Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge -#TheWriteReads #BlogTour Spotlight and a TikTok

About the Book

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

The Poet, The Gravedigger and the TikTok

At just under 600 pages, this tome described as Alternative Literary History is described as a sumptuously written tale of political intrigue.

I’ve only managed to read the beginning of the book so far – it’s split into twelve cantos (verses – though it is in prose form) and in the first we meet Carlo lying in a grave feeling unheard. He tells the gravedigger to bury him and his dark deeds, but when the old man actually goes to Chuck soil on him he seems affronted and climbs out.

I made a TikTok video reading out the next section (I was reading from an ARC and had to leave out a few lines for timings so the finished version may be different). in the video I share my head cannon of Carlo’s character, seeing this melancholic poet as a cross between Romeo when he is pining over Rosaline and Spike from Buffy in his William the Bloody Awful Poet stage. I hope you enjoy it.

This scene has made me chuckle (find it on TikTok here). I will share a review when I have had the chance to immerse myself in the world and writing but for now…

Welcome to Cadenza

Where libraries tower and ink maids roam!

You can find the Goodreads Link here and order now from your favourite Indie bookshop.

Thank you to The Write Reads and Rebellion Publishing for the gifted ARC copy. Do check out the other spots from the tour by using the hashtag #TheCarnivalOfAsh.

With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher – Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

A brand new timeless romance with a sprinkling of magic from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author.

‘A complete joy to read, and once I’d started I genuinely couldn’t stop. I was entranced and beguiled from start to finish by this beautiful story. Carrie has single-handedly converted me to magic realism’ Jill Mansell.

‘A spellbinding and enchanting read with a charming cast of characters, With This Kiss is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet and have you rooting for Lorelai’s happy-ever-after right up to the final page. I adored it’ Holly Miller, The Sight of You.

‘Spellbindingly romantic – With This Kiss is utterly captivating. A feat of magical and mystical storytelling’ Laura Jane Williams, Our Stop.

‘A gorgeous story with plenty of heart’ M. A. Kuzniar, Midnight in Everwood.

* * *

If you knew how your love story ends, would you dare to begin?

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die.

Lorelai has never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t…or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Spellbinding, magical and utterly original, With This Kiss is one love story you will never forget.

* * *

About the Author

Carrie Hope Fletcher is an actress, singer, author and vlogger. Carrie’s first book, All I
Know Now, was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and her debut novel, On the Other Side, also went straight to number one.

Carrie played the role of Eponine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End for almost three years. She has since stared in and received awards for a number of productions including The War of the Worlds, The Addams Family and Heathers: The Musical. She will soon star in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella in the lead role.

The magic in this book comes from the relationships within it and so I will focus most of my review on those.

What I Thought

First up is between the main character Lorelai and her best friend Joanie. Joanie is the one person that Lorelai has trusted with her secret and she has got Lorelai’s back throughout- even when Lorelai is trying to push her away. I liked the mention of soulmates in the book not just being romantic ones and Joanie definitely fits the soulmate bill.

Next between Lorelai and her grandmother and mother. The familial relationships in the book start strained by the weight of Lorelai’s secret, but I enjoyed how they developed throughout and would have loved some more time spent with these. The quiet moments that Lorelai spends with her parents after seeing how her love is set to die had a healing air about them, especially when she is going through her grandmother’s belongings with her mum.

Then Lorelai and Riggs. Riggs is the son of the owner of the cinema where Lorelai works and he is not at all keen on taking over the family business. Lorelai’s relationship with him is designed to show us how kind she is and he is the catalyst for a number of the revelations she has in the story.

The other random men she meets felt like plot devices – but both James and Darren seemed nice so I did feel a little sorry for them when she kissed and ran, although it was necessary for her to test out what the power of her kisses means. Lorelai is such a helpless romantic at heart so her reactions with these men did seem a little out of character.

Finally Lorelai and Grayson. A love story has to have a desirable love interest, and Grayson is definitely that. From his late entrance to book club, to his hairy hobbit feet and relationship with his brother it makes sense for him to be the person that Lorelai turns her life upside down for.

The writing wasn’t always as engaging as I was hoping for and with perhaps a little too much focus on tell and not show. This was definitely a romance first and foremost with the main focus on the relationship – at times to the detriment of some of the other plot points that were introduced such as the book club and Lorelai’s desire to write scripts.

We have lots of flashbacks included that build up a picture of why Lorelai makes the decisions she does but she did frustrate me a little at times – she definitely is responsible for much of her own heartbreak, not that this is uncommon. There was one point where I thought she only cared about saving one person in a vision of a catastrophic accident, so I was relieved when it was eventually mentioned that she had taken steps to save the others her vision would have affected too. Not sure how keen I would have been on her as a character if that hadn’t been the case.

Overall this was a super easy and enjoyable read, and I can see it making a cute romance film (or musical) in the vein of Last Christmas. Author Carrie would make a wonderful Lorelai.

Content warnings: misgendering (apologised for), suicide, traumatic scenes of predicted deaths (think Final Destination), kissing without consent.

With thanks to HQ for the gifted ARC for the purposes of an honest review. Do check out what everyone else thought.

Dread Wood by Jennifers Killick – The Write Read Ultimate Blog Tour – Book Review

About the Book

Turn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!

The brand new must-read middle-grade novel from the author of super-spooky Crater Lake. Perfect for 9+ fans of R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps

It’s basically the worst school detention ever. When classmates (but not mate-mates) Hallie, Angelo, Gustav and Naira are forced to come to school on a SATURDAY, they think things can’t get much worse. But they’re wrong. Things are about to get seriously scary.

What has dragged their teacher underground? Why do the creepy caretakers keeping humming the tune to Itsy Bitsy Spider? And what horrors lurk in the shadows, getting stronger and meaner every minute…? Cut off from help and in danger each time they touch the ground, the gang’s only hope is to work together. But it’s no coincidence that they’re all there on detention. Someone has been watching and plotting and is out for revenge…

About the Author

Jennifer Killick is the author of Crater Lake, the Alex Sparrow series, and middle-grade sci-fi adventure Mo, Lottie and the Junkers. She regularly visits schools and festivals, and her books have three times been selected for The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge. She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn’t busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn’t often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as she can.

Twitter: @JenniferKillick

What I Thought

This book was so much fun. It’s a Middle Grade horror that crosses The Breakfast Club and One of Us is Lying with Tremors and Arachnophobia. There’s even faint echoes of IT! – Club Loser is the first chapter title.

I really liked the cast of child characters and the creepy adults and their motives were not something I would have guessed. There were some cute piglets at risk too and I love the idea of having farm animals at school. I was not as keen on the Spiders – but they definitely are scary to me so – horrifying monsters brief achieved.

The teacher overseeing the detention calls it a Back on Track session (Teamwork, Respect, Attitude, Curiosity, Kindness) and it is interesting to see all these qualities at play.

Naira, Gus, Hallie and our narrator Angelo all seem likeable though, so what was it that got them all a detention? And most importantly will they all get out of it in one piece?

It’s spooky when what is being sacrificing is chickens… but are children next on the menu?

The story wrapped up and the ending gave us the promise of a sequel. Reading this has reminded me how much I enjoyed Point Horror books when younger. I’m off to catch up with Jennifer’s other horror series Crater Lake now.

Thanks to The Write Reads Tours and the publisher for a gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Do check out what everyone else on the tour thought too.

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