Hello and welcome to my little space on the internet. Further into the 2020s this place will hold links to the books I’ve written. It will be full of witty antidotes (or should that be anecdotes), along with interesting tidbits and some useful things for school visits and such. For now though, it’s just a spot for me to play with creatively and to let you know a little about me.
Who am I?
I’m Jane Groves and I grew up in an Australian town with kangaroos peering in my bedroom window. I’ve worked as an engineer – a job I was told I couldn’t do because I’m a girl – but my heart belonged to stories. I now work in a library and use writing as my excuse to ignore housework.
What were my favourite books as a child?
I was a voracious reader as a child but I grew up in a country town in Australia in the 80s and 90s. My book choices came from libraries with very limited budgets and the books I could buy from the local newsagent with the book credits that my parents owed me (I started working in the family business at 9 and was paid in books). As such, my favourites are not filled with surprising choices but I loved them anyway.
Enid Blyton regularly whisked me away to fantastical adventures. I adored The Faraway Tree series, The Adventure Series, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, and St Clare’s. As I grew up in Australia, her references to puffins and war-time rations of tongue sandwiches were as fantastical to me as Moonface was. I loved it all.
I was also a Nancy Drew girl. A young, red-headed girl who solved mysteries was exactly the type of friend I wanted, so I had great fun joining her in her escapades. I’ve recently re-read a couple of Nancy Drew books and they have definitely dated, but they still gave me immense joy as a child and added to my taste for mystery and adventure.
I loved the 1980’s picture book by Martin Baynton called Jane and the Dragon. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, it’s the story of Jane who is a maid-in-waiting who wants to be a knight, but is laughed at for her dreams because she’s a girl. Eventually she lives her dream anyway, saves the silly little prince and befriends a dragon. It’s still on my shelf to remind me to follow my dreams no matter what others think and how scary it might be.
The final book to add to this list wasn’t part of a series, it wasn’t by a big name author, in fact I can’t even remember the name of the book. It was an old battered book in my school’s library that I found when I was around 10 years old. It was a British war-time book where two girls were sent to Dorset to live on a farm while London wasn’t safe. I just remember a general feel about the girls, their love of the dairy cows on the farm, and how it made me feel like I was drinking a warm drink for my soul. It was lovely and I wish I could remember what it was called.
A few books from this generation that I would have loved to have as a child are Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis, The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike, The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Elsewhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie, and The Uncommoners by Jennifer Bell.
What are some of my favourite books on my bookshelf now?
I don’t really believe that a story lover can have only one favourite book. There are different books for different moods and different parts of your life. I have loved many books but a few of my standouts are:
The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling with my standout book being The Order of the Phoenix. When I fall in love with a story I enjoy re-reading them. The books in the Harry Potter series have been re-read more than anything else I own. When I’m in need of comfort, these are the books I will usually turn to. They are books of amazing world building and characters who have come to life in my imagination. My favourite fictional house is the Burrow; I would love to spend hours browsing Diagon Alley; and I’d crash out in one of the Hogwarts common rooms (I’m a Ravenclaw when Pottermore last sorted me). I can’t think of another book/series where I have loved so many of the characters either. I loved Harry, Hermione and Ron of course but there are so many other characters that I have have true affection for and I really feel that I know them that I can’t list them all here. I didn’t start reading them until the early 2000s (The Order of the Phoenix was the first book in the series that I queued for) but I’ve never looked back since.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is the book that I would most compare to the experience of being at the theatre. The world was so immersive that it breathed to life with scents of caramel and magic. It was strange reading it the first time with it’s ringed structure, but if a sign appeared advertising Le Cirque des Reves -The Circus of Dreams, I would be running to join the other réveurs with my red scarf flowing behind me. I recently read The Starless Sea which is Morgenstern’s second book and it’s equally wonderful. I’m sure I will buy whatever come next from her too.
The Thursday Next series starting with The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. A ludicrous detective series in the vein of Douglas Adams based in a parallel universe where being a literary detective is a real (if not lucrative) job. I read most of the books while commuting in London and would always get strange looks while I laughed along. Perfect for when life is too serious.
Jane Austen’s novels. Worlds and characters are what hook me and Austen’s books are overflowing with both. Mansfield Park and Persuasion are the two I revisit the most, followed by Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice. Despite the novel of Emma being a masterpiece in English literature, I studied her at school which seems to have put me off the character of Emma permanently, so she and Northanger don’t get as much of a look in (sorry!). Like the characters in Harry Potter, I really feel like I know the characters that live inside these books.
A couple of other standouts which are begging to be listed are – Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, One Day by David Nicholls, The Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeill, Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden, and The 13 ½ lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moérs. There are many, many more but that probably gives you an idea of what I enjoy.
I’d love to get to know you more. Please do get in contact with me here: