Tuesday, 4 April 2017

YASH Spring 2017

THE HUNT IS NOW OVER! BUT DON'T WORRY - #YASH WILL BE BACK IN THE AUTUMN.

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organised by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favourite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: the Spring YA Scavenger Hunt begins at 12pm (Pacific Time) on Tuesday, April 4th, and ends at 12pm (Pacific Time) on Sunday, April 9th.

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page. There are FIVE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM, where you can win books by me and other fab authors in my team, but there is also a red team, a blue team, a pink team, and a purple team, each giving away an awesome selection of books!


Also, I'm having an exclusive extra giveaway for anyone wanting to win a signed copy of any one of my books - scroll riiiiiiight to the bottom to enter that. Now, on to the hunt!


SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've sneakily hidden my favourite number somewhere in gold. At the bottom of this post is a link to the next author in my team. Collect the favourite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 9th April, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


SCAVENGER HUNT POST


Today I am hosting LH Nicole, author of LEGENDARY, who as well as being an author is a seasoned Pastry Chef at the most magical place on earth, and a lifelong fairytale (Disney and Grimm) lover. LH believes in love at first sight, is addicted to 80's & 90's cartoons and anything that can capture her ADD-way-too-overactive imagination. Joan Lowery Nixon and L.J. Smith were the first authors she became addicted to, and they inspired her to steal away whenever she could to read and write.

Find out more about LH Nicole on her website, facebook page, and twitter.



About LEGENDARY:

Aliana Fagan spent her childhood traveling the world, dreaming of legendary heroes and mythical lands. But after the sudden death of her parents, she hides behind the safety of her camera and her art until a vivid recurring dream compels her to dig into her father's research about Avalon and Camelot. 

When she is hurled into a magical realm by forces she thought were only the stuff of fairy tales, she finds herself thrown into an adventure she could never have imagined. Nearly everything she thought she knew about Arthurian legend was wrong. The independent eighteen-year-old is shocked to find that the people of Avalon think that she is the Destined One, the only person who can summon King Arthur back to life from his hidden chamber. Most surprising of all is that it's up to her to lead the Knights of the Round Table on an epic quest-an adventure that will transport them across the seven magic realms to reclaim all that has been lost so they can defeat the evil Mordrid for good. But first, she must bring the ancient warriors into her world and reunite them with their lost brothers. 

Chaperoning the legendary knights-with-a-chivalry-complex as they navigate the modern world is a constant challenge, and she certainly never thought she'd be caught between her intense feelings for the noble Sir Galahad and her growing friendship with the King. To fulfill the prophecy, Aliana will have to discover the meaning of friendship, bravery, loyalty, true love, and forgiveness. But can she do it all in time to save the realms from Mordrid's impending Armageddon?


Buy the book from Amazon US



EXCLUSIVE CONTENT


LH is sharing 2 fabulous extras - a Spotify playlist to go along with LEGENDARY (I'd have to say track 6 is my favourite), and an exclusive deleted scene.






Deleted scene from LEGENDARY:

Set up: This was a scene we cut from the first book and takes place just before the fundraiser dance Arthur, Aliana, Galahad, Owen, Lancelot and Percy attend after returning to the modern world from Avalon. This scene is from Owen’s POV and focuses on his conflicting thoughts and emotions about learning he’s a reincarnated Knight of the Round Table and that the cousin he’d only met a few weeks earlier is the key to breaking the curse he and the others are under.

