books

Nekromancer’s Cage releases in 10 days!

In an alchemy rich industrial city, mix one apprentice apothecary with a group of bandit musicians, a talking cat and a whiff or two of necromancy, and what do you have? Nekromancer’s Cage!

image (24)

 

Hi everyone, I just thought I’d pop up a reminder that my latest upper middle grade/teen book, Nekromancer’s Cage, comes out this month on the 24th!

It’s filled with lots of intrigue, magic and whimsy, and I’m very proud of all the work that’s gone into it.

If it sounds like a book you or a younger family member would like to dig into, you can PRE-ORDER IT HERE.

Uncategorized

It’s publication day! Accidental Archaeologist: Half-Wizard Thordric Book Two is finally out!

Accidental-Archaeologist-Promo-Hardback-Ereader

As the title of this post would suggest, book 2 in my Half-Wizard Thordric series is now available to buy. Currently, it’s only on Kindle, but in a week or so the paperback will also be available. It’s rather exciting! If you love fantasy, plenty of humour, quests and YA reads, then this may be for you.

However, here’s the blurb just in case you’re not convinced yet:

Three years have passed since Thordric joined the Wizard Council. Together, with High Wizard Vey, they have reformed the council completely.

But while half-wizards can now train their magic freely and join the ranks of the mages, Thordric realizes that there are many who are completely unaware of this. Traveling to the faraway town of Valley Edge, he meets the young archaeologist Hamlet, who is traveling to a dig site where a new discovery has been made.

But not all is as it first appears, and once again Thordric has to put his magic to the test…in order to stop one of the greatest catastrophes their world has ever seen.

Uncategorized

End of year thoughts

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, because I have many long term goals that I’m simply going to keep working towards, so I thought I’d take a look back at the good things that have happened in 2017 instead.

I started out this year determined to be published before I was 27 (my actual words to everyone were ‘by the end of my 26th year’. Perhaps it sounded more achievable if I spoke about it like a prophecy). I had two ways to achieve this: find a literary agent and get a publishing contract VERY soon after, or approach a smaller publisher directly. Because I was impatient, and running out of time – this was a goal I’d set myself some years ago – I did both. For my older manuscripts, I sent them to small publishers, and for my newer ones, I sent them out to literary agents. While I had some interest from agents, none have taken it further so far, but as I recently finished editing one of my latest manuscripts, I can still query with that one. I did, however, have an offer from a small publisher for my middle-grade book, Unofficial Detective, with interest in its sequels, and that was published in late August. As my 27th birthday was in September, I just about achieved my goal of getting published before I reached that age. And I’m quite proud of that, even though it’s only the beginning!

I also really wanted to start a blog this year, and keep it up by posting regularly. Initially, I was going to write posts purely on writing and about my journey to publication – so detailing the query trenches, my work methods and habits – but the process of querying takes so long that it can be months before hearing back, meaning my posts on that subject would be few and downright boring. I decided to share some of my short stories and old, highly questionable poetry to fill space. Yet I soon ran out. So I had to write something new, and that’s when I discovered my love for writing poetry, which if you’ve been following this blog for a while, is probably what you see most of. As I tend to post everyday, I consider this particular goal fully achieved.

Starting a YouTube channel wasn’t something I’d planned to do from the beginning of the year, but in an attempt to increase my author platform, and because I love watching Booktube videos, I thought I’d try it out. What surprised me is how much I like doing it. It’s just nice to talk about books and express my enthusiasm. I don’t really get to do that otherwise (though my husband has recently got heavily into reading, so now we rave to each other about different books. Yay!).

On a non-book related topic, my husband and I moved and now have our own flat. It’s fantastic to finally have a space for just the two of us (four if you count our feathered family members). And it’s so peaceful. Considering we’d been living with my parents since getting hitched in 2013, this was a long time coming and very much overdue. My mood has increased dramatically, and I feel good about the future.

Which brings me to my final note of saying that over the last few days, my book has been doing rather well, reaching some of the highest rankings on Amazon that it’s had so far. Also, book two has been accepted by my publisher and the manuscript has been proofed, and I’ve been asked for ideas on what I want to feature on the cover. Which means that the book itself should be released early next year, hopefully around February or March, if all goes well.

So next year, I’m going to keep writing, keep blogging and keep striving to find a literary agent so I can get published by ‘the big guys’. More work, but work that I want to do, and I honestly wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.

Kat out.

Uncategorized

My book is free!

Hey guys, from today until 03/10, my debut, Unofficial Detective, book one in the Half-Wizard Thordric series, is free on Kindle.

