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Monday 16 December 2019

10 gifts for people who love films

The last topic of the year from Long and Short Reviews, and it was an interesting one. I could maybe come up with one or two gift ideas, but ten? So, since I love films myself, I thought about what I would have liked and the best film-related presents I've received.

A subscription to Shudder. This is a streaming service focused on horror films and is one of my favourites. It's where I discovered the next item on my list...

Hell House LLC. This and its sequels are some of the best horror films I've ever seen. Even if you don't usually like found footage, they're extremely effective.

Heavenly Creatures. Not a horror, but one of my favourite films of all time. Kate Winslet plays Juliet Hulme, one of the two teenage girls who murdered one of their mothers in New Zealand's most shocking murder case of its time.

A multi-region player. Because some of the best films are international and can't be got within my region code.

The Conjuring 1 and 2. Two more of the best horror films of all time in my opinion.

The James Bond Collection. I love James Bond films, despite the obvious misogyny of the earlier ones, and I love being able to dip into them whenever I want.

Sense and Sensibility. I don't only love horror, and Emma Thompson's version of this Austen novel is a classic.

A jar of pork crackling from Snaffling Pig. Well, I don't like popcorn, and I'll need something to snack on during the films. Which also leads to...

A mini fridge. So that you don't have to pause the film to go and get a drink.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Saturday 14 December 2019

Naughty Christmas Present - Jennifer Denys

Today I'm hosting Jennifer Denys and her amazing new short Naughty Christmas Present. Check it out at the links below:

This is a tale of unrequited love . . . but will it be requited by the end? Of course, it will — this is a Christmas story after all!
The question is, how will Gren, a troll and bartender at Pogue’s Bar, prove to the beautiful blonde Siren, Ligia, that he is the man for her? When unexpected circumstances bring them together, he jumps at the chance to give her a special Christmas present and show her that he is everything she needs. Will his present — a session in his personal S&M playroom – be enough? Or could her Siren song cause his death in the process?


The Siren turned her body to lounge back on her elbows, spreading her knees wide in invitation, grinning at him. She lifted one foot to rub it over his stomach, pushing her breasts forward invitingly, while running her tongue over her lips, trying all her seductive tricks.
Little minx.
He swatted her leg way. Gren was sorely tempted but the gleam in her eye gave him pause. He knew she was trying to get him to ejaculate but he wasn’t going to give in to her that easily. Surging forward he dropped the flogger to the floor and with one thick forearm, he pressed both of her legs against her stomach pushing her back on the bench with a thud and delivered several swift hard smacks to her bottom with his other hand.
“Ouch! Gren!” She punched ineffectually against his arm.
“Serves you right.” He stared her down as she struggled to get up. “Stay still. I haven’t finished.”
The Siren subsided. Her expression going from hurt to bemused. She stroked his arm, running her fingers over his bulging biceps. “Okay, lover. What are you going to do next?” Her voice was silky smooth.
He smiled inwardly at her attempt to charm him into doing things her way.
Not a chance, sweetheart.
The troll followed up his spanking by rubbing her hot butt, soothing her while he contemplated his next move. “This is a very tempting position. There are several things I could do while you are on your back like this.”
She guffawed. “I know what I’d do.” She then reached down with her right hand feeling her way until she encircled his cock.
Gren gave her a mock frown. “I could spank you some more. Would you like that?”
Her huff made him smile but the dilation of her eyes told him something different. She let go of him, although her hand caressed his butt instead. “So, tell me what you had in mind.”
“I could get the flogger to finish what I started earlier if you don’t put your hands on the bars.”
The rise of her eyebrow was a challenge and he couldn’t resist chuckling. But at least she did as he commanded.
“Or I could do this.” Ligia’s eyes opened wide as his thumb strayed up to her slit, pressing into her labia. He hadn’t intended doing that, wanting to keep the play to some fun BDSM but the smell of her arousal was so powerful he just had to touch her.
Immediately his cock shot up, his seed threatening to spill and he clenched his jaw, holding himself rigid. Meanwhile, the woman beneath him squealed, lifting her butt up off the bench. She was pressed back down by Gren’s strong arm as her fingers clasped over his bulging muscles, nails digging in.
She shuddered. “Holy Ghost. Don’t stop.”
Gren grinned. He had no intention of ceasing, not yet. This was a heaven-sent opportunity to touch her as he’d always dreamt and he moved his thumb upward to rub her engorged clit.

Buy links:

Monday 9 December 2019

My earliest memory

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an interesting one. I had honestly no idea what my earliest memory was. What sort of things do you remember as a child? What do you want to remember? And I ultimately realised the things I remember most are things with family.

I can remember going with my parents and a friend to visit my Aunt Dora on her farm in the country, helping to feed the chicks and watching the sheep shearing. I had a great photograph of my friend stroking a lamb and looking absolutely shocked, never having seen anything wilder than a cat or dog before.

I can remember going to see my grandad in Dorset, staying in his very old farmhouse and playing with Ginger, a farm cat who ruled the entire neighbourhood and beat the stuffing out of every other animal that ventured onto the property.

And I shouldn't be surprised that I can remember looking out of the car window at Cerne Abbas when my mother (who at that point could still see - she went blind when I was twelve) pointed out and said "Look." And there on the hill was the Cerne Giant. I deliberately haven't included a photo of that out of delicacy, but I'm sure you all know what that looks like...

So what are your earliest memories?

Monday 2 December 2019

Book boyfriends

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was easy in some ways and difficult in others, because I have to admit, my favourite men from books tend to be ones I've written myself - I spend a lot of time picturing them and their relationship with the heroine, after all. So forgive me if some of these look like blatant advertising.

Ash Drake of The Hand He Dealt - Ash was my first hero and is still my favourite. A star American football player, he broke through my heroine Astra's image of him as a meathead to capture her heart.

Liam Wilder of Photograph - Not the standard hero, Liam is twenty years older than his wife Azure but is the perfect caring husband, to such a degree that Azure's twin sister Tara wants to steal him - if only at first.

Will Vandenmeer of Ready for Him - My own take on a dominant billionaire, Will is everything Jade needs in a man - strong, considerate and with a taste of hand spanking.

Mr Knightley of Emma - Oh, you thought I'd pick Mr Darcy? I've always preferred Mr Knightley myself. I'm not sure I'd have the patience for Darcy's arrogance.

Sherlock Holmes or Dr Watson - I appreciate that Watson is probably the safer choice here, since Holmes's views on women are not the best (even for Irene Adler) but I have to admit having a fondness for Holmes's intelligence.

So who are your book boyfriends or girlfriends?

Monday 25 November 2019

Books that influenced my life

Since I had a streaming cold last week I took a break from Long and Short Reviews' blog hop, but this topic had me thinking. I've read a lot of books in my life, but how many could be considered influential? I did, however, come up with a few possibilities.

Royal Blood - Bertram Fields. I love reading history, but my main interest at the time was Henry VIII. This book made me a staunch Ricardian and plunged me into the Wars of the Roses.

Gavin Maxwell: A Life - Douglas Botting. This was the first biography I ever read and was about a man I knew nothing of at the time, but introduced me to Maxwell's writing and also to the joy of reading biographies, even when you may not know much of the person in question.

Kiss Me Like A Stranger - Gene Wilder. Gene Wilder has always been a favourite of mine and was also the primary inspiration behind my novel Photograph. To get an insight into his life was fascinating.

So which books have influenced you?

Sunday 10 November 2019

A strange or useless talent I have

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews took some consideration. I'm not saying I have no talents - I like to think I'm a good writer, I'm an OK singer, and I'm great at languages - but none of those things are strange or useless. However, one of my hobbies is collecting autographs, and I realised that this has given me an ability which a lot of people close to me have found both strange and useless.

If you name an actor, I can usually come up with at least three films they've been in.

"Was that Claire Danes in that trailer?"
"Who's Claire Danes?"
"Oh, she was in Igby Goes Down, Brokedown Palace, Terminator 3..."

This is actually quite handy if you're writing to a celebrity to request an autograph, because standard practice is to tell them which films of theirs you enjoyed, and it helps to be able to come up with more than one. That said, IMDB is pretty good for that. I just have the ability to remember them on my own.

I do, however, tend to check IMDB anyway, just to make sure I haven't got two similar-looking actors mixed up.

So what's your useless talent?

Monday 4 November 2019

Books I've recommended and why

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was a tough one as I don't often recommend books to people unless specifically asked - everyone's tastes are different, after all. There were, however, a few I was asked about recently which I had to recommend.

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas - Adam Kay. The sequel to "This Is Going To Hurt" and absolutely hysterical, despite convincing me I was right never to consider going into medicine.

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood. Primarily because someone caught me reading "The Testaments", queried it, and was shocked to discover that the TV show had begun as a book.

So Brilliantly Clever - Peter Graham. "Heavenly Creatures" is my favourite film and so I decided to do some reading up on the original Parker-Hulme case. This is the best book I've read on the subject, giving fascinating background information without lingering too heavily on the nastier parts.

So what have you recommended?

Sunday 27 October 2019

Things that scare me

This one from Long and Short Reviews was easy, because there are only a few things that particularly scare me. I watch so much horror that I'm pretty difficult to scare now. However, despite my constantly reading about the paranormal, one of the things that scares me...

---is ghosts.

I admit that the more I read about the paranormal, the less likely I think I am to see one. I even spent two nights in a haunted hotel suite and saw nothing. I am, however, open to the possibility, but also terrified at the thought. Ghosts don't act according to the rules - they can do whatever they want. I don't fancy encountering a spirit that can appear wherever and however it wants.

Which leads on to my second fear - mirrors in the dark. I've seen enough films to know that if our heroine looks in a mirror in the dark, either there will be someone standing behind her, someone other than herself will be looking back, or her reflection will tell her to get out before it's too late. Needless to say, I've never tried scrying, because that would really ruin me.

My third fear is much more basic - tidal waves. I appreciate that living in the middle of the country means I'm unlikely to see one, but the sheer size and power of them scares me to death. If you turn round and see a giant wave coming towards you, you've had it. I have tried to bully myself out of this fear by watching a lot of films with giant waves, but so far it hasn't worked.

So what scares you?

Monday 21 October 2019

Books I read on someone's recommendation

These days I find it difficult to find time to read books on someone else's recommendation, since I have so many on the go myself at one time. However, this wasn't always the case, so I do have a few books I've read and enjoyed which someone else has mentioned to me.

Blott on the Landscape - Tom Sharpe. I didn't manage to get into all of Tom Sharpe's books, but this one is wickedly funny and subversive.

Girl With a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier. Recommended to me by a bookshop worker after she saw me wandering around with a gift card. I'm happy to say I enjoyed this one, although again I didn't get into any of her others.

His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman. I'm currently reading the new trilogy - I enjoy these books far more than I would have expected, since as steampunk fantasy they're not usually my type.

This Is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay. This is an absolute classic. I read this in one sitting, laughing hysterically all the way through. He has just released a Christmas sequel which I also read all in one go.

So what have you had recommended to you?

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Popular/famous books I don't plan to read

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an unusual one since, frankly, I'll read almost anything. It's rare that a book will come up that I won't at least consider. However, I did find there were a few that I would avoid no matter what.

Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust. I did once have this on my reading list until a friend attempted it and couldn't get past the first three pages. I don't mind a challenge, but I think I'll pass.

Divine Comedy - Dante Alghieri. This is primarily because I studied part of this at university in Italian. I'm sure it's a worthwhile read but I have terrible memories of Dante.

Any Dan Brown not in the Da Vinci series. I may surprise some people when I say I don't mind Dan Brown, but only the Da Vinci books. I tried one of his others and found it to be a poor imitation of Michael Crichton.

So what do you never plan to read?

Monday 7 October 2019

Books that did a great job of explaining films

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an interesting one, because it's been a while since I read anything that could be considered to be explaining something. But I do love film, and I recently found two books that are a great addition to any film lover's collection.

Men, Women and Chain Saws - Carol J. Clover. All about the treatment of men and women in the horror industry, and an excellent in-depth read for a horror lover like me.

The Science of Interstellar - Kip Thorne. For anyone (like me) who loved the film but found the science a little complicated, this is an accessible read which goes into the background and explains it perfectly.

So which books would you recommend?

Sunday 29 September 2019

What I'd want on a deserted island

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews was a tricky one, as my practical brain immediately started trying to work out how much food and water I'd need, but let's face it, that's not what people want when they talk about this - they want all the personal stuff. So let's assume there's enough food, drink and electricity to go round and get on with the individual items I'd want there.

TV and blu-ray player with a stack of horror films. Well, I'd get pretty bored on a deserted island without anything to watch, and it's got to be horror. Although if I can get a Sky subscription out there that would help.

Books and my Kindle. Unsurprisingly, given I read at least four books a month. I'd go mad without my Kindle.

Computer. I'd also go mad if I couldn't write, and I no longer have the patience to hand-write stories, so computer it is.

And of course - sunscreen. Because I am extremely pale and never tan, so would like to avoid burning, thanks.

So what would you want on a deserted island?

Monday 23 September 2019

Authors I wish more people knew about

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews was an interesting one. A lot of my favourite writers are reasonably well known and probably don't need any help, but there are a few who I still mention and get "Who?" as a response.

Will Storr. A "Loaded" journalist who writes books, his debut book "Will Storr vs the Supernatural" about his paranormal investigations absolutely fascinated me.

Anne Bronte. Everyone remembers Charlotte and Emily, but Anne is only just starting to be noticed, despite the fact that her two novels were worthy of the Bronte canon.

Gavin Maxwell. I first discovered him when reading his biography, but loved his "Ring of Bright Water" series and also his travel books.

And I would have to include myself in this, of course. Since I've mentioned supernatural writing, I'd like to draw your attention to "I Heard Your Voice".

Tamar Steele’s life was never supposed to be like this. A sensitive working with a team of paranormal investigators, she is trapped in a loveless relationship with the team’s medium, Reed James, who believes that having sex on haunted ground enhances paranormal activity. Tamar maintains their partnership for the sake of the crew, forcing herself to ignore the burgeoning sexual tension between her and fellow investigator Jason Bray.

Until one night when, alone and bored, Tamar sings to herself and is knocked to the ground by an invisible force. Somehow she is able to invoke spirits with the power of her voice. And one particular sexy, matchmaking spirit is determined to turn her life upside down.

So who would you like more people to read?

Monday 16 September 2019

What is my superpower?

This topic by Long and Short Reviews was a difficult one = does it mean what superpower do I currently have, or what superpower do I want? As far as superpowers I currently have go, I'm not convinced I have any, although my husband would say I have the remarkable ability to make a mess wherever I go.

But my preferred superpower?


Specifically, I would love to be able to freeze and rewind time at will. I once saw a TV show with a girl who could do this by touching her fingers together. It would be great to be able to freeze time so I could do whatever I liked, or rewind time to be able to have another try at something.

But knowing me I'd primarily use it to get more sleep.

So what's your superpower?

Monday 9 September 2019

Books I keep meaning to read but haven't

I've got a lot better at reading books when I intend to, but when this topic from Long and Short Reviews came up I realised there were still a few sitting on my bookshelf that I've never got around to reading.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I read everything on my Kindle these days, so when I have something in paperback I tend to forget it's there. I've been halfway through "Men, Women and Chain Saws" for ages for that very reason. And then there are these:

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath. I originally picked it up because it sounded like an interesting take on depression and haven't touched it since.

Catch-22 - Joseph Heller. Again it sounded interesting, but I think the war angle may have put me off.

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess. I know why I haven't read this one - the violence got in the way. However, I'm determined to read it one day.

So what have you been meaning to read?

Sunday 1 September 2019

Books that deal well with tough topics

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews took some consideration. I admit that I spent a lot of time in high school being chased around by the librarian who wanted to recommend me "worthy" books while I just wanted to read "Little House on the Prairie". I admit that I tend to avoid books that deal with tough topics after having yet another special about drugs pushed on me.

That said, I do remember a few which were actually readable.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I didn't always like Judy Blume, mainly for her habit of having every piece of dialogue trail off into ellipses, but this coming-of-age book about a girl and her period ticked all the boxes.

