Thursday, 24 September 2020

The Visitor - Coming Soon!


New Book Time πŸ˜€


November 5th, 2020 is the proposed date for my twenty-first publication on Amazon (cross fingers and touch wood, in these days of uncertainty!).  I chose this date not because of bonfire night, but because a) that's when it should be ready, and b) it was on November 5th, 2011 that I published my first Amazon book, You Wish

Here is my lovely cover for The Visitor, followed by the blurb...


In 2024, a mystery virus ravages the entire world.  'Bat Fever' is highly contagious and a hundred per cent lethal. 

A cottage tucked away in an isolated Norfolk village seems like the ideal place to sit out a catastrophic pandemic, but some residents of Hincham resent the arrival of Jack and his friends, while others want to know too much about them.

What they don't know is that beneath their cottage is a fully-stocked, luxury survival bunker.  A post-apocalyptic 'des res'.   

The village isolates itself from the rest of the country, but the deaths continue―and not from the virus.  There's a killer on the loose, but is it a member of the much depleted community, or someone from outside?  As the body count rises, paranoia sets in; friend suspects friend, and everyone suspects the newcomers.

Most terrifying of all is that no one knows who's next on the list...

The Visitor is Terry Tyler's twenty-first Amazon publication, and is set in the same world as her Project Renova series, while being a completely separate, stand-alone novel.  

Monday, 14 September 2020

Last Days of Summer

I haven't been out walking for a couple of weeks now (oh alright, then, three), because I was deep in finishing a book, but I promised myself I would do so this week.  So glad I did today - it was gorgeous, and so warm I wished I'd put shorts on.  Still, though, I was aware that autumn is lurking round the corner, waiting to show its face...


The fruits of the season 🌞

Still got flowers πŸ₯€πŸŒ»

Turning leaves... πŸƒ

...and my new earrings, because I don't go anywhere else to wear them, these days! 


My Favourite Supermarket Vegan Food

I became an almost-vegan about three and a half years ago.  I stopped eating meat and most animal products overnight, which was very difficult at first—I ate little more than bread, hummus, vegetables and potatoes for the first week.  My problem is that I'm not interested in cooking.  Breakfast is usually fruit with yogurt, muesli or toast, lunch is anything I can put together in five minutes, and dinner is something I can bung in the oven and eat with a ton of vegetables.

About six months after I made the change, veganism became the in thing, and supermarket vegan offerings went from a few meagre shelves that looked as if they were embarrassed to be there, to vast ranges of stuff that actually appeared edible.  Guess what?  Some of it is!  

I've tried so many different items, and arrived at those I do like via a lot of trial, error and chucking away.  The following is by no means a comprehensive list - this is just personal taste, based on the stuff that I buy over and over again.  I hope it will be of use to any other newly converted, cooking-shy vegan!

A few items are soya free, too.


Alpro Single Soya

Non-dairy single cream - I use it in my coffee every day.  Even nicer if you whisk it with an egg whisk once it's poured in.


Asda Free From Single Soya

I didn't think much at first but then I discovered that if you give it a good shake before use it comes out nice and thick, nearly as good as the alpro stuff.

Alpro Soya Strawberry pretend milk

Comes in a pack of three small individual cartons.  It's nice on its own, but I use it on muesli.  Even better if you add a bit of the cream alternative!


Tesco free from Jalapeno and Chilli Cheese

This was my favourite for a long time - love it!  I've tried the other flavours in the range, though, and think they're all horrible.  Like, chuck-them-straight-in-the-bin horrible.


Violife Epic Mature Cheddar

My current favourite - great on its own or in sandwiches.  Good texture.


Violife Just Like Feta

I adored this when I first tried it, couldn't leave it alone, but then I went off it.  However, I'm still including it in this list, because my change in favour might have because I went OTT with it!

Violife Cheese Slices

They're pretty much like Edam - that sort of texture and taste.  Good on the meat-type vegan burgers (see below), or in sandwiches.

***PS - just discovered the 'mature cheddar flavour' ones, which are much nicer!***

Note: I can't vouch for any of these cheeses cooking-wise - I've only used them 'raw'.