Owen frowned when the little grey marble colored Dragon name Daggerhorne joined him and the others on the roof without Galahad. Something was going on between Aliana and the big knight and Owen wasn’t sure he liked it, especially since he was alone with her in the flat. Aliana may not talk about it but between what Wade had told him, and all he had learned about her in the last few weeks, it was clear she’s had a rough go with dating guys.
Owen turned from the Dragon and watched Lancelot and Arthur draw their swords and salute each other before getting into attack positions. Why do I still feel as if I’m turning into a nutter for believing all this? King Arthur is real and I am one of his reincarnated knights? And my cousin is supposed to be the one to save us all from a curse I didn’t even realize I am under?
All last night he had dreamed of Camelot, or at least what he imagined it would have looked like. When he mentioned it to Lancelot earlier, the stoic knight had just said it was probably part of his memories returning. When Owen had talked to Percy about it the southerner had admitted he had a lot of those dreams to when he first met Lancelot. But the number of dreams had waned only a month or so after. He had no doubt Percy was upset by that fact, the cowboy was for more anxious to know more than Owen was ready to admit he was. If he didn’t trust his gut so much, and the whisper in his heart and mind that sounded so much like his late mother’s voice, he would have been ready to commit himself and Aliana.
Arthur launched his attack against a stoic Lancelot as the clang of steel against steel rang out and sparks flew as the blades collided. Lancelot powered back but Arthur dodged his thrust and struck again in one fluid motion. Owen had always been fascinated by swords, probably knew more than a reasonable person should, but he’d never learned how to handle a blade. Seeing such skill from two warriors who had been the best was a rarity and a sight to be admired.
Owen smiled ruefully when Arthur knocked Lance’s sword from his hand and kicked his feet out from under him. That right there was what made different from these guys. He wasn’t a fighter, never had been. Owen was better at fighting with words not physical actions.
“Well done, sire.” Lancelot admitted accepting Arthur’s offered hand as he pulled himself to his feet.
“Owen?” Arthur asked. “How are your fighting skills?”
He ran a hand through his hair looking at the ground. “They’re not up to par, but I’ll give it a go.” 
Owen and Percy squared off, taking Arthur and Lancelot’s swords. The weight was strange but not totally unfamiliar. Owen cleared his throat and squared his shoulders, he didn’t like being watched so carefully, but he would be damned if he’d show it. Despite his lack of skills, and the ache of his muscles after only the first blow he managed to last a three whole minutes against Percy before the larger man knocked him on his backside.
“Nicely done, Owen, Percy. Go again,” Arthur ordered with a nod of approval.
“I should’ve paid closer attention to Wade’s lessons.” Owen grumbled getting to his feet. Wade was right, words aren’t always enough to protect yourself. Just as he and Percy got back into position the door opened as Galahad joined them, a small smile in his face.
Why was he smiling? Owen wondered not liking that it probably had to do with Aliana. She called him overbearing but Owen wasn’t the kind of guy to just sit back when a virtual stranger made a pass at a person he cared about. Especially his newfound cousin. 




GAH. So much fun, right?

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author



And if you haven't had enough fun, here's the bonus extra giveaway I promised...

Enter to win a signed copy of any ONE of my books - Purge, Breaker, or Blackfin Sky (click to see their descriptions) - by filling in the Rafflecopter below (Intl. OK). Good luck!








Monday, 3 April 2017

March Wrap-up!

I'm a fan of March. It starts with St. David's Day, which -- being Welsh -- is obviously a day that's close to my heart. It's also when we celebrate Mother's Day in the UK, and when the clocks go forward and we start seeing a little more daylight. Flowers, sunshine, the smell of cut grass -- it all makes me feel brighter. (This isn't something I used to think when I was younger and afflicted by the snottiest hayfever known to humanity.)

All told, I had a pretty good March. On the writing front, I made headway with my work-in-progress and got great feedback from my critique partners. I also -- and this is the big thing -- found out I've been awarded a bursary by Literature Wales. They are funding me to be able to write full-time for 3 months, and I am absolutely chuffed to bits!


Reading-wise, I picked up the pace a bit last month, managing to squeeze in 7 reads. I think having my reading schedule helped a lot, though I didn't get around to reading my allocated 1 adult novel for the month, and I'm still 3 books behind my Goodreads target. Eep. I'll try to catch up in April. 

Anyway, here's what I read:



Let's start with my 3 Netgalley review reads. THE STATE OF GRACE by Rachael Lucas comes out on 6th April, and is a wonderful #ownvoices story about Grace, an autistic teen, figuring out her place in the world. It's uplifting and funny, with a great full cast of characters. Recommended with two thumbs up.

LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer was also a belter, and is out in April. It's about Juliet -- a grieving girl set on following in her mother's ambitious footsteps, and Declan -- a troubled boy trying to find his place in a world that keeps trying to squeeze him out. Both struggling with guilt, they find each other through the anonymity of letters left on a grave. I loved the friendships and complicated families, and the kindness found in unexpected places. It was an intense yet hopeful look at two teens fighting their way through grief, and a romance I was 100% on board with. 

