Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Most Anticipated Releases of 2016


Top Ten TuesdayWelcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Most Anticipated Releases of 2016 |

Welcome back to another week’s Top Ten Tuesday. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas whether you celebrate or not! 2015 is finally drawing to a close and for this week’s Top Ten we’re looking at the most anticipated releases of 2016 – and it certainly promises to be a spectacular year for fiction! In no particular order, here are the books I’m most looking forward to getting my hands on in the coming year:

| 1. |

Sharp Ends

Sharp Ends

by Joe Abercrombie

26th April 2016

The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is.

Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp.

And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine . . .

Sharp Ends combines previously published, award-winning tales with exclusive new short stories. Violence explodes, treachery abounds, and the words are as deadly as the weapons in this rogue’s gallery of side-shows, back-stories, and sharp endings from the world of the First Law.

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| 2. |

Daughter of Blood

Daughter of Blood

by Helen Lowe

26th January 2016

A falling wall, a broken shield… and an enemy that will exploit every weakness.

Malian and Kalan are coming home, but already it may be too late. The Wall of Night, dangerously weakened by civil war among the Derai families that garrison it, is on the verge of failing. Everywhere their ancient enemy, the Darksworn, is on the move as the threads of an old pattern begin to tighten.

In Grayharbor and in the Red Keep, a child and a young woman are caught in conflict’s maw, as whispers gather around Dread Pass and a Darksworn prophecy points to Malian herself being the stake the ancient enemy will drive into the heart of the Derai Alliance.

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| 3. |

The Bands of Mourning

The Bands of Mourning

by Brandon Sanderson

28th January 2016

With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.
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| 4. |

The Tiger and the Wolf

The Tiger and the Wolf

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

11th February 2016

In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming.

Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She can’t disown half her soul, so escapes – with the killer Broken Axe in pursuit.

Maniye’s father plots to rule the north, and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger, a time of testing and broken laws. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. But what spark will set the world ablaze?

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| 5. |

Morning Star

Morning Star

by Pierce Brown

11th February 2016

Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son totally changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Born a lowly Red in the mines of Mars, Darrow lost his beloved wife to the treacherous Gold overlords. Vowing to fight for the future that his wife believed in, Darrow joins a secret revolutionary group and is remade into a Gold so that he can infiltrate the ruling class and bring them down from the inside. Now, after years of hiding amongst the Golds, Darrow is finally ready to declare open revolution and throw off the chains of oppression. Nothing in Darrow’s world has been easily won, and this final fight will be the most harrowing of all.

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| 6. |

A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows

by V.E. Schwab

23rd February 2016

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

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| 7. |


Children of Earth and Sky

Children of Earth and Sky

by Guy Gavriel Kay

12th May 2016

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…

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| 8. |

The Silver Tide

by Jen Williams

25th February 2016

Tales of the Black Feather Three and their exploits abound far and wide, and Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian have become sell swords in demand. Having foiled powerful mages and evil magic, they now face a challenge unlike any before – in the form of Wydrin’s mother.

Devinia the Red, notorious pirate and captain of the Poison Chalice, is intent on finding the fabled treasure hidden within the jungles of the cursed island of Euriale. She needs the skills of her daughter Wydrin and her companions to get there, and our heroes cannot resist the lure of coin and adventure. But no explorer has returned from the heart of the island, and it’s not long before the Three find themselves in the clutches of peril. Deep within the island of the gods, there are remnants of forces best left undisturbed…

Follow the reckless heroes of The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost in an epic quest unlike any they have faced before.

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| 9. |

The Trees

The Trees

by Ali Shaw

10th March 2016

There came an elastic aftershock of creaks and groans and then, softly softly, a chinking shower of rubbled cement. Leaves calmed and trunks stood serene. Where, not a minute before, there had been a suburb, there was now only woodland standing amid ruins…

There is no warning. No chance to prepare.

They arrive in the night: thundering up through the ground, transforming streets and towns into shadowy forest. Buildings are destroyed. Broken bodies, still wrapped in tattered bed linen, hang among the twitching leaves.

Adrien Thomas has never been much of a hero. But when he realises that no help is coming, he ventures out into this unrecognisable world. Michelle, his wife, is across the sea in Ireland and he has no way of knowing whether the trees have come for her too.

Then Adrien meets green-fingered Hannah and her teenage son Seb. Together, they set out to find Hannah’s forester brother, to reunite Adrien with his wife – and to discover just how deep the forest goes.

