Bronco’s Rodeo, Sheffield – The Revisit!

broncos-rodeo

So you may remember my review of Bronco’s Rodeo from last year when it opened. Having been so looking forward to it we hurried along and tried it out only to vow never to return?

Well it’s time to eat humble pie.

Yes, you heard me, we went back. Why? I hear you ask. Well! We saw an advert for a doughnut burger and deep fried snickers and ever after that we were curious.

Unfortunately, we did not see said burger on the menu, but we did try out a few other things.

For starters, you can get small plates at £4 a dish, or 3 for £10. So as there were three of us this time, we opted for the three for £10.

We sampled two kinds of chicken wings; Hendo’s Glaze – what true Sheffielder would not try this?? And we also tried the Buffalo ones. Our third dish of choice was brisket burnt ends served with salad, horseradish mayo and warm bread.

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My only gripe with the bunt ends is that they’re not, they’re chunks of (very nicely cooked) brisket. This isn’t a problem, it’s just not quite what you expect. Especially if you’ve ever been somewhere like Smoke Barbeque.

All of the starters were beautifully cooked and I would recommend any of those, although I think my favourite was the Buffalo Wings.

For Mains, two of us opted for the Angry Bucking Bronco Burger which is a spicy chicken option served in a Black Bun – yes, a BLACK BUN, and our third was the American Burger which was far more impressive than I expected it to be.

Again all of these were great, the portion size had vastly improved since our last visit, everything tasted fresher and there were no errors from menu to plate. You’ll also remember the coleslaw issue I raised last visit where I had to ask four different people whether it was made fresh because it tasted shop bought. I am pleased to report that this time the coleslaw not only tasted fresh but was delicious!

Highly impressed with this return visit and we have talked about going back for more. I had to re-review this because it’s not fair to leave a scathing review out there if they’ve improved and I have to say; this bar has improved tenfold. The service, the food, everything was so much better.

A huge hand for the staff who were pleasant, helpful and welcoming!

Also, if you visit, try the Thunder Toffee-Vodka with Coke. It’s lovely.

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The Other Side of The Mirror by Lex H Jones

Lex H JOnes Other Side of The Mirror

 

Up and coming author Lex H Jones has now released his second full length novel, this story comes to life over 344 pages.

Noting a Sin City-esque vibe, I embarked on the journey to follow the life of Detective Carl Duggan, opening into an investigation of a young girl found in the river affectionately named “Styx” it becomes clear that this is the norm for The City.

I couldn’t help but hear Bruce Willis narrating this one, the grittiness of the city, the way characters were introduced, he’d definitely have to be cast in some way were this made into a film.

The imagery in this book is astounding, you can’t help but visualise each scene and the characters are brought to life in a way not that many authors seem to be able to achieve. Each and every character in this book has a story, a reason for being, Jones gives us artistic license to imagine but outlines things just so much that it makes that imagination flow. Often, either not enough, or too much is given to description but this book seems to effortlessly dictate each scene to a degree that you’re almost watching the events unfold.

My favourite character in this book is Duggan, the way he’s portrayed, the things he does and the reasons he does them. Action meets a softer, almost romantic side as he picks his way through a bleak, despondent existence, married to his job trying to right wrongs and make something out of his world.

Next is Pope, a more faithful character who I imagine to always be calm and collected, this character has an interesting backstory and becomes involved in the core workings of the story.

And we can’t forget Jimmy, the light in the story, innocent, yet somehow wise.

I won’t tell you any more, there are many more characters in this book and they will all connect with people differently. You need to make up your own mind but these are the three I connected with the most.

This book is one of the best I’ve read in a while and I am absolutely recommending it to anybody, it will suit the reader who prefers Noir Fiction, there’s a very Film Noir element in this and it is fundamental to the imagery used. It will also suit anybody who likes Crime Thrillers or Detective Stories. Be aware there is a twist, things may not be quite as they seem..

All that said the book is not without fault, but that wouldn’t stop me from reading it again, nor did it detract in any way from the story. Any errors found have been reported to the Author, as always and will be dealt with.

An absolute must read, a roller coaster of a story that will keep you turning pages until you hit the end of the book! If you can manage to put it down you’ll be making excuses to pick it back up.

Check it out.

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After Us by Em Dehaney

After Us by Em Dehaney

 

Recently I was introduced to a new Author by way of a book recommendation and I was not disappointed.

After Us is set in New Orleans and is based on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it deals with a group of people who find themselves trying to escape the flood waters and Ms Dehaney successfully injects her own twist on things.

I appreciated the characters in this story, sometimes with a short story authors seem to struggle with developing their characters but this worked well. It would be easy to deal with less in a story like this but these characters all have their own little quirks, problems and backstories. For this reason, I’d have liked it to be a longer read, but that is often my gripe with shorter reads.

The story itself is well paced and the imagery is implemented well. There is one particular part in the story that I really enjoyed, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise by describing it. It’s something authors and actually film makers etc really tend to avoid. Especially these days. It was more of a think in older books and films I think. I’d be interested if you can guess it, so I’ll leave you with this; it’s towards the end of the story and involves a late coming character.

You see, now you have to read it! Tweet me or contact me on the Rebbie Reviews Facebook page if you work it out, I would love to discuss it!

Get the Book!

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Alt Studio – Photo Shoot Experience

I recently won a free makeover and photo shoot at Alt Studio via their Facebook advert. I had the option to take someone with me so I invited my Step mum Jackie to come along with me.

Simon (the photographer) and Molly (the make up artist) were absolutely lovely, it’s difficult not to feel at ease with them. When we arrived Simon showed us the wardrobe that was available and invited us to choose, he picked out a few dresses for me and I just went with his choices, not because I don’t love vintage dresses, but because there were so many and they were all beautiful.

Now, anybody that knows me knows I’m a low maintenance kind of girl, I don’t wear make up most of the time, and if I do happen to, I tend to make myself up very naturally. Having arrived and got sat in front of the make up artist it suddenly hit me I had no idea at all what I had in store. She asked how I’d like my makeup and hair and I realised I had absolutely no idea! So I gave her free reign to transform me how she saw fit. Well, I did not recognise the girl sat in front of me when she was done, she did the full shebang! Eyelashes, back combed hair, the works. I was pretty impressed.

Next, I slipped into some dresses that photographer Simon had chosen and away we went. Before I knew it I was pulling poses in the studio and running back and forth to put new dresses on. I absolutely loved it. Normally I’m quite self conscious but during this experience I transformed into someone else. It felt great and the dresses were beautiful.

Towards the end of our pin up shoot, Simon let me try some Film Noir so I pulled on the dress he liked and Molly adjusted my hair for me. Well, if I felt great doing Pin Up, I felt even better doing Film Noir. We did lots of poses with different props and when I was sitting in the dressing room after my shoot I could hear lots of frivolity coming from the next room while Jackie had hers. It sounded like she had a blast and once it was all done we went off for lunch while Simon sat through all the pictures compiling a slideshow so that we could choose.

I’m going to say this next part in case anybody else is like me, this is nothing against the photos, the make up or the shoot itself, but as I sat going over my photos I felt really overwhelmed. I was highly critical of all the photographs and only bought two (largely because of a lack of available funds to buy more) but anxiety overtook the fantastic feeling of the shoot, and having come down from that I actually wish I had basked in it a bit more. If you’re like me, don’t worry about seeing your photos, take a deep breath and see yourself how you felt doing it. When you come away, and you calm down, you’ll wish you bought more. I myself am hoping to be able to afford at least one more picture over the next few months.

Jackie on the other hand loved all my photos and she chose a photo I had said I didn’t like, so she’s actually bought one of us both as well as three of her own. Shocker – the photo is much nicer than I gave it credit for on the day.

As luck would have it, I had my grandma’s birthday party to attend that night so I was already made up ready to go when I got back. Of course, I was a bit glam for jeans and a jumper so I ran upstairs and threw my own vintage dress on to match the hairdo. Everyone loved the look and now I’ve got to work out how to do it myself – heh..

Would I go again? Absolutely! I felt like a Movie Star, if I could go just for the shoot and to play dress up I would in a heartbeat, even if I didn’t get to see the photos after. Everybody is going to hair their own favourite part, mine was being posed and wearing pretty dresses, Jackie’s was the pay off of the photos at the end. It’s just one of those things. Expect to be tired by the end of the day, Simon will put you through your paces!

These are the two photos I chose from my shoot;

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

tatooist

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the extraordinary tale of Lale Solokov and how he entered, and survived, Auschwitz. Heather Morris captures everything so perfectly it’s easy to picture, especially as I’ve actually visited both the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, so that only served to make everything feel more real.

Entering the camp as a young man, Lale overcame some harsh realities and learned to work the camps to each small advantage. According to the book, even when his life could have been slightly easier, he worked tirelessly to help others in need and spread a mantra throughout the grounds of “save the one, save the world” there’s a powerful message right there that we can all take away.

The characters are well developed during the course of the story, even the characters you’re not supposed to like become familiar to you. From Lale and Gita, to the SS Soldier placed in charge of Lale, to the blood chilling Doctor, you’ll have some level of appreciation for everyone involved.

