Monday, 23 November 2020

Recipes from fiction books that I want to try

 This topic from Long and Short Reviews was interesting. In terms of specific detailed recipes, I couldn't remember any. I can, however, remember a number of dishes I've seen mentioned in books that I would love to try if I could figure out how to make them.

The first was in Tipping the Velvet, a lesbian novel about an oyster-girl who becomes a masher. Nancy mentions seducing her girlfriend over a dish of oysters rolled in flour and stewed in cream. I have never been a lover of raw oysters but I've never tried them cooked, so when I read this I got on Google and hunted for a recipe, but without any luck. I've seen oyster stews a couple of times but nothing specifically like this.

The second was the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There are a number of recipes online for this but as yet I've never tried one. At least one of them boiled down to a pint of top shelf, which might well be a head-splitter of a cocktail but sounds like it would taste terrible.

And finally there were vanity cakes from one of the Little House on the Prairie books. I believe there are recipes for these online but I've heard negative reviews of quite a lot of them, stating that they don't match up to the delicious description in the book. Mind you, I'm not sure that much would. They sounded spectacular.

So what recipes would you like to try?

Monday, 16 November 2020

Funniest things that have happened to me

 It's funny how it works. I'm sure there are hundreds of things in my life that have been funny, but when Long and Short Reviews asked for some of them, suddenly I was completely unable to think of any.

So I stuck with something that is a constant source of amusement - people's reactions to my blue hair.

People often tell me I'm brave for having bright blue hair. I don't know about that. It definitely draws attention - I've often had comments about it from complete strangers, and frequently hear little kids squealing "Look mummy, blue hair!" For some reason medical professionals always say the same thing about it, which is "You look like a mermaid!" It's almost always positive, so I don't mind it.

It has, however, been negative three times.

Once from the bloke in the corner shop near my old house, who felt the need to tell me I would look much better with a more natural colour while I was waiting for him to stop talking and hand over my change.

Once from a car salesman who asked me "Did your mother bang the Cookie Monster?"

And once from a charmless idiot last Saturday as I was crossing the car park to go to the supermarket. Mr Loudmouth pulled up in front of me in his car and shouted out of the window "You Smurfy-looking fuck!"

Everyone's got an opinion, apparently.

So what funny things have happened to you?

Monday, 9 November 2020

Movies that were better than the books

 I'll be honest, I very rarely find films to be better than the books they adapted, and I have a theory as to why that is. With many adaptations it feels to me like one person read the book and wrote a series of bullet points on it, followed by the screenwriter reading the bullet points and writing a script that covers all of them but doesn't include any of the plot or character development that occurred between them. It would certainly explain why so many film adaptations have events occurring out of the blue instead of emerging organically from the plot and characters, and why in some cases (such as the version of "Persuasion" I saw recently) pivotal plot points are actually swapped round so that they no longer make any sense.

So the only film I could come up with for this was the Daniel Radcliffe adaptation of "The Woman in Black".

I read the book after seeing the film, and I'm not sure if it was technically better, simply because they were two very different animals. Other than the fact that the film contained a woman in black and a rocking chair, there were very few similarities between them. However, the film did include an excellent performance from Daniel Radcliffe and was genuinely scary, which I didn't feel the book was - it's rare that I'm scared by a book.

So have you seen any films that were better than the books?

Monday, 2 November 2020

Favourite songs or musicians

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an interesting one. I have a fairly wide-ranging musical taste and will have songs I like from most genres, with the possible exception of dubstep, which I have never yet managed to enjoy. However, my favourite genre?


My absolute favourite band is Queen, but I also love The Darkness, Def Leppard, Bryan Adams and most other classic rock band. I've seen a lot of bands in concert and would almost be able to say it's impossible not to be entertained at a rock gig, were it not for that dire Motley Crue gig I went to a few years ago. If not for the rotating drum kit I'd have fallen asleep.

Choosing particular songs is more difficult. My husband and I like to spend the evening on YouTube taking it in turns to pick songs to play, and this can very easily go on into the early hours because there are so many we love. My favourite Queen track is "Don't Stop Me Now", but there are many other tracks that have meaning for me, including several which are attached to old stories of mine in my brain.

The current track connected to my latest WIP is Peppercorn's "Hyperventilating". It gave my WIP its name, and I'm hoping to have Hyperventilating finished next year. But in the meantime, give the song a listen. It's great.

So what are your favourite songs or musicians?

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

How I decide what to read next

 I have to admit, I struggled a little with this topic from Long and Short Reviews, because lately the decision of what to read next has almost been made for me.

How, you might ask?

Because I have so many pre-orders that every time I switch my Kindle on I've got new books recently downloaded, so I always have at least two new ones to get through once I finish the one I'm on.

One thing that determines what I read is who I follow on Amazon - every time someone I like has a new one due I pre-order it, and if I find someone new I enjoy then I work through their back catalogue. I'm currently working on Agatha Christie's Mr Quin stories, having finished all the Marples and Poirots.

And then there are celebrities. I love autobiographies, but am also reading Richard Osman's new novel. If you're wondering how that's going, I've already pre-ordered the sequel, which should tell you everything. I also have Amy Bruni's ghost-hunting book on standby - I'm fascinated by the paranormal, even if I'm on the fence about it.