Their journey will take them to a place of terrible beauty and violence, to the dark heart of nature and the darkness inside themselves.

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| 10. |

Corsair

Corsair

by James L. Cambias

10th May 2016

In the early 2020s, two young, genius computer hackers, meet at MIT. One, Elizabeth Santiago, dreams of technology and space travel. The other, David Schwartz, is just looking to make a quick buck.

Nearly ten years later, David is setting himself to become a billionaire by working in the shadows for international thieves, while Elizabeth works in intelligence preventing international space piracy. With robotic mining in space becoming a lucrative part of Earth’s economy, her job has become increasingly stressful.

David and Elizabeth fight for dominance of the computer systems controlling ore drop placement in international waters. If David can nudge a shipment 500 miles off its target, his employers can get there first and claim it legally in the open sea. Each one intuits that the other is their real competition but can’t prove it. When Elizabeth loses a major shipment, she leaves government employ to work for a private space company to find a better way to protect shipments. But international piracy has very high stakes and some very evil players, and both Elizabeth and David are in for a world of trouble.
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What are your most anticipated releases of 2016? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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‘Sci-Fi’ Teaser Tuesdays: December 29


Sci Fi Teaser TuesdaysWelcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by A Daily Rhythm. From the beginning of December to the end of January, Books by Proxy will be taking part in The 2016 Sci-Fi Experience, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: December 29 |

Annihilation

Book One of The Southern Reach Trilogy

by Jeff VanderMeer

Science Fiction | 209 Pages | Published by Fourth Estate in 2014


“As we ascended toward the light, I tried to distract myself. I kept reviewing my training over and over again, searching for a clue, for any scrap of information that might lead to some revelation about our discoveries.”

~ p. 65, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


| Synopsis |

Welcome to Area X. An Edenic wilderness, an environmental disaster zone, a mystery for thirty years.

For thirty years, Area X, monitored by the secret agency known as the Southern Reach, has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border– an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. Eleven expeditions have been sent in to investigate; even for those that have made it out alive, there have been terrible consequences.

‘Annihilation’ is the story of the twelfth expedition and is told by its nameless biologist. Introverted but highly intelligent, the biologist brings her own secrets with her. She is accompanied by a psychologist, an anthropologist and a surveyor, their stated mission: to chart the land, take samples and expand the Southern Reach’s understanding of Area X.

But they soon find out that they are being manipulated by forces both strange and all too familiar. An unmapped tunnel is not as it first appears. An inexplicable moaning calls in the distance at dusk. And while each member of the expedition has surrendered to the authority of the Southern Reach, the power of Area X is far more difficult to resist.

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  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Review: The Serpent by Claire North



The Serpent

The Gameshouse I

by Claire North

Fantasy | Novella | 100 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2015


| Rating |


Claire North has been on my radar ever since she was Catherine Webb and publishing novels at the grand old age of sixteen. However, despite this early success, it wasn’t until The Gameshouse series appeared on my feed that I picked up her any of her novels. With a sumptuous, seventeenth century Venetian setting and an enchanting premise, The Serpent is a novella which had me trapped in its web of intrigue and politics from the very start. This is The Gameshouse, where fortunes are made and empires are broken. Will you place a bet?

In 17th Century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.

There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.

But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.

Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman, who is about to play, may just exceed everyone’s expectations.

Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules…

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Thene must stand by a husband who whiles away his days gambling and whoring, falling into debt and dishonour as he spends every last coin. Finding herself at The Gameshouse, in the company of gamblers and gamesters, fortune makers and fortune breakers, she watches as her husband sinks further into ruin. Unable and unwilling to change his fate, she takes up the dice.

She plays for gold and plays for coin and, when the scales tip in her favour, her actions capture the attention of the house. Called to the higher league, Thene finds that she is playing for far more than she could ever have imagined. This is a game which transcends all boundaries, where players control people like pieces on a board, and where the fate of empires and kings is decided by a roll of the dice. In this game of politics she must claim victory for her king or risk losing all.

The Serpent is a richly imagined tale, brimming with mystery and intrigue, and reminiscent of the old morality tales of centuries past. Venice is depicted in gloriously vivid detail, the architecture of the city and the spirit of its people captured in remarkably lyrical prose. North weaves the fantastical throughout a narrative which in all other ways could be real. This is a novella which lives and breaths its time and place, where it’s as easy to become lost in the pages as in the narrow calles and campos of Venice. North has captured the spirit of a city – the revelry, politics and intrigue – whilst basking in its grandeur.

