Monday 25 December 2017

Five of my books are #FREE from Dec 25 ~29!

Five FREE from Dec 25-29

 ~~ Click the book title for the Amazon link ~~

All have stacks of reviews from book bloggers and the reading public.

Kings and Queens 
Genre: Romantic suspense, family drama.
The story of property developer Harry Lanchester and the six women in his life spans the years 1971-2007, and mirrors that of Henry VIII and his six wives.  Meet charismatic PR girl Annette Hever, former lap dancer Keira Howard... and nanny Hannah Cleveley.

...while the sequel, Last Child, is just 99p/99c from Dec 25~31.  Last Child features the three children of Harry Lanchester: Isabella, Erin and Jasper (the modern day counterparts of Mary, Elizabeth and Edward).  If you know nothing of or are not interested in the historical aspect, both books can be read just as contemporary family dramas.

Round and Round 
Genre: Romantic suspense, paranormal
A novella based up on the idea of the paths our lives might have taken, had we made different decisions ... features Sophie, at a crossroads in her life as her 40th birthday approaches, and a guardian angel.

What It Takes 
Genre: Romantic suspense, family drama, psychological drama
A tale of sibling rivalry, jealousy, stalking, and how far we will go to win the heart of the one we love.

You Wish 
Genre: Psychological drama 
My first self-published novel; it's all about being careful what you wish for!

Nine Lives 
A collection of assorted short stories.

Friday 22 December 2017

'After this, I'm following YOU' ~ a few thoughts on the first half of #TheWalkingDead, Season 8

I always find that when I watch TWD episodes for the second time, I enjoy them much more.  I think this is because they are so well put together, with so many subtleties that I don't always catch the first time round.  This season is no different.  

'After this, I'm following YOU'.  You so will be, Rick....

This week I watched the last three episodes again: How It's Gotta Be, Time For After, and The King, The Widow and Rick (click titles for my reviews), and saw so many clues that Carl had been bitten that I'm surprised I was so surprised.  His face when he got up from the Walker attack, out in the wood with Sadiq, and the blood on his side.  All that profound stuff he started saying, the letters he wrote sitting in the corner of his room in Alexandria, the sad look at the JSS note from Enid.  Or perhaps it should be BSS; the rare Bob Stookey Syndrome, in which a bite does not turn a good guy into a Walker for at least 24 hours.

Then there was his seemingly reckless determination to save his friends with his own plan, the way he was staggering and limping more as he set fire to their home and, of course, his brave suggestion to Negan that if he must let Lucille have her way with one of them, that it should be him.

Then I went back and watched Episodes 1 & 2 again (it's a great way to spend a dark Wednesday afternoon!).  They were not just a mass of gun fights ~ the whole plan was so well put together.  I loved the reminders of earlier days in the first episode ~ and I don't just mean the petrol can. I'd forgotten that Carl had with him the orange backpack, once the property of the man who chased him, Rick and Michonne in S3:12 'Clear' ('Stop! I'm begging you!' ~ remember?).

The backpack was also one of the visual clues at Terminus, that made Rick realise all was not as it should be; Glenn had taken it when he escaped the destroyed prison.

Then there was the aerial shot of the trailer where Gabriel was trapped with Negan ~ an echo of S6:3: 'Thank You', when Rick got surrounded in the RV by Walkers, and when Glenn was trapped under a bin/Nicholas.  And the tank in S1:1.  Don't forget the tank.

I think that in the second half of S8 we will see the Rise of Maggie, particularly as Rick is likely to lose it, big style, if Carl really does die (and I have still not given up on him being the first immune!).  Although I was a great fan of Glenn-And-Maggie, she's never been a favourite character of mine, but I loved how she shot the Saviour without thinking twice, not allowing her frailty to show until she walked away.  She looked like the old Maggie when she cried, the farmer's daughter who fell in love with Glenn; Hershel's daughter and Beth's sister.

Then we have Michonne, Rosita, Tara and, of course, the woman who never fails to keep her head when all about them are losing theirs (or throwing their toys out of the pram, in the case of Ezekiel) ~ the ever fab Carol.  Maybe it's time for the girls to take over!

Carol, do what you did at Terminus....

RIP Francine, Andy, Eric, Danie, Freddie.... and Carl?



Monday 11 December 2017

Review: HOW IT'S GOTTA BE. S8:8 #TWD mid-season finale #TheWalkingDead

Time For After 
The King, The Widow and Rick

What did you think?  Loved it, always love it, but I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that there was not a little more resolution.  I knew Negan wasn't going to get killed, but couldn't we have had just a little glimmer of hope?  No, it's the end of S4 and mid-season S6 all over again, when all seems lost ~ still, maybe Carol will save the day, like before... 😉
'Daryl, do you think we might get to move on to some new storylines soon?'
'Yuh.  Hope so.'

What a shock, though!!!  The best bit of the whole episode was the end... not because I want Carl to die, I don't, because he's Rick's main reason for everything he does, but because it was so well done, and so unexpected.  As soon as Richonne walked towards him in the sewer, I thought, 'hang on, is it just me, or does he look sort of ill?'  Oh, but to go out via Walker bite, after all this time... hope it pleases those who complain that it's all about gunfights now: we're reminded that the Walkers are every bit as deadly as they've ever been.  That last shot, as the camera panned back... so good.

"You're going to live, Dad," said Carl earlier, as they walked along (flashback ep 1) with The Can.  Carl's been getting more profound over the last few episodes, though, so we should have known; in TWD world, saying a load of deep stuff or having some really ace lines often means you're about to snuff it.  

....or might he be the first person to be immune?  Hmm.  Oh, and nice touch, directors, having Daryl sitting in the sewer with his arm around the totally gorgeous Li'l Ass Kicker.  Daryl + kids = total winner every time.

 Never not a good time for this one....

Couldn't find a new pic of Daryl with her, so here's Judith with Step-Mom, instead.

Back to the fight, and we find out that wine-slurpin', pickle-eatin' toad Eugene facilitated the Negans' exodus from the Sanctuary.  Yet as he lies abed, guilt overcomes him.  Probably remembering the good ol' days when he used to spy on Abraham and Rosita shagging, and get to sit and cry when the bad people came, while other people did his fighting for him.  So he gives Dr 'erb Carson and Sweaty Gabriel a way out...

 Eugene in the library self-help section, watching Abraham and Rosita 'at it'.

The Good Old Days

So, who else thought that Simon's gang had killed Jerry?  I did.  But no, the shot was for some bloke called Neil who I'd never noticed before, and hurrah for that clever li'l cupcake Maggie who gets back at them by puttin' on a show ~ and killing one of the Saviours in the Hilltop pen.  And she has 38 more.  She walks away crying, but don't worry, Maggie; Hershel and Glenn would have been proud of you.  Never mind Big Girl's Blouse Jesus, sitting there pondering with a heavenly light on his face, during one of the 'let's have a quick look at everyone's facial expressions' interludes.

Reluctant Saviour Gavin reluctantly tries to take control of the Kingdom; unlike when Negan professes his love for Carl and Daryl, you believe that Gavin really did like Ezekiel on those days when they'd pick up the Walker-fed pigs.  Ezekiel ends his mammoth sulk and somehow manages to get all the Kingdom-ites one side of the gate while he is on the other with the Gavster and his men; I couldn't quite see how he did it, not least of all because the whole episode was so damn dark, but Carol looked a bit concerned.  Fear not, Morgan is outside, minus his stick!

Carol, a bit concerned.  Come on, girl, do your stuff.  You can save them all.  Again.

And so Alexandria burns.  Sorry, Deanna, it never did become a thriving community with commerce and all those pie-in-the-sky ideas, but who knows?  Still, a shame about all those solar panels (Negan was a bit gutted about them, too), and those eco-loos and that running water, and... ah well.  Maybe our gang can have Barrington House, when it's all over.

