Book Recommendations

Sunday Recommendation

It’s Sunday again, and Sundays are for tea, a sparkling fire and for homemade apple bread (I baked this apple bread with apples from my own garden yesterday, it was super yummy and I recommend it!) And for reading. Always reading! So I thought I’d recommend two great books I’ve read lately, and that were both released by JMS Books yesterday.

Adrian Green’s new next-door neighbor isn’t really a dragon, but he does snarl an awful lot.

The first time Adrian saw Lorcan Walsh, he knew he needed Adrian’s help. Lorcan has a fractured leg and an empty apartment. Luckily, Adrian doesn’t mind helping him fill his lair with gems, and Doris’s second-hand shop has everything a dragon could possibly want.

The problem is, Lorcan doesn’t seem to want his apartment decorated, and sneaking presents past a grumpy dragon isn’t easy.

All Adrian wants is to cheer Lorcan up, but when Lorcan’s ex appears at the door, Adrian fears not even vintage coffee cups will get them their fairy-tale ending. What if the way to a dragon’s heart isn’t lined with treasures?

If you visited my blog yesterday, you probably saw the new release spotlight post for The Dragon Next Door, written by my friend and morning writing buddy Holly Day. I received the post from Holly several days ago, and after I’d scheduled it, I fangirled to her how much I loved the excerpt, so she kindly sent me an ARC. I couldn’t wait to read it, and threw myself into the story when I should’ve been doing something else and I absolutely loved it.

The Dragon Next Door is the epitome of the grumpy/sunshine trope: Adrian is the sunniest of all the sunshiney characters I’ve ever read, cute and quirky and I would hate to have him as my real-life neighbor (because OMG he’s persistent and intense and he decorates Lorcan’s apartment!) but as a fictional neighbor, he’s fabulous. Lorcan is the dragon next door (who’s not really a dragon), and he’s a GRUMP! (for completely valid reasons) who doesn’t stand a chance against the whirlwind that is Adrian.

This book is super cute and funny and I couldn’t put it down. Read it when you need something lighthearted that will make you smile!

A dragon shapeshifter’s moved into Crescent Beach. And everybody knows dragons are dangerous. But Rob’s never met one, and he tries not to believe wild rumors. He’s a good witch, if not the most powerful, and he works hard to keep his quiet beach town welcoming to everyone. He’s hoping to find the dragon, just to talk … but the person he discovers might be everything he’s ever wanted.

Avery knows all the rumors about dragons. After all, he is one, though he’s a bookwyrm who tries hard to be harmless. He’s accepted a librarian position in a town everyone says is a safe haven, and he hopes that’ll be true. But when the local witch shows up unexpectedly, Avery expects the worst … but his story just might have a happy ending.

I pre-ordered Bookwyrm by K.L. Noone a few days ago, and the first thing I did after waking up yesterday morning was downloading my copy. After my morning writing session was over, I made a pot of tea and sat down by the fire to read. I had a wide smile on my face the entire time, so wide my husband asked what I was reading, and I took a (short) break to explain to him the magic that is K.L. Noone’s writing.

“That sounds great,” he said when I finished. “Why aren’t more people reading her books?” I ask myself this question often. Why aren’t more people talking about K.L. Noone, why don’t I see more people recommending her stories? She’s one of my absolute favorite authors, her writing is magical, maybe even more magical than Avery the Bookwyrm, her characters quirky and interesting, and the stories themselves are fantastic. If you’ve never read a K.L. Noone book (despite all my embarrassing fangirling about her), I beg you to give her a try. You won’t regret it.

I’ve yet to meet a K.L. Noone book I didn’t like, and Bookwyrm is no exception. It’s short and delightful, 3669 words of pure joy, and after I’m done writing this blog post, I’m going to make a pot of tea and read it again. ❤️

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: The Dragon Next Door by Holly Day

My friend Holly Day is back for a visit today, help me welcome you. And before I leave the floor to her, I have to tell you that everything about this book appeals to me. The blurb, the cover, the promo picture she’s made. And the excerpt is fantastic, leaving me wanting more. Read it, and I’m sure you won’t be able to resist to one-click it.

Well, enough blabbering. Welcome, Holly! ❤️

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by again. Right now, I’m working hard to make the last deadlines for this year. If I pull it off, I’ll have a release every month of 2021, and I do hope Nell will allow me to come back and tell you about them. (Nell’s comment: of course I will, you know you’re always welcome here!!) First, I have to make the deadlines, though 😬 But let’s pretend I’m not buried in work and focus on The Dragon Next Door – an as good coping mechanism as any 😆

The Dragon Next Door might be my favourite story so far this year. I adore the characters and they were nice and cooperative throughout the entire process LOL

Adrian is a super sweet guy who wants everyone to be happy. When Lorcan moves in next door, he’s set on cheering him up despite Lorcan growling at him every time he rings his doorbell… or calls for him to open the door through the mail slot.

