Monday, 19 September 2022
Thursday, 15 September 2022
ABOUT THE BOOK
THE UNITED KINGDOM AND HER ALLIES HAVE BEEN TARGETED IN A WIDESPREAD NUCLEAR ATTACK
December, 1962. Just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the five hundred men of HMP Queen’s Bench have found themselves in the midst of a new thermonuclear nightmare.
WE DO NOT KNOW THE STATUS OF OUR TOWNS AND CITIES. WE SHALL NOT KNOW THEIR FATE FOR SEVERAL DAYS
Prisoners, wardens and soldiers must now work together to forge a new future, even if some inside the shelter can only think of how to turn the situation to their personal advantage.
RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT WILL PRESENT THE GREATEST RISK TO HEALTH. MEDICAL STAFF AND SUPPLIES ARE AVAILABLE.
Caught in the very centre of the power struggles is Dr Joseph Marr. Just days into serving a life sentence for murder, he is given the responsibility for the health of all the men of HMP Queen’s Bench. But the question for him now is: how does he ensure those in the shelter survive?
Well, this was a brutal read but hey, it's set in a prison and the nuclear option has just been...well ...optioned I guess. What was once a society where prisoners and guards were on separate sides there is no other choice now but for them to work together.
The status of the outside world is unknown, these could be the end days, the people of HMP Queen's Bench could be all that is left but even for them time and essentials are going to run out eventually. It's up to our lead Dr Marr to do what he can.
Claustrophobic and tense this alternative history thriller grips from the off and never lets up right to the end - another winner from Dan Godfrey - 4/5*
Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blog tour and please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers involved (below)
Wednesday, 14 September 2022
'Fellstones takes its name from seven objects on the village green. It’s where Paul Dunstan was adopted by the Staveleys after his parents died in an accident for which he blames himself. The way the Staveleys tried to control him made him move away and change his name. Why were they obsessed with a strange song he seemed to have made up as a child?
Now their daughter Adele has found him. By the time he discovers the cosmic truth about the stones, he may be trapped. There are other dark secrets he’ll discover, and memories to confront. The Fellstones dream, but they’re about to waken.'
Ever since I was young I've had a leaning towards stories with remote villages and standing stones (I blame Children of the Stones, a weekly serial on kids TV in the 70s) so Fellstones was a winner for me straight away because it has all that and more.
Paul Dunstan was brought up in the village of Fellstones by The Staveleys after his parents died but left as soon as he was able to - and it's easy to see why. They seem ok but certainly have a plan for Paul's future and to that end are very controlling. So much so that Paul changes his name when he leaves in the hopes they will never be able to track him down. There's something 'off' about the whole village to be fair, not just The Staveleys and although Paul blames himself for his parents deaths it's kinda obvious that other forces were at work.
Anyhow, The Staveleys daughter, Adele, finds him and begs him to come 'home' to say goodbye to a dying parent. He doesn't want to but goes anyway. On arrival things are as weird as he remembers but there are other things too, memories he'd rather stayed hidden.
And the stones, those tall silent sentinels, benign and peaceful looking but not for long. . .
What Ramsey Campbell gives us here is Folk Horror and Cosmic Horror at it's best. A slow burner, true, but the sense of impending doom pervades throughout, that feeling that you want to turn the page but also you are nervous to do so - and I do so love that feeling.
I've been a fan of Campbell's books since the 80s and rate this as one of his best. A definite 5* read.
Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me to review this book and to Flame Tree Press for providing a review file. All opinions are my own.
Please take time, if you can, to read the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour (below).
Sunday, 4 September 2022
Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Thanks to Avon Books for the review copy and Midas PR for inviting me onto the tour. All views are my own and not influenced in any way. Also, big ❤️ to the people of Mull - I hope I haven't insulted or upset any of you in any way. My comments are only on the characters in the novel and I am sure you are all lovely people.
Thursday, 18 August 2022
Welcome to my spot on the Blogtour for Adam Simcox's The Generation Killer (aka The Dying Squad 2) and first off let me apologise for being a day late (work's been busy and I lost track of the date).
I was itching to get hold of this as soon as I heard about it as The Dying Squad was an absolute corker. So, to start off here's the blurb . . .
'There's a new serial killer on the streets of Manchester - and only a dead cop can stop them.
Detective Joe Lazarus works for the Dying Squad, solving crimes the living police can't. When the Generation Killer starts wiping out Manchester's innocents, Joe and his new partner Bits have mere hours to catch the murderer. A young woman's life depends on it.
Joe's former partner Daisy-May has her own problems. Children are going missing in the afterlife, and she's the only one who seems to care. Her investigation uncovers a conspiracy so vast, it threatens both the living and the dead.
Her predecessor the Duchess can't help this time; she's tracked her treacherous sister, Hanna, to Tokyo, where she's been recruiting the dead. The Duchess must enlist the help of a local detective if she's to have any choice of stopping her.
Time is running out for the Dying Squad. And if they can't crack their cases, it's the living that will pay...'
Sounds like a fun ride yeah? Trust me, it was.
I'll try not to give spoilers but would advise reading The Dying Squad first as coming into The Generation Killer cold will most likely confuse you.
The Dying Squad are the police of the afterlife - they investigate crimes back in the real world (or The Soil as they call it) that the still living police are unable to and working for the DS is new(ish)ly dead ex copper Joe Lazarus. Joe's whole backstory is covered in book 1 so yeah, go read that first because, y'know, SPOILERS!!
Back on The Soil there's a new serial killer (the Generation Killer of the title) and the police are baffled. Time to call for The Dying Squad - but there's a problem, the way back is blocked to Joe and co. after events in book 1. It's no real spoiler to say a way back is be found and then the supernatural sleuthing can begin.
On this case Joe has a new partner, Bits, as his previous partner, Daisy-May, is now the big boss dead side. Bits took a little getting used to for me but he grew on me in the end.
This could have been a really confusing book as there are three different investigations going on - 2 soul side, and one for Daisy in the Pens (a kind of afterlife holding area between being alive and where you eventually end up) but Simcox handles it all well.
Did I enjoy it as much as The Dying Squad? Probably more actually, which bodes well for DS3 (please let there be a DS3)
Highly recommend 5/5* (but read book 1 if you haven't already, also a 5* read).
Thursday, 4 August 2022
Everyone knows the story of Rapunzel in the tower, but do you know the tale of the witch who put her there?
Thursday, 28 July 2022
Friday, 22 July 2022
Inar is Master Builder for the Kingdom of Mishig-Tenh. Life is hard after the Kingdom lost the war against the League of Free Cities. Doubly so since his father betrayed the King and paid the ultimate price. And now the King’s terrifying chancellor and torturer in chief has arrived and instructed Inar to go and work for the League. And to spy for him. And any builder knows you don’t put yourself between a rock and a hard place.
Far away Anton, Blade Priest for Craithe, the God Mountain, is about to be caught up in a vicious internal war that will tear his religion apart. Chosen from infancy to conduct human sacrifice, he is secretly relieved that the practice has been abruptly stopped. But an ancient enemy has returned, an occult conspiracy is unfolding, and he will struggle to keep his hands clean in a world engulfed by bloodshed.
In a series of constantly surprising twists and turns that take the reader through a vividly imagined and original world full of familiar tensions and surprising perspectives on old tropes, Inar and Anton find that others in their story may have more influence on their lives, on the future of the League and on their whole world than they, or the reader imagined.
The blurb sold me on this book - and it didn't disappoint (well, there was one 'disappointment' but I'll come to that later).
The 'style' of the story, especially from the point of view of Inar the builder, put me in mind of a massively expansive fantasy video game (you know the kind of thing where you just wander around the screen going 'Woooah, how cool is that') and for me that was a massive plus point.
When Inar is sent to spy on The League, his people's conquerors, it made me wonder just what was going on as he seemed to be in a much better situation here - who are the 'good guys', who are the 'bad guys' am I going to be changing my mind every other page. Inar's part of the story was, I'll admit, my favourite - partly for the world building but also for his companion and comedy sidekick Lott, a great character who seems to lighten the mood at just the right time.
The other side of the story concerns the Blade Priest Craithe which, for the most part is more contained to the one area. This was a lot darker with sacrifice avian type Gods and the threat of an ancient Big Bad. When the book begins though the offering of human sacrifice is possibly coming to an end and the way this plays out between different factions made for an interesting read.
So, great characters, great plot, great world-building and a massive chonker of a book - 'what is there to disappoint?' you may well ask.
Well (and it's just a personal opinion) it could have really benefited from a map. That's it, a map, even though the world building was so good and so clear I knew more or less where I was for the majority of the time. What can I say, I like maps 😉
Two other things though - when Inar is first taken to The League they stay in a massive sprawling castle but the people who live there can find there way around as the corridors are all marked as are the individual doors - THEY BASICALLY HAVE A STREET GUIDE FOR THE CASTLE!! How cool is that idea? It may have been done before but I don't recall it.
Also, Evil Elves!!
So, when you put it all into context I guess the lack of a map is only a small thing really
4.5/5* Highly Recommend (and the only reason it hasn't got 5* is that I feel the story is only going to get better in later volumes)
Monday, 4 July 2022
'CSI meets Harry Potter in this fantastic SPECIAL EDITION graphic novel from Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the bestselling Rivers of London supernatural police procedural crime novel series! This Deluxe Writers' Edition presents the full script of the graphic novel along with the unlettered, full-color artwork, allowing the reader to read the original script and see the artwork side-by-side.
Thursday, 30 June 2022
The tyranny of the gods is absolute, and they are capricious, malevolent and almost all-powerful, playing cruel games with the fates of mortals for their own ends . . .
A vibrant and powerful epic set against an alternate Bronze Age, this tale of gods, men and monsters, conspiracy and war, is a rich, compelling and original read from a master of the historical and fantasy genres. The people caught up in toils of the gods are merely trying to survive. Victims of vicious whims, trapped by their circumstances or pushed beyond what the mortal frame can bear, a handful of god-touched mortals - a scribe, a warlord, a dancer and a child - are about to be brought together in a conspiracy of their own.
A conspiracy to reach the heavens, and take down the corrupt and aging gods . . . who are already facing troubles of their own . . .
I've been reading Fantasy Fiction for a long, long time and it's a safe bet to say I know what I like. . . and I like Against All Gods a lot!
The story kicks off in Heaven with a pantheon of Gods (in fact the whole thing starts with a line from the chief God himself, asking the lesser gods "What the f*ck just happened" - Yeah, I knew early on this was a winner). There is a lot of manipulation, plotting, scheming, carousing etc between the Gods - and there are a lot of them. There seems to be a God of almost everything.
After the Gods we move to a bronze age era world where we meet a varied collection of characters from different parts of the continent who eventually come together to go up against the Gods.
The character bringing them all together is a boy named Daos who seems to be a cypher for, possibly, one of the Gods or maybe one of the Old God's (who were displaced by the present one after one almighty battle). Someone or something is telling him exactly where and when he needs to be to gather the 'gang' together. And he gets his messages through his teddy bear (which had a WTF just happened moment all to itself). And the gang are also joined on their adventures by a donkey who probably isn't all he seems (and is one of my favourite characters in the whole thing).
With sections flitting between Heaven and the world below the story never starts to become stale. There is humour, there is sadness and there is a whole lot more story to tell in coming volumes.
Where MC really excels though is in the battle scenes. These are brutal yet awesome. In time to come, when people have read the book I'll hopefully be able to elaborate on this but till then. . . Spoilers😉
So, in short, Great world building, great characters, Gods, Demons, artefacts, awesome battles - all the things that make me a very happy Wyrm indeed 7/5* (my blog, my rules😉)
Is it too early to say Book of the Year? Well we'll just have to wait and see about that but it's looking promising.
Thanks to Gollancz for providing me with a review copy of Against All Gods. All views and opinions are my own.
Sunday, 26 June 2022
So, here we are, Spider-Man's origin story from Amazing Fantasy #15. Yeah, I know, it's nothing we don't already know - Boffin schoolboy, bitten by radioactive spider, gets powers, "with great power comes great responsibility" etc, etc. We've seen the movies but there's something a little bit special about seeing it as it was originally drawn and written. This is from 1962 and people picking up AF#15 were meeting Spidey for the first time, and this is how they saw him. They weren't to know he'd still be slinging webs 60 years in the future.
After AF#15's introduction this volume gives us issues 1-10 of The Amazing Spider-Man with such villains as Doctor ish Octopus, Vulture, Electro, Sandman and the lesser known Terrible Tinkerer and The Living Brain. These are all stories I've never seen before and watching Peter Parker (or Peter Palmer as he's curiously called in Spider-Man Vs The Chameleon) come to terms with his powers and deciding on his future path has been an absolute treat. I'm certainly going to be looking for the other titles in the Mighty Marvel Masterworks series (Captain America, Fantastic Four, X-Men -but I think I'll give Daredevil a miss, wasn't a fan).
The 60's vibe is strong in this volume so the dialogue sometimes feels a bit off but hey, this was written 60 years ago - it's almost historical 😉. It'll be interesting to see how this develops in the decades that follow.
And speaking of which, next week sees Comic Book Monday come right up to the here and now with a look at Rivers of London: Bodywork, The Deluxe Writer's Edition and a chance to look at both how much comics have come on since Spidey first donned the Spandex and just how a graphic novel is constructed.
See you next week
Friday, 24 June 2022
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
About The Book
In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut.
Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters.
Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.
I've always enjoyed books with music at their heart. Somehow the music makes the story feel even more alive, almost a soundtrack to the written word before me. When you throw in the Deep South I'm hooked before I've even looked at the first page and that was certainly the case here. And, my instincts were right.
There is so much going on in Nola (an alternative New Orleans). The music is alive, graffiti floats through the air and the dead share the streets with the living. It's almost, at times, like a massive 60's technicolour trip. But trouble is coming to Nola, the city is losing it's beat and Perilous "Perry" Graves and co might not be enough to save it!
I'll be honest, there were times when I wasn't sure what the hell was going on. There were even times early on when I nearly gave up on it but something kept pulling me back in - and for that I'm grateful as it turned out to be a cracking read.
Alex Jennings has written something special here, I just feel I'm going to have to read it again to get the full benefit
Monday, 20 June 2022
Welcome friends to a new running theme at The Blogcave - Comic Book Mondays.
I've recently been sent some CBs for review thanks to Will at Titan Comics. Those titles will (Rivers of London, Phantom of the Opera, Yellow Submarine and Dr Who: Empire of the Wolf) will be reviewed in the weeks to come. But I thought I'd start by looking back on my history with comics and where my love of them started...
... it's the early to mid 1970's (wow, that's a long time back😲) and there's little me coming back from the shops with the latest Marvel offering (most likely Spider-Man) in my grubby little mitts. I remember my mum telling me she didn't like comics as they were a waste of money, mainly because of those one frame pages that just had one image of Spidey and the word SPLAT! in massive letters from corner to corner. But even though she wasn't a fan she never stopped me getting them and always encouraged reading . So I carried on...
The whole world of Marvel opened up to me but Spidey was still #1 and then I discovered the funnies Sparky, Whizzer and Chips, Krazy, Cheeky Weekly the list goes on, any new names came out and I was there to give them a try.
The big one though, the one that felt like something special was 2000AD. That was an eye opener. Grittier than Marvel could ever hope to be, fantasy and Sci-Fi all in one cover. I read that avidly, week in, week out for probably the best part of 20 years and then, finally I stopped. I still picked Comics up occasionally (especially if it was a new chapter of Batman Vs Dredd) but went more to written word books.
Since 1988/9 though I have been visiting Sheffield Space Centre, South Yorkshire's premier purveyor (in my opinion) of all things comic book so I've always kept up to date with the CB world (oh, yeah, and there's been some movies 😉).
Now, I was wondering about how to start this series until today when I visited the aforementioned shop and happened upon this beauty...
Yup, it's the origin story of Spider-Man and some further adventures of ol' Webhead. I've seen it in countless films but this, THIS! is where it really all began. Is there any better place to begin than where it all began for me.
Comic Books - they never leave ya
So, next week sees The Amazing Spider-Man reviewed - see you there 😉
Friday, 10 June 2022
About the book
IF YOU SEE HIS REFLECTION
IT'S ALREADY TOO LATE . . .
Five years ago, Jenny Lind was abducted on her way home from school.
Now her lifeless body is found hanging in a playground. But there is no evidence and only one witness - a man who cannot remember what he saw.
With Detective Joona Linna and the police scrambling to find a lead, another girl goes missing. And as they close in on the killer, they discover that the Mirror Man's crimes are more shocking than they ever could have imagined . . .
It's no surprise that I am a big fan of Nordic Noir and I happily put Lars Keppler up there as one of the top writers in the genre. The Mirror Man is the 8th in a series but works fine as a stand-alone novel so don't let that put you off.
The story starts with the kidnapping of a young girl (seen through her eyes) and it's a pretty brutal start.
Move forward 5 years and the girl is discovered hanging in a children's playground . . . and another girl goes missing
The only person who could be a witness is a man who lost his daughter in a tragic accident around the time and is so traumatised he can neither recall what happened or speak. He has even spent time on a psych ward. Is he witness or suspect?
Our 'hero' in this story is detective Joona Linna of the National Crime Unit, seen as a bit of a loose cannon. He is told to stay away from the case but is he going to listen? Let's be fair, we all know he won't - what would be the fun in that. Linne believes there could be a serial killer at large and, with the help of hypnotist Erik Maria Bark sets out to solve the case and hopefully prevent more child deaths.
This was a pretty brutal read but as always the excellent story telling makes the gruesomeness bearable enough that it kept me up a lot later than I should have been (and I missed my bus stop one day too!).
Highly recommended both as an individual novel and as a series 5/5*
Thanks as always to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blogtour. Please check out the posts by the other bloggers taking part (below)