Friday, September 17, 2021

The Friday Face-Off: Murder


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:

I know this is probably one of the most obvious choices for this, but really, what titles is more iconic for having "murder" in the title than The Murder on the Orient Express? There are a lot of covers for this book, so included a lot, but even all of these are barely even half of what's out there, it seems! It was a ton of fun looking through them all and exploring the different variations. 

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient ExpressAsesinato en el Orient Express
2007 HarperCollins | 2011 Harper Mass Market | 2007 Spanish

Assassinato no Expresso do OrienteAssassinio sull'Orient Expressجريمة في قطار الشرق
2014 Portuguese | 2007 Italian | 2005 Arabic 

Murder on the Orient ExpressMorderstwo w Orient ExpressieMurder on the Orient Express
2000 Berkley | 2010 Polish | 2013 Harper

Murder on the Orient ExpressMord im OrientexpressUm Crime no Expresso do Oriente (Hercule Poirot, #10)
2015 William Morrow | 2006 German | 2002 Portuguese

Murder on the Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Mordet på Orientexpressen (Hercule Poirot, #10)
2017 William Morrow | 2017 Special Edition HarperCollins | 2014 Swedish

Idän pikajunan arvoitus (Hercule Poirot, 10)Asesinato en el Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)
2010 Finnish | 2007 Spanish | 2017 HarperCollins

جريمة في قطار الشرقMurder on the Orient Expressმკვლელობა აღმოსავლეთის ექსპრესში
1975 Arabic | 1998 Collins Crime | 2015 Georgian

My choice(s):
Assassinato no Expresso do OrienteMordet på Orientexpressen (Hercule Poirot, #10)
I really like so many of these! I opted to pick 2014 Portuguese and 2014 Swedish editions (I guess 2014 was a nice year?) because something about them just really pops out at me and they are two that I would definitely up based off of the covers. Still, as mentioned, most of these covers are pretty great. :) 

What cover(s) do you like the most?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Review: The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel

The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel
Publication Date: September 21st, 2021
Hardcover. 368 pages.

About The Body Scout:

"In the future you can have any body you want—as long as you can afford it. 

But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn't get much worse. 

Then his brother—Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz—is murdered at home plate. 

Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he's in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he'll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder."

The Body Scout is a fast-paced, innovative futuristic sci-fi with a bit of a 'whodunnit' vibe that keeps the plot moving. This book is set in a world in which body parts can modified and/or replaced, there are modifications for almost all parts of the body (including eyes, ears, and more!), and what constitutes a "natural" person has become much more involved and/or dramatic than we might know it as today.

When I fist started this book, I was excited for the somewhat dystopian futuristic setting, but at the same time when I realized baseball was going to play a decent role in the plot, I grew hesitant. I don't like baseball and honestly find it rather boring--especially talking about it--and wasn't sure how heavily this book would dive into that topic. Fortunately, although there is a decent amount of talk and it does sort of constitute the main career world that Kobo exists in--being both a scout and former player--you do not need to like or care about baseball to like this book. The focus really isn't on that, but rather is used as a backdrop in which to tell a different, grander story of life in this world, and Michel does an excellent job of doing just that. 

Once the plot of The Body Scout takes off, it never really slows down. Kobo's adopted brother, a famous baseball player known as J.J. Zunz, dies in a rather dramatic fashion, and Kobo decides that he needs to track down his killer, even though he has no real resources to do so–or at least, so it seems at first. We then follow Kobo along on this crazy, unpredictable adventure full of twists as he tries to find leads and insight towards his brother's death, which of course leads him to uncovering even more corruption and secrets along the way. There's never a dull moment in The Body Scout

Kobo is a pretty charismatic character in the sense that all he's really trying to do is survive in this rather hostile, unfair futuristic world, and if doing that means he might not be doing everything "right," then that's just what he has to do. It's hard not to root for him struggling in this crazy, harsh world, but his determined yet somewhat casual attitude towards his life and struggles feels somehow relevant to our own often difficult world. I liked seeing Kobo interact with a wide variety of people, from those that like him to those that tolerate him and those that are outright hostile towards him. There were a few side characters that felt a bit more on the stereotypically drawn side, but nothing extreme that really took away from my enjoyment. I really liked getting to know Dolores, an ex of Kobo's that ends up playing an pretty important role throughout the story. 

The worldbuilding is incredibly detailed, and the futuristic elements were described and incorporated really well. Although the characters were all mostly developed well and I didn't have many issues with them, I would say Michel's strength in this book was really moreso in the worldbuilding and general layout and structure of society than in anything else. This is not a world that I want to live in or visit, but I had a lot of fun learning how everything worked and how all of the body modifications affected the population (and don't worry, paying for medical bill remains an over-priced problem). 

At the end of the day, The Body Scout is a really solid, entertaining, and straight fun novel. It's not all fun and game, and Michel does tackle plenty of more sobering elements and byproducts of a world such as this one, but it's done in a well-written manner that fit in well with the narrative and allowed for some great  thoughtfulness and discussion-prompting. I've given this book four stars!

*I received a copy of The Body Scout courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Indiebound 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Isolate by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett, & Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood


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: 

Isolate by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. 
Publication: October 19th, 2021
Tor Books
Hardcover. 608 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | IndieBound

"L. E. Modesitt, Jr., bestselling author of The Mongrel Mage, has a brand new gaslamp political fantasy Isolate. 

Industrialization. Social unrest. Underground movements. Government corruption and surveillance. 

Something is about to give. 

Steffan Dekkard is an isolate, one of the small percentage of people who are immune to the projections of empaths. As an isolate, he has been trained as a security specialist and he and his security partner Avraal Ysella, a highly trained empath are employed by Axel Obreduur, a senior Craft Minister and the de facto political strategist of his party. 

When a respected Landor Councilor dies of “heart failure” at a social event, because of his political friendship with Obreduur, Dekkard and Ysella find that not only is their employer a target, but so are they, in a covert and deadly struggle for control of the government and economy. 

Steffan is about to understand that everything he believed is an illusion."
I read the first two books in Modesitt's Imager series years and years ago and remember enjoying them quite a bit (though why I never finished, I'm not sure!), so I'm feeling excited to see a new release and new start to a fantasy series from him! This sounds like it will be pretty politics-heavy, but Modesitt is someone I really trust to do well. 


Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett
Publication: October 12th, 2021
Tor Books
Hardcover. 304 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | IndieBound

"The Matrix meets an Afro-futuristic retelling of Persephone set in a science fiction underworld of aliens, refugees, and genetic engineering in Jennifer Marie Brissett's Destroyer of Light 

Having destroyed Earth, the alien conquerors resettle the remains of humanity on the planet of Eleusis. In the four habitable areas of the planet—Day, Dusk, Dawn, and Night—the haves and have nots, criminals and dissidents, and former alien conquerors irrevocably bind three stories: 

*A violent warlord abducts a young girl from the agrarian outskirts of Dusk leaving her mother searching and grieving. 
*Genetically modified twin brothers desperately search for the lost son of a human/alien couple in a criminal underground trafficking children for unknown purposes. 
*A young woman with inhuman powers rises through the insurgent ranks of soldiers in the borderlands of Night. 

Their stories, often containing disturbing physical and sexual violence, skate across years, building to a single confrontation when the fate of all—human and alien—balances upon a knife’s-edge."
This book just sounds a little bit like sci-fi chaos with everything going on, and I'm here for that!


Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
Publication: October 19th, 2021
Wednesday Books
Hardcover. 336 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | IndieBound

"What the heart desires, the house destroys... 

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire. 

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre."
YA fantasy has not been my thing lately, but this one has really caught my eye over the past year. I think I'll wait for some reviews, but otherwise I'm really intrigued by this one!

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Counting to Ten With Book Titles

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is: The Many Places I've Found Myself Reading a Book

This week's topic is book titles with numbers in them, and since I know I've done this topic before, I figured I'd just make it a bit more themed and count from one-ten in book titles! Simple, but always a little fun to track down all the books that work. Let's count!

One WayUniverse of Two

One Way by S.J. Morden
Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)The Rule of Four

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell

Slaughterhouse-FiveThe Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1)

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

A Brief History of Seven KillingsTwo Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)The Tenth Girl
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Have you read any of these books? Any books you would add to this list? 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Review: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Inkyard Press
Publication Date: October 5th, 2021
Hardcover. 480 pages.

About Under the Whispering Door:

"When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. 

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. 

But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. 

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days."