I should perhaps mention that I wrote this story to celebrate National Neighbor Day, which is on the 28th. Adrian tries really hard to be a good neighbour.

The first time he saw Lorcan he dubbed him a dragon – not that he believes he’s a dragon for real, but Adrian has a lively imagination. Since Lorcan is a dragon, Adrian has it in his mind that he has to find treasures for him, and his favourite place in the whole wide world is a second-hand shop close to where they live. 

In the story, there is a table. When I met my husband, many years ago, he was living in a tiny student flat. It was one small room with a kitchenette on one wall, his bed pushed up against the other, and between the two, there was a folding table.

One day, we sat by that table, and I asked about the hollows in the side stretchers. Hubby told me that the table had once belonged to his mother’s aunts who had a cafe together, and the hollows are from where people have had their feet. The table is ancient. I don’t know when they closed the cafe, but the aunts were both dead in 2002 when I met hubby.

Every time we’re at hubby’s parents’ place, we eat on plates with a flowery decor. They have stack upon stack of those plates, and they all come from the cafe.

The table in question is right now with one of my husband’s nieces in her tiny flat. I hope that one day when my kids find themselves in a tiny place, the table will come back to us. Meanwhile, I have to make do with Adrian’s table, though the original one isn’t blue.


“So, what are you buying today?” Doris’ eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Nothing.” He took a sip of his coffee. It was too bitter to be good, but it always was, and it was a taste he associated with the peace of sitting with Doris surrounded by discarded yet beautiful things. “Have you any small tables?”

She chuckled. “I have an exquisite three-piece set in the back. It’s not really a set, but it came in together. It’s two odd chairs and a small table.”


“Originally painted in an antique blue, but the paint is flaking. I was gonna seal it with some Tough Coat to prevent it from flaking any more, before I brought it into the shop. I didn’t want to re-paint it. It’s beautiful with the natural wear and tear.” She sipped on her coffee and watched him over the rim of the cup. “It comes from an old cafe.”

“It does?”

Nodding, she put the cup down. “There are hollows on the side stretchers from where people have had their feet.”

Adrian’s heart sped up. He wanted the table. He hadn’t seen it, but a table with that history… “Antique blue would match the china.”

“Or you could give him your old kitchen table and keep this for yourself. If you apply the coat, I’ll give it to you at half price.”

“How much is it?”

She shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet.”

“Doris!” He wanted that table.

She chortled. “If you do the work and help me with another table I have in the back, I’ll give it to you.”

“No, I can’t let you. I want to pay for it.”

She shrugged. “It was given to me. I can do what I want with it.”

“I’m gonna pay for it.” And he would give it to Lorcan.

* * * *

“Come on, Jesse! I need you to help me carry it.” Adrian glared at Jesse who was standing outside the apartment building, smoking. He’d come to the second-hand shop to pick up the table and the chairs in his car since Adrian didn’t drive, but now he was smoking instead of helping.

“You can carry it yourself. It’s a small table.”

Adrian growled at him. “Watch the chairs, so no one steals them.”

“No one’s gonna steal two rickety chairs.”

“They’re not rickety.” Adrian hefted the table and maneuvered into the building. Jesse was a lazy fucker. He turned, banged a table leg against the wall, and cursed. Why couldn’t they live in a building with an elevator?

After two flights of stairs, he stopped to rest. It wasn’t that the table was heavy, but the awkward way he had to hold it had his arms shaking. It would’ve been so easy if Jesse had helped him. After taking a few deep breaths, he grabbed the table again and went up the last flight of stairs. He eyed Lorcan’s door but opened his own instead and placed the table right inside. He didn’t dare leave it. It was a treasure and someone could steal it while he went down to get the chairs.

Jogging down to the street, he spotted Jesse talking on his phone a good thirty feet away from the chairs. He huffed and grabbed them both, not wanting to leave one unguarded, and climbed the stairs again.

They were lovely, with patches of worn paint where there had been a lot of wear and a beautiful blue where there hadn’t been. Adrian wished he could keep them for himself, but he already had a table and chairs, whereas Lorcan had nothing.

He’d lived there for close to two months now, and Adrian had never seen him leave the apartment; had never seen a delivery person come to his door, and the man with the radio voice hadn’t been back.

Maybe it had been Troy. Troy—tall, broad-shouldered and with a radio voice. Troy was everything Adrian was not. It didn’t matter… much. He sighed.

Sweat threatened to pearl on his forehead as he got up to their floor. As quietly as he could, he placed the chairs outside Lorcan’s and hurried over to his apartment for the table. Excitement was bubbling in his chest when he knocked on Lorcan’s door.

When no response came, he leaned on the doorbell.

When there still was no sign of life, he pushed the button for about fifteen seconds, rested for three, and then rang it for another fifteen.

Lorcan yanked the door open, water and foam dripping from his hair. “For fuck’s sake!”

“Oh, hi.” Adrian gave him a sheepish smile. Had he known Lorcan was in the shower, he’d have come back later. He was still wearing a T-shirt and underwear—as always—but maybe he’d thrown them on when Adrian had knocked. “You could have called out.”

“You wouldn’t have heard me over the racket of the doorbell.”

Adrian grimaced. “Do you want me to help you?”

“With what?” The growl sent a shiver down Adrian’s spine. Bear shifter. Lorcan had to be a bear shifter. Or… did bears growl?

“With the shampoo dripping on your shoulders.”

Lorcan’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t raise a hand to see if he had shampoo in his hair. “What are you doing here, Adrian?”

“Oh!” Adrian gestured into the hallway. “I have the best present for you.” He grinned so widely it almost hurt.

“A present?”

He waved a hand. “It’s nothing, but this table and these chairs once belonged to a cafe. You can see where people put their feet.” He gestured again, but Lorcan didn’t move a muscle.

“They’ll be perfect in your kitchen. So you have somewhere to sit.”

Lorcan nodded. “You got me a table and chairs?”

Some of Adrian’s excitement died at Lorcan’s impassive face and even voice. “You need furniture.”

Before Lorcan could say anything else, he grabbed the table and carried it to the kitchen. He placed it by the wall and went back out into the hallway for the chairs.

Putting them by the table, he grinned at Lorcan who stood in the doorway with his hair still foamy with shampoo. “Beautiful, right?”

The set fit perfectly as he’d known it would. His gaze swept over the surface. It was in the perfect state of wear. The work he’d done in Doris’ back room to make sure it would stay this way was worth it.

Lorcan grunted and a part of Adrian’s soul died. “You don’t like it?”

“It’s a table.” Lorcan shrugged.

“Adrian?” Jesse appeared behind Lorcan. “Hi, the door was open.” He gestured in the direction of the hallway.

“Yeah.” Adrian looked at the table again. It was more than just a table, it had soul. He’d picked it for Lorcan, had worked to fix it, had made plans with Jesse to get it here, and had fantasized about seeing it in this kitchen. Disappointment burned his chest and eyes, and he wanted to be away from there. “I think I need to go do some work.” He pushed between Lorcan and Jesse.

“What did you do, man?” Jesse directed the question to Lorcan, and Adrian did his best not to hear his reply.


The groan coming from Jesse meant he would say something Adrian didn’t want to hear, so he increased the pace of his steps. As he reached the door, Jesse’s words filled the air. “He’s worked hard to get you that table. Only so you know.” Then his steps closed in on Adrian despite him hurrying.


Adrian Green’s new next-door neighbor isn’t really a dragon, but he does snarl an awful lot.

The first time Adrian saw Lorcan Walsh, he knew he needed Adrian’s help. Lorcan has a fractured leg and an empty apartment. Luckily, Adrian doesn’t mind helping him fill his lair with gems, and Doris’s second-hand shop has everything a dragon could possibly want.

The problem is, Lorcan doesn’t seem to want his apartment decorated, and sneaking presents past a grumpy dragon isn’t easy.

All Adrian wants is to cheer Lorcan up, but when Lorcan’s ex appears at the door, Adrian fears not even vintage coffee cups will get them their fairy-tale ending. What if the way to a dragon’s heart isn’t lined with treasures?

Gay Romance: 14,488 words

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon ::

About Holly

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 :: Instagram

About Nell, Nell Iris' Christmas

One Week in the Life of a Writer on a Deadline

I’ve been writing a Christmas story for what feels like forever, but I’m still struggling to find time for my writing with the Day Job taking up so much of my time these days. Then suddenly the deadline approached rapidly: Christmas stories needs to be submitted by September 30, full stop. Which, you know, is completely understandable, because no one’s going to move Christmas just because a writer can’t make their deadline, amirite?

For a long time, I didn’t think I’d make the deadline, and I even started considering self-publishing to give myself time. But last Sunday, I said to myself, Stop with the whining, Nell. Millions of authors have a Day Job and manage to find time to write. Make time, princess!

So I did. I needed to write at least 4k words to make the lowest range of the word count, so come Monday morning last week, I packed my notebook and pens in my work bag and got to work.


My train ride to work is 35 minutes, so I claimed a spot in the quiet compartment and unpacked my pens. Yes, pens because everyone knows a self-respecting writer needs more than one fountain pen for a 30-something minute writing session.


I was tired on Tuesday and my headphones and the new Spotify playlist I’d recently made looked very appealing, but I gave myself a stern talking to and wrote more words.


I reached the end of the notebook (but not the story unfortunately) just as the train rolled into my station. It’s almost as though I’d planned it. 😁


On Thursday, I worked from home, so I met up with my morning writing crew before work to transcribe what I’d written on the train. But I needed to work harder, so I sat down in front on the fire after I’d quit working for the day to continue writing. It was lovely and I got a lot done.


I worked from home on Friday, too, and woke up at 4:45 am, before the alarm even went off. But I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I started my writing session at 5:30 instead of 6am. It was pitch black outside my window (yes, there’s a window there behind the computer) and got a lot done. Gawd, I love these morning writing sessions and I miss the good old days when there were no Day Jobs interfering and we did this every day.


My darling granddaughter turned one on Friday, so early Saturday morning we jumped into the car and I had to figure out a way of getting some writing done. So I came up with this mobile office: my shiny new Macbook Pro and a cushioned knee-laptop-tray, and I wrote in the car. I didn’t think it was going to work all that well, but I proved myself wrong. I wrote 2k words in the car and two of them was “The End.”


The day after the big birthday party, I woke up in a hotel bed, and decided To heck with this, I’m writing in bed today. So I spent my morning writing session editing my manuscript one-handed (because my husband wanted to hold my hand in his sleep) before it was time to say goodbye to Ofelia and Ally and go eat hotel breakfast.


Somehow, I’d forgotten one important fact about myself: that I work really well under pressure. So when I decided to just do it, I got it done. I wrote 6k words, finished the story, and as I write this blog post (at 8pm Sunday evening) the story needs a bit more tweaking before it’s ready for betas, but it’ll probably be ready tomorrow. Or Tuesday the latest.

One thing I always told my darling daughter when she grew up was You can do anything if you set your mind to it. I won’t forget it again.

Oh, and the name of the Christmas story I worked so hard on last week is The Santa Emergency.


Fall recommendations

Since I’m obsessed by fall, I’ve compiled a few autumn-themed recommendations for those lovely evenings spent listening to the rain smattering on the roof, in front of a sparkling fire, and sipping a cup of tea. At least that’s how I envision myself spending all my fall evenings this year (conveniently forgetting about laundry, and a house that needs cleaning, and food that needs cooking). If you’re with me, here are some songs, books, and movies you could enjoy along with the tea. Or wine. Red wine is good in fall, too 😁

Fall-themed playlist


The sun went out just like a dying amber / That September in the rain
September in the Rain – Annie Lennox

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain / Nothing to lose but everything to gain
September – Daughtry


October / And the trees are stripped bare / Of all they wear / What do I care?
October – U2

I’m blinded by the lights / Of October skies
October Skies – Mumford and Sons


One November / Spawned a monster / In the shape of this child
November Spawned a Monster – Morrissey

So never mind the darkness, we still can find a way / ‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain
November Rain – Guns’n’Roses

Fall-themed books

September :: October :: November

But Nell, you say. Shiny Things isn’t called “Something, something November.” No. You’re right. It turns out I haven’t read a book titled something with November; even though there are two M/M romance books called Mr. November (one by Bailey Bradford and the other by Pepper Espinoza) I haven’t read either of them. And I want to recommend books that I’ve read and loved. Hence Shiny Things, that takes place in November.

Fall-themed movies

I haven’t seen You’ve Got Mail in years and years, but I’d never say no to a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.

“Ask yourselves why you were clapping.”

“You must never move the body.”

Feel free to add to my recommendations in the comments. Have you read a book with November in the title? What do you listen to in fall? Or watch when you curl up on the couch in front of the TV? 🙂

Guestpost, Release Blitz

Re-release Spotlight: He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd

Today, my lovely friend Ofelia Gränd is back on the blog with another of her re-releases. I haven’t read this one but I like the sound of it, so while you read this post, I’ll go buy it. Okay? 🙂

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me swing by today. Yesterday, my story, He Melted Us, was re-released. It was first released as part of an anthology called Love Unlocked. This was waaayyy back when they removed the love locks from Pont des Art in Paris, and the call was to write a story about one of the locks.

