Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mini turkey & cranberry pies recipe

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Mini turkey & cranberry pies<br />So at some point over the Christmas period we’ll be having lots of people over, not least to celebrate Mrs B’s birthday.  I’ve been looking for easy recipes that will make use of our left overs and stumbled across this one.  It looks easy enough and I think I might give it a go.  Our left overs might not actually last that long, and knowing some of the boys I’m spending Christmas with, there probably won’t be that many “leftovers” anyway, but its definitely food for thought.  (Sorry, bad joke!)  Any one else looking for inspiration should have a look:

Mini turkey & cranberry pies recipe – Recipes – BBC Good Food.

A pleasant surprise and not a bad start to the series: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) Review

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Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Werewolves can be dangerous if you get in their way, but they’ll leave you alone if you are careful. They are very good at hiding their natures from the human population, but I’m not human. I know them when I meet them, and they know me, too.

Mercy Thompson’s sexy next-door neighbor is a werewolf.

She’s tinkering with a VW bus at her mechanic shop that happens to belong to a vampire.

But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself … and her connection to the world of things that go bump in the night is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.”

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started it. I haven’t read that many PNR or UF which feature were anythings as main characters. I’m more of a vampire kinda gal. Still, I’d read some good reviews so I thought I’d give it a go. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

The book is written in the first person, from Mercy Thompson’s point of view. She’s not a were, she’s a shapeshifter and can turn into a coyote at will, but she was raised by werewolves so she knows the culture, and how to survive it very well. There is a lot of scene setting at the beginning of the book and a lot of explanation of were culture. It is all important to know, but did make the first section of the book a little slow. In fact there are more than a few pages that feature no dialogue at all.

Once the story gets going though, it’s a real page turner. Some strange werewolves are in town and are up to some serious no good and Mercy is right in the middle of it all. She teams up with neighbour and hot Alpha wolf Adam to find out what the hell is going on and stop anyone else from getting hurt. In the middle of it all, Adam gets seriously injured, his human 15 year old daughter is kidnapped and Mercy’s ex shows up.  He is no ordinary ex though, he’s a werewolf and son of the Maroc (Alpha of all Alpha’s – just to keep us all on our toes!)

Mercy is a likeable female lead.  She’s a bit kick-ass but not a complete bitch with a massive chip on her shoulder, despite having grown up in the complex world of Werewolf politics, without actually being a werewolf herself.  Vampires and Fae also feature in supporting roles, which makes for an interesting paranormal world and I’m keen to find out more.

Despite the fact the book was a little slow to get going, the pace soon really knocks up a gear and I read the whole book in a couple of days.  However, it was almost as if the rest of the story happened too quickly, meaning that the climax was a little disappointing. Briggs could have also made a lot more of the sexual tension between Adam and Mercy and Sam (the ex) and Mercy….. maybe I like my UF with a of adult kick.

It’s still a good story, but because it’s quite short, I feel like I’ve only read a few chapters of a story rather than a whole book. I’m definitely reading the next in the series though cos at some point the action with Adam has to heat up!!

Worth a read, if only to move on the next in the series.

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Whilst the Archangel’s away… Archangel’s Blade (Guild Hunter #4) Review

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Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter, #4)Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past…but Dmitri’s need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.
Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel’s right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality…the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.
As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting…and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more…”

OH MY GOD! I take it all back. Archangel’s Consort is not the best book in the series. THIS is! This book was just brilliant.

Elena and Raphael are still in Japan sorting out his crazy mother so his second in command, thousand year old vampire Dmitri is in charge at the Tower. The story centres around him and a Guild Hunter named Honor. She survived a long and brutal attack by a group of vampires who kept her hostage and nearly dead for months. Now there’s a case that needs her help and she is forced back into action with Dmitri by her side. He’s a vampire so it completely freaks her out, but she’s determined not to live in the shadows any more. Even before the hostage incident she’s been secretly obsessed with Dmitri and he knows she’s different as soon as he meets her. She helps him with case and he helps her exact revenge those who have wronged her.

What ensues is an amazingly sexy (read SUPER hot) story about two people who seem to already know everything there is to know about each other. The tension between these two is unparamounted in the series and the resulting love scenes are truly brilliant. Its what the series has been waiting for. I wont give anything away about the why’s and wherefore’s but lets just say that the relationship with Honor is far from anything else Dmitri has experienced in over a millennium. She’s only young, and mortal, but she knows him. Just brilliant.

Usually I get narked when a series moves away from the protagonists I have already invested time and energy in, but this just worked. Yes Honor is completely new to my Guild Hunter world, but I was really glad to see all the other characters we’ve become to know and love still around. Elena and Raphael are still involved in this story, they’re just not the centre of attention. Illium, Jason, Dmitri and even Ash are integral to this story so I didn’t feel that I needed to learn too much and I could just sit back and enjoy the story. It worked really really well.

Final thought? Move over Archangel – Dmitri is HOT!

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Tis the season…. for oranges!

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Christmas wreath - seed pods, berries and grasses and dried oranges

When we think of Christmas, most of us conjure up a nostalgic image of “White Christmas,” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and dream of open fires and snow all around.  I often wonder how many of us have actually had a Christmas like that?  I certainly haven’t!  I suppose there’s always the chance of snow here – we do live pretty high up in the Los Filabres, but its probably unlikely.  We do have a wood burner though, so I guess we’re half way there!

At this time of year, I tend to turn my hand to a few home made Christmas arrangements.  They’re the usual thing; holly and ferns and berries.  This year, despite my friend Steve swearing blind he’s seen a holly tree complete with berries “somewhere,” in the village, I’ve had to rethink.   We couldn’t find the holly tree despite hours of searching, so I settled for some local greenery instead.  I’m no botanist, so I’m not entirely sure what I ended up with.  Suffice to say it was  mostly grasses, a few ferns, something that looked a bit like laurel, something else with big seed pods on it and some small red berries.  Oh and some fir cones.   I did pick some Lavender, but it was a bit delicate and didn’t really appreciate being stuffed in a bag with all my other selections.  Will have to try again on that score.

