Wednesday, 4 October 2017

August/September Reading Wrap-up!

Yes, I am that far behind. August and September have been busy for me (deadlines etc.) so I had to put my wrap-up posts on the back burner for a bit. I also fell a little behind with my reading, which tends to happen whenever I make grand plans to read a lot.

As I'm wrapping up 2 WHOLE MONTHS of reading (I'll catch you up on everything else sooooooon because I have bookish newwwwws), I've split the 15 books up into categories: YA, Adult, and graphic novels (I know - a new thing for me!)

Let's start with YA, because it's the best.



There are some real corkers in here!

THINGS A BRIGHT GIRL CAN DO by Sally Nicholls was a Netgalley read, and I really loved it. It follows three girls from different backgrounds who all get involved with the suffragette movement, and the story was in turns funny, gripping, and at times quite sad. Delving into political activism, family dynamics, sexuality, class, justice, and a whole raft of other important themes in a way that doesn't drag the book's tone down or make it feel like A Lesson, I think this is a very timely feminist book, and one I'd definitely recommend to any teen or YA reader. Or just anyone, really.

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years, and despite the fact that everyone says how much they LOVE this book, I didn't really know what it was about. It's a dual POV story about twins Jude and Noah: Jude's narrative in the present, and Noah's 3 years ago, when the twins were still on speaking terms. When Jude meets a mysterious new boy, and is taken under the wing of a great artist, it unearths the secrets and lies that have built a wall between Jude and her brother. It was a delightful story, and very funny at times, so I can see what all the raving was about. Naturally, after finishing this one (on audio, btw - I recommend) I dove right into THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. This one follows Lennie, grieving the sudden death of her beloved older sister, and trying to work out where she fits now that she's no longer a companion pony for her larger-than-life sister, Bailey. Again, it was funny and warm, though there's some sketchy behaviour on Lennie's part (I won't say what because I don't want to spoil it for anyone) that did put me off her a bit. I still enjoyed it heaps, though, and Lennie's grandmother was a scream.

I haven't read anything else by Brandy Colbert, so I had no expectations going into LITTLE & LION. It's about step-siblings Suzette/'Little' and Lionel/'Lion', who are reunited after Lion suffers mental health issues and Little is sent away to boarding school. Little is trying to figure out her sexuality and where she fits back in her old circle of friends, and Lion is struggling with bipolar meds and a new relationship. It was an emotional read (or listen, as I had it on audio), and I really liked the step-sibling dynamic.

WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU by Stephanie Kuehn was on a summer thrillers list I wrote earlier in the summer (you should check it out - it's good), and follows Ben and his schoolmates on a camping trip which ends with Ben's girlfriend dying at his hands (that's not a spoiler - it's in the intro). Another intense read with an interesting premise and plenty of twists. I think this is my favourite of the 2 Kuehn books I've read so far (the other was Charm & Strange).

ORANGEBOY by Patrice Lawrence was a carry-over from my July reading list, and I really enjoyed it. Marlon is on a date with a girl he fancies when she has a bad reaction to some drugs they've both taken, and she dies. Things look pretty bad for Marlon, because he's been left holding her stash, and it only gets worse as he is pulled into the dangerous world of drug dealing and gangs - a world he wants no part of, especially as it almost killed his older brother. Marlon's voice was so distinctive and compelling, I got absolutely swept up in his troubles as it all keeps flying at him. I'm looking forward to picking up Lawrence's next book, Indigo Donut.

I fancied something funny and light after all that intensity, so I picked up the audiobook of KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky. It was exactly what I needed - a fun, darkly funny, exciting story about a bunch of girls doing some mad shit. A teenage girl, who is a superfan of boy band The Ruperts, meets up with 3 other superfans at an exclusive gig, and they end up kidnapping one of the band members. It goes from bad to worse to even worse, and the whole story had me gripped and snort-laughing throughout.

Speaking of snort-laughing, if you're a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or just smart, kickass protagonists generally, you need to pick up THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO by F. C. Yee. It was brilliant - a demon-fighting heroine with a genuinely brilliant and hilarious voice, a very likeable and unusual love interest, and a quest to save the world. I will be snapping up the next instalment as soon as humanly possible.

I saved one of my faves for last - NOT YET DARK is the new YA novel from Simon P Clark, who is an awesome chap and a brilliant writer. His new book is a dark, eerie story about two lifelong best friends who are struggling to adjust to new friendship dynamics as they go through high school, and a mysterious society they discover trying to summon Death in an abandoned house. It's a fantastic read, and has that timeless quality to it that'll make it stick in your head for a long time. It comes out this week, so you can order your copy right... now.


Now, on to the Adult reads! (Don't worry, there are only 2.)


I'd heard of WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson, of course, but actually had no idea what it was about. As such, it took me a little while to get into, but once the creepy voice had worked its way inside my brain, I loved it. It's about Merricat, who lives in her family home with her older sister, Constance, and elderly Uncle Julian. There were more Blackwoods just a few years ago - before someone slipped arsenic into the family's sugar bowl, and several of them died. This was darkly funny, and Merricat was a delightfully amoral protagonist who it was very easy to like.

My second adult read was HOLD BACK THE STARS by Katie Khan - a love story in space that's described as Gravity meets Sliding Doors (2 very apt comps, to be fair). It was a truly unusual and original story; I wasn't quite sure whether it was a romance or a sci-fi, or a sci-fi romance... category-wise, it didn't feel like it fit anywhere. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable - it was very easy to get into, and did tug on the ol' heartstrings at a few points. It's going to be adapted into a film, I believe, so I'll be interested to see what they do with it in that format.

Third (and last) category! Graphic Novels:


Ok, I'll be super brief.

JOKER is set in the Batman world, and follows a criminal's spiralling descent as he becomes one of the notorious Joker's lackeys. It was ok, but nothing unexpected, really.

SEVERED was an interesting horror - probably my favourite of these 4 titles - about a young boy in the 1910s making his away along America's railroads in search of his father, when he meets a monster intent on recruiting him.

TURF was a very weird prohibition-era adventure, pitching gangsters against vampires against aliens... yeah, it was a strange cookie.

TALENT is about a man who miraculously survives a plane crash, and wakes to find he has been gifted the talents of the passengers who died so that he can get revenge against the person responsible for the crash. I love the artwork in this one, but the story didn't really grab me.

And that's it! I'm way behind my reading tracker, and need to catch up on my Netgalley list, so hopefully I'll have some more great books to share here in a few weeks. Not to mention that news I'm sitting on... ;-)

For now -

Kat out x

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Buy my books half price in the Firefly summer sale

HEADS UP: Firefly Press are having a late summer sale where you can buy their books - including Blackfin Sky and Purge by me - at half price, including postage!

If you buy either of my books from them and would like me to send you a free signed bookplate and bookmark, send your proof of purchase to katelliswrites@gmail.com ... this would make a great personalised gift for someone, just saying.

So check out Firefly Press's awesome books and grab some bargains!




 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

July Wrap-up (and what happened at YALC!)

A little late posting this, but I'm in the middle of revising my new MS at the moment -- the creepy thriller I finished drafting during my Literature Wales Writer's Bursary period -- so I'm sliiiiightly behind on pretty much everything else. (Seriously, I haven't vacuumed in ages.)

Before I get into the wrap-up, remember you can enter the Goodreads giveaway to win one of 10 copies of my YA sci-fi thriller, PURGE - but today is your last day! Here is a handy link.



I went to YALC for just one day this year, but still managed to fit loads in and had a brilliant time. I caught the 'Who runs the world?' panel where Tanya Byrne, Virginia Bergin, Clare Hennessy, and Holly Smale talked about feminism in YA with Katherine Woodfine.




I also really enjoyed Victoria Schwab, Martin Stewart, Ben Aaronovitch, Zen Cho, and Dan Vyleta talking about genre-bending with chair Samantha Shannon, and watched the 'Myth, magic and fairy-tale' panel with Joanne Harris, Julia Gray, Laura Dockrill, Zoe Marriott, Deirdre Sullivan, and Peadar O'Guilin, chaired by Imogen Russell Williams.

In between, I managed to pop to a few signings and met/caught up with some fabulous authors, and also made my way downstairs to where Comic Con was going on. I had a brief sighting of Alyson Hannigan (Willow!!!) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor!!!) though I missed the part where Benedict Cumberbatch ventured up to YALC just as Non Pratt was getting her head shaved. There was a fabulous photo of his shocked face doing the rounds on Twitter afterwards, though.

Meeting the wonderful Martin Stewart, author of Riverkeep and The Sacrifice Box (and who very kindly gave Purge an awesome blurb!)

Catching up with lovely Simon P Clark (left) author of Eren and Not Yet Dark, while getting my copy of The Call signed by Peadar O'Guilin, who was extremely charming

HODOR!

When Pikachu met Dalek





The Saturday was also the birthday of my wonderful friend (and host for the weekend) Tatum Flynn, whose MG duology -- THE D'EVIL DIARIES and HELL'S BELLES -- is wicked. If you haven't read those yet, do. They'll have you in stitches.


Tatum Flynn above the Comic Con floor


PHEW. That was quite a YALC!

I squeezed in 6 reads this month -- these are they.




First up, a Netgalley book which I got for review -- SLEEPER by Mackenzie Cadenhead, which released 1 August. Sarah has a sleeping disorder that makes her violently act out her dreams, until a new drug enables her to sleep without endangering herself or others for the first time. The only drawback (or is it?) is that it allows her to enter the dreams of others who have taken the drug -- something only she, and a mysterious boy, can do. Add in a bully and a quest for revenge, and SLEEPER turned out to be quite gripping. While I didn't love Sarah or the secondary characters, she was certainly an intriguing anti-heroine with a very sketchy moral compass, and I was keen to find out where her path would take her. It was a quick read with lots of energy and drama.

Anytime I pick up a book by Erin Fletcher, I know I'm in for a brilliant read. TIED UP IN YOU continues that trend with a friends-to-lovers story about hockey star Jackson and STEM-enthusiast Malina. Their struggles and dramas felt so very real and raw, and I loved how cute these two were together, even before they moved from "friends" to "more than". And the secondary characters were just awesome -- from Malina's wonderful grandmother Tutu to her hilarious best friend Izzy, and of course Lia and Pierce (from ALL LACED UP, which has just won the YARWA Athena Award!) who made a few appearances that made me want to go back and re-read their story all over again. I basically inhaled TIED UP IN YOU, and it's definitely one I will recommend to anyone looking for a book that's guaranteed to make their heart happy.

In last month's wrap-up post, I talked about Lisa Glass's BLUE trilogy, of which I read 2 books in June and was absolutely smitten with them. Well, I finished the trilogy this month by reading RIDE. What a perfect ending to Iris's story! I can honestly say I had no idea how it was going to end; I wasn't even sure how I *wanted* it to end as the various twist and turns played out. Iris and Zeke's path is messy and wonderful and painful, and ultimately very real and hopeful. A brilliant trilogy that's just made for summer. I listened to the whole trilogy on audio, and highly recommend it. 

Cat Clarke's TORN has been on my shelf for a while (I love her books, but I tend to need a little time for my shredded heart to recover in between them!) and it was another superb story of emotional suspense. Alice has a secret: one that could ruin her life, and the lives of her friends. When she and her classmates go off into the wilderness on a school trip, with a mismatched group thrown together in Alice's cabin, tensions lead to mean girl Tara ending up dead in the woods. As with all Cat's books, the character are so vivid and compelling, even when they're doing awful things, and this was a book I couldn't put down (I actually listened to the audio, which was fab, but you know what I mean). TORN is like a darker, grittier take on Pretty Little Liars, and I loved it.

I read 2 adult books this month (I know -- get me), both on audio. The first was FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury, which you'll probably have heard of even if you haven't read it. Set in a dystopia where books are burned because they are believed to be the cause of unhappiness and dissent, Guy Montag is a fireman -- tasked with finding and burning books -- who comes to question his vocation: if books are the cause of unhappiness, then why is he still unhappy? This was a weird one for me; it felt like the point was made pretty quickly, and even though the book was relatively short, it still seemed to go on forever. I did enjoy the narration by Tim Robbins, though... there's something very Garfield about his voice that I like.

Lastly, I listened to FALSE HEARTS by Laura Lam, which I believe is the beginning of a series of standalone sci-fi novels set in the same world. This book is about formerly-conjoined twin sisters Tila and Taema, and what happens when Tila stumbles into Taema's apartment one night covered in someone else's blood. Told in alternating viewpoints, Tila's narrative offers insight into their lives growing up in a cult, while Taema's tells the story of the events following Tila's arrest for murder, and how Taema goes undercover to find out what exactly Tila was doing working for a shady underworld gang. This was a cool, edgy, dystopian thriller, and I'll definitely be checking out more works by Laura Lam.

That's it for my July reads! I'm on track to reach my Goodreads goal of 80 books this year, but need to get a move on in August if I don't want to fall behind again. Eep.

What else did I get up to in July? Well, as I said, I've mostly been working on this new MS, but I did manage to sneak in a couple of adventures and plenty of walks. Here's a quick video of an old stone cottage I found in the woods:





And a giant plastic horse hauling a cart of giant plastic peanuts outside Chester Cathedral. Why not, I guess?



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on


I'll sign off with a couple of songs I've been listening to obsessively this month, and which are on the playlist for the book I'm working on. Hope you enjoy!






Kat out x

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

PURGE giveaway!


**GIVEAWAY ALERT!!!**


The good folks at Firefly Press are giving away 10 copies of my young adult sci-fi thriller, PURGE, right now on Goodreads! Enter here before 8 August (UK only). 



Mason and Noah exist in different worlds, but their lives are about to collide.
Mason has a habit of getting into trouble. He's been kicked out of every place he's ever lived in. Moving to the cult-like community of Alteria is definitely a last resort, even if it's better than braving the wastelands outside. But following their strict rules is a hundred times harder when Mason meets Eden, who has a wicked streak to match his own. 
Caught with contraband, Eden is forced into a programme to purge her bad behaviour. But Mason has seen what happens to people who get purged, and knows he will lose Eden if he can't help her find a way out.
Out in the wastelands, Noah has no memory of what happened before he was abandoned in a war zone. All he wants is to know who he is, and if he can trust the strangers who rescued him from the rubble.
With lies surrounding them on all sides, Mason and Noah must piece together the truth if they want to escape. Failure is not an option when it means being purged from existence.






Monday, 10 July 2017

TIED UP IN YOU by Erin Fletcher - book birthday interview

YESSSSSS!


Today a new book comes out by Erin Fletcher, who is not just one of my favourite authors, but someone I've been friends with online for years, and a genuinely kind and lovely person. 



TIED UP IN YOU is the companion novel to ALL LACED UP, the YA ice skater romance which came out last year from Entangled Teen, and which I absolutely adored. Here's what TIED UP IN YOU is all about:

Everyone says hotshot goalie Luke Jackson is God’s gift to girls, but the only girl he wants is his best friend, Malina Hall. He’s always known how brilliant she is, but now that he’s “accidentally” kissed her, he can’t stop thinking about her...or wanting to kiss her again.
Problem is, things have been a little...awkward since the kiss. Because she likes him, too? Hopefully, but even if she did, their futures—and the ridiculous schedules that come with them—are in the way. And now one of his teammates is showing interest, and the guy has more in common with Malina than Jackson ever will.
As her best friend, Jackson should get out of the way. But if there’s one thing he’s learned from hockey, it’s that you have to go for what you want, even if it means falling flat on your face. And he’s definitely falling for Malina.
Disclaimer: This book contains a hot hockey player who goes after what he wants, a super-hot, super-distracting shirtless workout, and the kind of best friends to lovers romance every girl in the friend zone has dreamed of.

You can order it online: 




Doesn't that sound like something you need to run out and buy RIGHT NOW?? Yes. Yes, it does. 

So while you're waiting for your book to arrive/download, check out this quick interview with the author herself... 

Kat: In TIED UP IN YOU, you bring Malina -- girl who's into STEM -- into your world of ice skater romance. Is STEM something you're into?

Erin: I got my degree in mathematics, so I'm definitely into the "M" part of STEM! Unfortunately I was in school before STEM was a thing (yes, I'm old) so I was never an official part of it. I did have to do a lot of STEM research for this book, which was fun! I learned about astronomy and astrophysics as well as a little about coding.

Kat: As well as Luke Jackson, I love that Lia and Pierce from ALL LACED UP also appear in TIED UP IN YOU. Did you enjoy bringing back those characters? How does writing a companion novel compare to writing a standalone?

Erin: It was so great writing those characters again! I loved being able to show that Pierce and Lia's relationship is (spoiler alert) just as strong as it was at the end of ALL LACED UP! In some ways, writing a companion novel was easy because I already knew the world and some of the characters. But it was also challenging because I had to remember what I wrote in the first book, which I am notoriously terrible at!

Kat: How about an insider scoop: one embarrassing thing Malina and/or Luke would HATE anyone to know about them?

Erin: Luke loves listening to music, especially while working out and passing time traveling with his hockey team, and he definitely has some embarassing songs on his phone... As for Malina, she would hate for anyone to know that she loves scary movies, but still has to cover her eyes at the scary parts.

Kat: Can you say anything about what you're working on next?

Erin: I'm currently revising another contemporary YA manuscript that's most similar to my first book, WHERE YOU'LL FIND ME. It's darker and more intense than my last few books, but I'm loving every second spent working on it. We'll see if it makes it into the world someday!



***


Sounds brilliant! Can't wait for more Erin books!

Monday, 3 July 2017

June Wrap-Up

I wrote back in April about the bursary I was awarded by Literature Wales to allow me to focus on writing full time for 3 months, and those 3 months have now come to an end. I'm pleased to say it was a hugely productive time; I completed one manuscript, and wrote 9,000 words of another that's been simmering in the back of my brain for a while. Fingers crossed one or both will find a publisher! Thanks so much to Literature Wales for giving me their support and the opportunity of the writers' bursary.

Speaking of my writing, it was wonderful to see my books being talked about a bit online recently; in particular I loved this post about 'What keeps us coming back to the circus?' by Sarah at The Copper Boom, which mentions Blackfin Sky, and this excellent review of Purge by Amy Kitcher. <3

June also marked the halfway point for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, for which I set myself a target of reading 80 books in 2017. As of the end of June, I have just passed 40 books read, which -- by some miracle -- means I'm on track to finish on time. That was helped by a pretty solid reading month during which I inhaled these beauties:



Let's begin with the Netgalley reads, of which there were 3 this month.

FLIGHT OF A STARLING by Lisa Heathfield is about two sisters, Rita and Lo, and their lives within a travelling circus. It's all thrown into chaos when Lo falls in love with a boy who isn't from their world, who she can never be with unless she gives up the only life she knows. There's such a magical quality to Lisa Heathfield's writing and the worlds she builds; even when I knew my heart would be run through the wringer by Flight of a Starling, I couldn't help falling in love with Rita and Lo, their rootless lives with the circus, and the boy whose arrival means everything is about to change. It was a magnificent book, very much alive and pulsing with feeling. 