I've been looking forward to Becky Albertalli's THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED for ages (having been a huge fan of her debut, SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA), and it was definitely worth the wait! Loved, loved, loved - even the cringeworthy grandma. This is the perfect read for summer, especially if you need a little boost to feel good about yourself. And the world. And boys who wear white sneakers and Middle-earth T-shirts. Also, Simon makes a cameo! Just read it and join me in making heart eyes, ok? It comes out 11th April. 

That's it for my Netgalley reads. I also had an ARC of CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber (given to me by my brilliant agent, Molly) which I was a little late reading. It has kind of an Alice in Wonderland/SPLINTERED feel to it -- both magical and sinister, with nothing quite what it first appears to be. The world-building was awesome, and I can definitely see why there's been so much hype for this book.

My final 3 reads for March were all audiobooks, and all absolutely brilliant. I listened to the first book in The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski in February, and had to get the next 2 instalments right away. Following Kestrel and Arin's trials and feelings through the politics, war, and their blossoming relationship was just... GAH. Amazing. If you've read THE WINNER'S CURSE, I won't need to recommend THE WINNER'S CRIME and THE WINNER'S KISS to you, but if you need a prod in that direction, consider yourself prodded. 

Last on my list was one of my faves for this month -- EXO by Fonda Lee. I loved her debut, ZEROBOXER, which I listened to earlier this year, but EXO was even better. It's about a teen Exo named Donovan Reyes -- a peacekeeping soldier on a future Earth that has been conquered by an alien species, and how Donovan finds himself caught between the aliens he has sworn to serve and protect, and the human rebels seeking to overthrow the invaders. It's a really gripping, smart look at colonialism in a SF setting, with characters you root for and plenty more action and drama to look forward to in the sequel. I'll definitely be grabbing that when it comes out. Worth mentioning, too, that the audio is read by Macleod Andrews, my favourite audiobook narrator. 

Incidentally, EXO is one of the books in this Spring's YA Scavenger Hunt (starting tomorrow!) and Fonda Lee is on the gold team -- as am I! I'm giving away a copy of PURGE to the winner of the gold team portion of the hunt, and you can find out how to enter by coming right back here tomorrow (4 April). The hunt continues until Sunday, and there are 4 other teams, each with 20 books to be won. 



Fun stuff, I know. As for other things I got up to in March... I wrote a post about writing good villains over on the Author Allsorts site, and went on a few springtime adventures in my neck of the woods. These were some of my favourite Insta-pics. 

A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

Oh, and I also got some new headshots done. Here's one of 'em.



And now I shall retreat to my bursary-funded writing cave to make good word choices. I'll leave you with this excellent song I'm obsessed with right now -- the video is amazing.



Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the YA Scavenger Hunt, and I'll have more writing/bookish news next month.

For now...

Kat out x

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Reading schedule: January - June 2017

Yes, I know I'm 2 months late to call this a 6-monthly planner, technically, but who's keeping track? NOT ME.

Anyway, I like to have an idea about which books I'll be reading over the coming months; sometimes it's because there's a particularly relevant theme coming up, or because I'm anticipating being in the mood for a certain genre, or just because I have an advance copy of a book which will be coming out on a certain date. Whatever it is, I find I read more, and get more out of reading, if I at least have a vague idea in advance about what's coming up.

With all that in mind, though, there are some specific, overarching things I will be focusing on with my reading habits: as well as reading more diversely, I want to add more adult books to my list, which is something I've fallen behind on of late. I'll aim for one adult book per month.


January

This was an anything-goes month, and I read a mix of sci-fi/dystopian, and contemporary (with a focus on mental health):

AFTER THE SNOW by SD Crockett
THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS by Emily Barr
GEMINA by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
REALITY BOY by AS King
WHEN MR DOG BITES by Brian Conaghan
ZEROBOXER by Fonda Lee


February

I didn't exactly focus on romance this month, but there were at least romantic threads in all 4 of the books I read:

BEHIND HER EYES by Sarah Pinborough (this is what prompted me to add more adult novels to my reading list)
THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds
UNCONVENTIONAL by Maggie Harcourt
THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski


March

I've already read (listened to the audio, actually) Fonda Lee's EXO and it was truly excellent. Now, I have 4 Netgalley books which are due for review (or overdue, oops!), so I'll read those next:

HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer
NOWHERE NEAR YOU by Leah Thomas
LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer
THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli

And I want to finish Marie Rutkoski's trilogy by listening to the audiobooks of THE WINNER'S KISS and THE WINNER'S CRIME, and finish the early copy of CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber I was so lucky to nab from Molly, my splendid agent.

