Tag Archives: Xmas

Narrelle’s summer reading reclist

While not everyone gets a break over summer, it’s always a good time for a reading recommendations list. And given I managed to read (as of 24 December) 159 books and novellas in 2018 (let’s see if I can make it 160 by NYE), I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you!

Seasonal delights

I don’t generally make a point of reading seasonal tales, but I’ve read a few that delighted me in different ways this year. If you’re looking for something a little different, may I present:

Merry Happy Valkyrie: A Holiday Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts. It’s Christmas, Jim, but not as you know it. Norse mythology, Tasmanian snow in summer, secrets and a movie studio making Xmas schmaltz. What could possibly go wrong apart from, you know, everything? TRR never fails to be delightful, and she’s particularly and vividly charming with this gorgeous story!

Unchaining Krampus by JP Reedman. It’s Christmas. It’s a fairytale. It’s horror and demons and goblins and self rescuing princesses. It’s a hoot.

Christmas Miracles of a Recently Fallen Spruce by Brandon Witt. I discovered this author through the Facebook MM group I haunt. It was cute and a lot of fun to follow Paxton Peterson’s meticulous planning all go to ruin through a snowmobile accident and the delicious advent of a handsome neighbour.

The Miracle of the Lights by Cindy Rizzo. Christmas isn’t the only festival that can fall this time of year. Rizzo’s sweet story is about two Hasidic Jewish girls in love, losing each other and finding each other during Hanukkah in New York City.

Patreon Novellas

One of the reasons my count is so high is that I’ve been reading lots of wonderful shorts and novellas from the writers I support on Patreon. I love Seanan McGuire‘s fantasy work and every few months I get a new one.

Another joy is the work of Tansy Rayner Roberts – and I’ve sung songs to her before in this blog. For those who listen to podcasts (I never had time) Tansy podcasts many of her books before releasing the ebook, so you can get in ahead. A recent absolute gem is Tea and Sympathetic Magic, a sassy, smart, funny, brilliant regency-style story of. Well. Tea and sympathetic magic. Read an excerpt on Tansy’s website.

I don’t restrict myself to her Patreon stories – I’ve also this year loved to pieces her Creature Court prequel Cabaret of Monsters (backed through a Kickstarter), Girl Reporter (the latest in her superhero series), the  and all the parts of the Belladonna University series.

Basically, you will never go wrong with a Tansy Rayner Roberts story.

Young Adult fiction

This year I finally got to Ellie Marney’s Every series, and tore through Every Breath, Every Word and Every Move. Set in modern Australia, the stories are a clever reworking of Sherlock Holmes influences while also being their own thing entirely. Of course I love them.

Alex Marchant (who edited the recent Richard III collection, Grant Me the Carving of My Name) first came to my attention as the author of the very fine Ricardian YA adventures The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man. I’m looking forward to a third in the series, and recommend the first two very highly.

Romance! Adventure!

I’ve adored Emily Larkin‘s work for a while now and loved The Spinster’s Secret, My Lady Thief and Primrose and the Dreadful Duke.

In a similar vein, I’ve discovered Erica Ridley – more sassy Regency heroines, thank you!

Rohase Piercy’s My Dearest Holmes was recently re-released, after being one of the first officially published Holmes/Watson love stories, back in 1988.

A twist on canon-era Holmes/Watson has just come out from Improbable Press – K. Caine’s A Study in Velvet and Leather. Holmes is a queer woman, Watson is a queer man: bisexuality is a thing, and so is BDSM in the Victorian era. I loved it.

Non-Fiction

I also read some wonderful non fiction –  the account of the Burke and Wills expedition is thoroughly examined in The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd.

Vikki Petraitas’s The Frankston Murders is an account of the murders that took place in Frankston in 1993 – compassionate and thorough, with a focus on the women who died and their families and communities.

Transgender Warriors : Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman by the late Leslie Feinberg and Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century by Graham Robb are both a little difficult to get, not being available in ebook form, but I learned a huge amount from both of them for current and upcoming books, and I recommend them thoroughly.

