Thursday 31 October 2013

Just a little thank you - Gay Halloween Book Giveaway

I'd like to thank everyone who joined in the Gay Halloween Giveaway, making it a fun competition. Thanks also to Kia Zi Shiru, wonderful author and community spirited gal that she is, for organising the fun. :)

All the winners have now been contacted, so check your inboxes!

If you didn't win, but are interested in the authors who took part, check out these links below:

Kia Zi Shiru

The Wittegen Press (featuring Sophie Duncan and Natasha Duncan-Drake)

G. Wakeling

X. Aratare

Jen Harker

Lex Valentine

Alicia Nordwell

Luwa wande

And click on the covers of the books below to find out more about them.

Disturbed Fate by Kia Zi Shiru Disturbed Connections by Kia Zi Shiru Pacifier 6; The Shadows Within by G. Wakeling Birth Rite by X. Aratare The Bodyguard (Book1 of The Artifact) by X. Aratare Bisexual Werewolf Dominance by Jen Harker Gay Vampire Cumslut by Jen Harker Sunday's Child by Lex Valentine Pricolici by Alicia Nordwell Supernature: Paranormal Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games by Sophie Duncan and Natasha Duncan-Drake The Need In Me by Sophie Duncan An Amusement (The Vampire's Concubine #1) by Sophie Duncan The End of The Journey (The Hidden War #1) by Sophie Duncan Forgotten Soul (The Soul Reader #1) by Tasha D-Drake Forbidden Soul (The Soul Reader #2) by Tasha D-Drake Fortunate Soul (The Soul Reader #3) by Tasha D-Drake Chip Off the Old Block? by Tasha D-Drake The Trade by Tasha D-Drake Out of the Frying Pan by Tasha D-Drake Face of the Dead by Tasha D-Drake My Fair Vampire by S. L. Danielson and Julie Lynn Hayes The Cross and the Black 1 by Luwa Wande The Cross and the Black 2 by Luwa Wande

Free Ebook for All Hallows Read - In the Event of Death by Sophie Duncan and Natasha Duncan-Drake

Last year we created a book for All Hallows Read and this year we are continuing the tradition.

What is All Hallows Read I hear you ask? This is what their website says:
All Hallows’ Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.
It was started by Neil Gaimen and we think it is a wonderful idea. So Sophie and Tasha have each written a spooky short story and we have put them together in a book called In The Even of Death.

Last year we put the book on Amazon because we wanted as many people to see it as possible, but the restrictions of KDP Select (the only way to have a free book when we actually need it) were uncomfortable so this year we have put it on Smashwords and on our website for free download. The link below will take you to the main page for the book so you can choose where you would like to download it.

We very much hope you like the stories and would greatly appreciate it if you would tell your friends about the book. Many thanks.

2 Short Stories
by Sophie Duncan and Natasha Duncan-Drake

Two short stories of the spooky kind created for All Hallows Read 2013.

This book is available free until 7th November 2013 and can be downloaded at the Wittegen Site or at Smashwords.

After that the price will rise and the free downloads below will be removed.

The Visitor by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Alice is spending the night in a dreary little seaside guest house, which is hell, and the last thing she expects is a late night visitor, the significant word being 'late'.

Ruderbaker by Sophie Duncan
Ellie meets Jack and he tells her and her friends a story of the ghostly, horror kind and sometimes stories have consequences.

Review: Thor The Dark World

Title: Thor The Dark World
Rating: 12A
Chris Hemsworth ... Thor
Natalie Portman ... Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston ... Loki
Anthony Hopkins ... Odin
Christopher Eccleston ... Malekith
Faced with an ancient enemy that even Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must reunite with Jane Foster and reconnect with his estranged and imprisoned brother, Loki, to save all nine realms.

First off I will hold my hand up and say I am a huge Marvel movie fan and an even bigger Tom Hiddleston/Loki fan, but I LOVED it.

Where the first Thor movie was lacking (and I loved that too, but I can still see it lacked something that Avengers had) this film did not. It is spectacular and fast paced and it will make you cry, probably at least twice.

My first impression brought to mind a phrase I see on Tumblr a lot, even though it's totally out of context: "Wow that escalated quickly". Normally this is used when a situation goes from one extreme to another, but I thought it when I saw Asgard. Can we say 'bigger budget'? Where as in Thor Asgard was pretty and golden, it felt very stage like, in Thor II is feels real. Just seeing it for the first time I believed it was a place where people lived and where some went about their normal lives rather than running around being heroes all the time.