The narrative is told from the perspective of unseen observers who watch as Thene plays her game of kings; silent sentinels who recount the unfolding of events whilst giving little away as to their form and purpose. Thene is an intelligent and thoughtful character who conjures up an instant rapport, the hardship she endures balanced by her power as a player. The other characters, or pieces – the Priestess, the Fool, the Queen of Cups, and the four kings eager to be crowned – are lent an air of mystery, creating an exciting and unpredictable read which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Claire North has proven herself to be a skilled author whose way with words is sure to impress. Her use of language and her beautiful, poetic prose conveys the excitement and thrill of the game whilst carving out a city and a compelling narrative in wonderful detail. This is a novella centred around politics and power – instantly captivating and utterly absorbing; North is the Gamesmaster and the readers are puppets on her strings.

The Serpent surprised and impressed me in equal measure, and I would recommend  it to fans of fantasy and historical fiction alike. With two more novellas in The Gameshouse series awaiting my attention, along with numerous feature length novels, I’m sure 2016 will be a year in which Claire North features heavily on my reading list – I seriously can’t wait!

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Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Heligoland


Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


Heligoland

Massive Attack


Listen to with:

A thrilling urban fantasy

Such as:

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

This week we’re taking a break from my love of film and game soundtracks to listen to a band which have topped my list of favourites for an inordinately long time. Massive Attack have repeatedly produced incredible album after incredible album, and their perfect fusion of wildly differing beats and melodies have made them industry leaders in the rise of trip hop.

Heligoland, released in 2010, is Massive Attack’s fifth studio album and, with its seriously chilled out, downbeat vibes and lazy electro undertones, is the perfect backdrop to reading – and to urban fantasy in particular. This is an album which is soulful and atmospheric, and only gets better with each successive listen.

The opening track Pray For Rain, with its gentle vocals and rolling, lazy beat, sets the tone for the rest of the album, and fans of the brilliant crime drama Luther will instantly recognise its theme tune in the deceptively haunting Paradise Circus. Heligoland, which with Girl I Love You has produced one of my favourite Massive Attack tracks of all time, is a triumph of downbeat, rhythmic tracks which only become more addictive the more they are listened to.

This is an album of halves, an album which celebrates the fusion of different sounds and tones for maximum effect, and an album which makes one brilliant and mesmerising whole. Babel, a long-time favourite, succeeds in combining a fast-paced and tuneful melody with an understated and relaxed vibe made apparent throughout the entire album. Splitting the Atom contrasts a deep male vocal with an insistent, repeating melody which has a similar effect to Rush Minute, a track which combines a fast paced backing track with a soft and creeping vocal.

If you’re looking for an album which instantly gives off a city vibe and provides an effortless backdrop to any urban fantasy, then give Heligoland a listen. I can’t imagine reading Rivers of London without it.

Favourite track

04 – Girl I Love You

Top track for action

02 – Babel

Top track for tension

01 – Pray For Rain

Top track for emotion

08 – Rush Minute

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The Friday Face-Off: December 25


Friday Face Off 2cWelcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new feature here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.


| The Friday Face-Off: The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett |

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the season, whether you’re celebrating or not! For this week’s Friday Face-Off we’re looking at the covers for The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett, the third book in The Demon Cycle. This is a book which, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll realise has been on my ‘currently reading’ list for a ridiculously long time. A fact which has no bearing on the work of Mr. Brett whose Demon Cycle is a phenomenal series and which I cannot wait to continue – if I don’t get distracted by too many shiny new books!

Published by Voyager in the UK and by Del Rey Books in the US, the covers for The Daylight War are stunning, rich in colour and detail, yet remain distinctly different to give me more than a little trouble in choosing a favourite! One thing is for certain though – I am now determined to unearth this book and give it the attention it deserves! Take a look and see which cover is your favourite.


Voyager – UK Cover

 Artwork by Larry Rostant

“Yow. Lot of power going on there… They changed the background to a more Demon Cycle-style fading light, and on my request tweaked the knife a bit, and added more translucency to the veil for the stunning final version that went on to debut at #3 on the London Times Bestseller list.”

Peter V. Brett

Del Rey Books  – US Cover 

Artwork by Larry Rostant

“This cover grabs the eye from across the room and dominates whatever bookshelf you put it on, but it’s power is much more personal to me. My buddy Myke Cole (who also has Rostant covers on his UK books) always says of Larry’s art that there’s nothing more amazing than creating a character in your head, and then meeting them face to face. I know exactly how he feels.”

~ Peter V. Brett


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

TDW - winner2

Two awesome covers by one fantastic photographic illustrator – I honestly couldn’t choose a favourite! The Voyager cover is beautiful. I love that brilliant blue on the dark and atmospheric background and the typeface for this cover is without a doubt my favourite but… that red cover!  It’s rich and sultry and really captures the character of Inevera as she casts the alagai hora. Both of these covers are stunning and both are deserved winners. Bravo Larry Rostant- definitely a cover artist to look out for!

If you want to read more about the design process for these covers, Peter V. Brett has written a three-part blog post on their creation which can be found here. Happy reading!


Have you read The Daylight War? Which is your favourite cover? 

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Review: Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna


The 2016 Sci-Fi Experience



Falling Sky

Book One of the Ben Gold Series

by Rajan Khanna

Science Fiction | 252 Pages | Published by Pyr in 2014


| Rating |


This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review

Falling Sky first came to my attention after reading the synopsis for its sequel, Rising Tide. With its backdrop of a post-apocalyptic Earth teaming with terrifying Ferals, glorious airships and cities in the sky, this is a novel which had me hooked with anticipation alone. And it didn’t disappoint. Falling Sky is a new and exciting interpretation of the post-apocalyptic zombie genre which, though short, remains a fast-paced and action filled debut whose climactic conclusion left me reaching for the next book.

Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben, a lone wolf, has reluctantly agreed to use his skills and his airship to help an idealist scientist, Miranda, on her search for a cure. Protecting her from Ferals is dangerous enough but when power-mad raiders run rampant, Ben finds himself in the most dangerous place of all—the ground. 

Ben’s journey leads him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. Old friends and new enemies are drawn into a struggle that quickly becomes a fight for the fate of the world. Ben must decide to focus on his own survival or risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future.

Falling Sky follows the story of Ben Gold – a gun-wielding, Feral-fighting airship captain – who finds himself the protector of a colony of scientists, and Miranda in particular, at the small research town of Apple Pi. Except this is a world of vicious Ferals who roam the earth and barbarian raiders and hostile townships who patrol the skies. Ferals kill indiscriminately and the bandit states revel in pillage and plunder, actively seeking the destruction of others. Once under their radar, no one is safe… and for Apple Pi time is running out. Ben and Miranda must set off on an adventure which takes them into the heart of the piratical state as Miranda attempts to continue her search for a cure to the Feral plague and Ben does all he can to help Miranda, and himself, survive.

Khanna has creating a terrifying and enthralling world where the beauty and wonder of life aboard airships and on sky towns is contrasted with the destruction of the human race and the unstoppable spread of the virus which turns humans into Ferals. Thematically I loved this book, and in particular the wonderful depiction of the warmongering bandit states -Valhalla and Gastown. Khanna has fashioned a world where airships and, quite literal, townships vie for supremacy over a ruined and overrun world; where life on the ground is undeniably dangerous, and where carving out an honest existence in a world of cruelty and selfish greed is an incredible hardship.

It is through the voice of the narrator, Ben Gold, that a true sense of this hardship is made apparent. Ben is an interesting protagonist whose rough and ready approach makes for a fast-paced and exciting read, his life and history unfolding unobtrusively as the narrative progresses. However, whilst enjoyable throughout, Ben’s voice failed to captivate me as much as it ought to and I became keenly aware that I would prefer to read this book in a third person perspective, in order to convey more of the post-apocalyptic landscape.

This, as always, is subjective and whilst Ben might not be the man for me, he played an excellent counterpoise to the scientists of the novel who are almost in a world of their own with their singular, and sometimes dangerous, determination. Khanna also fields a host of other characters full of charm, wit and gun-toting reflexes; in particular Diego and Rosie, who convey a sense of strength and solidity in a fragile world, and Claudia, who all became firm favourites over the course of the novel.

Falling Sky is a thoroughly exciting read set in a brilliantly realised world, whose climactic conclusion had me reaching for the next book. Khanna has succeeded in creating a dynamic tale which is constantly moving forward (even when looking backwards) and practically brims with action on every page. This is a novel which surprised me with its world and storyline, left me a little wanting where the protagonist was concerned, yet surprised me again with its cliffhanger ending. In short – a very enjoyable read.

If you want to read a novel about a terrifying post-apocalyptic world where lives are carved from the ruined remnants of society, and life is truly experienced in the airships of the sky, then this might just be the read for you. Whilst by no means perfect, Falling Sky remains an exciting and enjoyable read, has satisfied my zombie cravings, and has introduced an author who I certainly intend to read far more of in the near future.


Bookish Beats Suggestion

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An X-Mas Teaser Tuesday: December 22


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Expect a new teaser every week! 


| Teaser Tuesdays: December 22 |

the-adventure-of-the-christmas-pudding

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

by Agatha Christie

Crime | Classics | 363 Pages | Published by Harper in 2002


“Then once more his eyes returned to Northway House, relic of an earlier age – an age of space and leisure, when green fields had surrounded its well-bred arrogance. Now it was an anachronism, submerged and forgotten in the hectic sea of modern London, and not one man in fifty could have told you where it stood.”

~ p. 283, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie


| Synopsis |

An English country house at Christmas time should be the perfect place to get away from it all – but nothing is ever simple for Hercule Poirot, as he finds not one but five baffling cases to solve.

First comes a sinister warning on his pillow to avoid the plum pudding… then the discovery of a corpse in a chest… next, an overheard quarrel that leads to murder… the strange case of a dead man’s eating habits.. and the puzzle of a victim who dreams of his own suicide.

And an extra bonus – Miss Marple investigates Greenshaw’s Folly.

Agatha Christie’s seasonal Poirot and Marple short story collection, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (a.k.a The Theft of the Royal Ruby)
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
The Under Dog
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
The Dream
Greenshaw’s Folly

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| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Top Ten ‘X-mas’ Tuesday: Top Ten… Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree |

Ahh it’s almost Christmas and for this week’s Top Ten we’re listing the books we wouldn’t mind Santa leaving under our trees. A mix of both old and new releases, this is a pile of books I absolutely can’t wait to read. So sit back, crack open the mulled wine and mince pies, and take a look at some of the goodies that may or may winging their way to me this Christmas.

| 1. |

The Aeronaut’s Windlass

by Jim Butcher

The Cinder Spires is set in a world “of black spires that tower for miles over a mist-shrouded surface” and follows a war between two of the Spires: Spire Albion and Spire Aurora.

It’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies.heart

| 2. |

Legion: Skin Deep

by Brandon Sanderson

Following the success of Legion, Legion: Skin Deep charts another fast moving and gripping adventure for Stephen Leeds, AKA Legion. Leeds is a genius, his mind contains too much information. And to cope it his split his skills off into individual personalities. They crowd his head and he lives with them in a vast empty mansion. While he can call on any one of them to solve a problem he also walks a line across an all-consuming madness.

Legion: Skin Deep is an all-new, action-packed novella starring one of the most fascinating and charismatic heroes ever.heart

| 3. |

Shadow’s Edge

by Brent Weeks

Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin’s life. The Godking’s successful coup has left Kylar’s master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession.

But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit?heart

| 4. |

Guns of the Dawn

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A standalone, action-packed pseudo-Napoleonic historical fantasy adventure from the esteemed author of the Shadows of the Apt series.

Denland and Lascanne have been allies for generations, but now the Denlanders have assassinated their king, overthrown the monarchy and marched on their northern neighbour. At the border, the war rages; Lascanne’s brave redcoats against the revolutionaries of Denland.

Emily Marshwic has watched the war take her brother-in-law and now her young brother. Then comes the call for more soldiers, to a land already drained of husbands, fathers and sons. Every household must give up one woman to the army and Emily has no choice but to join the ranks of young women marching to the front.

In the midst of warfare, with just enough training to hold a musket, Emily comes face to face with the reality: the senseless slaughter; the weary cynicism of the Survivor’s Club; the swamp’s own natives hiding from the conflict.

As the war worsens, and Emily begins to have doubts about the justice of Lascanne’s cause, she finds herself in a position where her choices will make or destroy both her own future and that of her nation. heart

| 5. |

Rise of Empire

by Michael J. Sullivan

A puppet is crowned. The true heir remains hidden. A rogue’s secret could change everything.

War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists whom are fighting the Imperialists in the south. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce’s suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own grab for power. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian’s past–what he discovers may end their friendship and break Riyria in two.

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| 6. |

Angel of Storms

by Trudi Canavan

Tyen is teaching mechanical magic at a school respected throughout the worlds. News arrives that the formidable ruler of all worlds, long believed to be dead, is back and enforcing his old laws – including the one forbidding schools of magic. As teachers and students flee, Tyen is left with no home and no purpose… except the promise he made to Vella, the sorcerer imprisoned in a book. Tyen must decide what he is willing to do to free her.

After five years among the tapestry weavers of Schpeta, Rielle’s peaceful new life has been shattered by a local war. As defeat looms, the powerful Angel of Storms appears and invites Rielle to join the artisans of his celestial realm. But what will he require in return for this extraordinary offer?heart

| 7. |

Sorcerer to the Crown

by Zen Cho

In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. And that’s only the first of his problems. He must juggle the conflicting demands of a wayward Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, where a faction schemes to remove him from his position by fair means or foul. He must cope with the Fairy Court refusing to grant Britain the magical resources it needs. And now the British Government is avid to deploy this increasingly scare magic in its war with France. He must also contend with rumors that he murdered his predecessor and guardian, Sir Stephen Wythe. But this task would be easier if Sir Stephen’s ghost would just stop following him around. And now he has to deal with something even more outrageous than any of these things: a female magical prodigy. 

Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she has drudged all her life, and a visit by the Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries – and she intends to make the most of it.heart

| 8. |

The Traitor Baru Cormorant

by Seth Dickinson

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is an epic geopolitical fantasy about one woman’s mission to tear down an empire by learning how to rule it.

Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery – and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.

But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.heart

| 9. |

Ancillary Justice

by Ann Leckie

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.heart

| 10. |

Old Man’s War

by John Scalzi

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.heart

Happy Christmas fellow bookworms! What books do you hope to find under your tree this year? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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Bookish ‘Sci-Fi’ Beats: Ex Machina OST


Sci-Fi Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion. This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


Ex Machina (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Score Composed by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow


Listen to with:

A tense science fiction thriller

Such as:

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

The Ex Machina soundtrack is pure atmospheric ambience. Created by Ben Salisbury and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, this is a soundtrack which celebrates electronic music; transporting you to another time, another place… and maybe even another world. Dark electronic synths fall across a backdrop of moody reverberating tension to create a score which could only have emerged as a result of pure science fiction inspiration, and which succeeds in creating an incredibly evocative backdrop for reading any science fiction thriller. The Ex Machina soundtrack is subtle and understated yet retains a flair for the dramatic that excites, ripples with tension and keeps the button pressed firmly on repeat.

From the opening track – The Turing Test which, with its distinctive combination of a rolling and beating melody interwoven with dark electronic synths, introduces one of the soundtrack’s main themes – this soundtrack establishes an unyielding atmosphere which remains undiluted throughout the entire score. Watching continues this ambient theme but is overlaid with an electronic beat which slowly transforms into a beautiful creeping melody before disappearing beneath a cloud of tension, cut through with a low and wavering bass.

Ava is an entirely different type of track. There is a certain innocence which permeates the background of tension and the melody is reminiscent of the tune from a musical jewellery box. This same melody is echoed in other tracks such as The Test Worked, a piece which is saturated in gentle ambience until the score’s other main theme – a rousing and repeating electronic melody – cuts in. Skin also features echoes of this ‘jewellery box’ theme before transforming and intensifying until the gentle beat becomes a pounding, climactic finale. Out, which is one of the score’s stand-out tracks, plays with this same gentle tone but transforms it into fast-paced and melodic electronic number.

Falling is an incredibly beautiful track which is a combination of atmosphere, gentle melodies and intensifying tension which reaches a pounding and dramatic climax. This tension is an essential characteristic of the entire soundtrack and, in tracks such as Hacking / Cutting and I Am Become Death, is intensified and entwined with ambience, rhythmic beats and almost discordant sections, which gradually build the pace until cutting out to a whining reverberating chord. Bunsen Burner, a track by Cuts, uses the score’s electronic theme to create a tense and sweeping action track which creates a triumphant finale to phenomenal score.

This is a soundtrack which impresses with its subtle drama and tense atmosphere. If you’re looking for an ambient soundtrack which echoes the character of a moody science fiction thriller, then Ex Machina may just be the perfect score.

Favourite tracks

04 – Falling

Top track for action

10 – Bunsen Burner

Top track for tension

06 – Hacking / Cutting

Top track for emotion

09 – Out

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If you like the Ex Machina soundtrack, you may also want to try The Machine soundtrack

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