, they've just never been applied to science before.

Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) is the "dumb secretary", but I was so wrong yesterday when I speculated he was just a trope. Kevin is the dumb blond taken to the nth degree. He's so stupid he's almost innocent, except he isn't at all. I love him.

Rowan North (Neil Casey) is the "loser with a grudge" and I totally believed he was a complete psycho. I can't say too much without giving away spoilers, but he is a great villain - totally deadpan and perfectly off his rocker.

This is a film full of wonderful characters played by fantastic actors. Everyone in this film brings something to the table and makes it incredibly enjoyable.

Were there plot holes? - I've no idea, I was enjoying it so much I didn't analyse it. Once it got going after the initial pacing issue at the beginning, I just laughed and giggled and had a wonderful time.

Then, last but not least, are the closing credits. Everyone else making films, this is the way to do it. The closing credits are worth watching all the way through (and yes, there is a post credits scene, but, unlike the Marvel movies, it's not boring to sit and wait for it). The screen does not have great credits at the start and then go to black with hundreds of names listed, it actually keeps being visually interesting right to the end. Stay to the moment the screen goes off - you won't be disappointed.



Don't listen to the fanboys who have voted this film down just because it is a female led cast. Watching this I laughed more than I have laughed in a film for a very long time. This is how to do comedy. As I said at the top: Ghostbusters ROCKS!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Controversy of the New Ghostbusters #ThinkyThursdays 18


Good day to one and all and welcome to my blog for Thinky Thursdays. Today I want to talk about something that I've seen popping up on my dash on various social media all week - the new Ghostbusters movie.

The Controversy of the New Ghostbusters


The first thing I will say is that I haven't had a chance to see the film yet. We intend to see it this weekend since we can no longer go on a week day because Rob works in London and doesn't get home in time. So this post is speculation, prior to viewing the movie.

However, I have seen the trailers and they make me laugh, which, I think is the point of a summer comedy. I've also seen it said that the trailers don't do it justice, which ups my expectations even more :).


All of my friends who have already seen it and have expressed an opinion said they enjoyed it. It's not perfect, but then most films aren't. All the reviews I have read said it was fun, even if some of them mentioned it had a few problems here and there. The overall response has been positive. It's not Shakespeare, but then is was never supposed to be. The original wasn't perfect either.

A (mostly) male fanbase has been complaining about the film since the moment it was announced, claiming it will destroy their childhood memories of the original film. This is childish in the extreme, if nothing else. Basing your dislike of something on the fact that it was recast with female characters is misogynistic and ridiculous. Voting the film down on IMDB before it is even released is plain stupid.

It is also, however, very wrong to declare that anyone who doesn't like the film is sexist. If they don't like it because all the principles have been made female, then they are sexist, if they don't like it because they just didn't enjoy it for other reasons, then that's perfectly okay and is bound to happen. Not everyone likes the same films.

I've also seen complaints about the way the male characters come off in the film.

Now, the only male character I've actually seen is Kevin as played by Chris Hemsworth in the trailers, and admittedly he is a bimbo. He's the walking embodiment of the bimbo secretary trope, which, frankly, I think is interesting to see played by a man rather than a woman for once. I'm also pretty sure Chris isn't overly desperate for work so he must have taken the part because he thought it was funny.

I'm not sure which of the other male characters are important in the movie, but if you look at the original it's the Ghostbusters against the world. Peck is a bureaucratic idiot that caused the whole end of the film. The Mayor sticks his head in the sand until he had no choice but to believe. And Tully is a socially inept accountant who becomes a victim.

Hence in a remake that is faithful to the feel of the original I would expect the Ghostbusters against the world again. Does this not automatically make all the male characters likely to be focus of ridicule in some form or another, since the major four characters now happen to be female? I haven't seen it so I don't know how it plays out, but that's what I would be expecting.

The only character I would expect not to be treated that way would be a gender swap Dana, if they've kept that trope in and decided gender swapping was a good idea. Again, I will state, I have no idea if they even kept an angle like this in the plot.

I've also seen the cry of 'how would you like it if we took all your favourite comedies and made them with men?'. There was an interesting response to this on Tumblr (I wish I could find it, but I can't) pointing out that it would be quite difficult because many female led comedies play into traditionally female roles, so to remake them you'd have to completely change the plot.

This got me thinking about female led comedy films and if they could be redone or not:

  • The obvious one is Bridemaids since it shares some of the cast and the director - however, if that was remade with men, wouldn't it basically just be The Hangover?
  • Legally Blonde - I supposed you could do a movie about a jock who ditches his sports scholarship to follow his sweetheart to law school. Not sure how you'd make it funny though. The whole trope is a woman being underestimated because she's blonde and I can't see it working with a guy.
  • Miss Congeniality - might be fun to redo that one with a drag queen angle. Could be awesome actually, but it would need someone very clever to write it in a sensitive manner and still make it funny. It would also need RuPaul.
  • Mean Girls - would it work with jocks? I've never seen it, so have no idea.
  • Sister Act - singing monks ... possible, the brothers in Sister Act II were a hoot.
  • The Heat - there are already a hundred and one male cop buddy, comedy movies anyway.
  • Nanny McPhee - I'm only coming up with a ghastly costume version of The Pacifier :)
  • Bring it On - hmm ... an all male cheerleading squad?
  • The First Wives Club - not sure the trope can translate at all for this one. I just don't see the film being able to build the same sympathy for the characters if it's switched up.
  • Spy - there are already Johnny English, Grimsby and many, many others, so it would be redundant.

So really, there are a few that could be tried, but many have been done, mostly more than once, or I'm not sure the tropes would translate. Since there are many, many, many more male led movies than there are female led ones it's not really a surprise. Now I kind of really want a Miss Congeniality set in a drag pageant though.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing the new Ghostbusters at the weekend. I love the original two - they are funny and enjoyable and that's what I am hoping for from the new one. Plus I love Melissa McCarthy so I'm on to a winner there anyway :). I'll let you all know what I think when I've actually seen the film.

[Edit: link to my review of the film: Ghostbusters ROCKS! (as you can tell from the title I wanted there to be no doubt what I thought of it :))]

If you've seen the new Ghostbusters, did you enjoy it? If not are you going to see it? What do you think of all the controversy?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Getting My Geek On - #WriterlyWednesdays 35


Did you know today was Embrace Your Geekness Day? No, neither did I, until my sister Sophie sent me a link :). How could I not run with a topic like that?

Getting My Geek On

geek n - someone who is completely obsessed with one or more subjects and can talk about them at length
I suspect that most writers are geeks.

We're all obsessed with writing at the very least, aren't we?


If you're anything like me you write because you have to; the voices of our characters keep talking and talking, telling us what wonderful adventures they are having. Sometimes the pressure of the words builds and builds until I just have to put them on paper.

We all love writing.
  • Sometimes it's hard. 
  • Sometimes it feels like we will never finish. 
  • Sometimes it feels like a huge weight as the words refuse to come into line.
But we do love it, don't we?

I'm guessing that most of us can talk about our art for hours and hours, if anyone will let us. This makes us geeks of the first order. And I say, good for us!

Passion is something that should be celebrated and it takes passion to love something. Whether we scribble in notebooks or type at keyboards, our passion goes into our work.


Personally I'm a typist - I just can't use a pen and paper anymore. My brain works faster than I can write if I ever want to be able to read what I have written :). When I was a teenager I carried around notepads everywhere. I think Soph and I kept the post office in the business of reporters notepads for a while. These days I have a notepad just in case - but it's only for just that: notes. The real writing always happens at a keyboard.

Given that I never really used a computer for much until I was 19 (yes, I grew up pre mainstream internet) I sometimes wonder how I managed. I also thank any deity that will listen that my early attempts at fiction did not make it online :).

There are so many things to geek out about when it comes to writing:
You name it and we'll talk about it. Thank you bloggers and industry experts and everyone who contributes; you make the world a richer place.

I am a geek about other things too:
If you love it, celebrate it, that's what I say. Welcome geeks one and all, I hope you are enjoying geeking out.

Are you a writing geek? What else makes you get your geek on?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Recipe: Turkey Mince Courgetti Bolognese (Gluten Free) #TipsTuesdays 35


Good morning (or whatever time of day it happens to be for you now :)), today I have another recipe for you for Tips Tuesdays 35. My husband said I haven't included enough of the staple recipes that I cook often here, so I have promised to rectify this. I've also tried to standardise my recipe labelling so they are easy to find :).

Turkey Mince Courgetti Bolognese (Gluten Free)

This recipe used turkey mince instead of beef mince and courgette (zucchini) spaghetti instead of pasta - so it is a very healthy version of spaghetti bolognese and it is gluten free. You could use Quorn mince or soya mince and check your Worcestershire sauce (many makes use anchovies) to make this vegetarian as well. If you hate courgetti, just use spaghetti, but it won't be quite as good for you ;).

N.B. If you haven't tried courgetti, I recommend it, even if you are not fond of courgette. My mother doesn't like courgette as a side vegetable, but done this way she thought it was lovely.

Feeds 2-3

Ingredients

Bolognese
  • 1 tblspn sunflower/vegetable oil (or you can use spray oil to reduce the calories even more - but I think that's overkill)
  • 2 large field mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use the stuff in a tube)
  • 340g turkey breast (or Quorn) mince (thigh mince is okay, but disintegrates more - so for texture breast mince is better)
  • 500g passata (this is 1 box per Morrisons - if yours comes in a tin and is not exactly the same amount, don't worry, it will be fine)
  • 1 tspn dried oregano
  • smiggen of chilli paste (optional and to taste)
  • 2 small beef stock cubes or 1 large (small = Oxo = NOT gluten free, large = Knorr = gluten free)
  • splash of sweet sherry (optional)
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is gluten free but not vegetarian - here is a recipe for homemade vegetarian worcestershire sauce or you can buy a vegetarian version or just use soy sauce instead :))
  • fresh ground black pepper
Courgetti (Zucchini noodles)
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini) (if you are serving for 3, add another courgette - it should be about 1 per person)
  • 1 tspn garlic powder
  • squeeze of lime (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop the field mushrooms into bite sized pieces.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and add the mushrooms and 1 clove of the garlic. Stir until coated in oil and then pop a lid on and leave until the mushrooms are giving out their moisture. (Adding some of the garlic to the mushrooms, makes their flavour pop, rather than just adding it later).
  3. Add the mince and stir to break it up.
  4. Add the rest of the garlic, the oregano and the chilli paste (if you are using it - not too much though, you don't want chilli, just a little hint in the background) and stir to mix in.
  5. Crumble in the stock cube(s) and stir to coat the mince.
  6. Add the passata, then rinse out the box/tin with a little water and add that too, stirring to combine.
  7. Add the sherry, the Worcestershire sauce and the pepper, stir and pop a lid on, turning the heat down to leave it to simmer for about 20 mins to allow the flavours to combine. (You can add extra salt as well if you wish, but I find the Worcestershire sauce gives enough for us).
  8. Spiralize the courgette into noodles using the large noodle setting (if you don't have a spiralizer, I believe Sainsburys and Waitrose sell pre-spiralized courgette). 
  9. In a large pan spray some oil, or dribble just a little oil in the bottom, heat and add the courgette.
  10. Add the garlic powder and allow the courgetti to cook with the lid on for 3 mins.
  11. Add the lime and cook until the courgetti is releasing its water (between another 30secs and 1 min).
  12. Transfer the courgetti to the bolognese leaving the water behind (or is will make the sauce too wet) and mix in for 20 seconds or so (you don't want to over cook the courgetti).
  13. Serve in bowls.