If I have time for one more, I'll read an adult book from my shelf -- probably ARCHANGEL'S HEART by Nalini Singh, as she is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I love this series. 9 books might be a little too ambitious for this month, but we'll see!


April

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas comes out in the UK this month, so that's at the top of my TBR. I'll also be looking out for the YALC author line-up announcement and adding to my list based on that -- YALC isn't until July, but I like to read books by as many of the authors as I can so I can gush appropriately when I get my books signed.

EDIT: Adding these Netgalley reads -- 2 of which I've carried forward from March.

HAUNT ME by Liz Kessler
HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer
NOWHERE NEAR YOU by Leah Thomas
ENCOUNTERS by Jason Wallace


I think my adult book for this month will be VICIOUS by V E Schwab, which she graciously signed for me when I met her a couple of years ago.


May

I'll be heading to an old farmhouse in the wilds of Wales this month on a writing retreat, so I fancy taking some historical/timeless fantasyish reads with me. I'm thinking THE CURIOUS TALE OF THE LADY CARABOO by Catherine Johnson, THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig, and THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough. My adult read will be MASKS AND SHADOWS by Stephanie Burgis.


I also have ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus to read this month before it comes out in June (Netgalley read).


June

Again, it'll be all about the pre-YALC reading frenzy. As it's also the start of summer, I'll add some fun, summery romances like:

THE ART OF FALLING by Jenny Kaczorowski
ROCK WEDDING by Nalini Singh (this'll be my adult read)

Also, I'm not sure when exactly Erin Fletcher's new book comes out (#2 in the Breakaway series), but that will zoom straight to the top of my reading pile whenever it is published. I love Erin's books, in case that was at all unclear. 

So, that's the list so far, and I think I'll have plenty to add to it as I go along. If you have any suggestions for books you think I MUST READ NOW, let me know in the comments (or anywhere else you can find me -- twitter, Insta, etc. etc.) I'll post a TBR schedule for July to December sometime in June. 

As always, you can see which books I've been reading and what I thought of them by checking out my monthly wrap-ups.

For now... I've got some reading to catch up on!

Kat out x 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

February Wrap-Up!

Hello there! I hope you had a fabulous February. Mine was quick and very writing-focused, which means I got lots of work done on my MS... but not a lot else. My adventures were sparse, I didn't read very much at all, and I became even more of a hermit than usual.

BUT, I did have a lovely bunch of flowers from my husband for Valentine's Day, and I took this creepy picture of a railway track. Winner.


A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on


Reading-wise, I read 4 books, which is even fewer than last month's meagre tally. I really need to up my game. To that end, I think I definitely need to write up a 6-monthly reading planner, like I usually do. In the meantime, here's what I read in February.


4 very different reads this month: I'll start with BEHIND HER EYES by Sarah Pinborough, which I received from Netgalley for an honest review. It's an adult thriller about a married couple and the woman who becomes involved with each of them in a very tangly, messy way, and begins to suspect there is something very, very wrong in Adele and David's marriage. The story was so intriguing, and the mystery around what exactly is going on kept me hooked right up to the end. There was only one thing about this book that I didn't really like, and that was the ending. I won't give any spoilers here, because the ending is something you really need to experience for yourself, but I will say that it will either blow your mind or leave you feeling a wee bit cheated. I fell into the latter group, unfortunately -- I'm just not a fan of moving the proverbial goalposts 3/4 of the way through a book. But I can see why so many people love it -- this is a gripping, thrilling read.

Next was THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds. Matt is 17, and has just lost his mother to cancer, and his dad has taken up his old habit of drinking too much. But when Matt takes a part-time job in a funeral home and meets a girl named Love, he starts to figure out how to deal with his own grief and move on. I found this story quietly moving and heartfelt, and I loved the setting and characters. 

