Friday, January 21, 2022

The Friday Face-Off: Pre-1975 Sci-Fi

 Friday Face Off New

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.  You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
Pre-1975 Sci-Fi

There were a lot of great options to choose from for this week's theme, but I've opted to settle for a favorite classic (that I desperately need to re-read!), The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells! Maybe not the most unique choice, but I do always enjoy this story. This book was first published in 1896, so definitely pre-1975! There are so many editions of this book in English alone, so I tried to focus more on international and non-English variants because I think it's just a bit more fun to see what other countries have done with the cover. 

The Island of Doctor MoreauDoktor Moreau'nun Adasıجزيرة الدكتور مورو
2005 US Paperback | 2016 Turkish | 2000 Arabic

The Island of Doctor MoreauA Ilha do Dr. MoreauWyspa Doktora Moreau
2012 US Paperback | 2012 Portuguese | 1988 Polish

Dr. Moreau'nun AdasıL'isola del dottor MoreauОстров доктора Моро
2001 Turkish | 2003 Italian | 2009 Russian

A Ilha do Doutor MoreauWyspa doktora MoreauTohtori Moreaun saari
1989 Portuguese | 2020 Polish | 1986 Finnish

আতংকের দ্বীপHet eiland van dr. MoreauLa isla del doctor Moreau
1979 Bengali | 1980 Dutch | 1979 Spanish

My choice(s):
There's something about the art of the 2005 US paperback that really grabs me, and I love the simple horror element of the 2012 Portuguese edition with just a great big set of teeth (although I feel like they shouldn't look so nice and clean, haha!). That 2009 Russian edition also feels pretty wild! These are all really fun and creative covers, it was hard not to include more.


What cover(s) do you like the most?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham, Daughters of a Dead Empire by Carolyn Tara O'Neil, & A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox

Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.
 
This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 
Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham
Publication: February 15th, 2022
Orbit
Hardcover. 448 pages.

Pre-order:
Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"From New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author Daniel Abraham, co-author of The Expanse, comes a monumental epic fantasy trilogy that unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year, where every story matters, and the fate of the city is woven from them all. 
“An atmospheric and fascinating tapestry, woven with skill and patience.” –Joe Abercrombie, New York Times bestselling author of A Little Hatred 
Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold. 
This is Alys's. 
When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why.  But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives. Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything."
So I've actually read an ARC of this since making this Can't-Wait Wednesday list, but I wanted to include it anyway because I always enjoy a final copy release and I think a lot of people will love it! I can't say I ended up loving this one, but I do still look forward to seeing it out in the wild! And have you seen that awesome cover??

and...

Daughters of a Dead Empire by Carolyn Tara O'Neil
Publication: February 22nd, 2022
Roaring Brook Press
Hardcover. 448 pages.

Pre-order: 
Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"From debut author Carolyn Tara O'Neil comes a thrilling alternate history set during the Russian Revolution. 
Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war—the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible—not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna's offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war. 
Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now—regardless of her loyalties—Evgenia is too. 
Daughters of a Dead Empire is a harrowing historical thriller about dangerous ideals, loyalty, and the price we pay for change. An imaginative retelling of the Anastasia story."
I'm always curious about a new alternate history, and one set during the Russian Revolution and with an Anastasia retelling component?? I'm in, can't wait to check this one out!

and...

A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox
Publication: February 1st, 2022
Graydon House
Paperback. 320 pages.

Pre-order: 
Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"Once there was a young woman from a well-to-do New England family who never quite fit with the drawing rooms and parlors of her kin. 
Called instead to the tangled woods and wild cliffs surrounding her family’s estate, Margaret Harlowe grew both stranger and more beautiful as she cultivated her uncanny power. Soon, whispers of “witch” dogged her footsteps, and Margaret’s power began to wind itself with the tendrils of something darker. 
One hundred and fifty years later, Augusta Podos takes a dream job at Harlowe House, the historic home of a wealthy New England family that has been turned into a small museum in Tynemouth, Massachusetts. When Augusta stumbles across an oblique reference to a daughter of the Harlowes who has nearly been expunged from the historical record, the mystery is too intriguing to ignore. 
But as she digs deeper, something sinister unfurls from its sleep, a dark power that binds one woman to the other across lines of blood and time. If Augusta can’t resist its allure, everything she knows and loves—including her very life—could be lost forever."
I'm excited to see a new Hester Fox book (even though I need to majorly catch up on some of her other releases!) and this sounds like it could be a great witchy story. 

