The Oil Can Cafe – Holmfirth

 

Today we visited The Oil Can Cafe where we were treated to coffee and cake by my Dad and Stepmum, the cafe is a lovely vintage affair which is comfortably different. All around the cafe you can see vintage effects displayed to set the tone, and the staff are friendly and welcoming. Within the property you’ll also find a garage where they restore classic vehicles, vintage clothing and lots to look at. Everything looked lovely and the establishment is clean and well looked after despite it’s garage theme. Even the toilets fit the vintage theme as the decoration continues throughout the premises.

I had the Rocky Road which was lovely, and my Husband had the billionaire’s shortcake which I will be tempted to try next time, be warned the portions are not small! I also saw some breakfasts being brought to other tables and I will definitely be back to try one of those out! I may even join in with the vintage theme on my return visit.

rocky road

This cafe is definitely a hidden gem and everyone should check it out when they get the chance! Just on the edge of Holmfirth it’s perfect for a stop off on your way in or out of the town.

girls crop

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Interview with Lex H Jones

 

lex H jones

 

Today I am very excited to announce I have the opportunity to spotlight the one and only Lex H Jones, author of Nick and Abe and The Other Side of The Mirror to name but two of his wonderful titles, both of which have been featured in reviews here.

Mr Jones is actually from my home town so it’s a delight to have the honour to introduce him to you all and let him share a bit about himself with us!

Without further ado, here is a little bit about him before we launch into the Interview;

Lex H Jones is a British author, horror fan and rock music enthusiast who lives in Sheffield, North England.

He has written articles for premier horror websites the ‘Gingernuts of Horror’ and the ‘Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog’ on various subjects covering books, films, videogames and music.

Lex’s noir crime novel “The Other Side of the Mirror” was published in 2019, with his first published novel “Nick and Abe”, a literary fantasy about God and the Devil spending a year on earth as mortal men, published in 2016. Lex also has a growing number of short horror stories published in collections alongside such authors as Graham Masterton, Clive Barker and Adam Neville. He is currently working on both his ‘Harkins’ book series, the first of which ‘The Final Casebook of Mortimer Grimm’ is due for release early 2020, and also a trilogy of children’s weird fiction books centred around the reimagining of H.P. Lovecraft’s mythology.

When not working on his own writing Lex also contributes to the proofing and editing process for other authors.

Lex H Jones Official Facebook Page

Amazon Author Page

Contact Lex H Jones on Twitter!

 Now for the Main Feature!

 

So Lex, first of all, what first made you want to write?

I’ve always loved stories, and as a child I’d quickly find myself bored by anything that didn’t have them. Things like watching sports never grabbed me in the same way that a film or cartoon series would. I always used to make up stories, starting with when I’d be playing with action figures and such. Whenever I did this, alone or with friends, I’d always to make up a new set of scenes to act out rather than copy what I’d already seen before. As I got older and the toys went away, writing was just the next natural step for expressing this joy of creating stories and worlds to set them in.

What inspires you to write?

I just like creating worlds and characters that people get excited about. Hearing people talk about my work is the most exciting and unbelievable experience I’ve ever had. Wanting to have that again and again is a big motivator. Beyond that, I just have a lot of stories in my head that I want to get out. I always feel like I’ll be “making some room” up there when I’ve finished a book, but all that happens is another idea pops in to take its place.

Your novels Nick and Abe, and The Other Side of The Mirror are already available in quite a few places including Waterstones, how do you feel they’ve been received?

The reviews they’ve had have been really positive, both from people who’ve told me directly or just written reviews or star ratings on book websites. I don’t really spend a lot of time reading reviews as I know that, with the way my brain works, I’d pick up on the negative comments and just replay them in my head over and over. So for the most part I don’t go looking for them, but I’m still aware that the overall response to both books has been very positive.

For both books, too, I’ve learned that people have read into them in such a way that they’ve found or interpreted things that I didn’t necessarily (consciously, at least) intend, and that’s always lovely. When people think so deeply about your writing that they take things from it you didn’t even realise you’d put in, that’s about as big a compliment as you can get.

I think it would be fair to say you’ve not lumped yourself into a specific category since your two already published novels are quite different. What’s your favourite kind of book to write and why?

My “go-to” genre is the Ghost Story, but I do find it difficult to spin those out into a full novel. One of my upcoming projects is a Victorian-era Supernatural Detective novel, called “The Final Casebook of Mortimer Grimm.” The way I wrote that book, is that it’s kind of episodic in nature. It works almost like a collection of smaller ghost stories that have a larger narrative running through them. Each ghost story is a different case that the protagonist investigates. So that was really fun to write.

