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.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Day 24: Guilty pleasures - or old TV shows I still love even though they're a little bit terrible (requested by aardvarkinmud)

aardvarkinmud And lastly (cause I'm just brainstorming lol), what are your guilty pleasures? Particularly any tv shows?

I don't really do guilty pleasures, I just do pleasures, but let me tell you about cheesy 70s and 80s TV shows.

Now everyone has to admit that mostly, a lot of the TV shows when those of us who were born in the early 70s were kids were not exactly deep. You think Teen Wolf has continuity problems and doesn't quite make sense - oh boy, that program has nothing on some of the 80s TV shows. That, however, does not stop me really enjoying several of them.

The first thing that is abundantly clear is that they're not usually great for feminism. Some of them had a go, but they mostly weren't very good at it. As long as you accept this before you watch them you shouldn't froth too much in rage.

Manimal

I remember watching this a a child and I loved it then. It's about Dr Johnathan Chase, his friend Ty and Detective Brooke MacKenzie and their adventures. What makes it not a simple cop show is that Chase can turn into various animals which help in their crime solving.

It only has 8 episodes and the pilot is awful (we almost never reached ep 2 when we re-watched), but some of the other episodes are highly entertaining. These days the effects look terrible, but I remember being astounded as a kid and totally engrossed. We have this one on DVD and have enjoyed re-watching it.

Street Hawk

This is another one I loved during the 80s. It has its terribly cheesy moments, but I adored it. When I was young I never realised it only had 13 eps and I wish it had had more. I liked it better than Knight Rider.

It's about Jesse Mach, an ex-motorcycle cop injured in the line of duty which messed up his knee so he couldn't ride any more. The FBI come to him with an offer, they will fix his knee if he will agree to test out the new Street Hawk program; a very advanced and secret motor bike to be used in law enforcement. To prove the program he pretends to be a vigilante.

The only man who knows the truth is Norman Tuttle the man in charge of Street Hawk and the computers that power it. He does his very best to keep Jesse out of trouble, but of course this is 80s TV so he usually fails.

I haven't seen it in a long time, but it still holds a place in my heart. One day I will buy the boxset from Amazon.

The Invisible Man

Now I don't think I was old enough to see this when it first came out - 75 to 76, but I must have seen it in re-runs in the 80s. This one actually isn't as horrible for female characters as the other two.

David MaCallum plays Dr Daniel Westin who, with the help of his wife, Dr Kate Westin, develops an invisibility procedure which they test on bunnies. However, when the program is under threat and  it seems to have worked Daniel tests it on himself. Unfortunately it becomes permanent.

He and Kate agree to become the Klae resource, a team able to solve problems others can't. The most important point being complete secrecy. The pilot is kind of dark with them military being bad guys, but the rest of the show is much more light hearted. Daniel and Kate continue to look for a cure for Daniel, but that's only the background of a superpowered adventure show.

We have this one on Blu-ray and watched it all in about a week.

There are many more shows I could mention, but I don't want to write too much. So do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to TV shows?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

AtoZChallenge 2014


So I've signed up to do the AtoZ Challenge again. For those who are unaware of it, the challenge is to post all the way through April, except for Sundays, with a post for each letter of the alphabet. Anyone with a blog can join in, just check out the AtoZ Site.

It was a lot of fun last year and I came into contact with lots of new people. If you are new to blogging or just want to expand your network, this is a great way to do it.

I think I am going to have a theme this year, but I am not sure what. I'm thinking vampires or vampires and other monsters, but I am still considering it. I have all of my draft posts created, they just happen to have nothing in them at the moment :).

Soph and I are also doing Drabble Erotic again this year over on Fantasy Boys where we do short stories or drabbles (stories of exactly 100 words) for each letter of the alphabet.

Day 23: Loving and loathing (requested by the4ts)

the4ts one thing you secretly covet and one thing you wished you'd never set eyes on, let alone acquired.

To be honest I'm not very good at secretly coveting things; I tend to covet them loudly. There is something I've found that I really covet. I already have a Wacom Cintiq22UX (bought when we were still DINKs) but I covet it's new sibling, the Wacom Cintiq 24HB touch.
It's plain beautiful and oh so expensive. This is on the list of those things for when I win the lottery. Rob can have his flash sports car and I want one of these :).


Something I wish I had never set my eyes on let alone acquired is Vampire Killer Barbys (1996) - it is quite possibly the worst vampire film I have ever seen and that includes Mama Dracula! It's terrible. It has no redeeming features. Even the music, which I think was actually the point of the film really, it awful. It's boring. This is a film that could not even be saved by fast forward.

