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.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Recipe - Easy Poached Egg with Italian Spice Mix, Smoked Cheese and Avocado #vegetarian #glutenfree

Easy Poached Egg with Italian Spice Mix, Smoked Cheese and Avocado

So I just made this for my brunch (I forgot to have breakfast, so pushed the boat out to take in breakfast and lunch :)). I cannot poach an egg to save my life, but this method produces a wonderful facsimile with added extras. This recipe is only for 1, but it would be really easy to knock up a bunch of these in advance and pop them all in the water at the same time.

Cooking times are for a soft yolk - if you like yours firmer just up the cooking time.

The base recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

Serves 1
Prep Time 2-4 mins Cooking Time 5-6 mins


  • 1 ramekin or small bowl
  • cling film (plastic wrap)
  • bag sealing clip, or bulldog clip, or string for sealing the cling film
  • small mixing bowl
  • fork
  • saucepan
  • kitchen towel


  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 slice of smoked cheese (approx 15g)
  • 1/4 medium avocado
  • Dried Italian herb and spice mix to taste (any or all of oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, chilli, rosemary, salt, dried onion - I have an Italian mix grinder which is perfect)
  • oil to prevent the egg sticking (you could use butter if you are feeling decadent :))

To Serve

  • toast/bun/salad/asparagus - just pick your favourite way of having poached eggs


  1. 2/3rds fill your saucepan with water and set on the hob to boil.
  2. Separate the egg white into a bowl and set aside the yolk whole in half the shell (or pop it into a bowl if you don't mind the extra washing up :)).
  3. Cut the smoked cheese into small pieces (like thin grated cheese - you want it small enough to melt easily).
  4. Chop the avocado into small pieces (approx 4mm square)
  5. Mix the Italian herb and spice mix, the cheese and the avocado into the egg white using the fork.
  6. Take a sheet of cling film and use it to line the inside of the ramekin/small bowl, leaving the edges over the sides.
  7. Spray the inside of the cling film with oil (or brush it with oil if you don't have a spray).
  8. Pour half the egg white mixture into the lined ramekin.
  9. Carefully tip the whole egg yolk into middle.
  10. Pour the other half of the egg white mixture over the top of the yolk.
  11. Gather up the sides of the cling film and twist so the egg is held tightly, then seal with the clip or string.
  12. Turn down the boiling water to a brisk simmer and add the egg.
  13. Cook for 2.5 to 3 mins then use a fork in the loose tail of cling film to flip the package upside down and keep it there while it cooks for another 2.5 to 3 mins. (If I didn't do this, the top did not cook properly - when the time is up you can unwrap your egg carefully to check it is cooked to your liking, and if it's under done for you, re-wrap it and pop it back in).
  14. Take out the egg, dry on kitchen towel and unwrap it, before popping it on your toast/bun/salad, or however you like to eat your poached eggs.
In case my descriptions are confusing, here's the basic technique of poaching a plain egg in cling film thanks to Tesco Food on Youtube:

Friday, 4 May 2018

Dragon Sight by Natasha Duncan-Drake #Fantasy #FreeFictionFriday

Dragon Sight - Free Fiction Friday

Another month is gone, another first Friday of the month has arrived. Which, of course, means free fiction for all our subscribers of the Wittegen Press Newsletter.

If you are not a subscriber, don't worry, it's easy to become one, just pop over to this landing page for our Newsletter and pop in your details. We'll also give you 2 totally free eBooks just for joining up, and we pride ourselves on NEVER spamming our members. The password for this month's story is in the final welcome email.

Every month we launch a new short story to say thank you to all our subscribers, so far we have had:
  • Jul-17 - Dance of the Dead - paranormal scifi
  • Aug-17 - The Beast in Me - paranormal fantasy
  • Sep -17 - Dark Celebrations - scifi ghost
  • Oct-17 - Looking for Luticia - ghost
  • Nov-17 - A Matter of Will - Paranormal Fantasy
  • Dec-17 - Merry Mid-Winter - Paranormal Fantasy
  • Jan-18 - Manifesto of Meow - humour fantasy
  • Feb-18 - Love Speaks - paranormal romance
  • Mar-18 - Menagerie - humorous paranormal romance
  • Apr-17 - Clippe - ghost
And ...

