We interrupt our usual broadcast…

I’m so sorry! My blog this week should, of course, be all about my Q book. However, it’s gone a bit pear-shaped. I had it all worked out: on holiday I was going to finish my P book (managed that) and find and read my Q book.

A nice plan, but I hadn’t realised how rubbish Amazon is when you’re trying to find a book instead of buying one you already know you want. (Tara Sparling blogged about how frustrating it is to browse Amazon recently, and I quite agree).

Q book in the YA genre… Well, let’s face it, every other title is “Queen Something”, so that’s a good place to start … except that Amazon offered me 3 Queen titles, none of which grabbed me, and then that was it: have the top 100 books to scroll through. Pah. And because I was in foreign climes I couldn’t even go to a physical bookshop and ask someone (well, until I got back and that’s what I did).

I’ve also been busy as I launched a new book this weekend (yippee!). If you like my writing, please check out Dissent – and grab a copy this weekend while it’s .99 for launch (it’s also in KU if you have a subscription). If you haven’t read Discord yet (where have you been?!), it’s on a free promo, so you can get both the Echoes of Earth books for a paltry .99 (try getting that from your local Waterstones!).

Click for Amazon

Next week, I promise normal service will be resumed. I’ve started Shadow Queen (yes, I know that’s a cheat for a “Q” book, but I was getting desperate and it’s close enough) so I’ll be able to tell you all about it by then.

And if you want to know what I read on holiday when I couldn’t find a Q, check out The Good Riddance Project, which was tremendous fun. Can you project manage a murder? Read it and find out!

Cover of A K Lakelett's Good Riddance Project

Click for the preview

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P is for … partially pleasing

My “P” book was the long-awaited Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine. I first came across Rachel’s books when I read Prince of Shadows. It is GORGEOUS. Get it, now. Seriously. It’s Romeo and Juliet seen from the point of view of Benvolio (Romeo’s cousin) and it fills in the holes in Shakespeare’s plotting BEAUTIFULLY. I’m getting shivers just thinking about it. And then I picked up Ink and Bone, an alternate history/fantasy where the library at Alexandria has become all-powerful.

Cover of Rachel Caine's Paper and Fire

I loved returning to Jess’s world in Alexandria … but not as much as I’d thought I would. And it made me consider how my fondness for a book correlates to how fast I read them. I’m trying to keep track of my reading by writing what I start, when, and when I finish. Paper and Fire took 6 days. Now, that might not sound like long, but judging from other books, I tend to only need two days to get through a standard paperback-length novel, maybe three if real life is getting in the way.

That’s not a completely scientific measurement, more of a gut feeling, but I will now try and pay more attention to see if the books I most love are consumed most quickly. I do know that I love being dragged into a book and deposited, breathless and blinking at the return to real life, at the end.

How about you? Are your books to be gobbled at a hectic rate, or lazily luxuriated in?

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O is for … Only knocking me sideways, blimey!

So, my “O” selection was Only Dancing by Jan Jones. Now, I love Jan’s novellas (An Ordinary Gift is actually extraordinarily fabulous, imo) as well as her Regency novels. So, I started with high expectations.

Cover of Jan Jones' Only Dancing

Click for the preview

Well, Only Dancing started out nice enough, a nostalgic little tale of lost friendship and how life conspires to not be quite what you expect when you’re young and it feels as though the world lies before you.

… But then it got all twisty and dramatic and people who’d seemed largely harmless turned out to be nothing of the sort! I can’t say much more without blurting spoilers all over the place, but, my word, my heart rate speeded up towards the end! I can safely say I wasn’t expecting that!

If you like getting not quite what you expect, try this!

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N is for … New Kid, new release

Well, if you read my blog last week you’ll know I was scrambling, having managed to disorder my alphabet in a rather rookie error and forgotten to line up an “N” book.

However, a dear and lovely writer I know then released New Kid in Town and I was sorted.

Cover of Jacky Gray's New Kid in Town

Click to read the preview

I don’t read many contemporaries, but now and then they make a nice change from the craziness of other worlds and magic and sorcerers which provide my usual reading fare.