For me the most unexpected appreciation came for Baretski, a young and misguided SS Soldier who was placed in charge of Lale. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to like the man, but the exchanges between him and Lale show his immaturity and lack of understanding of the world. I very much enjoyed the way this character was written because I can imagine many of the young SS being the same.

Now, if you’re looking for a book to make you cry, this will likely do it. I got a bit of a tingle in the tip of my nose towards the end of this story and I know lots of people who would probably be bawling.

I recommended this book to my Sister, and waited for her comments following the story to see if they matched mine. The only gripe she had with it was the end seemed quite rushed. I guess after the weight of the rest of the story it does seem that way, but keep in mind that whilst this book is in the Fiction section, it is based on the true story of Lale Solokov and it was Mr Solokov who asked Ms Morris to write the book. It is from his memories that this book was born, and what a book it is.

auschwitz

Click here to get the book!

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Extropia by Robin Bootle

extropia

 

Extropia is the action packed Debut novel from Robin Bootle, who resides in none other than the UK!

Our main character, Edward, is a person we will come to know very well during the roller coaster read that is Extropia. The tale begins when an act of sabotage leaves Edward all alone in the world and a single day at school plunges him right back into the heart of a tragedy that he tried to escape.

Set in virtual reality with RPG elements this book had me hooked, I was hanging on reading “just one more page” and almost caught hypothermia when I took it in the bath! Each character is developed and well thought out, no matter what their part in the story. This is the action-adventure we’ve been waiting for and I am thrilled to have got my hands on a copy.

There are mentions of other characters and games in the book which don’t really date it as such, Edward is a young boy so he’d definitely know these references, although a certain part that mentioned Skyrim as an “old game” had me reaching for my phone to check when it came out, sure enough, it’s older than I thought!

The book is not afraid to bare all when it comes to emotion as it takes us through a roller coaster of treachery, heart ache, friendship and victories. It’s not difficult to get invested in these characters and the “bad guys” definitely get your heart beating faster.

The imagery is fantastic, Bootle doesn’t spend ages going over the finer details but I definitely had a picture in my head of each character, location and scene.

I absolutely loved this book and I can’t wait for the next part of the adventure. If you’ve enjoyed this review and want to know more, go along to amazon to get yourself a copy.

bootle

Born in Greece, Mr Bootle is well travelled having lived in Chennai (India) and Hampshire (UK) before moving to Mauritius as a child, where he still visits regularly. He has since lived in New Zealand & France, and is now living in London with his wife Kate.

I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Mr Bootle for this review post, I always love to do this with upcoming authors so that their readers can get to know a little about what makes them tick. Here it is;

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Hi Robin, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. I’m sure both our readers will be interested to find out more about you and your work!

So how did you come to be an Author and what inspired you to write?

I was sat at a desk job with no work to do when I was 21, and my brother emailed me to say, “Why don’t you try to write something to fill the time?” So I did. I wrote a short piece about some people at a party. It was poor but the point is I really enjoyed it. Then I spent about 10 years trying to think of what to write, before the idea for Extropia inspired me to finally get on with it.

Extropia is your debut novel, and it is some novel! How do you feel about how it’s been received so far?

I’m really pleased. There are some amazing reviews out there. It’s a long slog writing your first novel – there’s so much to learn – so to have people enjoy it genuinely makes it all worthwhile. There are some people who didn’t like it too and I’ve read their reviews which, while being torturous, actually contain some good feedback as well.

Are there any real-life influences for the characters in the book?

I didn’t think so … but my family and friends have pointed out various details. Maybe my subconscious is in there more than I realise. But there are some definite and deliberate fictional character influences in the book. Like Ivandell and Hasgard. They’re fictional characters inside the game, designed to be similar to characters from Lord of the Rings. In some ways, Extropia is a coming together of so many science fiction and fantasy books and films. I love those genres.

The book is set in Virtual Reality and works within the realms of RPG. Are you a big fan of VR and RPG gaming?

To be honest, I started writing the book before VR had become broadly available to consumers But I can’t wait to see where this new technology will take us. I enjoy a good, open ended RPG, and the coming together of these two things – an RPG using virtual reality technology, will be so immersive. I don’t think my wife will ever see me again.

Is there any particular character in the book who you identify with?

The protagonist, even though he’s only 16. He reminds me of my younger self. Self-assured but not outspoken. Liable to let his feelings build up until he gets into a bit of a rage or does something stupid.

Extropia is a roller coaster of a read putting the reader right in there as a fly on the wall throughout all of the heartache, friendship and victory, did you find it emotional to write?

You know, the older I get, the more emotional I become when I read or watch scenes about people dying. I can’t help it. I think I can relate to the characters’ sadness more, particularly when it comes to bad things happening to direct family members. So strangely, I do find myself a little sad when I read the scenes about Edward’s relationship with his father or his mother’s funeral, for example.

