Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

I’ve been in a terrible reading slump lately. Nothing sounds good to me, not #Snarry fanfics on AO3, not re-reading old favorites, nothing. So I’ve been playing a stupid game on my phone, hating it but not knowing what to do when nothing sounds interesting.

So when I scheduled the New Release post on the blog for Holly Day’s July story, Love in an Elevator (this post if you missed it) and the blurb actually sounded interesting, I more or less begged Holly for an ARC. And since she’s one of the nicest people on earth, she gifted me one.

And I really liked it.

After that, I decided to start subscribing to Scribd again (we have an on-again-off-again relationship, me and Scribd) and stumbled over Twelve Letters by Ellie Thomas. And since I’m a sucker for epistolary stories, I made a fist bump and said “Hell yeah!”, and started reading it.

And I really liked it.

So today, I’m recommending two stories by fellow JMS authors, all around nice people, fabulous authors, and friends.

Hayden Perry moved to Landown two and a half weeks ago. He was excited to get the event planning job he’d applied for, but apart from bumping into a cute guy in the elevator, things don’t pan out the way he’d hoped. His boss is an ass and his co-workers are idiots, but as much as he dislikes them, he can’t afford to quit until he has another job lined up.

Corey Hope’s school years sucked. With a crippling stutter, he was easy prey, and despite being grown up, his bullies still haunt his nightmares. After he left school, he gave up on trying to talk, and communicates solely through sign language and written text. It works great even though he wished he could say something when Hayden flirts with him in the elevator.

Hayden does his best to catch Corey in the elevator as often as he can, and he thinks they might have something, but it all comes crashing down when Corey sees him having lunch with his colleagues. Corey might be drawn to Hayden, but seeing him with his school bullies has old memories washing over him. He won’t let them hurt him ever again, and he’d rather forget about Hayden than risk Hayden hurting him.

How will Hayden convince Corey he’s nothing like his colleagues when Corey refuses to see him?

This book was just so darned cute. I love a good story with some kind of disability so I was eager to read how flirting with someone who doesn’t talk would work. But Hayden stepped up; he was persistent, he never gave up. He was borderline stalkerish, and yet not; he was just adorable in his eagerness. I admit I saw the “twist” coming a mile away, but I didn’t mind, because the way Holly resolved it was very satisfactory. The way Hayden acted was very satisfactory. Has anyone figured out that Hayden was my favorite character yet, or do you need more clues? 😀

When I finished this story, I had a huge smile on my face and I’m so grateful to Holly who got me to read an actual book and delete the stupid game from my phone.

I give Love in an Elevator my warmest recommendations.

Amazon :: JMS Books

In Regency London, Jolyon Everett is determined to dissuade his irascible friend, Captain Ben Harding, from fighting a duel. However, before commencing on the pressing business of defusing Ben’s misplaced anger, Jo writes two notes — one to Percy Havilland, his very demanding paramour, and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. With those trifles out of the way, he can concentrate on persuading Ben to reprieve young Edward Stephens, a newly qualified doctor, who Jo suspects has a serious crush on Ben.

But the best-laid plans can go awry, as do the letters. As well as a furious Ben, Jo finds himself at the mercy of an outraged Percy and an amorous tailor. Can he convince Ben not to shoot Edward after all? Will he soothe Percy’s ruffled feathers? And might Jo realise true love can be found under the most unexpected conditions?

You probably know by now that I like Ellie Thomas. She writes short and researched and lovely, and Twelve Letters was no exception. Even though it opens with a misunderstanding – and you all know how much I hate those – it worked. I could see it coming, but I was in a generous mood so I was willing to see where it went, and Ellie made it work and it didn’t bother me at all. Another thing I normally don’t like is more than one couple in one book, but Ellie convinced me on this point, too. It was really well written, really intriguing, and I loved it.

And isn’t that the greatest thing, when an author takes two of your least favorite tropes/themes, and writes them well, and makes you adore the story? So how could I not recommend this fabulous book?