....but will Dwight be with them?  He should be.  I'm sure he's saved more than he's killed now, and best of all.... Daryl's got his waistcoat back! 🎉🎺 Hurrah!🎺🎉  All he needs to do now is get his hair a little professional trim, maybe have a few layers cut in, and he'll look as hot as he did in Season 4, once again!  

So what's to come?  Do not forget the little light of hope that is the lovely Aaron, and Enid (who I can never look at without remembering her eating that turtle), who have taken the Oceansiders some whisky in the hope that they'll get pissed enough to agree to fight with them, or something.  Mind you, it wasn't a very smart move to gun down the grandmother of the key fighter.  We shall see.  Go Aaron.  Show Eric he didn't become a Walker in vain.

I mean, she could have taken the shell off, and cut it up a bit first...

To sum up ~ plenty of action, but please can we have a little bit of resolution soon?  And now we have to wait for months.... though I am sure it will be worth waiting for!  And although some of the players are, sadly, no longer with us, and perhaps we will lose a couple more, maybe one day it really will be something like this...for a while, anyway.😌



For serious obsessives only: I've read several articles that claim it's only two years since the zombie outbreak, in TWD time.  Judith is proof that it's longer; further explanation follows.

Lori did not get pregnant until possibly a month after the outbreak, so Judith was born 10 months after.  She has got to be at least two and a half, I'd say, judging by how she looks.  Thus, we're around 3 and a half years in. 
1st summer: Outbreak.
1st winter/spring: After the farm, when they were on the run, between S2 & S3; in S3, Andrea mentions having spent 8 months in the woods with Michonne.
2nd summer: At the prison/Woodbury: S3
2nd winter: A whole winter/spring between S3 and S4, during which time they grew a whole load of food, built barns, etc, took in loads of new people, etc.
3rd summer: Fall of prison after return of Governor
3rd winter: On the road/Terminus, before Alexandria.  When Rick, Michonne and Carl are attacked by the Claimed gang, it's clearly autumn/winter.
4th Spring/summer: At Alexandria.
4th autumn: First appearance of Saviours.  This has lasted approx 3 months, as Maggie mentioned being in her 2nd trimester (though you wouldn't know it), and she was pregnant a few weeks before it all started to kick off.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Quick Predictions for HOW IT'S GOTTA BE: S8:8 of #TheWalkingDead....

S8:7 Time for After
S8:6 The King, The Widow and Rick 
The Many Faces of Daryl Dixon: character study 

I do not watch spoiler videos, read spoiler articles or read the comics.... this is just what I think will (and won't) happen!

  • Not today, not tomorrow.... and not S8:8, either.  I don't think Rick will get to kill Negan yet; we'll be hanging on into the next half-season.
  • Eugene's cowardice and treachery towards AHK will bite him on the ass.  He'll be gone... possibly by the hand of his benefactor?
  • Gabriel will die, and it will be really, really sad, but he will say lots of super-profound things (probably to Rick) first.
  • Gregory will be strung up by the imprisoned Saviours.
  • Anyone who softened towards Negan when he talked about his wife will be reminded that yes, this guy is a total psycho.  Someone else will meet Lucille.  Could it be Dwighty-Boy?  Possibly, but not before he has had a 'moment' with Daryl....
  • ....and, before Dwight breathes his last breath, maybe he will save Daryl and Tara from an fate worse than or actual death.
  • Morgan or Henry will get to kill Jared Saviour.
  • We will be left with a dangling thread equal to the end of S6 ~ possible another unseen victim of Lucille? 

  • Ezekiel will go into therapy.
  • Michonne and Jadis will have a bitch-fight when Jadis tries to jump Rick's bones.
  • Carl will invite Sadiq to become a regular and prominent member of the cast.
  • Dr Carson will cure the Walker plague with an infusion of 'erbs.
  •  Regina will remember that she's not a real member of the cast and that before this half-season no one had ever seen or mentioned her, and oblige us all by getting herself killed.
  • Rick and Daryl will get clean shirts.
  • Jesus will turn water into wine... no, I'm getting silly here.)