NO FILTER by Orlagh Collins tells the story of Emerald, who is beginning her summer in Dublin, where she doesn't want to be following a family crisis; and Liam, who is clinging to this summer before setting out on a path he can't escape, no matter how much he wants to. The two have such different lives, it was hard to see at first where they would find common ground, but it didn't take long to see how perfect Liam and Em were together, though of course there are HUGE obstacles trying to keep them apart. No Filter was poignant, heart-warming, and a wonderful summer read. I particularly loved the Irish setting, the voices of the two main characters, and the way social media plays a part in the story. 


A bunch of teens blasted into space as part of a reality TV show? There was no way I could not pick up WASTE OF SPACE by Gina Damico after reading the premise! Waste of Space is such a weird, brilliant satire, and takes some pretty dark twists as the secrets behind the show are revealed through found footage, reports, and phone transcripts. It was very smart, funny, and unlike anything I've read before. I read Hellhole by Gina Damico a few weeks ago, and her style is easily recognisable in Waste of Space, even with the genre switch and different format of the novel. I will definitely be reading more of her backlist, and keeping an eye out for whatever comes next.

So those were my Netgalley reads. I also began a brilliant romance trilogy by Lisa Glass, and read the first 2 this month (or listened to the audiobooks, actually, which were really good). 


BLUE begins with Iris, a 16-year-old Cornish surfer who meets up-and-coming surf star Zeke Francis in a yoga class. Throw in a recent heartbreak, an exciting surf contest, and a whole heap of twists and turns, and you have a brilliant summer read that will make you reach for the next book in the series immediately... as I did. AIR sees Iris and Zeke set off to make their mark in the international surf world while trying to figure out how to be together when they're surrounded by the pressures, challenges, and general chaos of their lives. Both books were seriously, seriously great, and I couldn't resist diving straight into the 3rd instalment right away (to be included in next month's wrap-up!)


Keeping with the summery theme, I listened to the audiobook of Morgan Matson's THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING, which was a fun romance between Andie, a politician's daughter, and Clark, a teen author who's battling with writer's block. 


Next I veered into darker territory: Dawn Kurtagich's THE DEAD HOUSE is one of the most original, gripping, and creepy books I have ever read, so when NAIDA -- the follow-up novella -- was released in the UK last month, I snapped it up. If you loved The Dead House as I did, you need to grab Naida. It's a thrilling return to that twisted world, and gives a fascinating insight into what really happened that fateful night at Elmbridge...


FINDING SKY by Joss Stirling has been hanging around on my TBR for a good long while. Sky is the new English girl in an American school; Zed is the bad boy who can somehow hear her thoughts. It took me back to a lot of the tropes that made me fall in love with YA in the first place, and although I feel like these date the book a little bit now (it was published in 2010, so fair enough!) it was still a fun read.


Finally, my adult book for the month was THE POWER by Naomi Alderman. This was an absolute corker -- beginning with the idea that women across the world begin developing a strange ability that allows them to emit an incapacitating (and sometimes lethal) electric charge through touch, and taking some very dark and twisting turns to a gut-wrenching conclusion. It's a brilliant book, with characters I cared about and a plot I didn't see coming. 


And that was it for my June reads, and the 6 month TBR I planned for the first half of 2017. So I needed to plan ahead for my next 6 months' reading, which I did here. I'll add to and change this list a bit as I go along. 


Aside from writing and reading stuff, I also celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary in June, which was a bit special. Ian and I began dating the summer before I started university in Manchester. I think most people thought it was doomed -- I was leaving North Wales, and he worked full time for his family business, so we were heading straight into a long-distance relationship. But somehow it worked. We moved in together when I was 19 and at uni (he sort of sneaked into my halls of residence...) and have now been together for 16 years. I don't get into personal stuff much online, but as a YA author I think it's kind of nice that I can honestly say sometimes a teen romance really does work out for the long haul.







I'll sign off with that, and with a song I've been listening to a lot this month. 




Kat out x

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Reading Schedule: July - December 2017

This is my reading schedule for the second half of 2017; my goal for the year is to read 80 books (at time of writing, I've read 39 so far this year.)

Where there's a theme to my reading, I've made a note of that. I have also marked any titles which are new releases that month, or which I have received for review from Netgalley (and these all release the following month). Per my pledge at the beginning of the year, I'll aim to read at least one adult book per month, and the rest are YA.


July

A couple of pre-YALC titles here...

SLEEPER by Mackenzie Cadenhead (Netgalley)
TIED UP IN YOU by Erin Fletcher (New release)
RIDE by Lisa Glass
FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (Adult)
TORN by Cat Clarke

(Actually read: Sleeper, Tied Up In You, Ride, Fahrenheit 451, Torn, False Hearts)

August


Mostly summery reads this month...

