Scarlet's Web



"You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be - I had a mother who read to me."

Review: All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

All Things Cease to Appear: A novel - Elizabeth Brundage


I received a free hardback copy of All Things Cease to Appear from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thank you, Quercus!


I don't know where to start with my review for this one. I found the book to be a slow burner and very frustrating to read at times, but I also found that I was drawn into the story enough that I wanted to finish it.


What I liked about the book: At its heart it's a mystery book. The story revolves around several characters and slowly reveals each character's history and relationship with the victim, and with each other. There is also a very subtle underlying ghost story within the pages, It's not a ghost story in the traditional sense, it's not scary and there are no bumps in the night, it's more akin to fading memories encroaching upon the living. It's very atmospheric in places and the ghost story is very subtle, melancholy, and haunting. At times the writing was beautiful and I found myself really being drawn in and could easily visualise and feel for the characters.


That being said, there was a lot that I didn't like. The storyline jumped around a lot and it's not always clear where in the timeline events are occurring.


There are no quotation marks used in the book. It got so confusing. Not only is it hard to understand what is dialogue and what is story text, but the character dialogue also often ran into internal thoughts. As if that's not confusing enough, a lot of the time it's not always clear who the dialogue actually belongs to. I spent a lot of time rereading parts to try to understand who was speaking and what they were actually saying. Following conversations became such a chore and it drew me completely out of the story. I really don't get the whole stylistic appeal of omitting quotation marks, it's messy and confusing and really ruined the whole reading experience.


The story has a lot of characters, and to be honest many of them were really unnecessary and didn't add anything to the story. I did enjoy the three main female characters, Ella, Catherine and Franny, and Cole of course, poor sweet Cole but I detested George. I get that he was supposed to be disliked and I do enjoy a well written mean character, a love to hate kind of character, but his was a different kind of unlikeable. He was just utterly detestable and was so boring, judgemental, and self-centred. There was no love to hate thing going on here, I wanted nothing to do with him. And don't even get me started on all his *yawn* art talk and inner dialogue.


There were many inconsistencies and general nonsensical things. Here's just a few of many that I marked in the book:


- June, minutes after her neighbour arriving at her door, with a sobbing toddler in his arms, having just found his wife is dead, goes off into an inner dialogue about how the sheriff fancies her. Who does that? Why is it even a thing? It adds nothing.


- June, during more inner dialogue, acknowledges the sheriff's kindness towards her neighbour (the one who just found his wife dead). The sheriff entered the house, said "George" (insert some inner dialogue here) "Let's go take a look." That's kindness?


- The Hale farmhouse was rented out many times during the 25 years after the murder. In all that time are you telling me that not one renter cleared out a drawer or shelf? Or ditched an old box that had been in clear view and collecting dust for a quarter of a century? I find it very hard to believe that everything just lay there all that time, or that the police missed them during the initial investigation.


There were a few things that really ticked me off:


- How George was scared of the "deep-black skin of the employees.."


What was the point? Why even put that in there? There was no reason or context given, it was totally random and unneeded.


- Something about her strikes me as rather dykish.

  Why? Because she doesn't shave her legs?
  For starters, yeah.


Because you know, not shaving your legs means you're a lesbian.


- There were two librarians. Dagmar, a tall blonde of German descent, built like a transvestite...




- Morning, he says to the driver, getting into the back. The cab smells of pineapple and some sort of hair oil. All the cabbies are Jamaican these days.


There's more.


This one's a corker...


- They were talking about how in high school he'd idolised his cousin Henri, who turned out to be a first-class homo, and they didn't know what had been worse for his parents, the fact that he'd drowned or that he was gay.






     That's just a few examples, you don't want to know how many

     sticky tabs I used while reading this book!








Moving on... Whodunnit? It's pretty obvious throughout the book who the guilty party is, but there is no clear picture given of the actual crime itself. The reader is left to read between the lines, to pick up on subtle hints and clues to fill in the gaps. Some of the hints were just ridiculous and very easy to miss. Especially considering how much concentration had to go into interpreting the dialogue.


I have let this book stew in my head for a good few days before writing this review. I wanted to let it all settle and really think about it before reviewing it, because despite all of the above, I still wanted to finish it and I did enjoy much of the book. I can overlook the nonsensical bits and the small inconsistencies, but I don't know that I can overlook the utter confusion caused by the lack of quotation marks or the racism and homophobia that occurs.


I enjoyed it enough that I would give the author another chance, but if I found the same problems in her next book then that would be it for me. I wouldn't read any more.




Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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I've read 19% of Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

Foxlowe - Eleanor Wasserberg


I swear the reading fairy must have it in for me lately, this is yet ANOTHER book where the author has neglected to use quotation marks! Why?!


Have I missed a memo or something, is this the new cool thing to do?


--D'you know there's a secret happening, something good? I asked Toby.  --Like what? --Something to do with me.  He frowned. --You have to clean, is all. We all have to before Solstice.  --Stupid, that's a not a good thing.


Ellen clanged pots around until Richard said, -- Is there a problem? and Freya said, --No, no problem, and the others drifted out of the kitchen, touching Blue's shoulder or her other arm as they passed.


It's so messy and pointless and interrupts the flow of the writing. Just make the dialogue clear.



I've read 45 out of 104 pages of The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary - Colm Tóibín


"There was something supremely alone about him, and if indeed he had been dead for four days and come alive again, he was in possession of a knowledge that seemed to me to have unnerved him; he had tasted something or seen or heard something which had filled him with the purest pain, which had in some grim and unspeakable way frightened him beyond belief. It was knowledge he could not share, perhaps because there were no words for it. How could there be words for it? As I watched him I knew that whatever it was had bewildered him, whatever knowledge he had come to possess, whatever he had seen or heard, he carried it with him in the depths of his soul as the body carries its own dark share of blood and sinew."

Review: The Devil's Prayer by Luke Gracias

The Devil's Prayer - Luke Gracias


I received a free copy of The Devil's Prayer via NetGalley in return for an honest review.


The first thing I did on opening this ebook was to change the publisher's font. I hate when a book force changes my default preferred font to that of the publisher. The publisher's font was very small and very faint and not pleasant at all to read. Please don't do that!


There were both positive and negative aspects to this book. I did enjoy it but at times I found my attention wandering. The plot was good and appealed very much to my tastes, but there were sections that I thought rather tedious and I found myself starting to skim what felt like unnecessary heavy info dumps. The author went into so much detail at times in regards to religious practices, scripts, history etc that I got bored. Especially nearer the end of the book where it began to feel more religious history textbook than fiction.


The writing style took some getting used to. In the beginning it felt very abrupt and factual, telling instead of showing, and it had a non-fiction feel to it. The writing and dialogue did improve and started to flow better once it moved to the nun's story.


I can't say that I could relate to Siobhan's character at all. According to the blurb, she's the main character but she has no depth or substance, and I found her character very flat and unappealing. She makes very small minor appearances between the larger sections that tell her mother's story. In fact, her telling her mother's story is the only reason she's in the book at all. I preferred her mother's story, it was much more pleasant to read, nicer written, had a better flow, and the dialogue was a lot more natural. The mother's character was way more fleshed out and detailed and she stood out more as a main character than the actual main character herself. In fact, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more without Siobhan's character interrupting the flow and enjoyment of her mother's story.


I also felt that certain things were very repetitive. In the opening chapters, the author seemed insistent in reminding me way too often that the city was called Zamora. I stopped highlighting at a count of 19. There were also little niggly things that stood out to me. For instance:


- A wake is not a wake when there is no body, it's a memorial service.


- Paramedics after resuscitating a girl who's heart stopped for a

  prolonged period due to drowning do not just pack up and leave, they take her

  straight to a hospital to get checked out.


- Policemen are not permitted or qualified, under any circumstances, to perform any

  kind of medical tests on someone.


- All the different places had such long names and similar to the above example of the

  overuse of Zamora, they too seemed to be overused. For instance, the convent was

  called Cistercia Monasterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela and there were parts like



  "The hotel receptionist handed her a small pamphlet that referred her to a small minibus, which ran twice daily to the ruins of the old Cistercia Monasterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela, some four kilometres from the small town of Grabja Moreruela. Siobhan read in the pamphlet that the origins of the Cistercia Monasterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela were obscure.."


I have to admit I got fed up reading these long names constantly. We know it's a convent, the author tells us so, so why not just tell us the name once and then just substitute the name with convent. Especially when using it so close together.


I'm assuming there is going to be another book to follow this one as there is no conclusion to the story. Why is Siobhan being pursued by the monks? What exactly is the devil's prayer? And what, if anything, is Siobhan expected to do with this knowledge she's learned? There has to be more because the book stops mid-story without any answers to these questions, and there has to be a reason for Siobhan being present in the book other than just reading her mother's story.


Despite the problems and niggles mentioned above, the actual premise and the bare bones of the story were good and I did really enjoy the nun's story. I would probably read more should there be another book in order to get some answers for the questions I'm left with.





Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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100% done with All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

All Things Cease to Appear: A novel - Elizabeth Brundage


Review to come.


As you can see from all the sticky tabs in the picture below, I had quite a few problems with this one. The biggest problem being the lack of quotation marks. 400 pages and not one quotation mark to be found anywhere.



This arrived on my doorstep for review. How stunning is that cover? It's like one of those gold foil scratch art kits that my daughter loves. And, as well as being pretty it sounds like a really great read!


The object I drew out was dusty and mildewed, and blotched with dark rust-coloured stains. It smelt of time and decay, sour, like old books and parchments. The light from the chapel's stained glass window blushed red upon it, and upon my hands, as if the thing itself radiated a bloody glow.

Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour's Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.

And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary's old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past - with fatal consequences.

In a trail that leads from the bloody world of the operating theatre and the dissecting table to the notorious squalor of Newgate and the gallows, Jem's adversary proves to be both powerful and ruthless. As St Saviour's destruction draws near, the dead are unearthed from their graves whilst the living are forced to make impossible choices. And murder is the price to be paid for the secrets to be kept


Review: Bread or Death by Milton Mendel Kleinberg

Bread or Death: Memories of My Childhood During and After the Holocaust - Milton Mendel Kleinberg

I received a free copy of Bread or Death from the publisher in return for an honest review.


Bread or Death was not what I was expecting it to be. I think I had prepared myself for something more along the lines of the horrors of the concentration camps so I was expecting something completely different.


There are some awful events that took place during this time and although the author's experience was something that you wouldn't wish anyone to have to go through, his experience was a lot different than that of many others. His family took a chance and were among those fortunate enough to escape and thus avoided the worst of the Nazi horrors that took place but it doesn't make their story any less important.


The hardship and loss experienced by his family is heartbreaking and at times hard to read. I can't imagine having lived through such awful conditions and treatment. His is an important story, one that more should be aware of and one that we should learn from in order to avoid such atrocities occurring in the future.





Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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I've read 269 out of 404 pages of All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear: A novel - Elizabeth Brundage


I'm having a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. I want to keep reading it because the story has captured my interest and I want to know what happens but at the same time, there are so many things that are annoying the hell out of me.




someone being "scared of the deep-black skin of the employees"


To things like...


"Something about her strikes me as rather dykish."

"Why? Because she doesn't shave her legs?"

"For starters, yeah."


Because you know, not shaving your legs means you're a lesbian. Duh! Oh, and I used quotation marks to make that dialogue nice and clear. Shame the same can't be said about the book!




There were two librarians. Dagmar, a tall blonde of German descent, built like a transvestite...


Yeah, not even going to comment on that one :/



I've read 191 out of 404 pages of All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear: A novel - Elizabeth Brundage


Really don't like this George guy, he's such a judgemental prick and the chapters dedicated to him are so boring.


The sky is beautiful tonight

I've read 24% of Bad Apples 3: Seven Slices of Halloween Horror

Bad Apples 3: Seven Slices of Halloween Horror - Edward Lorn, Adam   Light, Gregor Xane, Jason  Parent, Evans Light, John McNee, Craig  Saunders, Mark Matthews


Thanks to John McNee and Mr Koolter's candy shop I've had this darn song in my head all day!

I've read 24 out of 404 pages of All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear: A novel - Elizabeth Brundage


"Yes, he said - but that was a lie. He had always been a little terrified of the dark cement tunnel on Liberty Street, the long arcade of equipment, the vicious yellow tubes of the vacuums, the deep-black skin of the employees."

I've read 7 out of 404 pages of All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear: A novel - Elizabeth Brundage


This book has no quotation marks! Is there a new trend that I don't know about? Two other books that I read recently didn't use them either.




I don't know if I can read 404 pages of not knowing who's saying what :/

Review: The Less Than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote by Dan Micklethwaite

The Less Than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote - Dan Micklethwaite


I received a free paperback copy of The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thank you Bluemoose Books!


Donna Crick-Oakley walks on six inches of stories every day. She may live on the top floor of a tower block but she still pads her walls and floor with books to shut the real world further out. Or do they only shut her in?


I enjoyed this book, at its hearts it's a story about a girl who lives in books because she can't find her place in the world. She doesn't know how to live in the real world, how to relate to real people and wakes up one day and decides that she's going to venture out of the pages and into the world. But, she's not really sure how to do this and the real world isn't full of knights and princesses like her books. And so begins Donna's journey, looking to the characters in her stories, finding courage from fiction, she takes that first step.


Books are more than just objects, they are living, breathing, thriving worlds that allow you to escape the stress of everyday life and venture into other worlds, and I loved that someone else got that. I could relate to Donna Creosote in so many ways. Her love of books, for the touch, the feel, and the smell of the pages. Her ability to get lost in a story and shut the rest of the world out. Her need to be surrounded by books, to reach out to the familiar friends that live within the pages. All these are so familiar and something any avid reader will be able to relate to in one form or another.


There were many book related passages and sentences in this book that had me smiling and thinking to myself, see, it's not just me. She does it too!


"If it had been read and re-read and re-read until tattered, then it was more likely to be worth her reading as well..."


The buying of second-hand books was, for Donna, somewhat akin to pet rescue…. such was her compassion for afflicted creatures that, upon noticing the book there on the charity shop shelf... she’d been unable to leave the premises without it.


"The fact was, when given a choice between real life and books, Donna Crick-Oakley chose books every time... She chose books because they never left her lonely... Because company was often nothing of the kind, whereas a good book always was.


However, I wasn't a fan of the way in which the dialogue was formatted. There were no quotation marks used to make the dialogue clear. The conversations between the characters differed enough that I could follow, Donna's was normal text and Sammy's was in italics, but there were times during the larger conversational sections where there were normal story sentences included between the dialogue and I found myself having to pay more attention to the text in order to keep the conversation and story separate, rather than just enjoying what I was reading.


There are times that Donna gets lost inside her own head, fantasising and reliving stories, picturing herself as the character in different fictional worlds. I enjoyed this but, one of these daydreams went on for quite a few pages and I found myself getting bored and my attention wandering.


The above two reasons are why I am giving this 4 stars and not 5 as I feel it had a negative impact on my enjoyment.


The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote is one that I would recommend. It reads very much like a modern fairytale. It's sweet and humorous but at the same time sad and melancholy. I really enjoyed it and kept being drawn back to it because I saw so much of myself in Donna.


Also, there's no such thing as "too" many books, just saying!





Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Look what arrived on my doorstep free for review today. It reads like it's going to be a really good read!



Looks like someone forgot to take their meds.


It seems the consequences of her actions have gotten too much for her, she's deleted her twitter and hidden the video as private but you can find a transcript of her video here:


ETA: She's reactivated her twitter and taken the video off private. 


If she was doing this in order to get her name out there and sell more books then it's completely backfired on her.

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