Today we have:

Dragon Sight

 by Natasha Duncan-Drake

A dragon is guarding her clutch of eggs when she has a visitor. What is a dragon to do with a half-dead human that had the audacity to fall through a magical portal right next to her nest?

No spam and we'll give you 2 eBooks just for signing up.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Recipe: Turkey/Soya/Quorn Chilli with Tortilla Crust and Avocado Salsa

Turkey/Soya/Quorn Chilli with Tortilla Crust and Avocado Salsa

Made this recipe for tea last night and it was very yummy. We usually have salad on a Monday in the spring and summer, but it was so wet and horrible, I did this instead.

It should feed four, but I can attest to the fact that one person can eat enough of it for 3 because I watched my lovely husband, Rob, do just that last night. He had missed lunch. I used Turkey mince, but this is the kind of recipe where the meat is just a carrier for flavour, so it will work just as well with soya mince or Quorn mince.

Adding more beans (haricot or cannellini beans would work well with the kidney beans) would also cheaply bulk it out for more people or for those with an appetite like Rob had last night :).

Gluten Free
  • This is also gluten free if you can get/make pure corn tortillas - I could only get corn and wheat tortillas in my supermarket, but pure corn ones are available online
  • Also, if using soya mince and going for gluten free, check it, because sometimes they add wheat flour.
This is based off of this recipe (Turkey Tortilla Pie from Good Food), but I've changed a few things (of course I did ;)), hence this is my version.

Feeds 4, Time 30-40 mins


  • 1 tbsp oil (use your fav - it's for frying)
  • 2 red onions (you could use white onions if you like, I just prefer the sweeter red ones)
  • 1 large red pepper (I used a roasted/skinned one from a jar)
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 450g mince (turkey/soya/quorn)
  • 1 tbsp chipoltle paste (this makes it a decently warn chilli but not mouth on fire stuff, if you prefer it milder, reduce the amount)
  • 500g passata
  • 400g kidney beans (1 can)
  • 200g sweetcorn (1 can)
  • 2 corn tortillas (you can use wheat if it's all you can get, but the corn ones add a nice sweetness and allow for a gluten free meal if they are pure corn)
  • sprinkling of grated cheedar cheese
  • 1 large rip avocado
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • dried garlic to taste (either granules or a garlic grinder)
To serve (optional)
  • soured cream
  • flame proof casserole dish
    or large frying pan + casserole dish
  • small bowl


  1. Finely chop the onions.
  2. Add the oil to either your flame proof casserole or the frying pan and put on a low heat on the hob.
  3. Add the onions and cover - allow to sweat down until soft. This can take up to 10 mins - the onions should be translucent when done.
  4. Dice the red pepper and add to the pan.
  5. Add the mince and stir thoroughly.
  6. Cook for 5 mins or so until the mince is browned - the time will vary depending on what mince you are using, so use your own judgement.
  7. Stir in the chipotle.
  8. Add the passata, then rinse out the can/box with a little water and add that as well.
  9. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins or so.
  10. Add the kidney beans and the sweetcorn and cook until the chilli is thick and viscous, not watery.
  11. While the chilli is cooking, dice the avocado into small cubes.
  12. Place in a small bowl and squeeze over the half a lime.
  13. Sprinkle with the dried garlic to your own taste and mix.
  14. If you were cooking in a frying pan, once it is done transfer the chilli to your casserole dish.
  15. Put the grill on full power.
  16. Cut the corn tortillas into 8 triangles each.
  17. Place the tortilla triangles all over the top of the chilli like a lid.
  18. Sprinkle lightly with cheese.
  19. Place under the grill until the cheese melts and the edges of the tortilla's crisp up.
  20. Serve in bowls with the salsa sprinkled over the top and a dollop of soured cream if that is your thing.
This is a very tasty, hearty meal and it definitely going in my regular use folder.

