Category: Spotlight

#UKYACX BLOG TOUR | Spotlight on…Ellen Phethean @phethean @UKYACX

Posted 12 September, 2016 by katheryn13 in Blog Talks, Blog Tours, Book Promo, Interviews, Spotlight / 0 Comments




Ren and the Blue Hands
Set in the fictional 16th Century Calico Isles, Ellen Phethean’s YA novel, Ren and The Blue Hands, sees teenaged Ren drawn into a world of intrigue, passion and politics.
Betrayal by your friends is heart breaking, betrayed by your own heart is devastating.
In a world on the cusp of change, Ren, a Blue Hand dyer, is plucked from the dye sheds to become lady’s maid up at Barrow Hall. At first she’s excited about her future, but through her mistress, Lady Lilac, she becomes entangled in a plot which threatens the dye industry that has supported her family and the islands for generations. When the secret organisation, the Mazards are exposed, Ren must think and act for herself. She’s torn between helping the conspirators, loyalty to her roots and her love for fellow conspirator Bark. Driven by passion into danger, where right and wrong are hard to tell, only a terrible event can help her see more clearly.
On a personal level it’s about love, loyalty and how to do the right thing. On a wider level it explores political themes of power and espionage as factions struggle to control the winds of change.
It’s due to be published on 2nd November by Red Squirrel Press, it’s the first book in a trilogy
  1. Ren and the Blue Hands
  2. Ren and the Blue Cloth (working title)
  3. Ren in Samara (working title)


Ellen Phethean wrote Wall, a teen novel in poems, set in the Byker Wall estate, based on her interviews and workshops in the east of Newcastle while Writer in Residence for Seven Stories, Newcastle in 2003/4. Wall was published by Smokestack Books, 2007.

She followed that up with another teen novel in poems Hom, set in the West End of Newcastle, published online as a weekly blog, still available at her website.

Her latest young adult novel, Ren and the Blue Hands, in prose, is launched in November 2016 by Postbox Press (an imprint of Red Squirrel Press). Inspired by real historical events, but set in the fictional 16th Century Calico Isles, Ren and the Blue Hands, was Long listed for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2012: ‘A vividly imagined historical background, and interesting mixture of politics and romance. Ren is a courageous female hero whom readers will empathise with and root for.’

She’s a sound artist, playwright and poet too – her first poetry collection Breath, 2009 Flambard, was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010.  Her second collection, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman, 2014, Red Squirrel Press was a New Writing North Read Regional choice for 2014.

Ellen’s website
Tweets as @phethean



What inspired you to write this?

First of all, years ago, I came up with a scene and a character in a writing workshop. A young woman finding a secret note. It seemed to be about a mystery and I kept writing scenes – I wrote about young women working together in a dark shed and singing beautifully. I imagined a nasty villain when I was given the word Grist. So it all began with bits and pieces, and all seemed set in some historical past.

Then I read about the real struggle in the Dye industry in the 16th century, when the Guilds in Europe were resisting a new dye, Indigo, coming in from India. They called it the Devil’s Dye – and that became the core of the story that pulled all my disparate bits of scenes and characters together. My women workers in a shed were Dyers, the Blue Hands. But I knew their resistance to the new dye was bound to failure, so I began to think about when change is inevitable, how and why do people adapt? I gave these dilemmas to my main character Ren, who’s caught up in the middle of these big historical changes, and has to deal with it on a personal level.

Is this a fantasy?

No, because it’s based on real events and all the technology and clothes are based on 16th life, but I’ve taken liberties with reality, and have created my own alternative world. I’m aiming for emotional rather than literal truth. It makes the book difficult to categorise by genre – it’s a historical drama, but fictional, some call it fantasy because I made up the country, but that suggests dragons and elves – there’s no magic or non-human characters. There’s a love story at its heart, so it’s a romance too, but it’s also about political struggle. Try and sum up that in three words!

Did you have to do research?

I used many historical sources for help and ideas. It’s been the greatest fun imaginable making up the world, my 16th Century cosmos. Characters have natural names like Bark and Moss and Count Saffron. The blue dye comes from the Shebble Shell. The group of isles where Shebble shell is found are The Calico Isles where the story is set. Braymer is the country that exports the wool and yarn that gets dyed by Shebble shell.

The workers on Calico are organised by their Gild. The different classes of society are subject to sumptuary laws (which were real laws detailing who could wear what fabric and colour of clothing) – in my world only the wealthiest nobles are allowed to wear the unique Shebble blue dyed cloth, while workers in the dye industry get Blue Lung or Shebble Pox, and their hands are stained blue.

I’d done an MA in Theatre Studies, and had explored the traditions of Shakespearean theatre, so I included a Travelling Theatre troupe called The Chancellor of Braymer’s Men who come to Calico to perform for the May Day Revels and stir things up. In the past there have been Dye Wars. The time of peaceful monopoly of Shebble is about to change.

Where is it set?

In my imagination, the Calico Isles are a sort of combination of mediterranean islands with elements of Cornwall. The country of Braymer is a colder, more northerly island, not a million miles away from Britain. Samara, the third major country referred to, is a mash-up of north african/middle eastern countries.

Was it a dragged out process?

Yes! I’ve been writing the story off and on for about 10 years, and it’s only in the last four or five years that I really got down to working out how the story fitted together, and filling it out. It took two more books to get the story to a satisfactory end and I still haven’t quite finished the third although I know where it’s going. I haven’t decided on the actual fate of my main character in the final chapter!

I put an early draft in for the Times Chicken House Children’s Novel competition in 2012 and it was long listed which gave me a confidence boost, and encouraged me to keep working and finish it all.

Do you have any favourite authors?

Two of my favourite YA authors are Ursula Le Guin, particularly The Wizard of Earthsea, and the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. Not only are they great writers of stories that grab you and you can’t put down, but they also deal with real, serious issues that people have to deal with: moral dilemmas, how to choose the right decision in difficult circumstances, complex characters who are both good and bad. They set their stories in the other worlds, but that allows the reader to reflect back on the real world. If I could achieve that in my writing, I’d be happy.

Thank you to Ellen for the interview, and to all those reading this, thank you. Check out the #UKYACX tag on twitter to follow posts on the authors attending the event on the 17th September in Newcastle!! 


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Spotlight/Interview: WENDY HIGGINS #BookBloggers #NewReleases #NA

Posted 18 August, 2016 by katheryn13 in Book Promo, Interviews, New Adult, Sci-Fi, Spotlight, Updates / 0 Comments

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.
In this first instalment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

PUBLISHER: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Hey everyone, I wanted to do something different today. So it is an honour to be able to say I got to interview the wonderful, successful author Wendy Higgins. She’s written works such as the Sweet Evil series, The Great Hunt and See Me. Her latest novel, Unknown, is out now, and you can find links above with the description.
So without further ado, here we go.

  • Hi Wendy, it’s great to finally get to talk to such a wonderful author! How are you doing? I’ll say first that I really enjoyed the Sweet Evil series. So I was looking through the other books you’ve written, and you’ve written about romance, demons, fairies, magic, and soon an apocalypse (with your new novel Unknown), is there anything you’d really love to write about but for whatever reason you can’t? 
~ I would love to write something based on historical events, like during the civil war, but no story idea has hit me for anything like that. Maybe someday! 🙂
  • What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process?
~ Plotting. Coming up with cool twists and turns is so difficult for me. Either it hits me out of the blue, or it doesn’t.
  • I know that many writers struggle with certain parts of writing. For me, it’s action. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
~Same. The action scenes are very difficult for me. Give me a kissing scene any day! 
  • Were you one of those authors that tried fan fiction before writing original or did you just dive right in?
~I never wrote book fan fiction. In seventh grade I wrote New Kids On the Block (NKOTB) fan fiction, but that was it, hahahaha.
  • Since you’ve dipped your toes in both categories, which would you say suits you better: young adult or new adult? Also if you had to stay with one genre forever, which do you think you’d choose? 
~This is a tough question, because both have felt similar to me. The only difference is that I’ve used more mature language and detail in the Unknown books. I have loved writing for teens, but I feel myself gravitating in an older direction at the moment. 
  • How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you use the name generators online? 
~I don’t pay any attention to name meanings. I try to choose interesting names that suit the character’s personalities with how they sound. I’ve browsed many baby name sites for inspiration over the years.
  • If you could have written any book in the world, what would it be? 
~Easy. Harry Potter. Love.
  • Okay, so characters often find themselves in sticky situations. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
~Hahaha, I’m so boring. Imagine a soccer mom who works in her pajamas. The stickiest situation I get myself into these days is when I open the honey jar. I did lea quite an interesting life before I was married though. Like the time when I was a flight attendant and our apartment caught on fire in Jersey City, and I had to jump six feet from our window to a fire escape as windows blew open and sprayed us with glass (we were three stories up). Thankfully everyone made it out alive (seven of us flight attendants lived together). It was nuts. I was twenty-one.
  • You recently went to Scotland and Ireland, and I’m sure you’ve been to other countries: If you could have any other accent in the world, which would you pick? 
~English, London area. It’s just so lovely to me, hence the reason I gave Kaidan a London accent in the Sweet books.
  • And the last question for you: Are you working on anything else at the moment?
~I take the summers off from writing, but I will begin Unrest (Unknown #2) as soon as school starts back in September! 🙂


Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the SWEET EVIL series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology THE GREAT HUNT, and her independently published Irish Fantasy SEE ME.
After earning a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, Wendy taught high school English until achieving her dream job as a full-time writer.
Wend lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue.

Thanks again to Wendy, for agreeing for me to throw questions at you. 🙂 And don’t forget to check out her other books if you haven’t already.
I wish all the luck and success for Unknown! 😀
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#UKMG Extravaganza Blog Tour: Karen McCombie #Interview #Spotlight @UKYAX @KarenMcCombie

Posted 15 October, 2015 by katheryn13 in Blog Tours, Book Promo, Fun, Middle Grade, Spotlight, YA / 0 Comments

Hi guys and gals! I’m pleased to be taking part in the UKMG Extravaganza blog tour, as part of an event that is going to be in Nottingham Central Library on 17th October with 34 top MG (Middle Grade) authors. Sounds fun, eh? (sadly I won’t be able to go.) For my post, I partnered with the wonderful Karen McCombie, author of 80 published books – and her first historical novel Catching Falling Stars is out now! 

Catching Falling Stars

A Blitz tale full of charm and laughter? YES! Karen brings her hallmark lightness to this war tale of evacuees, secrets and friendship. We’re loving the beautiful cover. (Reminds us of firework displays.) It’s 1940. Like millions of kids, Gloria and her little brother are new evacuees in the country. It’s a safe haven from the London Blitz. But their new home isn’t as cosy as they hoped. Their guardian, Miss Saunders, is strict and severe. The local children are rude and mocking. Yet things aren’t quite as they first appear. Before long, friends turn into enemies – and sworn enemies become lifelong friends…

Buy Links: Amazon (UK)

 I had the awesome opportunity to interview Karen about books and how she came to become the successful writer she is now. See below for her answers! 

Design K

Hi Karen, thanks so much for taking part in the UKMG blog tour.  I have a few fun questions.  First off,  as a writer myself (though unpublished) I’m always interested to hear other writers tales of how they got to where they are now: At what point did you decide you wanted to write as a career?  Was it instantaneous or a gradual thing?

I absolutely loved writing short stories when I was at school. But then I left, life got in the way, and I didn’t think about fiction for a long while. Years later, a couple of things got me back into the fiction writing groove. First, I worked at ‘Just Seventeen’ magazine, and often flicked through teen and pre-teen books coming in for review. Some were so good, they got my creative side all in a stir, and some were so bad that it was equally inspiring; “I could do better than that!” was pretty galvanising. Soon after, I was freelancing at ‘Sugar’ magazine, and the editor asked if I fancied writing some short stories for the mag. I jumped at the chance, and those published short stories, plus a teen novel outline, were enough to convince a publisher – Scholastic – to give me my very first commission. (BTW I still have a stash of rejections filed away from other publishers!) 

Were/are there any authors that inspired/still inspire you to write middle grade or in general?

I began writing teen books, but it was actually my lovely  editor (and now friend) Kirsten Stansfield who suggested I write a middle grade series, which was a wise move. I found that this was definitely my voice, and the series – ‘Ally’s World’ – became a best-seller.

How did you come to decide on writing children’s books,  as opposed to say,  adults or young adult? Was it a conscious decision?

I had a bit of a false start at school; I had undiagnosed hearing problems and struggled with everything in class, especially reading and writing. Once the deafness was spotted and treated, my school and parents worked hard to get me reading more to catch up. I didn’t just catch up; I sped on and fell madly in love with books and stories. Also, I remember my pre-teen and teen years vividly, mainly because I kept diaries all through those years. Combine these two factors together and I think that’s the reason I write what I write.

You’re stranded on a desert island and you can have only 2 books with you.  What are they?

1. ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger (I love it so much I have a framed poster of a first edition cover in my living room)

2. The ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I’m cheating with a series, I know, but I won’t tell if you don’t)

Hardbacks or Paperbacks?

Paperbacks. Hardbacks are too heavy to read in the bath. And don’t talk to me about Kindles; all that swipe, swipe drives me mad. Specially if I’ve been eating crisps and the swipe won’t work.

I agree. Do you have a favourite genre to read (as opposed to write)?

There are exceptions (like Phillip Reeves’ gobsmackingly good ‘Fever Crumb’) but fantasy doesn’t do it for me. I’m no good on dystopian stuff either (makes me gloomy). I think I just enjoy peeking into the lives of ordinary people, because behind every ordinary person is an extraordinary story. 

If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you’d be doing?

A cat stroker. That’s a job, right?

Haha, it really should be. And lastly but certainly not least: Do you have a favourite book at the moment?

‘May B’ by Caroline Starr Rose is really special. It’s the sparsely told story of a girl in pioneering days, and it’s stunning. I stumbled upon it (it’s a US import) when I was researching Laura Ingalls Wilder’s biography ‘Pioneer Girl’. By the wonders of Twitter, I contacted Caroline Starr Rose, and of course she’s as much of a Laura Ingalls Wilder nut as I am.

If you want to know more about Karen you can find her at these places:



And don’t forget to add her latest book (and others!) on your TO- READ list. 

UKMGX October Poster FINAL (3) (1)

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#GuestPost: The Boatman by Kat Hawthorne #Spotlight

Posted 1 June, 2015 by katheryn13 in Book Promo, Fantasy, Fun, Interviews, Middle Grade, Spotlight / 0 Comments

Today I’m pleased to welcome a special post about Kat Hawthorne’s book The Boatman. Here she explains what it was like working with an illustrator when putting the story together.

The Weirdness of Working With an Illustrator

By: Kat Hawthorne

As you may or may not know, my book, The Boatman, was illustrated by the wonderful and talented artist, Dora Mitchell ( This was a first for me, working with an illustrator, so today I’d like to explore how weird it was for me, the author, to see my characters come to life in a visual way.

I’m not sure if this is a well known fact, but I am also an editor. I went to school for copy, stylistic, and substantive editing, and then attained a specialization in editing books intended for young readers. Part of my education involved taking the text of picture books, breaking it down, and choosing the artists I felt would do the best job of helping the writers tell their stories. This was a lot of fun, but an utterly foreign concept to me. After all, I am a writer. I had never considered the power of a bunch of pictures.

After all, writers are solitary weirdos, eccentric to the extreme (or at least that’s what I was going for), and not dependent on anyone else to tell their tale, thank you very much. But when I was in school and I saw the way those picture books came to life once they were illustrated, the way they changed after the process (just take Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat, for example, in which the text tells us one thing, but the images tell us something else), I understood how wrong I’d been.

I knew right then that I needed my next book to be illustrated.

It has been brought to my attention (*cough* on more than one occasion *cough*) that I am a little bit tricky to work with. Being an editor means that I am also something of a perfectionist, and yes, I challenge many things. Originally, I thought I’d do the illustrations myself, and actually did come up with a few images that might work. But…they weren’t enough. I needed a professional.