ORANGEBOY by Patrice Lawrence
WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW by Sarah Porter (Netgalley)
ODD & TRUE by Cat Winters (Netgalley)
THINGS A BRIGHT GIRL CAN DO by Sally Nicholls (Netgalley)
DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY by Amanda Foody (Netgalley)
GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Jaye Robin Brown
THE BREAK by Marian Keyes (Adult, Netgalley)

(Actually read: Hold Back the Stars, I'll Give You the Sun, Severed, Things a Bright Girl Can Do, When I Am Through With You...)


September

THE HANGING GIRL by Eileen Cook (Netgalley)
MONSTER by Michael Grant (Netgalley)
LOCKWOOD & Co.: THE EMPTY GRAVE by Jonathan Stroud (New release - last in series)
HOPE by Rhian Ivory (New release)
ARCHANGEL'S VIPER by Nalini Singh (New release - Adult)
THE CURIOUS TALE OF THE LADY CARABOO by Catherine Johnson
NOAH CAN'T EVEN by Simon James Green


October

Spooky/scary reads, of course!

NOT YET DARK by Simon P. Clark (New release)
THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE by Sarah Harian (Adult)
FLESH AND BLOOD by Simon Cheshire
BAD BONES by Graham Marks
THE CALL by Peadar O'Guilin
THE WITCH OF SALT & STORM by Kendall Kulper
SHOW STOPPER by Hayley Barker
HAUNT ME by Liz Kessler (Netgalley)


November

It's my birthday this month, so I'll mostly read whatever takes my fancy from the TBR shelf (or whatever I'm given!)

STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO by A S King
DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning (Adult)
IN ANOTHER LIFE by Laura Jarratt
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon
UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES by Louise Gornall

December

Will I have anything festive to add to this month's list? Who can say...

SILVER SILENCE by Nalini Singh (New release - Adult)
THE TRUTH AND LIES OF ELLA BLACK by Emily Barr (Netgalley)
NICE TRY, JANE SINNER by Lianne Oelke (Netgalley)



I'll update this list as I get more to add to it.




Monday, 26 June 2017

BREAKER - a Goodreads giveaway

Hello!

A very quick post to say there's a Goodreads giveaway happening right now (ends 29 June) where you can enter to win one of 3 copies of my YA serial killer thriller, BREAKER.


Enter HERE.

Good luck!

Kat out x

Monday, 19 June 2017

#AuthorsForGrenfell

An auction is being held to raise money for those affected by the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London. Several authors and publishing industry professionals have donated items to the auction, which includes a PURGE swag pack and a query & first 50 page manuscript critique by me. To bid on any of the items, check out the auction site.

Please bid for an item if you can, and share the link to the auction so we can raise as much money as possible. All proceeds will go to the British Red Cross to provide support where it is most needed. The auction ends Tuesday 27 June.

Thank you supporting this effort in whatever way you can!

ETA:

The Authors for Grenfell auction fundraiser is now closed, and I have just seen it announced that the current total raised has reached £165k. It was humbling to see the generosity of bidders in the auction, and I'm so glad I could play even a tiny part in helping to raise funds for the tenants of Grenfell Tower. I'm also immensely proud of my agent, Molly Ker Hawn, who was one of the organisers of the fundraiser -- she has the kindest heart, and always turns that kindness into positive action.

Kat x

Friday, 2 June 2017

May Wrap-up!

It's halfway through the year. Who ever thought we'd make it this far?? *Laughs weakly*

May was a good one in writing terms: it brought me to midway through my Literature Wales Writer's Bursary-funded 3 months, during which time I've finished one MS and written a decent chunk of another -- about 10k so far -- which is looking like it's going to be a quirky romantic suspense. We'll see how that pans out (my books tend to veer off into dark places). But I submitted my midterm report for the bursary, so now I have one more month to go, and I'm determined to make it as productive as humanly possible. I'd like to have at least half a first draft of this new MS by then. Hold me to it, folks.

I also went on a writing retreat last month to a farmhouse deep in the countryside around Welshpool with 3 fab writer ladies: Dawn Kurtagich, the wonderful horror author who organises these things, Tatum Flynn, who writes hilarious MG novels and creates amazing art, and Jenn Faughnan, who writes fantasy and is a digital marketing whizz. And Auri the dog, of course.



(L-R: me, Tatum Flynn, Dawn Kurtagich, Auri, and Jenn Faughnan)


Many words were written on the retreat, but we did also squeeze in a trip to the magnificent Powys Castle. Dawn got the staff to tell us ghost stories connected to the place, and they even showed us a secret staircase.

A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

But what did I read last month? Take a look.


