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.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Guest Post: Interview with Lacey Dearie

Lacey Dearie - Author
Today I'd like to welcome to my blog Lacey Dearie, a fellow author and creator of the Leger - Cat Sleuth Mysteries. You might not have heard of these books before today, but I am willing to bet you'll want to check them out very shortly. Details of the books are listed at the end of the interview.

Hello Lacey, thank you for stopping by, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself to set the scene?

Hello, thanks so much for this interview!  I'm just your average thirty-something who recently gave up the day job to focus on writing full time.  I've been writing seriously for about twelve years with peaks and troughs of success - just like most writers!  I write mostly cozy mysteries but have dabbled in chick-lit in the past and sometimes wish I hadn't.  I love to write about things that nobody else would consider writing for adults, for example talking food.  I even once wrote a sex scene between a rasher of bacon and a slice of Lorne sausage (that's in my upcoming book Omelette On The Rampage).  My favourite reviews are the ones that call my work, "awkward and weird" or describe my stories as the weirdest thing they've ever downloaded.  I love to make an impression!

So cat sleuths, not a genre I've seen a huge amount of, sounds like a great read. How would you entice a new reader to this series?

Well firstly I'd say that anyone can read a cat sleuth book, regardless of whether they would describe themselves as a "cat person."  My stories are light and humorous, which I think most cat sleuth stories are and most importantly, because they are classified as cozy mysteries, they are relaxing reads that won't have you on the edge of your seat or give you nightmares.  They're just fun!  There's no graphic sex, bad language or violence so they're suitable for all ages but adults will appreciate the innuendos when Leger's friend Ginger is in season and the jokes about Leger's recreational catnip use.

Your main character is called Leger; if he had to team up with another fictional animal, who do you think would be a good fit and who would be in charge?

Oh, that's a great question.  I'd like to see him team up with Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age movies.  I think despite the fact that Sid isn't as intelligent as Leger, the two of them would make a good team.  He would remind Leger to have fun rather than just solve crimes and Leger would be able to teach Sid a thing or two about sleuthing.  Obviously Leger would be in charge!  I think the one thing they have in common (other than both having a tendency towards laziness) is that they both have hearts of gold and for that reason they would always want to do the right thing and make an excellent team.

Who is your favourite fictional detective of any media and why?

Salvo Montalbano!  I absolutely adore Inspector Montalbano, even though he falls into the hardboiled category and I write cozies.  I love that he's smart, funny and especially that he has a few flaws because that just makes him all the more endearing.  Like many Brits, I first came across him on BBC4 but the books are at the top of my to-read list.

What gives a cat an advantage when solving crimes?

This is something that Leger often tells fellow felines when he's trying to convince them he's not nuts.  He can get away with more than a human can.  A criminal wouldn't think twice about committing a crime in front of a cat, but they wouldn't do it in front of a fellow human.  He can eavesdrop on conversations, move quicker than the average person and has excellent night vision.  He also has an unhealthy amount of curiosity and sometimes happens upon crimes by accident so he's on the case before any human even knows the crime has been committed.

Can you describe how someone could commit the perfect murder?

That's a tricky one!  I'm not really a devious person so I think the perfect murder, in keeping with the Leger theme of this interview, would have to be one that was committed by Lily, Leger's new friend from the story, Leger's Island.  She murdered a spider named Steven in cold blood.  She interrogated her (yes, Steven was a girl), got all the information and clues she needed, then just gulped the spider down.  Without so much as a hint of guilt, she casually left the room through an opened window.  It was quick and merciless.  Yet Lily was one of the good guys so nobody would suspect her of such brutality and she somehow got away with it.

Cat-nip; simple recreational fun or a dangerous gateway drug?

For Leger it's just a little recreational fun and a way for him to chill after a hard day of napping on top of the microwave and chasing tabbies (his breed of choice - gentlemen prefer tabbies, you know).  It's sometimes been difficult for him to resist and he's had to fight to stay focused on the job in hand.  He's adamant that he isn't addicted, but in future books it may cause major problems for him.

What drew you to writing about cats solving crimes?

My decision was partly an artistic challenge and partly a way to make light of an annoying situation for my friend.  I think it's always been important to me to write something fresh.  I've never been a slave to the latest trend.  For example, when Fifty Shades of Grey became popular, I knew there was no way I would ever be writing erotica because everybody and their granny started doing it.  The cat sleuth genre isn't widely popular but has a cult following and cat-loving readers are the best readers because they are so passionate about their pets.  I admit that when I first heard there was such a thing as the "cat sleuth" genre, I thought it sounded completely ridiculous - but that's what makes it great.  The more I thought about it, the more brilliant the idea seemed.  I read one book in the genre and fell in love with cat sleuths.  That's all it took.  I knew I had to write about my own cat detective.  The idea simmered in my head for about a year before I went ahead and wrote anything.  It was when a friend of mine started tweeting about a cat called Ledger that I went ahead with the plan.  Ledger was a cat who belonged to his co-worker and the poor guy had to listen to his co-worker talk about Ledger non-stop.  So I said I'd write a story about Ledger and promised he would like my fictional cat more than the real one.  The name changed slightly, as Leger is a sculptor as well as a detective, so I named him after Fernand Leger, the artist.  It all fit together beautifully and Leger, Cat Sleuth was born!