Amazon :: JMS Books

Guestpost

New Release Spotlight: The Book Dragon’s Lair by Holly Day

Today, I welcome one of my favorite people, Holly Day, back to the blog. She’s here to talk about her latest release, dragons, bookstores, and romance. I don’t know about you, but that sounds awesome to me! So Holly, please, make yourself at home, and tell us more about your new book! ❤️


Hello, everyone! Thank you, darling Nell, for allowing me back on the blog again. This month, we’re celebrating Bookstore Romance Day. It has to be one of the better days out there if you ask me. Who doesn’t love a bookstore?

The story I’ve written to celebrate is called The Book Dragon’s Lair, and I have to say it’s pure indulgence on my part. Interspecies couples are my jam. I love writing them. The differences, the slight misunderstandings and misinterpreted meanings, and so on. In The Book Dragon’s Lair, we have Egil who is human, and Ruy the Ravenous who is a dragon.

Most often, I pair my interspecies couples with a fated mates trope, but in this case, I didn’t. Dragons mate, but they have a choice in the matter. When they find someone they want to live their life with, they share the breath of life and tie their lives together.

Egil is unaware of this and believes he is mated to Draken the Dreadful, who is a dreadful dragon and his worst nightmare. He’s been taught dragons stay together for life and therefore see no escape from the abusive relationship he’s in.

Did I mention that on top of interspecies couples and fated mates, I do love a traumatised hero? Well, I do. The worse the past, the better. Poor souls.

When we first meet Egil, Draken has been called to the dragon realm because there is a war brewing. Egil can finally breathe without fear and spends his days running Draken’s bookshop. When he gets word Draken has been injured and is on his way home, his world falls apart.

But it isn’t Draken who comes back. The dragon entering the bookstore claims to be Draken, but he’s not.

Ruy saw Draken die, and since he wanted to go to the human realm, he switched out their belongings and pretended to be Draken. Once in the human realm, it’s harder to pretend. For one, Egil doesn’t believe him, and two, he knows nothing about books. Who in their right mind wants to be a book dragon? 😆

As you can see, pure indulgence – dragon shifters, traumatised hero, bookstores, and a slow-burn romance building among the bookshelves.

Blurb:

Egil Olsen is running The Book Dragon’s Lair, a bookstore on Dragon Row, while Draken the Dreadful, his mate, is away fighting a war on the other side of the veil. The relief of not having Draken around is great. For the first time in years, Egil doesn’t have to watch every move he makes. When word reaches him that Draken is on his way home after having been injured, he considers running away.

The dragon stepping over the threshold to The Book Dragon’s Lair isn’t Draken, though. He claims to be, but Egil knows his mate, and while all dragons are dangerous, the male standing before him is nowhere near as cruel as his mate. Ryu never wanted to be a book dragon. Books don’t sparkle, but if it’s the price he has to pay to be in the human realm, he will pay it. He’ll take over Draken the Dreadful’s treasure, and he hopes he can take over his mate, too. Egil doesn’t want to be mated to a dragon, but without a mate, he’d be homeless and without a job.

A few hours after having met Ryu, Egil thinks being mated to him might not be too bad, but how will they be able to fool the people around them into believing Ryu is Draken? And what will happen if the real Draken comes back?

Gay paranormal romance :: 33,671 words

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Excerpt:

Egil was shaking so hard he feared the bookshelf would fall over from the vibrations. There was something wrong with Draken. He didn’t dare look at him properly since he was scarred, and if he caught Egil staring, he’d beat him bloody, but he was bigger than Egil remembered. Could dragons grow? Or had his memory failed him?

His skin tone was darker. Draken had never been as fair-skinned as Egil, but now his skin was a richer brown. He didn’t know if they could choose what they looked like in human form. Maybe he’d been fighting in dragon form, and when he shifted back to human, this was how he appeared. Maybe this was his true self, and the way he’d looked before was a conscious choice.

He grimaced. No. If he could choose how to look, he’d have hidden the scars. Dragons were vain, and Draken was the vainest of them all. He’d never let anyone see him scarred if he had any control over it.

Who was in the room with him? Shit.

“I’ll put on some coffee.” He hurried out from behind the bookshelf and dove for the stairs. The kitchen was on the third floor. It was small, and Egil hardly had anything edible at home. Money was tight. He didn’t dare take more of what the bookstore earned than he did when Draken was around. He only took what he needed to cover his expenses; the rest went into the bank. Business was better when there was a dragon in the building. They attracted the tourists, but Draken had been away for months, and word had traveled fast. He feared Draken would be disappointed in what he’d accomplished while he was gone. A disappointed Draken wasn’t something he wanted to think about.

When Draken had been gone for three months, he’d considered breaking into one of the rooms on the second floor and selling one of his valuable books. If he picked a book Draken wouldn’t notice was missing, it could have given him money he could spend, but he hadn’t dared to. He didn’t know what they were worth.

Now he was glad he hadn’t done it. It had been seven months since Draken had left, and he’d had to scrape by on what little he dared take from what the bookstore earned. He’d survived, and Draken couldn’t accuse him of stealing.

The bottom floor was new books only. Draken had no interest in new books, so Egil was the one ordering, shelving, and displaying. It was the only part of his life he loved. He could have any book he wanted, could display them as he saw fit, and there were so many pretty books.

He wanted to have a corner with a coffee machine and some easy chairs so people could stay and read, but Draken had refused. He didn’t want humans to linger longer than they had to. He didn’t like when they leafed through books or spent too much time looking at them.

Egil put on the coffee, and since Draken hadn’t joined him on the third floor, he ran up to the fourth. Their bedroom was in the tower. There was only the bedroom and a bathroom, and the cold, stone walls were curved. There was a hearth, and Egil quickly pulled his thin mattress off the bed and placed it next to it. It was as far from the bed as he could come and still be in the room. It wasn’t far enough to protect him from Draken’s desires, but it was where he spent his nights.

He then opened the chest by the end of the bed and pulled out clean bed linen for Draken.

With a mournful look at the bed, he exited the bedroom. He’d loved sleeping in a bed these last months. The stone floor was freezing even in the summer, not to mention uncomfortable with only a thin mattress pad to sleep on.

A yelp escaped him as he caught sight of Draken halfway up the stairs. His heart drummed so fast he feared it’d give up. Thank heavens he’d had time to make it look like he’d slept by the hearth the entire time. He squeezed his eyes shut as he waited for Draken to get closer.

The rustle of his clothes as he moved had Egil holding his breath, but there were breaths. Egil frowned. Draken was panting. He never panted. How injured was he?

He cleared his throat but kept his gaze on his scruffy shoes. “I can move the bed if the stairs are too hard on you.”

He waited for a blow, or at least to be shouted at, but all Draken did was grunt. “I need the exercise. I’ve been on my back for too long.”

He dragged himself up the last bit of the stairs and looked around as if he’d never been there. A knot formed in Egil’s belly, and the voice in his head told him the reason he looked around as if he’d never been there was because he hadn’t. The new Draken was a stranger.

“Do you, erm…” He swallowed hard and moved down a couple of steps so he wouldn’t fall as far if Draken hit him. “…remember what it looks like up here?”

The sound of soft footsteps was followed by a long silence. Egil couldn’t breathe. Why had he opened his mouth? Stupid, he was so stupid.

“I was thinking I should wash up.”

Oh… “Of course. Do you need… eh… Your clothes are still in the closet and there are clean towels on the shelf in the bathroom.” He slipped down another step. “I’ll eh… erm… prepare to open the shop.”

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter

About Nell

Goodbye July

July sped past at light speed, and now August is here. To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind. While I love summer, I long for the fall season. I want steaming tea, crackling fires, yellow-orange-red leaves, and crisp air, and August is one step closer to that utopia. So while it’s a little scary that time flies past so fast, I’m good with August. We’re going to be friends, August and I.

But before we leave July behind, I have a few pictures to show you of what I did. I had 3 weeks of PTO in July; in Sweden all employees are guaranteed at least five full weeks of vacation time per year, and I took three of mine in July. Here’s a few glimpses of what I did.