Linda McCartney Vegetable 1/4 lb Burgers

My favourite from Day One.  I have one for dinner with vegetables about four times a week (told you I wasn't interested in cooking!).  Best if you put a bit of soy sauce on them; I recommend Morrisons' Tamarin Soy Sauce, which is the best I've tried.


Linda McCartney Meatballs

These are nice, but need a bit of soy sauce.  I have them with salad for lunch sometimes.  Also work with a tomato type sauce and pasta/spaghetti (cook them on their own first).  About a hundred times better than the Birds Eye frozen vegan meatballs, which I threw away as soon as I tried one.  Literally, off the dinner plate, and the whole bag gone.  My feelings were echoed by many on the Asda website.

Linda McCartney Rosemary and Onion Sausages 

These are much better than the plain ones, which are too cereal-ish and tasteless, and I don't like the other flavours, either.  My sister makes a fabulous sausage casserole with them (basically, fried onions, tinned chopped tomatoes, potatoes and carrots, with lemon juice and basil). 



Morrisons Mushroom Wellington

These are gorgeous.  Again, best cut open, with a bit of soy sauce on the mushroomy bit.  I have one once or twice a week with lots of broccoli and asparagus.


Sainsbury's Love Your Veg vegan burger

These are the vegetable type of burger rather than the meat alternative type, but unlike most of them, which tend towards the mushy and tasteless, these are more substantial and quite heavily spiced.


Morrisons V Taste Vegetable Korma

The best of their ready meals, I think.  I went off most of the others pretty quickly.  Downside is that it's pretty fattening, over nearly 600 calories, and it's quite small.  


Morrisons V Taste Butternut Squash Curry

Butternut Squash is, of course, completely tasteless, and is just 'some stuff' until you put other ingredients with it.  The first time I tried this I thought it was WAY too bland, but a spoonful of mango chutney makes all the difference.  It's a bit stodgy, but quite nice.


Meatless Farm Co Mince

By far the best mince alternative I've found.  Makes a great bolognese sauce with the Lloyd Grosman tomato and sweet red pepper sauce; much nicer than the tomato and basil.


Goodfellas Falafel Pizza

The best vegan pizza I've tried.  Not fabulous (I haven't had one for some time), and best if you stick some more stuff on it, but it's okay.  I tried putting some of the Violife grated cheese on it, which made it a bit more like pizza!


Morrisons V Taste Chicken Pieces

Much nicer than the Quorn ones.  Drier and actually taste nice on their own.  I've had them with those packets of Bird's Eye Steam and Serve rice and vegetable that you put in the microwave for 3 minutes.


Like Meat - Like Chicken

I've eaten these with those Birds Eye rice and vegetable things too - again, requires soy sauce!  They need to be fried, and for longer than it says.  The instructions say 6 minutes, I did them for 10.  I haven't tried anything else in the range.


Marks & Spencer Plant Kitchen Nutty Wholefood Salad

I've found the M&S vegan range very disappointing - it all looks a lot nicer than it is.  This is good, though; it's also more fattening than it looks!


Eat Real Cheezie Straws

Love these!  The rest of the range - veggie straws, hummus chips, etc - are all a bit bland, apart from the quinoa puffs which are WAY too hot, but these are great.


Flora Dairy Free Spread

By far the best of all the dairy free spreads I've tried.  I wouldn't buy it at first because of the palm oil thing, but it now claims to use only that which is responsibly sourced.  There is a buttery one which I find a bit sickly; I get the light one which tastes about the same as the original, and is not so fattening

....and just discovered this.... glorious!  Flora Plant Butter


Asda Free From Strawberry Yogurt

Great taste and texture.  The lemon one is nice too, but this is the best.

Koko Peach and Passionfruit Yogurt

One of the best - much better than the alpro ones.  I have some over a bowl of blueberries, grapes, strawberries and mango most days, either for breakfast or as 'afters'.


Sainsbury's Strawberry Mousse

Gorgeous!  I could eat this until it came out of my ears, and it's only 111 calories a pot.


Morrisons Salted Caramel Crunch

I think this is much nicer than any of the other vegan ice cream I've tried, including a couple of the Ben & Jerry's ones.  I've only got it a couple of times because it's hard to resist once you've got it in the freezer!


Nakd Bars 

Good old stand-by, for me.  I only have the Blueberry Muffin (my favourite) and the Berry Delight ones.  I actually get them from Amazon, not the supermarket, because they're much cheaper.


Finally - my sister says this is the best spread she's found.  You can get it from Sainsburys.

I will add more if I come across anything else that's particularly nice :)

Friday, 28 August 2020

Lately I've Been Watching

The latest in my series of mini TV reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.


Series: Better Call Saul - Season 5 (Netflix)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This series just gets better and better, as it gets closer to where Breaking Bad started.  If you loved Breaking Bad but haven't started watching this yet, don't miss it!  (nb, having watched Breaking Bad is not a pre-requisite for enjoying it).

Series: Snowfall - Seasons 1-3 (Amazon Prime)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The fictional story of the first crack epidemic in LA, introduced by young Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) who wasn't involved in anything more criminal than slinging a bit of weed for his uncle, until he gets involved with a coke dealer, and, later, happens upon someone who shows him how to make 'rocks'.  The three seasons trace crack's impact on the culture of the city, and on the lives of those involved - Franklin and his immediate family, CIA agent Teddy MacDonald who has far-reaching reasons for dealing with Franklin, Mexican crime boss's niece Lucia Villanueva, former wrestler Gustavo Zapata, straight cop Andre who lives next door to Franklin's mum, and his daughter, Melodie.  

I was engrossed all the way through each episode, and am happy to hear there is to be a Season 4.  It's actually most interesting to see a crime series such as this in times before the internet - it really hits you how different the landscape and culture is.  Franklin's character arc is masterfully written and acted, as some of his former principles fall by the wayside and he begins to see the effect his business is having on people he loves.  Fabulous - stick it at the top of your watch list!

For TWD addicts - Juan Javier Cardenas (Dante) plays a Nicaraguran rebel, Kevin Carroll (Virgil) plays Frankin's father, and Markice Moore (Prisoner Andrew from S3) plays a minor hoodlum.


Series: Condor - Season 1 & 2 (Amazon Prime)

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary from Wikipedia - 

Joe Turner (Max Irons) is a young CIA analyst whose idealism is tested when he stumbles onto a terrible but brilliant plan that threatens the lives of millions. Turner is an idealistic millennial who secretly joins the CIA hoping to reform it from within. But when everyone in his office is massacred by professional killers, this brilliant analyst is forced out of his ivory tower think tank and into battle with the most dangerous elements in the military-industrial complex. If he is to have any chance of surviving, Joe will have to do things he never imagined himself capable of – and discover that no one knows their true character until they’ve been tested under fire.

Gripping, loved it.  Highly recommended.


Series: Billions - Season 5 Part 1 (Amazon Prime,

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Doesn't let up, this series, never a dull moment - I like the introduction of another foe this season, rather than just Axe, Chuck and Taylor fighting between themselves; enter Mike Prince, a fellow financial whizz and Axe's rival of old, who shows his upper hand over and over - has Axe met his match?  Loved it, as ever.


Reality Show: Alone - Season 7 (Amazon Prime)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This season, the 10 contestants are sent to survive alone in the Canadian Arctic, but there's a difference: in order to win the prize money of one million dollars, the winner has to stick it out for 100 days.  

As usual, the first 20 days sorts out the wheat from the chaff, and the stronger-than-steel few get stuck in for the long haul.  Two people made it past Day 80, until they had to leave for the sake of their health, and the person I thought would win it from Day One did indeed stick it out.

