Tuesday, 6 March 2018

February Wrap-up!

We have rolled into March on a wave of snow-melt, so it's time to recap what happened in February.

Writing-wise, I was working on the first round of edits for THE TWINS OF BLACKFIN, the novella which will be out this October in an anthology of novellas called THREE STRIKES. In case this is the first you're hearing about TWINS, it's a prequel to my debut YA novel, BLACKFIN SKY, and focuses on some weird and spooky events which took place immediately after Sky's death (that's not a spoiler, I promise - Sky has already died at the start of BLACKFIN SKY!) It has been so much fun working on another story set in that peculiar town, and I really hope readers will love it.

Because I think music helps set a mood for a story really well, here's a track I'm listening to a lot at the moment, and which I think has a definite TWINS-feel. It's also a really cool video, though not plot-related ;-)

I read another 4 books in February, and these are they:

THE ROANOKE GIRLS by Amy Engel was a weirdly addictive novel about Lane and her cousin Allegra, who spent one summer together as teenagers at the Roanoke homestead, and now - 10 years later - Allegra has gone missing, and Lane returns to Roanoke to find out what happened to her. The subject matter (incest/child abuse) was very dark, but told in such a compelling and evocative way that it doesn't feel like the grim story it really is. I listened to this on audio - read brilliantly by Brittany Pressley - and could hardly put it down. I'm glad I made this my adult-category read for the month.

Neal Shusterman's THUNDERHEAD is the second in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy (I had thought it was a duology when I started this book, and am consequently gutted at having to wait a year for the conclusion). If you enjoy vast dystopian landscapes and fascinating, flawed characters, and you haven't yet picked up SCYTHE, then you definitely should. It's set in a post-mortal age where disease and natural death no longer exist, so to keep the human population from exploding, an organisation called the Scythedom have been established to 'glean' lives according to a quota. But Scythes aren't infallible, and two young trainees, Rowan and Sitra, find themselves in danger when they uncover the deep vein of corruption running through the Scythedom.

I picked up THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough thanks to a recommendation from Miss Print, whose reading recs I always take seriously! This was a historical romance with an element of fantasy (always a good thing, I think). It follows Flora - a young black woman from Seattle who dreams of flying in the footsteps of Amelia Earheart, and sings in a jazz club by night - and Henry, an orphaned young white man living off the good will of his best friend's affluent family, and dreaming of a future that isn't the one that has been so neatly laid out for him. And of course there are Love and Death, two figures locked in an eternal game, each with their chosen player - waiting to see which will triumph: love or death? This was a beautifully written story, and as I was reading it I could just imagine it all playing out like an old black and white film.

Finally, as promised, I snuck in a quick graphic novel. THE BEAUTY (Vol. One) by Jeremy Haun, Jason A Hurley, and John Rauch is about a sexually-transmitted disease with a difference: it's a disease everyone wants, because it makes the infected person beautiful. That is, of course, until a terrible side-effect begins to kick in... After a few months of neglecting graphic novels, this one was a brilliant one to get me back into the swing. The artwork is stunning, the storyline was smart and fast-paced, and I actually think I'll pick up the next volume in this series, which is a first for me!

Other than writing and reading, I had 2 nights out in Manchester - the first to see Highly Suspect playing at the Academy (they were AMAZING), and the second to watch comedian Dane Baptise with my sister (also brilliant). I had a couple more Welshy adventures, too - exploring Anglesey with my husband, where we visited historic Beaumaris Castle and visited the cemetery on Church Island; and walking at Llyn Brenig, which was bloody freezing. Here are a few pics from our adventures:

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And then the snow came...

I'm actually keeping up with my unofficial resolution to post every day on Instagram, so if you don't already follow me there and would like to see more of my adventures/reading habits/cats, then... well, follow me.

That's it for now - I'm heading back into my writing cave to work on edits for what I hope will be my next book. Fingers crossed, eh??

Kat out x

Friday, 2 February 2018

January Wrap-up!

Welcome to the first wrap-up of 2018. January is now over, so congratulations to all who participated in Dry January (of which I was not one...) and here's to spring being just around the corner!

I read 4 books in January:

All pretty covers, right??

My first book of the year was Sarah Alderson's CONSPIRACY GIRL - a fast-paced thriller with a strong romantic aspect I was very much on board with. The book was also a birthday present from my wonderful friend Jani Grey, who obviously has excellent taste.

18-year-old Nic Preston survived the home invasion which ended with her mom and stepsister dying 2 years ago, but now it seems someone has their sights set on Nic again. Enter FBI-academy-dropout-turned-charming-hacker Finn Carter, and soon the bullets and sparks are flying everywhere. This was a really fun, quick read, with loads of action and intrigue.

Next up was THE CURIOUS TALE OF THE LADY CARABOO by Catherine Johnson, which has been on my TBR pile forever (I'm determined to make a dent in it this year) and was honestly my favourite read this month. It's a beautifully written historical novel about the affluent Worrell family and the mysterious young woman who comes to live at their stately home, purporting to be a princess from a distant land. The story shifts perspectives between Caraboo herself and the two Worrell siblings, one of whom is beset with a yearning to gad about Europe for a year or so like his friends rather than have to study/work, and the other who is determined to fall in love. Caraboo has much deeper secrets than the Worrells, and it's fascinating watching the characters become woven together before the threads all begin to come apart. It's a great book; I'll definitely be reading more by Catherine Johnson.

INDIGO DONUT by Patrice Lawrence is another book I've been looking forward to, since reading ORANGEBOY last year. This novel takes a step away from the more thriller-y aspect of ORANGEBOY, telling the story of Indigo - a girl raised in the English care system - and Bailey, a boy who wants to help Indigo reconnect with her family even though his own home life is looking a bit frayed. I really enjoyed this, and found Indigo and Bailey's relationship quite moving, tbh. I listened to the audio version, read by Ben Bailey Smith, who is an excellent narrator.

Last on my list this month, THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING by E. K. Johnson. I was so intrigued by the setting/premise of this story. Due to Queen Victoria changing the rule of succession to the British throne so that the eldest child - not the eldest son - inherits the crown, there have been knock-on effects across the globe: the British Empire is the greatest power on Earth; the Americas are seen as a wild and uncivilised place; and Victorian etiquette/manners have survived into the modern age, setting God and technology side by side. I thought this was quite a marvellous set up for what I felt sure would be an exciting and mind-bending story... but it turned out to be a quiet and uneventful romance that worked out very neatly for the three central characters (one of whom is next in line for the throne, btw. It doesn't really matter.) This one left me with tepid feelings, but that could be my fault for expecting something different.

So far I haven't met my goal of reading one adult book a month (though I DNF-ed one), so I'll try to read 2 in Feb. And a graphic novel - I have a few lined up that look pretty amazing.

Other than reading, I have of course been writing. I'm revising a manuscript at the moment, and it's dark and creepy and magic-realism-y (it took me a stupidly long time to work that out) and I'm both enjoying working on it and excited for it to be DONE. This book feels like it has been gestating for half a century at this point. Anyway, here's a pic I found that inspired the setting and backstory:

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I also went on a ghost hunt with my sister, Alex. We visited Plas Teg in North Wales, which is an amazing old house with plenty of nooks for ghosts to hide in. If they were there, they hid a bit too well, though; although we had lots of fun looking for them, no ghosts appeared. Maybe my sceptic shield is too strong, who knows? In any case, it's great writing-fodder, and here are some pics/video clips from the night:

I'll leave you with a snapshot of how I'm starting February:

Reading: THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough

Audiobooking: EDITING EMMA by Chloe Seager

Singing along to: AND SAINTS by Sleigh Bells and LOS AGELESS by St. Vincent

Kat out x

Monday, 8 January 2018

My 2017 in Review

2017 was a hell of a year, generally speaking. Ugh.... the world. But you know about all that shit-show, so I'm going to stick to the good stuff.

I got some writin' done in 2017. All in all, I completed 2-3 manuscripts in 2017 (I'm still revising one of them), and started a fourth. For 3 months, my writing was funded by a Writer's Bursary from Literature Wales, which I was incredibly fortunate to be awarded so I could work on a novel idea I had submitted to them back in 2016, for a YA thriller set in small-town Indiana. But before the bursary period began in April, I also tried my hand at writing a Middle Grade novel, which although it ended up terribly, was at least something new.

No writing is ever truly wasted... isn't that what they say?

