Sunday, 17 July 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 17/07/11

Oh no! Not more books received!
I'm sorry to say that's exactly what I have on the cards for you all today. See?


Mr Fox
by Helen Oyeyemi

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 03/07/11
by Picador

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: It’s an ordinary afternoon in 1938 for the celebrated American novelist St John Fox, hard at work in the study of his suburban home – until his long-absent muse wanders in. Mary Foxe (beautiful, British and 100% imaginary) is in a playfully combative mood. "You’re a villain," she tells him. "A serial killer... can you grasp that?"

Mr Fox has a predilection for murdering his heroines. Mary is determined to change his ways. And so she challenges him to join her in stories of their own devising, and the result is an exploration of love like no other.

It isn’t long before Mrs Daphne Fox becomes suspicious, and St John is offered a choice: a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit. Can there be a happy ending this time? 

Mr Fox is a magical book, as witty as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.

My Thoughts: Truth be told, my feelings as regards Helen Oyeyemi's last novel, White is for Witching - the full review of which you'll find here - were mixed. I didn't hate it, but nor did I have much love for it; I recall being at once blown away by the author's mastery of the art of storytelling and at the same time feeling underwhelmed by her presentation of the craft.

That said, Mr Fox sounds a much cheerier, lighter affair than Oyeyemi's oppressive last, so I'd be a fool to discount it on those same grounds. It could very well be wonderful. Here's hoping.

Ghost Story
by Jim Butcher

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 28/07/11
by Orbit

Review Priority
2 (It Could Happen)

The Blurb: Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago's first (and only) Wizard PI. Turns out the 'everyday' world is full of strange and magical things - and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. But he's forgotten his own golden rule: magic - it can get a guy killed. Which didn't help when he clashed with unknown assailants with his murder in mind. And though Harry's continued existence is now in some doubt, this doesn't mean he can rest in peace.
Trapped in a realm that's not quite here, yet not quite anywhere else, Harry learns that three of his loved ones are in danger. Only by discovering his assailant's identity can he save his friends, bring criminal elements to justice, and move on himself. It would just be easier if he knew who was at risk. And had a (working) crystal ball. And access to magic. Instead, he is unable to interact with the physical world - invisible to all but a select magical few. He's also not the only silent presence roaming Chicago's alleys. Hell, he put some there himself. Now, they're looking for payback...

My Thoughts: A little while back I asked Twitter if I should give a hoot about The Dresden Files. You see, as it stands, I don't. I watched the Sci-Fi Channel adaptation a few years ago, and came away from it feeling like I'd swallowed just about as much Harry Dresden as I could stand to. But the overwhelming opinion of my followers on Twitter said I was sorely mistaken in my perception of the books; that the first few might be a bit rough, but I'd probably enjoy them once I got a couple of novels in.

So, with Ghost Story arriving in the mailbag this week, let me ask you guys the same question. Is this a series I really should be reading?

Fugue For A Darkening Island
by Christopher Priest

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

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: The whole of Africa is in turmoil, refugees from the continent are fleeing to anywhere they can force a landing. In their millions.

In England the trickle of refugees looking for a home, for safety, becomes a flood. Soon the South of England is overrun. Towns succumb to mob rule, pitches battles are fought over houses. The refugees gather together a government, an army, and soon the Afrims are in negotiations with the British Government. Compromise is reached, promises are made. And broken.

And through these chaotic days, as extremists vie for control, as violence flares and society collapses, one man tells his story. Alan Whitman has lost his job, his home, his family - everything. He is a desperate man, in desperate times.

My Thoughts: Oh, goodie! It's been ages since I read some Christopher Priest, and this revised reissue of his second novel, originally published in the early 70s, should be just the thing to whet my appetite for The Islanders.

The Islanders, in case you hadn't heard, is Priest's first new book in nearly a decade, and among my most anticipated releases of what's left of 2011. Hand to God I can hardly wait for it, so Fugue For A Darkening Island could be the perfect way to tide me over till September.

The Emperor's Gold
by Robert Wilton

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

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: July 1805: Napoleon's army masses across the Channel - Britain is within hours of invasion and defeat. Only one thing stands in the way - an obscure government bureau of murky origins and shadowy purpose: The Comptrollerate General for Scrutiny and Survey. Behind the clash of fleets and armies, there lies a secret world of intrigue, deception, treachery and violence. Which is precisely why the Comptrollerate exists...
Into this feverish environment comes a dead man. Pulled half-drowned from a shipwreck, his past erased, Tom Roscarrock is put to work for the Comptrollerate and thrown head-first into a bewildering world of political intrigue and violence. In France, a plan is underway to shatter the last of England's stability. In England, the man who recruited Roscarrock has disappeared, his agents keep turning up dead, and reports of a secret French fleet are panicking the authorities. His life in danger and his motives increasingly suspect, Roscarrock must pursue the complex conspiracy across England and then into the heart of Napoleon's France, there to confront the greatest mystery of all...
My Thoughts: I'm a bit behind the curve on this one, but The Emperor's Gold sounds so up my street I'm amazed I overlooked it for so long. Fingers crossed it'll fill the hole On Stranger Tides - the original Tim Powers novel rather than the Pirates of the Caribbean "adaptation" - left in its rip-roaring, swashbuckling wake.

Every Dead Thing
by John Connolly

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 21/01/99
by Hodder

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: Tormented and racked with guilt over the brutal slaying of his wife and daughter, Charlie "Bird" Parker, ex-cop with the NYPD, agrees to track down a missing girl. At the same time, he is warned by an old black woman in Louisiana that "The Travelling Man" is about to strike again.

My Thoughts: Some among you might remembering that I posed a similar question to that I'm asking about The Dresden Files this week back when The Whisperers - which is to say the latest novel starring bereaved supernatural PI Charlie Parker - arrived for review late last year. The consensus was a resounding hell yes, you should be reading this series!

And so I shall. It might have taken me some time, but this week I finally managed to lay hands on a copy of Every Dead Thing, where the whole thing begins, and I'll tell you this for free: by the dead am I glad to have done so! As of the time of this writing I've only read the first hundred pages or so, but cover me in sugar and call me sweet, this book is good.

Lo, the readalong was begun. :)


Two editions of The BoSS in two days = a whole hell of a lot of reading, including a good few books I'm really looking forward to... so you'll forgive me if I don't burble for too much longer today.

As ever, if there's anything amongst this lot - and the last; let's not forget yesterday's assortment - if there's anything I've talked up in either post that you'd like to see reviewed sooner rather than later, please feel free to poke me in the eye by way of the comments.

Otherwise, The BoSS'll be back next Sunday, same time, same place... where it belongs!


  1. *claps hands with glee* So glad you're enjoying John Connolly so far. He can be a bit rambley at times, but his writing is so lush that I keep coming on back for more Charlie Parker (and Louis and Angel) Eagerly awaiting the latest one, me.

  2. I read the first Dresden book a couple years ago and liked it well enough, but I couldn't make it through the second. It felt like I was rereading the first.

    Still, it is a popular series and I seem to keep falling into the minority when it comes to these things.

  3. I know I'm in the minority, but I can't see myself ever continuing the Dresden series. I read the first two, both of which were fun, uncomplicated books that were badly, BADLY damaged by character stupidity. I've heard numerous times that it gets better, but, from what I've read, it's fluff, and far from the best - and certainly most intelligent - fluff out there.

  4. The Fantasizer18 July 2011 at 15:58

    The Dresden novels are really pretty damn good! But don't read them all in one go, read a couple, read something else then continue. This way you'll enjoy them far more.

  5. Does anybody else really love the cover for emperor's gold? I think it is visually striking and would grab my attention in the store!

  6. Agree with the Twitterers. You should definitely read both the Dresden files and the Charlie Parker series. =)

    Very different series, but both continue to get better and better with every book, imho.

  7. Absolutely read The Dresden Files. The first two are a bit rough, but the rest are fantastic.