But sometimes, it’s better…

This week I finally got around to reading a sequel that’s been on my reading radar for yonks. Way back in the summer I read Ember Burning and loved it. I would love to psychoanalyse myself for this, because I’m not sure what drives me to go straight on and read more by the author IMMEDIATELY, or just to nod and say to myself, “Yep, I’ll look out for more from her/him.” I read Ember Burning, enjoyed it, put it down and that was the end of that, I’m sorry to say.

I wish I knew what triggered me to think, “I love this author and I know I’m in safe hands, where’s more?” versus, “I really enjoyed that, but, hmm, can their next one be as good? I don’t want to be disappointed…” because there’s got to be something.

Anyway, spool on several months and Oshun Rising jumped into my awareness and I actually loaded it onto my kindle and started reading.

Oh my giddy aunt, it’s AMAZING. Jennifer Alsever has outdone herself. Ember Burning was good, but Oshun Rising entirely blew my socks off. I think I hardly breathed through the second half of the story.

That’s a nudge to my cautious self. Sometimes a second book might disappoint. But other times it will catapult the author into, “Give me more. NOW,” territory.

And now I have to wait for the third in the series, which is a whole other kind of torture I’ll probably address in another post.

Share, readers, what book did you delay reading (for any reason) that you later wished you’d got on with?

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reading in my own genre for once

While I’m writing, I generally try to avoid reading in the same genre. I don’t want to accidentally pick up influences and steal anyone else’s ideas. Because I’ve been so busy with the clockwork war series, that means I’ve hardly read any steampunk this year.

Now, I’m onto edits for the last book in the series (yippee!) and I decided it was time for some steampunk again. I picked Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden and I picked well, readers, by plumping for a stonking good read.

Chasing the Star Garden had some adult themes with a protagonist, Lily, engaged in behaviours generally considered not good for a person.

But they were handled so well. There was neither condemnation nor glamourising; this was just how Lily was. And as the story progressed we saw how she’d become the determined, daredevil airship pilot we’d met (and, my word, she’d faced a lot). Her progress as a character during Chasing the Star Garden was right and lovely and extremely touching. My benchmark for a book is always, “Do I care?” And oh yes, I care in spades about Lily!

And aside from the fabulous characterisation there was the kind of good stuff you always get with steampunk: airships and artefacts and secret societies and dastardly villains and daring rescues. I loved everyone moment and I can’t wait for more!

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I read a Bookbub!

If you’ve never heard of Bookbub (where have you been?) they are a book promotion company. They produce a book recommendation newsletter for keen readers (or indifferent ones, as you’ll see later!). You sign up, tell them what genres you’re interested in and they’ll send you a daily e-mail of two or three books in that genre which are on sale or free.

As an independent author, Bookbub is “the business” – the sole book promotion company that consistently gets results. If you score a Bookbub feature, you’ll make hundreds of sales, or thousands of downloads if your book is free. They are a big deal and indie authors are always scrambling to feature in their newsletter (they’ve turned me down every time I’ve asked so far).

Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s because having received their newsletter for the past two year, I finally read the first book I got from a Bookbub recommendation this week.

Way back when, I read Anita Oh’s The Truth Spell, a werewolf/high school mash up that was terrific fun. She was marked as one to look out for, so when I saw a boxed set of the first three books of the Werewolf High series on sale via Bookbub, I grabbed a copy. Scroll forward 6 months or so and I’ve started and discarded everything fresh on my Kindle and was stuck on a weekend shift at work with nothing to read. Tracking back, I found the boxed set and re-opened it to read The Tiny Curse and The Body Swap.

They are just as entertaining and easy to read as the first in the series. I loved slipping back into Lucy’s skin. Well recommended, Bookbub.

I’m still getting the Bookbub mails, although I do wonder if I’m their pickiest customer – one book downloaded over two years. Can anyone beat that?

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A life of crime

This week I’ve been mostly reading crime. After finishing Blood Oath (very good – I’ve reviewed it on the Paisley Piranha site if you want details), I had a cruise through my kindle to see what was lurking unread. I found The Big Overnight by Libby Kirsch, which I’d started and not finished weeks ago. I dug into that and enjoyed it so much I went straight on to The Big Weekend and polished that off in the space of a day.

Years ago I used to read Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mysteries (until she became too dithery and I couldn’t believe two intelligent adult males would genuinely remain interested in her), and I loved Jennifer Crusie’s small town romances which were full of humour.

