Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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

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

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

5 Favourite Recent YA Romances

1. Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

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

2. All Laced Up by Erin Fletcher

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

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

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

4. Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman

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

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

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

5 YA Romances on my TBR

(blurbs nicked from Goodreads)

1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt 

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

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

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

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

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

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


What are you reading this Valentine's Day?

Saturday, 4 February 2017

January Wrap-up!

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

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

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

A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

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

A photo posted by Kat Ellis (@katelliswrites) on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kat out x