It’s also orange season at the moment.  Although there’s a definite chill in the air, we’ve been blessed with some glorious sunshine and with orange groves round every corner, it really is a sight to behold.  Now, you don’t have to have your own orchard to take advantage of the crop.  Everyone always has more oranges than they know what to do with, so you can always find someone trying to off load their harvest or you can make use of the windfall by the side of the roads.  I’ve already had several bag fulls from obliging neighbours.  Waste not want not thought I.  I’m going to make use of some of them around the house.  The smell is wonderful and they really brighten the place up.

As well as fresh oranges, I’ve had a go at drying some slices for decoration too.  Thinly sliced and placed in the oven on a low heat for a few hours and they’ve turned out well – well not bad for a first attempt anyway.  If I get enough time, I think I’m going to try making marmalade.  I’ve used both fresh and dried in my arrangements around the house to bring some seasonal cheer – along with my hard won greenery from the rambla.  Hope you like them!

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Every outcast girl catches the cute guy’s eye eventually: Adventures in Funeral Crashing Review

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Adventures in Funeral Crashing (Funeral Crashing #1)Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Sixteen year old Kait Lenox has a reputation as the weird girl in her high school, mostly because of her ex-best friend turned mean popular girl, Ariel, but maybe it has a little to do with the fact that Kait has a hobby crashing funerals. At one of these, Kait is outted by the most popular guy in school, Ethan Ripley. Yet, instead of humiliating her for all the world to see, he asks for her help, and Kait finds herself entangled in a murder mystery. Not only is the thrill of the mystery exciting, but more importantly Ethan knows her name! A little sleuthing is well worth that!”

Anyone who reads this should remember its young adult. If you do that, you can’t fail to like it. I thought it was great, a real breath of fresh air. Since the heroine is a fan of films (and books) there are references to films like “Sixteen Candles,” and “She’s all that,” throughout.  This story really reminded me of all of those films where the unpopular nerdy, slightly odd girl lust after the school hunk and he goes on a journey of discovery and realises she is what he was looking for all along. Even being slightly older than our heroine, I found it all completely believable and was transported back to my school days very easily. The language is young and fun and I really really enjoyed it. The murder mystery part of the story was plausible and believable and made the book a real page turner. It kept me guessing right till the end.

Good fun and well written for it’s audience. A great read. My only criticisms are that I wouldn’t really class it as PNR or UF. The funeral crashing thing – which is explained, and actually for a 16 year old girl kind of makes sense – is the only vague reference to paranormal things. The rest is just a great teen story. Since I reviewed this as part of a PNR/UF forum I was a little bit disappointed in that, but honestly, its still a good book and I thoroughly recommend it to young adults and the young at heart looking for a fun and easy read. My other point is that it was WAY to short and I was sad to see it finish so quickly!

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Deck the Halls!

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It’s that time of year again when we dig around in our lofts or spare bedrooms or wherever it is we stashed the Christmas stuff after last year.   Mine were in a box cunningly labeled “Xmas Stuff.”  It came as a bit of a surprise to be honest, because most years I spend days hunting for boxes that are never where I thought they were and are usually in a box labeled something stupid like “dog toys,” or “duvet covers,” or even less helpful, in a box that isn’t labeled at all, at the back of the shed.  I’m not sure what’s happened.  Maybe I was hit on the head and got organised for the nano second it took me to chuck everything in the box?  Who knows.  Anyhow.  As you can see, I’ve decorated our tree, and very nice it looks too.

I am without a craft project at the moment and since it’s orange season here, I’m going to have a go at drying some oranges and lemons to add to the wreath I usually make.  I’ve googled it.  How hard can it be?  Right?  That’s what I thought.  Since we don’t have the usual holly and other British evergreens within easy reach, I’m also going to have to substitute most of what I usually use for something with a more Spanish flavour.  Olive and Almond maybe?  We’ll have to see.  Failing all, I’ll end up with some vases full of oranges and lemons to make the house smell nice.  One things for sure, since we have a bigger home now, my little tree looks a bit lost, so I need some more festive inspiration.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime, whilst digging around in said “Xmas Stuff,” box I came across a Christmas Stocking I made for my Mum a few years ago.  It stays with us since she always spends Christmas with us and I get to play Santa and fill it up for her every year.  It really was a labour of love, and to make sure she didn’t feel left out, I made my mother-in-law one too.  I’ll leave it with you whilst I go on the hunt for some greenery.

Christmas Stocking in Cross-Stitch

And you thought your mother-in-law was a nightmare: Archangel’s Consort (Guild Hunter #3) Review

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Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3)Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful archangel Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil…

A vampire has attacked a girls’ school—the assault one of sheer, vicious madness—and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders. The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear.

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed…”

This is my favourite book of the series so far. There is more action now that Elena is getting used to being an Angel. Of course that doesn’t stop Raphael from trying to protect her and tell her what to do, but he is an Archangel after all. As with all the others in the series, there are twists and turns all over the place whilst Raphael deals with the fact his mother is awakening from the Sleep. (Capital letter – it’s called the Sleep since it’s where Archangels disappear to when they’re tired of living). That might seem bad enough, but it looks like she’s one pissed of mother-in-law and doesn’t approve of Raphaels choice of mate. Danger lurks around every corner, but it’s not just herself Elena has to worry about – her family, estranged as they are, are also in danger.

A great, fast paced action story with steamy romance thrown in. Well worth a read.

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