This was a big deal for me and a very weird bit of letting-go-of-the-reins. For the first time ever, I found myself counting on someone else to interpret my words—to change my book, to help me tell the story. I was excited, but also rather freaked. Regardless, after she (foolishly) agreed to work with me, I gave Dora the manuscript, and then didn’t hear from her for a few months.

And then I received the image of Aunt Slaughter.

Not only did Dora manage to capture the character’s features in the way I imagined them, but she got something else, too. Aunt Slaughter’s posture, the furniture upon which she sat, the sidelong glance she is giving the viewer. This image told as much about Aunt Slaughter’s character as I had in the text. I. Was. Blown. Over.

I hope, when you read my book (you ARE going to read it, right?) when you see each of the characters’ images, you learn something new about them. Why do they dress in the way they do? Why do they hold themselves as they do? What circumstances led them to those physical traits that can only be learned through their pictures?

Though it was utterly weird for me to have allowed it, I know that Dora’s work made my book even more wonderful than it was without her. It was weird to trust someone else with my vision, but I am endlessly glad that I did.

Author Bio:

TheBoatman_KatHawthorneKat Hawthorne tends to lurk (somewhat menacingly) in the darker corners of the literary world. In addition to a smattering of published poetry, Kat’s short fiction has appeared in such literary magazines as Underneath the Juniper Tree, Thrills Kills and Chaos, Infernal Ink, Dark Edifice, Shadows Express, Fiction and Verse, and The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society. Her literary novelette, The Oddity, was published by MuseIt Up Publishing on July 11th, 2014. In partnership with Enter Skies Entertainment, Kat wrote the narrative portion of Fearless Fantasy, an online role-playing game published by tinyBuild Games and hosted by Steam. As well as being a nerd of the highest order, under her “day name” Kat is a graduate of Ryerson University’s copy, substantive, and stylistic editing programs, and has since earned a specialization in editing books intended for young readers. She is an acquisitions, stylistic and copy editor at BookFish Books LLC and runs her own business where she offers her editing services on a freelance basis.

Please visit for more information about Kat’s writing, or to learn about her editing work.

Find her online:


Twitter: @KatMHawthorne



About The Book:

boatman full cover_RGB_blurb (1)Isabel Wixon is weird. Not only does she see dead things, but her only friends consist of a talkative ventriloquist’s dummy and the gentlemanly spider that lives in her hair. Real friends? Too hard. Inventing friends is much easier.

Inventing the Boatman—a terrible monster that lures kids into a strange sleeping sickness and never lets them go—probably wasn’t one of her better ideas though. 

Buy Links:


Amazon UK

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#UKYAExtravaganza Blog Tour: Interview with Emma Pass

Posted 2 February, 2015 by katheryn13 in Blog Tours, Spotlight, YA / 0 Comments



Blog Tour Button Picture

Welcome to the UKYA extravaganza blog tour!

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, this is an event set up by Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass where 35 of UK’s finest YA authors will gather together in Waterstones, Birmingham and do all things bookish. It’s going to be a grand time! (Sadly, I can’t go, but I’ll be stalking the hashtag like cray cray). So…what now?

There will be a spotlight on each of these authors and today, mine is on…Emma Pass. Her debut novel, Acid, has had high praise here in the UK…so, here’s our interview. 🙂

Hi, Emma! Thanks for appearing on the BookNerds blog. 🙂 When did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or was it a gradual thing?

I realised I wanted to be a writer when I was 13 – until then, I thought I was going to be a musician or an artist. I went to see the film Jurassic Park and afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I started to write a sequel and a few days later, it suddenly hit me that this was what I really wanted to do. It was a real ‘Eureka!’ moment.

How did the idea for ‘Acid’ come about? And was it difficult writing such a futuristic setting?

I first had the idea for ACID when I was 14, and a friend and I challenged each other to write a story about someone escaping from jail in a futuristic Britain. I came back to the story several times over the years, and finally tried writing it as a YA novel. I wouldn’t say it was difficult creating the setting, but it was a lot of work, because I was basically building a world from scratch, trying to imagine what the UK would be like in 100 years time when ACID had taken over. I had to invent new technology and try and figure out the politics, what people would wear, where they’d live and so on. It was fun, though!

