Friday, August 16, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Feathers

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 haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

I had more than a few book covers pop up in my head for this topic, but the cover for the edition I own of The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse stood out to me the most. I do wish more of the covers kept the feather theme prominent, but nonetheless I still had a great time looking at all of these covers.

  The Taxidermist's DaughterDe nacht van de vogelsΗ κόρη του ταριχευτή
2014 UK | 2015 Dutch | 2016 Greek

Der Kreis der RabenvögelThe Taxidermist's DaughterThe Taxidermist's Daughter
2017 German | 2016 US |  2014 US Kindle

The Taxidermist's DaughterLa fille du taxidermisteLa fille de Melisande
2016 US Large Print | 2017 French | 2013 Dutch

My choice:
De nacht van de vogels
I love a lot of these choices, including the UK, German,Greek,  and Large Print! (And, well, the others are pretty good, too.) I picked this as my favorite because this cover absolutely grips me and I know if I saw this in a store I would immediately gravitate towards it and want to buy it--it's just so dark and ominous!

What cover(s) do you like the most!?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Review: The Warehouse by Rob Hart

The Warehouse
The Warehouse by Rob Hart
Publication Date: August 20th, 2019
Hardcover. 368 pages

About The Warehouse:

"Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.  

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities. 

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering. 

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him. 

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here. 

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place. 

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business--and who will pay the ultimate price."

The Warehouse is a somewhat foreboding and unexpected look at what could happen if a large e-commerce company were to become the leading--nearly sole--provider of products in the country.

The world-building in The Warehouse is crucial to this story and overall I think Hart really excelled in this area. His creation of Cloud and all that inhabits it was vivid and done in such a way that it felt extremely realistic. There is immense detail given in relation to how the company works, including surveillance, the divisions among employees, the places they are and are not allowed to visit, the tracking, the day-to-day monotony of each area of work life, and so much more. I loved all the little details that Hart included in order to make Cloud feel like an authentic corporation, such as the inclusion of the initial welcome and training information that the employees get upon starting (looking to set up for retirement at Cloud? you'll find out how!) to the rating system in place among employees to keep them working diligently. It brings everything to life.

The world outside of Cloud is also a rather important point of interest for the story and is something I won't go into much detail about, but I do wish that there had a been a bit more background given on the events of the outside world and how they led to Cloud being what it is. There's a general overview given so it's not a mystery per se, but it is still something that I would've liked to know more about, including how people outside of Cloud survive. We get so much about how so many people live in Cloud, but I'm curious about the people outside of Cloud who are constantly ordering from them.

The two main characters we follow are Paxton and Zinnia, each coming to work at Cloud for vastly different reasons, but both falling prey to its greedy, soul-consuming environment. I can't say I ever really felt connected to either character or felt exceptionally attached to them, but I was still invested enough to where I had motivation to keep reading this story and find out what would befall them. I related to various sentiments and situations that each found them in at various times, but as characters overall I just never really liked either one, though Paxton himself seemed rather harmless. All that being said, I don't mind if I don't really like characters as long as they are still interesting and the story is still strong, and both of those were true of The Warehouse. They both had well-developed character arcs that were handled with a deft hand and accurately depicted how an environment like Cloud can affect one's mindset.

The pacing of The Warehouse matches the tone and plot of the story extremely well. It's a steady pace at all times, even if it's a period of time when there isn't a lot technically happening and it doesn't seem as though the action is moving the plot forward. There are plenty of moments of monotony and repetition that Hart adopts in order to convey what life is really like at Cloud, and because of that these areas feel a bit slower at times even though things are still moving at the same pace. I can see this being hit or miss with people, but I didn't personally mind it all that much. The ending is also a bit abrupt and left me with mixed feelings. Part of me really likes the note that Hart ended this book on, but there's also a part of me that wanted a little more from our characters. In the end, though, it just ends up feeling like something that might happen in real life, which we all know isn't always that exciting and thus felt fitting.

The Warehouse is not technically a horror novel. There's nothing overtly 'scary'--there's no ghosts jumping out at people--but there are plenty of things that are inherently frightening and are a deep cause for worry. This takes on a lot of topics about consumerism, corporate greed, climate change, acceptance/standing by, and many other topics that are relevant to our lives today. It's scary because a lot of the elements at play feel eerily plausible and it creates a great reason to step back and reevaluate our role in our world.

Overall, I've given The Warehouse four stars! This is a solid book with dystopian vibes that will really make you think about things while keeping you hooked on every page. 

*I received an ARC of The Warehouse courtesy of the publisher, Crown. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt & Cold Storage by David Koepp

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: 

The Nightjar
The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt
Publication: September 3rd, 2019
Paperback. 480 pages.

"Alice Wyndham has been plagued by visions of birds her whole life...until the mysterious Crowley reveals that Alice is an 'aviarist' capable of seeing nightjars, magical birds that guard human souls. When her best friend is hit by a car, only Alice can find and save her nightjar. 

With Crowley's help, Alice travels to the Rookery, a hidden, magical alternate London to hone her newfound talents. But a faction intent on annihilating magic users will stop at nothing to destroy the new aviarist. And is Crowley really working with her, or against her? Alice must risk everything to save her best friend--and uncover the strange truth about herself."
Uhm, magical birds? And an alternate London? Please sign me up immediately!

Cold Storage
Cold Storage by David Koepp
Publication: September 3rd, 2019
Hardcover. 320 pages.

"When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction. He contained it and buried it in cold storage deep beneath a little-used military repository. 

Now, after decades of festering in a forgotten sub-basement, the specimen has found its way out and is on a lethal feeding frenzy. Only Diaz knows how to stop it. 

He races across the country to help two unwitting security guards—one an ex-con, the other a single mother. Over one harrowing night, the unlikely trio must figure out how to quarantine this horror again. All they have is luck, fearlessness, and a mordant sense of humor. Will that be enough to save all of humanity?"
I love a good thriller featuring horrifying viruses/etc. that can quickly kill everyone. What better to keep you up at night? I have an ARC of this that I'm planning to start soon and cannot wait!

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Top Five Tuesday: Top 5 Books Under 300 Pages

This week I decided to switch it up just a little and participate in Top 5 Tuesday, hosted by BionicBookworm! Coincidentally, Top 5 Tuesday is actually on hiatus this week, so I'm just going to go ahead and do last week's topic that I missed, which was: Top 5 books under 300 pages! I do tend to have a lot of longer books as my favorites, but I have a feeling there are some good books I've loved under 300 pages as well.

To figure this out, I just went to my 'favorites' Goodreads shelf and sorted them all by page number. I'm sure I'm missing some of my favorite books on this shelf, but for this week it'll work just fine. :) These are listed in no particular order.

The Reluctant FundamentalistThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid  
Num. pages: 184

I read this years ago, but remember really appreciating the unique style of storytelling and how important the subejct matter was. I always reccomend this to anyone looking for a quick and fascinating read. 

About: "At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter… 

Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. 

But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

CoralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman
Num. pages: 195

Coraline is easily one of my favorite middle grade novels and I just love how spooky and deep it is. I'm also a huge fan of the adaptation, there couldn't have been a better one made.

About: "In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close. 

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own. 

Only it's different. 

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. 

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

A Separate PeaceA Separate Peace by John Knowles
Num. pages: 204

I picked this book off of a suggested reading list back as a wee freshman in high school and I immediately fell in love. I see so many people that dislike this one now, but I was--and still am--a huge fan of this book. 

About: "Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Hole in My LifeHole in My Life by Jack Gantos
Num. pages: 200

I read this a long time ago and don't admittedly remember a lot of details, but something about it just really stuck out to me and it's always one I remember really appreciating.

About: "In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison. 

In Hole in My Life, this prizewinning author of over thirty books for young people confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos - once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell - moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how dedicating himself more fully to the thing he most wanted to do helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound 

The OresteiaThe Oresteia by Aeschylus
Num. pages: 208

The Oresteia is one of my favorite Greek dramas (which, to be frank, I probably say about most of them) for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being because of the sheer passion and emotions that run through it. It's truly a gripping trilogy of plays and I could go on forever, but I won't and I'll just say it's a great one. 

About: "The Oresteia--Agamemnon, Choephori, and the Eumenides--tell the story of the house of Atreus: After King Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, their son, Orestes, is commanded by Apollo to avenge the crime by killing his mother, and he returns from exile to do so, bringing on himself the wrath of the Furies and the judgment of the court of Athens.

In the Oresteia—the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity—Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos. Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, their spirit of struggle and regeneration becomes an everlasting song of celebration."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

And bonus because I can never stop:

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth PackThe Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack by Jim & Jamie Dutcher
Num. pages: 224

This book is so beautiful and eloquently explains the reasons why I love wolves so much. The Dutchers are two of the most incredible people who have dedicated their lives to the study of wolves and promoting their safety and livelihoods. 

"From the world-famous couple who lived alongside a three-generation wolf pack, this book of inspiration, drawn from the wild, will fascinate animal and nature lovers alike. For six years Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived intimately with a pack of wolves, gaining their trust as no one has before. 

In this book the Dutchers reflect on the virtues they observed in wolf society and behavior. Each chapter exemplifies a principle, such as kindness, teamwork, playfulness, respect, curiosity, and compassion. Their heartfelt stories combine into a thought-provoking meditation on the values shared between the human and the animal world. Occasional photographs bring the wolves and their behaviors into absorbing focus."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite books under 300 pages?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Review: Jade War (Green Bone Saga #2) by Fonda Lee

Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)
Jade War (Green Bone Saga #2) by Fonda Lee
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2019
Hardcover. 590 pages

About Jade War:

"On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years. 

Beyond Kekon's borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon's most prized resource, could make them rich - or give them the edge they'd need to topple their rivals. 

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival - and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon."

Book #1: Jade City

Oh boy, where do I even begin this review? I thought Jade City was an intense ride, but apparently it was child's play compared to the events of Jade War! I'll admit, as excited as I was to finally have Jade War in my hands, I was almost a little nervous since I read Jade City back in 2017 and wasn't sure if it would live up the crazy expectations I was holding out for--and it ended up exceeding them!

It was so easy to jump back into the Green Bone Saga and the rife struggles between the No Peak and Mountain clans. Lee did a great job of setting the scene and making it easy to fall back into this world. When there's a long wait between books I tend to have a hard time getting back into the story and remembering past events, but something about how Lee gave gentle reminders of past events and continued the emotions and past plot points of the first book made it unbelievably easy to slide back into the story.

Something that I have grown to love about Lee's work is how well she develops her characters. There are no cookie-cutter types in these books; everyone stands out on their own as an individualized and independent person with a variety of motivations and traits that shape how they interact with the world around them. Hilo, now acting as Pillar, has immense amounts of pressure weighing down his shoulders, but he manages his role with a surprisingly adept ability and works hard to live up to his predecessors. Shae, now Weather Man to Hilo, has many of the same pressures as Hilo, though they manifest in different ways that force her to overcome her own unique obstacles. There's also Anden, Hilo's nephew, struggling to navigate his life after the fateful and dramatic decision he made in the first book. He grows a lot in this book and embarks upon some fairly life-changing courses of action that only added to the intensity of the story. Watching these three characters in particular navigate their new roles and the relationships that come with them was truly enjoyable and made for a fantastic reading experience. There are many other characters that we follow and whose POV we get to experience and it's safe to say that all of them are equally engaging.

If you thought the politics--from family politics to international-- economics, and clan tensions were intense in Jade City, braces yourselves because things move onto an entirely new level in this installment. One of my favorite things about this series so far is how Lee writes the political and economic aspects of her world. No matter what tensions or drama might be going on in the family or between clans, the current political situation, potential ramifications, and economic issues are also just as present and important, cementing the reality of this world. As readers, we are taken into many intense meetings with either Hilo or Shae (or both) and their trade partners, enemies, etc. so many different times in this book and it's utterly fascinating. You might think reading a discussion between two parties about trading jade or how to handle another economic situation might be on the dry side, but I promise you it is anything but in these books. The tension is at a near-constant presence in this book and as a result everything becomes gripping with edge-of-your-seat consequences as well.

The world-building continued to grow in so many exciting ways. In Jade War, Anden finds himself in Espenia, a foreign land that brings a lot of new experiences for him. I liked not only getting to explore a new land in this world, but also seeing how various cultures live and the differences between growing up in the No Peak clan surrounded by Green Bones and now experiencing a place where Green Bones are not (overtly) present or even allowed. I think it was a great way of showcasing how different people and various nations are, while also pointing out that the motivations and drive behind so many actions can still be similar on a human level.

Lee's action-heavy sequences are incredibly detailed and well thought out. It's obvious that she has done immense research to make everything as realistic and logical as possible, and it absolutely pays off. As I've mentioned before, I find it easy to lose my attention in high action sequences and drawn out fight scenes, but Lee manages to write them in ways where I almost don't even realize I'm reading them because they're just so captivating and accessible to follow.

Jade War has a mostly steady pace, taking time to expand upon areas that need it, while also knowing when it's a good time to speed things up a bit. There are frequent larger time jumps throughout Jade War, which admittedly did throw me off occasionally, but at the same time I appreciate how it helped keep the plot moving at a swift pace.

Overall, I can't help but give Jade War five stars! This is truly an incredible series and I highly recommend everyone to pick it up!

*I received an ARC of Jade War courtesy of Orbit books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Friday Face-Off: Argh, Pirates!

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:
 “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

I thought that this would be an easy topic, but then I realized that  a lot of the pirate books I've read recently only have a few covers, which made them a no-go for this post. I then decided to go with Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, which seems a btt obivious for this topic, but hey, it works! I also remembered that The Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari also existed and I loved all of the pirate covers for that one as well, so this week I"m sharing both books!