Monday, 30 April 2018

AtoZ2018 - Z is for ... #MovieMonsters #AtoZChallenge

Z is for ... Zombies

And we have reached the end! Well done everyone who had made it to the finish line. Today I have chosen zombies because what is creepier than a walking, rotting dead thing? The last entry if for Pride and Prejudice with zombies, which has a huge spoiler in it - so don't read it if you don't want to be spoiled.

Scariness Rating

The little skulls by their name are my scariness rating as to how monstrous and scary I think the creatures are when seen in their films.
  •  1 skull (not scary at all) - 5 skulls (very scary)
  •  and there is a special rating for a few - 5 red skulls (utterly terrifying)

Standartenf├╝hrer Herzog (Dead Snow)

Dead Snow is a Norwegian zombie offering, which lost of blood and gore and some humour on the side too.

Herzog is the commander of a force of Einsatzgruppe who occupied the region of Norway during the second world war. In life he and his men terrified the local people, abusing them, and when it became clear the war was lost they looted the town. However, the people rose up and chased them into the mountains to be frozen to death.

Unfortunately, they didn't die. They remain with their loot in the cold mountains, killing those stupid enough to enter their territory.

Herzog was a monster when he was a man, as a zombie he is worse.

Big Ben (House)

House is a film about ... you guessed it, a house, only this house is a gateway to another world, one made of nightmares and evil things.

When Roger Cobb, horror author extrodinaire, moves in to his aunts old house, he expects to have a quiet place to write his new book, but instead he gets nightmares and monsters.

His nightmares include Big Ben, one of his comrades from his tour of Vietnam. The problem comes later after Cobb finds out about the other world, because then Ben is much more solid than a dream, he is a zombie.

Ben was captured and tortured before he was killed and he blames Cobb for not saving him. He's no mindless creature after brains, but a terrible monster out to exact revenge.

Henrietta (Evil Dead 2)

Evil Dead 2 was the first real horror movie I ever saw (not including the Hammer films from the 60s, which are pretty tame). It scared me silly then, and I still watch bits of it from behind a cushion - it's awesome.

Henrietta (Ted Rami) is the wife of Raymond Knowby, an archaeologist who previously lived in a cabin where Ash Williams and his girlfriend decide to take a romantic vacation. Knowby read from the Necronomicon, the book of the dead, and released evil things into the world.

Henrietta was possessed by one of these, making her a deadite, an undead zombie with evil in mind. Kowby thought he killed her and buried her in the cellar, but it's really hard to kill a deadite and Henrietta comes right back.

Sheep (Black Sheep)

You really have to see this film to believe it - it's brilliant. It has mutant zombie style sheep, who can infect humans into becoming half human, half sheep mutant creatures. It's not quite a zombie film, but the sheep crave blood and flesh and go after humans just the way zombies do, hence the inclusion :).

Of course this film is from New Zealand, where else would have a mutant sheep film?

It actually had a decently thought out plot, great effects and it's a comedy as well, so there are plenty of laughs. If you like silly horror movies, this is the one for you.

Matthew Cordell (Maniac Cop 2)

So in Maniac Cop, Matthew Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) is a rogue police officer who supposedly died in Sing Sing after being imprisoned for police brutality. However, he wasn't quite as dead as everyone hoped and in number 2 he is definitely undead.

He likes killing. Where once he might have been after criminals, now he just kills anyone he feels like, police, innocent bystanders and criminals alike. If they get in his way, they die.

Those who wronged him when he was alive need to watch out even more, because them he likes to kill painfully. This is one nasty monster no one wants to meet in a dark alley.

Q: What is your favourite zombie film? Which is worse, zombies or ghost?

Scroll past the spoiler space for the last entry.

AtoZ List of All Participants


George Wickham (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies had exactly the same setting as the Austin novel, except in this 19th century England, they have a zombie problem. All the Bennet sisters have been trained in weaponry and defence in Japan.

There are, however, some zombies who have managed to maintain something of their humanity by consuming pig brains. George Wickham is taking advantage of these to create a zombie army to take over London.

What no one realises is that Wickham is also one of these civilised zombies, having been infected months earlier. His aim is for zombie supremacy. He was a cad and a monster of a man before he was infected, having likely killed Darcy's father, as a zombie he can only be worse.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

AtoZ2018 - Y is for ... #MovieMonsters #AtoZChallenge

Y is for ...

And we reach the penultimate day for the AtoZChallenge. I have three monsters for you today, but, please be warned, the last one is a huge, huge spoiler for the film Identity. So if you haven't seen it and don't want to be spoiled, don't read the last entry :). I've done the old fashioned thing of putting in spoiler space so scroll down carefully to read the rest and head to the bottom to read the spoiler filled last monster.

Scariness Rating

The little skulls by their name are my scariness rating as to how monstrous and scary I think the creatures are when seen in their films.
  •  1 skull (not scary at all) - 5 skulls (very scary)
  •  and there is a special rating for a few - 5 red skulls (utterly terrifying)

Ymir (20 Million Miles to Earth)

So this is a little bit of a cheat because in the final release of 20 Million Miles to Earth, the beast is never named, but the original title of film was The Giant Ymir, so I think he counts.

This is another example of humans doing something stupid and wondering why destruction ensues - just like King Kong.

Ymir comes from Venus. He was brought back as unborn embryo in a tank on a human space craft, but it crashed and his pod was found by a young boy. A scientist then put him in a cage and expected everything to be okay.

Of course it wasn't as he grew and grew very quickly to a huge size.

He wasn't even very monstrous unless provoked, but of course, the humans in the film insist on provoking him and electrocuting him to knock him out. When the power fails he was bound to go on a rampage.

This is another Ray Harryhausen classic with a wonderful stop motion monster.

Yeti (Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon)

So for this one, think 'Alive' but in the Himalayas instead of the Andes and add in Yeti to make things even more dicey.

A plane carrying a college football team and their entourage crashes in the Himalayas, leaving the survivors with very little food and not a lot of shelter. Then comes the big white monster of a Yeti, who is a scavenger, but doesn't mind fresh meat either.

When the survivors disturb the Yeti in its cave it attacks them. Of course things only go downhill from there.

As you can see from the piccie, this is not a film with an immensely high budget, and it's not going to win any Oscars, but you have to give them points for trying :).

I'm going to add in my question and participants link here before my last entry at the bottom of the page, in case you don't want to scroll down.

Q: Have you seen Identity - did you enjoy it? If faced with a monster from Venus, what would you do?

AtoZ List of All Participants




Timmy York (Identity)

So on to my huge spoiler :). If you haven't seen Identity, it is a fabulous film staring John Cusack.

Eleven strangers end up stuck in a motel in the middle of nowhere thanks to a storm and one of them is a killer. One by one they start to die, and with each body is a room key, counting down from 10 to 1.

Since I am already spoiling the most important point of the film, I shall spoil the rest as well. All eleven are actually personalities of a convicted murderer, Malcolm Rivers (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and the motel is a mental reconstruction of where one of his personalities killed several people.

The killing off of the personalities is part of the process of stabilising Rivers and convincing a judge that the murderous personality is dead.

Unfortunately, while one of the personalities is that of a convicted felon, he's not the rage filled murderer. What is so brilliant about this monster is that Timmy is the one child personality, and he is the one with the murderous edge. It makes perfect sense as well, because Malcolm's mind fractured when he was a child so it's quite possible Timmy hold all the trauma from the event that caused it.

He never says a word through the whole film, not until the very end, and Bret Loehr does the most amazing job of conveying emotions with virtually no lines at all. Timmy hates with an unrivalled passion and it makes him the perfect monster which spills over into the real world.

Friday, 27 April 2018

AtoZ2018 - X is for ... #MovieMonsters #AtoZChallenge

X is for ...

Okay, so X is always a tricky letter and I may have had to cheat a little for one of my monsters today, but the other definitely counts. I can't believe April is almost over - where did all the time go? Thanks to everyone who has visited so far.

Scariness Rating

The little skulls by their name are my scariness rating as to how monstrous and scary I think the creatures are when seen in their films.
  •  1 skull (not scary at all) - 5 skulls (very scary)
  •  and there is a special rating for a few - 5 red skulls (utterly terrifying)

Xenomorph (Alien)

Is there any alien scarier than the Xenomorph from the Alien franchise? I think not. This is one scary, scary monster - mostly because it doesn't actually kill you if it gets you, it uses you as a host for its young. Which leads to a painful, messy death.