~ Roll on Monday! ~

Monday 4 December 2017

#TheWalkingDead Potato and shit casserole? For Eugene, maybe... Review: Time For After #TWD S8:7

The King, The Widow and Rick
plus links to all others

From bumbling goodie to cowardly baddie: Eugene shows his true colours, at last ~ you know, those ones that everyone's been glossing over since he revealed his lies in S5, since he shot a hole in the truck bound for Washington, and sabotaged the church bus.  He is, by his own admission, a small man, whose self-interest has kept him vertical.  Does he even believe in the myth of the Saviours saving, or doesn't he care, as long as he can eat his pickles and play his video games? 

The smile of secrecy, after he shot up the Washington-bound truck in S4

At first I wasn't sure about the goodie-to-baddie thing.  For instance, do you remember the tunnel, in S4, when he insisted on going back to make sure Glenn and Tara had got through safely, because (he said) even after he saved the world he would have to live with himself?  On the other hand, catastrophes like a zombie apocalypse can change a guy, especially a weak one.  Negan has taken the place of Abraham; Eugene can't survive without a protector.

So he tells Dwighty-boy he knows he's been creeping and colluding with AHK (Alexandria, Hilltop, Kingdom ~ not KHA, which would have made his accusation a hair too onomatopoeic).  He now says they were just his travelling companions (yes, all those people who saved his life), and what cranks his shaft is being safe.  Does he know, deep inside, that 'once you do those things, you become those things', like Dwight says?  Or that, indeed, this has already begun to happen?  Dwight is finding his way back, but Eugene is getting in deep, deep and deeper, to the extent of almost kissing Negan's hand....

Meanwhile, back in the hospital, Dr Carson has run out of meds to give to the ailing Father Gabriel and skips off to find him some 'erbs, in the hope that a sprig of lavender and the odd bayleaf will stop him looking like a potato and shit casserole.  Or give it some flavour; who knows.  To a background of vaguely hymnal music, Gab tells Mr Mullet to do the right thing.  Some chance of that. His crocodile tears at the flashback of a Walker Sasha don't fool us; they dry up as soon as he sees her iPad, which will fit a treat on his model plane to Pied Piper away the cold corpses.

As for the somewhat reckless revenge plan of Daryl, Tara and Morgan, I'd be on Team Rosita and Michonne; Michonne has usually got her head screwed on.  And Rosita believes in Rick Grimes, which is nice to hear.  Are DTM doing the right thing?  Is avenging the deaths of Glenn, Denise and Benjamin worth the risk, or are they crazy?  Morgan lost it a few episodes ago, of course, while Tara has been raring for a fight since she returned from her two week okra-eating run with Heath to find that Doc Denise had been Dwighted through the eye.  And Daryl?  I see in the S8 version the tearaway who once fought Officer Friendly to let him storm the Walker-thronged streets of Atlanta searching for One Hand Merle..... but, to my surprise, the plan works.  The doors of the Sanctuary are open, and the Walkers flood in.

.... and wasn't that the best part of the episode?  They're back!  Wasn't it great to see the fear of the Dead again, instead of gun fights?  This is why we watch this thing!  It's the first time for ages that we've been reminded how terrifying they are.  Thank you, writers ~ can we have more like that, please?  And we see the terror on Eugene's face ~ there's no Abraham to save you now, Mr Tennessee Top Hat; your chum Negan saw to that....

Back at the junkyard, I notice that Andrew Lincoln does not go full naked like Daryl did in the Sanctuary cell, but keeps on his shorts; well, he's English!  A quick demo of his fighting skills, and he has Ms Take-Don't-Bother in a stranglehold, demands his boots back, and makes possibly his twenty-seventh deal with Jadis.  For a 'fourth' of the Sanctuary spoils, and a sculpture of Rick.  O-kaaayy...  I did wonder at first why the other Scavengers didn't just shoot him, but then remembered that, of course, they are but the robots of Queen Jadis.