Treasure Island:

Treasure IslandTreasure IslandTreasure Island
2005 Simon & Schuster | 1982 Bantam | 2005 Barnes & Noble

L’Île au trésorTreasure IslandL'Isola del Tesoro
1985 French | 2011 Oxford Press | 2004 Italian

The Black Corsair:

Il Corsaro NeroThe Black CorsairO Corsário Negro
1998 Italian | 2011 English | 2010 Portuguese

O Corsário NegroEl corsario negroCorsario Negro, El
1994 Portuguese | 1974 Italian | 2009 Spanish

My choice:
Treasure IslandO Corsário Negro
Honestly, it was difficult to choose my favorites and even now I'm second-guessing my choices! For Treasure Isand, I really liked the art style of this Oxford Press edition and how it shows all three pirates. The Black Corsair was a tough pick (and there were so many other covers I wanted to share here also!), but I just love the joviality and general 'victory' feel that accompanies these pirates--it feels like a very classic pirate-like scene. 

Which covers do you like best?

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Review: The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3)The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3)
The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3) by Anna Smith Spark
Publication Date: August 13th, 2019
Paperback. 480 pages

About The House of Sacrifice:

"Marith's power is growing. His empire stretches across half the world, and allies are flocking to his banner to share the spoils of war. With Thalia ruling at his side they are unstoppable. 

But Marith is become increasingly mentally unstable and their victories cannot continue forever."

Reviews for books one and two:
The Court of Broken Knives
The Tower of Living and Dying

Now this was a satisfying ending to a truly remarkable trilogy that has left me speechless on more than one occasion.

The poetic and literature nature of Spark's writing has done nothing but flourish throughout this trilogy, and it remains as vibrant and immersive as ever in The House of Sacrifice. Spark's prose is, as I've said before, more of an experience than it is anything else. It's really not for everyone and I totally understand that, but I'm so glad that I love it as much as I do and find it absolutely beautiful. This is going to be one of those reviews where I can't get too specific on plot or other details because I don't want to give anything away, but I'll still share all of my non-spoiler thoughts to the best of my abilities.

This installment had a marked shift in the events of the story from the other books. In this story, Marith has essentially taken over almost everything he wants to, Thalia is still by his side, it looks as though there is no end in sight for the victories of his army, and Marith is beginning to lose his marbles a bit. Well, okay, a bit more. Despite some gory moments and occasional sieges, the first half of the book had a sort of lack of urgency that I really enjoyed,. It's not that nothing was happening or there were no stakes, but it just had this sense of normalcy from Marith and his army in how they continually sacked cities that translated really well through Spark's writing and allowed me to really understand that sense of glorified monotony. Soon enough, however, things heated up once again and the stakes were cranked up into something that had me continuously turning the pages. 

The story is split into three parts and within those parts we follow many of the same compelling perspectives as before: Marith, Thalia, Tobias, Orhan, and Landra. I love getting into the heads of Martih and Thalia in particular, two of the most flawed characters who make up the most dysfunctional couple I've ever seen--and yet, somehow, it all works. Orhan is another POV that I always enjoy following. He has this hopeless sense of humor that is full of dread, yet he maintains a very distinct personality that shines through in his chapters. 

The world-building has long been established by this final installment and previous books have included plenty of travel that explores it, but I still enjoyed how much of the world was explored in this book as well. Marith's army travels around to new places during their quest to take over everything, all of it eventually coming a head in the golden city of Sorlost. This is a harsh world that feels entirely unpredictable most of the time (especially thanks to the help of some pretty intense dragons) and always manages to keep things unpredictable. Something about the world that might seem sort of minor that I love is how Spark manages to include a glimpse into what the 'regular' people of this world are doing. It's not anything that takes up much space or time in the novel, but the occasional mention in the narrative or dialogue remark from a character that notes how civilians are reacting to these events, how it takes so long for news to travel to them, etc. just really stood out to me and added a certain level of credence to the story that I appreciated. 

If you were worried that this book was any less intense than the previous two, then I'm here to allay your fears: there's plenty of gore and violence, all done in a style that is both poetic and blunt at the same time. Spark just has this way of using language to effortlessly both convey and evoke a wide variety of emotions in her readers and to build a strong atmosphere. Even though the plot itself didn't feel as intense--at least in the first half--as I mentioned before, the brutality of this world and those within it was not lessened at all. The ending was bittersweet, both tragic and beautiful in its own right and I couldn't have asked for anything else. Every character arc left me feeling wholly satisfied with their fate, though I am sorry to see the end of their--and my--journey in this world. I have no idea what Spark plans to do next, but I have high hopes for anything she writes and will be first in line to check it out.

Overall, I've given The House of Sacrifice five stars! If you've enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, then I have no doubts that you will always love this one.

*I received an ARC of The House of Sacrifice courtesy of Orbit books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*