Authors I love

Authors I love: Christina Jones

During a trip to The Works this week I happened upon some of Christina Jones’ books that I didn’t own – having borrowed them from the library back in my days in Essex.  And then it occurred to me that this might be the time to make another entry in my very occasional series of posts about Authors I love (see previous installments on Katie Fforde and Georgette Heyer) as as far as I can see there’s no new book from her on the way at the moment which I might be able to rave about.

Paperback copy of Heaven Sent by Christina Jones
My copy of Heaven Sent – recently rescued from the pile of favourites next to the bed

Christina Jones writes wonderfully quirky romantic comedies, usually set in or around the Cotswolds.  They have often magical or mystical elements – which is not usually something I go for, but she does it so well – and come in interconnected series – where a secondary character in one book (a best friend for example) will end up being the lead character in the next book. Old characters often make cameos in later books so you get a chance to see what happened in their happily ever afters, without it being a sequel where they face strife and conflict.

As I said in my BotW post on Stealing the Show in June last year I first discovered her work when I came across a copy of Heaven Sent in a display of books nominated for the Melissa Nathan Award – as is often the way, it’s still my favourite of her novels, perhaps because I’m a sucker for a dark-haired bloke in eyeliner and Yaya is an absolute hoot.  Once I’d read that I started trawling my way through older books via the library – and buying new ones as soon as they came out.  I’ve got most of the reissues of her earlier stuff on the kindle – although I haven’t read them all as I’m trying to ration myself in the absence of new books.

A selection of books by Christina Jones on a bookshelf.
The Christina Jones shelf, such as it is, the rest are on my kindle as they were hard to get in paperback

But basically, these have everything I want in a light romantic fiction book.*  The heroines are smart and usually very good at their jobs**, they have supportive friends and find men who celebrate their achievements and love them for who they are without trying to change them.  There’s conflict, but it’s often based on misunderstandings rather than someone having done something actually terrible.  No one is perfect.  And they’re funny – mostly witty funny as opposed to laughing at someone’s humiliation funny, although there are some embarrassing moments in them too.

So, if you want to read your way into Christina Jones where should you start?  Well each novel stands alone – and as I said at the top of this post, my local branch of The Works had a cache of them at the moment – and they have the same ones online too Love Potions, Seeing Stars, Moonshine and the aforementioned Heaven Sent which are all in their 6-for-£10 promotion (sorry).  All of those would be fine places to start to give you a taster – and they’re cheaper there than Amazon or on Kindle.  There are few short stories/novellas available on Kindle for quite low prices  – but I never think they are a particularly good way of trying a new author (unless they’re free!) because you might be missing background, in jokes, world rules etc, so I would suggest the slightly older-but-recently-reissued Milton St John series, which are available as a bundled set on Kindle for £2.99 at time of writing – I haven’t read all of them yet, but the ones I have are good so that would be a cheap way of dipping your toe in the water.

Happy reading!

*Magic is an optional extra

**or at least they are once they get their head around the magical stuff.

Authors I love, Book of the Week, cozy crime

Book of the Week: Earthly Delights

As you may have seen from yesterday’s Week in Books, I had a bit of a strange week reading last week, having trouble settling down to books – and a few that I didn’t like.  But choosing this week’s BotW was easy – Kerry Greenwood’s Earthly Delights.

You might recognise Kerry Greenwood’s name because she’s the author of the Phryne Fisher series of murder mysteries set in 1920s Australia, which I adore and have been turned into a TV series – which I have thoughts about. This the first in her Corinna Chapman series – which is set in present day (or at least present day when they were written a few years back) Melbourne, where Corinna is a speciality baker who runs her own bakery in one of the slightly seedier areas.  The bakery is proving a success, but suddenly she’s getting anonymous letters calling her a whore, a junkie has overdosed in the alley behind her shop, there’s a mysterious but gorgeous man showing an interest in her and her shop assistants are starving themselves to try and get a role on a TV show (any TV show).  She’s determined to get to the bottom of the letters – which are upsetting and scaring her and her friends – and ends up getting sucked in to some of the other drama as well…

Although this is the first in the series, I had already read one of the later books and enjoyed it although I was missing some backstory.  This fills some of those gaps in nicely and sets up the series as well as having an excellent mystery.  Greenwood always creates great settings and quirky characters in the Phryne books – and she does the same here.  Corinna is very different to Phryne, but she’s great fun, smart and warm-hearted, just like Miss Fisher.  Her apartment building is a brilliantly quirky invention – as are many of the people who live there.

I didn’t love this the way that I love Phryne, but in the absence of a new book about the Fabuous Miss Fisher, I’ll happily work my way through these.  I’ve been waiting for either the kindle price or the second hand price to drop on this series for ages – and these have all dropped from over £5 for the Kindle edition to just over £3, which is still on the top end of what I’m prepared to pay for ebooks, but is much more doable.  I shouldn’t really be buying books, but when has that ever stopped me before.  You can pick up your copy on Kindle or Kobo (which isn’t price-matching Amazon at time of writing sadly), in paperback from Amazon (if you’re prepared to shell out £11+ for a new copy or £8+ for a second hand one) or you can trawl the second hand shops because it’s out of stock and un-orderable at both Foyles and Waterstones.

Happy reading.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: September 26 – October 2

It’s was a bit of a weird week – I found it hard to get in to a few things hence the dipping around.  I abandoned Murder out of Tune after 50 pages – I was only about 25 pages in at the end of last week – and included it for completeness and it came back and bit me!  I have another cozy crime started that’s not on this list – because I’m less than 50 pages in and I’m not sure it’s going to stick and I’m not making that mistake again…

Read:

Queen Victoria’s Youngest Son by Charlotte Zeepvat

No Time Like the Past by Jodi Taylor

Hot Summer Nights by Laramie Briscoe

Start Here: Read Your Way into 25 Amazing Authors ed. Jeff O’Neal

Midsummer Night by Deanna Raybourn

Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood

The Case of the Deepdean Vampire by Robin Stevens

Started:

Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Lethal Lifestyles by LynDee Walker

Still reading:

The Underground Railroad by Coulson Whitehead

Dustbowl Girls by Lydia Reeder

I bought a couple of ebooks this week in an attempt to get out of the slump – and pre-ordered a couple more too.  So relatively restrained.  For me anyway

books, stats

September Stats

New books read this month: 36*

Books from the to-read pile: 12

Ebooks read: 23

Books from the Library book pile: 1

Non-fiction books: 3

Most read author: Jodi Taylor (3 Chronicles of St Mary’s novels, 3 novellas)

Books read this year: 270

Books bought: 1 book and 7 ebooks

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 466 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

Not bad going this month on the book front – most of the ebooks were bought on holiday when I went on the Jodi Taylor binge, and the 1 actual book was a second hand one.

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (6 this month)