There are more books coming to the Extropia universe, when do you plan to release these and is there anything you can tell us about the next part of the adventure? (without dropping spoilers of course!)

Yes, absolutely. I’m just running through the 2nd novel with a thick layer of polish. I hope it might be out this year, but I could see it slipping. I’ve also made a significant dent on part 3 as well, and am hopeful the third instalment won’t be too far behind. What can I say about them? Well, if all goes according to plan, the lines between what’s real and what’s not, and who we are as people are going to blur even more.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

So much advice. If I pick just a few things: 1) You have got to be determined. It’s not going to be easy. Keep at it. 2) Get lots and lots of feedback, and only from people who are going to be brutally honest. 3) Don’t tell yourself you’re going to write an hour every day. It can soon seem impossible, particularly when you reach an impasse with the plot or become uncertain how to deal with something in the narrative. Just tell yourself to sit down for 10 mins every day, and most days those 10 mins will turn into 30 or 60 mins. 4) Use your time now to network. Go to writing conferences and meet people before you’re trying to sell them something. When it comes time to try to get published, you’ll already know some people who may be able to help you out.

If you’d like to get your hands on the book, it can be found here

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Bronco’s Rodeo, West Street – Sheffield

broncos-rodeo

After a month of sponsored vegetarianism my Husband and I were excited to have a good meaty meal so when Bronco’s opened on 12th November, you bet we were up for it! It would have been rude not to book ourselves in for 1st December to celebrate our Meaty Freedom.

We embarked on our trip across town to meet our reservation and excitedly made our drinks choices from the never before seen American flavours of Smirnoff. We ordered a double Root Beer Vodka with Coke and a double Watermelon Vodka with Lemonade to kick off our evening, and I did my best “I’m not about to die from shock” impression as I swiped my card for the £12 round. (Now, Londoners.. I realise that’s not a shock to you, but up in the jolly old north we have a saying for things like this and it goes a little bit like “need a bloody mortgage for that”). I was a little surprised at how quiet it was for the newest, up and coming venue because it had only been open a couple of weeks and we were expecting it to be rammed on a Saturday night, maybe it’s more of a late bar.

Onwards and upwards, we were shown to our table and perused the food menu. Now, I did find it a bit odd that you have to order at the bar. I expected it to be table service because all the other similar places are and it doesn’t give the immediate look of a place that wouldn’t be.

To start we ordered a plate of the loaded fries with burnt ends and what arrived was.. chunks of beef that were not actually burnt ends..;

burnt ends fries

Having selected two 10oz Sirloins from the menu for their mouthwatering descriptions, we were still of an open mind. The menu said it would be served with Sauteed Greens and Garlic and Thyme butter.

Here’s what arrived;

Never mind, I actually wanted to try the apple slaw so it wasn’t an issue, but I was glad I didn’t pay £2 for it on the side! My steak was acceptably rare, although I’d have liked it slightly more rare than that, but there wasn’t a snifter of Garlic and Thyme anywhere which was disappointing, and honestly it just wasn’t that tasty. The whole plate was kind of bland. My Husband’s steak, despite being the exact same dish wasn’t as rare as mine so he was a bit disappointed for that reason too.

When the waitress came to clear the dishes she asked if everything was OK, I explained the reasons we were disappointed and informed her I’d be doing a review for this blog. I asked if the coleslaw was made on site. Now, this should have been an easy question. No matter how short a time the place has been opened, if you own a restaurant you make sure your staff know the answer to that basic question. She said she thought it might be, but didn’t know and she’d ask her manager. Naturally I expected her to be right back so we sat and finished our drinks and when we were ready to go she still wasn’t back. Odd, but I took our glasses to the bar and asked this bar maid the same question, she didn’t know either, but she did grab her manager. When I asked my question for a third time, he answered that it is made there, now I didn’t ask if it was made daily but from what I tasted, if it is made daily, it’s made very early because it didn’t taste all that fresh. However I was bored of asking by the time I’d had to repeat myself a third time.

I understand that the food industry can be stressful, I’ve worked in it, but if you tell your customer you’ll be back with an answer, actually come back with an answer. And for those managers who might be reading, please educate your staff, it’s not an unacceptable assumption that staff would know whether the coleslaw comes out of a packet, and it’ll make your restaurant look better if they can reply instantly with the correct information.

From our experience of Broncos, we’re not planning to return, the food didn’t wow us and it just didn’t feel worth a repeat visit. But, as always when there’s room for improvement, maybe it will get better with time. At the minute though, there are better, more experienced venues for that all American taste.

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