Sunday, 1 May 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 01/05/11

Met the old BoSS? Well, let me introduce you to the new BoSS - same as the old BoSS, more or less... except less is more. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.

So are we all caught up from the mad double-ender last weekend?

Well, no. Not so bloody much, in so many words; it was another crazy busy week, the week that was was, and here I am still plugging away at the highlights of The BoSS a month ago or more. God, I hate to say it, even to think it, but I'm seriously thinking about a clean sweep of the TBR tower.

Have you ever found yourself considering such sacrilege?


The Mall
by S. L. Grey

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/06/11
by Corvus

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: Dan works at a bookstore in a deadly dull shopping mall where nothing ever happens. He's an angsty emo-kid who sells mid-list books to mid-list people for the minimum wage. He hates his job. Rhoda has dragged her babysitting charge to the mall so she can meet her dealer and score some coke. Now the kid's run off, and she has two hours to find him. She hates her life. Rhoda bullies Dan into helping her search, but as they explore the neon-lit corridors behind the mall, disturbing text messages lure them into the bowels of the building, where old mannequins are stored in grave-like piles and raw sewage drips off the ceiling. The only escape is down, and before long Dan and Rhoda are trapped in a service lift listening to head-splitting musak. Worst of all, the lift's not stopping at the bottom floor.

Plummeting into the earth, Dan and Rhoda enter a sinister underworld that mirrors their worst fears. Forced to complete a series of twisted tasks to find their way out, they finally emerge into the brightly lit food court, sick with relief at the banal sight of people shopping and eating. But something feels different. Why are the shoppers all pumped full of silicone? Why are the shop assistants chained to their counters? And why is a cafe called McColon's selling lumps of bleeding meat? Just when they think they've made it back to the mall, they realise their nightmare has only just begun...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: So The Mall had hardly come through the door before my other half had made away with it, the wicked wee beastie that she is. What can I say? I guess a good cover goes a long way. Though she was looking for something fun to read, firstly, and The Mall certainly sounds that.

Needless to say, I'm very intrigued. Katie had nothing but good things to say about this S. L. Grey, and we've already established I have a particular interest in fiction from or revolving around South Africa, not least thanks to Lauren Beukes' superb Zoo City, so. Next time there's a nice afternoon or two on the cards, The Mall is coming with me.

Shadow's Lure
by John Sprunk

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 21/06/11
by Pyr

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain - an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Now Shadow's Son didn't immediately capture my interest when my review copy arrived last year, but I do like to keep abreast of new fantasy novelists, especially these days, and certainly I meant to read through Jon Sprunk's debut. Alas, somehow it just got lost in the mad rush to keep current.

So I turn to you. It's been a year or thereabouts since Shadow's Sun, and now this sequel, Shadow's Lure, is officially on the horizon. I've got nothing against traditional swords and sorcery, so long as it's accomplished. To those those of you who've read Jon Sprunk, then: is it? I want to know.

The Watchers
by Jon Steele

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 09/06/11
by Bantam Press

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Lausanne, Switzerland.

In the cathedral tower lives a strange boy with a limp who talks to the bells. In a luxury penthouse lives a high-class prostitute who's in mortal danger. And in a low-rent hotel lives a private investigator who has no idea how he got there.

Jay Harper finds himself in Switzerland on the trail of a missing Olympic athlete. A hard drinker, he can barely remember how he got home last night, let alone why he accepted this job. When he meets the stunning but aloof Katherine in a hotel bar, he quickly realises that he's not the only one in town who's for hire. She's a high-class hooker who can't believe her luck. Which is about to change. For the worse.

In the meantime, Marc Rochat spends his time in the belfry talking to the statues, his cat and the occasional ghost. His job is to watch over Lausanne at night and to wait for the angel his mother told him he'd one day have to save. When he sees Katherine, he thinks his moment has come. Which indeed it has. But not in a good way...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: "Imagine The Bourne Identity as written by Neil Gaiman," asks the sales pitch for The Watchers - another of the many candidates vying to be the next Next Big Thing. And if Jon Steele's novel were anything like that, you can be damn sure I'd be all over it. The first chapter, however, does not fill me with hope that there's anything more to the hyperbole than just that. Whether or not I go back for a second helping I fear remains to be seen.

Prince of Thorns
by Mark Lawrence

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 02/08/11
by HarperCollins Voyager

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: The early bird's word on Prince of Thorns has been mostly positive, so I'm keen to read this one. I read somewhere that this was basically a writing exercise for Mark Lawrence: that he was trying to see just how unlikeable he could make a protagonist and still have the reader cheering him on.

And that's the kind of idea I can get behind, actually. Anti-heroes have gotten so easy as to seem a sort of norm in recent years. By all means, give me an utter asshole and work at making me give a damn. Thus, this... should be interesting.

The Dark and Hollow Places
by Carrie Ryan

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 07/04/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters. 

Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.

Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Continuing Carrie Ryan's run of superbly evocative titles, none of which I'd read before my review copy of The Dark and Hollow Places arrived, this third and I think final volume has gone from meh to GIVE IT TO ME NOW! in the space of the short time since it arrived. I was finally moved to start in on The Forest of Hands and Teeth, you see, and from what I've read, I've found it much to my liking.

Finally, a dystopian YA trilogy to rival The Hunger Games - perhaps even to succeed it! Could it be?

I tell you, it very well could. If The Forest of Hands and Teeth and its sequels aren't on your agenda, already I'd heartily advise you take a good hard look at your reading priorities with these exquisitely composed books in mind.


That's it for this week. But never fear: the nearly-new and probably only moderately improved BoSS will be back at the same bat-time next week, in the same bat-place. See you then!

It's back to The Forest of Hands and Teeth for me, tonight. Whether I plunge right into the next novel in the series when I'm done or start in on Prince of Thorns, well, we'll see soon enough.

In the meantime, what will you be reading this week? And which among the books discussed above would you like to see reviews of sooner rather than later?


  1. I really liked Shadow's Son and most seemed to think it was average. Accomplished might be a good description though.

  2. Accomplished is all I would ask. Appreciate the recommendation, Bryce. I think I might yet give Shadow's Son a go...

  3. Hi Naill - good to see you're pretty bloody likely to review 'Prince of Thorns' :)

    I should mention with regard to the Vital Statistics that the publisher is HarperCollins Voyager and it's out 2/8/2011 in the UK and 8/4/2011 in the US (i.e. August in both cases).

    I'm only aware of 4 reviews so far:

    and some feedback on goodreads. Let me know if you've spotted something else!


  4. Will do, Mark - though I expect Google Alerts would be better put than I to help you keep track of reviews and the like. :)

    And I hope you'll be pleased to hear pretty bloody likely is officially an understatement, as of now. I've read Price of Thorns and readied a review, to go up on TSS (or indeed elsewhere) at just the right moment. Stay tuned...

    Also: corrected that error. My bad entirely, Mark!

  5. Interesting that you should mention 'Price of Thorns' :) since that price could be zero. As of yesterday the first 3,000 people to pre-order GRRM's 'A Dance With Dragons' instore at Waterstones get a free paperback copy of 'Prince of Thorns' immediately (dunno if they hand it over the counter or send it out the next day).