Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation – the October Edition

On the last day of October, a Sunday (and everyone knows Sundays are for reading), I thought a book recommendation post was in order. Lately, I’ve read three new books that all take place during October, and I want to tell you about them. Because can you think of anything better than to spend an October Sunday curled up with a warm beverage of your choice (I’ve been favoring hot chocolate lately), by a fire if you have one (otherwise Youtube fires work, too), under a blanket with a good book? I sure can’t. 🙂

And before I get to the recommendation part: these three books are all published by JMS Books, so you can buy them at 40% off today. Even better, right? 🙂

Rain hummed in the background, a low musical counterpoint. October doing its best, even in Southern California. Cool steely skies and pumpkins appearing on porches.

October by Candlelight by K.L. Noone

When the lovely K.L. Noone visited my blog, celebrating the release of October by Candlelight, I wrote “So this book could be written just for me” and I was not wrong. I’ve read it now, and it exceeded my expectations, it was even better and fluffier and lovelier than I thought it would be. This book is definitely ending up on my feelgood-re-read Goodreads shelf, and I’m declaring it a must-read for the month of October. If you want to read about an established couple who recently moved in together, and if you want all the coziness of October and none of the scary stuff, this is the perfect book.

I read a tweet a while back saying that we shouldn’t write reviews based on our emotions. F*ck that sh*t, I say, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. K.L. Noone’s words makes me feel things, they make my heart grow in my chest, make me smile, they chase away all memories of a long hard day at the Day Job. Her words make me happy, and I’m not gonna pretend otherwise.

He was tired, starving, in pain, and now they’d dragged him down to the beach. In October. It had stopped raining for the moment, but the clouds hung heavy above them.

Call Me Charles by Holly Day

When my friend Holly Day visited my blog to tell you about her release Call Me Charles, I wrote that the excerpt she brought broke my heart and made me mad. And OH-EM-GEE, reading the actual book made me both madder and sadder. Charles’s so called friends are first class assholes, and I’m seriously contemplating writing a fanfic version of this book where I can write myself and a baseball bat into the story so I can show the assholes exactly what I think about them. But I probably won’t do it, because Charles has Hubert to take care of him. Hubert who buys a sandwich from Charles for months, despite bringing his own lunch from home, despite Charles giving him normal bread when Hubert’s gluten intolerant, just because he finds Charles cute.

Holly excels in writing cute, quirky characters and this story is no different. Charles might not be as quirky as Adrian in The Dragon Next Door, but almost. He’s cute and naive and a little bit clueless, so I can’t blame Hubert for wanting to wrap him up in cotton and protect him from the world. It’s a lovely story, read it, you won’t regret it!

As he caught his breath, his sweat-soaked shirt clinging to him, he berated his stupidity. On this dark October night, he had been tricked as easily as a child. He risked forfeiting his life for a moment of unwariness.

A Tricky Situation by Ellie Thomas

A Tricky Situation is about Kit, a young man learning to stand up for himself and his beliefs and values. He does it elegantly and impressively, which is one of the reasons I like this book so much. Yes, the love interest Edmund plays a part in Kit’s transformation, but most of it is Kit himself. And while I wish the romance aspect could have been elaborated more (you know me, I’m a sucker for the romance!), reading about how Kit comes to important realizations about himself and who he wants to be is a delight. I’m amazed at how much the author made me care for Kit with so few words, something that takes great skill for a writer. Showing someone’s complexities in 500 pages is easy. Doing it in 8427 words is much harder. And for that, I tip my hat to you, Ellie Thomas.

So if you’re in the mood for a historical short story about self-discovery with a hint of romance, this is definitely the book for you. And Ellie Thomas, if you read this: should you ever feel the urge to write a Kit and Edmund epilogue, I’ll definitely read it.

Sale

Halloween Sale @ JMS Books

My fabulous publisher JMS Books is holding a Halloween sale thru Sunday, offering 40% off all ebooks, including my books. So if there’s something you’re missing in your library, now’s the time to stock up!

May I suggest All I’ll Ever See if you’re in the mood for an out-for-you story? Flowers Under my Pillow is for everyone who misses summer. The Meet Cute Chronicles box set is three stories for the price of one ($2.99 for three stories? It’s a steal! 🙂 ) Always You if you’re in the mood for friends-to-lovers, So Far Away if you want to read about an established couple separated by a pandemic, and Wake Him with a Kiss if you want a short story about a meeting that will lead to more.

Guestpost

Audiobook spotlight: The Lost in Time Trilogy by A.L. Lester

Finding happiness between the cracks

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit today, Nell! (You’re always welcome here, my friend ❤️) I’m doing some guests post around and about to let people know the 1920s London Border Magic trilogy has relaunched in audio. The books are now available wide rather than just with Audible.

If you’ve never read or listened to any of my books before, I usually describe them as paranormal, historical and queer. There’s a scattering of contemporary short stories and a couple of novellas that are lacking in screaming monsters from beyond the void, but most of my books are set in 1920s England. The 1920s London trilogy features a gay couple—Lew and Alec—and a gay/non-binary couple—Fenn and Will.

Writing Lost in Time seems aeons ago now. I finished it during NaNoWriMo in 2016-the only thing I’ve ever managed to get to the end of during the month and then only because I’d already written a lot of it! It really was a labour of love; and looking back now with a few more books under my belt I think it does show that it’s a first book. When I finished it, I felt I’d brought things to a satisfactory happy-for-now conclusion with Alec and Lew. Shadows on the Border is in effect a second volume of the same story and then begins another with Will and Fenn that is brought to a conclusion in The Hunted and the Hind.

My personal opinion is that you can’t ever have a happy-ever-after with a story that ends any time in the first half of the twentieth century. You’ve got two world wars looming there that foreshadow everything. All you can do with your historical characters is show them finding happiness in the cracks.

I think a lot of my stories tend to have that sort of vibe about them, because that’s the sort of life I live. Those of you who follow my newsletter etc will know Mr AL and I have a life-limited teenager. When she was born we never thought we’d get this far with her, but here we are. She turned thirteen this month! Our life revolves around her care—she’s very severely disabled. And the thing they say about parenting a disabled child is you live your life in the cracks. I think a lot of people live like that, whether they’re in our situation or not. People are just jogging along, trying to get through the day at work, scrape up the cash to pay the electricity bill and fill up the car, remember to buy some more potatoes on the way home, remember wash the kids’ PE kit and buy a birthday card for their mother-in-law.

All those day-to-day things we do in real life braid around our more abstract thoughts and feelings.

That’s what I try and show in my stories—extraordinary things happening to ordinary people, who have to deal with them regardless of what else they have going on in their lives. I sometimes think I have too much plot…my characters tend to have complicated lives and then whoops, magic is real! What do they do about that! ends up being another plot-strand I have to weave in.

In 1920s London everyone is trundling along dealing with their residual trauma of having fought a terrible four year war…and suddenly, bang, into the middle of all of that is Lew, who is from 2016 and completely skews everyone’s perceptions of reality. Even the people who already knew about the border and magic, because no-one realised you could travel through time. And of course Lew is completely off balance as well.

As always, Callum Hale, my narrator, was brilliant at pinning down the tones of each of the characters, modern, historical or fantastical. Lost in Time was out in audio before I finished writing The Hunted and the Hind and I found myself hearing his interpretation of the characters in my head as I was putting them down on the page. I have four audiobooks with him so far and fully intend to use him for future projects if I can persuade him to put up with me! Lew comes across as a modern Londoner, and Alec and Will are perfect for their class and their time. Fenn has this eerie sort of tone to them in Shadows on the Border which we toned down slightly for The Hunted and the Hind where they had more ‘screen-time’, so to speak. I felt that it would be easier for readers to identify with them if that was the case.

You can find most of my audiobooks at my Authors Direct page—all three 1920s London books can be bought for $20!—but they are also available wide at Apple, Hoopla, Scribd, LibroFM, Kobo, Chirp etc. and I think Audible have them on Whispersync—I am perpetually confused by how they work. I know some audio-library services are carrying them too. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I’ve enjoyed hearing Callum bring the characters to life!

Lost in Time

You can listen to the first half hour of Lost in Time here at Bookfunnel!

Gruesome murders taking place across 1920s London draw Lew and Alec together through the desolation of the East End and the smoky music clubs of Soho. They both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?

Not Lew, who is struggling to get to grips with life a century before he was born. Or Alec, who wants Lew in his bed, despite liking him for murder.

#1 in the 1920s London series. Gay paranormal, historical, romantic suspense of 53,000 words, set in the Border Magic Universe.

Buy the audiobooks!

About A. L. Lester

Ally Lester writes queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense and lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, three guineapigs, some hens and the duckettes.

She likes permaculture gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy these days. Not musical, doesn’t much like telly, likes to read. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has fibromyalgia and tedious fits.

Join my newsletter for a free copy of the novella An Irregular Arrangement, visit my website at allester.co.uk or find me on social media via my link-tree.

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: October by Candlelight by K.L. Noone

Today, I welcome K.L. Noone back to the blog. She’s here to talk about her brand spanking new book that’s released today, so let’s all throw some virtual confetti her way and maybe even a virtual cake? Let me tell you a secret before I let Kristin take over: I adore her writing, fall is my favorite season and, stories described as “a soft domestic sort of love” is my crack. So this book could be written just for me. But I’d never be so selfish and not share it with you. Great writing is best shared with friends, don’t you agree. So while you read the post, I’ll go download my pre-ordered copy, make a cup of tea, light some candles (and my fire), and start reading…😍


Hi, Nell and Nell’s readers! Happy October to you—and thanks to Nell for letting me stop by to share my seasonal new release!

October by Candlelight might be among my favorite stories I’ve written—autumn is my favorite season, made of bonfire-leaves and candy-corn sugar and bone-thin branches and glowing jack-o-lantern gold, and I loved getting to imagine the decorations and atmosphere for this story!

Finn and Wes are also some of my favorite characters; they fit together so well, they make each other happy, and they’re very fun to write! Wes more or less has my day job, by the way, though he’s more of a medieval historian and my specialty is more literature-focused. And Finn has my sense of humor, with the dreadful puns…so, well, apologies for pun-ishing you (and Wes) with that!

When JMS Books put out the call for Trick or Treat themed stories, I knew I wanted to write a Treat: because I love the season, and because I was in the mood for a soft domestic sort of love, a love written in book-presents and apology candles and pumpkin-spice cinnamon rolls, learning to live together (they’ve just moved in together!) and learning to listen.

The world knows a lot about Finn, or it thinks it does—he was a teen idol mega-star, after all, all those posters and interviews and television shows, over a decade ago—but there’re some things he doesn’t talk about much. Like how badly he’s always wanted a home, someplace snug and warm and settled, someplace he can fill with books and his favorite season and leaf-garlands and pumpkins everyplace, a fantasy of coziness. Wes, on the other hand, wanted their new home together to be neat and clean and minimalistic and ruthlessly tidy…

But, of course, they’ll work it out. Because they’re in love. And did I mention book-presents and pumpkin-spice cinnamon rolls and autumn-themed apology candles?

I hope you enjoy meeting them—and all the autumn scents and glowing lights—in October by Candlelight!

Living with former teen idol Finn Ransom isn’t like a movie. But it’s worth it.

Wes loves his boyfriend, and he knows all the stories about Finn’s celebrity past and old accidents and rebuilt career — or he thinks he does. But Wes also loves his organized historian’s life, neat and tidy and efficient — and moving in with Finn is the opposite.

Finn’s messy, colorful, exuberant … and in love with autumn. Pumpkins. Black cats. Fall leaves. Rain. Wes wants to be patient, but one more cinnamon candle might be one too many.

But maybe Wes doesn’t know everything about Finn’s past. And autumn candlelight is good for sharing stories … and opening up hearts.

Buy links:

Excerpt:

Two days later, on Saturday, a delivery arrived: three pumpkin-spice candles, a paperback copy of The History of Silver Age Superheroes, a zucchini, and a loaf of raspberry wheat bread. None of these had been on the shopping list tacked to the fridge, except Finn’s zucchini, which had a muffin-related destiny.

Wes, who’d answered the door and opened the package, considered this fact. “I’m not sure you’re allowed to buy things without me.”

Finn gave him a sorrowful-kitten look. Wes knew that look. He gave in to that look just about every time.

“Is this what living with you is like? It is, isn’t it? Not,” he added hastily, “that I mind.”

He didn’t. Not at all. This house had room for their combined eclectic library; Wes’s organized desk and an old guitar from his wayward college rock band days lived alongside Finn’s hobby-of-the-month origami and card-trick magic practice and ocean-themed coloring books, finding three-month-old harmony. The pool out back was good for Finn’s physical therapy and also just for floating around in, and they did a lot of that. These days Wes’s world was wondrous.

He lifted up a bright orange shape, turned it around. “More candles?”

“They were on sale,” Finn protested. He’d gotten up, and Wes nearly argued, but it seemed to be a good day; that wasn’t even much of a limp. “They smell like pumpkins. And autumn grass. And bonfire smoke. Here, I can help—”

“Yes, thank you,” Wes said, now juggling three candles and bread and zucchini and a book, trailing Finn into the kitchen. “You want pumpkins and bonfires in our house.”

“I’ll make cinnamon rolls with pumpkin cream cheese.” Finn was only half paying attention, entranced by autumnal temptation and finding gleaming silver to put candles inside. “Anyway you like pumpkin spice.”

“I’m not sure I want to, you know, breathe and eat pumpkin…” He did love Finn, though. And he loved the sparkle in those huge eyes, diving into the world with full-on enthusiasm. “I can build a fire if you want. In our fireplace. For you.”

Finn set down the third candle. Smiled. “Come on, baby, light my fire.”

“Terrible classic rock puns,” Wes informed him, “mean absolutely guaranteed seduction,” and took a step forward, everything else shoved onto a countertop, hands finding and cupping Finn’s face, thumb skimming over a dimple because it was there and he could.

Finn looked at him, smiling, waiting; pure anticipation danced in every line of him, every lifted eyebrow. Wes kissed him for it.

Bio

K.L. Noone teaches college students about superheroes and Shakespeare by day, and writes romance – frequently paranormal or with fantasy elements, usually LGBTQ, and always with happy endings – when not grading papers or researching medieval outlaw life. She is currently the servant of a large black cat named Merlyn, who demands treats on a regular basis.

About Nell

New Release Spotlight: The Featherbed Puzzle by K.L. Noone

Today, I have a very special guest on my blog; the fabulous K.L. Noone is here to talk about her latest release The Featherbed Puzzle. I’m scheduling this post on the actual release date, so as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m heading over to JMS Books and downloading my pre-ordered copy. Because you haven’t missed that I’m a huge fan of K.L. Noone’s writing, have you? Didn’t think so 🙂 So please, help me make her feel welcome, so she’ll consider coming back again!


Hi, everyone!

I’m K.L. Noone, and Nell, being a lovely and generous human and equally lovely and generous fellow author, has agreed to let me drop by today to ramble about my newest release, The Featherbed Puzzle!

The Featherbed Puzzle is roughly 47,000 words of…well, an m/m romance retelling of “The Princess and the Pea,” in a fluffy vaguely alternate-history eighteenth century—no magic as such, but artificers, canals, clockwork, and serving dishes that stay warm!

There’s also a dark and stormy night, quite a lot of pastries, several Awful Suitors and one True Love, and at least one jigsaw puzzle. And a terrible pun or two. And many, many featherbeds, of course.

Since puzzles are something of a theme, I thought I’d share five puzzle-pieces that went into the writing of this story! Let’s see…

One – this story essentially happened because I’d just finished Magician (which, more and less noisily, had been living in my head for about ten years), and I really wanted to write something that would be, in Jane Austen’s famous turn of phrase, light and bright and sparkling—just a pure spun-sugar confection, no real angst or epic quests or family drama, just a gaggle of suitors, a “helpful” best friend, a walk or two in a rose garden, a literal mountain of fluff, and characters figuring out what they want for themselves and their future.

Two – Arthur, our prince in need of a betrothed at the beginning, can best be described as, oh, “awkward, kindhearted, and the sort of prince who does conscientious civic planning and also jigsaw puzzles for fun”. Alan, on the other hand, is more the “I swear I had a cup of tea, where did I put that, oh wait there’s a kitten sleeping in it, maybe I should design a new cat bed instead of this commissioned grandfather clock, what if she’s hungry, she can have my sandwich, also we have a kitten now” sort of person.

Three – there are a lot of literary influences in this one, but probably the biggest are Robin McKinley’s fairytale retellings, Eloisa James’s fairytale-inspired historical romances, Jane Austen’s Emma, and of course Hans Christian Andersen himself; I like to think Andersen, as that self-described “amphibious creature” who fell in love with both women and men, and who wasn’t opposed to lightly affectionate satire, would be amused.

Four – four songs on my playlist for this one: The All-American Rejects, I Wanna, Neon Trees, Mess Me Up, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Save Tonight, and, of course, Buzzcocks, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve Fallen In Love With).

Five – as far as puzzles, the Awesome Husband and I do them for fun, in fact! The first puzzle Arthur’s working on is very similar to one we have, with the underwater theme and sunken ship, in fact…

The Featherbed Puzzle is available now, in all the usual places! I hope you enjoy!

Buy links

JMS Books :: Amazon

Blurb

Prince Arthur needs to get married. He’s the only heir, he’s twenty-five years old, and his mother keeps sending eligible princes and princesses his direction. Arthur’s not opposed to the idea, but so far every suitor’s been awful, and he’d like to at least like a prospective future spouse. But on one dark and stormy night, a mysterious young man in need of rescue just might be the answer Arthur’s looking for …

Alan never intended to join the ranks of Prince Arthur’s suitors. After all, Alan might technically be a prince himself, but he doesn’t use the title and he works for a living. But when a carriage accident leaves him stranded in the rain at the castle door, Alan can’t help falling for Arthur’s kind heart and lonely eyes. It’s just too bad he’s not an acceptable match …

Gay Fantasy Erotic Romance / 47,121 words

Excerpt:

“Mother,” Arthur said patiently, “that’s the eighth princess. And the fifth prince. It’s only been two weeks.”

Queen Tatiana Amaretta Marguerite de Fleur of Starskeep set down her teacup with a tiny porcelain clink and a frown gathering between her eyes. Sunlight laced the palace’s renovated breakfast room with gold, flying like bird’s wings over blue-striped wallpaper. The paper was new and delicate and perfectly in fashion, as were the chairs and the idyllic landscape paintings and the aubergine silk of her gown. “And you’ve liked none of them. You did say you were willing to consider marriage, darling.”

“Consider,” Arthur said. “Not propose on the spot. And this last one informed me that she’d overlook my unfortunate literary tendencies because of our money. While her brother tried to put a hand on my thigh under the table at dinner.”

Tatiana considered this. “Did he say it was only about the money?”

“Mother…”

“I want you to be happy, you know.” She reached for his hand, patted it, gave him the melting smile that charmed courtiers and diplomats into agreement. Starskeep sat at the intersection of three gently flowing trading-hub rivers, and had blossomed into a wealthy marzipan confection of a city-state, full of tulips and canals and prosperity and Tatiana’s chess-master mind behind negotiations and import-export arrangements. Arthur adored his mother, and sometimes thought it was a good thing she’d never harbored ambitions to conquer the world.

He said, “I know. And I love you, you know that. But I don’t actually need to meet every eligible person on your list in the span of a single fortnight. How long is your list, anyway?”

“Extensive,” his mother retorted without batting an eye. “And exhaustive. Darling, I want the best for you. A proper match. Someone utterly lovely. Someone with impeccable royal bloodlines. Someone who knows how to direct a household and whether the Duke of Oakenwood or the Marchioness of Vervian should have the order of precedence. Someone who brings you a dowry of gold and jewels and roses carved from rubies.”

Arthur sighed.

“Wouldn’t you like rubies?” his mother inquired, with hope. “I’ve always thought one can never have too many.”

“I just thought,” Arthur said, while the sunbeam stretched out to touch the tip of his boot, “that I’d like someone I can talk to. Someone who might be interested in books. Or at least curious about…I don’t know. The world.”

“What could be more interesting than ruby roses?”

Someone who could carve roses out of gemstones would likely be interesting to talk to, at that; Arthur sighed again, but found himself smiling. His mother meant well. And he did need to start thinking about marriage, as an only son and prince and heir.

He’d managed to put it off until his twenty-fifth birthday, two weeks ago. That’d been the catalyst for the onslaught of prospective spouses, beginning the night of the birthday ball his mother’d thrown. There’d been six flattering sugar sculptures of his head, and an entire wall of rare indigo orchids.

He said, “I’ll consider whomever you invite, but no promises, all right?”

“That’s all I ask.” His mother picked up her teacup again. “That and you settling on a perfectly faultless and advantageous match, of course.”

Of course, Arthur thought. Just like that. So easy.

About K.L. Noone

K.L. Noone teaches college students about superheroes and Shakespeare by day, and in her not-so-secret identity writes romance – frequently paranormal or with fantasy elements, often LGBTQA+, and always with happy endings! She also likes cats, tea, and the sound of ocean waves. Come visit her at https://klnoone.wordpress.com/