I've always loved this show because the survival tactics, such as the building of the shelters and the making of tools, fascinate me, and I love to see the scenery, but I had mixed feelings about this one.  It's probably hypocritical of me, but here's why: in early seasons, the contestants existed mostly on fish, plants and the odd small rodent. I felt sorry for the mice, but it seemed kind of okay. In S7, though, we were watching serious survivalists, some of whom live the life for real, at least part of the time.  This time, they were killing rabbits and hares, porcupines and even a musk ox, in order to stay out there until Day 100.  And, as someone who doesn't eat meat and very little in the way of animal products at all, I found myself uncomfortable with watching these beautiful animals being killed for the purpose of entertainment.  Especially when their killers kissed them and told them how 'grateful' they were.  

What really pissed me off was when two contestants stole squirrels' mushroom stashes.  I'm not against killing animals when you have to do so in order not to starve, because it's nature's way, but these people were out there for self-indulgent 'personal journeys' and for the chance of winning a million dollars.  Which is their choice, but watching a contestant holding up her two dead rabbits made me feel as bad as if I'd 'liked' one of those gross trophy photos that hobby-hunters post on Twitter and Instagram.

I just kept thinking, those animals would be running around, living their lives, if not for this show.  So I don't think I'll be watching it any more.


Documentary Series: The Clinton Affair (Amazon Prime, Sky History)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Six part series, mostly about the Monica Lewinsky affair.  An older, slimmer and far more sophisticated Lewinsky talks at length about what happened; she's honest and likeable, and not scared to admit what a fool she was, though obviously she's milked it for all it's worth in the years since.  Other players in the farce appear in person, too - just another documentary that exposes the corruption at the top.  Good stuff, worth watching.


Series: Perry Mason - Season 1 (AmazonPrime,

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The series focuses on the origin story of famed defense lawyer Perry Mason. In 1932, LA is prospering while the rest of the U.S. is recovering from the grip of the Depression. Down-and-out private investigator Perry Mason is struggling with his trauma from WW1 and being divorced. He is hired for a sensational child kidnapping trial and his investigation portends major consequences for Mason, his client, and the city itself.

I very much like Matthew Rhys (The Americans) who stars as Mason, and the ubiquitous Shea Whigham as his partner, but I wasn't mad about this.  It's just a personal preference, though; I can see that it's extremely well-made and in theory ticked most of my required boxes, but just didn't hit the spot for me.  I think it's just that I'm not keen on the 'noir' genre - if you are, I am sure you will love it.  So 3* for my own taste, but 4* for how good it is of its type, in the interest of objective reviewing!

Friday, 24 July 2020

Lately I've Been Watching

More mini TV reviews, with trailers and an indication of where you can watch them.

If you would like to see more blog posts like this, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  When you get to the bottom, you can click 'Older Posts' for more. 

Series: The Last Ship - Seasons 1-5 (Amazon Prime)

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After a global viral pandemic wipes out over 80% of the world's population, the crew of a lone unaffected US Navy guided missile destroyer, the fictional Nathan James, must try to find a cure, stop the virus, and save humanity.

That's Season 1, in which Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) actually looks like Action Man, and the doctor creating the cure is outrageously beautiful (Rhona Mitra).  Once the cure exists, the story is built around the various countries trying to rebuild, and steal power from each other.  

In the first season the foe is the Russians, in the second the British.  The British are all criminals, and talk like something out of Guy Ritchie film, but not very convincingly; we winced all the way through it.  Whoever researched London dialogue ought to be told what 'mind your Ps and Qs' actually means, and that not all Laaarndoners say 'Shaaat it' every five minutes.  

In S3, the foe is the Chinese, in S4 the Greek, and in S5 Columbian gang lords.  It's so Captain America it's almost like a spoof, and riddled with clichΓ©s; at one point, the 2nd in command Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin, a bit more rough and ready but equally honourable as his captain) says 'It's quiet out there', to which Chandler actually replies, 'Too quiet'.  To say it portrays America as the good guys and saviours of the world is an understatement.

So why the five stars?  Because it's great, I loved it.  Once you get past the rather wooden first couple of episodes, it's riveting action all the way, and the storylines are terrific.  Loads of explosions, tension, near death moments, daring feats - it's top stuff.  And I liked the rather corny but effective way in which Chandler managed to fight off his inner Captain Ahab at the end.  Watch it.