The last shot is of Rick seeing that all his snipers have gone from the rooves of the Sanctuary ~ but fear not, Rick.  You're surely on the home lap now, unless the weirdo Trash Folk make another deal with Negan.  As for Eugene, I await his painful and deserved end with baited breath.  It's the last one of the half-season next week; will Dwight finally give Daryl back his waistcoat?

Remember when it was all smart and new?  Back on the farm....

Next week then... I'm thinking Eugene will die, possibly Gabriel and Gregory, but it won't be the end of Negan yet ~ my guess is that they will make us wait until the spring, just like we had to when Rick, Glenn, Daryl and Bob were bent over the troughs at Terminus.  We will see.  I think this was possibly the best episode yet this season ~ what do y'all reckon?

Sunday 3 December 2017

If I owned a restaurant I would....

If I owned a restaurant I would....

  • train my staff to say 'Certainly, Madam,' or 'This way, sir', or 'I'll just ask the chef to make sure, sir,' 'Okay', 'That's fine, or just 'Yes' - anything other than 'No Problem.'  Worst of all are those who manage to say it several times while taking one order.  I would make clear that 'No Problem' is a three-strikes-and-you're-out offence.  Possibly with a punch in the face.  
  • fire on the spot any waiter who addressed my customers as 'you guys'.  Particularly if they are over 40, or if the waiter is young enough to be their offspring.  Unless those customers say 'can I get' when asking for what they would like, in which case you can call them anything you damn well like.
  • insist that my staff take twenty minutes or so each evening to actually find out about the stuff that's on the menu, so they can answer simple questions like 'What flavours of ice cream do you have?'

  • teach the staff that when middle-aged people have a liqueur after dinner, they are having a liqueur after dinner, not 'doing shots'.  Last night, when I asked for a Sambucca, the waiter asked my dinner companions if they were 'doing shots as well'.
  • make sure they know the difference between a small wine glass, a small sherry glass, a liqueur glass, etc.
  • get the chef to put the main item of food on a plate, with the vegetables in serving dishes if necessary.  Not arrange the main item on a large oval plate with the other items in daft little pots all round it.  Last night, one of my friends was given his chips in what looked like a miniature basket from a deep fat fryer, placed on his plate.  Is it so hard to just empty them out?  Or was the basket supposed to look cute/stylish/trendy?  Masterchef has a lot to answer for.
  • not change the whole menu for the sake of it, so that people who have eaten there six months before and loved it, find that there is nothing even vaguely resembling anything they ate there last time.
  • have something on the menu for non-meat eaters apart from one not very interesting pasta dish (okay, okay, I should have found out first).

On the subject of stupid things some people say, my friend Amy who was with me last night is a more-or-less vegan, as am I, but we are keen not to be a pain in the arse about it; we will, thus, eat vegetarian if out, because otherwise you have to find vegan restaurants, which is inconsiderate towards the rest of the people you are with who maybe fancy the odd prawn or sauce with butter.  

We also agree that if we going to someone's house for dinner we will tell them we don't eat meat or fish, but will not expect them to cook special dishes for us (for instance, if they are serving fish, potatoes and vegetables, we will just not have the fish), and certainly won't insist on non-dairy.  In other words, we will eat what we are given, because we have reasonable manners.

Amy (who is in her early thirties, but thinks for herself instead of latching onto every trendy-young-thing buzzword) told me that some TYTs who adhere to this way of thinking call themselves 'flexitarians'.

I understand 'flexitarian' can also mean eating meat sometimes, and dairy/fish, etc, whenever.  Burger and chips one day, vegan chilli the next.  And there was me thinking that consuming a varied diet according to what one fancies/what is available was normally referred to simply as 'eating'.