Let’s start with the best part, shall we? My beloved grandbaby W, my ray of sunshine, my little bumblebee, was visiting for almost three weeks: first ten days at the beginning of my time off and then they came back the last weekend before I got back to work, and stayed for whole other week. Which meant I came home from work and was greeted by a sunny smile and lots and lots of babbling from little W, I was served dinner cooked by my son-in-law, and was treated to hugs and closeness and conversations with my darling daughter. “Lovely” doesn’t begin to describe it, and I wish I could convince them to move here permanently.

Since little W is a bookworm just like her Gramma, this is what it looks like most of the time when she’s here. “Let’s read, Gramma,” she’ll say, and we’ll curl up on the couch and read. Or she’ll bring a book to her Grampa and they’ll sit in his favorite chair and read. She even convinced her Great Grandmother to sit on the porch and read. Or she’ll read to us. She knows what happens in the books because we’ve read them so many times, and she sits next to someone, telling the story in her own words. It’s my favorite thing to do, to listen to her re-tell the stories.

We read a book about animals, animal babies and parenting in particular.

“This is a banggai cardinal,” I said.
Little W scrunched her eyebrows together, looked at me and said, “Fish, Gramma.”

Gramma – Little W 0-1 😁

But PTO only means time off work, the work at home never ends. So we also cleaned out the garage to make room for a huge pile of firewood we’d ordered and that was delivered one sunny afternoon. The hubby and I spent hours and hours stacking 6 cubic meters of firewood in the garage. I would probably have had a less busy day at the Day Job…but I’ll be very happy about this stack of firewood come fall and winter.

I baked super yummy walnut bread in my Dutch oven. I’m not a baker, but I want to be, so I went looking for an easy, no-fuss recipe and found one. You stir together four ingredients (five if you want walnuts) in a bowl, no kneading required, then you let the dough rise in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you shape the bread so it fits into your Dutch oven, then bake it for close to an hour. It’s heavenly, and so, so easy to make, and it’s now a staple in my kitchen.

I also harvested my first ever cucumbers. It’s a modest harvest, I know, but it was an experiment. I found a variety that can grow in pots with small-ish cucumbers (not even 4 inches), and I wanted to grow something Little W could pick and eat. And here’s the first three cucumbers I picked; the were very tasty and extremely crunchy. And Little W loved them too, and finished off the last ones on the plants and then went looking for more. Luckliy, new cucumbers are coming so she can have some more the next time she’s visiting.

We grilled lots of food, because any self-respecting Swedish house owner always grills in the summer. It’s more or less the law.😁 These are herb-marinated vegetable skewers that were served with grilled corn, and pork fillet. Delicious!

We’ve also had our master bedroom renovated, and we could finally move into it in July. We’ve been sleeping in the second guest room since we moved into the house, but no more! The master bedroom is a lovely space, and we’ve spent half the month decorating it to our tastes. It’s almost done, but this is the finished result before furniture.

And on the hottest day of the summer (35c/95f) our BFFs from Malaysia came for a visit. We had no other visitors, and our friends left their one-year-old with his grandmother, so we decided a pool party was in order. We hung out in the pool, litened to music, and drank lots of bubbly, just like the good old days in Malaysia. We also ate excellent food that our friends brought, and stayed up late talking, laughing, enjoying each others’ company. It was a perfect summer day.

This big cloud heart that sailed past our house high in the sky one lovely July day will be the last picture. It’s been a busy month, with lots of visitors (my parents, my in-laws, my brother-in-law, my son-in-law’s mother and stepdad, and assorted friends have also stopped by), lots of chores (the firewood being only one of them), tortured writing (but I’ll talk more about that in a separate post), and lots and lots of cooking. But most of all, it’s been full of laughter and love and family, so this picture represents my July and is the perfect ending to this post.


Tell me something you did in July.

Sale

Better Late Than Never: the Last Day of Two Sales

You’d think that with two month long book sales going on for the entirety of July, I could’ve found a moment to tell you about them before the last day. But nope. I’ve been so busy, I’ve barely had time to breathe. It’s ridiculous, really, but what can you do?

So anyway. Two book sales. It’s the last day for both of them, but you still have time to go forth and shop.

Smashwords July Summer/Winter Sale

The first of the sales is the yearly Smashwords Summer/Winter sale where all my solo-written books are 50% off! Shopping books at half price is great when you have a long TBR/wish list, so don’t miss this opportunity to splurge 😁

JMS Books 12 Year Anniversary Sale

The second sale is in celebration of my fabulous publisher JMS Books’ twelfth anniversary, and they offer 12% off all books. So if you don’t like shopping from Smashwords, or if you like supporting a small press, may I suggest you check out this sale?

JMS Books has also released a bunch of books on the theme twelve, also to celebrate this anniversary. I was going to write a story for this submission call, but I simply didn’t have the time, so instead, I’ve read a few of the other authors’ take on the theme. I warmly recommend all the books below.

The Twelfth Enchantment :: Twelve Letters :: Let Me Count the Flowers :: The 12th Witch

Guestpost

New Release Spotlight and Guestpost: Love in an Elevator by Holly Day

Today, I welcome my dear friend Holly Day back to the blog; she’s here to talk about her July story, Love in an Elevator (does anyone else hear Steven Tyler’s voice in their heads now, or is it just me?). And before I leave the floor to Holly, I feel the need to reassure her. No, I’m not an elevator talker. I promise to never speak a word to you should we end up in an elevator together 😁


Hello, everyone! Thank you, lovely Nell, for allowing me to swing by today 😘. We’ve reached the seventh story of the year, yay! It’s called Love in an Elevator, and I wrote it to celebrate Talk in an Elevator Day.

Are you an elevator talker? Please say no.

To celebrate Talk in an Elevator Day they suggest you talk to someone in the elevator (duh) but they go on, saying: The conversation doesn’t have to be something complicated or too intense. You can ask them about their day, hobbies, and/or work. (from nationaltoday.com).

Any introverts out there?? I don’t know if it’s just me, but if a complete stranger started asking me about work or hobbies in an elevator, I’d try to claw myself out through the wall. I mean elevators are scary enough as they are being closed in with PEOPLE! To have said PEOPLE interact and expect me to be able to formulate coherent replies while panicking about being closed in with PEOPLE, that’s just cruel. Please don’t do that.

If you want to talk to me, send an email. I love emails. If you’re not an email kind of person, PM me on social. If you’re not a social media kind of person and have my phone number, send a text.  If none of the above applies, well, then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends 😆

Luckily, Hayden and Corey in Love in an Elevator don’t have my aversion to elevator talk. If they’d had, the story would’ve been hard to write LOL

Corey doesn’t talk using his voice. He has a severe stutter and has given up on spoken language. Instead, he communicates through texts and sign language. Hayden talks. He talks so much it takes him a couple of elevator rides to realise Corey never replies.

Blurb:

Corey Hope’s school years sucked. With a crippling stutter, he was easy prey, and despite being grown up, his bullies still haunt his nightmares. After he left school, he gave up on trying to talk, and communicates solely through sign language and written text. It works great even though he wished he could say something when Hayden flirts with him in the elevator.

Hayden does his best to catch Corey in the elevator as often as he can, and he thinks they might have something, but it all comes crashing down when Corey sees him having lunch with his colleagues. Corey might be drawn to Hayden, but seeing him with his school bullies has old memories washing over him. He won’t let them hurt him ever again, and he’d rather forget about Hayden than risk Hayden hurting him.

How will Hayden convince Corey he’s nothing like his colleagues when Corey refuses to see him?

Contemporary gay romance / 17,560 words

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/LoveinanElevator

Excerpt:

For the third time, he took the stairs on the way down. Walking down four floors wasn’t too bad, and he got to pass Corey’s apartment. Or not pass, but he could see his door from the stairs, so he walked as slowly as he could and often stopped to check his phone and read a few news headlines.

He was ridiculous.

