Some like it hot! – a little update

21 06 2012

So, those who were paying attention will remember that I recently announced the imminent release of my new cookery book – Some like it hot!

Well I figured I would give you a little update on how things are going…
At the moment we are well on track for our scheduled release at the end of July.

The recipes have all been compiled and finalised, pictures have been taken and a lot of very, very tasty food has been consumed!

The only real sticking points have the foreword and the cover. I think I must have gone over each about a dozen times at least!

Still as of late last night I have finally settled on a cover design which I actually like, hoooray!  All that remains now is to polish off the foreword and give everything a quick once over.

Some like it hot! will be available in both Kindle/ebook format and old-school dead tree format via Amazon and selected book stores in the UK and Ireland before gradually spreading from there to conquer the World….

Stay tuned closer to the time for a chance to win some free copies.

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The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings

24 05 2012

Hi Chums,

It has been rather a while since I last recommended a book to the World at large ,that would be you lot by the way.

In the main this is because I have been far too busy working on my own cookery book which will be launching rather soon. Hint Hint…

As such it is rather fitting that the book I am all in a lather about is one that dovetails nicely with my own.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings 

The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings

Here is what those nice chaps over at Amazon have to say about it:

“An illustrated sourcebook to these all-important cooking ingredients includes information on more than two hundred herbs, spices, essences, edible flowers and leaves, aromatics, vinegars, oils, teas, and coffees”

I on the other hand will stick to simply issuing an instruction –

IF YOU COOK  AND DON’T OWN A COPY GO AND BUY ONE. NOW.

Not quite Wordsworth but hopefully the point comes across. I very rarely encounter anything that I look at and think wow this is something which everyone should own. However on this occasion I really am that impressed.

Not only are they lots of high quality pictures, excellent descriptions of various herbs, spices and flavourings and their uses but there are also over 200 recipes so you can leap straight in and start applying all this new-found knowledge.





Previous Post

7 05 2012

Made for some interesting reading over lunch today.

Wouldn’t have thought the Philippines would have been big Ebook consumers…

Sol Ascendans - The Website of Alex Sumner

Instead of a post about occultism, for a change I will deal today with “Voodoo Statistics” (i.e. please don’t shout at me too much in regard to my methodology) – in order to answer the question, what are the Top 10 Countries in which market an ebook in the English language?

By my calculations they are (biggest potential market first):

Rank Country % of potential world market for English language ebooks
1. United States 42%
2. United Kingdom 10%
3. Germany 8%
4. Canada 4%
5. France 4%
6. Australia 3%
7. Philippines 3%
8. The Netherlands 3%
9. Italy 2%
10. Spain 2%

“Wait!” I hallucinate that I hear you ask. “Germany above Canada? How can that be so?” Quite simple: there are more people in Germany who speak English as a second language than there are in Canada who speak it as either a first or second language. This…

View original post 138 more words





HBO Developing Series Based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

22 04 2011

The series based on Gaiman’s 2001 novel would showcase his new pantheon of deities based on American culture.

 The details are scarce, but HBO is currently in talks to write and film a pilot for a new fantasy series. Interestingly, the series would be produced by Playtone – the outfit of Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman who made Big Love and Band of Brothers. Gaiman first gained notoriety as a comic book writer with his Sandman series in the late eighties but he’s since branched into writing novels, short stories and movies (Beowulf). Gaiman’s works are no stranger to adaptation as his novella Coraline become the 2009 animated film and his Graveyard Book is also tapped to be a feature film. No one knows who would write the script for American Gods or when production would begin, but it seems that HBO is becoming more interested in genre content with the success of True Blood and the imminent Game of Thrones.

The main character in American Gods is an ex-convict called Shadow, who starts working as a bodyguard for a mysterious con-man named Mr. Wednesday. As Wednesday travels across the United States meeting with strange people, Shadow eventually figures out that his employer is an incarnation of the Norse god Odin and that he is recruiting other mythological figures whose power has diminished to fight a war against new American “deities” such as the Internet, media, and mass transportation.

Typically I don’t watch a lot of telly but I really have to take my hat off to HBO who in recent years have pumped out some absolute crackers;  Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Six Feet Under to name a few.

Having watched the first episode twice so far it seems that Game of Thrones is set to be another classic and if they do even half as good a job with American Gods it will be outstanding.

Original source Hollywood Reporter




The Magician’s Guild – Trudi Canavan

20 12 2010

The Magicians' Guild (Black Magician Trilogy, #1)The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

Seeing as the story revolves around a pre-teen child who has no knowledge of her magical abilities but ends up being whisked away to a magicians guild and ends up being pretty much the top of the pile there were always going to be similarities drawn between this book and the Harry Potter series.