For TWD addicts:  Maximilliano Hernandez, alias Officer Bob Lamson ('Can't go back, Bob') plays the ship's doctor, and Jose Pablo Cantillo (Martinez) is the ace Columbian computer hacker.

Series: Dirty John - Season 2 (Amazon Prime, and Netflix soon if not now) 

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

True life dramas about family/romantic disasters/men behaving badly/women scorned/manipulated.  S2 is the story of Betty Broderick; I watched a 1992 TV movie about the case, starring Meredith Baxter, some years back. 

This version is gripping - it's so well-structured, with the first episode showing Betty, whose hot shot LA lawyer husband has left her and gained custody of their children, driving her car into his house, screaming and shouting, etc.  We're given the impression that she's, if not crazy, certainly in need of some help.

From episode 2 onwards, however, the whole story unfolds.  I watched 4 episodes last night and am looking forward very much to the rest - although Betty does lots of stuff that's ill-advised, and is in denial to a dangerous extent, I promise you that you'll have a certain sympathy with her.  Her ex-husband is clever and manipulative, playing a long game in order to get her out of the house, while telling her she's barmy for thinking he's having an affair.  He was, I think, responsible for her mental breakdown; at the trial an expert, presumably hired by the defence, uses the term 'gaslighting', in its real sense, ie, from the 1938 play: determinedly driving someone to doubt their own sanity over a long period of time.  He even turns their four children against her; alas, many of her actions also fuel the fire.

His new wife, Linda, made a play for him, and he was easy bait.  Eventually, Betty feels as though Linda has taken her whole life.  

As time goes on, Betty's behaviour deteriorates and she drives everyone away.
Yes, she kills.  But you can kind of see why.

Series: Snowpiercer - Season 1 (Netflix)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Because of climate change, the world has entered a new ice age, with the only hope for humanity a train with 1001 carriages that must circle the globe at a certain speed in order to power itself.  It contains around 3000 passengers separated strictly by class, from those in 1st who lived as if in a luxury flat, to those in the 'tail', who are filthy and starving, and see no daylight.

Of course, they rebel.  Jenniffer Connelly stars as Melanie Cavill, who runs the show, and Daveed Digs as Andre Layton, the strong and super-intelligent 'tailie' who is determined to fight for equality.  

It's jolly good and I was gripped throughout each episode, though I would have liked to have seen a little of the 'just before' - as the big freeze started, the planning of the train, etc.  Apparently Sean Bean will play Mr Wilford, the owner of the train, in S2.  

For TWD addicts:  Steven Ogg (Simon) plays Pike, a cantankerous revolutionary from the tail. Sort of like Simon, really.

Film: Unsubscribed (Amazon Prime)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Loved this - it was made by students, apparently.  It's a mockumentary about a 'LazerGreg' geeky loser type (played by Brian Velazquez) whose only desire in life is to become a hugely successful Youtuber, like 'Danmark' (Cody Laper) who was the cool guy in school.  The only trouble is that he has nothing to say, isn't funny, and doesn't know how to edit videos.  Then he finds his niche....

It's a clever comment on the culture of today, in which people think they can become famous with no hard work (when Greg is shown how to edit his videos properly, he complains that it will take him such a long time), and believe that others will be fascinated in all they say merely because they want to say it. 

It's all about the views and likes, guys ;)

Series - Tales From The Loop (Amazon Prime)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

'Explores the mind-bending adventures of the people who live above the Loop, a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe – making things previously relegated to science fiction, possible.'

8 hour-long stories set in a world that is like ours in the 1980s, but not quite.  Each places one of the main characters at the centre, telling a story from their lives.  They vary; I wasn't particularly struck with the first, but thought #2 was the best of the lot, and it's resolved in #8, also tick vg.  My other favourites were #3 and #7.  They're quite slow-paced, which took me a while to get used to, but #2 was so good that I kept watching, and I was glad I did.