That’s probably more than enough to be getting on with! If you have any recommendations of your own, please let me know in the comments!

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate at this time of year, my very best wishes to you all, and my hopes that this whole planet has a happy, hopeful, sunshiney new year.

Pre-Order: Grant me the Carving of My Name – A Collection of short stories inspired by Richard III

I am so excited to announce that pre-orders are now available for the ebook of Grant Me the Carving of My Name – a book of short stories inspired by Richard III.

The book contains two stories by me – ‘Long Live the King’, a flash fiction about a possible alternative history, and ‘Myth and Man’, where Shakespeare’s Richard meets history’s Richard, at the moment of their making and undoing.

A paperback is also coming – I’ll update with those details as they become available.

Pre-order Grant Me the Carving of My Name

Press Release

An international group of authors who have all been inspired by England’s last Plantagenet King, Richard III, are working together to raise funds in support of Scoliosis Association UK through sales of a collection of their work.

Grant Me the Carving of My Name is an anthology of 15 short stories by a dozen authors from the UK, Ireland, the USA and Australia. It takes its title (with her permission) from a poem by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy which was read by Benedict Cumberbatch at the king’s reburial in Leicester in 2015.

The collection also features a Foreword by acclaimed historical novelist Philippa Gregory, author of The White Queen, which was dramatized by the BBC in 2013 and featured a rare positive portrayal of King Richard, by Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk, War and Peace).

The book

As Philippa Gregory states in her Foreword, ‘This collection has come about – as so many good things do – from a dream and a joke’ – when editor Alex Marchant and Wendy Johnson, a key member of the Looking for Richard Project responsible for rediscovering the king’s grave, joked about getting together to publish short stories they had written about this most controversial king. The enthusiasm of the other authors approached to contribute led to the dream becoming a reality.

The collected stories offer an alternative view of this often-maligned king and range from glimpses of his childhood and domestic life, through battles and rebellions, to explorations of the afterlife and his historical reputation. By turns elegiac, mystical, brutal, light-hearted, uplifting, there’s something for everyone within these pages.

The charity

King Richard himself suffered from scoliosis – a lateral curvature of the spine that would have become increasingly disabling and painful as he aged, and was only revealed during examination of his skeleton after his grave was excavated in 2012. Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK) supports children and adults with the same condition throughout the UK today and was the obvious charity to support with proceeds from this book.

The contributors

Narrelle’s Holiday Reading Guide

The end of the calendar year is coming, bringing with it school holidays, the Christmas break, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the solstice and other observances and festivals, including the new year!

Whatever the occasion – it’s always a good time for a book, am I right? Seems a good time to suggest a recommended reading list of the books I’ve enjoyed this year!

Pardon the blatant plugging, but I have stories in a couple of fantastic anthologies that have been published over the year which you might enjoy, especially if you enjoy crime, adventure or fantasy!

Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook is a collection of stories set in Australia (and on a boat to New Zealand) in 1890.

Authors include Kerry Greenwood cowriting with Lindy Cameron, Lucy Sussex, Steve Cameron, Meg Keneally and Jason Franks!

And then.. Volumes One is an absolute treasure trove of great fiction by Australian writers, including Sulari Gentill,  Jason Nahrung, Alan Baxter, Jason Franks, Lucy Sussex, Amanda Wrangles, Evelyn Tsitas, Peter M Ball, Dan Rabarts, Kat Clay, Sophie Masson, Tor Roxburgh, Emilie Collyer and Tansy Rayner Roberts.

There are stories in outer space, in ancient lands, involving dragons and mysteries and alien life forms and pretty much everything in between!  Volume Two is coming as well – check out Clan Destine Press for details (and other cool books by Australian authors!)

I’m especially delighted with Scarlet Stiletto: the Ninth Cut 2017, as it contains my Award-winning ghost/crime story Jane. In fact, every story in the volume is an award winner, by fabulous new Australian crime writers.

I have novels and short stories out too, like the action-filled paranormal thriller/gay romance Ravenfall ,and lesbian romance Near Miss!

But it’s not all about me, I know that.

It’s also about Emily Larkin, whose Baleful Godmother series has been a delight all this year. The sixth book of this magical regency series of books and novellas has just been released, but you can start with the delightful Unmasking Miss Appleby, then dash right along with Resisting Miss Merryweather,  Trusting Miss Trentham, Claiming Mister Kemp, and Ruining Miss Wrotham before finishing (for now) with Discovering Miss Dalrymple.

Tansy Rayner Roberts has been another joy this year (and every year) with her Belladonna University/Fake Geek Girl and Castle Charming novella series, her Patreon posts and pretty much just everything she writes. I interviewed her recently, so you can find links of books to love right there. Her brand new book, Girl Reporter, is due out on 19 December too!

More gruesome splendour is provided by Emma Viskic, whose  And Fire Came Down, is every bit as good as its award-winning predecessor, Resurrection Bay.

Full of action, drama, serious injury, and featuring a cast of diverse supporing characters and a deaf protagonist. Highly, highly, highly recommended!

I also want to wave flaily hands at Gillian Polack’s The Wizardry of Jewish Women, because it displays her customary wry wit and intricate world-building in a seemingly innocuous domestic setting with suburban Australia.

Get The Wizardry of Jewish Women in Mobi or Epub formats at Bookview Cafe. 

That’s enough fiction of various types to be getting on with. If you want to try some more ideas, just search my blog on the tag ‘reviews’ for suggestions.

Enjoy your break, if you get one, and may every book you read be golden!

And please – if you have a great book recommendation for the 2017-18 transition, please leave a comment, and maybe even a link!

Quintette of Questions: SM Spencer

This week’s romance release interview is with:

SM Spencer

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

A Chance for Snow.  I wanted to keep to the theme of “A Chance …” and knew this was to be a story set around Christmas, so this worked well. It wasn’t hard to pick the title, just took a bit of tweaking.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Hugh Jackman would make a fabulous Jim Mitchell!  And Rose Byrne would make a great Debra Franklin. As for the kids, perhaps a young Liam Hemsworth for Porter, and Emily Browning as Megan. (An all Australian cast, for certain!)

3. What five words best describe your story?

Moving, Dreamy, Surprising, Entwining, Genuine

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

Well, if I were to base it on the number of times I watched the movie and never seemed to tire of it, I think it would have to be Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. My favourite quote from the movie, “big mistake”. Who doesn’t know where she says that, who she’s talking to at the time, and why she says it? It’s a classic line!

5. What song always makes you cry? 

The song Angel (sometimes known as In the Arms of an Angel) by Sarah McLachlan always make me teary; every time I hear it. I love all versions of the song, but perhaps my favourite would be the one with Pink, from the American Music Awards, 2008.

I’m glad you asked this question as it prompted me to look up the history of the song—there’s a good reason it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

About A Chance for Snow

With a double wedding and Christmas fast approaching, love is in the air—or is it?

Of course Debra Franklin is looking forward to her best friend’s wedding; she just wishes she wasn’t dateless again, because even though she’s made plans to leave the small-town gossips behind, she knows the wedding photos with her looking like a spinster will last forever. But when the tall-dark-and-handsome Jim Mitchell, with his cobalt blue eyes shadowed by an American cowboy hat, appears on the scene just a week before the wedding, she reckons her problem of being dateless might just be solved.

Megan Saunders has always wanted a White Christmas, and this year she’s having one—in Canada. But getting her wish is a double-edged sword as it means having less time with her best friend, Porter Murray, before he leaves for university. She’s getting her childhood wish fulfilled, so why does her future feel as bleak as a dusty road leading nowhere?

As Debra’s and Jim’s paths cross with the teenagers, they form unusual friendships—and their lives are changed in surprising ways.

About S M Spencer

Growing up, S M Spencer wanted two things: a horse, and a writing career. After years of hard work, she’s got both. Living the Dream!

Follow S M Spencer

Buy A Chance for Snow