I adored Maggie Harcourt's debut (THE LAST SUMMER OF US) and picked up the audio version of her new book, UNCONVENTIONAL, as soon as it came out -- and I loved it just as much as the first one. Lexi works for her dad's company organising and running conventions, which becomes a little trickier when she runs into the arrogant Haydn Swift, a 19-year-old novelist who drives her up the wall. This book is fun, romantic, and if you're a fan of conventions there's a lot in there you'll recognise.

Last but not least, I finally got around to Marie Rutkoski's THE WINNER'S CURSE. Everybody raves about this trilogy, and I can see why -- the setting is rich and immersive, the 2 lead characters are both brilliant whether they're kissing or butting heads, and the story is a sweeping epic about war and slavery and social uprising and all kinds of great stuff. I'll be getting the next 2 in the trilogy to listen to ASAP.

So, that's my brief February wrap-up! I hope you had a good one.

Kat out x

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

5 YA Romances I've Loved & 5 on my TBR

Even though I write pretty dark, thrillery stories, I love reading about love. From awkward will-they-won't-they first romances to intense, all-consuming, full-blown LOVE, I can't get enough of it. (In books - in real life I'm as unromantic as a bag of dried lentils.)

So, to celebrate St. Valentine's Day, I thought I would share 5 YA romances I've really enjoyed within the past year, as well as 5 that are at the top of my TBR. If you want to add your own favourites to this list/comment on which TBR book I should read first, please do!


5 Favourite Recent YA Romances



1. Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

This comes out in a few weeks, and is an absolutely adorable (adorkable) story about Sofia's last week in Tokyo, and the boy who is about to change everything. 



2. All Laced Up by Erin Fletcher

I'm a fan of all Erin's books, and I especially loved this first book in her new Breakaway series, about a figure skater and an ice hockey star getting heated - in more than one way - on the ice. 



3. It's Not Me, It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm

The humour and the unusual format of this book - written as an oral history of Avery's dating past, and an examination of how she came to be dumped the week before prom - were what really stood out for me with this one. 




4. Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman

This isn't strictly a romance (it's a sci-fi retelling of Othello, which might tell you why...) but it is a love story, and one with such heart-rending intensity that I'm still hoping a sequel is going to be announced. 



5. The Next Together / The Last Beginning by Lauren James

I honestly couldn't choose between the two books in this duology, which have two awesome pairings, plenty of mysterious time-travelling shenanigans, and an abundance of banter. 






5 YA Romances on my TBR

(blurbs nicked from Goodreads)



1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.




2. The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?




3. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (I have an ARC of this, heh heh...)

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. 

Right?





4. The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt 

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.




5. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?



***


What are you reading this Valentine's Day?

Saturday, 4 February 2017

January Wrap-up!

Helloooooo! February already, you say? That means - in case you missed it - you only have about 2 weeks left to enter my BREAKER giveaway. Go here to enter - it's open internationally, and ends on 20th Feb. Good luck!

What else happened this month? Well, I have now finished the full draft of the book I've been working on for TWO DAMNED YEARS (woohoo!) and am in the process of revising and polishing that sucker. I'm hoping it'll be done and off to beta readers within a week.

As I've been going full throttle with the writing, I haven't had too many adventures, but there were a couple. I visited Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, which is an absolutely gorgeous place to go and be surrounded by books and bookish people. It's a purpose-built residential library (the only one in the UK, I believe) and I have signed up to become a reader there so I can go and write amid the leatherbound brilliance.


A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

I've also been out walking a little bit - not as much as I should have, and as my pal Jani has reminded me to revive my Fitbit, I'll be doing that in the coming days. In the meantime, I found this junkyard with its own droid.



A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

I had some exciting book post from wonderful author and human Cecilia Vinesse, whose book SEVEN DAYS OF YOU comes out in March. It's a glorious, heart-rending romance set in Tokyo, and you should definitely pre-order it if you like nice things. 





In other reading, I squeezed in 6 books in January. These were they:



The first was AFTER THE SNOW by SD Crockett, and the last of the 3 snowy reads I chose before Christmas. I absolutely loved this snow-plagued survival story about a boy whose family are dragged away by the military, leaving him to fend for himself in the wilds of Wales. 