How many cats does it take to change a light bulb?
None.  They have human slaves to do it for them!
~*~
About Lacey

Lacey Dearie is an indie author who was born and raised in Scotland. Before taking up the challenge of becoming a full time writer she worked in a number of different jobs and studied Family Law at the University of Strathclyde. However, being a writer is what she has enjoyed most.

In her spare time she loves to travel and is a regular visitor to Cyprus. She also has a personal blog dedicated to lingerie and fragrances and plans to start another sharing allergy friendly recipes.

Lacey loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted at the links below:
Legerdemain (Lacey's Blog) | Like Lacey on Facebook | Friend Lacey on Facebook |
Twitter @laceydearie | Amazon Author Profile | Bloglovin | Goodreads |Instagram | Nanowrimo
To subscribe to Lacey's mailing list click here

The Leger - Cat Sleuth Mysteries

Leger - Cat Sleuth (Leger - Cat Sleuth #1) 
(Amazon UK, Amazon US)
Leger has a comfortable life. He sleeps, chases tabbies and plays with Bob, his Labrador room-mate, when nobody is watching. His life with elderly couple Annabella and Hugh is enviable, but he craves excitement and a creative outlet. However, when Hugh is attacked, the purpose in life he sought presents itself. He turns detective in a bid to solve the mystery of who mugged Hugh. Will he succeed? Will anyone take him seriously as a sleuth? Will his artistic flair help in his quest to find the culprit? Can he stay away from the catnip long enough to focus on the job in hand?
The Leger - Cat Sleuth Mysteries Volume 1 - 5 (Leger - Cat Sleuth #1-5)
(Amazon UK, Amazon US)
Meet Leger McInnes, not just a handsome black tomcat but also Glasgow's resident feline sleuth. Not content with naps and climbing, he sought a purpose in life and a creative outlet. However, his sculptures were not appreciated by his owner so he used his time to solve crimes in his area.

This bumper edition comprises the first five novelettes in the series.
Leger's Love (Leger - Cat Sleuth #6)
(Amazon UK, Amazon US)
Leger, Glasgow's finest feline sleuth, returns and this time he tackles his most disturbing case yet! After witnessing a murder, his friend Winter is traumatised and unable to speak following her horrific experience. Leger vows to track down the murderer and find closure for Winter. This will not be an easy task for Leger. With Winter unable to help, despite knowing exactly what occurred and his sidekick Ginger incarcerated while she is in season, Leger struggles to piece together the events of the night of the murder. He seeks comfort from Samara, the pretty new Persian housecat who has recently arrived in the area and dodges unwanted assistance from Ginger's daughter, Amber, while he is collecting clues. However, the clues he retrieves may be leading him in the wrong direction. Can he solve the mystery of who murdered Fred? Will he be able to protect Amber from becoming involved in a world she is not yet ready to enter? Will he finally decide who he wants to give his affections to: Winter or Ginger? This is a 13,000 word short story and is suitable for all ages. However, parents are advised to exercise caution when allowing younger children to read this story due to the recreational catnip use!

Leger's Island (Leger - Cat Sleuth #8)
(Amazon UK, Amazon US)
Leger's family are taking a trip to a tiny Scottish island and he is looking forward to spending the summer with Annabella, Hugh and Bob but when he discovers he is to stay in Glasgow with Annabella's niece, Carole, while the rest of the family go on their trip he is outraged. He hears there has been a murder on the island and knows he has to somehow travel with them and assist in finding the killer.


What he didn't count on was meeting a fellow cat sleuth on the island as well as a clowder of unfriendly gossips. The island way of life proves to be very different from Glasgow. Can he deal with culture shock as well as solve the crime? Can he and Lily, the beautiful calico detective work together to solve this case or will their egos prevent them from becoming friends? 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Fi-Fi's new collar :)

Doesn't Fi look smart in her new purple and silver sparkly collar? We thought it looks nice and it has a bell so will give Amber more of a heads up that she's around when they are back in the same part of the house :). As you can see Fi also likes playing with the part of the toy the human is supposed to hold ::g::.
Is this my good side?

I shall subdue it carefully.

Now it is mine!

I will turn over and show it who's boss!

Maybe this end is easier...
We still have the kitty gates up and everything seems to be going well. Both cats are very relaxed.

We've just had the fence redone in the garden, so they were not pleased for a while that they couldn't go out. I think it may have been cursed. Monday they were supposed to arrive, but one of the guys had to go to hospital. Tuesday they did turn up and then one of the chaps injured himself and had to go to A&E to have it fixed. Finally on Tuesday afternoon the work was started.

It now looks very lovely and the kitties are glad to be back in the garden.

I have now started the process of moving their food bowls closer to the divider between the parts of the house so they start to associate the smell of each other with good things.

Review: The Breed (2001, Adrian Paul, Bokeem Woodbine)

Title: The Breed (2001)
Rating: 18
Cast:
Adrian Paul ... Aaron Gray
Bokeem Woodbine ... Stephen Grant
Bai Ling ... Lucy Westenra
Péter Halász ... Cross
Summary: In the near future vampires (the breed) have revealed themselves to humans, although the totalitarian government keeps most of humanity still ignorant of their presence. When his partner is killed by a vampire, cop Stephen Grant is teamed up with one of the breed, to track down the rogue. Stephen must overcome culture shock and all those pitted against him to bring the murderer to justice.

One thing I really like about The Breed is that the cast is racially diverse. Yay for the casting agent.

The second thing I really like is the plot. It's interesting and different and while I found it utterly obvious as to what was really going on, I don't think everyone would. The fact that I was only mostly sure was a good sign :).

I'm not sure why the setting was a totalitarian state of the near future, but it was an interesting choice. The look of the whole film is very utilitarian and stark. It definitely gave atmosphere and an added layer to the whole thing. It didn't interest me that much, but I am sure it would bring levels to the film for viewers who enjoy that genre.

The only thing I would say is that the character of Stephen Grant doesn't really go with the setting. He seems more like a regular cop from a New York based show rather than a cog in a world government. However, that doesn't detract from the fact he is a great character and well worth watching.

Not going to lie, I originally watched this film because of Adrian Paul. I am a big Highlander fan so for a while there, if he was in it, I picked it up to watch. I think he does very well as the Jewish, Polish vampire Aaron. There is one scene towards the end, which I can't describe in detail because it would be a spoiler, but he's absolutely brilliant.

The lead female character, Lucy, is also interesting. She is quirky and independent and has depth, which is always a good sign. She is also very necessary to the plot. There are no other major female characters, so not so good, but you can't have everything I suppose.

Yes this film has lots of clichés (someone does mention Nazis for a start) and at times there's some over acting and a good number of character names are straight out of Dracula, but it has so many good points to make up for it. The vampire lore is interesting, the plot has twists, the characters have depth and it's decently put together. It's obviously not a high budget blockbuster, but neither is it a low budget disaster. The effects are good, I like the look of the vampires, but nothing is spectacular. What is good is that I think lack of huge budget did make them think about the script. Some of the dialogue is superb.

For vampire lovers, this is a movie well worth checking out.


On the fanfic side of things it makes me want to write ménage :).


Have you seen The Breed? Did you like it? Have you seen any other vampire films set in a totalitarian state of the future?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review: Vampire Hunter D and Vampir Hunter D - Bloodlust

Title: Vampire Hunter D (1985)
Rating: 15
Summary: In the far future the world is ruled by vampires and mutants. When a young girl is bitten by a vampire lord she seeks the help of a mysterious vampire hunter called D.

This is one of the first anime I ever saw along with Akira and Urotsukidōji - Legen of the Overfiend. It is the one I liked best and hence have sitting on my DVD shelf.

The vampires in this are very definitely not your sparkly Twilight kind; they are ruthless killers and look on humans as playthings. They are the nobles to the human peasants and they act like it.

D is not your usual kind of vampire hunter, in fact he isn't your usual kind of anything. He has a parasitic talking palm on his left hand for a start. His origins are also important, but I won't spoil those.

I like D, he's very stoic and straight forward in his approach and his hand tries to give him angst, but he's having none of it. He has honour and lives by it even when those around him are underhand.

There are so many tropes in this film that listing them would take too long, but the whole package is very entertaining. It's very anime and the characters all fit into their expected slots, but it's fun and has some great detail and action sequences. This isn't a film that is going to shock you with plot twists or unexpected character development, however, it is well worth watching.


Title: Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust (2000)
Rating: (18)
Summary: When the daughter of a rich man is kidnapped by a vampire count, D is hired to bring her back or destroy her if she has become a vampire. However, he has not been hired alone and is up against another set of bounty hunters who are as likely to kill him as the vampires.

I really enjoy this film as well and the first thing to say about it is how much better the animation is than the first. The first is good, but you can see how the technology has advanced between one and the other.

D is more talkative in this one and his hand is more talkative as well. There is humour in Bloodlust that there wasn't in the original and I like the tone.

The evolution of the female character is also very obvious from the first film to the second. In the first we have a strong girl, but she immediately lets D do all the dangerous things and falls in love with him for no other reason than he is tall, dark and mysterious. In Bloodlust we do have a kidnapped girl as part of the plot, but one of the other bounty hunters is female and is actually the second lead as far as the 'good guys' go (where good guys is a used very loosely). She has a part other than to simply prop up D, which is nice to see.

This one is more exciting and has more of a twisty plot. It's deeper than the first and asks question about more than just the immediate action. The side characters are also better fleshed out.

There are tropes again, but it definitely isn't such a straight line from A to B.

If you like animated films for an adult audience, this is definitely one for you.


Between the two films I like both of them for different reasons. The first one is definitely, these are the good guys and these are the bad guys and now they are going to fight, but sometimes that's what you want in a plot. The second has a few more grey areas, but it's still D is the good guy, therefore D will triumph. I really love both of them.

Monday, 23 June 2014

EYM - The last book I read is ...

The Express Yourself Meme (EYM) is a weekly blog hop run by Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests. Each month they post a Gadget with a question/task for each week in the month. Participants then answer the question in a post during the correct week.

There is a list of the participants at the bottom of this post.

This week's question/task:
What's the last book you read?

The last book I read, well am still reading actually is The Fog by Dennis Etchison. It is the novelisation of the film The Fog by John Carpenter and Debra Hill and I love it.

The Fog is one of those movies that always manages to give me the willies when I watch it and the book is just as good. What I like about reading the book is that because of the media there is much more of an insight into what the characters are thinking. It brings even more depth to the story.

The prose is sharp and well executed, the plot is great and the characters are nicely developed without being stodgy.

I had been looking for the book for years without really knowing how to get my hands on it. Every time I searched for it I just got hits for James Herbert's The Fog, which is an entirely different book :). I finally managed to find it because some kind soul had mentioned the novelisation on the wiki page for the film so I found out who actually wrote it.