I've mentioned it once before in one of these posts, but I have to underline exactly how bad it is. There are no characters because the acting is so bad. The sound track is awful. I couldn't figure out what was actually going on, even with the subtitles. I think it was just band comes to castle, band gets eaten, but I couldn't actually be sure. I really wish I had never laid eyes on this movie and I don't say that very often.

What do you covet and what do you wish you have never seen?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Day 22: My favourite books (requested by starr_falling)

starr_falling what is your favorite book (or books as I know it's hard to pick just one)?

This is an easy one. By far and away my favourite books are The Belgariad by David Eddings. This probably isn't the first time I've mentioned them or told the story of how I read the series, but here we go again :).


I was a teenager when I read these and I have loved them ever since. I can take these down off the shelf and read them in a weekend when I am feeling nostalgic and they never fail to make be smile.

When I read these I actually started with Enchanter's End Game which is book #5. I bought it in a second hand shop and didn't realise it was book five in a series. That, however, did not stop me enjoying it immensely. Things made a lot more sense once I'd read the others, but it is so well constructed that I could still enjoy it a lot without having read each book in the series.

After that I read Pawn of Prophesy (#1), Magician's Gambit (#3), Castle of Wizardry (#4) and finally Queen of Sorcery (#2). There was no deep reason for skipping #2, it was just I couldn't find it for a long time and I really wanted to read the whole series.

The Belgrariad is a classic tale of peasant boy turns out to have a huge destiny and has to run off and have adventures. In this case our hero is Garion, or Belgarion as he becomes known once it is obvious he is not a normal young man. Along with his Aunt Pol and the old storyteller who sometimes comes to the farm where Garion lives, who turn out to be the great sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter, the sorceress Polgara, Garion has to fight sorcery, narcotics, kings, queen, emperors and even Princess Ce'Nedra who is supposed to be on the same side.

This is a series that is chock full of plot and world building, but also has the most wonderful characters. We journey with Garion from innocence to understanding of the complex universe in which he lives. As he loses his innocence so do we and it is the most magnificent journey. The books also have strong male and female characters with give them a great balance. Nobody in these books is perfect, even Aunt Pol, who seems all but unshakable most of the time, isn't without her weaknesses.

These books are why I love sword and sorcery so much and I will never, ever throw away my copies.

There is a sequel to the Belgariad called the Malloreon which I also enjoy, but it's not as good as the Belgariad.

What are your favourite books?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Amber's new furniture :)

Since we have a new sofa, we thought is was only fair that Amber should have some new furniture as well :). Well, that and if she has something in the front room to play on and scratch she shouldn't attack the new sofa.

Here are some piccies of her exploring the three level cat tree with the hammock when Rob has just put it together in the kitchen. In the background of some of the piccies, to the left you can also see parts of a really tall scratching post that we bought this morning as well so she can have a good stretch. That will be headed upstairs so she will then have something in each room. If anyone is interested they all came from Pets At Home.

At the moment they are both in the old dining room with  her existing scratching post so she can get used to them. We also sprayed them with cat nip so she knows they are all hers :).







Day 20: My Favourite Anime (requested by aardvarkinmud)

aardvarkinmud Favorite anime? Any ones that you'd want to try but haven't yet?

This one is easy, my favourite anime is definitely Weiss Kreuz also known as Knight Hunters in the US.


Florists by day, assassins by night - I kid you not. In the above picture we have Weiss, our heroes (Aya, Omi, Ken and Yoji) and their arch enemies Schwarz (Crawford, Schuldig, Farfarello and Nagi).

Weiss spend their days running a flower shop as cover for their night activities as assassins for the Kritiker organisation. They deal with the bad guys that the law cannot touch in a very permanent way.

Weiss Kreuz is divided into two phases, Kapital, which was the first incarnation and Gluhen which was a revamp where they redrew the characters and ruined it. I'm only really a fan of Kapital, although I do have both on DVD :). In case you are interested I have written quite a few WK fanfics and you can find them all listed here on livejournal or here on Archive or our own.

Aya is by far my favourite character. He's a cold, hard bastard a lot of the time, but that persona just protects his vulnerable core. To most people he appears to only care about his sister, who is in a coma. His real name isn't even Aya, that's his sister's name, which he adopted when he set out for revenge. His real name is Ran. His main wish is to kill the man who murdered his parents and put his sister into the coma, which is why he joined Kritiker. To say he's a little irrational about the subject would be putting it mildly. He is the oldest of Weiss and his weapon of choice is the katana.