Next up was a Netgalley review read - THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS by Emily Barr. This was a really interesting, unique book, and I enjoyed it a lot. Flora has a condition where she hasn't been able to form/keep any new memories since she was 10. Now 16, she finds herself alone for the first time, and sets off on an adventure to find the boy whose kiss is the only new thing she has remembered in 6 years. Flora is a main character I wasn't entirely sure I was going to like from the first few chapters (she is in many ways still 10 years old, due to her memory loss, and not very considerate of others' feelings) but she absolutely grew on me until I was swept away with her on her adventures. And that's what I feel this story is - it's an adventure story, not a love story as the description might lead you to believe - and it's all the better for it. There were plenty of twists and turns and emotional daggers to keep me on the edge of my seat, and it all came together for a satisfying, frost-bitten finale.

I've been looking forward to GEMINA (book 2 in the Illuminae Files) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and this was just as good as the first in the trilogy, picking up the story at the besieged Hypatia jump station with 2 new central characters to root for as they battle marauders and their growing feelings for each other. I'm not sure when the 3rd in the trilogy comes out, but I'll be grabbing it as soon as it does. 

REALITY BOY by AS King has been hanging around on my audiobook TBR for a good while now, and I finally got around to listening to it this month... and I wish I hadn't waited so long. I loved this story about Gerald aka 'The Crapper' - a sixteen-year-old whose early childhood played out in front of the nation on a Supernanny-esque reality TV show, and it has left a whole spectrum of mental scars on him. In turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this book had a belting voice even as it dealt with some uncomfortable stuff.   

Speaking of great voice, I also listened to WHEN MR DOG BITES, about a boy with Tourette's syndrome who finds out he is going to die in a few months, and the shenanigans he gets up to trying to check off everything on his bucket list. 

The last one I read/listened to was Fonda Lee's wonderful sporty sci-fi ZEROBOXER, about a fighter named Carr Luka who is trying to battle the odds and make a name for himself in the world of competitive zero-gravity boxing. As an aside, the narrator of the audiobook has the deepest, smoothest voice I've ever heard, which was rather pleasant. I've just downloaded EXO, Lee's new book, which I was thrilled to discover is narrated by Macleod Andrews, my all-time fave audio narrator. Looking forward to that one!

It's been a while since I've shared what music I'm listening to, so here are a couple of tracks that have been keeping me happy while I inhabit my writing cave.




So that was my January. I'll post a reading planner for the coming 6 months in a little while, and I might have news of another giveaway or two coming up soon as well. For now...

Kat out x


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Breaker giveaway!

As the Facebook gremlins kindly reminded me yesterday, it has been a year since the advance copies of BREAKER made their way out into the world... and this needs to be celebrated, yes? Sounds like a giveaway is in order!

To win a signed copy of the finished book, fill in the rafflecopter oojit below. Enter as many times as it'll let ya, and this is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway, folks! Ends 20th Feb.





Also, not a giveaway requirement, but please do add Breaker to your TBR on Goodreads, and if you've read it, please take a moment to leave a review? Reviews help other readers find books they may love!

Good luck to all who enter.

Kat out x

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

December Wrap-Up!

OK, I'm not going to lie, writing this after new year feels a bit blah - so I'll keep it snappy.

I had a wonderful launch event for my latest YA novel, PURGE, at my local library. It was so lovely to see people come out on a cold December evening to hear me be very geeky about my strange sci-fi story, and the staff at Prestatyn Library are always so enthusiastic and fun, it was pretty darned perfect.


Reading-wise, I chilled out a bit after my veritable reading storm of November, so ended up reading 5 last month. These are they:


I'll begin with MAGONIA by Maria Dahvana Headley, which I'd heard lots of people talking about when it first came out, but truly had no idea what to expect going in; I was pleasantly surprised. Aza has an incredibly rare lung condition which means she is living on borrowed time, and she's determined to make the most of it with her best friend and crush, Jason. But just when things seem to be going Aza's way, the worst happens: her time runs out. Except Jason isn't willing to say goodbye, not when a strange ship in the sky offers some hope they may see each other again... With plenty of fantasy and action, it switched up a gear from the very character-driven beginning, and the pace held true to the end. Weird and wonderful.

