Tag Archives: GrimboldBooks

Spark and Carousel: a review

Spark-and-CarouselI have been lucky enough to be given an advance copy of Spark and Carousel by Jo Hall in exchange for an honest review. Jo is another Grimmie, but if I don’t like the book, I will be saying that! So, without further ado…

I loved this book.

I have previously read some of Jo’s other writing, and I admit I wasn’t entirely certain of that story. It’s wonderful writing but the characters, the world, didn’t grab me; I found it hard to get into the story. This book is set in the same world, but it grabbed me from the start.

Spark and Carousel is wonderful.

It’s magic and cities and brilliantly written characters. It’s loyalty and love and learning. It’s choices, and the echoes of those choices. It’s a boy having to deal with decisions that he doesn’t want to make, with power that he doesn’t want but can’t get rid of, with feelings that he isn’t sure what to do with. It’s a girl, a woman, trying to choose the path that will keep her safest, stepping between loyalties and loves and the simple practicality of trying to survive. And in the midst of their relationship, there’s a city torn by factions and then by a bigger danger that forces Spark to confront everything he doesn’t want to face.

Carousel is fiery, vulnerable, wilful and fierce; Spark is lost, lonely, scared and angry; the villain is beautiful, scheming, charming and spine-chillingly evil. Their loyalties and choices are brilliantly mapped, and the wider web of decisions fractures the city.

My favourite character has to be Kayall, if only for his love of shoes and his continual despair when he’s forced to abandon them. Jo’s writing is effortless, and the story flows beautifully; I was forced to stop reading half-way through and was counting the hours until I could start again! This is a fantasy story that has gripping characters, an increasingly enthralling danger, and a wonderful cast and world that makes it a pleasure to read and re-read.

It can be pre-ordered from Amazon, or Jo will have paperback copies at BristolCon.

Cruelty by Ellen Croshain: a review

CrueltyA review of Cruelty by Ellen Croshain.

Once a year, in the caves deep below the house, the Family gathers to perform a ritual to appease their god. But Faroust only accepts payment in blood. Eliza MacTir, youngest daughter of a powerful Irish family, was born into fae gentry without the magical gifts that have coursed through the Family’s veins for millennia; she was an outcast from her first breath. Desperate for freedom, Eliza’s flight from rural Ireland is thwarted by the Family’s head of security. The only weapon she has to fight her captor is her own awakening sexuality. Drawn into the world of magic and gods, Eliza must find a way to break free, even if it means breaking the hearts of those she loves, and letting her own turn to stone. Cruelty, it runs in the Family.

Haunting. Twisted. Passionate. Cruel. Gripping.

Eliza thinks she is worthless to her family – Barren, unable to do magic, not even worth much as a marriage bargain. Found after an attempt to flee, she makes a bargain with her captor, and becomes his partner – and soon finds out that to protect the Family, they have to understand the truth about the God who has protected them for thousands of years…

It’s almost horror, but for the humanity. Almost erotica, but for the twisted suspense of the plot. Almost a love story, except for the warped, painful morality. Almost real, except for the magic. And somehow, every strand of the story, every twist of the plot and twitch of the characters, all comes together into a gripping, painful and brilliant read.

I read this book all in one go, and then went back to it; it’s one that I can dip in and out of, yet is no less horrifying or gripping for the second or third reads. There is a lot of (very well-written) sex, violence and horror; the sex is frequent, but does spin the plot along to a certain extent, and the violence likewise serves to remind us exactly what is at stake. The Family and all of its members are contrary, changeable, human and believable and understandable. Eliza is manipulative and annoying, but still a heroine, dangerous and brave; Faroust is capricious, cruel and gentle by turns, and Cornelius’ character arc is very well written. The plot is strong throughout the book, with twists that I couldn’t even start to predict; the magical aspect is explained well, and doesn’t dominate. And the ending…beautifully cruel, delightfully twisted, and still horrible even when we know the baddy entirely deserves it.

Overall? A twisted, horrifying, lust-filled, gripping and wonderful read that I would highly recommend.

Available from Amazon.

Disclaimer: Ellen’s a fellow-Grimmie, but I haven’t been paid or perk’d to write this – if I hated it, I’d say so!

Songs of Seraphina: review

Well, I promised a review, and I’ve finally sat down long enough to do one!

Songs of SeraphinaSongs of Seraphina by Jude Houghton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book.

From the start, it’s strange. Mysterious. Quirky. Puzzling. Fantastical. There’s multiple threads of storyline, multiple people, multiple places. The story follows Penny, Cairo and Charlie as they’re plunged into mystery, being sent to live with their strange grandparents; but then there’s two semi-divine beings who are realising their path might not be straightforward, and snatches of other stories from another world. The narrative hops between places, drawing you in to each and giving just enough to hook you before moving on, making you turn the page eagerly.

The writing is excellent; the many worlds are vividly imagined, the fantasical elements beautiful, the emotions enough to tug. I had to keep reading and the story has stayed with me; it’s a book to read, re-read and then go back to. I didn’t want it to end, and I want to know what happens next.

Get it from Amazon in paperback or Kindle.

Visit to Clevedon: White Mountain and book signings

So, we went on an expedition on Saturday! We went alllll the way to Clevedon – which was a surprise in itself; we’re so used to any trip south of Bristol being 2+ hours that 40 minutes was a bit of a shock. We didn’t even get all the way through the Frank Turner CD I’d made!

White Mountain book display
Photograph by Sophie E Tallis.

And we were there for a book signing by Sophie E Tallis, a fellow Grimbold author and author of the Darkling Chronicles. The first book, The White Mountain, has been released by Grimbold – and I’ve now got my hands on a signed copy, mwahahah! I’ll review it as soon as it gets read, which will hopefully be this week.

The signing was hosted by the lovely Alistair and Chloe of Books on the Hill, which is indeed on a hill…and is an absolutely lovely bookstore, with a gorgeous range.

Sophie’s done an update on Facebook with some more pics, and to prove that we were there – ta-da!

Kate at Books on the Hill, Feb 2015
Books on the Hill, 21st February 2015 – photo by Sophie E Tallis


Well, I promised news…

11/03/2014 19:14

…and news I have!


Green Sky and Sparks (and provisionally, Changing Winds Parts 1&2) have been accepted by Grimbold Books as the first of the Grimkins series! Read the full details (and my bio!) and the Grimbold Books website.

Green Sky & Sparks will hopefully be published sometime in 2014, and the others are anyone’s guess.


I’m still running around squeaking with excitement…