Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

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

This week's topic is: Auto-Buy Authors

For me, auto-buy authors are those where I've read the majority of the books they've published and have enjoyed pretty much all of them. Some of these then, of course, are my all-time favorite authors, those a few are just authors I really enjoy. These are author whose books I would potentially purchase without ever even caring about what it's about. I feel like a lot of this post is going to be repetitive since I've talked about authors I love a lot on the blog, but regardless, here we are!

1. Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the ShoreThe Wind-Up Bird ChronicleDance Dance Dance (The Rat, #4)1Q84
It's no secret that Murakami is one of all-time favorite authors. I have loved almost everything I've read by him and enjoyed everything I've read. There are only a few of his books that I haven't gotten to yet over the years, but hopefully that will be rectified soon.

2. Michel Faber

The Crimson Petal and the WhiteUnder the SkinThe Book of Strange New ThingsSome Rain Must Fall: And Other Stories
Faber is another author that I would genuinely never think twice about pre-ordering a book from. 

3. Donna Tartt

The Secret HistoryThe GoldfinchThe Little Friend
Tartt is another author where I've never really disliked anything I've read by her. She doesn't have the largest selection of books published, but the ones that are have been phenomenal.

4. Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1)PalimpsestRadiance
I fell in love with Valente's writing a number of years ago and that hasn't changed or wavered once ever since. I can't honestly think of a book she's written that I didn't at least enjoy for one reason or another, and I can think of many books that I've loved and/or have become favorites. I'd read anything new that she writes and it'd be a pretty hard task to ever convince me to not be excited about something new that she writes.

5. Christina Henry

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1)Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain HookThe MermaidThe Girl in Red
Christina Henry is one of the more recent favorite authors that I've discovered and thus far I haven't met a book from her that I didn't like. I've not read some of her earliest work yet, but I do plan to check them out at some point and see how I feel about those, since I believe they are quite different from some of her more recent work. Still, I would (and have) bought anything she writes.

6. Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2.5)
I wasn't sure if I should include Rothfuss since he's only written the one series, but if we're being honest...I would probably check out anything he writes, whether it's part of The Kingkiller Chronicles or not. His writing seems to be hit or miss with people these days, but I absolutely love it. 

7. Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)StarlessMiranda and CalibanBanewreaker (The Sundering, #1)
Carey is one of those writers with such an obvious talent for writing that every book I've read by her feels like a true masterpiece. I'm enamored with what she writes and although I still have a lot of her backlist to read, everything I've read so far I've loved and I'd easily pick up anything new that she writes. 

8. Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy, #2)The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3)Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1)
Arden is another author that doesn't have a huge library of works yet, but after The Winternight Trilogy, she can just go ahead and take all of my money and send everything she writes directly to me. Small Spaces was also such a fun, spooky middle grade that I really can't wait to see what direction she takes next with her writing.

9. J.A. White

A Path Begins (The Thickety, #1)NightbooksArchimancy (Shadow School #1)
White's Thickety series is one of my favorite middle grade series and I am just mesmerized by White's imagination. He has a new book coming out this August and I cannot wait to read it--it was an easy auto-buy decision for me!

10. And a tie for the last number! 
Robert V.S. Redick | Anna Smith Spark
James Islington

Master Assassins (The Fire Sacraments, #1)The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1)The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1)
I decided to group these three together because I've only read a limited number of books by them, but I've loved what I have read so far. Anna Smith Spark and James Islington have only written books for one trilogy so far (separate trilogies, of course... they aren't writing them together) and based on what they've already written I would wholeheartedly read anything else they write. Redick does have a bit more backlist for me to dive into, but the two I've read from him (Master Assassins, The Red Wolf Conspiracy) I've highly enjoyed.

Have you read any of these books? Who are some of your auto-buy authors?

Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Del Rey
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2019
Hardcover. 352 pages

About Gods of Jade and Shadow:

"The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. 

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true. 

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld."

I'll be honest: this book initially caught my eye 100% because of that truly gorgeous and vibrant cover. The title also called out to me rather strongly and once I read the synopsis as well I knew I had to check out this book. Books set during the Jazz Age and that take place in Mexico are not things I often see--or ever see, really--so I was really excited to see a new and exciting setting.

I really loved the setting that Moreno-Garcia developed in this book, as everything felt vibrant and full of life. Her descriptions of Mexico City, Uukumil, the Mayan underworld, and every other location mentioned were all so well done and truly allowed me to picture the locations as if I were really there. I also fell in love with the Mexican folklore that the author developed and felt a constant craving to dive back into this book and culture whenever I wasn’t reading it.

Gods of Jade and Shadow reads very much like a fairy-tale due to the method of storytelling and the progression of the plot. The initial setup of the story and how Casiopea ends up helping the gods feels very matter of fact and classic in nature, though of course Morena-Garcia makes this story entirely her own with her beautifully crafted world and descriptions. It's also very much a journey that is undertaken in specific tasks and times of "first we have to go to this place to find X, then we go to the next to get Y," and so on. It feels a bit rote when taken at a surface level, but the tasks themselves are creative and have plenty to make this setup a bit more interesting

Casiopea is an iron-willed, obstinate character and I loved seeing her grow throughout this story. I can't say that she completely changed from someone meek to someone who knows how to stand up for herself because that'd be a disservice to Casiopea. Even in the beginning of the story she maintains a constant streak of fiery attitude and stubbornness where she refuses to back down to fully to those who are "above" her and order her about. She always imparts attitude or makes her unhappiness known, but it isn't until she embarks on this journey Hun-Kame that she truly learns what she's worth and what potential the future might hold for her if she actually takes some courageous leaps of faith into the unknown future and I had such a wonderful time watching Casiopea embark upon this personal journey. A few other things that I liked about her was her extremely pragmatic mindset and her no-nonsense way of handling things; if something had to be done, she wanted to just do it and get it done with so that they could move on to their goal.

I also really enjoyed getting to know Hun-Kame, the Mayan god of death. He's a fascinating character to watch interact in the Middleworld (aka, land where live human mortals live) and his lack of much personality or comprehension of humor and other sentiments that we humans hold dear. It was particularly interesting to watch him develop in tiny, but still noticeable ways that gradually affected more of his own character and the story itself. Our other "villain" character is also well-done and provides a nice contrast to Hun-Kame, though the two also have many similarities that often led to a bit of a grey area where it's not clear if either of the two are necessarily "good," which I think adds some great tension and compelling components to the plot.

There is a bit of a romance in this book, but I'm pleased to say that it was done extraordinarily well. It's not rushed, nor does it have any "insta-love" attached, and it is instead extremely slow-moving and develops at a logical and unobtrusive pace. It's doesn't really intrude on the story itself until the latter part of the book, so it's not something that takes away from the rest of the narrative in any way.

Overall, I've given Gods of Jade and Shadow four stars! Fans of creative fairy-tales and vibrant settings will love this book.

*I received an ARC of Gods of Jade and Shadow courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: A Wrap Around Cover

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:
A wrap around cover

This one was tricky to find a wrap around cover that had multiple editions to compare, so I just decided to pick a few wrap around covers that I particularly love. Some are wrap around dust jackets and a few are books that have the covers printed on the covers themselves. I picked quite a few because there are so many that I love, and who doesn't enjoy some beautiful artwork!?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Scholastic, 1999

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix | Scholastic, 2004

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince | Scholastic, 2005

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows | Scholastic, 2007

Kushiel's Dart | Subterranean Press, 2016

Harry Potter (Ancient Greek Edition) | Bloomsbury USA, 2004

The Winter of the Wtich | Ebury, 2019

Nevernight | HarperCollins, 2016
(and Godsgrave, and Darkdawn...)

The Blue Fairy Book (reissue) | Barnes and Noble Collectible, 2017

A Conspiracy of Truths | Saga Press, 2018

The Binding | HarperCollins, 2019

My choice:
I really don't think I could pick one, so for this week only I'm not going to. I love the original Harry Potter covers and my Ancient Greek editions is particularly special to me. I will also always be in love with the Subterranean Press editions of the Kushiel's Dart books,and of course nothing beats those Nevernight or that swoon-worthy embedded design for The Binding!

Which covers do you like best?