I'll begin with the 2 books I got via the good fellows at NetGalley. First up, ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus begins with 5 seemingly unconnected teens going into detention - but only 4 of them will leave the room alive. Which one of them is a killer? This is such a great YA thriller - a dark mystery with interesting characters who play on common high school tropes and become more and more intriguing as the plot unfolds. There were plenty of twists along the way, and a fast-paced, taut finale that was totally satisfying. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for McManus's next book.

Next was WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon, which I've heard lots of reviewers raving about online, so was really looking forward to reading. It's a cute romance, with 2 differently geeky protagonists in a coder summer camp setting. There was a lot to like about it - the arranged marriage set up; Dimple, who is more interested in coding than having a boyfriend; Rishi, with his hidden artistic talents, and their really lovely family dynamics on both sides. And I have to also mention the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous - easily one of my favourites of 2017 so far. I'm not sure quite why it's pitched as a rom com - it was definitely a romance for me - but it's one to pick up if you're looking for a fun summer read.


Thanks to NetGalley for those! Also thanks to Hotkey Books, who sent me an early copy of Hayley Long's latest book - THE NEAREST FARAWAY PLACE. I've read a couple of Hayley's older books, and I love her writing - and this new book just blew me away. It tells the story of 2 brothers - Dylan and Griff - dealing with the aftermath of a terrible tragedy, each having to carve a new path, and reflecting on the many roads travelled across the world on their way to Aberystwyth in Wales, and their new home & family. I absolutely adored it, and even did a little cry at a couple of parts. Definite thumbs up.


The next 2 YAs were both audiobooks I listened to while out on my walking adventures. HELLHOLE by Gina Damico (read by Macleod Andrews) is a horror comedy about a boy who accidentally summons a devil, then decides he might as well make a deal to try to save his sick mother's life -- ignoring the fact that devilish agreements generally come with a sting in the tail. It was a really fun story, excellently read by Mr Andrews (I'm an audiofan of his), and I'm very much looking forward to reading Damico's next book, WASTE OF SPACE, which comes out in July. 


CELL 7 by Kerry Drewery (read by Rosie Jones) is a brilliant dystopian thriller about a girl on death row for killing a beloved celebrity, awaiting the public vote which will decide whether she lives or dies. Having waited awhile to get stuck into CELL 7, I'm now very glad I only have to wait a couple of weeks to grab the sequel. It was an absolute belter! It has flavours of Noughts & Crosses and The Hunger Games, a brilliantly real central cast, and a gripping story. I listened to the audio version, and highly recommend it - especially if you're looking for great UKYA audiobooks. 


In keeping with my promise to read at least one adult book per month, I actually caught up with that target by reading 2 in May. The first was an audiobook -- SLEEPING GIANTS by Sylvain Neuvel (read by Andy Secombe, Eric Meyers, and Laurel Lefkow) which was a really compelling sci-fi about a group of scientists trying to figure out the origin and purpose of an enormous metal figure found buried in locations scattered across the globe. 


Last of this month's reads was ARCHANGEL'S HEART by Nalini Singh. This is the latest in my favourite series by my favourite author, and continues Elena and Raphael's story as the archangelic Cadre face a new threat in the wake of rogue archangel Lijuan's disappearance. Honestly, I love this series with a fierceness, and I'm so glad Singh writes as quickly as she does, so I only have to wait a few months for the next instalment. 


I'll wrap up with a couple of my favourite adventure pics taken in May.



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on


You probably wouldn't guess how I had to parkour my way through dense woods to get this shot.



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on


Some Normans I found hanging out near Rhuddlan Castle. 



Now I'll leave you with a couple of tunes I've been listening to as I write. They're good writing fuel, I tell you.





Enjoy!

Kat out x

Monday, 1 May 2017

April Wrap-Up!

Ahoy-hoy.

April was pretty good in writing terms; I finished a new draft of my latest WIP and am waiting for feedback on that (and definitely not having anxiety dreams about said feedback... not at all). While I wait, I'm working on another new WIP that's been simmering away in my brainspace awhile. This one leans more towards magical realism, and is set where I grew up, so it's fun working on that. 

It also wasn't too shabby a month for reading (though I'm still one book behind on my Goodreads challenge, grrrr.) I read 8 books this month, including one adult book. These were they:



I'll begin with the 4 provided for review by the good people at Netgalley. First up: ONE ITALIAN SUMMER by Keris Stainton, which is out in May. This was my first time reading one of Keris's books, and it was an absolute joy. It's about three sisters going on an annual family holiday to Italy -- except this will be the first time since their dad died, and the sisters and their mother are all dealing with their grief in different ways. Add to that a sweet, believable romance, the gorgeous setting, and plenty of funny bits, and you have pretty much the perfect summer read. I will absolutely be getting my hands on more of Keris's books.

