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."

Another DNF - See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt

 

One for the DNF pile. I can't get into it at all, every time I pick it up I find myself becoming bored and I have to try and force myself to keep reading in the hope that it will improve.

 

I just don't care for the characters. There's nothing likeable about them in the slightest and I honestly couldn't care less what happens to them or where their stories are heading. I'm not a fan of the writing style either. Definitely not a book for me.

 

It's taken me 5 days to read 26%, time to admit defeat.

 

 

 

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Review: Gork, the Teenage Dragon: A novel by Gabe Hudson

Gork, the Teenage Dragon - Gabe Hudson

 

This is a DNF for me. I'm not a fan of the writing style, it's rather juvenile and reads like someone's high school English homework. The humour wears off very quickly, there are only so many times "my scaly green ass" can be found humorous or used as a descriptor. There was so much repetition throughout the book that it started to get on my nerves. At times it felt like every other sentence started with "Now, ..."

 

Not a book I would recommend.

 

 

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Review: A Life Removed by Jason Parent

A Life Removed - Jason  Parent

 

Yet another excellent book from Jason Parent. This was a lot of fun to read and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was engrossed from start to finish and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The characters are well written and fully fleshed out and there are plenty of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. The descriptions were vivid and at times had me cringing but I couldn't look away from the page.

 

A Life Removed has a wee bit of everything that I enjoy: crime, thriller, police procedural, action, and horror, and there is plenty of each to please every reader. It never ceases to amaze me how well Jason Parent can meld different genres together and produce something that is a lot of fun to read rather than a hot mess.

 

The only mistake was mine... I picked it up late at night and ended up awake into the wee small hours because I kept having to read just one more page...

 

Definitely one I would recommend.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Just Add Water by Hunter Shea

Just Add Water - Hunter Shea


I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

Just Add Water was a lot of fun. Pure unadulterated trashy 80s horror kind of fun. It's packed full of blood, gore, and dark humour and was a blast to read. It's not a book to be taken seriously, but one where you have to just have fun with it and enjoy for what it is.

 

That being said, I was tearing through the pages and thoroughly enjoying myself and then all of a sudden was completely pulled out of the story. I initially thought it may have been a case of me reading too fast because I was having so much fun, but on re-reading it I discovered quite a silly inconsistency that should have been easily caught during editing. Up until that point, I had been having a riot and loving the ridiculousness and the chaos but I had been reminded I was reading and my immersion faded.

 

I did still enjoy the book a lot, it's just a shame that something that should have been easily caught and fixed during editing ruined the flow and immersion so early on.

 

 

 

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Review: You Will Grow into Them by Malcolm Devlin

You Will Grow into Them - Malcolm Devlin

 

I would like to thank Unsung Stories for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

The world is a far stranger place than we give it credit for. There, in the things we think familiar, safe, are certain aspects. Our fears and desires given form. Moments that defy explanation. Shadows in our home.

In Malcolm Devlin’s debut collection, change is the only constant. Across ten stories he tackles the unease of transformation, growth and change in a world where horror seeps from the everyday. Childhood anxieties manifest as debased and degraded doppelgängers, fungal blooms are harvested from the backs of dancers and London lycanthropes become the new social pariahs. The demons we carry inside us are very real indeed, but You Will Grow Into Them.

 

 

'You Will Grow into Them' is a solid selection of short stories. The stories are varied and different and have a dark unsettling undercurrent. The author's writing style is engaging and draws the reader in, he manages to give the reader just enough information to get the story across while at the same time leaving room for the reader's imagination. This allows the reader to fill in the gaps and to embrace the strangeness and fantastical and let their imagination run with it.

 

While I didn't find them to be scary, I did enjoy the strangeness and unsettling feel of them. They made me think, had me reading between the lines and contemplating the effect and affect, and the reasoning behind what was taking place. I can't say I was a fan of every story in the collection, some stood out more than others. My two favourites in the collection were 'Her First Harvest' and 'We All Need Somewhere to Hide'.

 

As a whole, I would say that 'You Will Grow into Them' is a 4 star read. I did, however, rate each story individually as I read through the collection and you can find those ratings below:

 

1 - Passion Play - 3 stars.

 

2 - Two Brothers - 3 stars.

 

3 - Breadcrumbs - 4 stars.

 

4 - Her First Harvest - 4.5 stars.

 

5 - We All Need Somewhere to Hide - 5 stars.

 

6 - Dogsbody - 3.5 stars.

 

7 - Songs Like They Used to Play - 2 stars.

 

8 - The Last Meal He Ate Before She Killed Him - 2 stars.

 

9 - The Bridge - 3 stars.

 

10 The End of Hope Street - 4 stars.

 

 

 

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This new book shop is bad for my bank balance! It's impossible to walk past and draws me in every time. I go shopping with my daughter to buy wool and come home with wool and books now.

Review: The Wicked by James Newman

The Wicked - James R. Newman

 

I received a free copy of The Wicked via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

 

Well, that was a lot of fun. The Wicked is everything that I loved about the good old fashion trashy horror novels of the 80's. It's a bit of a car crash. It's cheesy, it's gruesome, it's fast paced, it's your stereotypical good vs evil horror, but that's why it's so good. It's a roller-coaster ride that blasts through the doors of every ghost train and haunted house in the park without allowing you to catch your breath in between. There's no fancy prose, no heavy wordy detail, no pages and pages of world building or character building. It's straight up horror, no bells or whistles and I had a blast reading it.

 

Definitely one I would recommend.

 

 

 

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Review: The Night Brother by Rosie Garland

The Night Brother - Rosie Garland


I would like to thank HarperCollins UK for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

The Night Brother is a unique and unusual read and is unlike anything that I've read before. It's also a book that is hard to discuss without spoilers so this review will be rather brief and to the point.

 

At its heart, The Night Brother is a historical fiction novel but it also has a touch of magical realism and fantasy. It explores both gender identity and fluidity, and sibling rivalry. The plot was original and unique and the writing style appealing, but the overall concept wasn't clearly explained in the end.


I did enjoy it, the authors writing was engaging, it was a pleasure to read and it easily held my attention, but I am left with lots of questions. For example: Why was this happening to Edie and Gnome? Is it a curse placed on them and their family? Who placed it, when and for what reason? If it wasn't a curse then what was it? Was it medical? Psychological? There's was no clear explanation given. Had there been then this would probably have been a 4 star read for me but the lack of explanation knocks it down to 3 stars.

 

 

 

 

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So much for getting peace to sit in the sun with my book. There's no escaping this trio.

Review: The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis

The Whitby Witches (Egmont Modern Classics) - Robin Jarvis


I would like to thank Egmont Publishing for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

I somehow managed to miss this author's books as they were originally released many years before my own children were of age to read them. Last year I happened across his newer series, The Witching Legacy and have since read both books one and two and loved them. So when I saw this one I was eager to delve into it, especially as it's set in Whitby like the newer books.

 

The Whitby Witches was a lot of fun. It was full of adventure, imagination, and danger. I was completely swept along with the characters and their story. The writing was easy to read and the world was vividly described. It was wonderfully dark and atmospheric and a lot of fun all round. Everything was so easily pictured in my mind as I read. It was like being a child all over again, reliving that wonderful sense of adventure, danger and anticipation.

 

The only negative aspect, and it's not something that's particular to this story alone but something that seems to be a trend across many children's stories and books and something I'm more aware of now as a mother, is the fact that the majority of villains or bad guys in children's stories always seem to have some kind of disfigurement or disability. They are always "ugly" scarred or disfigured in some way. Why are we portraying this kind of message to our children? How a person looks doesn't portray whether they are good or bad. Beauty is only skin deep, the outside does not reflect who a person is on the inside. "Monsters" can look just like everyone else and just because someone isn't what most would class as "normal" it doesn't make them the bad guy to be feared. Perhaps that is too scary of a concept in truth for children but it's reality. Anyway, I realise this is a more general comment and not something particular to this book alone but it's something that I found myself contemplating after finishing this one so I wanted to comment on it.

 

All in all, The Whitby Witches was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm going to have to get my hands on the rest of the series now.

 

 

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180/344 pages read of You Will Grow into Them Malcolm Devlin

You Will Grow into Them - Malcolm Devlin

 

The world is a far stranger place than we give it credit for. There, in the things we think familiar, safe, are certain aspects. Our fears and desires given form. Moments that defy explanation. Shadows in our home.

 

In Malcolm Devlin’s debut collection, change is the only constant. Across ten stories he tackles the unease of transformation, growth and change in a world where horror seeps from the everyday. Childhood anxieties manifest as debased and degraded doppelgängers, fungal blooms are harvested from the backs of dancers and London lycanthropes become the new social pariahs. The demons we carry inside us are very real indeed, but You Will Grow Into Them.

 

Taking weird fiction and horror and bending them into strange and wondrous new shapes, You Will Grow Into Them follows, in the grand tradition of Aickman, Ligotti and Vandermeer, reminding us that the ordinary world is a much stranger place than it seems.

 

 

As is usual with short story collections I will post an update periodically with my thoughts and ratings as I am reading and then review the book in its entirety when I am finished.

 

1 - Passion Play - 3 stars.

 

This was an Ok story. Not exactly sure what happened to Cathy, not sure if I'm supposed to. I loved the idea behind the story though. Creepy concept.

 

2 - Two Brothers - 3 stars.

 

Well written stories so far. They give just enough to unsettle you while allowing your imagination to fill in the gaps.

 

3 - Breadcrumbs - 4 stars.

 

Some weird mix between Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Feels very fairytalesque and very imaginative. Has she grown up, shed her childhood and become a woman? or, is she just dreaming? Think I may read this one again.

 

4 - Her First Harvest - 4 stars.

 

Kinda gone off mushrooms now. Interesting but strange concept and visually enchanting.

 

5 - We All Need Somewhere to Hide - 5 stars.

 

Beauty is only skin deep, a person's character is where true beauty lies, but how deep does our love for someone truly go... This is my favourite so far.

 

6 - Dogsbody - 3 stars.

 

Not sure what to think about this one. I would have liked to know the why behind what had occurred. I enjoyed it though. You shouldn't always assume prejudice is at play, you're not always the victim you perceive yourself to be.

 

 7 - 10 Still to come

 

 

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My daughter and I came across this in the local Asda tonight, lol.

Review: Dark Asylum by E. S. Thomson

Dark Asylum (Jem Flockhart) - E. S. Thomson


I would like to thank Little Brown Books and Constable for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

For a good few years I have avoided historical fiction, it's a genre that I used to read a lot of but found myself losing interest in. There was plenty of it out there but I just wasn't feeling it - they were all starting to run into each other, none stood out and I felt that they all read much the same. That is, until I came across E.S. Thomson's debut novel Beloved Poison and was blown away by how fantastic the book was. So fantastic, in fact, that it was my top read of 2016 and I have been recommending it to everyone ever since.

 

I was like a child on Christmas morning when Dark Asylum landed on my doorstep, but I have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first because I was scared it wouldn't live up to the first book. I needn't have worried, I loved it every bit as much as Beloved Poison.

 

It was such a joy to be with Jem and Will again and to be back on the streets of Victorian London. The sights, the sounds, the streets, the smells, the mood, the atmosphere, all so vivid that I was transported easily to another time and place. Like with Beloved Poison, the world around me ceased to exist while this book was in my hands.

 

The author's knowledge of medicine and of the time period is clear to see in the historical detail within the story. It's also clear that she enjoys what she does and has put a lot of love and dedication into the book.

 

And can I just point out that cover! This is one of the rare occasions where you can safely judge a book by its gorgeous cover and know that the story inside is every bit as amazing.

 

E.S. Thomson has made me fall in love with historical fiction all over again.

 

Highly recommended. One of my favourite reads of 2017 so far!

 

 

 

 

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Review: Beautiful Sorrows by Mercedes M. Yardley

Beautiful Sorrows - Mercedes M. Yardley


I received a copy of Beautiful Sorrow through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

 

I don't often read short story collections and when I do I tend to read them one story at a time in-between reading other books, but in this case, I was so captivated by the individual stories that I read them one after the other. They were all enjoyable but my favourite has to be The Boy Who Hung the Stars.

 

Beautiful Sorrows is the first of Mercedes M. Yardley that I have read and I have to say her writing is truly beautiful. It has a wonderful peculiar and ethereal quality to it. In fact, many words came to mind while reading: poetic, haunting, mystical, melancholy, surreal, to name a few. Her style truly is unique. I've never read anything quite like it before. Not only were her stories beautiful but they were also heartbreaking, chilling, and dark, all at the same time.

 

Reading Beautiful Sorrows was like experiencing the wonder and beauty of fairytales for the first time as a child, but in grown up form.

 

 

 

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BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime - Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

 

The author of the global phenomenon 'The Girl on the Train' returns with 'Into the Water', her addictive new novel of psychological suspense.

 

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

 

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from-a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

Beware a calm surface-you never know what lies beneath.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08npnhg

 

 

Review: Skitter (The Hatching #2) by Ezekiel Boone

Skitter: A Novel (The Hatching Series Book 2) - Ezekiel Boone


I would like to thank Atria Books for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

 

Skitter is book two in The Hatching trilogy. Having read and loved book one I was keen to make a start on book two. I enjoyed the first book but hated that it finished on a huge cliffhanger so you can imagine how disappointing it was to discover that the author leaves the reader hanging on the edge of yet another cliff at the end of the second book. I hate cliffhangers, they are annoying and frustrating and put me off reading more of the series because I feel like the author is trying to manipulate me into buying their next book- want to know what happens next? Yes? Great! Come back in a year and give me X amount of pounds and maybe I'll tell you more, and if you're lucky I might throw in yet another cliffhanger just for shits and giggles so you'll buy the next one after that. If your book is good, that alone is enough to make readers want to pick up the next one.

 

Skitter suffers from middle book syndrome. It wasn't as engaging or as fast paced and it also lacked the action and danger that was prevalent in the first book. It didn't have the same effect as the first book, I wasn't anywhere near as creeped out by it. It only progresses the storyline a few steps forward and you learn a little more about the spiders, but a little, and a few steps are not enough. It hardly progresses at all and nothing is resolved. It felt like a placeholder, something to keep the wolves from the door until the final book is released. There was nothing to get my teeth into, nothing to make it stand out on its own. It read more like an extension of The Hatching rather than an individual book. It picks up from where The Hatching left off and slowly ambles along for most of the book, the pace does pick up very near the end but very quickly leaves the reader hanging onto yet another stinking cliffhanger.

 

I have to say, I feel rather disappointed and let down by Skitter. It was OK but I expected more. I will still read the next one, it's the last in the trilogy so surely there won't be a cliffhanger, right? I hope so!

 

 

 

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