Are you a sci-fi fan? 

I do like sci-fi but I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore sci-fi fan. I read really widely and like books in pretty much every genre, because every book you read teaches you about writing, even if it’s not in the genre you write in.

Are there any books/authors that inspire you?

Too many to list! If I had to pick one, though, it would be Stephen King. I got into him shortly after I started writing when I was 13, and to this day I’m still blown away by his skill as a storyteller.


Your main character Jenna has quite a fierce personality, was she based on anyone you know, and was it easy to write her?

She wasn’t based on anyone I know, but she did march into my head fully formed, which made her fairly easy to write. I really enjoyed it, actually, because it’s a lot of fun to write such a kick-ass character.

I’m an aspiring writer myself, and I’m always interested to know how other writers organise. Is there any particular place you prefer to write, and do you have a set amount of time you set aside, or is it on whim?

I used to write on the sofa with my laptop, but it hurt my neck, so now I’ve got a proper desk and a big comfy chair. It really helps with the neck problems and I wish I’d got my desk a lot sooner!

When I’m writing a draft, I do try and be fairly disciplined as quite often, especially when I’m writing a first draft (which I loathe doing) I’d rather do anything than actually sit down and write! What works best for me is setting myself a daily word count of 1000 words, and I’m not allowed to finish until I’ve got those words down.

I thought it’d be good to know a bit more about you; so…what’s your favourite colour? 

Purple! I love it. I even have a purple stone in my engagement ring. Well, it is supposed to be the colour of creativity…

What advise would you give to new writers?

Never give up. Everything you write teaches you something. And the next book you write might be the one that gets you an agent or a publisher, but if you don’t write it, how will you ever know?


You can find Emma Pass on twitter:

Thank you to Emma for being nice enough to let me interview her. Of course, it’s only afterwards that I think of more questions. *face palm* In any case, this has been fun and enlightening. See below for the #UKYAExtravaganza blog tour dates

If you’re just finding out, tickets have sold out, but I’m pretty sure there’ll be all sorts of news on the day spread across the twitterverse. 🙂

UKYAE Blog Tour Banner Picture (2)

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#BookSpotlight: I Know Lucy by Melissa Pearl #YA #Romantic #Suspence

Posted 25 September, 2014 by katheryn13 in Book Promo, Romance, Spotlight, YA / 0 Comments



I Know Lucy by Melissa Pearl

Genre: YA Romantic Suspense

Lucy Tate is on the run. After witnessing the brutal murder of her parents, she’s spent five years in hiding – taking on different personas and faking her way through life. The authorities can’t be trusted, so she remains in the shadows, always one beat ahead of the man who is forever hunting her. That is, until she meets Zach Schultz, a senior at Monte Vista High and the one guy she can’t bear to leave. Suddenly her natural instincts to lie, steal, and run are overshadowed by something else…the desire to stay. It’s her
one shot at a normal life.

Curious by nature, Zach is immediately drawn to the new girl at school. How can a person look both confident and vulnerable all in the same moment? Determined to learn more about her, he tries to get close, but is thrown into a world of lies and confusion. The only thing that becomes apparent is that discovering the truth may get him killed.

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About the Author

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan… not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. “Best. Year. Ever!!” She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books. Recently she signed with Evatopia Press and her first Evatopia book is coming out in February 2014 – True Colors, The Masks Series #1. She is very excited to be trying out new things this year while continuing to publish under her own name as well. She has six books planned for 2014 and is excited about writing each and every one of them.

“I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love.”

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Author Blog / Book Blog / Pinterest

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#AuthorSpotlight: Amanda Aksel

Posted 22 September, 2014 by katheryn13 in Book Promo, Spotlight / 0 Comments





AMANDA (ah-MAHN-dah)- Latin- Meaning lovable or worthy of love.

Fitting. I’ve always had an affinity for love.

Being born in sunny San Diego in the mid 80’s to a young military couple gave me plenty of insight into the dynamics of a romantic relationship. Somewhere between moving coasts every three years, I found myself engrossed in fairytale romances and dressing up like a bride.


My first real love was writing. By my sophomore year in a new high school in Virginia, I had a slew of short stories, songs, poems, and articles to my name. Writing was fun. It was a way to get the emotions, dialogue, and pictures out of my head, and create a destiny for my characters.


I had no intention of making a career in writing, because it wasn’t what I did, it was who I was. In reality, I wanted to be an actress. Ah, to be the face of someone else’s authored story. The plan was to move in with my aunt in L.A. after graduation, but had a change of heart. Instead, I stayed with my high school sweetheart (now husband) and attended a film school in Norfolk, VA. It was at this school that I discovered my love for writing screenplays and felt compelled to follow that path. But…as the practical girl I was brought up to be, I decided to go to a real university. While working full time, I completed my BA in Psychology in four and a half years. Becoming a couple’s therapist had always been my “backup” career and there I was on my way to solving love’s most complicated quandaries one couple at a time.


With all my new free time after graduation, I decided to turn my full-length screenplay into a novel in hopes it would help my screenplay sell. I think I was in the middle of writing chapter two when I realized that everything I had ever written was to prepare me for that moment when I knew I was a novelist. Talk about the affirmation of my life. Now my plan is to solve love’s most complicated quandaries one novel at a time.


The Man Test



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SPOTLIGHT! Vampire Down by Steven Montano (BLOG TOUR!)

Posted 1 July, 2014 by katheryn13 in Book Promo, Dystopian, Paranormal, Spotlight, Supernatural, YA / 0 Comments


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Vampire Down:

Blood Skies, Book 7

By Steven Montano

Coming June 27th!

Who ever knew the end would come so soon?

In this final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, Eric Cross and Danica Black find themselves facing impossible odds in the desolate ruins of the world they once knew. Hunted by the mercenary forces of the newly formed East Claw Coalition and desperate to find the elusive White Mother, the two refugees will be pushed to the limits of their abilities and sanity as they struggle to survive.

Meanwhile, in the near future, the undead hunter called Reaver searches for the lost city of Bloodhollow, the place where humankind will make its final stand, while the undead of New Koth and the rebellious White Children make their push to end the reign of the Ebon Kingdoms once and for all.

As timelines collide and the spider weaves her web, the battle for the fate of the riven world will come to its violent conclusion in the depths of a forgotten city, where unlikely heroes will emerge and hidden evils will finally be revealed…

Available Friday June 27th in Ebook and Print format.

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Other books in the series:

Blood Skies 1BLOOD SKIES

Blood Skies, Book 1

In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.

Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.

Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.

There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…

Experience a dark and deadly new world in the debut novel of the “Blood Skies” series from author Steven Montano.

Book 1, Blood Skies is currently FREE on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

BLACK SCARSCity of Scars book 2

Blood Skies, Book 2

Something ancient has awoken. Primordial and wholly evil, a living shadow emerges from a prison made weak by the magical cataclysm called The Black. Now the Sleeper stalks the land in search of its old enemies, leaving a trail of madness and destruction in its wake. Eric Cross, a Southern Claw warlock, has been sent to find the Woman in the Ice, the only known means to stopping this evil.

Aided by a grizzled ranger and a band of wardens and inmates from a sadistic prison, Cross’ mission will bring him into conflict with an array of foes: the barbaric Gorgoloth, vampire shock troops out of the Ebon Cities, and a cadre of mercenary nihilists called the Black Circle.

On a mission that will take him from a lost temple once ruled by insidious wolf sorcerers to the vicious gladiator games of the vampire city-state of Krul to the deadly ruins of an ice city, Cross will play a pivotal role in an ancient conflict whose outcome will determine the future of the world. Return to the world of Blood Skies in this exciting military fantasy adventure!

 Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Soulrazor book 3SOULRAZOR

Blood Skies, Book 3

The war continues…

Eric Cross and his team of elite mercenaries are the bane of the Ebon Cities. Armed with the cutting-edge arcane weaponry of the Southern Claw, Cross and his crew – Black, Kane, Ronan, Maur, Grissom and Ash – have become a veritable thorn in the side of the vampire armies.

Now the team is tasked with halting vampire activity near the remote city-state of Fane, where the Ebon Cities have teamed up with a former Revenger in search of a deadly weapon called Soulrazor.

To make matters worse, something sinister has happened to Cross, and the key to his salvation is somehow directly tied to the Ebon Cities’ new soldiers: a host of necrotic angels who bear traces of divine power.

Cross and his team must travel across a blighted wilderness and do battle with a vile array of enemies as they race not only to save the city of Thornn from total annihilation, but to rescue Cross’ very soul from an enemy more powerful than he could ever imagine…

 Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

CROWN OF ASHCrown of Ash book 4

Blood Skies, Book 4

Eric Cross and his team have been to hell and back, but their journey isn’t over yet.

Marooned in the remote criminal city of Blacksand, the only way for the mercenaries to get home is to help a local crime boss protect his territories from the Ebon Cities.

To complicate matters, Danica Black is also being hunted by The Revengers, a powerful band of corrupt prison wardens, while Cross himself is trapped in the Whisperlands, a realm of darkness controlled by a cadre of evil mages known as the Shadow Lords.

The team will battle their way through corroding wastelands and deadly vampire outposts, but even their considerable skills might not be enough to save them from the cruel machinations of the Shadow Lord’s mysterious master, a malevolent creature who has manipulated their destinies right from the beginning…

Return to the world of The Black in Book 4 of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

 Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Witchs Eye book 5THE WITCH’S EYE

Blood Skies, Book 5

A new evil is born.

The Ebon Cities have created a deadly new breed of undead called the Witchborn, whose very existence spells doom for the entire continent.

To make matters worse, a nihilist cult called the Black Circle has learned of the Witch’s Eye, the source of the Witchborn virus and an item capable of opening a portal to The Black.

Eric Cross’s scattered and war-weary team must find the Eye before it’s too late. With the aid of some unlikely allies, the mercenaries will fight their way across the wastelands and challenge the horrors at the edge of oblivion.

And before the battle is won Cross and his team will make the ultimate sacrifice, and face one of their own…

Return to the world After The Black in Book 5 of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

CHAIN OF SHADOWSChain of Shadows book 6

Blood Skies, Book 6

The barrier between worlds has been broken, and the invasion is about to begin.

Eric Cross, burdened by the loss of those who’ve died under his command, must lead his recently reunited mercenary team against the shadow wolf sorcerers known as the Maloj. Bound to dire artifact blades and charged with protecting the Kindred, Cross seeks help from the enigmatic White Mother, leader of the Southern Claw.

But sinister forces bring his vessel down in a strange and distant land, and soon Cross and his allies are beset by undead armies vying for control of the deadly region called the Chain of Shadows. Trapped in a desert waste where wielding magic is dangerous and nothing is as it seems, Cross’s team will pay the ultimate price in their battle to finally get home…

Return to the world After the Black in this pivotal 6th book of the BLOOD SKIES saga!

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Steven Montano was something terrifying in his previous life. Now he’s an accountant, so not much has changed.

An avid hiker, reader, San Antonio Spurs fan, goofball husband and father of two, Steven writes novels (the seven volume Blood Skies series, the Skullborn Trilogy, something black…, and the upcoming thrillers Blood Angel Rising and Colder) and drinks a lot of wine when he isn’t busy pulling his hair out over payroll or trying to balance the company books.

Visit the author’s website and check out the Vampire Down page on Goodreads!

Full ‘Vampire Down’ Tour Schedule

June 25th – Kelly at Paperback Cowgirl Reviews – Review Blood Skies

June 26th – Jasmine at Book Groupies – Soundtrack, Spotlight, Dreamcast

June 27th – Danielle at Consuming Worlds – Character Guest Post

June 28th – Toni at My Book Addiction – Guest Post

June 29th – Megan at Megan’s Blog – Author Interview

June 30th – Meg at Heart on Fire – Guest Post

July 1st – Scott Moon at Scott Moon Writer Blog – Review Blood Skies

July 1st – Katheryn The Perks of Being a Book Nerd – Spotlight

July 2nd – Lou at Relaxed Reads – Review Crown of Ash

July 3rd – Stephanie at The Book Hipster – Author Interview

July 4th Michelle at In Libris Veritas – Top Ten


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