Next from Netgalley is NOWHERE NEAR YOU by Leah Thomas (published in Feb). I loved BECAUSE YOU'LL NEVER MEET ME (the first in the duology), so naturally I jumped at the chance to read the follow-up. And there were a lot of the elements I liked from the first book in NOWHERE NEAR YOU - namely the distinct and captivating writing, and the wonderful and charming Ollie and Moritz, with their unlikely yet uplifting friendship. There were also a lot of new and interesting characters introduced, both on Ollie's adventure to seek out other Blunderkids, and at Moritz's new school, and I really enjoyed getting to know them as well. That said, I went into this having enjoyed the meandering style of storytelling in BYNM, but expecting the pace and action to pick up in this book... and I didn't get that. I found myself wanting MORE. More plot, more urgency, more of the action this seems to have been building toward (maybe that is coming in Book 3 - is there one? I haven't been able to find confirmation). As it was, NNY didn't quite deliver for me. 

Book 3 was HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer, which came out a few weeks ago in the UK. Again, this was my first book by this author, although I've heard rave reviews about this and her other series, The Lunar Chronicles. This book tells the origins of the Queen of Hearts from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, following Lady Cath Pinkerton as she goes about trying to extricate herself from a courtship with the king so she can set up her own bakery, all while avoiding random attacks by the terrifying Jabberwock, and falling for the mysterious new court jester, Jest. Except Cath doesn't really try all that hard to extricate herself from the courtship. Or get her business underway. GAH. I loved the world -- of course! -- and the set-up of the origin story, but I found Cath frustrating for most of the book. A lot of the conflict would have been avoided if she had just spoken up at any point, and she only seemed to grow a spine during the last few pages. I really wanted to love this book, and there were parts that I did... but Cath kept getting in the way. Damn you, Cath.

Last on my Netgalley review list is a book I also won in a Goodreads giveaway (yay!) and it was quite a strange little egg. ENCOUNTERS by Jason Wallace is out this month, and tells the story of 6 young people who have all been affected by a UFO sighting near a school in Zimbabwe in the 1990s. I went in expecting this to be a kooky alien book, but it went much deeper than that, instead opening windows into the complicated, often dark, lives of these kids. It was unsettling, and a little hard to get into at first (it opens with a narrative of a boy who is very unlikeable in his sexist, racist, homophobic views -- although this isn't representative of the book as a whole) but it's definitely a novel that makes you consider the assumptions we make about shared experiences and trustworthy narratives. An interesting one, for sure. 

Next up is a book I have been looking forward to for months: THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. THUG (the title comes from the acronym THUGLIFE, a Tupac quote) was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and tells the story of Starr, a black teenager who witnesses her friend being shot by the police, and the fallout as experienced in her mostly black, working class neighbourhood, and the mostly white, elite school she attends. It is in turns heartbreaking, hilarious, and hopeful -- a phenomenal novel everyone should read. I was also lucky enough to meet the author during her UK tour, and hearing her speak about her inspiration for the book was incredible. I can't wait for her next book, and the movie of THUG which is currently in production. 



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

(When I met Angie Thomas!!!) 



I'm not entirely sure what to make of AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi, even a few weeks after finishing it. The book description says it's about Haitian teen Fabiola, who comes to the US with her mother -- except her mother is detained at customs, so Fabiola's journey continues with her aunt and cousins in Detroit. Beautifully written, and with characters who seem totally real, I was definitely absorbed by the story... I just wasn't sure quite what I was supposed to take from it, and there didn't seem to be much focus/resolution to some parts of the story.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a huge fan of Neal Shusterman, and his UNWIND series was one that inspired me to become a writer myself. So I was really excited to listen to the audiobook of SCYTHE, his latest YA series-opener, and I absolutely loved it. Citra and Rowan are Scythes-in-training -- those who will glean the lives of select individuals so that population numbers in this post-mortal society can be kept in check. It was dark and gruesome and totally riveting -- I can't wait for the next in the series, which comes out later this year. 

Last on my list this month was a funny adult sci-fi: WE ARE LEGION (WE ARE BOB) by Dennis E Taylor, which is about a modern-day IT company owner who is cryogenically frozen, and awakens a century later as an AI in a very different world. I listened to the audio of this one, too, which I think made it even more enjoyable. It was irreverent and unusual, and although I got a little muddled at times with all the different Bobs, it was overall a fun, easy listen. 

That's it for my April reads -- PHEW.

What else did I get up to? Well, I visited Chester Cathedral with my sister, and caught this couple kissing in the shade of a magnolia tree in the inner courtyard...



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

I also spent a day working at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden with this little gem -- horror author Dawn Kurtagich.



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

I went on some walking adventures, as the weather was at times rather clement. 




...And I caught 2 hedgehogs growling and fighting in my back garden, as you do.



A post shared by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on


Aside from that, it was writing, writing, and a bit more writing. While all this was going on, I also binged this track from Highly Suspect.





And that was about it for April. May is set to be a good month, with a writing retreat in mid-Wales, lots more writing, and hopefully lots more sunshine. 


For now...

Kat out x