Unofficial-Detective-Promo-Paperback.png

And I’m also rather pleased to announce that a few days ago, it received its first review on Amazon.com, and it’s a five star! Exciting times, if I do say so myself.

Reviews

Book review: Dragon Rider: The Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke

Several years ago, I read Dragon Rider, a middle-grade fantasy about a dragon named Firedrake and his rider, Ben, and their quest to find the dragons a new home, which I  absolutely loved. Recently, book 2, The Griffin’s Feather, was released in the UK, so I simply had to pick it up.

The story focuses on the efforts of a group of conservationists for fabulous creatures (as they’re referred to in the book), who are Ben’s adoptive family. They’ve just found the last pair of winged horses – but the mare is attacked by a venomous creature and dies, and only she had the power to keep her foals alive.

The stallion agrees to bring the foals to the sanctuary where the conservationists (the Greenbloom family) live, where they discuss possible ways to save the foals. Many important scientists and conservationists for fabulous (and ‘non-fabulous’) creatures chip in with their ideas and opinions, and eventually the only valid option is to use the marrow from a griffin’s feather. Unfortunately, griffins have not been seen by humans in hundreds of years, have a reputation for being aggressive and also hate other animals, particularly winged horses – and dragons.

In an effort to keep the stallion, and Ben’s best friend, Firedrake the dragon, safe, the Greenblooms decide to keep their real goal from them and pretend that the solution is something else (even though their task might prove to be dangerous), so neither of them will try to get involved and put themselves in danger.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved the premise, and it was nice to be back with familiar characters again, along with some new ones. I also greatly appreciated the nods to David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, as well us others involved in conservation and environmentalism. The book is very much a nudge for children (and adults) to think about animals as creatures to be respected and treated with compassion, and to acknowledge the world around us and what we’re doing to it. I wouldn’t say it did it in a preaching way, however – because of the nature of the story, these messages are in it in a very organic way. There’s also a lot of detail in this book about different cultures, species of animal and places – the characters travel to Indonesia, and I was so completely immersed that I felt like I was experiencing it along with them. And of course, the book has a happy ending, too.

I think, overall, that what Cornelia Funke has woven together here is a wonderfully imaginative story, with a strong, yet non-intrusive message, that readers of ALL ages will appreciate and enjoy.

Uncategorized

New video! Interesting Stand-alone books.

Hello everyone, just thought I’d let you know I’ve posted another Booktube video on my channel. This one is about stand-alone books that I either really love or find the concept intriguing. If that sounds like something of interest to you, you can find it here.

Happy watching!

Uncategorized

I’m on Youtube!

So today I did something (kind of) impulsively – I made a video about books. I plan to make more, though I won’t have a specific upload schedule, it’ll be more of a ‘when I have time’ kind of thing, but this is the start to what will hopefully be an interesting Booktube channel.

As with all first videos, there are plenty of awkward moments, but it was fun to record and just talk book talk for a while. And yes, I say ‘fantastic’ a lot.

You can view it here.

Happy watching!

 

Uncategorized

Book haul! part two: Fiction and Non-fiction

As promised, here’s part two of my recent book haul! They cover quite a few genres and age ranges.

Fiction:

Dragon Rider: The Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke – The last winged horses are on the brink of extinction. Three foals lie curled in their eggs in a sanctuary for threatened creatures, where a young dragon rider lives with his silver dragon. The foals are ill, and the pair volunteer to seek the only cure: a Griffin’s feather. But Griffins, with the heads of eagles and the bodies of lions, are a dragon’s fiercest enemy, and live far across the world in the sweltering jungle. A dangerous and exciting adventure begins …

Around the Universe in 10 -43 Second by Manu Breysse – Sareth is a Pharaoh on a lost planet at the far end of an arm of the Milky Way. While imposing a hard-line, despotic regime there, he is accidentally teleported to the centre of the galaxy. Lost, Sareth goes to take refuge in a city library to try to understand what is happening to him. But, just as he is about to discover the meaning of life, it disappears before his very eyes… Come discover Sareth and his companions on their insane quest to find the meaning of life! A quest against which the universe itself appears to put them on their guard with its space worms, galactic jellyfish, pan-dimensional creatures, humans… Accompanied by an alcoholic, his shrink and the latter’s daughter who is in the throes of adolescence, Sareth will confront the dangers of an absurd universe, which has no other purpose than to make life rare and precious!

Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan – To Andy and his parents, it looks like any other carnival: creaking ghost train, rusty rollercoaster and circus performers. But of course it isn’t. Drawn to the hall of mirrors, Andy enters and is hypnotised by the many selves staring back at him. Sometime later, one of those selves walks out rejoins his parents – leaving Andy trapped inside the glass, snatched from the tensions of his suburban home and transported to a world where the laws of gravity are meaningless and time performs acrobatic tricks. And now an identical stranger inhabits Andy’s life, unsettling his mother with a curious blankness, as mysterious events start unfolding in their Irish coastal town.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. He’s very lonely until one day something peculiar happens. At the end of the garden a peach starts to grow and GROW AND GROW. Inside that peach are seven very unusual insects – all waiting to take James on a magical adventure. But where will they go in their GIANT PEACH and what will happen to the horrible aunts if they stand in their way? There’s only one way to find out . . .

Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book  by Terry Jones, illustrated by Brian Froud – This is a reproduction of the diary of Lady Angelica Cottington, which features pressed garden fairies. Or rather the psychic images of the fairies, who quickly turned it into a game, where they leapt between the closing pages in an effort to outdo each other to produce the most outrageous poses. The book claims to be the facsimile edition of the notebook of Lady Cottington who, it is said, took the infamous photograph of a group of fairies that was authenticated by Conan Doyle, but later discredited. She was determined to prove the existence of fairies and began to capture them between the pages of her notebook, in which she had previously pressed wild flowers. This is a record of the fairies she caught, and of the disruptive influence they had on her otherwise sheltered life.

The Museum’s Secret by Henry Chancellor – Welcome to the Scatterhorn Museum! But don’t get too excited – it’s a cold and dingy place, crammed full of tatty stuffed animals and junk. Nobody much wants to visit any more, and its days are surely numbered. But when Tom is sent to live here he soon finds there is more to this museum than meets the eye. The animals may be shabby and moth-eaten – but they possess an incredible secret. And when Tom discovers he can go right back to the time of their making, a hundred years earlier, he embarks on a journey full of unimaginable terrors… Join Tom in his breathtaking adventure in and out of time, from an Edwardian ice fair to the wastes of Mongolia, the jungles of India, and beyond…

The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams – The brilliant follow-up to David Walliams’ bestseller The World’s Worst Children! Ten more stories about a brand new gang of hilariously horrible kids from everyone’s favourite children’s author, illustrated in glorious full colour by Tony Ross. If you thought you had read about the World’s Worst Children already, you’re in for a rather nasty shock. The beastly boys and gruesome girls in this book are even ruder, even more disgusting and WORSE than you could ever imagine!

Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl – It’s hard to escape the secrets from the past.
Storm clouds gather over Lily and Robert’s summer when criminal mastermind the Jack of Diamonds appears. For Jack is searching for the mysterious Moonlocket – but that’s not the only thing he wants. Suddenly, dark secrets from Robert’s past plunge him into danger. Jack is playing a cruel game that Robert is a part of. Now Lily and Malkin, the mechanical fox, must stay one step ahead before Jack plays his final, deadly card…

Non-fiction:

Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell – ‘Can books conduct electricity?’ ‘My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that’s ok… isn’t it?’ A John Cleese Twitter question [‘What is your pet peeve?’], first sparked the “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops” blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller’s collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor. From ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year’s weather; and from ‘I’ve forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter’ to’Excuse me… is this book edible?’ This full-length collection illustrated by the Brothers McLeod also includes top ‘Weird Things’ from bookshops around the world.

The View from Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman – ‘Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation.’ This collection will draw you in to exchanges on making good art and Syrian refugees, the power of a single word and playing the kazoo with Stephen King, writing about books, comics and the imagination of friends, being sad at the Oscars and telling lies for a living. Here Neil Gaiman opens our minds to the people he admires and the things he believes might just mean something – and welcomes us to the conversation too.

Nightwalking by Matthew Beaumont – In Nightwalking Matthew Beaumont recounts an alternative history of Londonpopulated by the poor, the mad, the lost, the vagrant and the noctambulant. He shines a light on the shadowy perambulations of poets, novelists and thinkers: Chaucer and Shakespeare; William Blake and his ecstatic peregrinations and the feverish ramblings of opium addict Thomas De Quincey; and, among the lamp-lit literary throng, the supreme nightwalker Charles Dickens. We discover how the nocturnal city has inspired some and served as a balm or narcotic to others.

So there you are, a breakdown of all the books I’ve gathered this month. Most of them I bought myself, but Carnivalesque and Around the Universe in 10 -43 Second I gained from giveaways – always a bonus!

 

Reviews

Review: ‘When Marnie Was There’ by Joan G Robinson

I first heard of ‘When Marnie Was There’ from Studio Ghibli, a Japanese film studio, who made a film based on the book in 2015 (though I didn’t see it until the following year). Prior to watching it, I had no idea that it was based off of a book, and as I enjoyed the film so much, I just had to see what the book was like too. So when I eventually got round to reading it (my gosh, life gets in the way sometimes!), I knew where the story was headed…but that didn’t ruin it for me at all.

There’s such a richness to this book that I was completely enveloped in the world and characters from start to finish. It’s hard to explain, but it was almost like coming home after being away for a long time – and though I’m sure some of that was down to seeing the film first, I don’t think that was the whole reason.

Let me give a brief overview of the story before I ramble on about how much I loved it. The book is set in the late sixties (it was first published in 1967) and the main character is a girl called Anna. She’s an orphan who doesn’t know much about her family, and finds it hard to get to know people and express herself. She feels like everyone else in ‘inside’, and she’s always on the ‘outside’, even if people ask her to join in with their activities. When she feels uncomfortable around someone, she puts on her ‘normal’ face in the hopes that they’ll lose interest in her and go away.

She is sent away by her foster parents to a small village in Norfolk called Little Overton, for both her health (she has asthma) and a change of pace before school starts again after the holidays. She stays with an elderly couple who are friends with her foster parents, and they let her roam around the village as she pleases, which is how she discovers the Marsh House, a large house on the other side of the marsh that can only be reached by boat. Anna imagines that the house is home to a large, happy family who have parties that go on into the night, but there is no sign that anyone lives there at all.

However, one night she discovers a boat by the marsh, quite empty, as though it’s been left there for her. She rows it out to the Marsh House, and just before she reaches it, a girl calls out for her to throw the rope so she can tie the boat up. The girl’s name is Marnie, and from then on she and Anna become the kind of friends that each of them wished for, but never had. But every so often, Marnie seems to disappear, and soon Anna suspects something strange is going on.

As I said before, there’s certainly a feeling to this book that grabs me (the film has it too, but to a slightly lesser degree). All I can think of to say is that this story is simply beautiful, and one that stays with you for a long time.

Reviews

Review: Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Although I bought this book when it first came out last year, I’ve only just managed to get around to reading it, and it didn’t disappoint:

Cogheart is a middle grade steampunk adventure story, revolving around Lily, a thirteen year old who is much more interested in her penny dreadfuls than learning the proper posture befitting a young lady, Robert, the local clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, Lily’s mechanical fox.

It starts out with Lily’s father’s airship being attacked, and as Malkin (who is the only other person on board) has a better chance of surviving the crash, he is sent out in the escape pod to find Lily at her boarding school with a cryptic message from her father. Unfortunately, he is shot by his pursuers, but Robert finds him and fixes him.

Meanwhile, news of her father’s ‘crash’ has reached Lily, and her father’s housekeeper, Madame Verdigris, has come to take her home. Though Lily wasn’t keen on before, when she sees that Madame has let her father’s mechs (mechanical people; a maid, gardener, chauffeur and cook) wind down, as well as rooting through her parents’ possessions, she begins to mistrust her even more. But it’s only when Lily finds out that Madame is searching for an object known as the ‘perpetual motion machine’, which her father had supposedly created, that she learns that Madame’s ambition to be head of the household is just the start – she’s actually working with the men behind Lily’s father’s disappearance.

When Robert, at Malkin’s request, comes to see Lily, he finds her locked in her room with only one way out – the window, where a small vine allows her to climb down mostly unscathed. However, the men working with Madame see her escape, and pursue them both back to Robert’s house, where only the presence of Robert’s Da keeps them away…for a time.

There’s a lot to like about this book. The setting of Victorian London, coupled with the description of the mechs, who work everywhere as servants and helpers, makes for a very rich world, and the integration of this alternate technology is carried out so well that I had no trouble accepting it as the norm. There’s also the moral question regarding how the mechs are perceived – do they really feel emotion? Can you count them as real people even though they’re made of cogs? Which of course carries the theme of acceptance of others, and for me, that’s a good thing.

I also felt that the main characters were strong and interesting – I could identify with Lily and Robert, and I absolutely loved Malkin’s personality. There were also some twists, but I admit I saw one straight away, and had suspicions of the other. Though of course, this book is aimed at a young audience, so it’s possibly just that. Then again, I imagine most kids would pick up on the clues peppered throughout, so it’s hard to say.

I enjoyed the ending, though at the time of reading, I found it a little anti-climatic. But again, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews, when I’m tired or distracted, I don’t enjoy things as much as normal, and I was very tired when I read the climax. The last chapter tied up all the loose ends nicely, and overall gave me that satisfied feeling of reaching the end of a good book.

So, would I recommend Cogheart as an exciting read for both kids and adults alike? Absolutely.