I actually saw many a take off of alien (think the Spaceballs diner scene) before I saw the movie, so I can only imagine what it must have been like to watch John Hurt's scene without knowing what was going to happen. It was shocking enough when I knew.

Alien is a classic. It's more sci-fi than horror, although it does have horror elements, and it is so good. Such amazing design by H.R.Giger and wonderful content directed by Ridley Scott.


So this movie has lots of monsters and, again. it's all to do with aliens.

In this movie Sam and his son Tony are on their farm together when Sam is abducted by a strong light. Three years later the light comes back and plants a seed that becomes a creature, half alien, half human.

After killing several people, this monster impregnates a woman, who very rapidly gestates and produces someone who looks just like Sam.

Things only get more monstrous from there, with alien eggs, monstrous powers, killer toy soldiers and kill clowns.

This is not the greatest film, it's not one of my favourites, but I needed another X :).

Q: Do you know and Xs I missed? What movie monster for you has the X-factor (i.e. which is you favourite monster of all time :))?

AtoZ List of All Participants

Thursday, 26 April 2018

AtoZ2018 - W is for ... #MovieMonsters #AtoZChallenge

W is for ... Witch/Warlock/Wizard

There seem to be a lot of theme within a theme posts near the end of the month, and today I have lots of magical people for you - all of them bad to the bone, which is what makes them monsters :).

Scariness Rating

The little skulls by their name are my scariness rating as to how monstrous and scary I think the creatures are when seen in their films.
  •  1 skull (not scary at all) - 5 skulls (very scary)
  •  and there is a special rating for a few - 5 red skulls (utterly terrifying)

The Witch Queen (The Last Witch Hunter)

The Witch Queen is the most powerful witch in the world, and 800 years ago she unleashed the Black Plague to wipe out humanity. She has very powerful magic, but like all witches has a weakness when it comes to fire. Her body was burned, but her heart survived and was hidden.

In the present her followers plan to resurrect her using the heart. Her main aim is to use her power and a coven of dark hearted witches to unleash another plague, this one unstoppable.

The Witch Queen is evil to her core, twisted by dark magic and her hatred of humanity. A true monster.

I really enjoyed The Last Witch Hunter, although many didn't agree. I love the characters and plot and wish there had been a sequel.

Maax (Beastmaster)

Beastmaster is a classic 80s sword and sorcery movie, complete with a buff chap running around in not many clothes and an evil wizard. Maax (Rip Torn) is the evil wizard.

He is the high priest of the god Ar and at the beginning of the film is given a prophecy that he will be killed by the first born son of King Zed. As ever it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because he tries to have the son killed by removing him from his mother's womb with magic and sacrificed to Ar, but manages to set Dar on the path to defeating him instead.

He is exiled and becomes the high priest of the Juns - a barbarian horde, who help him spread his evil. He uses his magic for his own gain, and enjoys sacrificing children to Ar to increase his own power. He is a monster of the worst kind.

Muriel (Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters)

Muriel (Famke Janssen) is the leader of all the witches in the world, the Grand Witch, and she is incredibly powerful. Her magic is very strong and she hides in plain sight, but when in her natural form the decay caused by the dark magic shows clearly on her body.

Her greatest weakness, just like all witches is fire, and in Hansel & Gretel, she has gathered her fellows and they are kidnapping children in a bid to make themselves immune to the flames.

She is evil to the core, willing to kill even the innocent to suit her own purposes. Sometimes she looks human, sometimes she looks like the monster she is.

This movie is an unrepentant action adventure with witches and witch hunters - it does not require great thought, but what it does it does well. I thoroughly recommend it.

Bavmorda (Willow)

Willow is another sword and sorcery adventure film and it is brilliant. This one is more PG than Hansel and Gretel, but the evil sorceress is just as bad to the bone.

Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) is once again the subject of prophecy, that a female child with a special birthmark will be her downfall. To prevent this she wishes to sacrifice the child.