So how do you decide what to read next?

Monday, 26 October 2020

Eleanor Harkstead's new book is released today!

Take it away, Eleanor...

How to Make the Perfect Halloween

 I’ve always been fascinated by Halloween, with it coming just as the nights get dark and the days become shorter. In England, less than a week after Halloween we have Guy Fawkes’ Night, where we light bonfires and let off fireworks, and it’s part of the run-up to Christmas – and my birthday!

Trick or treating didn’t really exist in England when I was a child, although it’s something that happened a lot in Scotland when my partner was younger. He used to go ‘guising’ with his friends. They would dress up in homemade costumes – my partner said he’d dress up as a tramp or borrow his mum’s clothes and turn up in drag – and tell a joke or a silly story, recite a poem, or sing a song. In return they’d be given sweets. He finds the idea of children knocking on doors and demanding sweets without putting on some sort of show in return rather strange!

A friend of mine at school had a birthday close to Halloween, so one year, when I was ten, she had a combined Halloween-birthday party. I loved it. I’d been reading Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch stories since I was seven, and was ecstatic to be dressing up as a witch. My dad found me a broomstick, and a novelty pencil topper that was a chattering skull, and I borrowed someone’s long black dress. We ran about in the darkened garden, and I enthusiastically participated in my first ever go at apple-bobbing and ended up nearly half-drowned. I had a wonderful time.

Although my birthday’s in December, for my fifteenth birthday I decided to have a horror party to make up for the fact that I couldn’t have a Halloween party. It was fancy dress, so one of my friends turned up with a line of fake blood around her neck with the story that her head had been cut off and reattached. She arrived with another friend carrying a plastic axe from a toyshop, who had fake blood all over her T-shirt. I appreciated the effort that went into it! I went as a vampire, which is entirely the fault of watching The Lost Boys far too often.

I don’t go trick or treating myself, but I do enjoy a good ghost story – I will usually turn to MR James’ work if I fancy a scare. And I like to see people’s houses decorated with cobwebs and spiders and pumpkin lanterns. It would be marvellous to be invited to the Chief Wizard’s Halloween ball, as Aubrey and Trismegitus are in How to Make the Perfect Man, but until that happens, I will just have to imagine how fun that would be!




How to Make the Perfect Man
Published 27 October 2002 by Pride.
Available in ebook.

Love isn’t science. It’s alchemy.

Needing a date for the hottest Hallowe’en party in town, scientist Aubrey Waldegrave sets to work creating his perfect man. Unfortunately, the Adonis who emerges from his laboratory is a free spirit who has no time for Aubrey’s brogues and tweeds.

Alchemist Trismegistus Nimlet can turn anything into gold, but when his apocathery's alligator starts talking back and his werewolf allergy leaves him sneezing, it looks like Halloween might be a washout. Worse still, is Tris really about to lose the chap he secretly loves to a manmade surfer dude who’s more flash than Frankenstein?

With werewolves leaving fur in the ornamental fountains and a banshee making enough noise to wake the dead, Aubrey’s Halloween is going from bad to worse. All he wanted was to make his perfect man, but what if he was right there all along?

Buy link:


About the authors:

Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance. They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.

They are the authors of numerous short stories and two novel series, the de Chastelaine Chronicles, and the Captivating Captains, published by Totally Bound and Pride. Their novel The Ghost Garden was shortlisted for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards.

Find out more at

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Follow Eleanor at: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Bookbub.

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Monday, 19 October 2020

My earliest memory

 What is my earliest memory? This was a tricky one, because I have a lot of memories of when I was a child, but trying to place them chronologically wasn't easy. I can never remember exactly how old I was when something happened. So this is a guess, but probably a close one.

My earliest clear memory is of a visit to my great-aunt's farm in Gisburn, Lancashire.

My father decided to take me and a friend to visit her during the sheep-shearing period. Sadly I have no photographs from the visit even though we definitely took some - I can remember one photo of my friend looking awe-struck as she stroked a lamb and another of me holding a chick. But my most vivid memory is of the various farmhands holding onto the sheep as they sheared them, carefully holding legs in the air as they worked their way round making sure as much as possible was off. 

And then we went and had roast lamb for lunch. The connection was lost on me at the time.

While I'm here, I just had to draw everyone's attention to the fact that it's release day for my new novella Spiritwalker...

Tamar Steele, a successful medium for a paranormal investigative team, should be happy with her life—but life seems to be against her. Her psychic field is being mysteriously blocked, causing her physical pain and, worse, making it more and more difficult for her to come, creating stress in her relationship with long-term boyfriend Jason.

But then, during the filming of a paranormal TV show, Tamar picks up on Leslie, the recently murdered sister of her co-worker Hana—who later tells her the murderer was in the room with them. Knowing the best way to enhance her psychic ability is through sex, Tamar must rekindle her troubled relationship with Jason and rebuild their passion as she fights to solve the murder. Can she find the killer in time?

Spiritwalker is part of the Some Like It Haunted Collection by Totally Bound. Check out the other books in the collection:

And if you do, one of the collection's writers has put together a bingo card for the collection. See how many you can mark off!