Monday 31 October 2016

Spectral Book of Horror Stories (Book 3) - A Review

Every year, as Halloween approaches, there is, as you would expect, a surge in the number of horror novels and collections that are available. With all this choice though it is not always clear which to go with for the best chills and frights.

Thankfully my attention was drawn to Spectral Book of Horror Stories 3 (SBoHS3), not least because of the cracking cover art by Holly Madew. On looking at the contents list I saw a few 'reliable' names (Dan Weatherer, Adrian Cole, Dave-Brendon de Burgh) but many more that I didn't know. As with all books of this ilk there is a range in the quality of the stories but I'm happy to say they were all good, none stood out for the wrong reasons.

If I had to pick favourites I guess I'd go with Lou Antonelli's 'Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion' (an author goes back to his old school and relives 1975), Jason V Brock's 'COULROPHILIA' (because, y'know, it's got clowns) and Cotton Face by Dan Weatherer (which has a definite Bloody Mary/Candyman vibe going on. But there are so many others I could have chosen from, Monster Horror, Ghost Horror, whatever takes your fancy I'm pretty sure you'll find something here to keep you looking over your shoulder on a dark night.

A very nicely put together book

4.3/5 *

Wednesday 26 October 2016

The Wrong Train Blog Tour with Jeremy de Quidt

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of 'The Wrong Train' (Jeremy de Quidt, David Fickling Books) for review. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale and repost my review here.

"It's late at night, a boy runs for the train but on catching it he realises that it's not the one he meant to catch. He gets off at the first possible station he can but doesn't recognise it. After a while an old man and his dog turn up and regale the boy with a story while he waits for a train to take him back.

And so begins one of the creepiest, scariest books I've read in a while.

The stories the old man tells, you see, are of the ghostly and unsettling variety.

As the night goes on the boy gets more uncomfortable with the old man and the old man himself gets slightly more sinister. It's clear from the off that the old man is in charge of the game, indeed all the events and storytelling seem to be leading towards what he refers to as 'my little game'. And when it comes time to play, when all becomes clear - well, let's just say this reviewer had his socks knocked clean off.

The storytelling here is very much of the highest standard, the stories within a story idea works really well and I'm not ashamed to say, the author unnerved me at times. There were certainly several occasions when I could see where he was taking the story and I thought 'NO!! He's not going to do that. I was wrong and he did.

The Wrong Train is aimed at a Young Adult audience but shouldn't be restricted to that bracket. It is not a comfortable read but it is a very good one. This book will be enjoyed by older readers too.

So, in short, I cannot recommend The Wrong Train Highly enough. Go get yourself a copy soon as you can (it's from David Fickling Books)

5* It's been a long while since a book unsettled me like this and I loved every uncomfortable minute of it"

When the chance came to take part in the 'The Wrong Train' Blog Tour I didn't need asking twice. So, with no further ado, please welcome Jeremy to the BlogCave as I ask him "What scared you as a child"

Andy looked at me over his laptop.

“You told Beth at Reader’s Corner that you never read scary stories when you were a child because you had nightmares?”

“That’s right,” I said.

He looked at the laptop, I could see him reading the tour blog post.

“So, scary stories were never your inspiration,’ he said. “You just pour it all out of that dark ink you carry round in your head now.”

“That’s right.”

He looked up.

“Do stories scare you, now?” He asked.

“Not really,” I said. “I don’t read scary things. If I do it’s to take them apart - admire all the ropes and pulleys behind the words. See how other people do it.”

“Some stuff must scare you, though?”

“Course it does,” I said. “Fear’s not rational. Once someone lets a story into that part of their head they don’t have the key to, all the dark things in there will get up and play with it.”

He grinned, turned the lamp round so that it was pointing directly at me and said.

“So, what actually was it scared you, kicked off all those nightmares, when you were a child?”


“Specifics,” he said.

“How many do you want?” I could see we were going to be there all day if I tried to give him the whole list.

“Three,” he said.

“Ok,” I said. “Three.”

I thought about it for a moment and then held up a finger.

“Number One:

Because I didn’t read or want to watch scary stuff, what I just glimpsed in pictures - in photographs in newspapers and magazines, on covers of books - they were a big way to let the bad things in. Some would be awful in the way that only those pictures can be - I remember seeing a photograph of Belsen in the pages of a history book an uncle had. Others were awful in a way intended to shock and entertain - there was a series of American Civil War bubblegum cards that were all gore and death.