Under the Whispering Door is a wholesome, thoughtful, bittersweet contemporary fantasy story about what happens after we die–specifically, what happens to Wallace Price after his passing from a rather dreary, serious life. And because I've seen a bit of confusion around this, please note that this is not a House in the Cerulean Sea sequel and does not have anything to do with that book, but it does still contain Klune's delightful ideas and plot and has a lot of great things to offer that I think you'll love if you also loved The House in the Cerulean Sea

As mentioned, this book follows Wallace Price, a recently deceased lawyer who is thrust into the unexpected situation of facing his own life after his death as he discovers what the afterlife really is. Wallace was a rather arrogant and selfish man in his lifetime as a lawyer, and it is with the help of some quirky, endearing characters–including his very own reaper–that he must confront this life and attempt to figure out how to move on from it. I really appreciated Wallace's character development throughout this story, and especially how his relationship with each additional character evolved in their own ways and at their own pace. And it's not only Wallace that undergoes his own development, but every character seemed to have their own unique path that was explored in varying degrees of detail throughout the progression of the story. 

Under the Whispering Door takes place almost entirely in one main location–Hugo's tea shop–and I was impressed by how much Klune managed to pack into that one primary setting. There is so much color and depth within the pages of this book and the characters we meet, all developed fully with multi-dimensional personalities and backstories that helped to flesh everything out. The tea shop itself was a delight, from it's quirky description and structure to the various adventures and both light and heavy conversations that take place within. I may not be a fan of tea (I know, I'm sorry), but something about Hugo's passion for tea and finding the right tea for every single person really made me want to go start drinking tea and find deeper meaning and calmness with it, much in the way he does for the people he meets and helps. 

This story heavily explores themes of loss, grief, and regret, and I think it does so in a really excellent and effect manner. It was a little saccharine sweet at times in its messaging, and yes this led to it feeling ever so slightly sappy at times, but I think that's exactly what this book was meant to be, and I think it's both what people want from this book and that it works perfectly as a much-needed comfort right now. 

My only real complaint about this book would be with the some overdone dialogue and messaging. The themes previously mentioned are explored well in the book, but at times it felt like I was reading variations of the same general ideas over and over again, and it became a bit repetitive and almost dull at times. A lot of the dialogue felt slightly predictable or cliche at times as well, and although this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it did leave me feeling slightly wanting at times. The House in the Cerulean Sea had similar firm elements of instilling messaging that I know some people didn't care for (although it didn't bother me), but this book just felt slightly more repetitive and heavy-handed at times. 

Overall, I've given Under the Whispering Door four stars! If you are looking for a wholesome contemporary fantasy read, with both some sadness and hopefulness, then this is the perfect book to pick up. 

*I received a copy of Under the Whispering Door courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Indiebound 

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Friday Face-Off: Kings & Queens


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:

I opted to steer this week's topic into the direction of titles with "king" or "queen" in them, and there's quite a lot of options with that! I decided to share a variety of different books, alternating with king and queen in the titles. There are a lot of uses of these words in titles, so I tried to include a bit of variety–let's have a look at them! 

The Queens of Innis LearThe King of Crows (The Diviners, #4)Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game, #3)
2018 US Hardcover | 2020 US Hardcover | 2020 US Hardcover

King of the Rising (Islands of Blood and Storm, #2)The Rightful Queen (Paths of Lantistyne, #2)Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1)
2020 US Paperback | 2020 US Hardcover | 2015 US Hardcover

The Lost Queen (The Lost Queen Trilogy, #1)The Hod King (The Books of Babel, #3)Red Queen (The Chronicles of Alice, #2)
2018 US Hardcover | 2019 US Paperback | 2016 US Paperback

Kings of Paradise (Ash and Sand, #1)The Widow Queen (The Bold, #1)The Wicker King (The Wicker King, #1)
2017 Kindle | 2021 US Hardcover | 2017 US Hardcover

The Vanished QueenKingshold (The Wildfire Cycle #1)The Queen of the Night
2020 US Hardcover | 2018 Kindle | 2016 US Hardcover 

Rule (The Unraveled Kingdom, #3)
And a bonus that just seems to encapsulate the entire topic this week!

My choice(s):
King of the Rising (Islands of Blood and Storm, #2)The Widow Queen (The Bold, #1)
These are all too different for me to really pick a favorite, but I will say that I'm always particularly drawn to these two covers!

What cover(s) do you like the most?