The Pistachio Prescription. Paula Danziger was one of my favourite writers as a teen, and this book handled divorce with sympathy and humour.

This Place Has No Atmosphere. Another Danziger novel about a girl whose family moves to the moon, leading her to miss her friends and new boyfriend and have to accustom herself to life in space. A little lighter than other Danziger novels but it dealt with the topic well.

So which books did you think handled tough topics appropriately?

Monday 26 August 2019

Books I had to read in school and liked

Just a couple of weeks ago I was blogging on books I had to read in school and hated. Now Long and Short Reviews has us on books we had to read in school and liked. Needless to say, that is a much shorter list, because I can think of nothing more likely to make you hate a book than having to dissect it line by line.

It all boils down to one author, really...


I studied Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest in school, saw them multiple times on stage, and from that point on I had developed a lifelong love of Shakespeare. It's my ambition to see every Shakespeare play in the theatre at least once, and I've seen two this year and have tickets for another.

So what - if anything - did you like that you had to read in school?

Monday 19 August 2019

What I read when I'm not feeling well

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews was fairly easy, because when I'm not feeling well I read stuff that requires very little thought - mostly romance. It's not something I read a lot of, but when I'm sick I like to disappear into that world, and these are the sorts of things that help me do that.

The Time Traveler's Wife. It may not make a huge amount of sense, but I find it to be good escapism.

To Marry A Prince. This was the first romance novel I ever read, and it's perfect. It had a great, strong heroine, an equally great best friend and a central romance you root for all the way.

Anything by Anne O'Brien. She writes more at the romantic end of history and I've loved every one of her books.

So what do you read when you're ill?

Monday 12 August 2019

Books I had to read in school and didn't like

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews initially made me respond "Every one of them." I think studying English literature at school was a great way to ruin a decent book. (It says something that when I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" under my own steam I liked it, but my friends who had to read it for class hated every word.)

I did, however, come up with three in particular.

Joby - Stan Barstow. According to Amazon this book is supposed to be full of working class themes, but all I remember is being forced to read this book aloud paragraph by paragraph by people who were giggling at the mention of breasts.

The Charlie Barber Treatment - Carole Lloyd. For me this was one of those books the librarian tries to push off on you because it had "meaning", since it deals with a boy who finds love after his mother dies. We did at least finish this one, unlike "Joby", but I found it dreary as hell.

Lord of the Flies - William Golding. This is one I think I might have liked had I not had to read it down to the millimetre. I can remember getting a good mark for an essay comparing Simon and Roger as good and evil. That said, the fact that the plot hinges on using a pair of myopia glasses to make fire - which you can't actually do; you need long-sighted glasses - did rather ruin it for me.

So which books were ruined for you?

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Books I loved but never wrote reviews for

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews was easier than most, for the simple reason that I almost never put reviews online, so this was primarily about which books I wanted to review but never got round to.

Kiss Me Like a Stranger - Gene Wilder. An interesting autobiography in which Gene Wilder isn't ashamed to make himself look less than perfect from time to time.

The Wilder Life - Wendy McClure. In this McClure details how she spent years travelling round all the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites digging into the history. It's a fascinating tale.

A Private Disgrace - Victoria Lincoln. I was always fascinated by the Lizzie Borden case, and this is an unusual take which suggests Lizzie may have been suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy.

Gavin Maxwell: A Life - Douglas Botting. Probably the first biography I ever read; Botting was close friends with otter expert Gavin Maxwell and brings him to life perfectly.

So what did you like to read?

Monday 29 July 2019

Favourite food and how I use it

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews was a tough one. I never cook and don't use recipes. However, I suddenly remembered one thing I do cook which involves one of my favourite foods - cottage pie, topped with mashed potato. My mother had a recipe for cottage pie which I still follow and it always turns out perfectly.

I won't bother with serving sizes as those always varied according to the dish we were using. :)

  • Take one pack of beef mince and fry until brown. Put in the pie dish.
  • Chop three red onions and four carrots. Add to the dish.
  • Open a tin of beans and add those to the dish. We used to use flageolet beans but my husband prefers baked beans, which add a slight tomato flavour to the gravy.
  • Make a cup of Bisto gravy flavoured with Bovril and add to the dish.
  • Boil the potatoes and mash to your preferred consistency using milk and butter.
  • Top the meat with the potatoes. Add butter to the top and ruffle the top with a fork so it will crisp in the oven.
  • Heat the oven to 200C and cook for 25-30 minutes.
And now I want cottage pie.

So what are your favourite foods?

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Favourite quotes from books

I’ll be honest, this prompt from Long and Short Reviews had me a bit stumped, as I don’t tend to remember quotes from books. However, there was one quote which I did find particularly inspirational, since it inspired my novel Photograph. In an essay in Isaac Asimov’s Gold, he describes how he felt when Robert Heinlein got a story published in the Saturday Evening Post.

“We all dreamed of publishing in the SEP (I, also) but that was like dreaming of taking out Marilyn Monroe on a date. You knew it was just a dream and you had no intention of even trying to make it come true. And now Bob had done it. He hadn’t just tried, he had done it.”

The feeling of someone else stealing your impossible dream was a major factor in Photograph. 

My heroine Tara has had a crush on celebrity theme park owner Liam Wilder all her life, but considered it a harmless indulgence since he was always going to be outside of her world. So when her twin sister Azure meets him after winning a radio competition, falls in love at first sight and marries him, to Tara this is an unforgivable betrayal.

