Friday, March 15, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Shapeshifters

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here 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:
15th March – ‘Beware the moon, lads.’ – A cover with a shapeshifter

I found a couple of great options for this topic, but unfrotunately they were all books with only one or two covers to choose from. Eventually I remember Seraphina by Rachel Hartman would be a great option, and since it had plenty of editions available it ended being a good fit for today's topic.

  Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)
2013 HC Penguin || 2012 HC Random House || 2014 Ember

  Serafina: Das Königreich der Drachen (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Serafina (Serafina, #1)
2012 German || 2013 Indonesian || 2014 Polish

סרפינה - עם בוא הדרקונים  (Seraphina, #1)Серафина (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

2013 Hebrew || 2013 Russian || 2014 Romanian

My choice(s):
This was hard! I love dragons and a lot of these have some great artwork. I'm going with the 2012 Random House edition, but my runner ups are the Indonesian and Polish editions. I love the sketch-like quality of it, the reddish border, and the city buildings with the dragon. 

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

Which covers do you like best?

Buy it! Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

The Night Before
The Night Before by Wendy Walker
St. Martin's Press
Publication: May 14th, 2019
Hardcover. 464 pages.

About The Night Before:

"'Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site. 

Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date. 

When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…"

It had been a while since I'd picked up a good thriller, so I figured I'd rectify that and check out Wendy Walker's upcoming release since I enjoyed one of her previous books, All is Not Forgotten. Unfortunately, I'm sorry to report that this book did not live up to my hopes in any way and ended up being quite a disappointment. With thrillers, I like to keep my reviews on the vague side since almost every detail can be an important reveal. That being said, there's not a whole lot within this book that's surprising--the majority of things in this book were fairly predictable, with a few exceptions that I'll get into.

In The Night Before, we follow sisters Laura and Rosie, two women who have led extremely different lives, but who still hold a strong bond with one another. The two women grew up with childhood friends Gabe and Joe, the latter of which is now married to Rosie, and the foursome continue to hang out and spend time with one another as adults, especially since Laura decided to move back to live with Rosie for the time being. The friendship dynamic is fairly normal overall and although there is no present drama that the group deal with, but there is the thriller favorite 'momentous life-changing event that happened during childhood and changed everything' trope at play, which adds an underlying element of drama and suspense as we get to uncover what happened throughout the book.

The first problem I had with this book is that I didn't care about any of the characters. Okay, scratch that: I thought Rosie and Joe's son, Mason, was relatively harmless. He was also a toddler and hardly in the book at all, but you know, he was cute. Laura was...well, Laura has some personal struggles that she's been working through since she was a child, which makes her a somewhat difficult person to get behind. I never judged her for her actions that occurred as a result of her childhood, as I know well how trauma can cause lasting effects, but I was still frustrated with her actions throughout the book--she would blatantly and repeatedly tell herself not to do things, but she still did them. Even when she had a very easy out of the situation. I know we all do things like this in some format, but in Laura's case it was beyond reckless and potentially dangerous. 

Rosie was slightly more interesting than Laura and I appreciated that she took Laura's disappearance seriously from the start, but she's also rather forgettable. Same goes for Joe and Gabe--I'll probably forget everything about them in the next week or so and I really don't have much to say about them other than the fact that Joe seems like a really solid, stand-up guy. And speaking of boring characters, the person who ends up being the 'villain' in all of this was probably one of the most lackluster, utterly predictable, and uninteresting ones I've seen in a while. I'm really not trying to trash this book, but I just had such a hard time with it, especially the characters.

Despite all of the negative things I've mentioned, I will give this book the props it deserves in created one pretty big twist that I didn't actually see coming. It was extremely out of left field to me so it took a second to understand what it meant, but it worked in adding some depth to the thriller aspect of this book. I appreciate the ideas that went into this book, but it didn't execute very well for me.

Overall, I've given The Night Before two stars. I debated lowering it, but I wouldn't say I hated it enough to give it a one star; I can appreciate Walker's attempts to add in some new ideas, but the result ended up being predictable and like something I've read a thousand times already. Most of the early reviews so far are 4+ stars, so perhaps I'm just missing something, but nonetheless I can't say I enjoyed this book that much. I would still pick up another book by Wendy Walker in the future because I know she can write a good book, this just wasn't it. 

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling & The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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 spotlight is:
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Harper Voyager
352 pages

The Luminous DeadFrom Goodreads: 

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane. 

Instead, she got Em. 

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . . 

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head. 

But how come she can't shake the feeling she’s being followed?"
This sounds exactly like one of the types of sci-fi that I absolutely love, so I am extremely excited for this book. A mysterious expedition on a new planet, things not going according to plan, some more sinister-sounding events... I'm all in.

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books
416 pages
Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1)
From Goodreads: 

What makes you you

The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom. 

But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children—who share the same first and middle names, ages, and exact birth dates as the Greystone kids—reach the Greystone family. This bizarre coincidence makes them wonder: Who exactly are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a mysterious work trip. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down."
Katherine Tegen Books is a publisher that seems to put out a lot of really great middle grade gems, and this book looks like it will be yet another good one! This sounds like it has so many twists and interesting plot points, I can't wait to check it out.

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


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: If These Standalone Books Had a Sequel...

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

This week's topic is: Standalone Books That Need a Sequel

This topic proved to be a little tricky because I'm generally satisfied with most standalones and can appreciate a good ending. If a book is meant to stop, then it's meant to stop and I don't want an author dragging things out just for the sake of it. For that reason, I thought about tweaking the topic a little to something else, but in the end I just decided to pick standalones that, although I'm happy with their ending, if the author were to provide a sequel or related book I would more than like run to the store to pick up and read. I actually ended up having a great time imagining what sequels would look like for some of these books.

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #1)
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
This is probably going to be the only book on this list where I actively, genuinely, desperately want a sequel. This book demands it and I would scoop up a sequel in a heartbeat. What's going to happen with the discovery that was made? Are more people going to explore? I need more.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Demon Race
The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick
This book had an incredible ending and definitely doesn't require a sequel, but I wouldn't hate continuing to follow a few of the characters and exploring the world more. With Warwick's beautiful prose and ability to create some truly complex, multi-layered characters, I think she could do just about anything in some sort of sequel.


Munmun by Jesse Andrews
With Munmun, I mainly just want to explore more of this inventive world since it has such a fascinating premise. I'd be good with a sequel that takes place in this same world, but that follows either brand new characters or minor characters we met in the first book.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Glass Town Game
The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente
I'd really just love to follow the Bronte children as they have more adventures in the crazy, remarkable world they fell into in the first book. These kids have gone through a lot and I'd like to ensure that things go well for them. Plus, Valente's imagination is one of my favorite things and I want to see what else she might think of.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Secret Keepers
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
I loved the characters in this book so much! Reuben, his mom, Mrs. Genevieve, and Penny were all some of the most charismatic and engaging characters and I and I would really love to revisit them in a new story. I'm not sure what would happen, but I'm sure Reuben and Penny can find something adventurous to do keep things interesting.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Book of Strange New Things
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
This book really doesn't need a sequel because it is absolutely perfect on its own, but I do definitely still have curiosity about some things that I would be thrilled to re-explore.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
I don't think Spinning Silver needs a sequel by any means, but I wouldn't seeing how all of our three female leads are doing after the stressful events of this book. I just want to check on everyone and their family... and maybe explore more of the world.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

An Enchantment of Ravens
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
I gave this book three stars, but if it had a sequel I would absolutely still pick it up. I really enjoy Fae worlds, and that mixed with the protagonist's painting talent and other interesting world-building elements make me intrigued to see what else could happen.

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Thorn Queen
The Thorn Queen by Elise Holland
I had a few issues with this book surrounding the complex and seemingly endless politics and secrets, so I'd love a sequel that sort of delves into things in more detail. I also thought the world-building was really neat, but I didn't get as much as I'd like of it so I'd also enjoy having the chance to explore it further.

The Toymakers
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
This book is also absolutely perfect as it is, but I loved the atmosphere and the toy store setting so much that I'd be more than happy to revisit. Maybe a sequel focusing on the son and his time growing up at/living at the Emporium.

What do you think about these? Are there any standalones that you think could have a sequel?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Manga Mini-Review: The Promised Neverland Vol. 1 by Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu

The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland Vol. 1 by Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu (illustrations)
VIZ Media LLC, 2017
Paperback. 192 pages.

About The Promised Neverland:

"'Life at Grace Field House has been good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious foods and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems… 

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing."

I read my first few mangas last year and have been itching to try out some new series ever since. I stumbled across The Promised Neverland somehow and as soon as I read the premise for this manga series, I knew it was one I had to check out. 

I had high hopes for this manga and I was not let down in the slightest. This story is atmospheric, the characters full of personality, and the storyline dark and intriguing (and at times a bit gruesome). Manga volumes tend to read pretty quickly on their own, but I was so drawn into the protagonist's story and the slow unfolding of the events of this volume that I read through it all in the same day. The Promised Neverland takes some horrifying turns and it soon becomes obvious that this story and world are not going to be as perfect as they appears to be in the opening pages. The pacing is mostly fairly fast-moving, but there are moments of longer discussions and drawn out thought processes that do slow things down a bit, though this doesn't negatively affect the story. 

The protagonist, Emma, is a great character to follow--she has a good amount of confidence and energy, seems to have a lot of care for the other kids at the orphanage, and has plenty of awareness of her surroundings that come in handy. In addition to Emma, the most prominent characters featured are her friends, Norman and Ray, and their "Mom". Norman and Ray both have unique personalities and although we get to know a bit more about Norman than Ray, I'm hoping future installment showcase a bit more about the mysterious Ray. Mom is a delightfully creepy figure that I also can't wait to see more of. 

This story has elements of horror, dystopia, fantasy, and everything that makes for the start of something with plenty of potential to grow into a strong series. Overall, I'm giving this first volume 4.75 stars! I was hooked throughout and am fascinated to find out what's going to happen in the next installments.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Fish

Friday Face Off New
Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here 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:
‘Two little fishes and a momma fishy too’ – A cover featuring a fish/fishes or other sea creatures

I thought this would be a fun topic, and it was! I didn't remember that Haruki Murakami's After Dark had fish on some of its covers (and frogs!) until I came across while looking for books to use, so I was pleasantly surprised because I knew there'd be many covers to choose from. I picked a few rather different ones to give an idea of how wide-ranging in style some of these are.

  After the QuakeAfter the QuakeDupă cutremur
2002 Alfred A. Knopf Hardcover|| 2003 Paperback Vintage || 2006 Romanian

  Après le tremblement de terrePo otÅ™esechΜετά το σεισμό
2002 French || 2010 Czech || 2009 Greek

După cutremurNakon potresaВсе божьи дети могут танцевать

2014 Romanian || 2003 Croatian || 2006 Russian

My choice(s):
I'm torn! I like the Romanian one quite a bit for some reason, the Croatian one's fish looks cute, and the Russian and Greek ones are gorgeous! But...I also like the US Vintage edition as well, so...¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After the QuakeΜετά το σεισμόВсе божьи дети могут танцевать

Which covers do you like best?

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