Bavmorda has great magic, but Elora Danan, the girl child, has Willow (Warwick Davis), a Nelwyn farmer who would like to be a sorcerer himself, but who's crowning achievement is his disappearing pig trick. Of course evil magic is no match for the good guys.


Now Warlock is definitely a film for adults and star Julian Sands as the Warlock and Richard E. Grant as the witch-hunter, Giles Redferne, who chases him through time.

This Warlock is the true servant of Satan and he is evil incarnate. He cares not about who he kills or hurts in his quest to assemble The Grand Grimoire, a book that will reveal the true name of God and give the Warlock the ultimate power to unmake all of creation.

The only thing that stands between him and total victory is Giles and Kassandra (Lori Singer) who he meets in his future. With his powerful magic, the Warlock has them at a great disadvantage, but they will not give up.

There are 3 movies in the Warlock franchise, the first 2 which are both great and star Julian Sands, and the 3rd, which I haven't seen staring Bruce Payne.

Wendol Mother (The 13th Warrior)

If you haven't seen The 13th Warrior, I must recommend it very highly, it is a fantastic movie. It didn't do well in the cinema, but that must have been bad marketing, because it's brilliant.

Antonio Banderas plays Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a court poet to the Caliph of Bagdad, who is exiled as an Ambassador to the North because of an affair with another man's wife. He ends up in the company of the Norsemen and becomes the 13th Warrior to accompany a band of them on a quest.

The enemy are the Wendol, a tribe of people who think they are bears and who raid the villages of the Norsemen, slaughtering all, taking heads and eating the flesh of those they slaughter. The seems as mosters, with no fallen ever left behind, and looking more like beasts than men. The ultimate power rest with the Wendol Mother, a woman and a witch, who lives underground, from whom they believe comes their strength, and her will is carried out by their Warlord.

She is a monster who controls a hoard.

Queen Gedren (Red Sonja)

I have definitely mentioned Queen Gedren before - she is the big bad from Red Sonja, another classic 80s sword and sorcery movie. She is power hungry and so greedy for magical dominance that she steals the Talisman, an orb of great power that only women may touch.

The thing is, when exposed to light the Talisman becomes more and more powerful, until it is capable of not just sacking cities, but destroying the world.

Gedren is so intent on her own ends that she's completely oblivious to the danger and, really, she has something of a screw loose. She wanted Sonja for her very own, which is how she ended up with the pretty mask, because Sonja scared her face to get away.

This is one monster in a very sexy package.

Scarabis (Waxwork II - Lost in Time)

Scarabis is a very evil warlock who has his eye on the English throne in an alternative timeline in Cartagra, or as Sir Wilfred puts it, God's Nintendo game. In Cartagra good and evil battle forever and if Satan ever tips the delicate balance in his favour, things do not go well in the real world.

Scarabis uses dark magic in a complex ceremony where he transmutes a young woman into a half human, half cat like creature, to give himself the ability to shapeshift. He is a decadent, self-centred man, who is all monster wrapped up in a civilising shell.

Waxwork and Waxwork II are both really good examples of 80s horror, with an edge of humour amid all the darkness. I love them both.

Fenella (Chorlton and the Wheelies)

I'm betting most have never heard of Fenella or Chorlton. This classic style witch is from a stop-motion children's TV show from the 70s. She is the enemy of the Wheelies.

She hates anything happy and has caused the Wheelie World to come to a virtual standstill so she does not have to put up with the usually cheerful Wheelies. Then along comes Chorlton who is a happiness dragon. He brings Wheelie World back to life, causing Fenella to go apoplectic with fury.

She, of course makes it her life's work to make the Wheelies unhappy so she can have quiet back, but Chorlton always stands in her way.

Honourable Mentions

The Red Queen (Sarah Douglas) from Witchville,
Profion (Jeremy Irons) from Dungeons and Dragons,
Dark Willow (Alyson Hannigan) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Saruman the White (Sir Christopher Lee) from The Lord of the Rings

Q: Do you have any favourite bad witches, warlocks or wizards who should be mentioned?

AtoZ List of All Participants