So what are your favourite quotes?

Monday 15 July 2019

Fictional worlds I'd love to visit

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews was a tricky one, because a lot of what I read is either historical or dystopian, neither of which are places I want to go. I spent a long time trying to come up with a story set in a beach resort and couldn't. I did, however, manage to come up with a few possibilities.

Uglies. An unusual choice possibly as this is a dystopia, but it was one I honestly had no problems with. At the age of sixteen you get to have extreme plastic surgery to make you beautiful and then go and live in New Pretty Town for the next twenty-odd years partying constantly - what's not to like?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I dreamed of going to live with Gene Wilder in the factory as a child. Nothing but chocolate waterfalls and sweets as far as the eye can see.

Jurassic World. Okay, so it all went wrong in the end. However, assuming they could keep control of it - which they obviously did until they introduced the Indominus Rex - I would love to visit a place where I could see dinosaurs. It would be a dream come true.

So where would you like to visit?

Monday 8 July 2019

Favourite authors in the historical genre

You might think that because I write erotic romance, I would choose erotic romance authors for this prompt. However, in my spare time I love historicals, although I do have a fairly broad umbrella for the genre.

Philippa Gregory – I am well aware that Gregory has been frequently attacked for her grasp of history, particularly of Anne Boleyn. However, I can’t deny that her books are page-turners. I especially enjoyed her portrayal of the sociopathic Jane Parker.

Anne O’Brien – O’Brien deals primarily with strong women in history and has covered a lot of women I previously knew nothing about, like Alice Perrers, so I will read anything of hers.

Agatha Christie – This one might be more of a stretch, but I do find when reading Christie that I’m aware of how dramatically society has changed since she wrote her books. Casual references to the Chelsea coffee shop set and so forth leave me wide-eyed in wonder.

And because I love Christie I had to include Sophie Hannah, who has written two Poirot continuation novels and done an amazing job at capturing the style.

So who are your favourite authors?

Monday 24 June 2019

Humorous book titles

This prompt from Long and Short Reviews made me smile, because as an erotic romance writer I know we can get away with some comic titles. I can still remember the freebie I did for Totally Bound called “I Can’t Believe You Used My Butter”. And then there are three that I bought and read based solely on the name...

In Appreciation of their Cox. A classic Janine Ashbless novel about the female cox of an all-male rowing team, with plenty of heat in the sex.

Hot Buttered Strumpet. I reviewed this one for Totally Bound – a historical short with two brothers sharing a prostitute. I loved every minute of this one.

Stacy’s Dad Has Got It Going On. Well, with a title like that, I had to see what it was about. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but going from the description, I would also have slipped into Stacy’s dad’s bedroom and probably been kicked out of my roommate arrangement.

So what are your favourite humorous titles?

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Favourite things to do in the summer

I write this prompt for Long and Short Reviews while looking out of the window at driving rain. Good old British weather. For this reason, top of my list of favourite things to do in the summer is:

Watching the rain with a cocktail. More likely a can of cider when I’m at home, but I have had many holidays in which walks in the sun have unexpectedly turned into afternoons with cocktails as we watch the hammering rain from inside a bar.

Visiting the seaside, or areas of beauty. Okay, Scarborough may not be the most beautiful place in the world – for natural beauty I’m more likely to go to the Lakes or the Peak District. But there is something about walking down the seafront with an icecream watching the galleon go past.

Barbecues. Now that we’ve moved into a new house we’re planning to invite family over for a barbecue or two. My husband is looking forward to rolling his sleeves up and trying not to burn the sausages.

So what do you like to do in summer?

Monday 10 June 2019

Favourite book covers and why

This prompt by Long and Short Reviews made me think, because it’s been a long time since I’ve really noticed a book cover. O had to go back over my collection and refresh my memory. However, there were a couple I found that definitely stuck out.

Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver. This was the first Lauren Oliver book I read and really drew my attention the first time I saw it. For me it perfectly captures the dreamy teenage beauty of the novel.

Nemesis – Isaac Asimov. The blurb on this was terrible, talking about a red dwarf “as red as the colour of blood”, but the image of the churning star terrified me as a child.

And I couldn’t resist using one of my own. Ready For Him is about a tattooed, pierced, Mohawk-wearing martial artist who meets a dominant billionaire in Las Vegas, and the image Totally Bound used to represent her is stunning.

So what are your favourite covers?

Monday 3 June 2019

Books that need a sequel

My first thought on reading this prompt for Long and Short Reviews was “They don’t.” I have often read or watched sequels and wished they didn’t exist – “Glass” leaps to mind. However, I did manage to think of a couple of possibilities.

A Return to Sanditon (Anne Toledo). This was a completion of the original Austen fragment and manages to develop and introduce so many characters that I would happily follow them into a sequel.

Airframe/Prey (Michael Crichton). Both of these novels created worlds which interested me and had potential for more, especially Prey which was deliberately left open-ended. Airframe was tied off more neatly but I enjoyed the aviation so much I would willingly read more.

Requiem (Lauren Oliver). This was a sequel in itself, but one which left a lot of loose ends which I would have liked tying off. The world of deliria and the characters’ relationships still had a lot of work to be done.

And I would always like more Sherlock Holmes sequels, as long as they’re done well.

So what would you like to see?

Monday 27 May 2019

Lessons I learned from a book character

I’m not sure I’ve ever been a person to learn lessons from books. I always hated trying to draw things from texts in my English literature class. So what I’m about to say I learned may well be the complete opposite of what the author wanted, but here we go.