So, the first half of the year was off to a decent start, writing-wise. And it was topped off rather nicely by getting a new deal with Firefly Press to write a novella for their forthcoming title THREE STRIKES, which will be a bind-up of 3 novellas -- by Lucy Christopher, Rhian Ivory, and me! Mine is called The Twins of Blackfin, and as you may have guessed, it is set in the same world as my debut novel, BLACKFIN SKY. The novella is actually a prequel to the novel (though it can definitely be read as a standalone) and focuses on a girl named Bo, who finds that all the young people in the town have started sleepwalking late at night. I won't say any more about it now (I'm terrible at realising what's spoilery and what's not with my own stories), but I hope you'll pick up a copy of THREE STRIKES when it comes out in October.

I said I'd stick to the good stuff, but for the sake of not appearing more productive/competent than I am, I will add that I experienced my first real bout of writer's block in 2017; it lasted months, and I was convinced until quite recently that I had forgotten how to write.

I've decided not to do that again.

I read quite a bit. Although I didn't quite hit my Goodreads Challenge target of reading 80 books in 2017, I came close with 76. Most of those were audiobooks, which I listen to when I go walking. Of those 76, there weren't many that I didn't truly enjoy.

For the most part, you can check out my Wrap-Up posts from last year to see which books I read and my thoughts on them, but I did slip a bit toward the end of the year, blogging-wise, while I was on deadline.

So, these were the missing books --

My absolute favourites were the MRC Kasasian books (the first 3 in a very funny and sometimes dark historical mystery series), and the final Lockwood & Co. book (so sad that it's over, but the way it ended lets me believe, at least a little, that there might be more in future...)

Looking ahead, I'm keeping my goal at 75 books for 2018. Keep it doable, yo. (Words to live by.)

I got out into the YA community. In real life and everything. In April, I went to see Angie Thomas at one of her UK events to promote THE HATE U GIVE. She is just as phenomenal as I expected from reading the book.

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May was the month I went on my 3rd writing retreat. It was organised by the wonderful Dawn Kurtagich, along with brilliant writer pals Tatum Flynn and Jenn Faughnan. This one was in mid-Wales, not far from Powys Castle, in a gorgeous little cottage in the middle of freaking nowhere.

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In July I went to YALC in London, and got to hang out with Tatum Flynn again, and catch up with some other wonderful writing friends & watch the Saturday panels. I also spotted Alyson Hannigan and Kristian Nairn (the chap who plays Hodor on Game of Thrones) down in the Comicon hub. I missed the part where Benedict Cumberbatch walked in on Non Pratt having her head shaved -- about which I will be sad for all eternity -- but I had a belting time at YALC nonetheless.

The last event I went to was in October, when Phil Earl came to Prestatyn Library. I loved his talk about how he got into writing and the inspiration behind his books, and I picked up a signed copy of BEING BILLY while I was there.

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I also had some good stuff happen in my personal life. I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary, and my 10th blood donation (not related.) I cut off 14 inches of my hair to send to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children undergoing treatment for cancer, and other situations that might cause hair loss. I also made a big effort to become more healthy, so changed my eating and exercise habits. I now feel sprightlier than a golden retriever, so I think it was definitely worth making the change.

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And that's my 2017 in a nutshell.

Looking ahead... Going into 2018, these are a few things I want to try and achieve:

- Get my latest YA manuscript ready. Like, really ready. Finished, you might say.

- Blog more consistently.

- Stick with the healthier lifestyle thing.

- Get back into Twitter - at least for #UKYAchat nights (I've been very quiet there lately, and I miss it.)

- Read 75 books, including at least one adult novel and one graphic novel per month.

For now...

Kat out x

Monday, 4 December 2017

Firefly Christmas book bundles

Just ducking my head in here quickly to say that BLACKFIN SKY and PURGE are available as part of Firefly Press's Christmas book bundles offer, where you can get both of my books as well as the first 2 instalments of Sarah Govett's gripping trilogy THE TERRITORY for just £22.

There are loads of other fab books in the deal, too -- check out the details here, and grab some last minute Christmas presents --> CLICK FOR AWESOMENESS

I promise a proper blog update soon with all the details about what I've been up to (in short, I've been working on 2 big writing things) and alllll the books and audiobooks I've read/listened to over the past couple of months.

More soon!

Kat x

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


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?

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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!


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


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