Series: Firefly - Seasons 1-3 (Amazon Prime, Hulu, Youtube)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Made in 2002, this is set in year 2517, when Earth has died, and man has sought out new planets around the galaxy.  The crew of spaceship Firefly are renegades; since a period of war, the galaxy is controlled by a central federal government called the Alliance, made up of the fusion of the two remaining superpowers: America and China.  Out in the far reaches of this space world, many like the crew of Firefly live on their ships doing black market deals on the outer planets, and living on the edge of the law.

The main story is that of a child prodigy (River, played by Summer Glau), who, along with her brother, is rescued by the Firefly crew from brain experimentation by the Alliance doctors.

Remember being ten years old, and sitting in bed with a bag of sweets and a pile of comics?  How that feels?  The best way of summing up Firefly is to say that having a binge-watch of any of the 3 seasons provokes the same feelings.  Enjoy!   πŸ˜†

Film: Serenity (Amazon Prime)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The film of the TV series.  Just as good.

Series: Search Party - Seasons 1-3 (Amazon Prime, HBO Max)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dark comedy about a group of twenty-somethings in NYC, one of whom, Dory, becomes obsessed with finding a missing girl who she remembers vaguely from college.

The plot is amusing and fast-moving, and the main characters are saved from being massively irritating in the way that only millennials can be, by the fact that they're well-drawn send-ups; the hipper than hip gay guy who longs to be the coolest cat in town, the airhead actress, the homely-looking doormat Dory, and her wimpish boyfriend, Drew; they're not that keen on each other but are too lacking in confidence to split up.

The search for the missing Chantal leads them into all sorts of hot water ... it's good, entertaining.  I recommend.

Limited Series: The Salisbury Poisonings (Netflix, BBC iplayer)

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐

'In March 2018 Salisbury became the site of an unprecedented national emergency. This three-part dramatisation focuses on the extraordinary heroism shown by the local community.'

It's interesting, and well-acted; worth watching, but I wasn't mad about it.

Series: The Politician - Season 2 (Netflix)

2 stars ⭐⭐

The first series was fun, but this one went too over the top, and I only watched four episodes.  What I mostly object to, aside from the fact that it became too silly, is the way in which a show aimed at impressionable adolescents portrays certain sexual practices as the norm, and as casual a recreational activity as going for a drink.  I've noticed this in other youth-orientated shows and think it's a sinister trend.  And if that makes me sound like an old fart, I don't care.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Six Years of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team

I have been a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team (#RBRT) for five and a half years, now.  I first 'met' Rosie online when looking for reviews for my own early books, and through her some of the other bloggers who later became part of the team.

I admit to being wary of making the commitment when I joined the review team, but I'm so glad I did; Rosie has created something so positive for the independently published world (the team deals mainly with the self-published or those published by independents), and I am proud to be a part of it.  When I joined, I decided to start my own book review blog - I don't profess to be a 'proper' book blogger as I'm primarily a writer; I don't take submissions and use it only for reviewing for Rosie and my own reading choices, but it's something I enjoy doing. πŸ˜€

If you are interested in joining us, Rosie has written an article about how her review team works, on BookerTalk blog - you can read it HERE.  Details of how to apply to join are HERE.  You don't need to have a book blog, and you don't need any credentials apart from a love of reading.

There are two main reasons why I'm so glad I joined the team, equally important.  The first is the discovery of some truly excellent books; now and again, you find a real gem, that you want to shout about; so often these are books that are hidden away on Amazon and you would have never discovered, had the author not submitted.  Here are a few that made me feel this way (link takes you to my review):

The Men by Fanny Calder
The Usurper King  by Zeb Haradon
The World Without Flags by Ben Lyle Bedard 
Singularity Syndrome by Susan Kuchinskas
The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle by James D Dixon
The Unravelling of Brendan Meeks by Brian Cohn
Back Home by Tom Williams

Other books I've loved are highlighted on Rosie's two part post:


The second reason I love being a part of #RBRT is that some of us have become real life friends, too, enjoying several meet-ups.

Here are me, Rosie, Shelley, Cathy and Barb, in Matlock, April 2019 - a lovely weekend!

Leicester, December 2016

With Rosie, Cathy, Barb and Alison - Sheffield, October 2015

Here's to six more years of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team! πŸ’ƒ