Archive for October, 2016

The Unheimlich Manoeuvre by Tracy Fahey

October 26, 2016 - 8:51 pm No Comments

The Unheimlich Manoeuvre by Tracy Fahey

Published by Boo Books on 16th July 2016

139 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


What attracted me to this book was the title. Like everyone else I had heard of the Heimlich manoeuvre but not the unheimlich manoeuvre and thanks to an informative introduction by Cate Gardner, I now know that it is a German word meaning uncanny or weird and these 14 short stories were spot on with this definition.

The stories that stood out for me were:

Coming Back is a story about a girl coming out of a coma and the after effects of her recovery. With the help of a mysterious visitor, she makes some life changes. Reading this you wonder how many people had gone through what she did and the changes they made.

The Woman Next Door is a story about a new mom. Whilst I was reading this I was thinking back to when I had my children and the tiredness I felt trying to run a household and looking after a new baby, but the ending is every mom’s nightmare and was unexpected, a great twist.

Sealed is the story of a young girl with agoraphobia. I read this story thinking that she also had OCD, but as the story developed, my heart went out to her when I read the reason for her condition. I cheered at the end and I do hope that she did escape her surroundings.

Finding out that this was Tracy’s first published book was a surprise and I hope that I get to read more of her work. All the stories are full of tension and I got immersed in each story to the point that when I finished it left me thinking what would I do in that situation? Or What would I have done different? I enjoyed reading every story and I hope that Tracy will publish more of her short stories.

Thin Air by Michelle Paver

October 26, 2016 - 12:33 am No Comments

Thin Air

Michelle Paver
Publisher: Orion
Page Count: 240
Release date: 2016
Reviewed by Chris Amies

“Thin Air” tells the story of an expedition to climb Mount Kangchenjunga, the ‘Five Treasures of the Snows’, the most remote and inaccessible of the great Himalayan peaks. Stephen Pearce, medical officer on a British expedition up the mountain in 1935, finds himself at odds with his fellow climbers from the start, not least with his would-be heroic brother Kits, who drafted him in at the last moment as a replacement for an injured man. They are following the route of the Lyell expedition of 1907, and Pearce, reasonably in his opinion, goes to see a survivor of that climb, Charles Tennant. Their meeting does not go well and Pearce leaves with the sense that there is something deeply wrong with the expedition, and with the official story of what happened in 1907. Tennant’s diary notes that while five men died on Kangchenjunga, they only buried four. The Lyell expedition is fictional, but it is has similarities with the 1905 climb which is mentioned on several occasions (“The expedition led by that scoundrel [Aleister] Crowley in ’05”).

“Thin Air” is a novel in the style of the classic pre-war mountain adventure story, a genre soundly and brilliantly parodied in Bowman’s “The Ascent of Rum Doodle” (a reference to ‘glacier lassitude’ took me back to ‘Rum Doodle’ and its various forms of ‘lassitude’). “Thin Air” is also a ghost story with a slowly building unease and horror. Pearce has a growing sense that what Lyell wrote in his memoir “Bloody but Unbowed” (a quote from WE Henley there, possibly because Lyell, like Henley, lost a leg) is far from the whole truth. This unease, and Stephen’s growing feeling that he can no longer trust his own perceptions, meshes with the general hardship and slog of the climb, the ice, the freezing wind, avalanches, frost-nip and snow-blindness. This is a small expedition by the standards of the day and even they are accompanied by sixty porters or as they call them, coolies. The casual racism of the era is something that Pearce notes but his fellow climbers don’t see. The older brother is the old school gung-ho expedition leader who wants to ‘conquer’ the mountain – not a phrase in favour these days, because the mountain is always better than you, with inevitable results. Even now, one in five climbers who set out to summit Kangchenjunga die in the attempt.

“Thin Air” is a very effective ghost story. The feeling of cold and dread and nightmare stayed with me long afterwards.

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Two prequels to two zombie series: Changes: A Girl Z prequel by CA Verstraete and Dead and Alive: Outbreak by I J Smith

October 25, 2016 - 8:09 pm 1 Comment

Changes: A Girl Z prequel, A Zombie Story by CA Verstraete

Published 18th May 2015

45 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


This short story is about Spence, who after is given the perfect job working in a lab. Not long into the job he starts to have second thoughts when his work-colleagues start turning into moaning fleshing munching creatures. Like most boys in times of trouble, all he wants to do is get home to his mom.

Spence was a typical teenager without a care in the world until that fatal morning. Escaping the trouble really made him man up. Although a short story this book was full of action and throughout Spencer’s journey I was really willing him to make it home.

I have not read Girl Z, but this has just made me want to read it






Dead and Alive: Outbreak by I J Smith

Published 18th May 2016

23 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

51lv9w3drnl-_sy346_A prequel to the Dead and Alive series, this book tells the story of how it all began. From the moment, the population of Gosport turn you can feel the tension and know that is not going to go away. Introducing us the pompous military characters, you know that they are going to protect themselves no matter what. One character I did like was Raven, a nurse that was there at the start, a strong character who survived the initial outbreak. I have read the first two books and have not come across her again, however it looks like the author has written a short story about her.  This book is a great introduction to the Dead and Alive series. It explains quite a lot

The Shadow and the Sun by Monica Enderle Pierce

October 25, 2016 - 2:01 pm No Comments

The Shadow and the Sun by Monica Enderle Pierce

Published by Stalking Fiction on 22nd April 2016

263 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies


Halina is the bastard daughter of King Vernard, renowned for her conquest on and off the battlefield, her father thinks she is the one to get Gethen onside to defeat his enemy, the king of Besera.

Gethen is a Shadow Mage, a powerful necromancer and brother of the king of Besera. Living on land owned by King Vernard, places himself in a difficult position. Gethen has more serious problems as his powers are fading and an evil entity has escaped the Void. Gethen thinks this is the cause of the war and when Halina arrives at his door, tries to convince her to help him.

At the start of the book Halina’s character was very fiery, due to her background and she did not get close to anyone. She fought on the battle field like a woman possessed, and only taking men to bed for the pleasure not for the comfort. Her actions made me think that she was afraid to get hurt. Grethen and Halina’s relationship started off as a bit cat and mouse but they both thought they were the cat. They mistrusted each other and both thought the other had an ulterior motive. Throughout the book you could sense Grethen chipping away her exterior armour, and it was obvious that they had feelings for each other but did not know how to act on it.

The relationship aside, this story was exciting and full of action making it a quick read. The story flowed smoothly and whilst it had a lot of minor character it was not a confusing read, unlike a lot of medieval fantasy book. The scenes with magic added tension to the book and it was interesting to read the history behind Grethen’s magic.

I am hoping there are more books in this series. If you like your sword and sorcery or medieval fantasies than read this book

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

October 24, 2016 - 11:08 am No Comments

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

Publisher: Gollancz on 5th July 2016

Page Count: 301pp (*paperback ARC)

Reviewer: Theresa Derwin


Already slated to be a massive mid-apocalyptic hit, the likes of which we havent seen since World War Z, the rights to this book have already been sold to Lionsgate and Joel Silver (The Matrix, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon). Yes, that Joel Silver, high octane thriller dude extraordinare. So yes, I open the pages with excitement yet trepidation. What horrific delights will this tome contain? Will it meet my, honestly, high expectations. I mean, come on! What’s not to get excited about?

* Deep in the jungles of Peru, an American tourist party is devoured whole.

* Seismic irregularities in an Infian earthquake lab.

The Chines government accidentally drops a nuclear bomb on its own country (ooh, butter fingers!) Plagues, panic, death, plus an X-Files style mystery to get the little grey cells working. Yes, it’s all here! But, does it deliver?

Well, I have to confess I’m a sucker for these type of books, novels which span continents, bring in a multitude of diverse characters and catastrophes, and throw literal and figurative bombs into the works.

It starts outside Manu National Park, Peru. A group of five American tourists are annoying their local guide, as they moan and complain about the lack of animals on their sight-seeing mission, unawares it is they who are driving the wildlife away. Miguel, the guide, is unsettled by the quietness of the jungle which is unusual and for the first time in a long time, he is scared. Then the black river comes; the river that isn’t really water, a roiling mass of – something – that swallows a running man, whole. And hypnotised, Miguel watches the black fluid crawl nearer and nearer, but does not move, even as it reaches him, intent on destruction.

Agent Mike Rich is a cop with a failed marriage always late picking up his daughter.

Professor Melanie Guyer is an Entymologist, also with a failed marriage, working out of American University, Washington. A theory that Melanie spouts to her team one drunken eve, which leads to Peru, will link them all in an astounding discovery and journey.

In China, at about the same time, people are dying in the mines. Not unexpected, but all communication with the outside world has also been cut off. Then the soldiers come, followed by the coiled wire. And the USA Precidency is concerned.

Then, of course, it’s back to Peru. Back to Peru and … Spiders.

The overall vibe, the switch from locations and multi-cultural characters, the alien-type threat and disease makes it feel like a hybrid between a Roland Emerich film and a Preston/Child, Scott Sigler or Scott Smith (The Ruins) thriller. And damn, but the spiders are scary, even for an arachnophobe like me. Boone is liberal with the visceral gore, the bloody deaths and heebie-jeebie inducing scenes.  But amidst the oozy parts is a wonderful macabre sense of humour.

Each short chapter deals with an incident or character or particular time stretch, swiftly handing over to another character or incident, just as things are about to get hairy, effectively keeping the reader on tenterhooks. And this structure has its advantages, allowing the reader to reaclimatise with whatever global setting they are now entering. It’s also great for keeping the reader hooked on the growing story whilst escalating the tension. By the halfway mark, the various cliques are all set up, ready for the proverbial to hit the fan. Who will live, who will die? I actually love playing ‘pick the victim’ and here there’s plenty of fodder!

As the action progresses the tension rises. And the finale, or climax, doesn’t end the overall story, but leaves you wondering what the hell is going to happen next.

I cannot wait for the second book, to see who will survive and find out what’s in store for the unwitting public.

This is a brilliant book; put simply, a mind blowing disaster movie in literary form.