New Kid in Town was a real pleasure. It gave a convincing depiction of mercurial teenage relationships. As I was reading I really felt again that dreadful tension around turning friendships into relationships when you don’t quite dare take the plunge in case your feelings aren’t reciprocated. Oh, the horror of adolescence!

If you like contemporary YA literature, give this a try.

And check back next week to hear what became of my “O” book.

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M is for … Mostly overlooked.

My “M” book is The Midnight Society by Rhonda Sermon. Now, this book has been wandering around at the edges of my awareness for yonks. At least a year, I swear. I remember it with another cover – it’s been that long. So in all that time, why on earth did no one take me to one side and tell me to READ THE THING?!

Cover of Rhonda Sermon's The Midnight Society

Click for the preview (bet you’ll love it)

The Midnight Society is ENORMOUS FUN. Time travel, friendship, world-saving, crosses and double-crosses, and huge amounts of delectable snark. It’s absolutely GORGEOUS.

Stop reading this and go grab a copy. You can thank me later.

Check back next week and see if I’ve managed to resolve my alphabet muddle. There was I, thinking I’d got ahead of myself because I’ve read The Midnight Society AND Only Dancing in a week … until I realised that “M” is, in fact, conventionally followed in almost all English alphabets by the letter “N” rather than the letter “O”. Oops. Good job I’m a fast reader – I’m not panicking … yet!

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L is for … Longbourn’s the place to hang out – apparently

I will set my cards on the table. I am a HUGE fan of Pride & Prejudice. Persuasion is my absolute favourite Jane Austen novel, but P&P comes in a close second. I’ve read it numerous times and can quote the famous lines if you give me half an excuse.

So, for fans like me, adding a new book to that universe is quite a responsibility and something to be attempted at your own risk.

I’m not dreadfully precious, I will point that out. I don’t hold Pride & Prejudice to be entirely sacrosanct and untouchable. I loved the TV adaptation of PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley (but I didn’t love it enough to seek out the book; I think a large part of the attraction was Matthew Rhys, to be entirely honest). I also read and loved Longbourn – the P&P story told from the point of view of the servants “below stairs”. I didn’t much like the movie Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (just a bit too silly), although it was entertaining enough.

Cover of Natasha Farrant's Lydia

Click to try it

So, that’s a trawl through my experience with P&P wannabees and it hasn’t really helped get my thoughts in order. Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice was an easy enough read. I zipped through it in a day. It’s lacking the witty glory of Austen’s prose (but quite right, too – anyone attempting to ape that would be bold in the extreme), but it was a nice, well-written story. I enjoyed visiting regency Brighton, and the resolution of the love story (if that’s what it is) was different and satisfying.

But I didn’t love it enough to grab people by the hand and demand they read it. I think, overall, I the strongest feeling in my mind is what a shame you have to piggyback onto something famous in order to get people to read your book. I understand the pleasure of the familiar, but finding a new treasure is equally fabulous … isn’t it?

If you can’t get enough of Pride & Prejudice, give it a try. You might very well like it. I’m going to go and check out what else Natasha Farrant has written.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Novel of the Year. Find out more about the award and other shortlisted books on their website.

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K is for … Katherines are the best!

A friend recommended I try Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Mysteries for my “K” book. And now I’m going to recommend you try them, too, because they are excellent. YA, crime and history all rolled into one.

Kitty made for an excellent protagonist, resourceful, smart and loyal. There were lots of twists and I kept swinging one way and another about who had “dunnit”. I got it wrong – but I usually do!

Click for the preview.

And because I’d bought the two-book boxset (simple economics, that: each book was £1.49 versus two for .98) I moved straight on to Kitty Peck and The Child of Ill-Fortune. That required more suspension of disbelief since I didn’t find Kitty convincing as the heir to a criminal empire to begin with, but – oh my – that ending!

I know I’m biased because I’m a Katy, but this Katherine is definitely a cut above the rest!

I’ve got another name for my “L” book – check back next week to see how I get on with a YA addition to the Pride & Prejudice universe, Lydia: The Wild Child of Pride & Prejudice.

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J is for … Just call me a quitter

I tried, I swear I did. J looked like it was going to become another H for me. I started a couple of books but they really weren’t to my taste. So I then cast about for recoemmendations. My excellent mother made the excellent suggestion that I read Jane Eyre.

Now, for some background on this, I have two degrees in English and the number of works of classic literature that I have NOT read is surprisingly legion. In mitigation I will point out that there is an awful lot of very fine, well-regarded literature out there in the English cannon. I don’t think I’ve been slacking. I’ve even started Jane Eyre several times, I’ve just never been about to get past that dreadful boarding school. I even tried watching the film a couple of years ago and fell at the same hurdle. It’s too dreary for words.

So, fabulous, here was a fine opportunity and a motive to fill this aching gap in my literary knowledge. I skipped the first few chapters to avoid the horrible school and settled down ready for things to become interesting.

Cover of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

It was even more dull than this cover. I’m not even going to link to Amazon because if you want to read this book it’s my duty to save you from yourself.

Oh, how I wish they had! Why is this a classic? Whyever do people like it? Jane and Rochester are held up as icons of romance – they should be in therapy.

I struggled to see the appeal on any level. Was it the impenetrable prose that never feared to use twenty words where one would have sufficed? Perhaps it was Rochester’s breathtaking arrogance and superciliousness; his callous treatment of both the poor mad wife and Jane herself; or simply the fact that he spoke like no human being I’ve ever heard of. Maybe readers are seduced by Jane’s casual racism, or the fact that she has nothing good to say about anyone save herself. Or they are simply swept away by the romance of the most bizarre marriage proposal I’ve ever heard where the intended bride changes during the conversation.

I tried, I really did. But I abandoned it at 70% and consider I’ve done far more than my duty. I can’t wait to move on to my K book.

So, berate me, readers, and tell me (if you can) why Jane Eyre is a classic that deserves my respect!

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I is for … Indulgent re-reading

After the drama of last week’s H read, I decided to relax this week and allowed myself to indulge in a re-read.

Steven Gould’s Jumper series is one of my absolute favourite books. Jumper would certainly go with me to a desert island, and the follow-up, Impulse, is equally delightful, telling the story of original jumper Davy’s daughter, Cent (short for Millicent, after her mother).

impulse-cover

Sci-fi at its very best.

This must be my fourth or fifth re-reading of Impulse, and it was as much as joy as every other time. I was sad to finish – but it’s there on my shelf, ready to be picked up next time I need it.

I’m very tempted to make Jumper my next, ‘J’ read, but that would be a bit too indulgent. So tune in next week to see what I do choose.

How about you – Are you a re-reader? Is there a book (or two) that you always fall back on when you want a satisfying read?

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H is for … Hard to Find

I’ll confess, I was starting to panic, dear reader. I finished my G book, the fabulous Goldfish Boy, and I had no H book lined up. Searching Amazon got me nowhere. Then, in the space of two days, newsletters I’m subscribed to recommended TWO books that started with a H. Brilliant, I thought. Yeah…not so much… I tried, I really did, but neither turned out to be my kind of thing (and no, I’m not going to name them because I’m sure their authors worked very hard on them; it’s not their fault they weren’t to my taste).

So I have had to cheat. Another friend raved about Rachel E. Carter’s books on Facebook, and I stopped to look because of the GORGEOUS covers. And then I downloaded Non-Heir because it was close enough to an H and I was desperate, plus it was free, which meant I wouldn’t have lost anything if it had turned out to be the worse offence against literature I’d ever set my eyes upon.

black-mage-series-rachel-e-carter

Oh my giddy aunt, it’s delicious. It’s pretty dark (there is a lot of violence, not particularly bloody or gruesomely described, but distinctly gratuitous – these are not nice people) and I am loving it. Rachel E. Carter has gained a fan (just a shame the first in the series begins with ‘F’, so it might have to wait for my summer holiday now, but … ooh, four books to vanish into. That’s my kind of holiday!).

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