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."


I received a lovely surprise in the mail today from the wonderful Jason Parent. It has pride of place on my mantel beside all my other favourite books!

Review: Jackals by Stuart R Brogan

Jackals - Stuart R Brogan

I have to say, I'm kind of fed up with a lot of the horror books lately. A large proportion of the horror released of late has been either the same old stories told in a slightly different way or are labelled as "extreme horror" and are full of violence and gore thrown in for nothing more than shock value with no real plot to speak of. But, I'm glad to say that that wasn't the case with Jackals.


How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Who can you trust when the seeds of corruption and violence have wormed their way into every crack?


Jackals was one heck of a wild and gory ride. It's most definitely not a book for the faint of heart. The action kicks off in great gory detail almost immediately and keeps you on the edge of your seat to the very end. The author takes the reader on an action-packed adrenaline ride to the deepest darkest depths of depravity and exposes the sadistic, twisted, and primitive side of human nature.


"They are without doubt some of the most dangerous people out there and the worrying thing is that ninety-nine percent of the population doesn't even know they exist..."


Nobody is what they seem. Take nothing, and no one, for granted. Heroes and villains emerge in the most unlikely of places. There is no safe place for the reader or the characters. The twists and turns keep you on your toes, they mess with your head, you're never quite sure what's around the corner or who's going to turn on you next.


Definitely one I would recommend.




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70% done with The Night Brother by Rosie Garland

The Night Brother - Rosie Garland


I've not read anything like this before, it's so unique and unusual and I honestly have no idea where it's going. I want to fly through the pages but at the same time, I want to savour it and make it last longer.

Fibro Fog Derp of the night...


I made myself a warm drink, carried it through to my chair and proceeded to get all comfy.

Reading blanket = ✔
Cat settled on my lap = ✔
Book I'm currently reading = ✔
Reading playlist loaded = ✔
Warm drink = WTF?


On reaching for my cup I discovered the freshly boiled kettle sat where my cup should have been. As if that wasn't bad enough, my hubby had obviously watched me carry the kettle through and not thought to say anything lol.



100% done with Dark Asylum by E. S. Thomson

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


I started reading this last weekend after being so excited to get started, but unfortunately my mother-n-law lost the last wee bit of mobility she had on the day I started it and as her primary carer I had to abandon all chance of reading anything until I could get her sorted into a new routine and adapt to the extra care she now needs.


I finally got to pick it up again this afternoon and flew through it in one sitting. I was a bit apprehensive because I loved the first book in the series, but I'm glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was every bit as good as the first.


Review to come.

Review: The Girl Who Beat ISIS: Farida's Story

The Girl Who Beat ISIS: Farida's Story - Andrea C. Hoffmann, Farida Khalaf


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

This is the story of what happened to Farida after she was captured: the beatings, the rapes, the markets where ISIS sold women like cattle, and Farida's realisation that the more resistant she became, the harder it was for her captors to continue their atrocities against her. So she struggled, she bit, she kicked, she accused her captors of going against their religion, until, one day, the door to her room was left unlocked. She took her chance and, with five younger girls in her charge, fled into the Syrian desert...


I honestly don't know what to say about this book, or even where to start with reviewing it. It feels wrong to try and break it down and comment on writing style, star rating, etc.


This book really brings home how easily your life can change. One day you're enjoying the long hot summer days and the next you and your family are fleeing for your lives. Farada could be your daughter, your sister, your niece, she deserves to be safe, to live without fear just like everyone else. The suffering she endured was atrocious, yet she never gave up. Her story is a remarkable story of hope, faith, courage, and strength. It's not an easy read, but it is important that experiences like Farada's are told. It is important that the world is made aware of the atrocities that are occurring in order to better understand the horrors that refugees are running from.


The Girl Who Beat ISIS is a book that everyone should read.




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Review: The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown


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


The Witch Finder's Sister is a fictional tale based on the life of Matthew Hopkins - a witch hunter believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 300 women between the years 1644 and 1646. The story is told through the eyes of his sister Alice who experiences his obsession first hand and recounts the tale to the reader.


Initially, when I first started reading the book I thought I was going to love it. The writing style appealed to me, it felt like Alice was talking directly to me and I was excited to read more. But, unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. It concentrated too much on Alice's emotions, inner thoughts, and memories. She was a bystander lost within her own past and present, looking in rather than looking out at the horror of what was actually taking place. There were so many missed opportunities to escalate the storyline and to ramp up the tension, but they were missed because of the way the storyline advanced in regards to Alice's character.


As a reader, I only got little peeks into the true horrors of what Matthew was doing. Right before the witch hunts approached their worst, just when things were starting to get interesting and were really about to kick off, the author decided to lock Alice in the attic, which of course resulted in the reader being locked in that attic alongside Alice.


What happened in that dark attic? Not much at all - meanwhile, Matthew and his witch trials are causing chaos. The trials are approaching their worst, hundreds of women are being killed, months of mayhem and murder are taking place, and the reader is sat in the dark with Alice. There was so much going on outside that attic that the reader was excluded from, all the chaos and horrors that would have made this a book to remember, and instead we're given a just few pages of Alice in the dark. What a let down that was.


The book is categorised by the publisher as being adult general fiction, mystery, and thriller, but to be honest there wasn't much mystery or thrills to be found. The pacing was very slow, there wasn't enough action, and characters were hard to connect with. The ending, in particular, had me rolling my eyes.


Not one I would recommend. The blurb and the cover quotes promised much and delivered little.




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I'm reading Dark Asylum by E. S. Thomson

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




I've been looking forwards to sitting down with this book all day.


The family have been warned not to interrupt me if they value their lives as I won't be held responsible for my actions if they intrude on my reading time.



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My review copy of Dark Asylum by E.S. Thomson arrived today, I'm totally fangirling right now! Beloved Poison was my top read of last year and I'm itching to jump into the next one asap!


How stunning is that cover, the flame actually glows and flickers when you look at it through a camera, on the cover itself the flame is white.

BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime - The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry


Moving between Essex and London, myth and modernity, Cora Seaborne's spirited search for the Essex Serpent encourages all around her to test their allegiance to faith or reason in an age of rapid scientific advancement...

Review: Becoming by Glenn Rolfe

Becoming - Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Glenn Rolfe, Jason Lynch

Becoming took me back to the horror books of my teens, to the creature features with cheesy covers that my love of horror was built on, and created a feeling of nostalgia that added to my enjoyment of the story.

Whilst I enjoyed the plot it was the characters that made this one. Although it's a pretty short read the characters were well fleshed out and the dynamics between the different characters made them feel real. There was an overall dark atmosphere but I would have liked the horror to have been turned up a touch. Don't get me wrong, there were enough scares and crazy goings on to appeal to most horror lovers, but personally, I would have liked more.

All in all, it was a quick and fun read and it easily held my attention throughout, however, I would have liked to have known more about the lake, what resides there, and the history behind it.

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Review: The Devil's Paintbox by Robin Jarvis

The Devil's Paintbox (The Witching Legacy) - Robin Jarvis


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


The Devil's Paintbox is the second book in The Witching Legacy trilogy by Robin Jarvis. I previously read the first book The Power of the Dark back in March 2016, you can find my review for that here. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but I have to say, I enjoyed the second book much more than the first.


It's been a year since I read the first book and I was surprised by how easily I slipped back into Lil and Verne's world. The writing was wonderfully vivid. The plot was engaging, fast-paced and action packed from beginning to end. It sets the imagination on fire and I could easily see everything clearly in my mind's eye as I read.


The Devil's Paintbox is full of colour, adventure, magic, and imagination, but at the same time it's dark, ominous, and creates a feeling of foreboding. This is the kind of book I would have loved to have read as a child, under the covers with a torch. I could almost feel the excitement and anticipation that young me would have felt, along with the need to turn the pages whilst being apprehensive about what's to come.


Definitely one I would recommend. I didn't want to put the book down, it was a lot of fun and I read it in one sitting. My niece and the kids in my reading group are going to love it.




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Review: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir - Jennifer Ryan

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


"It was as if on the edge of manhood he too remembered everything we had shared, that he was the man who was still, in his heart, my little boy, late for school.
And then he was gone."


The Childbury Ladies' Choir is told in diary entry format, jumping back and forth between the diary entries of the different characters. This format took a bit of getting used to, it didn't lend itself well to getting to know the characters as individuals. The characters were initially just names at the top of a diary post, there was nothing there that allowed me to create a mental image of them as a person. I had to differentiate each by their voice and it took reading a good few entries from each individual character before I managed to match those voices to something a little more substantial than just a name.


Once I was able to separate the characters I was then somewhat able to slowly build a mental image of each from the bits of information scattered across all the different diary entries. However, the pieces were a bit too scattered and I couldn't build as clear a picture of each as I would have liked, and as a result, the characters never felt real. I was outside looking in, reading their stories from a distance rather than experiencing them. They were almost strangers, strangers that I knew by little more than their name, and because of this I never found myself becoming immersed in the storyline or characters enough that I reached that point of forgetting I was reading a story.


Despite the above, I did still enjoy the book and I did learn a few things. It was fascinating to get a peek into village life during the war, but I found it easy to put down. I also found myself thinking of other books or TV programs that I have watched that are set during the war, taking what I had read in this book and placing more memorable characters from other stories into their situation, or comparing them, which made me realise just how distant I felt from the characters in the book.


Like I said, I did enjoy it while reading, it was an OK read but not a great read. I'm hesitant to recommend it because if like me, you like to have a clear picture in your mind and want to immerse yourself in the story rather than watch from a distance, then this isn't the book for you.





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42% done with The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown


"I found myself thinking of how as a child I had always wanted to read the books that Father said were too hard for me, not realising yet that understanding a book is not the same as being able to spell out all the words."

Aprils 2017 Canine TBR Challenge, and winner is...


I'm a bit behind with my posting of the 2017 Canine TBR challenge reviews. I just reviewed The Neverending Story which Thorin picked back in January. OK, perhaps I'm more than just a bit behind, lol.


I have still to put up my February one:  Kindred by Octavia Butler (chosen by Enya) and my March one: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (chosen by Mae) but I still have 5 other reviews to post before I can get them so they will hopefully be coming soon.


So, April is almost upon us and it's time for the TBR jar to come out of hiding again - it was in hiding because Thorin likes to choose from the jar a bit too much for my liking and he was forever trying to get to the jar, he thinks it's a great game, lol. Anyway, April brings back around Thorin's turn so I decided to get him to select one for me tonight. As I was fetching the jar for him to choose I was thinking to myself I hope he chooses a smallish book but wouldn't you know it he's only gone and chosen the largest book on my shelves atm and it's a re-read. He has chosen....









The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Neverending Story (A Puffin Book) - Michael Ende


 As part of the TBR Canine Jar Challenge, The Neverending Story was chosen by Thorin. He's in the lead so far.




The Never Ending Story is one of my favourite books from childhood, I read and re-read this book many times and also watched the movie over and over until the tape was basically unplayable. It's been a long time since I last read it and as my hubby bought me a new copy for Christmas I thought, why not? There's no time like the present. My childhood copy is now owned by my daughter along with my original copy of The Hobbit. No chance of me ever seeing those again.


I went into this book with lots of fond memories and I was a bit apprehensive that reading it now would possibly spoil those memories, but I am glad to say that didn't happen. I enjoyed it just as much as I did as a child. I had forgotten how vivid and imaginative the world of Fantastica was. Even now I still felt the same wonder I had as a child at the possibility of being able to physically travel through the world within a book. I have to say, it felt a bit neverending once I moved into the second part of the book. The grown up me found the second half a bit of a slog and somewhat of a flop, just like the second movie.


Reading it for the first time as an adult, I picked up on many things that I had missed as a child. The hidden meanings and messages that had gone over the head of the younger me were there for the older me to dissect and ponder on. I remember as a child always getting frustrated when I was completely immersed in the story and then bam, up pops those dreaded words “But that is another story and shall be told another time.” I remember being desperate to know what became of those stories, I didn't want to move on until I had journeyed to the end of one story. The Adult me sees the cleverness behind the words, all stories are at their heart a neverending story, each could branch off into another, and another, and so on. There's a world of endless possibilities out there, stories waiting to be told.





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