It’s planned to be part of a series, so with any luck I’ll have much more opportunities to enjoy writing in that world.

Along with the two novels you mention, I’ve also had over a dozen short horror stories published in different anthologies, and writing for those is always fun too. I didn’t used to like being given a theme, as I felt this was somehow restrictive. My feelings about that have changed over the years, as I now feel that a little restriction helps the creativity. Putting someone in a warehouse full of stuff and saying “make a sculpture” is a much more daunting task than giving them the same instruction but providing them with a small list of items they can use. I’ve found a similar effect with short story projects.

Your characters are very well developed, how would you say you come up with them?

This honestly depends on the characters, but broadly speaking, there are two types of character creation technique for me.

Sometimes a character is created because they are someone who is needed for the story, in which case I have to mould them to be a particular thing; like a sculptor chiselling away to make a block of stone into a shape. The character is created to fill a specific role, and then I will work on the deeper nuances and layers of who they are and what they’re about. I don’t like anybody to be one-dimensional, even if they were just created to die pretty quickly.

The second option is where the character comes first and then I have to decide exactly what to do with them. Charles Pope, one of the characters from my crime novel ‘The Other Side of the Mirror’, was rattling around in my head looking for something to do for quite some time before I actually came up with the rest of the novel. Then, as it turns out, he fit that story perfectly. I had a similar experience with a few of the characters from my upcoming novel ‘The Final Casebook of Mortimer Grimm’.

Out of all of your Characters, who would you say you relate to the most?

To be honest, I don’t tend to (deliberately) write anyone as being too much like me, but I’m aware that some things slip through. The character of Detective Harkins, the main protagonist of ‘Final Casebook…’, has some elements of myself in him. Not the heavy drinking and tendency to violence, but just his despair at the world he’s stuck in. That feeling of looking around at the opinions too many people seem to have, the dangerous ignorance and delusion they operate under, and the feeling that you’ve forcibly been made an outsider because you refuse to buy into it. I can relate to that, in recent times more than ever. If 60% of the room says that 2+2=5, that doesn’t mean that it is. Harkins is the sort of person who’ll just write off that room before he’ll concede to something like that, and I’m totally with him on that.

Which was your favourite book to write?

I mentioned above that I love writing ghost stories, and ‘Final Casebook…’ is the biggest example of one that I’ve done so far. Being able to come up with a dozen or so different examples of hauntings, but have them investigated by the same characters rather than coming up with new protagonists each time (as in the traditional book of ghost stories) was really fun for me. And then tying all of that into a deeper narrative wherein you realise that the hauntings themselves aren’t the major focus, but rather symptoms of other things that go on in the world. That was all really enjoyable to write.

What’s your favourite thing to read?

Victorian ghost stories. Broken record here, but I love a ghost story, and to me the Victorian variety is the best example of that. They’re usually framed as a narrator telling you, the reader, about something strange that once happened; either to them or somebody that they once knew. Done right, the best ones feel as though they could be told orally to equal effect, which makes them the perfect story to read in a dark room by a roaring fire.

For you, what is the most important aspect of a book?

The characters. As a reader, I don’t really mind all that much what the genre is, but I need to care about the characters and what’s happening to them. Make me do that, make me care, and then a relationship drama can be every bit as gripping as a Biblical apocalypse.

Do you have anything new in the works right now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on ‘Whistling Past The Graveyard’, my first collection of short unconnected horror stories. I’m also working on a series of children’s books that are re-imaginings of some of H.P Lovecraft’s mythos, the first of which is called ‘The Old One and The Sea’.

Is there anything additional you’d like to say to our readers?

Thanks to anyone who reads my work, I appreciate it more than you know and it makes it worth the effort to know that people are enjoying it.

Many Thanks to Mr Jones for taking the time to join us at Rebbie Reviews.

 

If you would like to check out the books mentioned in this interview they are available below, please be aware that both are available in both Paperback and Ebook and The Other Side of the Mirror is available in audio also;

The Other Side of The Mirror – Amazon.co.uk

The Other Side of The Mirror – Amazon.com

The Other Side of the Mirror – Waterstones

The Other Side of the Mirror – Booktopia (Australia)

The Other Side of the Mirror – Audible

Nick and Abe – Amazon.co.uk

Nick and Abe – Amazon.com

Nick and Abe – Waterstones

Nick and Abe – Booktopia (Australia)

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Kevin J Kennedy’s Collected Easter Horror Shorts

Easter Horror Shorts

So… looks around sheepishly that Easter review I kept going on about.. and then didn’t actually give you…I know you’ve all got something left of Easter, the stuff that’s been marked down perhaps? Go and grab that, and then settle in and I’ll tell you all about this book.