This film was altogether bigger than it's predecessor: bigger scenery, bigger emotions and bigger action sequences. This is a full on movie from start to finish. It also didn't go quite how I expected either and it was even better than I had hoped. In the poster Jane looks like a damsel, but believe me, she has her part to play as well, much more so than in Thor.
I have seen several reviews that had said Loki steals the show and I partially agree, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact he is the prefect foil for Thor. I have seen interviews where Chris and Tom have said Thor defines Loki and Loki defines Thor and this movie really shows that. Chris Hemsworth is magnificent as Thor; he is brave and true and not at all the bumbling idiot he was at times in Thor. He shines and he is a wonderful, wonderful hero. The we have Tom as Loki, who is sassy, vicious and yet so, so broken. Both Thor and Loki have depth and they are brilliant.

The mortals are also wonderful: Jane, Darcy and Eric are brilliant. Yes, Jane is having a bit of a crisis over Thor, but it doesn't stop her doing what she does best: science. If you put her, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in a lab together they would take over the world in a matter of days. I loved the scene where the healers are looking at Jane - I won't give it away, but it is a beauty.

Wow, is Odin a hypocritical old bastard. It's easy to see where Loki gets his attitude to mortals and yet Odin can insult Jane, but Loki gets locked up for playing at being a god. No wonder Loki is a basket case. Anthony Hopkins is great as ever.

Then we get to Christopher Eccleston as Malekith. He was a decent baddy, but frankly he could have been anyone. When you stand Malekith next to Loki you lose a dimension. He's evil and powerful and clever, but he just doesn't match up. He has no hesitation, no other motivation than I hate Asgard and I want the universe back my way. He could have been any other big bad with a weapon of mass destruction because there was never any question about what he might do. This doesn't make him a terrible character, he's just no where near as interesting as the rest.

The best bits of the film are undoubtedly when Loki and Thor are on screen together. We get to see the brothers not the enemies and it is brilliant. I adore how it played out and I want more, so much more.

Hogun got a bad lot in this movie, but Fandral, Volstagg and Sif all had great parts to play. The timing when Thor has to ask Loki for help is just brilliant.

So yes, I loved the plot, I loved most of the characters, I loved the acting, I loved the costumes and the sets, I loved the humour. It's a great movie, go see it.


One thing I do want to know is why there are at least three things I have seen in trailers that aren't in the movie.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Amber's first trip into the garden.

Amber has had her first foray into the garden :). We’re letting her out in little supervised bursts at the moment to make sure all the security measures work (we can’t let her roam due to the fact she is part serval and many savannahs try to range like their wild cousins and get lost).

We like to call the second to last photo the supermodel post :) and the tongue is out on the last one because she was eating grass.

The foray ended when one of the local yappy dogs went past on its walk. We heard her growl for the first time; I don’t think yappy dogs are to her liking :).

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Review: Fright Night 2: New Blood

Title: Fright Night 2: New Blood
Rating: 15
Will Payne ... Charley Brewster
Jaime Murray ... Gerri Dandridge
Sean Power  ... Peter Vincent
Sacha Parkinson  ... Amy Peterson
Chris Waller  ... 'Evil' Ed Bates
Charlie, his best friend Ed and his ex-girlfriend Amy are on an educational trip to Romania where they have lectures on history at the local university. One of their professors is the beautiful Gerri Dandridge. When Charlie finds out she's a vampire the police won't believe him, Amy won't believe him and Ed just thinks he's screwed, so, of course, things can only get worse.

The wiki page for this film says it's a straight to DVD sequel to the 2011 remake of Fright Night - it's a lie. This isn't a sequel, it's another remake and this is how the first one should have been done.

I am a huge Fright Night (1985) fan, I love it and Fright Night 2 (1988), so when they remade Fright Night in 2011 I ran to the cinema ... and was  hideously disappointed. However, Fright Night 2: New Blood is brilliant. This is the kind of vampire movie I love. It has sexy vampires, it has humour, it has an adorable lead, it has action, it has romance.

This is the type of vampire movie that made me fall in love with vampires in the first place.

It's full of British actors playing what I assumed were Americans because they were talking about dollars and such, but I may just not have been paying attention and just expecting Americans because of the original. I didn't realise they weren't American until I looked them up on IMDB :).

Personally I thought the cast was brilliant.

This film takes the premise from Fright Night (1985), but adds in parts of Fright Night 2 (1988) by gender swapping Gerry for Gerri. It recreates small parts of both films in its own way, but has an entirely new and original back story, which I loved. This is recognisably Fright Night (1985), but fresh and new and simply wonderful.

I do have to admit, there are a couple of bits that don't quite make sense, like the whole opening scene which appears to have nothing to do with the film except for illustrating what vampires can do and the fact they don't show up on cameras. However, most of it hold together beautifully.

The two things I really, really disliked about the 2011 remake of Fright Night were Ed and Gerry; I thought the casting and the way they were played were totally and completely wrong. In Fright Night 2: New Blood they have got it so, so, so right.
Jaime Murray is simply fantastic as Gerri. She is sexy, in control and plays with Charlie so beautifully. Never for a second did I believe she was vulnerable. She was the epitome of the vampire; immortal, powerful and so far above the human cattle pitched against her.

Then there was Chris Waller as Ed, the unashamed horror geek who is slightly left of normal. I loved him, he was just enough like the Ed from the original (who I thought was the best character in the original film), but with his own spin to make him brilliant.

Will Payne as Charlie and Sacha Parkinson as Amy are also great and they shine in the final scenes, as does Sean Power as Peter Vincent. I have to admit, David Tennant did do a better Peter in the 2011 remake, but Sean was still great. The part where he figures out Gerri really is a vampire has the most superb timing.

This film is so good that originally I bought the DVD, but I've now gone back and ordered the blu-ray because I want it in HD. I do have some more to say about it, but there will be spoilers so I shall put them at the bottom where you have to highlight to see them.

Highlight to read:
This film hits so many of my vampire buttons. It has the hero being turned into a vampire (like in Fright Night 2 (1988)), it has a sexy vampire playing with a human for fun, it has the hero sacrificing himself for the good of all. I so, so, so loved it. The only problem is now I want more and I suspect there will be no more :(.

Monday 21 October 2013

Dreadful horror movies and more Amber :)

So Rob and I fancied watching some horror movies last night so we looked at what Sky OnDemand had to offer. We'd seen most of them, but there were two that looked possible, one of which being a new vampire offering called Vampire U. It had Gary Cole; we hoped it couldn't be too terrible.

Yeah, we lasted about fifteen mins into it I think. Oh my god, the jokes were just terrible and not funny. I literally could not bear to watch it.

Next we tried Playback and we didn't last much longer on that. Take about telegraphing what was going to happen as it went along. I am sure some people loved it because it wasn't badly made, just totally not my kind of film.

Anyway, I have Fright Night 2 - New Blood arriving today. It seems to be another remake of Fright Night because there is a Geri (they cross gendered the lead) a Charlie and Ed and an Amy. My reasoning is it can't be any worse than the other remake. I shall do a review of it once Rob and I have watched it.

Now to more piccies of Amber. These are from Friday, but I thought I'd give you a little bit of a break from them :). Cynthia, the lovely lady who had Amber before us, came round on Sat for tea and cake and we had a lovely afternoon. Since then Amber had been very friendly and seems even more settled, which is great. She lets us stroke her while she is wandering around now and she still doesn't like people looming over her, but sit on the carpet and she finds it hard to resist strokes. I'm thinking we might even get to cuddles eventually :). Click to see bigger versions.

Friday 18 October 2013

New Piccie of Amber

I tried to take one where you can see how tall she is, because when she lies down she curls a lot. She obliged by posing in the window for me :).

We've had her two weeks today and I can't imagine the house without her any more. She is so talkative and she likes to know where everyone is when she's moving around. I even got a head butt yesterday while we were sitting on the floor together playing :D.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Star ratings and how random they seem to be.

I have come to a conclusion; star ratings are actually random because different people interpret them in different ways.

What led me to this conclusion was a couple of reviews I received recently. Frankly both of the written parts were great, however, the first one gave me 5 stars and the second 3 stars, even though the second one said specifically that they were looking forward to more of the series.

Hence, I think what it comes down to is interpretation.

When you have your own blog a star rating makes sense because everything on your blog is rated by you using the same criteria. On a site like Amazon or Smashwords the ratings are given by different people using different criteria.

Some people give five stars if they enjoyed a book. Other people only give five stars if they think it is the most exceptional title ever.

Personally if I really liked the book I give 5* and if I liked it, but it had some problems I give it 4*.

It doesn't even matter if there are suggestions as to what the number of stars mean because mostly people don't read that part, they go with what's in their own head.

Add to that the fact that on your own blog you usually have an explanation of the star rating in the side bar or something and on a site like Amazon some people only go for 5* books and others actually look at the reviews, and the mire just gets deeper. It kind of makes sense that some authors were faking their stars reviews because it was the only way to guarantee a result; it wasn't fair or right, but it was logical.

I'm much more likely to be swayed by the cover or the blurb than a star rating. I only really take note of star values on Amazon etc if they are 1 or 2 stars and not just 1 or 2 reviews.

When it comes to DVDs I don't even ever look at the star rating because I often disagree with all the reviewers anyway :).