Anne Shirley – I loved all the “Anne of Green Gables” series, but what I particularly liked about Anne was her ability to find beauty in all things, starting with the Avenue (or the White Way of Delight) and continuing up into her adulthood. I also try to find beauty wherever I can.

Ian Malcolm – I’m not going to pretend I understood all the chaos theory in the “Jurassic Park” novels, but if there was one thing it did demonstrate, it is that when people claim they know exactly what will happen they probably don’t. Which is always helpful, as there are lots of people who think they do.

Dr John Watson – Possibly an unusual lesson in this instance, as it refers to the writing rather than the character. One thing I always have hated in books and films is “insta-love”, the ability of a character to fall in love at first sight with absolutely no reason for it. Dr Watson proved that it is possible to write love at first sight and be convincing, which has inspired me to use that trope once or twice and attempt to do so in a convincing way.

So what lessons have you learned from book characters?

Monday 13 May 2019

Favourite TV shows and why

I’m not ashamed to admit I like junk TV. I wish I could claim to watch something with some merit to it like Game of Thrones. But apart from nature documentaries (I do love David Attenborough) my tastes, I have to say, run a little lower-level.

·         Dragon’s Den. Apart from the vicarious cringe I get when someone forgets all their figures in the face of the Dragons, what I particularly like is finding new small businesses I can use. I still get my yearly advent calendar from Snaffling Pig, a company which sells flavoured pork scratchings.

·         Judge Rinder. Yeah, I know, it’s only one step up from Jeremy Kyle, but it’s a good way to relax after a long day at the office. And a reminder to always get a contract when lending money to family.

·         My Cat From Hell. I would love to see what Jackson Galaxy would make of my two cats, who have no idea how to play and who like to leave socks all over the house.

·         Great British Bake Off. And all its spin-offs. I can’t bake, but I love to watch the complicated concoctions the contestants have to come up with.

So what do you like to watch?

Monday 6 May 2019

Books I want youth to discover

Now this was an interesting one from Long and Short Reviews. I’m not sure I’m seasoned enough to be telling youth what to read (and slightly depressed that I no longer count as youth). However,  I can think of a few books that could potentially go overlooked...

·         The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte. Anne is my favourite Bronte sister but often gets forgotten in favour of Charlotte and Emily, even though this book was a bestseller in its day and considered shocking for its views on religion and marriage. I was very proud to work on adapting this one for the Clandestine Classics line, although I would certainly recommend reading the original first.

·         Emma – Jane Austen. Again “Pride and Prejudice” tends to be the one people think of first, but I have always preferred “Emma” for its wit, wordplay and narrative style. And frankly, while I love Mr Darcy, I’d still take Mr Knightley any day.

·         The Sherlock Holmes series – Arthur Conan Doyle. Okay, not just one book, but having met a teenager recently who had no idea that Sherlock Holmes existed outside of Benedict Cumberbatch, I think these deserve mentioning. I’ve read a lot of continuations of the series by various writers, but nothing tops the original stories.

So what do you think the youth of today should discover?

Monday 29 April 2019

3 things I wish more books talked about

What do I wish more books talked about? And do we mean fiction, non-fiction or both? I’ve taken this to mean both, and have three specific things I would love to read more about.

·         Chronic pain. I have only read one heroine who suffered from chronic pain, and I wrote her. As a chronic pain sufferer myself this is something that I think should be brought more to the forefront – many people deal with it every day without those around them knowing about it.

·         Horror films. This one is in a non-fiction sense. I’m currently reading Men, Women and Chain Saws, a take on women in horror, and was quite surprised at how few books I could find that dealt with horror as a genre.

·         Different supernatural beings. I read a lot of vampire/shifter novels and have seen angels and fairies, but I would love to see writers go further afield with supernatural creatures.

So what would you like to see in books?

Monday 22 April 2019

Books I discovered on social media

This blog topic from Long and Short Reviews was a tricky one, because in the first instance I couldn’t think of any books I’d discovered on social media. However, thinking back, I could remember three authors I’d discovered online and who, in at least two cases, I’ve gone on to read plenty of.

·         Will Storr vs the Supernatural. Will Storr is a journalist who, for one of his magazines, started to investigate the supernatural and was shocked to discover there was more to it than he had expected. I’m now in the middle of another of his books, The Science of Storytelling, but my favourite of his will always be this one.

·         The May Bride. I discovered Suzannah Dunn while looking for other historical fiction authors to join Philippa Gregory and Anne O’Brien on my shelf. Her novels are unusual in that they use modern dialogue, the idea being that people discussed the same things back then, just in slightly different forms of speech.

·         So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. This one is probably the most famous. I was drawn to this after the Justine Sacco incident, being aware of how terrifying it is that you might one day say something stupid and have the whole world land on your head.

So what have you discovered on social media?

Monday 15 April 2019

10 unusual things about me

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was a difficult one, because I don’t think I’m a particularly unusual person, so trying to find ten unusual things about me was a struggle. However, I did manage to come up with a few.

·         My favourite film is “Heavenly Creatures” – People always consider that to be weird, because it’s a film about a real-life murder and ends with one of the most horrible murder scenes I’ve ever seen. However, Peter Jackson directs the skin off this film, and Melanie Lynskey is a spectacular actress.

·         My hair is blue – It took me a year of highlights on top of highlights to get it this way, but my hair is now all-over blue, and not a day goes past without a child shouting “Mummy, blue hair!”