In this wonderful collection of horror stories 23 authors have brought to life their festive horror offerings, obviously I’m not going to give you a run down of every story, that would take way too long and you wouldn’t need to read it if I did that! So what I will do is tell you about my favourite ones, or the ones I’ve picked out that were interesting points.

After a wonderful foreword by Nev Murray the book kicks off straight into the stories, now this isn’t one of those collections where all the stories manage to intertwine and make one big story, so you can read a little or a lot in each sitting and you’re not going to lose the plot or anything like that. This makes it perfect for sitting down with a coffee, or a bit of bed time reading if you’re not of too much of a nervous disposition.

The first story I’d like to talk about is Sonnes Hill by Lex H Jones, this is probably the most “easter” story in the book, because rather than being all chocolate, eggs and bunnies, it’s actually about what Easter is about. It’s a story of love, life, death and resurrection. I’m not going to tell you too much more because I don’t want to spoil it for you but I appreciated this story on a different level to which I appreciate other stories and it’s basically because it’s not just a theme it’s the version of Easter that I was raised with. So the story centres around a couple who move to a village to set up home together when tragedy strikes and one of them falls seriously ill. The villagers reveal then that there might be another option than watching him go through this major decline and eventual death and that’s where things take a bit of a turn.. if you want more you need to read it yourself. Suffice to say it’s a good story and one that stuck in my mind for nostalgic reasons.

Next I’d like to talk about The Rebirth by Mark Cassell, now this one is about eggs but despite what I said above, it’s brilliant. I absolutely loved the imagery in this one. Kelly, a school teacher, is sitting him her apartment when she gets a knock at the door, upon opening it there is no visitor but rather a curious looking egg. She brings it inside and looks at the intricate carvings on it and is inspired to take it to the school with her the next day. Little does she know things are about to get weird. In this fabulous horror short, Mr Cassell takes us through a story that might leave some with a few frayed nerves. It’s well worth the read and being only a short means you don’t have to sacrifice the housework to sit down with it. Grab yourself a coffee and dive in, you won’t be disappointed.

The Echoes of the Bunny-Man by Steven Stacy. This grabbed my attention because as a teenager I used to listen to a band called Echo and the Bunny Men. No, it’s nothing to do with the band. It’s a story that has been done, quite honestly but I did enjoy it and the main reason I want to talk about it is the inspiration behind it. This story is inspired by the events that took place in the town of Bridgend South Wales in 2008 were 27 young people took their own lives. An article in People Magazine reported that by 2012, 79 people had committed suicide in the area all with the same method. Mr Stacy hopes that the story helps to keep the Victim’s memories alive in some way and gain support for suicide victims. It’s an issue that is close to his heart for personal reasons. What I will say is that this is actually quite a good story despite the fact it brings to mind other stories of a similar concept, but it does need an edit. There are some errors within the story, which being a short, really show up a bit more than they would if this one was a novel. For that reason it could use a bit of a rework and then re-release in a subsequent anthology.

Easter Gunny by Peter Oliver Wonder. Sure to upset dog lovers everywhere this story is viewed through the eyes of the family pet. I actually wanted to hate this story when I started reading it. There’s nothing wrong with it, but for some reason I just didn’t want to like it. Maybe it’s the shift after reading so many stories involving people to suddenly be looking through a dogs eyes. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s Easter and the family are all celebrating until Gunny does something his owner doesn’t appreciate. Told from the point of view of an animal this is actually well written in that it captures the difference in the way animals see things. The way the humans interact with the dog will make this story quite heart wrenching to anybody with a deep love of animals. I think this is an especially good one for people who don’t really feel so affected by things happening to people in horror as it switches things up and it’s a change of pace for just over half way through the book.

I’ll leave it at that for the stories as there are plenty more laid out over the 457 pages of this book, which includes Author Bios so that when you’ve finished you can learn who your authors are. As someone who used to skip those bits, don’t. It’s actually really interesting to see who these people are and what they do. I think sometimes as readers we forget that they’re actual people with actual lives. So do me a favour and actually read those bits.

Grab it!

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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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