Sunday, 8 May 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 08/05/11

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.

This week's been a relatively quiet one - I mean, in terms of books received. Obviously not otherwise. To which I say: at long last, an opportunity - long sought-after - to make a dent in the tower TBR! :D

Or will I spend the whole week comic reading one of the books below? Because damn it all, there is the temptation. Read on to hear what one I mean...


Department 19
by Will Hill

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 31/03/11
by HarperCollins Children's

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: In a secret supernatural battle that's been raging for over a century, the stakes have just been raised – and they're not wooden any more.

When Jamie Carpenter's mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government's most secret agency.

Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can't stand up against...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Real boy's own paranormal action, from the sounds of it: bangs and booms, secret wars, mums in distress - and hey, I'm all for a bit of fun! I know Amanda enjoyed Department 19... it does have a rather awesome cover... and it is feeling more and more like Summer with every passing day, so. Spooks the book with a supernatural spin here I come?

Maybe I will, at that.

Swan Song
by Robert McCammon

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 10/11/09
by Gallery

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth’s last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artefact in the destroyed Manhattan streets... Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station... and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan’s gifts. But the ancient force behind earth’s devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself...

A Scotsman's Thoughts: At just shy of 900 pages, Swan Song is a monster of a novel. Something of a contemporary speculative classic at that, as I understand it. Well, good. Very good indeed. I've had this odd hunger for sprawling post-apocalypses in me since reading and rather adoring The Passage last year, and with the sequel to Cronin's beastly brilliant book still a year out at least, Swan Song could be just the ticket to sate me in the interim. It was either this or a reread of The Stand. And I very rarely reread, so; that old chestnut can wait another couple of years.

Did I make the right call, do you think?

The Scar-Crow Men
by Mark Chadbourn

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 18/01/11
by Bantam Press

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: 1593. Queen Elizabeth’s trusted spymaster Walsingham has been dead for two years...

As plague sweeps through the streets and stews of London, so suspicion and mistrust sweep through the court and government. No one feels safe. Even the celebrated swordsman, adventurer and philanderer, Will Swyfte, must watch his back.

It is when his best friend and colleague, the playwright Christopher Marlowe, is killed in a pub brawl that Will decides he must act. The murder has all the hallmarks of an assassination. But in going in search of Kit's killer, he discovers that there are those in positions of power and influence who are not what they seem.

Against a backcloth of growing paranoia and terror, Will detects the malign machinations of England’s hidden enemy, the Unseelie Court. Now friendless and with these devils at his back, the country’s greatest spy may find that even his vaunted skills are no match for the supernatural powers arrayed against him. The choice is simple: uncover the true nature and intention of this vile conspiracy – or face the executioner’s axe.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: I recall being very keen to get a start on The Sword of Albion when the first book in this series arrived for potential inspection, but I heard such mixed things about it at the time, my ambition to catch up on an author I'd been moderately impressed by before - namely when I read The Fairy-Feller's Master Stroke, many years ago - took a hit.

And here we are, a year later, and I have a copy of The Scar-Crow Men, too. So what should I do? Should I give this series a shot? I'll say I'm inclined to, again: having just come off On Stranger Tides and all there is of The Chathrand Voyage as yet, I'd be happy to get back to the derring-do of the high seas, and I understand there's a bit of that in The Sword of Albion. Your thoughts?

The Deserter
by Peadar O'Guilin

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 05/05/11
by David Fickling Books

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: The humans are weak and vulnerable. Soon the beasts that share their stone-age world will kill and eat them. To save his tribe, Stopmouth must make his way to the Roof, the mysterious hi-tech world above the surface. But the Roof has its own problems. The nano technology that controls everything from the environment to the human body is collapsing. A virus has already destroyed the Upstairs, sending millions of refugees to seek shelter below. And now a rebellion against the Commission, organized by the fanatical Religious, is about to break. Hunted by the Commission's Elite Agents through the overcrowded, decaying city of the future, Stopmouth must succeed in a hunt of his own: to find the secret power hidden in the Roof's computerized brain, and return to his people before it is too late.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Because the world needs yet another young adult dystopia?

Actually, let me cut the crap right there. I'm actually pretty excited to dig into The Deserter - though it's actually book two of The Bone World trilogy, after The Inferior, which I see from the user reviews Adam White-of-Head really rather enjoyed, way back when. He called it "vivid Darwinian sci-fi" and that's pretty much all it takes to pique my interest, for Wert and I seem to have very similar tastes.

Lucky then that I also have a copy of The Inferior to get me started - just reissued in paperback, as it happens. So here goes nothing! :)

The Falling Machine
by Andrew P. Meyer

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 24/05/11
by Pyr

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: In 1880 women aren't allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime...

But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York’s greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. When Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her clockwork friend.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: You know, in truth, I think I've yet to really fall for a single, solitary steampunk novel. However much I enjoy the idea of the genre, so often its execution leaves me feeling rather... refrigerated. Just of late Boneshaker and The Bookman have each underwhelmed me, and I'm wondering now if perhaps steampunk simply isn't for me.

Could it be? For I've always considered myself something of an equal opportunities reader. Perhaps I'm just not reading the right steampunk, in which case, would someone please tell me where I've been going wrong?

Failing that, I'm going to give steampunk Camera Obscura and The Society of Steam to convince me that it's not just a neat aesthetic, and if neither novel wins me over, I might just have to call time on the whole thing.


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!

Ye gods, it's all I can do not to reach for Swan Song right this second. On the other hand, I have been planning to dig into the next Carrie Ryan novel after finishing The Forest of Hands and Teeth last week, so decisions, decisions...

In the meantime, what have you lot been reading?


  1. I Wanna read them all :)

  2. Ugh, I can't remember if I first read Swan Song when it came out or if it was a couple of years later, but I adored it. I've read it a couple more times since, and I've got it handy on my ereader just in case the urge strikes me. It's my favorite of the apocalyptic novels. I have to say, I like this cover better than the original US cover.

  3. Swords of Albion is awesome. James Bond/Nathan Drake in Elizabethan England with awesome villain/baddies

  4. Ooh, Nathan Drake? You might just have said the magic words there, Allan. :)

  5. Having read the Stand and the Passage as well (enjoying both immensely) I can safely say that Swan Song is my favourite of the three by some way. I loved it, but then again I've loved the other 5 McCammon books I've read. Can't wait to see what you think about it.

  6. If the author asked you to give "The Falling Machine" a try, would that make a difference?

    But seriously, I've tried to write the steampunk novel that I always wanted to read, and that expresses what I find most exciting about the genre.

    I'd definitely be interested in hearing what you think either way.

  7. Have you read Stephen Hunt's steampink, "The Court of the Air", The Kingdom Beneath the Waves", and "Rise of the Iron Moon"?

    I hate steampunk until I read them.