Corey had smiled at him, but he hadn’t said anything to indicate he wanted more to do with Hayden than bump into him in doorways, and even that might be more than he wanted. Come to think about it, Corey hadn’t spoken at all.

Hayden frowned. He had to have said something. Surely, Hayden hadn’t talked so much that Corey hadn’t gotten a single word in. He lingered right above Corey’s floor, wondering if taking a five-minute break half a flight down from his floor was illegal. Taking a break wasn’t illegal but taking it on the same step ten times a day wasn’t sane.

When the sound of a door opening reached him, Hayden almost jumped out of his skin. It was what he’d been waiting for, hoping for, but now guilt washed over him. He truly had turned into a stalker. Holding his breath, he listened for voices, but there weren’t any.

Striving for casual, he jogged down the last few steps until the corridor of doors on the third floor became visible. A young woman was exiting Corey’s apartment. Her long chocolate hair reached halfway down her back, and her hands flew through the air as she gestured. She didn’t make a single sound while Hayden stared at her.

Sign language.

The world came to a stop. Corey was deaf?

A second later, Corey followed her out. Hayden stood stock still, hoping they wouldn’t see him. If he didn’t move, they might not notice him.

Corey had his keys in one hand and closed the door but didn’t lock it. He must be planning on coming back shortly.

As they went into the elevator, Hayden ran. Could he beat the elevator to the bottom floor? Rushing down, he grinned when he spotted an old woman leaning on a red rollator waiting by the elevator door on the second floor, and hurried along.

He reached the bottom floor before the elevator and rushed toward the mailboxes. He sucked in a breath and held it to get his breathing under control. His heart drummed fast, but he adopted a casual mail-checking pose. Slowly, he unlocked his mailbox and grabbed the two envelopes that had been there since the day before.

When the elevator door opened, he hung back, watching first the old woman’s rollator come out, followed by the lady herself, then Corey’s friend—girlfriend?—exited. Corey followed shortly after. His hands were dancing in the air, and Hayden’s heart sank. How would he ever be able to communicate with Corey if he couldn’t hear him?

He’d understood Hayden, he’d smiled and nodded. Hayden hadn’t made it up, had he?

Corey turned so his back was to Hayden, and he could no longer see his hands. The woman was moving away, her hands moved as she scowled at Corey. It didn’t look like they were about to kiss goodbye.

Hayden held his breath as she neared the exit, and Corey stayed right outside the elevator. When she slipped out through the door, Hayden cleared his throat. Corey spun around, his eyes widening for a second, then he smiled.

Not deaf. He’d reacted to the sound, but… “Are you deaf?”

Corey frowned. A guarded look crept into his eyes, and the smile was gone. Fuck. “You’re signing.” Hayden gestured at the door where the woman had disappeared as if it would explain his lack of manners.

Corey gave a slow nod, then he turned to the mailboxes.

This day was turning to shit. “But you can hear me, right? Or are you reading my lips? I know you understand me.” He had to. Hayden had told him about his coffee incident and had asked him to come see Tara’s cups. Corey had heard or at least understood him. How hard would it be to learn sign language? Maybe he could learn it so he could understand Corey.

Corey gave him a blank stare, and Hayden couldn’t tell if he’d heard him or not. But he had heard him. Hayden was almost certain.

“You’re…” Dumb was offensive, right? “…mute?” He held his breath. Was mute offensive too? No, he’d read an article about selective mutism, if it was the term they used, it couldn’t be too bad, could it? Hayden forced himself to blow out the air in his lungs as he watched Corey. When he gave one short nod, Hayden slumped against the wall of mailboxes. “So you do hear me?”

Corey nodded again.

“Awesome. And the girl?”

When Corey frowned, Hayden grinned. “The woman leaving.”

Corey held up his index finger, moved it to his cheek near his ear and then to his chin. Hayden was sure it meant something.

“Is she your girlfriend?”

Corey shook his head.

“Is she deaf?”

Nodding, Corey repeated the motion with his index finger.

“Oh, it means deaf?” He tried to copy what Corey was doing which had him smiling and nodding. He could do this! He’d learned one word.

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter