An introduction to me.

I saw a writer Instagram meme on Facebook and decided to join in. I don’t use Instagram but I extracted the questions and have done my best to answer them.

Introduce yourself.
I’m Jay Mountney. I’m a retired teacher, mostly of English and English as a Second Language, but all sorts of other things, too, such as law, which was my initial qualification. I live with my husband in Cheshire, UK, on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, in a seventeenth century house that defies mobile phone providers and isn’t quite finished yet. I no longer have any pets but I sometimes look after our daughter’s dog and I frequently entertain a neighbour’s cat. Until recently I volunteered for Organisation for Transformative Works on the AO3 Policy and Abuse team and I love fanfiction (both reading and writing it). Now, I concentrate on my original writing, which is almost all fantasy with an m/m element but very little explicit sex. I self publish and do my own formatting and covers though I use beta readers and proof readers, of course. I’m very interested in politics and read widely about that and associated issues. (As you might gather from my other answers I’m socialist.)

Back to work.
Now that it’s January I ought to get on with writing but have been procrastinating by tidying up my files, which desperately needed attention. So much so that I couldn’t find my notes or the beginning of my WIP.

Writing resolutions.
I intend to write every afternoon but that will include long posts for my WordPress and Dreamwidth blogs (such as this one) and my occasional poems. I also do a monthly review post for books (including fanfic) I have read, and films/TV I have watched. I have nine self published books at the moment and I intend to increase that to eleven this year.

Who/what inspires you.
I’m inspired from time to time by various writers, including Facebook friends, who all seem to be more organised than I am. I’m also inspired by the fantasy ‘greats’ such as Tolkien, Tad Williams, etc. Since I enjoy reading crime and mystery stories I have tried to merge the genres in my elf detective series. Another source of inspiration is location. I love the UK countryside and my books are grounded in descriptions of real places, but either peopled by fae or transported to alien worlds.

Anticipated read of the year.
I keep hoping the final Game of Thrones novel will appear and I suppose that would be my anticipated read if it happened. I have a large number of books awaiting upload to my Kindle but in 2019 I shall also be re-reading some of my favourite authors in printed books that we saved from the fire that destroyed our house in Portugal (2017). There were boxes of books in the garage which escaped the fire, and I am gradually getting reacquainted with my comfort reading: Heyer, Pratchett, Lindsey Davis. Sadly, my Anne McCaffrey books and my Melissa Scott ones did not survive, having reached the bookcases in the house. Lord of the Rings never left UK.

Where do you write?
I usually write in our lounge, with my laptop on my knee (on a lap tray). I sit in a recliner, with a side-table supporting drinks and my mobile phone. Nobody can actually ring me on it (courtesy of our thick stone walls) but people who know me communicate via Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger. I can, however, write anywhere I can use a laptop. I can’t write more than a short email on a tablet or mobile with those virtual keyboards, and I can only scribble notes or short poems with a pen or pencil.

Favourite character.
My favourite character in my own books is Harlequin, the very modern fairy who lives on Alderley Edge in Cheshire. He sprang into my head fully developed and has insisted on acting as my muse ever since, regardless of what I’m writing.

My favourite fictional character written by someone else is harder to identify but I might go for Angua, the werewolf police officer in Pratchett’s Discworld. She satisfies my desire for a blend of fantasy and mystery or crime.

Teaser Tuesday.
I’m not sure what Teaser Tuesday refers to so will leave that out. (I strongly suspect it means snippets and I hate either choosing them from my own work or reading them from others.)

First line of WIP
(From Life on the Edge.) Peasblossom knew perfectly well that her brother had seen her at the pool, trying to scry her future lover. She knew, too, that he had seen the apparent emptiness of the reflection. 

Cover of WIP
It isn’t finished yet. I design and make my own covers and I know which photograph I’m going to use. Like the cover for the first book in the trilogy (Growing up Fae) it’s one of the photos I took on Alderley Edge but instead of a living tree, this one’s a fallen tree that looks like a cross between a bridge and a fantasy creature. I like playing with Photoshop and various online graphic manipulation programs.

Favourite Cover (not yours).
Heavens! What an ask! I really don’t think I have a favourite. However, I did a meme about special covers on Facebook and intend to copy it here.

Selfie Saturday.
If this means taking a selfie then count me out. I have a frozen eye which makes me look all kinds of ridiculous in still pictures though friends assure me they rarely notice in real life. I am also hopeless at taking photos with my smartphone which is a very recent acquisition.

Shelfie Sunday.

Favourite read of last year.
I think it has to be The Science of Discworld (all four volumes) by Pratchett, Cohen and Stewart. I loved all the scientific explanation and discussion, interspersed with chapters of a fantasy story.

Time out Tuesday (what you do to relax).
Apart from reading, photoshopping pictures, etc? (I play with icons, avatars, etc. as a kind of rest from writing, and much as other people play with e.g. knitting.)Well, writing helps me to relax and certainly beats housework, any day. I love nature, art and architecture and follow TV documentaries about these. I enjoy swimming but I’m not sure it counts as relaxation as I find it increasingly hard work. I also like cooking but that’s something I have to do anyway. I like doing paper craft – things like 3D découpage. I play the piano (I lost my keyboard and my guitar in the fire). I listen to music – anything from rock and roll to classics with some modern stuff in between.

Movie/TV Adaptation.
At present I’d say the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy, but Game of Thrones might just beat them into second place once it’s finished.

Currently reading.
I’ve just started Machineries of Empire by Yoon Ha Lee (SF) and I’m re-reading Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman. I’m wandering through the latest copy of Searchlight magazine, too. I’ve just finished In Case of Emergency by Keira Andrews and a re-read of The Toll Gate by Georgette Heyer. I also have a history book in the bathroom which is going slowly – Justice in the Sarladais 1770-1790 by Steven G Reinhardt, which is an excellent prequel to the French revolution.

Line last you wrote.
Obviously the last line of the last paragraph above but maybe that isn’t what’s wanted… I can’t really take a line from my current WIP as all the sections were written months ago and just need putting into some kind of order, possibly with linking paragraphs. So it had better be the last line of my latest publication (The Lantern):
The group flew on, the beginnings of sunset behind them, until Rath called them all to turn.
“We want to be back before dark,” he said, and then led the way to Lonis, Fel beside him, as though he had always belonged there.

Fave classic.
Does Lord of the Rings count as a classic yet or are we talking nineteenth century and earlier? If so, I adore Trollope’s Ayalla’s Angel.

Feel good read.
Anything by Pratchett, Heyer, Lindsey Davis, the Pern books (prior to McCaffrey’s son’s takeover), Lord of the Rings. Anything by Charlie Cochrane, KJ Charles, Rhys Ford, Alex Beecroft or JL Merrow. Game of Thrones. Poetry anthologies.

Recommend one of yours.
If you want a heavy dose of m/m in your fantasy, Growing Up Fae. If you prefer to focus on the crime angle, The Scroll. Those are both first volumes in their respective series. If you want a stand-alone novella, The Lord of Shalott.

Fave series.
Game of Thrones/Discworld. I’d have to toss a coin.

Five fun facts about you.
1. I’m a vicar’s daughter from the wilds of Northumberland. I went to the boarding school that featured in Jane Eyre and am still in touch with many of my classmates and with a couple of my father’s parishioners.
2. When I’m not writing fantasy I write fanfiction in a variety of fandoms – currently Lewis, Pros, and SGA. I will read almost any fanfic provided it’s both literate and long. I admit to a slight preference for Harry Potter, Bandom, The Hobbit and SGA.
3. I spent most of my teaching career working in multicultural education and race relations and was also heavily involved in trade union affairs.
4. Despite being 74 I am a dedicated ‘remainer’ (passionate about the EU) and a socialist and I am very technically competent (more so than a lot of younger people) in terms of using my laptop, and the various programmes I need.
5. My favourite colours are turquoise and plum – but not for furnishings where I prefer neutrals that can be dressed up with cushions etc.

Audio Book rec
I don’t really like audio books. I used to listen to them every Friday night on my drive across the Pennines to help care for my mother, but other than in the car I can’t cope with them because I get distracted and lose my place too easily. Since I no longer make long car trips alone, I don’t listen to audio books! When I did, my all-time favourite was Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which seemed to gain an extra dimension when read aloud.

Feature Friday.

Fave secondary characters.
I feel like being sarcastic and saying any that don’t use ‘fave’ as an abbreviation but I’ll be sensible and say all the dwarves in The Hobbit. I’m also becoming more and more fond of Ariadne Sheridan in Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows series; I loved Jonty’s parents and was devastated when the author killed them off.

Book that made you cry.
Most recently, Guernica by Dave Boling. It’s a novel about the bombing and the events surrounding it, with a focus on one (fictional) family.

Fave funny/humorous book.
Terry Pratchett’s Snuff. I love the way he tackled a really serious issue (racism) via humour.

Place you’d like to visit.
China’s great wall. We considered a trip but I’m not sure I could manage the amount of walking involved any more. (Helping to nurse my mother left me with back problems that limit my mobility.)

Current MC’s names.
I have two series in progress. The main characters in Living Fae are Harlequin and Yarrow. The main elf detectives in The Skilled Investigators are Genef and Rath (plus Scratch the dragon).

Words of Wisdom.
Goodness! I can quote various people but I have nothing unique to offer. I like a few sayings and ideas such as:
*Not all who wander are lost./ I know I’m in my own world. Don’t worry, they know me here./ Sorry I ignored you; I was writing fic in my head.
*I read therefore I am./ Reading can seriously damage your ignorance.
*Who does not hold within them vast worlds?/Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under their skin. The talent of a writer lies in giving them their separate names, identities and personalities and have them relate to other characters.
*Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
*There are three rules for writing a successful novel: the trouble is nobody knows what they are.
*Why I write. Because kidnapping people and forcing them to act to act out your interesting make-believe worlds is technically illegal.

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Posted by on January 14, 2019 in personal



December Reviews

Happy New Year to everybody! As usual, I fully intend to post more this year but it is already 8th January. Last year I made a resolution about it and then failed spectacularly so this year I won’t even promise, just cross my fingers! Anyway, here are my December reviews.

TV, films and theatre

I have to say that a mid-December trinity of a re-subscription to Radio Times (after a few years’ absence), a Firestick for our TV and an exploration of my Amazon Prime video possibilities changed my viewing habits – probably permanently.

King Tut’s Treasure Secrets. (UK Channel 5)***** Perhaps all the more interesting because I saw the King Tut treasures in the Cairo Museum.

Secret Life of the Zoo***** I’ve loved this, as usual, and am looking forward to the next season.

The Wave (2016) with Kristoffer Joner***** Excellent disaster movie set in Norway where an avalanche sets of a wave that inundates a village. Based on a true danger.

Dr Who**** The Season ended and was good, but perhaps a bit too ‘worthy’ in its focus on current topics and having a diverse cast. I like the new doctor but I did feel a bit preached-at.

Sherlock Holmes (RDJ) **** re-watch. Mad and fun! I did find that the sound was erratic on TV – I have got used to my laptop and headphones.

Escape from Dubai. *** Interesting (in-laws were just back from Dubai…) but it skated over a lot of the issues it raised.


The excellent:

Lessons in Loving Thy Murderous Neighbour by Charlie Cochrane***** Excellent as usual. The neighbour in question is the college next door which features in a lot of the books. I am still missing the senior Stewarts but Jonty and Orlando continue to ‘hook’ me.

This is going to hurt by Adam Kay ***** (Subtitle: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor) Hilarious and frightening account of the author’s experiences. Makes you hope you never need a hospital. I definitely wouldn’t give this book to anyone pregnant – obstetrics were Kay’s specialty.

Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina *****. This was a boxed set of three novels which I absolutely loved – steampunk adventure with feisty heroines. I certainly intend to buy the next books.

Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck
***** Joe takes refuge in Madeira after problems in UK. He meets Sofia, niece of his employer and together they fight and overcome their difficulties. A gripping novel of action and romance with an unusual location and very believable characters.

Iron Garland by Jeff Wheeler **** The third gripping instalment of the Harbinger fantasy series.

Brit (ish) by Afua Hirsch**** (Subtitle: On Race, Identity and Belonging). I’m not sure I was as impressed by this as by the Why I’m not talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. It was recommended to me by someone who read my review of that. Whilst this book raises, and in some cases explores and explains some interesting issues, it is largely based on the author’s own experiences as the child of a very middle-class ‘mixed’ marriage, and does not necessarily reflect the problems of ethnic minorities in UK. As an essay in coming to terms with her own identity it is extremely well done.

Mr Winterbourne’s Christmas by Joanna Chambers**** Adam and Lysander are the lovers in a delightful mm Regency romance. Only four stars because it was quite short and I desperately wanted more.

Rainbow Advent Calendar**** Four stars for a mixed bag of short stories. These were LGBT Christmas freebies with a new story each day. I didn’t actually read them all – I mostly ignored the ones that were part of a series I wasn’t familiar with and the vampire ones which didn’t appeal as Christmas fare. I also got slightly confused because I downloaded some other Christmas freebies from writers on Facebook or whose newsletters I follow. Anyway, most of the stories were lovely but too short to review individually. I have to say that by the end of the month I was suffering from a surfeit of sugariness but that’s because I read the stories as they came out rather than saving them for occasional enjoyment. My reason for doing that was that most of them had a Christmas theme! I have kept a few in my Calibre library for re-reading next December:
Cruising by Charlie Cochrane***** (inspired by her own 2018 arctic cruise)
Baubles by Jackie Keswick***** (a short and delicate budding ff romance)
Remembering You by Crystal Lacy**** (a Christmas homecoming leads to meeting a highschool crush again)
The Christmas Knife by Jackie North**** (a heartwarming story when the theft of a present leads to romance in the face of a blizzard)
The Elves of Christmas by Wendy Rathbone ****(an unusual ‘take’ on Santa’s elves)
A Frosty Tail by Dawn Sister**** (meeting Jack Frost with a huge dose of myths and legends with a twist)

The readable:

From Out in the Cold by L A Witt *** Neil and Jeremy both have PTSD (for entirely different reasons) and unsupportive families. But as usual, this author sets up the situation then has no real plot though again as usual there’s a hopeful ending and the writing technique is good enough to keep me reading.

The River Leith by Leta Blake *** This is a typical amnesia story about an amateur boxer who can’t recall his lover. It’s quite well written and researched but boring. Not enough happens and I have read better stories with this trope.

Adore by E Davies ** Caspian and Matt and their romance. I suppose it was all right. I didn’t abandon it.

Taboo for You by Anyta Sunday. Abandoned. I simply didn’t get on with the style.

The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous by Jilly Cooper
. Abandoned. I was surprised that I found both the style and the main characters unappealing as I usually enjoy this author.

Nova Praetorian by NR Walker. Abandoned. I couldn’t summon up any interest in the characters who seemed wholly unrealistic.

That makes 168 books read and reviewed this year. I discounted the ones I’d abandoned but added in the re-reads of Heyer etc. that I have only referred to briefly. I didn’t include fanfiction and of course some of those are novel length. So I seem to read about three or four books a week. Some are just novellas but on the other hand, some are seriously long!


The books above kept me busy so I didn’t read many fanfic offerings this month but a friend recommended

A Kept Boy by poisontaster***** A fabulous exploration of slavery and power dynamics in an alternate universe that mirrors modern USA, using a number of American actors in the main roles. I couldn’t stop reading and will definitely be reading the sequels.


Posted by on January 8, 2019 in reviews



Tales from Tara

TALES FROM TARA: fantasy mm with solstice celebrations. Yes, that’s right.

And yes, I’ve managed two books out in one month, which explains why I haven’t actually been doing a lot of writing these last few weeks.

‘Tales’ is the comparatively short second volume of my Living Fae series. In this book (40k words) the ‘heroes’ leave Alderley Edge (separately) to spend time on royal guard duty in Ireland, meeting (and romancing) all kinds of other fae. And celebrating the winter solstice, of course, in the underground palace.

So it’s suited to the season, and if you don’t know the story so far, you can get a lot of information from the Living Fae page here (my WordPress account) or you could buy Growing Up Fae…

The story is erotic without being explicit if that makes sense, and I hope it gives a taste of magic to readers.

The buy links for Tales from Tara are:

If you have problems with the Amazon link (Amazon is behaving strangely at present) try my Amazon page – just type Jay Mountney into the search box.

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Posted by on December 18, 2018 in publishing, writing


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My new novel is out.

The fourth volume in my Skilled Investigators series is now ‘live’ on Amazon and Smashwords.

For anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, the series features a mix of fantasy and crime with a trainee female elf detective, and has a sub plot of gay romance between the detective’s brother and her training mentor. There’s also a telepathic dragon. But I think you’d need to read the first book first, because I never intended the volumes to stand alone.

If you click on the link at the top right of my WordPress site you’ll find a map of The Kingdom to go with the book.

I’m really pleased because for the first time, neither Amazon nor Smashwords had any issues with my formatting and I didn’t (so far as I know) forget anything. That bodes well for later this week when I have another book to publish.

Here are the links – at first for Amazon I could only get a live link for the US site which then redirected me to the UK one. Go figure… Then I managed to get a UK link but at least one friend found it didn’t work. The only reliable answer if you want to use Amazon is to type in my name (Jay Mountney) and my author page will show you all my books including this one.



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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in publishing, writing


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Five things…

There is a meme going round writer groups that asks you to share five things from your current work in progress. I wasn’t tagged but someone said we could all play…

… so here are five things from my WIP, Life on the Edge, hopefully due out some time in 2019. (I’ve chosen the work that is really in progress rather than the ones that are ready to publish.)

1. implied menage (four hot guys from previous volume)
2. werewolf/fae m/f romance (and cubs)
3. unicorns (plus a panther) and assorted riders
4. a trip to South Australia in search of Mr Right
5. kittens all over the place

Tagging anyone else who wants to join in!

The pic is of Alderley Edge where the story takes place, but isn’t the cover, which is also a WIP.


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Posted by on December 7, 2018 in writing



November Reviews

TV, films and theatre

The Secret Life of the Zoo (weekly; ongoing) *****
The animals at Chester Zoo continue to be both fascinating and eye candy.

Beck. Season 1 ****
Swedish crime drama but Beck does very little except preside over a somewhat dysfunctional team. Good police procedural, worth looking out for next season.

Sleeping Beauty **** Pantomime at our local theatre. Stunning sets, costumes, choreography and special effects. Pity about the music which was loud and sometimes drowned both dialogue and lyrics (and led to the loss of a star from me). Typical panto, well done and enjoyable, not least for the reactions of the kids in the audience.

Dr Who (weekly; ongoing) ***
The female doctor with the ensemble team cast of companions continues to try hard to improve our minds.

Harry Brown **
A pensioner (Michael Caine) turns to vengeance when a friend is killed. Gritty and gruesome.

Kill Bill*
Confusing and unpleasant. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating?

American Gangster*
Similarly confusing and unpleasant despite the presence of Will Smith.

Solaris. Abandoned.
Sci fi – very slow and the director seemed more interested in photography than plot. Based on a Russian novel that had good reviews. George Cluny starred.


The good:

The Traitor Lords Saga by Adella J. Harris *****
A Regency trilogy. I should really mark this down to four star because of Americanisms and coincidences, but I couldn’t put it down. There are three books in a boxed set: Lord Lynster Discovers; Lord Heathborough Invests; Lord Edwin Falls. Each concerns the inevitable problems (and the eventual mm romance) of the sons of a group of noblemen convicted of a treasonous plot. The characters and their various entanglements are wholly delicious. Highly recommended.

Night Drop (Pinx Video Mysteries 1) by Marshall Thornton *****
The amateur detective is a fascinating character and the crime, and solution, are interesting. Whilst this is an LGBT novel, there is no romance in this first volume. Recommended.

Murder of a Straw Man and Murder of a Working Ghost by Robyn Beecroft *****
This new Dancing Detectives series is set in the fens near Cambridge and Ely with interesting and believable amateur detectives who manage to reach, however ineptly, conclusions to convoluted cases. Rory is a ‘vlogger’ with family problems and his lodger, Hayley, is both ACE and ethnic minority. Rory is gay and not exactly closeted but his budding romance is very slow moving. A series well worth looking out for, not least for its portrayal of small town English life and the delightful helpings of information about Morris dancing. Recommended.

Band Sinister by KJ Charles *****
Guy is in some senses a country ‘innocent’, thrown into the path of his neighbour, Philip, a nobleman with a wicked reputation which of course is not deserved. A delightful Regency romp. Highly recommended. I also read The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh**** by the same author. This is a short story about Gabriel and Francis from the Society of Gentlemen series. It’s well written but very brief and probably wouldn’t stand alone so not recommended unless you’re already following the series.

Love Can’t Conquer by Kim Fielding****
Jeremy’s teen crush died – or did he? The story is intriguing and the novel is well written. Recommended.

The Greenwood and the Grail by Harper Fox****
Book 3 of the Arthur series. This one was quite mystical, with Lance retreating to a magical forest, cared for by Parzifal. Arthur fortuitously finds them when he enters the forest after a battle. I didn’t personally enjoy this as much as the first two volumes (too little action and too much introspection) but it extends the story, which twists and tweaks the legends of Arthur and Lancelot beautifully, and I would recommend the whole series. I gather it’s one of those trilogies that is going to have a fourth part…

Criminal Intentions. Season 1 Episode 1 ‘The Cardigans’ by Cole McCade/K****
Malcolm and Seong Jae are partnered as detectives and find each other quite difficult at first. But their case work is interesting and their relationship, off to a rocky start, gets quite intense. This is an example of how a crime drama can be meshed with an mm romance and work to enhance both angles. Recommended.

Civilisation (New Scientist: The Collection)****
This is a worthwhile collection of articles though there are a couple that seemed to me to be less than stellar. It covers all the latest research in palaeontology and archaeology as well as more speculative and/or statistical fields looking at religion, migration, politics, and other social issues. It’s well presented and illustrated. I enjoyed being able to read through a number of articles that really interested me all in one volume and might look out for others in the Collections series. Recommended.

Operation Makeover by DJ Jamison (Hearts and Health 7)****
Ridley, who works in the same hospital as other characters in the series, has had a hopeless crush on a friend since high school. He asks Cole, a stylist, to help him change his looks and clothes in an attempt to be noticed, but in the process, falls for Cole. Well-developed characters and nicely written. Recommended.

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch ****
Book 6 in the Rivers of London series with PC Peter Grant. I was slightly disappointed. I understand that there are some short graphic novels between the main volumes, and I suspect I have been missing some events in Peter’s life since I don’t enjoy (and therefore don’t read) graphic novels. Despite the presence of new and interesting magic users, the book concentrates more on police procedure and less on magic than usual. It’s the magic that ‘makes’ the series, so for me, this was a serious drawback and I don’t think I will be in a hurry to buy the next volume. I waited long enough for this one, because initially the e-book was £9.99 which I thought was outrageously expensive (more like the price of a hardback) but I bought it when it was eventually offered at 99p! Not really recommended though I loved the series prior to this volume.

The merely readable:

Conduct Unbecoming by L A Witt ***
Eric and Shane are in the US military and their problem is not the fact that they are gay but that their disparate ranks make even socialisation unacceptable. There is no real plot once the situation has been outlined, though there is a hopeful ending. The main focus of the book seems to be a tour guide to Okinawa which sounds interesting but was not quite what I wanted.

And the dire…

This is a long list with six abandoned books and as you can imagine, I got increasingly irritated this month! I hope I’ll save other people from the pain.

My First Murder by Leena Lehtolainen. Abandoned.
A Finnish police procedural. Extremely boring. I didn’t care who committed the crime or want to know any more about the detective.

The Portal Prophecies by C A King. Abandoned.
To be fair, this fantasy series might have teenage readers as its target audience. I found the style irritating and when I realised it was to be more than one volume I gave up. There are teenagers in a world a little like ours but with massive doses of misogyny, warrior dragons in another world, and other aliens on a different plane altogether who talk in capital letters. I assume they eventually all get together but I didn’t read that far.

The Fraternity of the Estranged: The Fight for Homosexual Rights in England 1891–1908 by Brian Anderson. Abandoned.
The focus of the book is the struggle of three academics, Carpenter, Havelock Ellis and Symonds. I was expecting more about the Wilde trial, given the dates. I strongly suspect the origin of the book was the author’s Ph.D. thesis – it is quite scholarly though fairly ‘dry’ and concentrates on a small area of the field. The trouble for the ordinary reader is that it reads as though written by a grasshopper, with frequent leaps to and fro in time and from one character to another. I got confused, bored, and annoyed, so I skimmed the chapter titles which gave a clue to the contents, and gave up.

A Detached Raider by Ana Night. Abandoned.
Confusing. Also, unlike Criminal Intentions (see the four star reviews) this is an example of how a crime drama can be meshed badly with an mm romance and not work at all. The characters were insufficiently differentiated, which was the confusing bit, and their thoughts about each other kept intruding into the police procedural sections which was both annoying and slightly unrealistic.

Silent Hall by NS Dolkart. Abandoned.
A fantasy book that was strange in that any initial world building was absent and the teenage characters spoke and behaved like modern American teens despite living in a faux mediaeval world with some strange place names thrown in. I didn’t like the writing style but might have continued if the story had hooked me. Apparently it deals with a post-plague scenario and the quest for a new home.

The Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag. Abandoned
This came highly recommended. I got quarter of the way through, and there was still no evidence of any plot. There were numerous characters, quite well-developed via flashbacks (which I regard as an irritating technique most of the time), the main narrative was in present tense, and one of the witches sparkled.


I have nothing to recommend this month. I finished reading the Lewis FrightFest offerings, and read most of the Professionals Big Bang stories. They were (in both fandoms) a mixed bag, some very well written, some case fics, some ‘gen’ fics, and some romances, but all needed a knowledge and love of the fandoms to make sense. I didn’t have time to look at any other recommendations from any of my friends because the two lists mentioned here were quite long.

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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in reviews



The meme asked for 7 lines, 7 lines down, from the 7th page of a work in progress. Well, I have two works in progress, both at the editing and formatting stage, so I’ve extracted seven lines from the right place in each. Well, around seven, because in both cases I had to make minor adjustments to make sure they made some kind of sense – which I assume was the idea!

The first is from Tales from Tara, the second volume of my fae saga.

It was the end of Yarrow’s first month in Tara. He was now firm friends with Stripe and Quicksilver, but still hadn’t found a temporary boyfriend, so his temper was less than perfect. Devil was beginning to chafe at the amount of time spent underground, and the unicorn’s mood was rubbing off on his already edgy rider. So Yarrow could have done without the city trip but guards do not get to choose their duties. They started with a riverside ride, almost a parade. The titania hoped her folk would know she was there and come out to see her. Many did, and their jostling and crowding by the barriers that prevented cars from driving into the Liffey also prevented home-going drinkers from seeing the Royal Ride. Yarrow gazed at the grand buildings lining the street, hoping to remember enough to tell everyone at home on The Edge all about his experience. The words of the song ‘In Dublin’s Fair City’ sprang to mind and he agreed that for a human-built place it was fair. He had no idea whether the girls were pretty and didn’t much care. Unlike Harlequin, he was mostly interested in fae, and mostly in male fae, at that.

The second is from The Lantern, the fourth volume in The Skilled Investigators which centres round a female elf detective with her gay brother and her imprinted (and telepathic) dragon as sidekicks.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” the farmer assured them, and then, changing the subject, continued. “Any more than I would dream of ignoring our other guest. We have a goat ready for Scratch. It’s still alive as we didn’t know whether he would prefer to kill his own prey.” He looked at Genef who realised she had no idea.
She sent a quick query to Scratch who replied that he didn’t really mind. He would kill the goat if it would help, but mainly, he wanted to eat it. And eat it dead, of course.
“Would it help if he killed it himself?” she asked. “He’s willing, but doesn’t mind either way.”
“It would,” said Verilla, the farmer’s wife, “and I’ll just bring it to the front of the house so that Scratch can enjoy his meal.” She left the table and went outside to get the goat, presumably from an outbuilding, for all the world as if she was merely bringing another dish to the table. Genef felt pleased that Scratch was being treated as truly one of the company.

Both works are currently in the throes formatting which, let me tell you, is much much harder than writing them in the first place.

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Posted by on November 18, 2018 in writing