Since the new price is £60 and up I can only assume it's out of print. I managed to get a second hand copy for just over a pound with P&P on top, but looks like I was lucky.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Michelle Stanley
A couple of weeks ago I was tagged for this blog hop by the wonderful Michelle Stanley. I met Michelle through the AtoZ Challenge where she wrote the most wonderful flashfics about fairytale characters. Her post for this blog hop is right over here and definitely worth a look.

The Writing Process Blog Hop is very simple and is a great way to find lots of lovely writer bloggers.

Rules:
  1. Introduce who referred the blog tour to you
  2. Answer the following 4 questions:
    1. What am I working on?
    2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
    3. Why do I write what I do?
    4. How does my writing process work?
  3. Introduce the people you're passing this on to (3 - 4 people if possible who will then post a week later)
I'm always happy to witter on about writing, so here goes :).

What am I working on?

At the moment I'm actually working on four pieces. Two are almost done, one is two thirds done and the other is a few scenes in.

The first of the two books that are almost done is a book called "Fangs, Claws and Moons, Oh My!" which is two individual werewolf novellas packaged together. The first of the two is called "Black and White" and is about a young werewolf who finds himself in danger because of a lawless gang of older wolves. The second novella is called "From One to Three" and is a gay ménage where shape changers and magic are part of everyday society and one young man must come to terms with his terrible past.

The second is a book called "Dreams and Reality" which is the second in the Dark Reflections series (the first of which "Me, Myself and I" is free and can be found on most of the major eBook sites). The series is about Tristan, an actor who plays a supervillain in the movies and in the first book has a very weird experience where he seems to have ended up in a reality where the films are real. In this second book he finds out that what he has convinced himself was a dream might actually have been real.

The one that is 2/3rds done is what I like to refer to as asexual, cross-gender Indian Jones in space. It will be novel length and my protagonist is Ellie, a space wanderer who is a very successful finder of things and sometimes people. Her latest client is an order of religious historians who want her to find a relic they lost over a millennia before. The problem is most people who look for it end up dead, but Ellie has a secret which means she's less likely to die and, anyway, she's always up for a challenge. Along with her faithful AI, Lance and their new navigator, Brin, she's ready for anything.

The last one I'm working on is the fourth in The Soul Reader Series and some of it's still percolating in the back of my mind. I have the first few scenes down, but need to figure out the rest. This novella continues the story of Michael and John as they deal with John's traumatic past and Michael's vampire nature.

Oh and I almost forgot, I'm also working on a short story which will be available free when Soph and I relaunch our Wittegen Press website very soon. We've spent the last two weeks migrating to a new platform which is faster and should be easier to navigate :).

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I like to think I bring a certain flair to what I write and interesting ideas combined in interesting ways. I am of the firm belief that what gives writing individuality is the personality of the author coming through. Of course there will be unique elements to a story, names for things and combinations of elements that haven't been done before, but there really is no such thing as an original plot :).

I think a book should have pace and plot and great characters, with a side of humour every now and then no matter how serious it is. I hope I bring those to the stories I write in a combination my readers enjoy that is just a little different from the other wonderful writers out there.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I like to read and what inspires me. It is really that simple. I read to escape and explore strange new worlds and characters that could not possibly exist in our rather mundane reality. Hence, I write to investigate these same things and to hopefully take my readers on wonderful journeys with me.

If I did not write I think I might explode with all the ideas inside my head. Before I became a professional writer I wrote fanfic for years because I simply have to obey the creative instinct. I love it and the words always seem to want to come.

How does my writing process work?

Chaotically :). An idea come come in many ways. Sometimes it's a single image in my mind or even a phrase that kickstarts the process, other times a scene or even just an abstract idea. Occasionally I will just sit down and start writing and see what happens.

For example, my novel Cat's Call - I knew I wanted to write something new, and I wanted it to be YAish level and I wanted it to have magic. That was all I knew as I stared at a blank page. So I just started writing with no idea of where I was going and the thoughts simply started flowing. That first page is no longer part of the book, because it became unnecessary, but it was where it all grew from.

I also don't write in a straight line. Sometimes I start at the end or right in the middle and I bounce around all over the story writing whatever bits I feel like. Then there comes a tipping point when I know I have all the structure and I sit back for a while and plan what scenes are missing. From that point I tend to go through from beginning to end filling in the scenes I have just outlined until my first draft is complete.

The lovely people onto whom I am passing the blog hop 
(they will be posting next week: 30th Jun - 6th Jul)

About Sophie Duncan
Publishing her books with Wittegen Press since 2011, Sophie has developed stories in multiple genres from young adult through murder mystery to adult romance. She is a British author who writes both alone and in conjunction with her twin sister, Natasha Duncan-Drake (yes, that's me - I dragged my sister into the blog hop ;)). Sophie has a large catalogue of work which can be found at Wittegen Press’ website.

Sophie established Wittegen Press with her twin sister, Natasha Duncan-Drake in late 2010. She is an IT project manager for half of her working life and uses these skills to keep Wittegen Press running while writing compulsively with the other half. 
BlogSophie’s Thoughts and Fumbles (where she will be hosting the blog hop post)

About Sara C. Snider
Sara C. Snider was born and raised in northern California, but now lives in Sweden with her partner and two beastly cats. She has a bachelor’s degree in Archives and Information Science that is currently sitting on a shelf, collecting dust, as she pursues her literary dreams. 