Libby Kirsch’s mysteries have elements of both. Stella Reynolds is a fabulous character, intelligent and determined, and with an eye to the injustices and absurdities of modern life, while the plots are twisty enough to keep me interested as I try to figure out what’s really happening a step or two behind Stella.

If you read crime (cosy rather than gritty) these are highly recommended.

Now, it’s probably back to YA speculative fiction for me. Check back next week to see what I’ve been reading.

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

November means nano

Another tricky week, this week, readers. The Shattered Worlds Read Along finishes today with Miranda Hardy’s Death Knocks, except that I’d already read that, having got myself a bit out of order (it’s fabulous, btw). So there wasn’t a book from the collection that I felt as though I needed to read.

So, I haven’t read a Shattered Worlds book this week. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading. I hope that will only happen when I’m no longer breathing! But this has been a week where I’ve focused entirely on myself.

As well as busily writing my nano words (I’ve hit 42k – OMG, crack out the choccie brazils, I have never written this consistently fast before in my life!) I was also on deadline to get my final clockwork war book to my editor ready for her to start work on Monday. So that’s what was on my Kindle, having a final read through to make sure that any plot holes big enough for me to see were filled in before it was sent off for a professional assessment. There will, sadly, be other plot holes that hid while I was reading, but that’s why I use an editor.

Being at 42,000 words when I’m aiming for a 50,000 word first draft means I’m actually on the home straight. I want to finish by next weekend, so I can actually slow down a lot and still hit my target. I hope that’s going to give me time to read, because I really want to lose myself in someone else’s worlds.

First off is the new release by one of my favourite writers – Kelly St Clare. Blood Oath (co-written with Raye Wagner) came out this week and I’ve only made it into chapter two so far (it’s great; Kelly’s books always are). With a bit less time writing and more reading going on in my life, I hope that will also be finished by next weekend.

Check back next week to see if I’ve met either or both of my new deadlines!

Posted in My books, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shattered Worlds Challenge: by the skin of my teeth

Well, it was looking like I might not manage a Shattered Worlds book report this week. Life’s been manic and I haven’t had as much time for reading as I would have liked.

However, I’m delighted to report that I reached THE END of The Magic or the Rulership by Emily Martha Sorensen while I was waiting for my takeway last night.

I loved it. It’s set in a fantasy world and had some glorious touches – I adored the idea that being a mathematician was a surefire way to poverty, and the system for power in the world was absolutely fascinating.

The other thing I truly adored was the humour that infused the story. Tevan’s feelings about his intended, Ainlinn, were extremely wry and amusing, and their meeting with the Ruler was laugh-aloud.

And the reason I’ve been so busy this week? Well, I was racing to finish revisions on the final clockwork war book so I could clear my desk ready for Nano. I am joining that mad band of authors aiming to write 50k words during November. So far, I’m at 16k on day 5, so I’m pretty happy with progress so far. I’ll keep you posted!

This is me right now!

Posted in My books, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shattered Worlds challenge: two worlds collide

The Space in Between is available exclusively in Shattered Worlds.

My Shattered Worlds pick for this week was The Space in Between by Jen Minkman. Now, I’ve read Jen’s work before so I knew I was going to be in safe hands. The Space in Between was fabulous. I am entirely in love with hero Hayko, and the technical stuff that only writers ought to notice was absolutely breath-taking. The plotting was so tight I am even more impressed than I was when I read Sound of Sirens.

And after that I decided to have a complete break. I love reading outside my usual genres for a bit of a change and this time around I picked Charlotte by Karen Aminadra. It’s set in the Pride and Prejudice universe, so if you’re the target market you’ll already realise it tells Charlotte Collins (nee Lucas) story. Now, if you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t think silly Mr Collins is going to offer very good character material to work with, but Charlotte was lovely: witty and humane and it even put me quite in charity with Mr Collins, who has a lovely zero to hero arc. Anne de Bourgh’s story is dealt with next and I am definitely going to make room for that.

Check back next week. I’m SO nearly at the end of my Shattered Worlds challenge. See what I can squeeze in before the collection vanishes forever!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shattered Worlds Challenge: A Tale of Two Reapers

Well, I hope I’ve made up for my fail last week by zipping through two Shattered World stories this week. I read Mistress Grim by Jane Redd, and A Reaper Made by Liz Long back to back.

It was really interesting reading them one after the other, because they were both stories featuring a female grim reaper, but each took the theme in completely different directions.

