Books you should buy for Christmas (and not just mine!) :D

It’s that time of the year again: the weather gets a little rougher, the nights are seeping into our days, and you start saying things like ‘I can’t believe it’s dark at four o’clock!’ even though you have experienced this strange phenomenon every year of your life… It’s actually my favourite time of the year, being an Autumn/Winter person rather than a Spring/Summer type person, and this is despite the looming stress of Christmas – what to buy? What for dinner? Who are we eating dinner with? What lingering family resentments need to be avoided? Posting cards this year or just pretending that I did?

So this year I offer the following to help with some of the Christmas stress. Have a fantasy reader you need to buy for? Or just need to alleviate the pain of buying presents with buying some for yourself? (I do this a lot). Then may I recommend, um, my books?

Here are some excellent reasons to buy the Copper Cat books:

The covers are really very beautiful and feature dragons. They will beautify anyone’s bookshelves and immediately convey a sense of good taste and gravitas.

posting cover

The books themselves are quite hefty, so you are a) getting good value for your money b) could potentially use them to batter an intruder with.

Some quotes from people who have enjoyed the Copper Cat books:

‘Tolerable. Needed more elves.’ – Aragorn, son of Arathorn*

‘I liked the bit with all the horses. Wait, which book was this again?’ – Shadowfax

‘There’s fighting, dragons, treasure. What’s not to like?’ – Beowulf

Alright, okay, some quotes from people who have actually read the books (and do really exist):

‘Near perfect fantasy-adventure… read it and remind yourself what made you fall in love with fantasy’ – Starburst Magazine

‘Williams has thrown out the rulebook and injected a fun tone into epic fantasy without lightening or watering down the excitement and adventure… Highly recommended’ – The Independent

‘Highly inventive, vibrant high fantasy with a cast you can care about’ – The British Fantasy Society

The Copper Cat books are sword and sorcery with a modern edge – adventure, snark, terrible dark deeds done in the name of magic, and a sprinkling of sexy times. You can buy The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost right now, and even pre-order the final volume in the trilogy, The Silver Tide. However, if chunky sword and sorcery books aren’t your thing, then here are some other fantastic books from across the genre spectrum, all of which would be spectacular additions to the space underneath your Christmas tree:

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick – a darker shade of fantasy, with delicious gothic horrors and lashings of swordfights. The sequel, The Boy Who Wept Blood, is also available.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – a gorgeous fairy tale with probably the most beautiful depiction of magic use I’ve ever read. Also, it’s quite sexy.

Battlemage by Stephen Aryan – like magic that punches you in the face? This is the book for you.

Banished by Liz de Jager – if you have young people to buy for (or you just fancy a bit of ass-kicking adventure yourself) then may I introduce you to Kit Blackhart? She is going to knock your socks off. The sequel, Vowed, is also available now.

The Vagrant by Pete Newman – a book that defies description, but it’s likely you won’t have read another fantasy book like it.

Anything by Robin Hobb – You’re a person of taste and distinction, so you don’t need me to recommend Robin Hobb to you, but perhaps you know a burgeoning fantasy fan who hasn’t read Assassin’s Apprentice yet. You know what to do.

The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder – a sudden horror/crime recommendation for you. If you like unreliable narrators and unspeakable evil (and who doesn’t, at Christmas?) I can’t throw this book at you fast enough.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – a science-fiction reader you need to buy for? Expand their minds with this and never look at spiders in the same way again.

I hope that one of the books I’ve banged on about here will tickle your fancy, and remember that the greatest present you can give an author is a photo of you gleefully hugging their book you have just willingly purchased with actual money in a bookshop, or even, praise be to all the little goblins, a review.

Wishing you the best of times at the best time of year,

Jen x


*please note, there are no actual elves in the Copper Cat books.

The Oxford Street Branch of TopShop is a cleverly disguised circle of Hell

I went to a wedding on Sunday (and a lovely and happy wedding it was too) which obviously meant I spent the week beforehand desperately running from clothes shop to clothes shop growing more and more desperate as I realised I am ultimately doomed to never find anything I like ever. In fact, the chances are that if you spoke to me in the last week or so you’d have had to put up with at least a bit of whinging about how much I hate clothes shopping, and how dreadful the whole experience is.

So I just wanted to say it again here. I hate clothes shopping. Yes I do.

When I’ve mentioned this previously in the week, I have had at least three people respond with “Oh but all girls love shopping, don’t they?”. Side stepping the obvious urge to break things here, I will acknowledge that yes, the stereotypical view of women is that they love the shopping, can’t get enough of it, love shoes more than men etc. I will admit that there was a time when I might have enjoyed it slightly, mainly when I was a teenager with a) no bills and b) no serious job, so I could wear what I liked because I didn’t have to worry about not having money for other things or buying clothes unsuitable for work. Now though, I find it to be a poxy, mind-deadening experience of hideousness, and here are the fundamental reasons why:

1) The people who do like shopping. Shops are heaving with the sort of skinny, invariably blond women who absolutely adore buying clothes, presumably because everything fits them and they look great in everything. They can be seen grazing skinny fit jeans in Top Shop and fingering fabrics like their lives depend on it. True, it’s not really their fault that they enjoy it, but it doesn’t stop them getting on my wick (and getting in my way).

2) It’s the same old shit in every single shop. This is probably the biggest reason I hate it. Seriously, I walked up and down fucking Oxford Street and halfway around Lewisham, not to mention all sorts of random shops I jumped in out of desperation and they all contained EXACTLY THE SAME DAMN THINGS. If you would like, for example, a mid-length skirt at the moment, you’re stuffed. You could be entirely ready to accept any style or colour, or even be prepared to snip sequins off it for a wearable skirt, it won’t matter because they don’t exist anymore. Because, I suspect, it’s not “in season”. If you want gypsy neck tops in colours such as lurid purple and bright green, black leggings or smock tops, well then you’re in luck because that’s all there is. Honestly, the most depressing thing about high street shopping is the relentless assertion that you must all dress like the herd; get in line with the other sheep, because we can’t be bothered to provide you with an actual choice.

3) The lameness of the shops themselves. The Dorothy Perkins that closed it’s changing room an hour before the shop closed itself, for no apparent reason- two members of staff were actually sitting in it, having a chat, but they looked at me like I’d cacked on their gypsy tops because I wanted to try something on. Really? You expect me to buy something without trying it on? Perhaps if I was one of the size 6 blond brigade, this would be viable. The New Look with changing room doors like wobbly saloon doors, with an inch gap in the middle that everyone can clearly see you through. I expect most women have been in changing rooms whilst small children nip about randomly pushing open doors and yelling for their mum- I’ve always hated this, but in New Look it doesn’t really matter because everyone can see your pale bottom and holey underwear anyway. And there’s TK&Max, where 60% of the items you pick up will have holes in already or stains in odd places, and good luck trying to find an actual pair of shoes. No chance.

I did find stuff to wear in the end, and amazingly, I liked it (a long purple skirt, tellingly in a Marks & Spencers Outlet store- you can’t find any long skirts otherwise, believe me!). But what it has left me with is a huge reluctance to ever go high street shopping again. And I don’t think I’ll be missing out, quite honestly.