My second favourite character is Schuldig. He's a psychotic German telepath. He loves to play with people and he loves to taunt Aya.

What is great about WK is that the bad guys all have powers, Schu is a telepath as I already mentioned, Crawford is a precog, Nagi is telekinetic and Farfie is a berserker who feels no pain and is very difficult to stop. Weiss are entirely out gunned because they have no powers at all, and yet they never stop fighting.

Kapital does not have the greatest animation in the world, but it has the most wonderful stories and characters. I love WK and I can watch it over and over again. There is a little bit more information about it in this post if you are interested.

An anime which I haven't seen yet, but do want to take a look at is Bleach. I have part of the first season on DVD that I picked up cheap somewhere and I will get round to watching it eventually.

What are your favourite animes?

Friday, 24 January 2014

Day 19: Books - 'yay, give me more' and 'oh, why did I read that?' (requested by the4ts)

the4ts Name at least one book you wish you'd never, ever read and one book you would happily read over and over again.

Very Happy I Read

Let's start with the good stuff.

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to twist this one a little because someone already asked me what my favourite books that I can read over and over again are, so what I'm going to do is talk about a book I have just finished that I am really glad I read. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and I will undoubtedly pick it up again at some point in the future.

The only way to describe this book is Viking werewolves(ish) in space. It's a Warhammer 40,000 book and it's called The Space Wolf Omnibus by William King. I bought it in a Cancer Research charity shop for £1.80 and it's the kind of book I tend to buy just to have a look at it. I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The fact is I enjoyed it so much I searched out the second omnibus and bought that too (it's in the post as we speak).

The book is a set of three novels about Ragnar, a young Viking from the world of Fenris. When the first book opens as far as he knows his whole world is the islands on which the Viking tribes live, but when he dies he starts a completely new life, or rather, when he almost dies.

Ragnar is taken by the Choosers of the Slain and in the first book he trains to become a Space Wolf. Space Wolves aren't actually werewolves, but they have been implanted with the gene-seed that gives them wolf like characteristics, but I still think of them as werewolves in space :). We see through Ragnar's eyes and all his confusion at the new worlds and new possibilities opening up before him.

In the second book Ragnar is a Blood Claw, the lowest rank among the Space Wolves and we are allowed to live his first off world mission with him.

Then in the third book Ragnar is just seasoned enough to almost be a Grey Hunter and we see him go to war with the whole chapter of Space Wolves to retrieve one of their sacred relics from the forces of Chaos.

As far as I am concerned each book was better than the next. I enjoyed the first book, but I found Ragnar's ignorance of everything around him a little jarring. Then the second book is exciting and had me continually coming back for more, and finally the third book I didn't want to put down.

The only thing I could have lived without were some of the battles. They became a little repetitive in places (but that's probably just me - I'm not much of a battle person :)) and I have to admit to skimming through some of them for the important plot points and not really taking much notice of the rest. However, there is plenty of other, much more interesting stuff around the battles, so this isn't a big issue for me. After all it is called Warhammer, so I had to expect some epic battles :).

Ragnar is a great character. He has doubts and flaws, but he's still a fantastic warrior and he's especially good when teamed up with his friend Sven, because they play off each other really well. In the first book he's more alone and isolated, which is part of why I think I prefer the later books, because Sven is there as well.

These books exist in a very interesting universe that I find fascinating as well, which really helps keep me interested. They have good characters, good plot and good world building. The way Ragnar learns everything gives the reader a way to learn everything as well, which is a very useful device. I am looking forward to when the new omnibus arrives.

The one thing I had to wonder though ... with all these hot blooded males, what about sex? Ragnar is attracted to a female character at one point, but it never comes to anything. I had to wonder what happened to their sex drives. Also, a very male orientated book, simply because of the setup there are virtually no female characters.

Wish I had Never Read

It's difficult to come up with any books I wish I had never read because I'm the type of person that if I start reading it and don't like it I stop reading.

However, one does come to mind. When I was a teenager I had a much higher tolerance for nasty horror than I do now. I remember going through the whole horror section of the school library as well as picking up books from second hand shops.

The book I wish I had never read is Slugs by Shaun Hutson and this isn't because I think it's terribly written or anything like that. It's because there are parts in it that have haunted me since the day I read them. This book has fantastic horror, but I could totally have lived without those mental images for the rest of my life :). I'm not going to share because I don't think you really want to know.

As for bad books. Mostly the only one's I've finished that I wish I had never read are short story eBooks. I'm not going to name any, but I have found that some are simply boring. I tend to download a lot of short story free eBooks to check out new authors and there had been a few that I would never look at again. My favourite genre for these is horror and I like ghost stories and demons and stuff like that (rather than the animal horror like Slugs :)) and some of them just aren't scary and others don't seem to understand that even in a short you need a story. It isn't enough just to throw words onto paper.

I think that's a very good reason for having free short stories, that way you can test a writer and see if you are going to enjoy their books before leaping into a full novel. I find it very useful. Along with the bad I have also read some really good books.

So, do you have any books that you have been really glad you read, or that you wish you had never seen? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Recipe: My Mummy's Steak and Kidney Pudding

Sorry this took so long, took a while to get dear Mama to write it down. Now she tends to just throw things together so the quantities are estimated, but they should give you the general gist.

Ingredients

  • 12oz - 340g - 1.5 cup self raising flour (to make self-raising flour from plain [all purpose] flour just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each 150g/6oz/1 cup plain flour. Thank you Nigella.)
  • 6oz - 170g - 3/4 cup suet (for US peeps who can't get suet easily this thread on britishexpats.com might help)
  • Some water
  • 8 lambs kidneys
  • 450g  approx 1lb  braising steak (any steak will do as long as it will cook down)
  • 2 Beef Stock cubes or about a pint of strong beef stock

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour and suet and water to make the suet crust - it should be handleable, but not dry.
  2. Line a 1.5 pint (0.85 ltr or there abouts) ceramic pudding basin (like these) with the pastry, leaving enough pastry to make a lid for the top. The easiest way is to just go at it like plasticine, but you can roll it if you like. This is not an elegant pudding - as I said in my entry about it, it's a spoon out of the bowl type of pudding, not one you turn onto a plate :).
  3. Dice the steak.
  4. Core the kidneys (the stringy white stuff in the middle needs to come out - it is horrid to eat) and chop into large chunks. (You will need a very sharp knife because kidneys are slimy to handle).
  5. Put the meat in the pasty case in layers.
  6. Mix up your stock (either dissolve the stock cubes in water or melt you normal stock so it is liquid) and pour over the meat until near the top.
  7. Season with a little salt and pepper, but be careful your stock may be salty anyway.
  8. Seal on the suet pasty lid. If you moisten the edges it should stick easily.
  9. Cover the top in tin foil or grease proof paper making sure to leave a gap above the top of the pudding.
  10. Place into a large saucepan or steamer and steam for six hours.
This is absolutely lovely served with mashed potato and veg with lots of extra gravy.

Day 18: My Kind of Pictures (requested by aardvarkinmud)

aardvarkinmud What pictures do you like to look at? 

This question really made me think and I wasn't sure why kind of pictures to talk about, so I've divided it up. First of all I'm going to talk about paintings, then abstract images and then photos.

Paintings

I'm very much a lover of classical art. Rob and I have been known to go to the National Gallery and spend five hours going round the older sections with the audio tour. I love just sitting and looking at the paintings while listening all about them. I love epic paintings that tell a story and I find some of the early religious work absolutely beautiful. Below are some of my favourites.
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche 1833
I remember seeing this painting when I first visited the National Gallery on a school trip when I was seventeen. I stood in front of it for ages and it made a huge impression. I have never forgotten it and I have to go and see it every time I go to the gallery.
Samson and Delilah by Rubens
I love the colours in this one. There is so much stillness and tension as Samson's hair is cut.
Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Piero del Pollaiolo
This one has so much going on and the aspects of all the men firing arrows as Saint Sebastian as incredibly interesting. I know that it all has a meaning because I listened to it last time I was in the National Gallery, but I can't remember exactly what it was. All I know is you can go barely a room in that section of the gallery without coming across another Saint Sebastian; he seems to have been a very popular subject.
The Death of Actaeon by Titian
Another tragic painting, but with so much life and interest.
Ophelia by John Everett Millais
I love this painting for all it's detail and emotion. I saw it in an exhibition at the Tate Britain. The fact that the model was ill because she lay in the water so long for the painter to finish the work and her father charged him for the doctor's fees just add to it's realism.

Abstract Images
I'm not much of a fan of abstract art, but I do rather like Jackson Pollock. The way he used colour and shape is simply fascinating.

I find a lot of abstract art boring (and this is just my opinion, I know some people really enjoy it), but I could look at a Pollock for hours. Abstract art with something of an organic feel is by far my favourite when it comes to paintings. However, I also like computer generated art. I love fractals.

I find the endlessly repeating patterns restful and intriguing. The fact that you get fractals in nature is also fascinating (and tasty as in the example below :)).

Photos

Now I'm going to be shallow :D. I've done the arty bit and I do like to look at arty photos too, but one of my great joys is looking at photos of my favourite actors. Guess who's first!
Tom Hiddleston in rehearsals for Coriolanus
Dylan O'Brien from Teen Wolf
James McAvoy from Children of Dune
Tyler Hoechlin from Teen Wolf
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock
I could go on, but we'd be here all day :).

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Day 17: The trials and tribulations of crazy cat ownership (requested by dracavia)

So sorry, I totally forgot to do this yesterday.

dracavia: The trials and tribulations of crazy cat ownership.

I think all cats are a little crazy, or at least they do not think in anyway shape or form along the same lines that humans do :). Of course some cats are 'more challenging' than others.

For those who don't know, my husband and I have a five and a half year old F2 Savannah called Amber and we've had her since September. She's an ex-breeding queen and she was very nervous and skittish when we first got her because she wasn't used to us. This is her in her super model pose:

She's much friendlier and relaxed now, but she's what you might call eccentric :).


She sleeps in a cat bed on our bed every night, which is the first of her eccentricities. At first she just slept on our bed and the cat bed was in the room where we first kept her when she arrived as her safe place, however, we moved it when we discovered one of her interesting habits. She cleans her teeth on the side of her cat bed by chewing it. This can be very distracting in the middle of the night because it makes a huge row - the bed is covered foam. Not much of  problem you might think and it was fine until she mistook my husband's foot for the side of her cat bed when she was just laying on the duvet. She has very sharp little teeth and an executive decision was immediately taken to move the cat bed onto ours to prevent any more blood being shed :).

Mornings are also very interesting. Because I work from home she bonded with me first since I'm there most of the time. Rob gets up first because he has to travel to work and Amber, without fail, pointedly ignores him, even though he puts her food out first thing. She stays in bed until I get up.

Then, once I have been on the exercise bike and had my shower, we have to have our bonding time. This usually consists of me sitting on a chair in the kitchen or the floor in the old dining room and giving Amber a big love while she head-buts my legs and weaves all over the place purring very loudly. If she does not get this she meows, a lot, and boy is she loud. She also goes for the weaving around legs trick, which if I am headed anywhere vaguely fast means I am likely to fall over her, so bonding time saves me landing on my face :).

She talks a lot. When we come back to the house she talks. When anyone else enters the house, she talks. When she wants something, she talks. She even has a meow for 'I just took an enormous dump in my litter tray, please come and clean it'. I kid you not.

She's only allowed in the garden, not generally outside because Savannahs have the instinct to range widly and she's likely to get lost if she roams. So she has a cat flap. Whenever she goes out and then comes back in during the day she will very gently meow as she returns. I then call back and she bounds up the stairs to  my desk to make sure I am where I am supposed to be. Then she heads back to bed downstairs.

I'm pretty sure she has no idea where her tail is most of the time. She knocks things off with it all over the place and she is the clumsiest cat I have ever known. I thought Bijou (one of our previous cats) was bad, but Amber really doesn't seem to take into account her back end :).

Amber loves to play and her favourite toy is what I think is supposed to be a mouse, but it looks like a bear to me. It has a bell and used to be part of a cat teaser, but she chewed it off the string many moons ago. All her other toys she destroys, but this one she carries around and jumps on and throws around, but never chews. She puts it under things so she can leap over them and dive underneath and pounce on it. She hides it so she can find it again. She puts it on my boot, puts her front paws on my boot and scoots it across the carpet at speed. It's adorable. She loves that toy.

She also loves my boots. They are leather and when I leave them lying around she sits on them. Levi (our other previous cat) used to like shoes too, but he would explore them and then leave them, Amber likes to use them as a bed and, yes, she has chewed them. Luckily I have an every day pair and a good pair - she is only allowed near the every day pair and she seems to have given up on the chewing of them now.

Amber is one of those cats where everything has to be on her terms. If you pick her up, she gets down, but she is quite happy to bounce over the sofa while I am sitting on it. We haven't reached lap sitting heights yet, but I have high hopes. However, she has one weakness: cat treats :). If you give her cat treats she will let you do anything. That's how we gave her her spot on wormer and de-flea-er - we just put a small pile of cat treats on the floor and got her while she was eating them. She's offish with new people, but give them some cat treats and she's right there. It would be embarrassing how easy she is to bribe if she wasn't so lovely ;).