Mistress Grim chose high fantasy and created a supernatural, medieval world with a sword-wielding prince for a hero, while A Reaper Made was a very slick contemporary fantasy with a reaper who used to be human getting a glimpse of the dark depths of the supernatural world. Mistress Grim concentrated on the romance between the two central characters, while A Reaper Made was much more focused on friendships (the secondary characters were an absolute delight), although there were some hints of romance (love does make the world go round, right?).

I can’t believe how far through Shattered Worlds I’ve got in what feels like no time at all – there are only a few more weeks left, so check back next week to see how I’ve got on with my next read from the collection.

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A bumper book week

Well, I have been a reading machine this week with three books comfortably under my belt and a fourth nearly done!

First up was Rhoda Baxter’s Girl in Trouble. I know Rhoda IRL, and I absolutely love it when I’m properly able to rave about a friend’s book. Girl in Trouble isn’t my usual genre, but I have no problem reading something different if it’s good – and Girl in Trouble is an absolute smasher, a convincing romance with real emotional depth. I zipped through the novel in the space of 8 hours, it’s that good!

After that, I went back to my young adult TBR pile. CJ Archer’s The Medium caught my eye when it was in some promotion newsletter a while back, and it turned out to be a fabulous find. Set in Victorian-era London it’s slightly steampunk, largely supernatural and an utter delight.

Then a friend recommended Donna Augustine’s A Step into the Dark. This was a lesson in why you should give a book more than two paragraphs of a chance. If I’d just stumbled across it I know I’d have tossed it aside (metaphorically; it’s not really wise to throw your Kindle around). But because someone whose opinion I value (I’m looking at you, Kelly St Clare) said it was worth reading I gave it a bit longer, and I was pleased I did. More supernatural shenanigans abounded and Ollie, our heroine, was an absolute delight. I’m definitely going to read more of her adventures.

I am aware that none of this week’s reads feature in Shattered Worlds. I have strayed from my challenge, readers, I’m sorry to say. I wish I could tell you I’m most of the way through a Shattered Worlds book right now, but I’m not (I’m closing in on the end of the also-excellent Infernal Magic by CN Crawford – clearly I’m having a supernatural splurge this week). But I promise, once that’s done, I will get back on the straight and narrow next week, come what may!

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Girl in Trouble blog splash

Something a bit different today, readers. A good friend of mine, Rhoda Baxter, has a new book out, Girl in Trouble. As well as being a friend, she’s also a fabulous writer and I jumped at the chance to be part of her blog splash.

For the splash, Rhoda asked me to blog on an allied topic. Her hero and heroine, Walter and Olivia, face changes they think are bad, but end up being positive. So, my topic is:

A blessing in disguise

Eight years ago I walked away from a well-paid, corporate career – and it turns out to have been one of the best decisions I ever made.

At the time I was newly-divorced, newly moved halfway across the country, and had a four-year-old child to look after. I’d been a bit battered by life the previous couple of years, and looking back I think this was me reasserting control. Throwing away financial security (I had a redundancy payment, but nothing to go to) might have seemed mad, but I knew I was miserable and needed to make a radical change in my life.

I didn’t dislike my job. I thoroughly enjoyed it, actually, but it was all-consuming. I was always in a rush. First was the travelling required (commuting into London for meetings – oh, joy!), and the long hours (my PC was regularly on at 10pm) which meant I didn’t get much time with Offspring. I also had almost no time or energy left for my writing. So, when work started casting about for people to push out the door, I jumped and started a new phase in my life.

There commenced a year of financial stress. I would have made things easier for myself if I’d thought matters through a little more thoroughly. I didn’t get a new job quickly, and ended up having to sell my house and move somewhere smaller (and selling a house is never a good thing to do under pressure). But alongside the job hunting and other stresses, I relaxed into being mum, and (most importantly for me) I found time to write.

Now, I’m an ace with a small budget, I have a part-time job that pays the bills on my teeny terraced house, I’m mum to the best twelve-year-old I know, and I now have seven books out, with more in the pipeline. I’m still busy, but I’m content with my life in a way I never was when I was part of the rat race.

It was a tough decision at the time, but that scary step brought me so much good that I really do feel blessed.

If you’ve had a blessing in disguise, please tell me about it in the comments, I’d love to hear your experience.

Click for links

More about Girl in Trouble:

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Get a copy from your preferred bookstore.

Don’t delay – it’s 99p today and tomorrow (after which its regular price is £2.99) – plus you can get your hands on a load of bonuses – a short story and recipe book – if you buy early. Grab a copy now!

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments