Friday, May 24, 2019

Anticipated June 2019 Releases!

Somehow it is just about time to gear up for June releases! May has come and gone rather quickly and we're officially heading into the summer season. For someone who lives in a hot climate, I really dread the hot summer weather, haha. We've had some somewhat unexpected rain this past week, though, which has been a nice relief and sort of last 'hurrah' to cool weather. But enough about weather, let's look at some of the great books coming out next month! 
I've already read Fray by Rowenna Miller & The Girl in Red by Christina Henry and I loved both of them so much--they are highly recommended form me. I won an ARC of The Grand Dark that I'm dying to jump into, and as for the rest... I have no idea if/when I'll get to them, but I sure am still excited for them. 
Are you looking forward to any of these? Have you already read any of these? Let me know!

FrayThe Grand DarkThe Girl in RedThe BeholderSorcery of ThornsStorm and Fury (The Harbinger, #1)Stronger Than a Bronze DragonRise (Rule, #2)UnravelingEmpress of ForeverThe LessonThe Burning ChambersThe Evil Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil, #1)Magic for LiarsThose PeopleThe Body LiesThe Sol MajesticThe Affair of the Mysterious LetterThe HauntedWicked Fox (Gumiho, #1)

Fray by Rowenna Miller || June 4th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey || June 11th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry || June 18th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Beholder by Anna Bright || June 4th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson || June 4th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Storms and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout || June 11th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan || June 11th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Rise by Ellen Goodlett || June 11th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter || June 25th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Unraveling by Karen Lord || June 4th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone || June 18th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull || June18 th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse || June 18th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey || June 4th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Those People by Louise Candlish || June 11th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Body Lies by Jo Baker || June 18th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz || June 11th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall || June 18th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Haunted by Danielle Vega || June 4th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho || June 25th -- Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

What are your anticipated June releases?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Blog Tour: Spotlight on Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

Today I'm here to spotlight Bright Burning Stars, a recently released novel that takes place at a ballet school where the competition is fierce and two best friends must learn what matters most to them. I found this book to be a really compelling read that tackled a variety of hard and realistic topics in some well-written ways. If you like books that feature dancers and the struggle to stay on top then this might be the book for you to check out!

Title: Bright Burning Stars
Author: A.K. Small
Pub. Date: May 21st, 2019
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 304
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, Indiebound
*Please note that some of the links used are affiliate links!

"Kate and Marine have trained since childhood at the Paris Opera Ballet School where they formed an intense bond after respective family tragedies. Their friendship seems unshakeable until their final year when only one girl can be selected for a place in the Opera’s company. The physically demanding competition takes an emotional toll, and their support for each other starts to crumble. Marine’s eating disorder begins to control her life as she consumes less and dances more, and Kate discovers the depths of depression and the highs of first love as she falls for the school heartthrob—who also happens to be Marine’s dance partner. 

As rankings tighten and each day is one step closer to the final selection, neither girl is sure just how far she’ll go to win. With nuance and empathy, the intense emotions of teenage years are amplified in Small’s debut as the girls struggle with grief, mental health issues, and relationships, all set against the glamorous backdrop of Paris. 

With the incredible success of the film Black Swan and dance reality TV shows today, dance seems to be more popular than ever. Kirkus Reviews praises the debut as “addictive, angst-y, and heartfelt” while Entertainment calls out that Bright Burning Stars is “notable for the way it tackles sensitive topics such as mental illness and eating disorders”. In Bright Burning Stars, debut author A. K. Small pens a stunning, propulsive story about girls at their physical and emotional extremes, the gutting power of first love, and what it means to fight for your dreams."

“Debut author Small, herself a dancer, brings authenticity (fascinating day-to-day details abound) to what it takes to flourish or wither amid the soaring highs and crushing lows of a competitive dance school while sensitively exploring the girls' many emotional and physical extremes... Addictive, angst-y, and heartfelt.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Bright Burning Stars is the compulsively readable story. I was breathless and battling tears up until the very last stunning turns onstage and beyond. A dazzling, heart-wrenching debut.” — Nova Ren Suma, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Room Away from the Wolves 

“The fascinating, competitive ballet world may get the YA novel it deserves with Bright Burning Stars...Pitched as an immersive, propulsive story into the world of ballet, Bright Burning Stars is also notable for the way it tackles sensitive topics such as mental illness and eating disorders.” —

A.K. Small was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.
Photo credit: Becky Thurner Braddock

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron & The Mask Collectors by Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer

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: 

Last Bus to Everland
Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron
Publication: June 18th, 2019
Roaring Brook Press
Hardcover. 336 pages.

"Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia" that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants. 

Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again."
"Knock-off Narnia"? I'm 100% in. I don't know if I'll ever get tired of this sort of portal fantasy, but for now I'm just going to keep soaking it all up.


The Mask Collectors by Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer
Publication: June 1st, 2019
Little A
Hardcover. 352 pages.

"The alumni of an international boarding school have gathered at a campground in rural New Jersey when a scream breaks the silence of the woods. Classmates are shocked to find journalist Angie Osborne suddenly dead. The medical examiner’s report isn’t what anyone expects. Oddly, the death scene reminds anthropologist Duncan McCloud of a thovile, a Sri Lankan ritual he’s spent years studying. 

When Duncan’s new employer, a pharmaceutical giant, sends him overseas under shadowy pretenses, and his wife, Dr. Grace McCloud, starts to receive anonymous warnings to doubt everyone and everything, the threads of a sweeping conspiracy begin to unravel. Risking more than their own lives, Duncan and Grace embark on a treacherous journey through occult ceremonies and their own hidden pasts to discover a secret worth killing for. 

In taut, precise language, Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer’s debut novel The Mask Collectors tells a story about deception, the power of belief, and what is left unspoken between husbands and wives."
I've not really heard much of anything about this book, but it sounds like the type of thriller-esque book that tend to keep me hooked. I'm always here for some good occult-related stories.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Please Don't Touch These Books

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

This week's topic is: Books That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

I feel a little called out by this topic because I am notoriously strict and picky about the ways in which my books are handled. I'll admit I probably go a bit overboard at times with how I take care of my books, but what can I say? I'm a  bit of an amateur collector so I love to keep my books in the best condition possible. I also realize that my OCD plays a huge role in how I handle my books. (The only exceptions are if I buy a book used or something, then I'm much more lenient because it's already been loved and I'm fine with that.)

All that being said, here are a few of my extra-special books that are particularly important to me. Some are beautiful collector's editions and some are worth absolutely nothing, but have special sentimental value to me.  Also, I tried to take photos of all of these, but it's a rainy day here and the lighting is horrible so some just weren't working out and I just had to include a picture from the internet.

Kushiel's Dart  Kushiel's Chosen
Kushiel's Dart & Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Subterranean Press editions
These are limited edition copies that are some of the most beautiful books I've ever seen or owned. The full cover art is stunning and the illustrations littered throughout both books are truly gorgeous. I absolutely cherish these two books and I pretty much refuse to let anyone else handle them. I'd probably only trust my mother because she gets it, but even then....I'd rather not.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2)
Nevernight & Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff 
Goldsboro Editions
Anyone who is a fan of the Nevernight trilogy has probably heard something about the crazy mad rush for these Goldsboro editions and I got extremely lucky with my ability to obtain these. I read Nevernight night back in summer 2016 as an ARC from NetGalley, loved it, and was able to purchase the Nevernight Goldsboro one right away when it was available. With each subsequent release, Goldsboro has contacted previous buyers of the books to give them early access, so that's how I managed to get Godsgrave and my pre-order for Darkdawn (mine are all #200). I love these books so much and I don't feel the need to let others handle them.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This copy presumably has little to no monetary value, but it does have immense sentimental value. I bought this used at my library's little used bookstore section (it even has the ltitle library sorting tag on the spine and crossed off stamps on the top of the page edges) and when I read it I ended up staying up  late to finish it. I have incredible memories associated with this book--it is one of my all-time favorite books, after all--and I can only imagine that it is a small part of what sparked my interest in Classics and becoming a Classics major. Obviously (and thankfully) my experience as a major in Classics wasn't quite the same as in this book, but that close-knit group feel was so relevant to my experience and I desperately need to re-read this one.

The Girl in the Tower & The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (ARCs)
ARCs have no monetary value, but I love this trilogy so much that having these two ARCs really just means a lot to me. I was shocked when I received each of these, but eternally grateful. I missed out on getting my hands on the hardcover of the UK editions for the first and second book, so this is a weird roundabout "make up" for those. Sort of.

German Bible from 1871
This Bible is not in great shape at all, but my Grandma gave it to me many years back when she learned how much I loved books and reading. It's an old family Bible I believe (?), but I don't know a whole lot else about it. I'm not religious anymore, either, but I still love it so much and think it's just lovely. It's entirely in German, of course, and the typeset and design is simply gorgeous. It means a lot to me for many reasons, but mostly because my grandma thought to give it to me.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)
The Name of the Wind by Patick Rothfuss
Alternate Cover (book club edition)
So when The Name of the Wind first came out the covers were, naturally, different from the one that it is now. I missed out on some early cover variations and now they are extremely hard to find and also ridiculously expensive. A few years back, however, I managed to get my hands on a copy that has one of the alternate covers I really enjoy. It's technically a book club edition which means it has very little to no value, but that's more than fine with me because all I wanted to do was collect this other cover of one of my favorite books.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Grim Oak Press
This was a gift from my husband and is a beauty that I will for sure cherish for years to come. It has these gorgeous shiny silver-edged pages, incredible illustrations, and this sleek leather bound exterior that really sets it apart. Grim Oak definitely knows how to put together a special book.

The Wolf in the Whale
The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
I purchased a finished physical copy as soon as I finished my ARC, but since I first read this as an ARC I will always have a special place in my heart for this copy. I managed to read it without damaging it, and then later I dropped it while rearranging my books and it now has a nice rip through the back and bend on the front cover. I was very sad, but now it just looks about as well-loved as how I feel about it.