When not reading or writing, Sara enjoys wandering in the woods, playing computer games, and eating dumplings as often as possible. She loves all things faerie, and has grown to accept she will always be covered in cat hair.

Latest Book: The Thirteenth Tower

About Christopher D. Votey
Christopher was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1980, first son of Steve Votey and Jolene Knight (née Nichols). He is a college graduate in Computer Science at Collins College in Tempe, Arizona and has worked in the computer field for 10 years. After a debilitating work injury, Chris decided to take up writing, producing 2 books.


Chris currently lives in Mesa, Arizona awaiting Social Security disability and working to recover from his condition of Post Concussion Syndrome to return back to a normal life.

Blog: http://writing.chrisvotey.com
Websitehttp://home.chrisvotey.com/ | Twitter: @authorvotey | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads
Latest Book: Terran Psychosis

Friday, 20 June 2014

Kittie update - yay! the technique is working so far :)

Separating the kitties seems to be working so far. After only two days Amber is back downstairs (eating as well as looking around) and going into the garden (when it is her turn to have access) - which for Amber is amazing. This is the cat who barely came out from under the table for weeks when she first moved in.

Afia also seems to be adjusting and is far more relaxed too. She seems to like lying on the table and having her belly stroked :).

Here are some piccies of Amber we took last night while she was relaxing on the sofa.






You can tell Rob took this one and I took the others because this one looks vaguely artistic ;)



Vampire Movies I Own and Intend to Review

So I've decided to set myself a challenge so I post more. I looked around and thought, what can I do and my eyes alighted on my DVD shelves. I own a few vampire movies (this doesn't include the TV shows - they're on a different shelf) ...

I thought I might share some of the highs and lows of my collection. It's going to take me a while, but I intend to write a review for all of them. If I've reviewed a title properly before, I'll link to that or if they are really, really bad, they might only get one line and be posted along with a decent one, but I will get through them all ... eventually.

As each review goes up I'll link the film's DVD/blu-ray cover to the actual entry so this will end up a master list. When the film is reviewed I will also add a border to its image below so you can tell at a glance which ones have been reviewed and which haven't :). If you're wondering, there are 116 film covers below (if I gain any more in the meantime I'll add them to the bottom). Click the read more to see all the covers.

Do you have any suggestions for vampire movies I don't own yet?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Kittygate! Dun. dun, dun...

Our kitties have not been getting on for the last few weeks and we've tried everything we can think of so we've had to go with drastic measures.

Now our house has a new half and an old half. Basically we extended on the side for almost the same size as we already had a few years back and gave ourselves a ginourmous kitchen and open plan dining room, a new spare room and a new bathroom. The two halves of the house are joined by an archway and usually we just have a curtain across it in the winter and nothing else.

However, now we need to separate the two kitties. According to the internet if two cats are fighting then it is best to separate them completely until they have calmed down and allow them to hear and smell each other, but not see, and then carefully reintroduce them to each other when all is well with the world again. Hence

KITTYGATE!!!!
dun dun dun

And yes I believe it deserves the capital letters because it's been so stressful trying to keep the kitties apart and stop one chasing the other that we installed the solution at midnight last night after Rob got back from Germany (we didn't get to bed until 1am).
Please ignore the mess, I'm was in the middle of cleaning when I decided to take a break and take the piccie :)
So this is actually two child gates stacked on top of each other. The bottom one is blocked off with card from the box it came in so the kitties can't just hiss and growl at each other.

It means I have to leave the back door open for Afia to go in and out some of the time and the catflap for Amber the other half, but I can deal with that. Afia has the new half of the house and Amber has the old for now.

Amber seems more relaxed already without having had to deal with Afia all night. She had taken to hiding under the sofa or under the throw on the big sofa when she slept. Yesterday I had to go find her to give her her morning treat and this morning she greeted me at the top of the stairs, meowing loudly :).

Afia is not happy she can't just roam the whole house, but even she seems more relaxed this morning and she has two cat trees and a myriad of toys to keep her happy. She's also going to be really pleased when I head back in there to finish cleaning because then she'll have mummy for a few hours :).

It's going to be a pain for a while, but I want my kitties to be happy and relaxed and neither of them have been for several weeks. We've no idea what happened, one day they were sniffing each other and playing together and almost friends and then suddenly they seemed to hate each other, or rather Amber seemed afraid of Afia and Afia decided to use this to take over the whole house. There was lots of growling and hiding under the sofa on Amber's part and chasing and not much else on Afia's.

Amber hasn't been downstairs for more than a minute or so for over a week now. Hopefully she'll start coming down again now.

There is no getting away from the fact that Amber is a little highly strung and she takes ages to adjust to anything new. Clearly something happened between them and she has not adjusted, so hopefully this way will give them more time. I'm going to start moving both their food bowls towards the gate over the next few days so they will end up eating in proximity to each other and get used to non-hostile relations.

So far Afia has not tried to fly so we haven't had to block up the top of the arch, but I'm not discounting the possibility of the great escape at some point. We have a plan if that happens!

Both of their previous mums are visiting today, so hopefully they will find much more happy, relaxed cats when they arrive. Let's hope we get back to more of this

and less stress. I have been at my wits end for days, so I am looking forward to some peace too :).

Right, now back to cleaning.

Have any of you had trouble with pets?

Monday, 16 June 2014

EYM: Scariest movie or book that made sleeping hard!