I really can understand how on the face of things it all seems a bit of a coincidence. Especially when in the second book of the trilogy we discover that the real enemies were believed defeated years ago but are back in secret and it will take huge sacrifice to defeat them…

Ok so I lied –  the similarities aren’t just on the surface. This really does read in parts like a mild re-write of some of the HP books.

But that didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment, not just of this book but of the trilogy as a whole. The story is different enough that you don’t feel like you should just be replacing the name Sonea with that of HP himself and for the most part is well written, if a tad simplistic.

The class issues that Canavan brings up are a little bit clumsy and play out much as expected but even so it is a nice touch and helps keeps things fresh when otherwise you could be about to swap the Magicians Guild for Hogwarts.

There are however two big problems for me that keep me from scoring this book higher and unfortunately they carry on pretty much through out the latter installments of the trilogy.

Firstly there is the characterisation which is a little bit lacking on occasion.
The principal characters are surprisingly two-dimensional and formulaic and you never really find yourself building any attachment to them or indeed giving two hoots as to whether they all die in a fire.

This is a real shame as there is plenty of potential to really build some tension between the main protagonists right from the start.

 One prime example of this is the relationship between Sonea and her friends in the slums; it is obvious that Cery, one of the thieves, has strong feelings for Sonea but rather than build this up into anything too deep or emotive Canavan has the character dismiss his own feelings and cast them aside quite casually over the space of two or three paragraphs.

The second big issue that I have with this series is that I never really get a sense of immersion into the world the story is set in.

The slums and the guild are outlined reasonably well but even they are rather thin on detail and everywhere else we venture is so sketchily outlined that you are squinting to see it.

I am not asking for Tolkien like levels of detail about every blade of grass crushed underfoot but I would like to feel some sense of connection.

If I had to give an example of a fantasy writer who manages to pull this off to perfection it would have to be Terry Pratchett; on one hand I haven’t a clue what colour the second daffodil to the left of the buttercup and indeed don’t want to know was but on the other hand I can walk the streets of Ankh Morpork in my head without having to fill in huge chunks of blank canvas.

When I read that Sam Vimes stops and buys a sausage in a bun off of C.M.O.T Dibbler I can not only see Sator Square where they are standing I can smell the sausage.

In contrast to this I can read that some Bolhouse (a pub in Sonea’s world) is about to be destroyed by marauding Sachakan magicians (the bad magicians) and I really couldn’t give two figs. I haven’t a clue about the place in question other than the mere fact that it is a kind of pub and that they better have insurance. 

I am probably coming off sounding more displeased with this series than I mean to; it really isn’t bad but I feel that it lacks depth and a bit of originality and I am hoping that Canavan’s next installments will give me a bit less Potter and a bit more sense of her world and what she wants the reader to see.

View all my reviews





Man Walks into a Pub: A sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown

18 11 2010

Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of BeerMan Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read quite a few books on beer in the past and have found that typically they all have one thing in common: they are either monumentally dull or a total farce.

Weighty volumes that document the complete history of a particular brewery right down to what tiny changes were made to a particular recipe and when are all very well and good. No doubt they are of great interest to men with big bushy beards who wear cable knit jumpers and who carry note books around with them but they are a bit too serious and stodgy for the more casual reader.

On the flip side of the coin I don’t want to read a book written by some tracksuit wearing chav who just wants to brag about how he can drink 20 pints of Stella, fight some rival football fans and still drive his barely legal Vauxhall Nova that should have been scrapped before he was born.

That is where Pete Brown has got things bang on the money, he treats the subject seriously and manages to convey a lot of useful information whilst keeping things light and smattered with humour throughout.

By choosing to focus more on the social history of beer brewing and drinking he avoids bogging the reader down with some of the useless minutiae that a lot of the more serious beer books pride themselves on.

I am also very impressed with the way that Pete Brown handles the often tricky real ale vs. lager issue. A lot of writers fall heavily on one side of the fence or the other and as such we often hear lager being decried as tasteless or a children’s drink or ale being slagged off for being a drink for fat, bearded weirdos who need to get out more.

Whilst I have my own views on the matter I realise no one really wants to hear them, and in return I don’t really want to hear their views rehashed over and over again either.
So it was certainly pleasant to come across an author who wasn’t using their book as a soapbox to take pot shots at their target of choice.

If you have anything more than a passing interest in beer and have ever considered reading more about beer and drinking then you could do an awful lot worse than to take this book as a starting point.

View all my reviews





Reeding is for faggots…

3 11 2010

I don’t really need to explain anything about this I don’t think…








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