The launch of Chillies n Spice and All Things Rice

Yesterday, a side-project of mine went live: I’ve spent the last two months or so chipping away at a basic website for my mum. My mum’s website was initially started as a belated Christmas present (what to get for the woman who has everything?), but has ended up being a long labour of love and pretty cohesive product for her many readers. After many toils and tribulations, many hours of proofreading till I went cross-eyed, it’s now active and I can rest for a few days! Now, I’m no professional website builder by any means. In fact, I basically have no idea what I’m doing and this entire process has been a giant experiment and major learning curve. I’m hoping that my skills will continue to grow so that I can both improve my mum’s website and my own blog, as this is a whole new world and language to navigate online.

Basically, my mum’s a food aficionado and has always had a knack for experimentation with flavours and cuisines in the kitchen. There’s been loads of comments flung around over the years, with people suggesting she ought to do something with all her knowledge of everything gourmet and experience cooking different styles. Finally, she’s on it! I think COVID-19 really served as the catalyst for her, as it gave her the opportunity to generate a lot of online content (mainly on FB). Initially this was mainly for the benefit of her friends, but the development of a separate page helped her to share recipes further afield, and now there are people engaging from all across the world. Madness!

Mum has been working very hard at this project. She is glued to her phone 24/7 (this is literally no exaggeration) and has built up rapport with complete strangers, who comment from different time zones about how much they’ve enjoyed cooking up some of her scran. This is only the beginning of a very bold adventure and we’re hoping to branch out to other platforms and reach even bigger milestones as the impact of her brand continues to grow. It’s a huge slog but she’s very passionate and it’s nice to see her so focused on this endeavour, after so many years of people pushing her towards a venture like this. Here’s to expansion and world domination!

If you’re looking for some new recipes over lockdown, check out her site. It’s very regularly updated (trust me, she’s a nightmare to keep up with!) and has a plethora of different cuisine, suitable for all sorts of dietary needs. Feel free to leave feedback as well, it’s much appreciated 🙂

The face behind the name.

BOOK REVIEW: Desperation by Stephen King

And so, the obsession with Stephen King continues. It’s been more than a year of this now. I’ve managed to make my way through quite a few of King’s most acclaimed bibliography, based on recommendations from friends and family, but there’s a comfort in knowing that there’s plenty more out there and I won’t be running out of material by him anytime soon (I saw on his Twitter recently that there’s another book due to be published shortly. I have no idea where he gets his perpetual fuel to write from, or how he does it with such consistent brilliance, but I’m sure glad this is the case).

Upon completion of a King book, I’ll move onto a non-King related title because there’s so many titles on my bookshelf and bedside table just gathering dust and waiting for their time to shine. Yet somehow, despite my initiative to delve into a diversified pool of other authors and leave King behind, I still find myself drawn back to a title by him in between every other book. I always tell myself that I’ll “take a break” from books by King for a couple of weeks/months, on account of the fact that his books are immersive, profound (therefore requiring a sort of “recovery period”) and girthy. Basically, you’re investing your time in characters and worlds that will draw a lot from you, if you sit down with a page-turner by him, and you will be lost from the world for a considerable while.

My most recent read was a book called Desperation, a novel about a desolate town of the same name off the quiet Highway 50 and a mysterious, domineering force that draws a bunch of strangers together for the ultimate showdown between good and evil in a place more populated by tumbleweeds and dirt than living townspeople. The group is comprised of a young family, a couple dealing with the trauma of a recent miscarriage, an old alcoholic Desperation resident and washed-up, self-professed “national treasure”, Mr Jonny Marinville. There’s elements of mythology and the supernatural, in a similar style to that of Pennywise’s lore in IT, and a very epic setting for a standoff between all that is holy versus unholy in a similar style to The Stand. In terms of psychological terror, I’ve got to say, it’s up there in my top 5 for most awful antagonists in the King universe thus far. Desperation‘s (first) antagonist Collie Entragian, who stands tall at over six feet and wide like a wall, is a real nasty piece of work and rivals some of King’s cruelest characters in books like The Shining, IT and Insomnia. He seems utterly ordinary from the outset, his mannerisms and speech as common as any layman, but frequently spits out odd phrases in the language of the dead and glitches, like a machine, stumbling on his sentiments. There’s the feeling that something isn’t quite right with this guy, but also the issue of his role as a law enforcement figure, and a charming one at that. Plus there’s his strange command over an assortment of venomous and aggressive animals symbolic of death such as coyotes, rattlesnakes, buzzards, scorpions, and fiddleback spiders who are almost always bowing before him and forever in the readers’ peripherals.

I can honestly say, without a doubt, that King is one of the most consistently talented writers I have ever read. He has this uncanny ability to make even the most minor characters in his novels so rich that you find yourself wondering where they’ve gotten to or how they’re doing as you progress through a story, and his imagination is, quite frankly, unparalleled. He has the capability to introduce audiences to creatures and forces that are so frightening because they’re beyond comprehension, but he also explores the most frightening thing of all: the human condition. So many of his characters are riddled by addiction or trauma, and they’re all the more striking because they’re utterly relatable and flawed. This is the greatest horror of all!

King’s bibliography is vast and may seem impenetrable to prospective readers, but I would urge you to start with some of his smaller texts, if you’re threatened by the big books. Maybe something like Carrie? The length of his stories honestly have no bearing on the the quality of the content

As for me, I’m taking a 1-book interlude again. I’m currently reading Speak your Truth by Fearne Cotton (real pace-changer) but, as always, I’m eager to get back to the dark stuff. What’s interesting is that Desperation is said to run in parallel to another novel by King called The Regulators, penned under his pseudonym “Richard Bachman”. Of course my intention is to snap that up as soon as humanly possible, but in the meanwhile, the next on my list is Under the Dome, another solidly gargantuan read which will no doubt lead to countless hand cramps and dench forearms from holding it up to read at night. If you, dear reader, have any King recommendations or general pointers towards other authors who may be of a similar style, please do let me know!