Amber is definitely the most eccentric cat we have had. Levi was so laid back he was mostly horizontal and Bijou was slightly nuts, but she was everything you'd expect from a cat whereas Amber is much harder work. However, I wouldn't change her for the world. We love her dearly and she is such a character and a great companion for me during the day. She keeps getting better and better with people and she is very loving, especially to me. Cynthia, the absolutely lovely lady that gave her to us put it like this, because Savannahs are part wild cat (Serval), dealing with the F1s and F2s as compared to a regular cat is like the difference between a pony and a racehorse.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Day 14: What I collect (requested by aardvarkinmud)

aardvarkinmud What do you collect?

So this is a fun question. I have collected many things in my time. I used to collect stamps, but I gave them all to my dad, who is an avid collector. There are, however, many things I still collect :).

Avengers Stuff
I collect just about anything with movie Avengers on it. I am specifically a Loki fan, but there's not enough with him on it so I have to make do with general MCU things.

I have:
  • stationary
  • rubbish bins
  • games
  • flying thingies
  • planes
  • Lego
  • books
  • action figures
  • Thor's hammer
  • Hawkeye's bow etc.
Well, you get the picture. I really liked the movie :).

Digital Art/Manga Drawing Books
I have a weakness - I see these books and I have to buy them. Usually my source is The Works because they have them at a price I can afford and whenever I go in I often come out with another one. It's the techniques that fascinate me and I love reading about how other people create these images.

Vampire Films/TV
I love all things vampire and I have a weakness for vampire films and TV. I have 125 vampire movies and 14 vampire TV shows (some with multiple seasons) on DVD/Blu-ray. As you can probably tell I'm pickier about the TV shows, but not so much the movies.

Some of the films are absolutely brilliant, some are so bad they can't even be watched in fast forward and enjoyed. I kid you not.

One of the purchases that was a mistake is called Vampire Killer Barbys which seems to have an Asian girl on the front, but it has no Asian people in it and seems to be more trying to push a band's terrible music than producing a plot. I didn't even get to the end in fast forward.

I have another one called Cowboys and Vampires and it's not quite as bad, but it is so boring. It shouldn't be possible for a vampire movie to be boring, but it so is.

Then there are the great ones like Underworld, The Lost Boys and Let Me In. I knew those were going to be good before I bought them and I can watch them over and over again.

Then there are the delights, that were maybes and turned out to be jewels: Fright Night 2 (2013) is a brilliant film, I love it. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sounds like it should be terrible, but it's wonderful.

You can never really tell what you're going to get with a vampire movie. Some have huge budgets, but miss the mark, others have virtually no budget, but strike a nerve. It's impossible to tell if they will be good by the title or by the description, because sometimes they outright lie or get it wrong. Occasionally you have to wonder if the person who wrote the blurb actually ever saw the film.

Here are a few recs not listed above you might not have seen:
Tell me which vampire movies you love or what you like to collect, I'd love to know.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Fic: Drabble Cascade - Lucky Charm (PG13, humour, m/m)

Title: Lucky Charm
Type: Original Fiction
Rating: PG13
Pairing: male/male (implied)
Author's Note: This is a short crack!fic that bounced into my head yesterday morning so I wrote it for this week's drabble cascade. Our word of the week is 'seal'. And, no, the lead character isn't inspired by a particular actor at all ... nope ... how could you think that?
Link: Lucky Charm

Friday, 17 January 2014

Day 12: Favourite myths and mythical creatures (requested by aardvarkinmud)

aardvarkinmud List of favorite myths. List of favorite creatures (real or imaginary).

Favourite Myths

Now this is a hard one because I'm never sure what counts as myths and popular culture like films and TV affect myths and sometimes I like the pop culture but am not overly interested in the historical myth.

For example, I love Jason and The Argonauts, but only because I really like the 1963 Ray Harryhausen film and I've never actually read the original myth. Same goes for Perseus because I love the 1981 Clash of the Titans, but I know that has very little to do with the original myths on which it is based. All the Greek myths are great because they have such wonderful gods and monsters, but I honestly can't say how much of the real myths I know and how much has been picked up from Hercules and Xena :).

I very much enjoy the Egyptian myths and legends as well. I read up on those when I was in SG-1 fandom, but have loved everything like that since reading about Tutankhamen as a child. The way their gods and goddesses had so many aspects is fascinating.

George and the Dragon was a myth I loved as a child, although these days I tend to feel more sorry for the dragon.

I remember one West African God who made an impact at an early age was Anansi. We were introduced to him during assembly at primary school and I have never forgotten about the spider shaped trickster. I've never looked deeper other than the children's stories we were told, but he sticks in my memory.

Some of the Norse myths are fabulous too. Given that I'm a little obsessed with the MCU version of Loki I have looked up some of the myths and they are epic. As with most mythology, however, they are also confusing because there are different stories that don't match :).

Personally some of my favourite myths are in the Christmas story. (Before anyone jumps on me from a great height, I am a practising Christian, but I do not believe the gospels are fact, I believe they are a set of illustrative stories to lay out Christian faith, which in some cases are based on historical fact and real people. If you wish to believe the gospels are word for word reality, that's perfectly up to you, but I don't.) I think the Christmas story is an incredibly beautiful myth and our celebrations of it make for my favourite time of year.

Favourite Mythical Creatures
Everyone gets one guess what my number one favourite mythical creature is :).
  1. Vampires - I love vampire myths and legends and modern retellings and reinventions. There is just something about fangs and glowing eyes and blood drinking that fascinates me. If you would like to see all my vampire blog posts click here.
  2. Werewolves - I've never been as fond of werewolves as vampires and I'm pickier about what I like in a werewolf story, but they are great.
  3. Ghosts - there is nothing more frightening than an evil ghost because they can appear and disappear at will. Asian ghost stories tend to be the most frightening, because usually there is no way out; if a ghost wants you they've got you.
  4. Medusa - snakes for hair and can turn people to stone; this is on kick arse lady!
  5. Dragons - good dragons, bad dragons, dragons that breathe fire, dragons that spew ice; what's not to love?
  6. Demons - especially sex demons are so interesting. The personification of human fear is so interesting to look at.
  7. Dryads - spirits who live in and are part tree have a small spot carved out in my heart thanks to the Belgariad by David Eddings. I know they are not traditional dryads, but I love the idea.
  8. Sidhe - the seelie and the unseelie courts. I use to live roleplay at uni a couple of times a year and had to play an unseelie princess once - it was so much fun.
So what are your favourite myths and mythical creatures? I would love to know.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Day 11: Recipe - Turkey corquetas

dracavia Another one of your tasty recipe recommendations, perhaps something themed to the winter season (eg comfort food, seasonal produce, etc)

This is actually a Christmas leftover recipe, but it was so nice that it would be lovely made with leftover chicken or something like that at any time of year.
Image from the Morrisons website
The original recipe comes from Morrisons: Turkey croquetas with cranberry dipping sauce and I am sure that some people would like them just as they say, but, of course, I didn't :). I don't like parsley and I found the nutmeg on its own far too bland, hence I added curry - however, only a little because I wanted a hint not a hit and for the turkey flavour to still come through.

Ingredients
  • 60g/0.5stick butter
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 140g/0.5cup plain flour
  • 500ml/2 cups milk, heated
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch mild curry powder
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 125g/1cup leftover cooked turkey, shredded
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150g panko (Japanese style) breadcrumbs (They are much crunchier and airier than normal breadcrumbs and give a lovely texture so I'm not sure how to convert to cups - I used a whole packet.)
  • vegetable oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. Put the butter in a pan and melt it.
  2. Make sure the heat is not too high and add the onions and sweat down until very soft.
  3. Turn the heat right down and stir in 60g (approx 0.5 cup) of the flour. Cook gently for 8 mins, stirring constantly until the flour and onion mixture is pale golden.
  4. Add a little of the heated milk and whisk in and repeat this until the mixture is a smooth paste. DO NOT add too much milk at a time or it will be difficult to combine.
  5. Add the nutmeg, curry powder, dried thyme and salt and pepper to your taste and cook over a low heat for about 20 mins. (You could use any herbs you fancy at this point as long as it won't completely overwhelm the turkey - fresh coriander instead of the parsley in the original recipe would probably be good - I just don't like parsley).
  6. Take off the heat, add the turkey and test for seasoning.
  7. Put the mixture into a shallow dish and press cling film (saran wrap) onto the surface to prevent a skin forming. Then pop it in the fridge to cool and set up for at least an hour.
  8. Now this is where the original recipe really fell down for me - my mixture just would not set enough to be handled. Hence I froze it overnight, then put it in the fridge to start defrosting and went on to the next bit while it was still solid, but able to be shaped.
  9. Put the remaining flour in a shallow bowl and season lightly, the eggs in a second and the breadcrumbs in a third.
  10. Form the turkey mixture into 12 balls. This is very messy :).
  11. Dip each ball in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs and make sure it is completely covered.
  12. Return the balls to the fridge to firm up again.
  13. Heat your oil to 180C (the same temp you would cook fried chicken). You can use a deep fryer or a pan shallow filled with oil, but you will need quite a lot of oil. Deep fry each croquetas until cooked all the way through (if you used the frozen technique, this might take a little longer than if they were just fridge cold) - about 2-3 mins until golden brown. The best way is to cook one and test it to see how long it takes before it is hot in the middle.
You can make the cranberry and chilli dipping sauce from the original recipe to go with them if you like, but they go well with anything fruity, like red current, or mango chutney etc.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Day 10: Fic: One to the Other ch2 (teaser), Harry Potter/Avatar, Harry/Draco, Jake/Neytiri, PG13

entropy12 the next chapter or the rest of your Fic: One to the Other, HarryPotter/Avatar, Harry/Draco, Jake/Neytiri 

I'm sorry, I could not complete the chapter in the time (it's been a very hectic few days), but here are the first couple of scenes. Thank you for reminding me I hadn't finished it - I had totally forgotten. I shall make a bid to complete it soon.

Title: One to the Other ch2 (teaser)
Author: Beren
Fandom: Harry Potter/Avatar
Pairing: Harry/Draco, Jake/Neytiri
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc as well as James Cameron et Al. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: none
Summary: Jake knows he should be over Tommy's death, but ever since he became Na'vi he can't seem to shake the loss. If that isn't enough to deal with, he is trying to make sure 'the Sky People' don't just turn up and blast the crap out of Pandora from orbit and when a sealed lab is found at Hell's Gate containing two very strange Avatars things just become even more complicated.
Author's Notes: Written for heeroluva for help_haiti - so sorry, I totally forgot I had not yet completed it.

Chapter 2 New Reality (Incomplete)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Day 8: Toys present and past (requested by aardvarkinmud)

Running a bit late, sorry. I can totally live without another day like this one - just got back from A&E. Rob has been in pain all night and it feels like his hip - had to call an ambulance first thing because he couldn't even get up and was lying on the floor in agony. The ambulance men were lovely, the nurses were lovely, but the doctor totally failed to listen.

aardvarkinmud What toys do you see nowadays do you wish you could have played with as a kid? And reverse, what toys from your childhood do you wish were still around?

My favourite toys these days are ones I sometimes buy anyway - I love all the themed Legos like Marvel and Star Wars. My sister and I never had real Lego when we were children because all our building blocks were inherited and they were these tiny white things. Great for building intricate buildings, but there weren't the selection of special types for making other things.

I'm a big Marvel fan so I really enjoy the Marvel Lego - I have a couple of sets. One I was given for Christmas 2012 and the first thing I did was create Loki's Escape the photo story ;). It's silly, but was so much fun.

All the kits for making things are wonderful as well. We had Shaker Maker and little kits for making a purse and things like that, but there are so many more now. I bought myself a band loom the other day just because it looked like so much fun (and it was on sale) :).
As for the other half of the question, I think most of the toys I really loved as a child are still around. I remember doing a Pooh Bear Shaker Maker when I was young and adoring it and you can still get them. They're a little more sophisticated these days, but they still look fun. There is one toy I remember very fondly, he was called Huggy Bear and I was given him for my 7th birthday. He was a toy bear and he would hug your arm. I really loved him.

When I was in hospital for an operation on my feet the nurses did up Huggy's leg in a bandage so it was a bit like mine. I'll never forget that. He was such a simple toy, but he was brilliant. No electronics, no batteries, just fur and love.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Day 7: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day! (requested by moonlettuce)

moonlettuce Apparently, the 12th is Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day. Run with this :D

I have absolutely no idea about what this day actually means, so I'm just going to run with fabulously hot men in a slightly dishevelled state because I want to :). All the images come straight from Google.

Gonna start with my favourite :)

Tom Hiddleston (come on who is surprised by this one?)
Prince Hal
Henry V
Loki
Coriolanus

James McAvoy
 Leto
 Wesley
 Wesley (again)
Max Lewinsky
Jeremy Renner
 Aaron Cross
 Hansel 
 Hansel (again)
Hawkeye
Chris Hemsworth
 The Huntsman
 Thor (it's a battle it counts!)
Thor (again)
Tyler Hoechlin
 Derek
 Derek (again)
 Still Derek
Derek (did you spot the theme? ;) )
Dylan O'Brien
 Stiles
 Maze Runner
 Stiles
Stiles
Random (because I can :))
 He-Man
 Dean Winchester
 James Bond
 David (Lost Boys)
 Michael (Lost Boys)
 Michael (underworld)
Dar (Beast Master)
Wallace (Little Favour)
Merlin
Arthur
 Charley (Fright Night 2)
 Hanibal King (Blade Trinity)
Henry (Blood Ties)

I could go on, but, for now, that's your lot :). I hope you have enjoyed my offerings.