·         I have eight tattoos – Fairly vanilla these days I suppose. My favourite one is the kingfisher on my clavicle, which was also the most painful.

·         I went to see “Pointless” being filmed – We got free tickets when we were in London and sat in the audience for two episodes of “Pointless”. Alexander Armstrong is a class act.

·         I was on an episode of “The Chase” – Didn’t win, but I did make it to the Final Chase only to get caught by Anne Hegarty.

·         Until I was 21 I had gone up in a plane but never landed in one – I used to skydive, so I went up in various Cessnas and Islanders but had never taken a commercial flight until I was 21.

·         I used to want to move to the USA – I fully intended to emigrate and get my green card, but life happened when I finished university and I never made it. I can still quote all the state capitals.

·         I wanted to be an actress until I was 18 – However, after an actor friend dumped his girlfriend over his “passion for the theatre”, I decided I didn’t share that passion.

·         I want to own a pink Cadillac Eldorado – I love classic American cars, and this one is my favourite. Would be hell to park though.

·         My ambition is to see all Shakespeare’s plays live – I’m working on it!

So what’s unusual about you?

Monday 8 April 2019

Characters I never want to meet

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an interesting one. I watch a lot of horror films, so there are plenty of characters I wouldn’t want to meet. But do they necessarily have to be villains?

For instance, two of my least favourite characters in fiction are Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram from “Mansfield Park”. Two of the most insipid, insufferable characters I’ve ever read, whose only good point was that they ultimately married each other and so didn’t inflict themselves on anyone else. Give me Henry Crawford any day.

In horror terms, I would say the character I least want to meet is Sadako from “The Ring”, or Samara as she was in the US remake. The epitome of J-horror’s long-haired ghost girls, an unstoppable force who crawls out of your TV and scares you to death. After watching that film I was terrified to switch the TV on for two days.

And since I am a writer, I couldn’t end without mentioning Reed James from my “I Heard Your Voice”. 

A celebrity medium based on the press perception of Derek Acorah (I have no idea what he’s really like, but the press painted him as a nightmarish diva), Reed is an arrogant jerk who leaches off more powerful mediums to boost his own low-level powers. I’ve met plenty of people like him, but would hate to meet him in person?

So who would you never want to meet?

Monday 1 April 2019

Favourite comfort foods and why

Long and Short Reviews have a great topic this week – comfort foods. I am not a cook, so recipes are not my forte (if it’s more complicated than “put it in the oven” it tends not to happen) but I’m as fond of comfort food as the next person, and the advantage is that it’s usually straightforward and easy to make.

My favourite comfort food is mashed potato. Possibly this stems from many a happy Saturday evening meal of my mother’s cottage pie, which I still say is the best cottage pie ever invented. I make it with a small amount of milk and lots of butter, and mash it just enough to remove the lumps while still giving it texture – I know MasterChef likes you to whip it, but I don’t like it too smooth.

As a Brit, I also love to sit down to a fish and chip dinner. I like the chips greasy, with plenty of vinegar and mushy peas over the top, and the batter needs to be crunchy – far too often I end up with soggy batter. I’ve just moved house so haven’t yet found out if the nearest chippy is decent, but I’ll be rectifying that shortly.

And to finish off, I love honeycomb cheesecake. The English Cheesecake Company do an amazing one which is also big enough to fill an entire shelf of the fridge. Chocolate-coated honeycomb and creamy cheesecake – what more could you ask for?

So what are your favourite comfort foods?

Monday 25 March 2019

Favourite websites, podcasts or blogs

This topic from Long and Short Reviews was a tricky one. I don’t listen to any podcasts and don’t follow a lot of blogs. I do, however, have a number of favourite websites, so I have those to fall back on.

Until fairly recently my favourite website of all time was Etiquette Hell, which had a blog section to post etiquette fails and also a forum to discuss everyone’s experiences. Last year the forum closed; I still read the blogs, but my primary attention has migrated to Bad Manners And Brimstone, a newly created forum for people who still want to discuss etiquette questions and bemoan stories of rudeness in today’s society. For anyone who has been pissed off by someone yelling on their phone behind them on the bus, or who has witnessed an appallingly rude customer swearing at a hapless shop clerk, this is the place for you.

Similar to this is Customers Suck, a forum primarily for customer service workers who have to deal with rude people every day. Despite the title, it’s not a place for people to brag about how badly they treat their customers – people who try that get short shrift. It is, however, a haven for people who have been given abuse by someone who wanted the sale price for a shirt that wasn’t in the sale.

My other favourite for relaxation is, unsurprisingly, Facebook, but primarily for two games that I love to play. Criminal Case is a found-objects game with a plotline where you are a detective solving murders and uncovering conspiracies along the way. I could play that all day, as I could SongPop, a game of guessing the songs and artists from brief clips.

So what are your favourites?

Monday 18 March 2019

Characters I Want to Meet

The main problem I had with this topic from Long and Short Reviews’ blog hop was narrowing it down. Nearly every time I read a good book I find a character I want to meet.

However, the first time I can remember feeling this way was when I read the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Hari Seldon, the inventor of psychohistory, is a highly intelligent and also highly charismatic character, able to present a fascinating area of study in an interesting way. I particularly enjoyed him in Prelude to Foundation, where he is shown as a young man, ably fighting off attackers with martial arts and charming Dors Venabili, the woman who would become his wife.