Undying: A Love Story
Undying by Michel Faber
Mty mom bought this for me for my birthday a while back from Book Depository and unbeknownst to us--it was signed! Michel Faber is one of my favorite authors and this particular collection of poems means more to me than I could possibly put into words. Having this special little book just means so much to me.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Mistress of the Ritz
Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin
Delacorte Press
Publication: May 21st, 2019
Hardcover. 384 pages.

About Mistress of the Ritz:

"Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel's director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests--and each other. 

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi "guests," spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish. 

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone--the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself. 

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war."

There is a seemingly endless supply of books set somewhere and sometime during World War II, which makes it rather difficult to find stories that take a new approach to the setting and are able to introduce something that hasn't been seen before. Mistress of the Ritz was a refreshing take on this time period and I truly enjoyed following the characters in this book as they navigated the tensions and struggles associated with the Nazi regime. I don't generally read that many WWII books anymore because I got so burnt out on them, but I'm glad I decided to give this book a shot!

Mistress of the Ritz follows married couple Blanche and Claude Auzello as they learn how to live through the Nazi regime--and more importantly as the Nazis both take over control of the famed and luxurious Ritz hotel as headquarters and take over more and more of France and surrounding countries. I absolutely loved the hotel setting (pre-Nazis, of course), and this was part of what first enticed me to read this book. The cameos and appearances of famous figures and celebrities were exciting and felt rather like inside jokes at times, which I appreciated, and the descriptions of the goings-ons and regular routine of the hotel were such an interesting component. I loved the behind the scenes look of how luxurious things were and also how things slowly changed over time as the Nazis remained at the hotel and essentially dictated how everything was handled there. It was a tense, melancholy sort of atmosphere that permeated at many times and led to a really interesting narrative. Even with this atmosphere, however, the story still remained fairly upbeat and steady as the characters handled various obstacles and learned how to take new steps to adapt to their surroundings while also remaining true to their morals.

Much like in the previous book I read by Benjamin, The Girls in the Picture, the protagonists were heavily flawed, but also relatable enough that I found myself drawn to them and eager to see how things worked out for them. Blanche felt like the main focus of this book and I really loved seeing her character develop from someone rather flighty and carefree to someone who really makes an effort to change her ways and do things that are bigger than her to make a difference. Claude took a while for me to warm up to, as he has some less-than-favorable qualities as both a man and a husband that made it hard for me to understand him or get behind his actions. That being said, he does have some slow development that put me into his shoes and let me at least understand his actions, even if I didn't always agree with them. Both characters have many layers to unpeel throughout the story and I thought that Benjamin executed this really well. These are characters that aren't always easy to love, but struggle with so many things that everyone can relate to that it's easy to follow into their lives.

The POV switches between Blanche and Claude, as well as between various time periods in their lives, centering largely between the present narrative and starting at a specific time in the past when they first met. I found the time period switches slightly difficult to follow at times because of how often it jumped around and also with how the two characters would often reminisce about moments in the past while telling the present narrative.  It made it easy for me to forget that we were in the present narrative rather than the past--if any of that makes sense. This is similar to what Benjamin did in The Girls in the Picture, so it seems to be a stylistic preference. Other than that hiccup in the storytelling, I had no problems with the POV.

Overall, I've given Mistress of the Ritz four stars! This was a really well done book set during WWII with colorful characters that are full of mixed morals, but also entirely compelling. If you, like me, ever find yourself fatigued of WWII books--or even if you love them and just want something new--I encourage you to pick up Mistress of the Ritz.

*I received a copy of Mistress of the Ritz in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: A Fantasy Beast

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:
“The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!” – A cover featuring a fantasy beast

I feel like the go-to for this topic would be a dragon, so I wanted to avoid that and do something more unique....but for some reason I only came across dragons, so here we are with dragons! I did initially think of one of the Witcher books, but I'm pretty sure I've done one for a Friday Face-Off before so I opted not to. I love dragons, however, so I'm not really too upset about this outcome. Since there are so many books out there with some badass dragons on the cover--and so many with only one or two covers--I thought I'd fall back and share some covers for different books with dragons.

  A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #1)Tess of the Road (Tess of the Road, #1)The Dragon’s Legacy (The Dragon's Legacy #1)

  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)Tooth and ClawHis Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)

The Language of SpellsOf Cinder and Bone (Of Cinder and Bone #1)The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)

My choices:
I did not consider the fact that I'm supposed to choose a favorite when I decided to share multiple covers. I love the A Natural History of Dragons cover (and frankly, all the books in that series would be perfect for this topic), I adore the Tess of the Road cover, The Dragon's Legacy is incredibly cool, and the Fairyland cover is adorable also. I'm choosing the two that stand out the most to me, and those are A Natural History of Dragons and Tess of the Road!
A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #1)Tess of the Road (Tess of the Road, #1)

Which covers do you like best?