I did. My lock was removed five years prior, though. There was an incident with an art student stealing a few locks to use in a sculptor – my lock was one of them.

This story is more than a little crazy. Delron, one of the main characters, has the idea that his and Phillipe’s relationship is tied to the padlock. As long as the padlock is in place, everything will be fine, but when it’s stolen, Delron is certain it’s a sign their relationship will end.

When I’m thinking about this story, I mostly remember laughing. Half of the things in there, my sister made up. I was on the phone with her, laughing so hard I cried, while she suggested things Delron could do to get the lock back.

Some of the ideas came from little news snippets, like when Del scrawls at one of the sculptures in École des Beaux-Arts. There was a picture of someone having written vulgar words on Aphrodite, so Delron does too LOL

So, is Delron sane? Not really. Are his actions realistic? Not very. Did I laugh while writing it? A lot 😂


Thursday, May 13th, 2010

“Hey, listen to this.” Phillipe took a sip of his creamy coffee before reading out the article in Le Monde.

“In response to speculation about the Paris mayor’s involvement in the disappearance of the locks on Pont des Arts, Town Hall yesterday firmly denied having any connection to the incident.”

“They have to say that.” A light flush spread over Delron’s fair skin, and his eyes glistened with anger. Phillipe didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. Delron was way too worked up—it was just a freaking lock, a tacky symbol that had nothing to do with them. He shook his head.

“Here, they’ve asked a woman what she thinks has happened.”

“And what does she think?” Delron’s tight voice made Phillipe glance in his direction again before he continued reading. His strawberry-blond hair was standing on end. He was clenching his jaw and fisting his hands as he waited for Phillipe to continue.

Phillipe skimmed the paragraph. “She says she thinks the mayor hired someone to remove the locks during the night. That it can’t be a coincidence that Town Hall said last week they wanted the locks removed, and now they’ve miraculously disappeared.”

Relief shone in Delron’s eyes. Phillipe double-checked the text to see what might have brought on the change in his demeanour, but he couldn’t find it.

“So they’re out there somewhere? Someone has them?”

“Erm…Del? It’s one woman, a random person, who thinks that. No one knows.”

“No, I know that, but what if she’s right? What if we could find the person who has our lock? Then everything would be fine again.”

Phillipe creased his brow. What the hell was Delron talking about? “It’s just a lock, a piece of metal—”

“It’s the symbol of our love, without it—”

“It means nothing!” Phillipe hadn’t meant to raise his voice. He didn’t want to argue, but it was just a fucking lock.

Delron stared at him. For a moment Phillipe saw hurt in his eyes, but then a perfectly neutral expression chased away every indication of feeling.

“You need to hurry if you don’t want to be late.”

Phillipe glanced at the clock—the ugly cat-shaped clock that defiled the entire room merely by being there. He hated it—he hated the colour, hated the form, and he definitely hated the ugly pink bow around the deformed head. It had been a sunny day about four years ago when Delron had come home with it. He’d presented it as if it were a treasure, and Phillipe didn’t have the heart to tell him he wanted to drop it from the balcony and watch the cars below run over it. It was an urge he fought every day—to throw the darn thing off the balcony and see it shatter into tiny pieces.

The hideous brown cat swung its tail back and forth in sync with each click of a second. The body formed the round shape of the clock, and two creepy yellow eyes followed you wherever you went in the kitchen. He guessed he should be happy it wasn’t one of those models where the eyes moved as well, they were eerie enough as they were, distracting him every time he wanted to see what time it was.

“Shit.” He gulped down his coffee, left the newspaper on the table, and hurried out the door. He was halfway down the stairs before he realised he hadn’t said a proper goodbye to Delron. Argh, I don’t have the time to run back up now.


All Delron Chastain wants is to live his life with Phillipe, but when their love lock is stolen from Pont des Art, their relationship is in jeopardy. Without the lock holding them together, Delron is convinced they’ll crash and burn. The only way he can save their relationship is to find the stolen lock, and that is what he plans to do, no matter what.

Phillipe Lebeau loves Delron, but a padlock is simply a piece of metal, and Delron not seeing that is driving him insane. The lock has nothing to do with them. Their life was great until the night the lock was stolen, and Del’s crazy behaviour makes Phillipe question if he’s ever really known him.

Delron’s search leads him through an art-filled Paris. Will recovering the symbol of their love be enough to soothe the mistrust his quest has planted in Phillipe? Phillipe believed he’d spend the rest of his life with Del. But who can live with anyone willing to break the law simply to find an old rusty padlock?

Gay Romance / 16,930 words

Buy links

JMS Books :: Amazon ::

About Ofelia

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

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