Category Archives: e-books

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 Serial Killer 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.

Grounded: available for pre-order!

I am delighted to announce my next romance novel, Grounded, is coming out on 20 March 2019 through Escape Publishing.

“In a world where wings give everyone the freedom to fly, an artist born wingless uses her art to show the winged world the wonder of the ground. But when she meets a recently injured police officer who finds himself grounded, they will both learn that there is more than one way to soar.”

A cover (as well as the edits) are yet to come, but I really love how this story came together, and all the world-building that was necessary for a world in which most people have wings. How do chairs work in that instance? How do clothes work? How do winged bodies work? What metaphors do they use in language?

What challenges are faced by people who can’t fly?

Huge thanks to those who read the novella version of it, especially Julia Svagonovic for her insights, and Heather Edwards for her feedback.

As a taster, here’s an (as yet unedited) excerpt:

“Tell me a story,” Clementine said as she sat in a chair opposite him, “Something true.” She used the terracotta chalk first to dash down the shape of his chest, shoulders and legs. She smudged chalk behind and in front of the outlines, filling in his wings and kilt.

“When I was about eight years old, I tried to convince Peri that I knew the secret route to Arcadia. He was six and very gullible. I warn you, this story does not cover me in glory.”

Clementine worked chalk into the sketch she was making with her fingers, adding darker charcoal lines to the details. “Oooh, a wicked tale. Go on.”

“So I led the way down to the back yard, and he followed, trusting as a duckling, until we reached the fenceline. Our wings were still growing in of course, so we couldn’t fly far, but we could fly up and over a fence without too much difficulty.”

“Should I take comfort from the fact that I already know you both survive this escapade?”

“You should. Because I flew up first and held my hand out to help him to the top of the fence. And he made it up there just fine. He was a nimble little kid. Whereas I was more…”

“Onigiri-shaped?”

Benedick laughed, his mouth dimpling in that delightful way she was rapidly growing to love. “A little ball of mischief. The thing is, I was getting him back for getting into my room on the weekend and defacing all my Kambera Wall-ball Club posters with bright red marker pen.”

“Unforgivable!”

“Exactly so. I had a keenly developed sense of justice even then. So I took him to the top of the fence by telling him the way to Arcadia was through our neighbour’s garden.”

“When does the inglorious bit start?” Clementine took up the inkpot and brush and began to add glistening lines to the chalk study, more strongly defining Benedick’s dark hair, the shape of his exposed leg, the drape of the kilt. A few strategic dabs and lines gave expression to his face. Dark eyes and dimples.

“So down he went first into Mr Whitley’s yard and I started shouting directions for him to follow the path.”

“Wasn’t he suspicious?”

“Of course he was. He was six, not an idiot. But hope won over doubt, of course. Mum read the Lady Arcadia books to us every night and we loved them. Wouldn’t you risk fraternal humiliation on the off-chance of finding the passage through?”

“Absolutely.”

“So he followed my directions down the path towards Mr Whitley’s vegetable garden, which was hedged in laurel that grew taller than our Dad. The idea was that Peri would have to squeeze in between two laurel trees and of course instead of finding the passage, he’d be in grumpy Mr Whitely’s vege patch. With luck, Peri would get stuck between the trees, get caught by Mr W and shouted at, and possibly chased with a leaf rake.”

“What a mean big brother you were.”

“It was just desserts. But I made two key errors in coming up with my strategy.”

“Let me guess. Peri was skinnier than your chubby little boy self, and he didn’t get stuck in the laurels.”

“I applaud your intelligent analysis of this whole debacle. Yes. Bento Sasaki, Stealer of Baby Carrots and Summer’s First Strawberries, had been caught in the laurels and endured a lecture on respecting other people’s gardens only the week before. Secondly, and more relevant to this sorry story of bad intent and even worse planning, is that Mr Whitely had just that week bought himself a dog.”

“Oh dear.”

“That doesn’t begin to cover it. I’m at the top of the fence, watching Peri disappear into the laurel hedge and waiting for the show to begin, when all of a sudden I hear this blood curdling baying, and Peri pops out of the greenery running like a lizard from a cat. His wings are flapping away so he keeps rising a few feet then stumbling down again, because he can’t get coordinated, and he’s not looking behind him at what sounds like an Arcadia Hellfire Hound on his heels. But I can see this dog, and it’s taller than Peri and looks like he wants to bite little boys in half.”

“What did you do?”

“What any self-respecting, justice-seeking big brother would do. I screamed at him to run faster before the Arcadia Hellfire Hound ate him, my wings flapping so hard I was hovering above the fence. I was terrified, but no way in Hades was going to jump down there and get eaten myself.”

Clementine was aware that this picture of Benedick languidly reclining on her sofa was at serious odds with the spark in his eyes and the way his wings fluttered in memory of that energetic prank.

“Did the dog get him?”

“I thought it would. It was baying and running, and Peri was running and flapping and screaming, and at the last minute he reached up to me, and I reached down to pull him up, and he flapped so hard he flew right up over my head and into our yard. Which was great for Peri.”

“And for you?”

“I went arse over pinion and landed flat on my back on the dog side of the dividing line.”

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes! The dog looms into my face, panting and howling, and on the other side of the fence Peri is screaming blue murder, and all the adults come running expecting to find me with my head split open and brains all over the pavement. And what they found was their onigiri kid on his back in the dirt being straddled by a huge, friendly and overly eager dog licking me from collarbone to eartip and wagging his tail so hard it’s making thwap thwap thwap noises on the fence.”

“Oh, poor little Bento!”

“Poor little Bento is right. I cut my arm on a stone when I fell and all I knew was that my arm was bleeding and a giant dog was eating me alive. I still have the scar.”

Clementine put the picture and inkbrush aside and dutifully went to examine the elbow he was presenting her with a soulful moue on his lips to demonstrate the woe of this bygone injury. She took his arm in her hands and tutted over the tiny white scar in his golden skin.

“That’s terrible. You might have died from your colossal injuries.”

“Yeah.”

And suddenly he was sober and they weren’t talking about a tumble from a fence when he was eight years old any more.

Clementine pressed a kiss to the tiny scar anyway.

“I’m so glad you didn’t,” she said, kissing the insignificant scar again, ignoring the deeper, worse ones that were hidden beneath the regrowth of his right wing. “I’m so glad you’re here with me.”

Grounded will be released as an ebook, and is already listed as available for pre-order at the following sites:

Grounded



Escape has previously published my erotic short story, Sky High, Bone Deep (writing as N.M. Harris)