The Express Yourself Meme (EYM) is a weekly blog hop run by Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests. Each month they post a Gadget with a question/task for each week in the month. Participants then answer the question in a post during the correct week.

There is a list of the participants at the bottom of this post.

This week's question/task:
What's the scariest movie you've watched or book you've read that made you unable to sleep?

Recently I would have to say that the scariest movie for leaving me sleepless is probably Mama. I did a longer review of it here, but let's just say the monster in this made me look at dark corners a lot.

Then there is Paranormal Activity, but that didn't stop me sleeping it just made the odd trip to the loo at 3am kind of freaky :).

If we go further back then I remember seeing the original mini series of Salem's Lot on TV when I was younger and the scene with Ralphie Glick floating outside his brother's bedroom window put the willies right up me. It wasn't helped that we were staying with relatives at the time and the windows we were sleeping next to looked just like those from the mini series.

Do you have a movie or a book that scares you or used to scare you?
or (if you are already in the meme so have answered that question already on your own blog)
Do you like being scared by books or movies or do you shy away from it?


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Opinions requested on Book Cover display

Greetings all, I was hoping to get all your opinions on something if you would be so kind.

Soph and I are rebuilding our website because the system we were using upgraded in a totally non-backwards compatible way and it's easier to switch to wordpress than it is to make the upgrade work :).

Now we are trying to decide if we should change our cover display method.

We sell eBooks and we found a really slick eBook reader action for Photoshop from this amazing site http://www.psdcovers.com/. We really like the sophisticated look it gives the covers:
New version
However, it significantly reduces the amount of real-estate on the page that the actual cover is taking up and the image does resize depending on the size of the screen being used so it can be quite small. This is how they used to look:
Old version
So my question is this: Do you think we should take the hit on the real-estate and go with the new shiny, or stick with the old version, or for that matter, do you dislike the new one altogether.

Thanks for any opinions :)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Liebster Award - What a great idea :)

The lovely Chrys Fey nominated me for a Liebster award and I managed to totally miss it because I have had my head down trying to finish a book. Thank you so much Chrys. I am honoured that you picked me to be one of your 11 nominees.

For those, like me before this moment, who have no idea what a Liebster awards is, this is the low down:


The Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. The goal is to help people find these blogs that are worthy of a bigger following. In German "Liebster" means kindest, beloved, valued, and welcome. (Totally lifted this description from Chrys, hope that is okay).

The current rules for accepting this award are:
  1. List 11 random facts about myself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated me.
  3. Nominate 11 more blogs who have less than 200 followers and let them know they've been nominated. (I have seen some people doing 5-11 blogs so I assume it's variable).
  4. Post 11 new questions for those bloggers to answer (if they wish to accept the award - it’s completely optional).
11 Random Facts About Me (you have been warned :))
  1. I am a vampire nut, especially 80s vampire movies - I love them.
  2. I have two Savannah cats - Savannah's are a percentage wild serval so tend to be quite large and the closer to serval they are the flightier they are. Ours are an F2 (1/3 serval) - she's a diva, and an F5 (much further away) and she's almost a normal cat - I say almost. They are lovely, but at the moment they are in hate with each other mode and trying to destroy the house :).
  3. The first Fantasy novel I ever bought myself was Terry Brooks The Wishsong of Shannara - I won a token at our school prize giving and that's what I chose to buy.
  4. Comas are my nemesis - my sister always has to correct my comas no matter how hard I try to get them right. Beware my subordinate clause that never ends.
  5. I love to sing - I used to run the local church choir before my father retired as vicar there.
  6. My favourite place in London is the National Gallery, I can spend hours in there with their audio tour. What I love most is there are so many places to sit and just look at the paintings.
  7. I have talipes (club foot) in both feet. I was born with it and have had operations to correct some of it, but I still can't walk all that far and these days I use a crutch for anything more than just puttering around the supermarket.
  8. I can't jump - another aspect of talipes because my ankles don't move so I have no spring in my step. When we used to do long jump at school I never even made it into the sand pit :P. Also the only way I ever got over a hurdle was to dive over it - lol.
  9. I write any genre that takes my fancy from gay erotica to YA and I love all of it. I write what I like to read and whatever inspires me. The current book I am working on I refer to as 'asexual, cross-gender Indiana Jones in space'.
  10. I have always loved art, I took Maths, Physics and Art as my A Levels at school, which was kind of unusual :). (That was way back when we were only allowed to do 3!)
  11. I used to be a database developer and systems consultant before becoming an author.
The 11 Question from Chrys Fey to her nominees

1.If you were allowed to read books by only one author, who would it be and why?
David Eddings - the Belgariad is my go to comfort read and I love his writing. If I could only have one person's books it would be his.

2. What is your favorite dessert?
Gypsy tart -  tart made with dark brown sugar and condensed and/or evaporated milk - it is heavenly. However, when making it, it either works or you get slop - there is never an almost okay moment :).

3. On a Friday night, what are you most likely to do?
Sitting in front of the TV chillin' and getting over the week :).

4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
My ability to procrastinate to the detriment of my productivity (a little procrastination never hurt anyone, but a lot is not good).

5. Who is your favorite literary character? (You can pick one hero and one heroine.)
Polgara from the Belgariad - I love her. She is strong and yet feminine and oh so very much in charge.

6. What is your biggest dream?
To become a successful author able to make a proper living off this writing that I so love.

7. What song could you listen to over and over again?
Rise Like a Phoenix by Conchita Wurst - I love it.

8. If your house were burning down, what would you take and why?
My hard drives - they have all my work on them, my cats and my husband because I love them (not necessarily in that order of significance ;)). I would miss my other stuff, but I can live without it.

9. Who is your inspiration, your hero?
My father - he is patient and incredibly clever and he gave up a career in the RAF to follow his calling into the Church of England. Now that takes balls. He's a spiritual man who is also completely down to earth and practical and I love him dearly.

10. What advice would you give your teenage self?
Don't be narrow minded - the world isn't quite how you think it is and you're going to change your views pretty soon, so might as well do it now.

11. If you were not in your current line of work, what would you be doing instead?
I suppose I'd still be ferreting around in databases and creating SQL scripts and stored procedures that no one else can understand :).

My nominees
I wasn't sure what to use as the baseline for number of followers because some people don't show their followers on their blog and others have several different options listed. I used things like the Google members widget and in some cases listed followers, in others Network blogs. I did not use Facebook likes or G+ circles because they are not just about the blog.
  1. Sophie Duncan at Sophie's Thoughts and Fumbles - yes she's my twin sister, but she deserves all the followers. Her posts are great and well researched and thought provoking and sometimes just plain fun.
  2. Chris Votey at Madness of a Modern Writer - he's a lovely chap and his blog is full of interesting things about writing and blogging and con going.
  3. Lynne at Lynne Lives - a writer with a wonderful varied blog.
  4. Jolie du Pre at Precious Monsters - great blog for zombies and monsters with a very lovely person running it :)
  5. Stacy Claflin at stacyclaflin.com - a lovely author with some great books and an interesting blog.
  6. Julia Matthews at juliamatthewsauthor.blogspot.co.uk - another lovely author who writes adult paranormal romance and has great blog posts.
  7. Zalka Csenge Virág at The Mutlicolored Diary - I'm going by Google connect widget on this one and boy can this lady tell a story. Definitely one to follow.
  8. Patricia Lynne at www.patricialynne.com - lovely writer with a great blog about all sorts of things.
  9. Ava Quinn at Tongue in Cheek - a hilarious blog, well worth a read.
  10. Sara C. Snider from saracsnider.com - Great author, great blog, that simple :)
  11. Djinnia at Djinnia and the English Language - a writer with a fabulous imagination and a blog that is well worth checking out.
The 11 Questions for the nominees:
  1. How old were you when you realised you love stories in a way that not everyone else does?
  2. Do you have a pet? If yes, what kind? If no, would you like one and if so what kind?
  3. What is your favourite recreational activity?
  4. Do you prefer to read a story on your own, hear it read by someone else or see it dramatised with actors?
  5. What is your favourite fiction genre?
  6. Country or city living - which is for you?
  7. If you could do one thing from your bucket list right now, what would it be?
  8. Who is your favourite celebrity and why?
  9. What is your least favourite chore?
  10. Vampire or werewolf - who is going to win that showdown?
  11. How many bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Drabble Cascade #64 - 'year' - Stop and Look (G)

This week's word prompt is 'year'. If you would like to join in the cascade just:

  1. write a drabble (100 words) or a flashfiction
  2. post it to your own blog with a link to the main Drabble Cascade post or the actual linked list (get the code from the link below) 
  3. before adding your link to the list below.


I was just thinking about how a year seems so different at different ages for my drabble below. Hope you enjoy it.

Stop and Look (G)
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

When you are seven, a year is an eternity; when seventeen, it's just right to get everything done; at twenty seven it seems not enough and at thirty seven, blink and you missed it.

They say time is always the same as long as you are travelling at the same speed. That must mean a person travels much slower when they are seven than when they are seventy; not exactly intuitive.

Maybe it's just our minds that move too fast as we age. Stop and look around once in a while and perhaps a year will be an eternity again.


get the InLinkz code

Monday, 9 June 2014

Review - Elysium - Matt Damon being boring

Title: Elysium
Rating: 15
Cast:
Matt Damon ... Max
Jodie Foster ... Delacourt
Sharlto Copley ... Kruger
Alice Braga ... Frey
Diego Luna ... Julio
Wagner Moura ... Spider
William Fichtner ... John Carlyle
Summary: The earth is polluted and overcrowded, so the rich built themselves a space station called Elysium, with an atmosphere, where they have all the best, leaving those below to fend for themselves. Max was a car thief, but when he needs the technology on Elysium to survive he becomes embroiled in a plot that could change the balance of power.

Rob and I watched this last night on Sky onDemand and I am so glad we did not pay to see it in the cinema. It simply just isn't very good.

On the positive side, Elysium looks slick and Jodie Foster looks amazing in sharp suits as the defence minister for the space station. It's good to see a film with a woman in a position of power where she makes no excuses for how she got there. She knows she is the best and can protect Elysium and that is all she cares about.

Other than that this is full of clichés, characters I really didn't like at all, not even a little bit, and a plot that simply does not make sense. The ending is so predictable that it might as well have been one of those films that shows the audience the end first and then shows them how the characters reached that point. I was bored for a good deal of the film.

Matt Damon plays Max, the reformed criminal who is just trying to get by in a system that doesn't give a shit about the little guy. It might have helped if he was a slightly sympathetic character, but I really couldn't bring myself to care about him. Everywhere he went he brought disaster and his character path was unsubtle and did nothing to change how I felt about him.

Then Jodie Foster as Delacourt was as evil as she was supposed to be, but she had no depth. Her motivations were very flat and not very interesting and it's obvious she is digging her own hole, the only question is when and how she will fall into it. If she had only had another aspect to her, something that made her human even if it was still very evil human.

The best character in my opinion was Julio; I actually liked him. Of course that means there was no way he could make it through the entire film. He had levels and so he died. (spoiler - highlight to read)

Then there is the technology - it makes no sense. They have a technology that can apparently cure any disease or ailment. Shattered bones, no problem, radiation poisoning, not an issue, final stage leukaemia, a doddle - so why haven't they used it to colonise Mars or the moon? I kid you not, at one point the healing pod says the immortal words 're-atomising'.

They can do all this and yet they're using missiles that just go bang and they don't seem to be able to simply stop shuttles that aren't supposed to get to the space station. Everyone is apparently tagged using their DNA and yet Max still has to wear a leg bracelet because he is on patrol - but that didn't seem to actually have anything to do with the plot, other than to make the police robots take notice of him to give him a reason to see Frey again.

Then there is the concept of Elysium in itself. It's all very well having lovely houses and pools, but there is more to life than just that. Surely these mega rich people would get bored? Frankly they all seem to just be background for the film that no one has really thought about.

Then we have the bad guy. Wow, I'm not sure you could get less depth than Jodie Foster's character, but they managed it. He's like a villain from an 80s cartoon just amped up for an adult audience. It's like a flashback to Jean Claude van Damme movie where the baddie was just there to be beaten up and totally destroyed.

Lets not even get into the robots.

This film is every adult distopian cliché stuffed together with not very interesting characters and technology that doesn't make any sense. Then there is the end - I won't give it away, but I was left thinking that no one bothered to think through the consequences.

As you can probably guess, I would not recommend this film.

Express Yourself Meme (EYM) - Jun 9-13 - Use ONE adjective to describe yourself...

The Express Yourself Meme (EYM) is a weekly blog hop run by Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests. Each month they post a Gadget with a question/task for each week in the month. Participants then answer the question in a post during the correct week.

There is a list of the participants at the bottom of this post.

This week's question/task:
Use ONE adjective to describe yourself.

Okay so it seems I have chosen a really hard week to start taking part in this meme :). One adjective, just one word ... hmmm ... Maybe I should have started next week ::g::. Right, there has to be something that described me without being too narrowed down.
sanguine
I try to look on the bright side if I possibly can so, yep, I think that's what I will go with. It's important in this writing game to make sure it doesn't get you down :). I also really like the sound of the word and since it also means blood-red is goes with my vampire obsession too.

Thank you so much for reading.

Do you have one word that describes you?
or (if you are already in the meme so have answered that question already on your own blog)
What do you do to try and be positive in your daily life?


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: NTLive Encore - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

This is more than a little late, my apologies. I saw this NTLive Encore screening on 22nd May and have been meaning to write a review ever since.

TitleThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Media: NTLive Encore showing
Cast:
Luke Treadaway
Una Stubbs
Niamh Cusack
Nicola Walker
Paul Ritter
Matthew Barker
Howard Ward
Nick Sidi
Rhiannan Harper-Rafferty
Sophie Duval
Director: Marianne Elliott
Summary: Christopher is 15 and described himself as "a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties". His neighbour's dog Wellington is killed in the night with a garden fork and his desire to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington takes him on a journey that will change his life.

The only real way to begin this review is by saying this stage production is utterly amazing. If you have NTLive in a cinema near you and this production ever comes on again, go and see it. You will not regret it.

For those unaware, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a novel by Mark Haddon which was adapted for stage by Simon Stephens and it is mind blowing.

It is never explicitly stated, but is heavily implied that Christopher is a high-functioning autistic boy who has Asperger syndrome and hence has difficultly relating to the world around him in the same way others do. The play sets out to give us a glimpse of how he perceives the world while solving the mystery of Wellington's death. It does this with the most amazing lighting and computer generated effects and sounds projected onto the stage along with some of the finest acting I have ever seen.

This play is an assault on the senses and on the emotions. I cried a lot and I so wish this was available on DVD so I could cry again and again and again. I also laughed out loud because there were bits that were incredibly funny. I was reminded of the Joss Whedon quote: "Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke." This production is beautifully balanced.

Luke Treadaway deserves so many awards for his performance. There is no doubt I believed I was watching an autistic boy on the stage. His disconnect from the normal world and yet his depth of emotion were utterly captivating. His earnestness, his confusion, his focus, his bravery; it was all there. I could not look away for even a moment.

The rest of the cast are also brilliant. If this was Disney some would be princes, others would be villains and yet, in this, they are real people. No one is perfect, no one is evil, they are simply real. Their pain and heartbreak at certain things is so clear and so is their joy.

The way it is staged is innovative and captivating. There is little scenery and a lot of structure is formed simply by light. When Christopher is on a train it is only some boxes with people sitting on them, but it is still a train. When he is walking through the busy station it is a stage with only a handful of people on it, and yet it becomes a busy station. The skill of the cast and the crew is simply amazing.

This play will tear your heart out and then put it back together for you. It will make you lean forward in your seat to experience everything and shy away when the cacophony is too loud. It will take you from the real world into the mind of "a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties" and bring you back out again, at times with a bang.

I want to see this again so badly.