What do you think about these upcoming releases? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Review: Shapeshifting by Michelle Ross

Shapeshifting by Michelle Ross
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 25th, 2022
Hardcover. 240 pages.

About Shapeshifting:

"The fourteen spellbinding stories in Michelle Ross’s second collection invite readers into the shadows of social-media perfectionism and the relentless cult of motherhood. A recovering alcoholic navigates the social landscape of a toddler playdate; a mother of two camps out in a van to secure her son’s spot at a prestigious kindergarten; a young girl forces her friends to play an elaborate, unwinnable game. With unflinching honesty and vivid, lyrical prose, Ross explores the familial ties that bind us together—or, sometimes, tear us apart."

Shapeshifting is a collection of short stories centered around the theme of motherhood, ranging from dry humor to dystopian in nature, but maintaining an overarching layer of authenticity and realism that kept everything grounded. 

I really appreciated how well Ross was able to convey the various traumas and feelings that surround being a mother, becoming a mother, and the ways in which the world around us perceives mothers and motherhood, from all different angles and world views. This collection is at times frightening, hilarious, sobering, tragic, and enlightening, and I found it exceptionally difficult to put down at many different points while reading it. 

There are alway a few stories in any collection of stories that particularly stand out to me, and in Shapeshifting some of these stories were "What Doesn't Kill You," "That Natural Order of Things,"  and "The Pregnancy Game" (though rest assured all of the other stories are just as great!). "What Doesn't Kill You" follows Annabelle, a grandmother who tells of her experiences and relationship with her granddaughter and daughter-in-law while maintaining a very particular yet somewhat morbid obsession that really sets the overall tone for the entire story in the best way possible. I liked the subtle nuances that Ross included in her telling of this story–and in fact it is this nuanced subtlety that is present throughout many of these stories that make them so compelling. In the same way, "The Natural Order of Things" explores meditations on the meanings around age and the certainties of life that plague us through one mother's plane trip next to an overly talkative neighbor.

I myself am not a mother, so can't speak to shared personal experiences, but it very much fits many of the sentiments I've heard from women and their stories, as well as some of my own anxieties around motherhood. I think Shapeshifting is a great feminist insight into the depths of motherhood and all that is encompassed with the expectations and pressures of the society that surrounds us. Overall, I've given this collection four stars!

*I received a copy of Shapeshifters in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org


Monday, January 17, 2022

Review: Road of Bones by Christopher Golden

Road of Bones by Christopher Golden
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 25th, 2022
Hardcover. 240 pages.

About Road of Bones:

"Kolyma Highway, otherwise known as the Road of Bones, is a 1200 mile stretch of Siberian road where winter temperatures can drop as low as sixty degrees below zero. Under Stalin, at least eighty Soviet gulags were built along the route to supply the USSR with a readily available workforce, and over time hundreds of thousands of prisoners died in the midst of their labors. Their bodies were buried where they fell, plowed under the permafrost, underneath the road. 

Felix Teigland, or "Teig," is a documentary producer, and when he learns about the Road of Bones, he realizes he's stumbled upon untapped potential. Accompanied by his camera operator, Teig hires a local Yakut guide to take them to Oymyakon, the coldest settlement on Earth. Teig is fascinated by the culture along the Road of Bones, and encounters strange characters on the way to the Oymyakon, but when the team arrives, they find the village mysteriously abandoned apart from a mysterious 9-year-old girl. Then, chaos ensues. 

A malignant, animistic shaman and the forest spirits he commands pursues them as they flee the abandoned town and barrel across miles of deserted permafrost. As the chase continues along this road paved with the suffering of angry ghosts, what form will the echoes of their anguish take? Teig and the others will have to find the answers if they want to survive the Road of Bones."

Road of Bones is a chilling thriller set in the freezing clutch of Serbia where two men embark upon a journey that was far more than they bargained for. This book was surprisingly so much spookier than I anticipated and I loved how haunting and unbelievably eerie this story was. 

Road of Bones follows documentary producer Tieg as he embarks on his latest idea for a documentary: Kolyma Highway, a desolate road in Siberia where Soviet gulags were stationed and where many prisoners were buried under the road itself. Tieg is an ambitious man who is constantly working through ideas and trying new things, which also ends up meaning that he's not the most reliable person and often leaves people wanting money from him–which is how his friend, Prentiss, ends up agreeing to go with him on this crazy journey. 

On their journey along the Road of Bones, Tig and Prentiss first stop to pick up a local guide, Baskil, to help them learn about their surroundings and know where to go. They stop at a few small local towns for food, gas, and rest, and it is while stopping in one particular town that things take a slow turn for the worse... and then things get very bad very quickly. The creepiness factor of this book was so high and I really felt that hair-raising "what's out there??" feeling that any good scary story will prompt. I was impressed by how well Golden managed to have such an incredible slow build of tension and fear that was present both in his careful telling of each character's movement and reactions and in his excellently crafted narrative prose. I won't go into too much actual detail about what exactly was so scary because I think the power of the unknown is very strong in this book. 

I think part of me wanted a bit more in the way of the documentary angle. For instance, I knew what Tieg wanted to explore and that part of his visiting the Road of Bones was to find the actual story, but at the same time I feel like we got this really neat setting and historical background of the Kolyma Highway, but that's where it ended and sort of made it feel more like a prop than an actual key part of the plot. And as is expected in any horror/thriller, characters make decisions int his book that I found very stupid and that quite obviously doomed them (in my opinion), but I won't hold that against this book too much. I get a little frustrated by the character device of having a character stuck on something front heir past that heavily influences their decisions now in ways that feel a bit overmuch, so I didn't love that aspect of this book, either, but it didn't really take too much away from my reading experience overall and I still had a great time with this book.

The supernatural elements were woven perfectly into this story via the folkloric and myth-like elements of the region that added much-needed depth and context to the setting. For example, one of the characters mentions the parnee, a potentially malevolent forest spirit that incites a great amount of fear in people living in the region. I really loved these elements and seeing how they worked into the story, and I only wish we had gotten just a bit more explanation around them or context for some of it, as those elements were all used well, but could have had a bit more connection added to the overarching plot and documentary angle. 

Overall, I may have had a few complaints, but this book kept me hooked and was a strong, well-written horror/thriller novel and I've given it four stars. If you're looking for a fast, captivating horror with some spooky, edge-of-your-seat moments, then definitely give Road of Bones a read!

*I received a copy of Road of Bones courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org


Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Friday Face-Off: White

 Friday Face Off New

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.  You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.

This week's topic is:
White

My first thought upon seeing this topic was to go for My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, but then I realized it really only has one cover variant right now, so I decided that The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina would make a great pick for this as well, and it has quite a few great cover options to look at. Let's have a look. :)

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the WorldThe Phone Box at the Edge of the WorldQuel che affidiamo al vento
2021 US | 2020 UK | 2020 Italian

Dingen die we toevertrouwen aan de windCe încredințăm vântuluiTai, ką patikime vėjui
2020 Dutch | 2021 Romanian | 2020 Lithuanian

Telefon v vetruСподелено с вятъраWiatrom powierzone
2020 Slovenian | 2020 Bulgarian | 2021 Polish

Linjen ved verdens kant風之電話亭Sve što vetar nosi
2021 Danish | 2021 Chinese | 2021 Serbian

My choice(s):
風之電話亭
I love a lot of these, but something about this Chinese edition just really seems to capture the feel of this book for me, and I think the US edition does it really well also. I also really love the Bulgarian and Polish editions!



What cover(s) do you like the most?


Thursday, January 13, 2022

Best Books of 2021 Pt. II: 2021 Releases! (and two backlist titles I forgot!)


Today I'm excited to share with you all the second and final part of my favorites books of 2021 list! I have split this list up into 2021 debuts and 2021 releases from authors who are not debut authors (and apologies if any of the debut authors are not actually debut.. I tried my best to research and this is what I came back with). I'm also apparently a huge mess this year and thought two backlist books were actually 2021 releases so forgot to include them in my part one post... so you can find those at the bottom of this post! As with the previous post, these are listed in no particular order. I read some really fantastic books this year and also had a lot of fun putting this list together. Let me know if you've read any of these books and what you thought of them, as well as what some of your favorite 2021 releases were!

If you'd like to see part one of my favorite books, which includes backlist titles and two 2022 releases, you can check it out here. 

As mentioned before, my annual yearly stats post with all the fun stats about my reading (# of books, genres, sources, etc.) will be up in late January, so stay tuned!

2021 Debut Novels:
(in no particular order)

The Witch's HeartWinter Counts

SistersongAriadne


1. Malice by Heather Walter: I'm still surprised that I don't see this one around more because it was just so good. I love a villain origin story and this one delivered. It was deep, complex, and had a truly wonderful descent that I was fully understanding of. I was ecstatic to see that this will get a sequel this year! Review

2. The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec: This was even better than I could have hoped for! I adored Gornichec's depiction of Loki and Angrboda and htink she developed their relationship in such a gradual, beautiful, and deeply complex way. Absolutely loved this one and can't wait to see what's next from this author. Review

3. Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden: This was a completely unexpected and unpredictable favorite. I saw this on sale on Audible one day, thought it sounded interesting, and subsequently decided to try it out. I think it was a mixture of the characters, story, and narration that really made me love this book as much as I did. Review

4. Sistersong by Lucy Holland: This was a truly beautiful and rather heartbreaking story of three sisters and their experiences as they and their fellow people undergo some major changes. I didn't expect to be as taken in by this story as I was and really can't wait to read Lucy Holland's upcoming release. Review

5. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint: When I started this book, I really didn't expect it was going to end up a favorite, but as the story progressed I began to fall more and more in love with Saint's depiction of this myth and the characters involved. It really felt well done and was so tragic and captivating, it became an easy favorite. Review

2021 Releases (from established authors):
(in no particular order)

Sidewinders (The Fire Sacraments, #2)A Thousand ShipsMother Pig (Houndstooth, #2)

Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga, #3)The Fall of Babel (The Books of Babel, #4)The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire, #2)


1. Sidewinders by Robert V.S. Redick: Was there really any risk of this sequel not being on my favorites list?? Sidewinders was probably one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it lived up to my hype and surpassed it. Redick is a master and if you haven't started this series yet, go check out Master Assassins and then pick up Sidewinders. Review

2. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: I finished reading this via audiobook in the last couple weeks of December, but I knew it was going to make it on this list by the time I was halfway through. I am floored by Haynes' depiction of these Greek women and I really feel like she did her research and has a strong level of personal interest and care towards creating them in an authentic and compelling way. This book was pretty heavy throughout and I always felt like I needed to take a deep breath before picking it up again, but it was absolutely gorgeous and so worth the read. 

3. Mother Pig by Travis M. Riddle: Mother Pig was another one of my most anticipated releases of this year and I'm so happy to say that it was even better than I hoped! I have been loving this trilogy from Travis Riddle and you should absolutely go check out Flesh Eater if you haven't started the trilogy yet (and the third book will be out soon!). These characters are absolutely the best and so well-written, and the world is so much fun to explore. Review

4. Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee: What an ending! I am so sad that The Green Bone Saga is now over, but I'm so satisfied (and a little devastated) with this ending and can do nothign but applaud Fonda Lee for writing such a truly incredible series. I would love to see this adapted one day, I think it would work really well on screen and I think would work to draw even more people to the books! Review

5. The Fall of Babel by Josiah Bancroft: Another outstanding series ender! This series felt like a real journey for me and it felt like one that I'd been on for a while, so I honestly felt a little sad for it to end. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think Bancroft ended this series perfectly and exactly how he should have (and still entirely unpredictably for me!). Review

6. The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart: I didn't honestly expect this to end up as a favorite simply because I didn't love the first book, but wow did this book blow me away! I had so much fun with it and am so glad I decided to give it a shot. I think I may need to re-read the first book again because maybe I was just in a bad mood or something when I read it?? Regardless, The Bone Shard Emperor was a fantastic sequel! Review


...and I sort of messed up and thought these were 2021 releases, but they actually came out in 2019/2020 and I still want to include them, so... here's two more backlist favorites!

Into the JungleTender Is the Flesh

1. Into the Jungle by Erica Ferencik: I was really excited for this book and hoped to love it, but it ended up being something very different from what I expected and I loved it far more than I expected to as well. It was so much more heartfelt and meaningful than I realized it would be and I think the journey of our main character was really something special. 

2. Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica: Whew, I still feel unsure what to say about this book. I am obsessed with how deeply uncomfortable it made me because it takes a lot to make me feel weird or eeked out by something, and this book did just that. I wouldn't say I loved this book in the same way I love other books, but it's one I think about more often than I'd like to and that I would still recommend all the time (with some very strong warnings!). This book was insane and horrible and I loved it so much. 

Have you read any of these books?? What were some of your favorite 2021 releases?