My 8 Desert Island Books! #BAMB 2015

Books Are My Bag is a nationwide campaign to celebrate brick and mortar bookshops, because they are beautiful, magical places full of wonder. Books Are My Bag week happened a few weeks back (I know this post is a bit behind the times, but it’s been a hectic month!) and I got myself some nifty swag, including this adorable tote bag:


This year, the folks at Books Are My Bag challenged us to come up with our ‘Desert Island Reads’, ie. the eight books we would take to a desert island. In the spirit of approaching things like a grown-up, I will not go with my first answer of “Seven Harry Potter books and the script of the new play” and I will make an actual list:

1) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling
I couldn’t very well *not* include a Harry Potter book, now, could I? Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite, because it features my lovelies Sirius & Remus, WHO ARE BOTH FINE AND DANDY, don’t you dare!

 2) Dragonsinger, Anne McCaffrey
This is my favourite Dragonriders of Pern book, although it does have problematic things in it, because well- PERN. I re-read it about once a year.

3) His Dark Materials Omnibus, Philip Pullman
I am totally having the omnibus edition of all three books, because it isn’t cheating since it’s all in one physical book. Also I’ve not re-read these since my teens & I really want to.


4) Ship of Magic, Robin Hobb
This one was harder to choose: it’s the first in The Liveship Traders trilogy, which I dearly love, but I also haven’t re-read it in years, so I feel like I’d be dissatisfied when I was done with this one book & didn’t have the other two. There’s no omnibus – you better believe I checked.

5) Of Noble Family, Mary Robinette Kowal
The final book in the Glamourist Histories & my favourite of the lot. It has some really cool study-of-magic-as-science aspects, especially relevant to my interests because they discuss the language they use a lot, and I LOVE that. Kowal also makes each book can stand alone, so it wouldn’t matter so much if I could never re-read the first four.


And now, because I’m greatly daring & possibly very foolish, I pick three books I haven’t read yet to come with me on a desert island forever.

6) The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K LeGuin
I know from other works I’ve read of LeGuin’s that I enjoy her sparse style and that I’m engaged with the themes she chooses to focus on. So many people whose opinion I trust love this book, I’m confident I would like it too. Honestly the only reason I haven’t read it yet is that I’ve not really felt like I had the time/brain space to properly concentrate on it. I bet that’ll be a big problem on the desert island.

7) Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
I’m slowly catching up with the Discworld after making a late start into the series. I’d pick Hogfather because,as far as I know, it’s one of the more stand-alone ones. It might also be nice to have a book that’s a bit more festive (although it might just upset me if I’m all alone on a desert island…).

8) Fevre Dream, George RR Martin
I love Martin’s writing, but I can’t pick one of the Song of Ice and Fire books. I love them but we have two more books to go & I wouldn’t want to spend my desert island days being reminded that I have no idea how the series wraps up!

Fevre Dream is one of Martin’s earlier novels, it’s a standalone about vampires & it’s very well regarded, so I’d go for that one.


Let me know what you think of these picks in the comments below, would you choose any of the same books or just a completely different list?

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Convention-Fest 2014!

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the past fortnight had been filled with conventions and various other geeky things. Everybody else probably had their con reports done ages ago, but I got ill with a pretty darn impressive bout of con-plague right after coming home from Loncon, so I haven’t had time yet. So now that my insides have forgiven me for my wicked convention ways (all the snacking, all the coffee, none of the healthy stuff…), here are a few highlights of my con experience!

photo 1I went to Nine Worlds right from work on the opening night (Thursday 7th) and stayed until Sunday night. I had an absolute blast there, particularly as a bunch of my close friends & writing group buddies were going, and I also knew a bunch of other people from the London fannish scene. I’d booked the week between Nine Worlds and Loncon off work, so I used it to chill out and work on structural edits to The Paradise Swarm. I’m so glad I did this, I don’t know how I would have been anything but zombie-Claire for all of  Loncon if I hadn’t.

photo 3Then on the morning of Thursday 14th, I trekked down to the Excel Centre with a massive suitcase to attend Loncon3, which was my first WorldCon. I was also on staff, meaning I volunteered ahead of the con and had extra responsibilities for specific things (in my case, the Party Maven team! We walked around the Fan Village in the evenings being helpful and liaising with Ops. Shame I didn’t think to bring a pedometer!). I ended up doing way more than I’d expected which was really good fun although a bit taxing.

After I went home on Monday and searched my suitcase quite thoroughly at the front door, it became clear I’d lost my keys at the con! Luckily someone had brought them into the lost and found at the Excel and the staff there was extremely helpful, letting me send in a courier to get the keys back to my house.

On Tuesday, it was back to the office with me, with what I thought at the time was a little bit of a cold. That night, I went to the awesome George & Robin event at the Freemason Hall in Central London, which was super cool, because ROBIN HOBB!! GEORGE R. R. MARTIN!! The interview was really super interesting, especially when they started talking in more detail about the writing process and how they approach their work. I also got a gorgeous signed hardback of Robin Hobb’s latest novel, Fool’s Assassin, which is about Fitz! It is literally shiny.

photo (2)Of course, after that, my ‘little bit of a cold’ morphed into stomach flu and I had to take some time off sick. I’m feeling better now though, and I don’t think I’ll ever plan two back-to-back conventions like this. It was epically good fun, but I kind of feel like I’ve entirely lost the following week.

For 2015, I’m hoping I can make it to my first EasterCon and go to Nine Worlds again, as they are both in Heathrow and neither is too long, meaning I can take a few days off AFTER each con to recuperate. I’m never going back to the office the day after a con again!

Con Highlights:


I went to a lot of panels over the last couple weeks so I couldn’t name them all, but there were some outstanding ones. At Nine Worlds, I loved The Vampire vs Werewolves vs Dragons vs Warlocks debate, which had authors debating the merits of each (dragons won); Paul Cornell’s Only a Moment panel; and the Costume talks in the fandom track, which had @Hello_Tailor discussing the impact of film/TV costumes on the narrative, and @whatkatie_did talking about stealth cosplay! At Loncon, my favourite was hands down the Diversity in YA panel, which had great panelists and moderation. I also really enjoyed the various Kaffeeklatsches and Literary Beers I got to attend, with Emma Newman, Mur Lafferty, Seanan McGuire & Mary Robinette Kowal.


dariajaneI cosplayed all three days at Nine Worlds! My costumes weren’t the most involved I’ve ever had, but they were generally well received. In the end I got enough of Nine World’s new ‘Awesome Cosplay’ tokens to win a little goody bag with candy, a toy dinosaur and an ‘Outstanding Cosplay’ badge!!

On Friday, @Jenepel and I went as Daria and Jane, which was tons of fun, except that I wore a wig and contacts and pretty much no one recognised me as me. I kept having to point as my name tag and be all “Hi, we’re friends!”. On Saturday, I wore my Sally Skellington dress but without the white sleeves or face-paint. I think that worked well as a compromise between cosplay and looking like myself! On Sunday, I was Tank Girl, which was THE BEST to make, but which I forgot to take a picture of! Must dress in it again soon for photo-op!


photo 5I got some free books in my Nine Worlds welcome pack, at the Gollancz party there and from the Helsinki in 2017 bid (because I’d just supported it). I also bought lots of books, so now I have a nice stack of them. I even got a few signed. :)

New people!

I got to meet so many new people, from fans to writers I’ve admired for ages, with everyone in between; I can’t possibly name-check everybody (without forgetting some people and being rude). I knew fewer people at Loncon, but volunteering and being chatty do really help! Because a bunch of my friends were at Nine Worlds, hanging out in the bar there was great fun (except for the price of everything!) and led to meeting even more people. I had nice chats with people after the New Voices panels too!


Guest Blog: Fight or Flight by Chele Cooke

For this guest blog, I’m thrilled to present one of my writing group buddies: Chele Cooke, a kickass genre author and all-round awesome person. Chele’s latest novel, Fight or Flight, Book Two of the Out Of Orbit series, is out now. You can get a taste of the world by downloading a free e-book of Dead & Buryd, the first novel in the series, or you can read an extract below. Chele is also raffling off 25 copies of Fight or Flight, so scroll down to get to the giveaway!

About Chele

Chele Cooke is an English-born writer based in London. Starting out writing fan fiction, she soon moved onto her own fiction, releasing her first novel, ‘Dead and Buryd’, in 2013, the sequel ‘Fight or Flight’ following less than a year later.

She is currently working on The Out of Orbit series, a number of short stories, a circus based sci-fi, and a paranormal serial currently released weekly on Wattpad.

Chele’s website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Wattpad

Find Fight or Flight on: Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads


From Chapter 8: Catching Smoke

She’d been waiting to see him. Every day in the compound, especially since his note had arrived, she had thought of seeing him again. Keiran reached out first, his fingers on her jaw, gently brushing the bruise on her cheekbone. He drew her forwards and placed a soft kiss on her forehead, her temple, her cheek and then the corner of her lips. She turned towards him then, settling her lips against his tender flesh. His fingers disappeared into her hair, holding the nape of her neck as he urged her up to him, sharing breath, sharing longing.

FoFsmallHis lips tasted of wheat beer and yapoque smoke. He’d been worried. She could imagine him standing outside the Trade Inn, smoking while he waited before coming inside to get a drink. The taste of him was sweet against her tongue.

His skin was smooth and warm, just the way she remembered it. His fingertips pressed into the small of her back, pulling her closer. She gripped his arms and clung on, hoping she hadn’t been imagining it all, scared he might evaporate into the smoke of his cigarettes.

Next to them, Halden cleared his throat.

Georgianna pulled back. Maybe Keiran had done enough to earn Halden’s approval, but she doubted anything was enough for an extended display of affection. The problem was she wasn’t ready to put any space between them. Weeks of thinking of him, wondering whether he was safe, if he really was going to help her, had built up into a pit of longing that had not yet been filled.

The tip of her nose bumped against his and he placed another soft kiss at the corner of her lips. She slid her hands up to his shoulders and pulled herself against him, her cheek against his as she hugged him tightly. Keiran’s arms wound around her waist, kissing her temple again.

When he moved back, the anxious expression was gone, replaced by critical examination. His gaze swept across her face, down her neck and back to the injury on her cheek.

“He hurt you.”

She shook her head. His thumb brushed against her cheek again and behind his frown, she could see his jaw tightening. Georgianna grasped his wrist.

“No,” she assured him. “It wasn’t him.”

“Who then? He’s had you for days,” Halden insisted. “I’m no medic, but I know that mark is new.”

She avoided looking at either of them.

“It doesn’t matter, it was nothing.”

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