My favourite female characters, on the other hand, are Cassandra Mortmain and Emma Woodhouse. Cassandra, of I Capture the Castle, is a writer and acute observer of people, capable of feeling intensely while also flawed enough to make her human. And Emma, of Jane Austen fame, is equally flawed but also equally witty and intelligent. I love watching her try to matchmake other people while being blissfully unaware of her own heart.

Of course, as a writer myself, I often find myself writing characters I want to meet. So I’ll finish off with my favourite hero Ash Drake from The Hand He Dealt

Tall, blond and athletic, Ash initially presents as a stereotypical meathead, a college football player who knows his way around women. But as my heroine Astra gets to know him, she finds a passionate and exciting man underneath.

So which characters would you like to meet?

Tuesday 12 March 2019

A Day in My Life

This topic from Long and Short Reviews’ blog hop was a tricky one because, as a writer, you would probably expect me to say that I write all day. I’m deeply envious of writers who can do this, but I have a day job, so I can’t.

On weekdays I am a debt advisor, so I spend most of my day attempting to reassure clients who are understandably worried about their debts. My evenings, at the moment, vary a little because I am in the middle of moving house – we haven’t sold the old house yet so I will probably make at least one trip to collect a box or two of stuff to bring back to our new place. On nights when we don’t do this I will write for an hour and then spend the rest of my time with a can of Strongbow catching up on junk television and reading on my Kindle.

On weekends I will write for a few hours, then if the weather’s good my husband and I will go out somewhere with his camera so he can photograph wildlife or get high altitude aeroplane shots. In the evenings I’m likely to put a film on – I have dozens saved on my V+ box and usually have a few on rental as well. I love horror, but I also enjoy historicals, action films and biopics, so we have a wide range of options in our blu-ray rack.

So how do you like to spend your day?

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Favourite Hobby and Why

This topic from Long and Short Reviews’ blog hop was an interesting one. I’m not a person who does arts and crafts or sports, so my idea of a hobby was always going to be less practical and more sedentary. What do I like to do in my spare time?

The cinema.

A lot of people will say that dinner and a film is an unimaginative date, but seeing films at the cinema is one of my favourite things to do. There’s something about the experience of watching a film on the big screen – the atmosphere, the darkness, the surround sound – that I absolutely love. I’ll see almost anything, although I’m not a lover of comedy (apart from Blazing Saddles). Action, historical, biopics – and of course horror.

Horror films are my guilty pleasure. Other than torture porn, I’ll watch any kind of horror and probably enjoy it. I particularly love paranormal horror, as there’s something about the paranormal that fascinates me – I’ve even been on paranormal investigations, although I highly doubt I’ll ever see anything real. But watching a really good horror that scares you out of your skin is something I absolutely love.

So what are your favourite hobbies?

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Fictional Worlds I'd Rather Not Visit

This topic from Long and Short Reviews’ blog hop was an interesting one. I’ve read a lot of dystopian fiction and have, on occasion, found myself staring at the book thinking “You know, this doesn’t actually sound that bad.”

Take the “Uglies” series, for instance. The concept there is that teenagers are classified as Uglies until a certain age (16 or 17, I can’t remember which) when they are given extensive surgery to make them manga-inspired Pretties, at which point they move to New Pretty Town and spend the next couple of decades partying with their pretty friends. Sounds fine to me. The characters want to remain Ugly on principle, especially when they discover that Pretties also have brain surgery to make them more docile, but even with that I found myself thinking I’d be quite happy to go ahead.

However, if you take something like “The Hunger Games”, that’s a world I’d like to stay away from. A corrupt government who pits children against each other for entertainment and makes half the population live in poverty? Definitely one to avoid.

And the other one that I would hate to visit? “Matched”. This is a series about a controlled society where the powers that be choose your partner for you and everything is limited – they only have one hundred songs, one hundred stories, one hundred poems and so forth. The matching of a partner is one thing – it seems to work out OK for a lot of the characters. But only having one hundred stories? I could work through those in the space of a year.

So which fictional worlds would you avoid?

Tuesday 19 February 2019

What to read to learn about the Princes in the Tower

This week’s topic in Long and Short Reviews’ blog hop was a tough one. While I write erotic romance, I don’t read a lot about it, so that was off the table. The main subject I read about is history, and my favourite era is the Wars of the Roses. So my best topic is probably Richard III and the Princes in the Tower.

It's a part of history that always fascinated me. What really happened to the Princes? Were they killed? Did they escape? Who was responsible? History, of course, is written by the winners. What if the official line wasn't actually the case?

I didn’t know much on the subject until I read Bertram Fields’ “Royal Blood”. This was the first Ricardian take on the Princes in the Tower I had ever heard of. Most historians, over the years, have followed the Tudor line and blamed Richard III for their disappearance – but what if it wasn’t him? Fields comes up with numerous suggestions, the primary one being Henry VII, who scoured the Tower immediately upon taking the throne. He seemed very sure they were dead – so did he do it?

A good background comes from “The Mythology of the Princes in the Tower” by John Ashdown-Hill, but a particularly interesting take is “The Survival of the Princes in the Tower” by Matthew Lewis. Their survival, or at least of one of them, has been discussed before since Perkin Warbeck attempted to take the throne, claiming to be Prince Richard. But Lewis suggests that the Princes never died in the Tower and were hidden away to live out full lives in hiding.

It’s unlikely we’ll ever know. The bones which were found in the Tower are highly unlikely to ever be tested for DNA. But it’s an interesting idea.

So what do you like to read?