What they did was put the image in that unlit closed-off part of my head that I didn’t have the key to - added it to the ones that were already there - and come nighttime and darkness all the bright lights went on in there and that dark imagination of mine would feed on it and turn it into something else, much worse.”

I held up another finger. “Number Two:

Being alone in the dark - bedroom light out, hall light out, dark. Especially in the dead of night.

Home is supposed to be safe, but it didn’t feel safe and when everyone else was asleep they might just as well not have been there at all. All I was left with is whatever I wanted to fill up the dark with, and I was never short of ideas for that. They came creeping across the floor, around the doorpost, down the walls from the ceiling - tapped at the glass behind the curtains, hid in folds of cloth.”

I held up a third Finger. “Number Three,” I said.

“I listened too much and asked too many of the wrong questions. There’d have been a scary film on that I hadn't seen, and lamb to the slaughter I wouldn’t able to stop myself asking what it had been about. ‘What happened?’ I’d say, and even as I said it I knew that I was going to regret asking. Maybe not then, maybe not an hour later, but come the dark - come that bright light getting switched on in the locked room inside my head, boy was I going to regret it. And I did. Every time.

“Were you a timid child?” asked Andy.

“Not at all. I sawed a .410 shotgun cartridge in half on a stone step at infant’s school because I fancied the shiny brass bit at the end…”

“You what?”

“But you could say that was plain ignorance. And I put a .22 brass starting pistol cap in a brick wall once and hit it with a hammer and nail…”

“at infant’s school? A shotgun cartridge…”

“And if there was anything of a bone breaking height to throw myself off or round, I was your boy. But dark imagination, that was a demon I had no hold on at all.”

I looked up at Andy and felt myself slowly smiling in what I hoped was a friendly way.

“Still don’t…” I said.

And on that note Jeremy must leave for the next stop on his tour and all that remains is for me to say "Thank you for stopping by"

*WARNING: NOT FOR PASSENGERS OF NERVOUS DISPOSITION* THE WRONG TRAIN Jeremy De Quidt Publishing in hardback from David Fickling Books on 1st September 2016, priced £10.99

Master of horror, Jeremy de Quidt, is back with this terrifyingly good collection of ghost stories that will send shivers down your spine. 
Just don’t say we didn’t warn you…

“It dawned on him slowly that there was something wrong…”
It’s late. Dark. A boy rushes to catch a train, leaping aboard just before it pulls away. Suddenly he realises that it’s the wrong train. He’s annoyed, of course, but not scared… Yet.
He gets off at the next station, but the platform’s empty, and it doesn’t look like any station he’s seen before. But he’s still not scared… Yet.
Then a stranger arrives – someone with stories to help pass the time. Only these aren’t any old stories. These are nightmares, and they come with a price to pay.
…Scared yet? You will be.

Praise for Jeremy de Quidt: “Pacy, exciting and inventive” - Guardian        “Thrilling, dark and exciting” - The Bookseller

About the Author:

Jeremy de Quidt is available for interview and to write features. For further information please contact Carolyn McGlone, PR Manager:; 01865 339 008

Abendau's Legacy by Jo Zebedee - A Review

And so we come to the end of the Abendau series. As is usually the case this is all building to final confrontations in that Kate, our hero, is facing his final battle against The Empress (aka his mum). To this end the pages fly by but, in a slightly unexpected way (or maybe not, given the books' title) the majority of the story is carried by the children.

There is a good bit of tying up of loose ends to be done, and that is done well, leaving a complete tale that I plan to go back to and read again in one go.

Jo Zebedee has built an interesting, enjoyably satisfying series here, very Star Wars like in style. I predict more big things from her in the future so remember the name.


Revenger by Alastair Reynolds - A Review

I have said before that when it comes to sci fi novels I don't like them to be too tech heavy. I prefer my sf to be more about the characters and while I accept there has to be some science I need it to be something I understand. For that reason alone 'Revenger' rates highly with me.

Revenger tells the tale of two sisters, Adrana and Arafura, who join the crew of Captain Rackamore in the hopes of saving their family from bankruptcy. Due to their 'sympathetic' abilities they are able to help navigate entry into baubles, tiny pockets of space that hold technological trinkets that may make a fortune for all. Everything is fine until disaster strikes.

A curious novel this, it starts out very much as a YA tale but soon becomes a lot more adult oriented (not in a saucy way, more grown up sci fi). The scope of the story is huge and the ideas of the baubles and their hidden treasures did give it a 'Pirates of the Caribbean in Space' flavour.

With enough twists and turns to keep the pages flying by and a varied and interesting cast of characters I hope this is just the start of story. More please


Tuesday 25 October 2016

The Tribes (Marc Craig 14) by Catriona King - A Review

Could two different murders the team are investigating be linked? What are the ties with the South? Will North and South be able to cross borders and work together? This, the 14th story featuring the Belfast Murder Squad, is just what I would have expected - a twisty crime tale with a bunch of personal storylines in the squad (and for one of the team things could not get any worse).

With several characters from earlier in the series making appearances it helps to have read the other books but The Tribes works well as a stand alone novel too - but be warned, if this is your first meeting with Marc Craig and his team you'll be wanting to get the rest of the set.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye - sampler reviewed

So, yesterday's post bought a parcel from Quirk books which included a book - Warren the 13th and The Whispering Wood, a sampler - Warren the 13th and The All Seeing Eye, 2 small packets of Cadbury's Buttons and a strip of transfers. The books looked lovely so I decided to give the sampler a read straight away, out of curiosity.

And I'm oh so glad I did. Our hero is Warren the 13th "the lone bellhop, valet, waiter, groundskeeper and errand boy of his family's ancient hotel". The latest in a long line of Warrens he is a strange looking little chap, but quite likeable. His hotel has run to ruin now that his Uncle Rupert has taken over along with his quite evil new wife Aunt Anaconda (who is searching for the titular All-Seeing Eye).

The book itself is gorgeous (but then again, it's Quirk Books - they always seem to produce a high quality product) with all pages illustrated by Will Staehle and the type set in an old style two column per page layout to compliment Tania Del Rio's wonderful story telling. The sampler is only three chapters long but those three chapters are enough to get me intrigued. I really enjoyed this and look forward to (hopefully) getting hold of the full version before I set out on book 2 in the series (Whispering Woods).

A great start to a series I hope will continue for a good while. Warren's adventures are aimed at Middle Grade readers but I really think readers of all ages will enjoy Warren's adventures.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

The Two O'Clock Boy by Mark Hill - A Review

Everybody has a favourite first line (or lines)from a novel, one that sticks with you long after the final page has been turned. The Two O'Clock Boy is going to be joining a few peoples list for this I believe;


From this doom laden beginning we are introduced to the latest unorthodox detective on the block, DI Ray Drake. The crime in this first outing for Drake is the murder of several families all of which have one family member who is linked to Longacre Children's Home which burned down 30 years ago. A lot is not known about what happened at the home but Drake knows more than he is letting on. The thing is, Drake doesn't want others to know about his links to the past and fears that when it catches up with him his career will be over.

What through me a little with this book is that it is marketing as the first in the DI Ray Drake series but the main investigative duties are passed on to DS Felicity 'Flick' Crowley and she does carry the majority of the story but as Drake's backstory unravelled it became clear he is the main man.

The book slips between events now and events at Longacre in 1984 as both stories rush to a climax that will keep you guessing right up to the end (that may sound like a cliché but it really did keep the twists coming).

As for the main characters, Drake grew on me as the story went along. He's not just another recently widowed detective with a slightly estranged daughter, he's really dark at times and, most importantly, interesting. Think Luther meets Dexter and you won't be far wrong.
Flick Crowley, on the other hand seemed to develop as she went along, going from a nervous DS leading an investigation for the first time, through a 'wet blanket' phase as she seemed to be losing control and getting led by the nose by Drake away from the Longacre link, until she finally managed to grow a spine and follow her instincts. I liked the latter Flick more, I must admit.

As for the story itself, this is a dark, psychological, twisty narrative that defines 'unputdownable' and to say it is the debut of author Mark Hill makes it even more impressive. I look forward eagerly to more investigations with any who survive The Two O'Clock Boy.

The Two O'Clock Boy is currently available as an ebook but will be available in April 6th 2017 - Welcome to the Next Big Thing in crime fiction 5/5*

Thursday 13 October 2016

Requesting Reviews

As a general rule, over the last few years the books I have reviewed on here have been just books I have chosen to read myself and blog about. A few have been requests for reviews but I guess I've been a bit like The A-Team - "If you want to request a review and if you know where to find me........"

So, on that note, maybe it is time to make things a bit easier. If you have a book you would like reviewing the options are;

1) Just ask me here on the blog,
2) Send me an email at or,
3) Message me on Twitter (@andyangel44)

I can also be found on Facebook as Andrew Angel (personal page) or Andy Ebookwyrm Angel (blog page) - review links are posted on both as well as Amazon (.com and .co,uk) and Goodreads. If you want links posting elsewhere just let me know

I tend to be open to most subjects but my main leaning is towards Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Crime Fiction (although I have reviewed books for infants, Regency Romance and even a book on building houses for cats, so anything is open to consideration.
I am happy to receive books in both e-book and physical forms. E-books are easier to send but physical books allow other people to see what I am reading and are therefore better as adverts for the author and the publisher.

If this interests you please feel free to get in touch, also, feel free to pass this on to others

And before anyone asks I'll point out that I don't charge for reviews. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if you like the review and want to do something nice drop a couple of coins in a deserving charity box - that'd be nice

Thanks for reading

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Exile by Martin Owton - A Review

While I do share the current love of Grimdark in Fantasy Fiction I also enjoy the slightly lighter side of the genre as well. Exile, the first in a 2 book series would, in my opinion lean toward the lighter side of Grimdark - not too dark and not too fluffy, an excellent blend.

The story concerns Aron (the titular exile) in a tale of heroism and treachery which ends in some pretty epic fight scenes. He is employed by the Earl of Nandor to rescue his heir but betrayal changes everything. There is a good bit of family politics, fun to read banter, hints of 'Destiny' all things you would expect in this kind of tale but it is all wrapped up in some excellent story telling. The world is well realised - and being a very 'visual' reader this is something that is very important to me - and populated with interesting people, Gods, and a decent history.

As a hero Aron is just what you would expect, dashing, brave, admired by the ladies, but he also come across as a decent sort, not big headed or 'better than everyone else' (and it makes a change for the hero not to be a 'former turnip farmer').

So, heroic fantasy verging on the lighter side of Grimdark that all sets up nicely for 'Return To Nandor' (out later this year). A very enjoyable read that I will be looking to read again. Martin Owton is an author I have no hesitation in recommending and one I am putting high on my 'authors to watch' list

4.75/5* (I'm saving the extra .25 of a star for the final book)

Sunset Over Abendau by Jo Zebedee - A Review

Sunset Over Abendau is the second in Jo Zebedee's 'Abendau' series and works well in that context. This part of the saga is set 10 years after the events of Abendau's Heir (although the prologue follows on almost immediately from the end AH). The early chapters make a good job of reintroducing characters and seeing where they are now but this does seem to be at a slower pace, but then, THEN, what I was expecting from the prologue happened (I know, I'm being vague but I don't want to spoil things for you) and the story transforms into a finger burning, page turning race to the end. The fact that the main story only covers a short span of time probably helps this as well. And all I will add to that is that I am so glad I have book 3 to hand as I really want more, more, MORE.

When I reviewed Abendau's Heir I compared it, in style, to Star Wars and I am not going to change that. This is Sci-Fi built on character, scene, story and not something you need an engineering masters degree to understand, and thankfully Jo Zeb does characters well.

How will the events of Sunset affect our heroes? Only time will tell (but you won't have to wait too long, Abendau's Legacy will be available from 24th October). This is shaping up to be a series that will place the author up there with the 'names' in Science Fiction. It is said that women are under represented in Sci-Fi writing - Jo Zebedee might just be taking steps to rectify that.


Onwards to Abendau's Legacy

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Osloff and the Turk by Iain M Grant

Osloff and the Turk is a story that forms part of a larger work 'The People Factory'. It was sent through to me in chapbook form for review as I am a fan of the Iain Grant's other work (the Clovenhoof series with Heide Goody). The difference here is that the Clovenhoof tales are funny and at times ridiculous while 'Osloff' is in a more serious vein.

What we have here is a locked room mystery set in Saxony, 1796. An inventor has invented a chess playing automaton and while it is being tested/exhibited a murder is committed - and the only people in the room are the victim and the automaton.

The story is told in a series of letters and the style of writing reads very much of it's time, which impressed me a lot.

I'll be honest, I didn't manage to solve the mystery myself but it was a fun read trying (I do like a good murder mystery). What is no mystery is whether I will be reading the full version of 'The People Factory' - That's a resounding YES from me.