Friday, December 7, 2018

The Friday Face-Off: A Hero

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.

I felt that it was time to join in another Friday Face-Off, so here we go!

This week's topic is:
‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

For this week's topic, I thought I'd go with The Witcher, aka Geralt of Rivia. So Geralt sort of stretches the line between hero and antihero, but for this topic I thought he would make for a good cover hero. He has quite a presence and does regularly battle fantastical beasts and the like, so it works. I chose to go with The Last Wish as the book to feature, since it is often the place most recommended as a starting point to the series (it's where I started as well!) and features Geralt in a variety of short stories battling different creatures.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

  The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)
2007 Gollancz || 2008 Orbit || 2008 Gollancz

  Il guardiano degli innocenti (La saga di Geralt di Rivia, #1)Последнее желание (Ведьмак, #1)Ultima dorință (The Witcher, #1)
Italian Edition || Russian Edition || Romanian Edition

  ÐŸÐ¾ÑÐ»ÐµÐ´Ð½ÐµÐµ желание (Ведьмак, #1)Poslednja Želja (Saga o VeÅ¡cu, #1)Le Dernier VÅ“u (Sorceleur #1)
Russian Edition #2 || Serbian Edition || French Edition

El último deseo (The Witcher #1)Ostatnie życzenie (Wiedźmin, #1)
Spanish Edition || Polish Edition

My choice(s):
Последнее желание (Ведьмак, #1)The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)El último deseo (The Witcher #1)

I had a hard time deciding for this one! In general, I like the 2008 Gollancz edition the best even though it has a person on the cover, which I don't usually love. That being said, I thought Russian edition (left) really fit this topic the best and showcased Geralt in a very heroic manner, and the Spanish edition was just as strong with those heroic vibes. 

Which covers do you like best?

Buy it! Amazon | Book Depository

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Review: The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes

The Snow Witch
The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes
Self-published, 2018
Ebook. 259 pages.

About The Snow Witch:


Twelve-year-old Kitty Wigeon can't wait for Christmas at St Flurries, a grand old manor house in the countryside, until one chilly night she vanishes without a trace. 

One hundred years later… Still grieving over the death of their mother, Kes Bunting and his younger sister Star, are sent to live at St Flurries. They find a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. 

Who, or what, is making footprints in the snow? 

And what evil force is taking a cold grip on Star? 

Wrap up warm as you join Kes, and a cast of eccentric snow creatures, in a race against time to solve a hundred-year-old curse. Will he succeed? Or will the fate of his sister be decided by a shivery kiss from… the Snow Witch?"

If you're looking for the perfect holiday-vibe book with a bit of mystery, magic, and entertaining characters, then The Snow Witch is the book for you. This is a delightful middle grade story that follows a young brother and sister, Kes and Star, as they move into a new house in the countryside with their grandmother whom they've just met for the first time. This book was such a lovely blend of fairy tale, fantasy, and family that I truly enjoyed reading and that felt like the perfect book to start off the month of December with. There are some serious themes and moments explored, but there are also plenty of lighthearted moments that help to keep the spirit of this story high.

The Snow Witch is told from two main perspectives, one from Kes' POV in the present day and one from Kitty's POV from the early twentieth century. I really liked that Boyes decided to tell the story in this way because it really helped bring both storylines lines to life, and they ended up connecting in a really clever and well-written manner. Since Kitty's POV took place in the early twentieth century, the first World War did play a bit of a background role and I found it very interesting how Boyes incorporated that element into the story itself and its impact in the lives of her and her family. 

The characters were well varied in personality and a delight to read. Kes and Star are curious, kind children who have had to make the best of a rather unfortunate life situation. I admired Kes for his caring nature and how he had to take on such a mature role to take care of his younger sister; it really put into perspective what these two kids were going through in their lives and their apprehensive nature towards new people. Kitty was also a character that I found to be very endearing, and I appreciated how authentic her actions felt throughout the story. The rest of the characters that inhabit St. Flurries were such fun, from the harried cook to the stern yet merry staff members.  

As much as I enjoyed this book, there were still a few inconsistencies in the writing that I noticed. Most of these seemed to be more of the early writer types of issues and weren't anything that majorly took away from my experience. One of these was a bit of consistency with the dialogue, such as when Kes, an eleven year old, used some words and phrases that just did not seem to fit in with his age or the time period. There were also times when Kes was described in a way that also felt younger than his current age, as well as older, which felt a bit off. There were also a few metaphors and sentences here and there that felt slightly overdone or unnecessary and it seemed like a bit of editing could tweak those into perfection. That being said, these issues were definitely minor and I think that the more Boyes writes, the better and better they'll get because this book was so fun and shows so much potential.

Overall, I've given The Snow Witch four stars! I honestly enjoyed every minute of reading this book and think it would be perfect any kid or adult looking for a lighthearted and entertaining wintry read. I really look forward to seeing what Boyes writes next!

Buy the book: Amazon

*I received a copy of The Snow Witch courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan & The Girl King by Mimi Yu

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 Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan
 Publication Date: January 17th, 2019
544 pages
Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository 

The Gutter PrayerFrom Goodreads: 

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy. 

The city has always been. The city must finally end. 

When three thieves - an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man - are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know. 

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city's underworld. 

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh. 

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon."
I'm such a sucker for fantasy books about a group of people (especially thieves!) get together for some big plan. I haven't really seen much about this one anywhere, but I am really intrigued by it and can't wait to check it out!


The Girl King by Mimi Yu
Publication Date: January 8th, 2019
Bloomsbury YA
432 pages
Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository 

The Girl KingFrom Goodreads: 

"All hail the Girl King. 

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty's first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths. 

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved… 

Alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other."
I've been looking forward to this one for so long! I believe this is Mimi Yu's debut novel and I'm just so excited to see what she brings to the fantasy table. It's not that this book's premise necessarily sounds super unique or anything (I mean, it's hard to be unique these days), but all the different components just really intrigue me and I'm always down for more non-Western fantasy.

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


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Wintry Reads

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

This week's topic is: Cozy/Wintry Reads
This week's theme is wintry reads, so I've collected some books that all seem to be great for the winter season. They aren't all "cozy" reads, but they all give off either cold snowy vibes or have a story that I feel is great for this time of year (unless, you know, you're in Australia or something).

Once Upon a RiverThe Little Mermaid and Other Fairy TalesThe Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Sisters of the Winter Wood

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield: I just reviewed this one yesterday, but I had to include it here because it honestly feels like the perfect book to read on a cold winter day. Once Upon a River takes off in a small town when a little girl who appears to be drowned is brought into an inn known for storytelling--and ends up not being dead after all.

The Little Mermaid and Other Stories by Hans Christian Andersen: These aren't all necessarily set during the winter season, but I always think fairy tales and the winter season match up perfectly. Classic stories with a comfy night in? Sounds good to me.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman: It's cold and there's snow and a polar bear. Plus it's a magic and classic story, so what could be more perfect for a winter read?

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner: I think this one would be a good reads for both fall and winter because of it's lyrical prose and the folktale elements that are also included. The Sisters of the Winter Wood, told in both prose and verse, is about two sisters that must figure out what they want in life; it is a loose goblin market-inspired story.

Wintersong (Wintersong, #1)When the Sea Turned to SilverSpinning SilverA Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: It's dark, magical, and definitely has a bit of winter chill to keep things wintry. Wintersong is another gobin market-inspired story about a girl named Liesl who travels to the Underground to save her sister from the Goblin King--and ends up in a rather precarious position.

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin: I don't recall there being much of a winter season in this book (it's been a while, so I could be wrong), but it still has a very cozy magical quality that I think fits perfectly. It's also a middle grade book so I think that lends itself quite nicely to a 'cozy' read.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: It's cold, it's fairy tale inspired,and it's perfect. Spinning Silver mainly follows three different young woman on separate journeys that eventually comes together in different ways. It is loosely Rumpelstiltskin-inspired.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas: I know a lot of people disliked this book and thought it was a waste of a book, but I thought it was a really fun and useful bridge to a new series that was also the perfect holiday book. The gang is celebrating the Winter Solstice, so there is friendship, drama, and the struggle of finding the perfect gift for everyone you love.

EastBalam, SpringA Cavern of Black Ice (Sword of Shadows, #1)

East by Edith Pattou: Another wintry tale inspired by a classic tale that also has a polar bear, East seems like the perfect book to read this season. And if you need more of it, the sequel, West, is also now out!

Balam, Sring by Travis M. Riddle: This is not a winter setting in the slightest, but it's a bit of a slice of life story that is so relaxing. There's a bit of a mystery going on at the same time to add some intrigue and I think that this would make a fantastic story.

A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones: I saved this for last because it's the coldest, harshest climate of these books listed here. It is not a happy, cozy winter story in the slightest, but it will certainly make you reach for a blanket. And perhaps something a bit happier.

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite wintry reads?

Monday, December 3, 2018

Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

*Once Upon a River will be released Tuesday, December 4th!* 

Once Upon a River
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield 
Atria, 2018
Hardcover. 480 pages.

About Once Upon a River:

"'A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child. 

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. 

Is it a miracle? 

Is it magic? 

Or can it be explained by science? 

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale."

Once Upon a River was the most beautiful, cozy, and perfectly intriguing story that I've read in a while. This is a book that has all of the 'cozy up by the fire and listen to this story' sort of feel to it. It's wintry in its style, full of fully-fleshed and enchanting characters, and has a myriad of stories that all tangle up together and eventually unfold into brilliant cohesion. 

As much as I loved this book, I am almost unsure how to go about describing this because of how unique and enchanting it is. It feels largely like historical fiction, but there are some strong fairy tale and magical realism elements to it, including mentions of dragons (though admittedly they are not a big role). The writing itself is very much casual and takes its time to set the stage and introduce all of the characters thoroughly, which is something that I think really sets the tone for this book.

The plot is centered around events that take place at The Swan, a local inn and pub-style location. At The Swan, storytelling is the main event, and locals take turns telling new and old stories. This really sets off the tone for the entire book and invites the reader to sit down and partake in a local story-in-the-making. The biggest location element that brings the entire book together is the River Thames, and I loved how Setterfield made this the central component of the book, and it truly does bring almost everyone's story together in one way or another. 

I could talk about all of the characters in this book for days, both because there are so many and because they are all so wonderful. That's not to say that all of the characters are wonderful people, but that the way they are developed and explained to us by Setterfield is done in such a way that I devoured every detail given about them and their backstories--all of which are very important and will probably come up at some point in the story. There is so much meandering of sorts regarding the characters' personalities and lives, but it all fits so well and doesn't feel meandering in a bad way. It's that perfect sort of wandering that's similar to when you're listening to a delightful story and you just want to soak up every single bit of it that you get.

Some of my favorite aspects of this book had to do with the themes and ideas that Setterfield plays with. Everything is so real and rooted in reality, yet at the same time there is an ever-present sense of something... other in the air. Not a negative or spooky 'other,' but a sense of something supernatural that exists in the world, which is where the magical realism elements seem to take place. One character has an eye that can See people in the deeper sense of the word, the River Thames has a mysterious guardian known as Quietly--is it myth or reality? I loved this part of the book and the many different themes that came with it. There were also a lot of other big life themes at play that provided a lot to think about and that I think would make for a great discussion with others. 

Overall, I've given Once Upon a River five stars. If you're looking for a beautiful story with compelling characters and an intriguing storyline, then you absolutely need to pick this one up. 

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I received an ARC of Once Upon a River courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Friday, November 30, 2018

Month in Review: November 2018

November was a weird month, does anyone else agree with that? The beginning of November feels like it happened so long ago, yet I also can't believe it's December. The weather is finally starting to cool off around here (of course, being a SoCal native that could just mean it's sixty degrees ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) and we got a nice day of rain, so it is truly starting to feel more like the holiday season, which I'm really excited for. It was also an exciting month because I finally got to see some bands (Underoath and The Plot In You) that I've been wanting to see live for ages--one, Underoath, I've been a fan of since I was about 11 or 12, so this was a long time coming. I hope everyone had a great month and a great Thanksgiving if you celebrate!

In reading news, it was a decent reading month. I was a little slump-y still at times, but I managed to get through some really fantastic books all the same, including to five stars--Once Upon a River and Empire of Sand! How was your month of reading!?

As I've mentioned before, I'm also a Book Depository Affiliate and an Amazon affiliate! If you'd like to know more about that, I included some info about in this post. And if you'd like to purchase a book through my affiliate link, just follow this link for Book Depository or click on the Amazon banner on the right hand side of this page! It is so, so appreciated in ways you cannot imagine (okay maybe you can, but you get my meaning)!

Now, on the wrap-up!

Books read: 10

The Sisters of the Winter WoodTales of Kingshold (Wildfire Cycle #1.5)A Ladder to the SkyRosewaterCrown (The Manhunters, #3)In the Night WoodEmpire of SandHollywood Hostage
Banebringer (The Heretic Gods #1)Queen of Nod

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner 
Tales of Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft 
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne 
Rosewater by Tade Thompson 
Crown (Manhunters #3) by Jesse Teller 
In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey 
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri 
Hollywood Hostage by Jordan Michael Road 
Banebringer by Carol A. Park 
Queen of Nod by C.W. Snyder 

(this month)

The Dead HouseThe House in Poplar WoodSmall SpacesOnce Upon a RiverThe Snow WitchThe Sea Was a Fair Master
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich 
The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee 
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden 
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield 
The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes 
The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer 

DNF'd books:
The Friday Face-Off:
A Starry Sky

Have you read any of these? What books did you read this month? I hope you all had a great month-- comment below and let me know!

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