Next up, I decided it was time to get up to date with my Lockwood & Cos. THE HOLLOW BOY was an intense, angst-filled episode for Lucy the ghost-hunting crew, and THE CREEPING SHADOW saw Lucy finding out more about her special talents as she strikes out on her own. I really love this series by Jonathan Stroud, and can't wait for the fifth and final instalment.

I had 3 books on my wintry reads list, and managed to read 2 before the end of December. The first was the delightful THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, about a group of teens living in 1970s Alaska and the intricate ways their lives intertwine. The final book had been on my shelf for a couple of years, so it was high time I read Rachel Cohn & David Levithan's DASH AND LILY'S BOOK OF DARES. It was a smart, quick romance -- pretty much the ideal book to read at Christmastime.

Adventure-wise, I went on a ghost hunt, and visited a lighthouse. It was rather pretty.


A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

I also wrote a couple of things online - a post about visiting locations in books for the Author Allsorts site, and an interview with The Book Activist about PURGE and Christmassy stuff.

So that was how I finished my year. Happy 2017 to all!

Kat out x

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Ghost Hunting at Bodelwyddan Castle

Last weekend I scraped myself out of my onesie to go on a ghost hunting adventure with my sister, Alex. As we walked up the road to the castle, it was lit only by the moon. Proper spooky, like.



This is Alex, for reference. The prompt for this photo was "Look ghostly".



It was better than my "Look ghostly" pose, to be fair.


Anyway. Inside the castle we assembled (there were about 30 of us in all) for a guided tour of the rooms where we would later hold vigils and use ghost hunting equipment to try and rustle up some spooks. During a talk about the history of the place, we reached a part about 2 young girls who fell through the ice while skating on the pond in the 1920s, and one man in the group suddenly collapsed in quite dramatic fashion (I feel it's okay to say this now as I checked and he was absolutely fine afterwards). An auspicious start, as I'm sure you'll agree.

We then broke into smaller groups and took up stations in different rooms in the castle. Our group started in the dining room, where the walls are decorated with portraits of historical politicians (I'm not sure why) as well as an imposing but lovely portrait of Lady Amelia, who once visited the castle and is reported to have been sighted there in ghostly form. (We didn't see her.) There was also a beautiful grand piano and a dining table laid out as though the castle's former residents might be about to sit down to Christmas dinner.

Once we were in situ, all the lights went out, and the guide, Lucy, called out for spirits to come and talk to us. [I should probably point out here that I'm a Scully as far as paranormal phenomena is concerned - highly sceptical, but willing to admit to being wrong if I'm ever presented with actual, measurable evidence.] It was initially very 'quiet', as I expected, with only a quivering curtain (I think it was just moving because of the heat rising from the radiator) until we all heard the sound of footsteps running quickly down the stairs. And as I mentioned, all the lights were off at this point, and none of the other groups were stationed near the stairs, so that, I will admit, got me to raise an eyebrow. Anyone running down those stairs in the dark -- even if they knew the house really, really well -- would break their neck. So, I'll count that as one spooky encounter.

After that, 4 or 5 members of the group used a glass to try and communicate with a spirit. I watched them for a while as they somehow identified the spirit as Thomas Humphrey (Humphrey was the surname of one of the families who had owned the castle) who said he would appear to us near the aforementioned piano. So off I went to record.

A video posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

No Thomas, unfortunately, but you can just about make out the portrait of Lady Amelia and the piano, and hear the screech of the glass whizzing around the table in the background. Creepy, no?

Later we visited the schoolroom up in the eaves (no sightings there) and the cellar where the guides told us a ghost known as The Cellar Man often appears. Then up into the toy room where the 2 drowned girls are said to frequent, and as well as using the glass again to try and communicate, we did something called a 'human pendulum'. This involved standing in a circle with our hands linked, while one member of the group stood in the middle and allowed herself to be pushed forward or backward by the spirits. To be honest, this was the part I had the most narrow-eyed reaction to, as the person at the centre seemed extremely keen to hear from the departed. Very keen.

To finish off the night (it was closing in on 3am by this point) a couple of members of the group used a spirit board to contact a spirit, and received a message that one of them was going to die slowly, concluding with the ominous message "RUN".

The night was great fun and very atmospheric, but again I can't say it really swayed me from the path of scepticism. It was great inspiration for writing spooky stories, though, and most of all it was nice to hang out with my sister.


Kat out x