The Friday Face-Off: If They Are Wearing An Ugly Hat

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme 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 Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off! This week we’re comparing covers which feature hats!

And never mind ugly hats – this week I’ve trawled through an assortment of weird – but always wonderful – hattish creations which seem to proliferate across fantasy fiction to come up with the goods. And two of the most stunning I found in Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves, both designed by the outstanding Benjamin Carré. With the UK and US edition published by Gollancz and Del Rey respectively, and the French edition published by Bragelonne, take a look at this week’s offerings to see which is your favourite.

Gollancz – Cover #1

Cover Art by Benjamin Carré

Bragelonne (French) – Cover #2

Cover Art by Benjamin Carré

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

With the former emphasising the splendour and pageantry of costume and the latter making the backdrop of a city its theme, these two beautiful covers are incredibly difficult to choose between. The UK/US edition is dark and dangerous – the grey watercolour backdrop, the knife dripping in blood and the expressionless menace of the masque – all point to the darker aspects of this novel. The French edition however removes this menace and replaces it with one of the most prominent characters of The Gentleman Bastard Sequence – The City. The touch of golden light on the rooftops, the subtly reflected figures and the detailed backdrop pay homage to the eloquence of Lynch’s darkly humorous novels which makes the Bragelonne cover equally worthy of winning.

So doff your caps ladies and gentlemen, this week I officially declare it a draw! 

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

LyNext week’s theme is:

All that is gold does not glitLter

A cover which features gold

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

| Links |

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

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Friday Firsts: The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono

Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?

| Friday Firsts: June 30 |

The Hit

Book Three of the Leone Scamarcio Series

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | 320 Pages | Published by Scribe UK in 2016

| First Paragraphs |

LILA SAT CRYING ON THE SOFA, her eye make-up running down her cheeks. The camera panned right to reveal Fernando standing in the doorway, half in shadow. The music was building to a slow crescendo.

Micky Proietti sighed and uncrossed his legs. He’d told them ‘no piano’. He’d made it perfectly clear, he’d said it several times and had even set it down in an email, but there was piano everywhere — it was practically wall to wall.

Fernando approached from the doorway and stood behind Lila, placing a shaky hand on her shoulder.

Fernando had a memorable face, but his performance was weak. Right now, he looked like someone had run over his pet canary. Why hadn’t the director done a retake? The problem with the old guard was that they were scared of the talent; they didn’t ride them hard. The young guns didn’t care; they’d do whatever it took, commit their actors to an asylum if necessary. He should have got the Caselli Brothers on this. Why the hell had he listened to Giacometti when he’d insisted on Andrea? Andrea was 65 — he was past it. TV was a young man’s game.

Yet again, Micky Proietti considered the fact that he turned 43 next month. Would he be able to stay in the game until retirement? Would he be squeezed out, forced to take up a new career? Focus, Micky, he told himself. You will be pushed aside if you don’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Fernando was sitting next to Lila on the sofa now. He was taking her hand gently in his. ‘Darling, I have something to tell you …’

The dreadful piano music resumed, and the screen faded to black…

Micky Proietti cleared his throat, remembering the basic lessons from his management training: start with the positives before moving to the negatives; be constructive; build confidence. Problem was, right now he couldn’t think of any positives. Lila was OK-ish. She just about carried it, but it was hardly a stellar performance. As for Fernando, Micky could write the reviews already: ‘a limp effort’; ‘lacks passion,’ etc, etc.

Proietti cleared his throat again. He could murder a line. Maybe he should pop over to the bathroom before addressing the team. No, he told himself. Just get it over with — duty first, pleasure later.

He shifted in his seat and surveyed the room. The editor was chewing down on a nail, staring at him impassively, quietly defiant. Micky hated that rebellious streak in editors; they always seemed determined to let whoever was higher up the hierarchy know that they wouldn’t be intimidated, couldn’t be pushed around. Actually, if he was honest, he’d always been a bit scared of them. Andrea, the director, was looking down at something on his notepad, doodling nervous circles with his biro, crossing and uncrossing his feet. Did he already realise it was a disaster? Didi, the producer, was subtly shifting her skirt higher up her magnificent legs. Poor Didi wouldn’t be able to screw her way out of this one.

He recalled his management training once more, then thought, Fuck it. He needed to be in Parioli in an hour, and then there was that trip to the bathroom …

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

| First Impressions |

I’ve been looking forward to a follow up to the Leone Scamarcio series by Nadia Dalbuono for some time – though The Hit turned out to be an accidental one-click Amazon buy. Oops! But no concern there – this was definitely going to end up on my bookshelf sooner rather than later!

And so far, so good! The opening paragraphs draw the reader into the ambition-led, drug-fuelled, tension-filled world of showbusiness – a prime set up for this crime thriller to really kick off. And while the first paragraphs don’t give much away, we start to get a feel for the characters – and possible suspects – in this showbiz enterprise.

If The Hit is anything like The Few or The American then it’s going to be a tension-building, action-packed chase through Rome’s underworld which I cannot wait to get sucked into.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Princess of Blood

Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.

| Waiting on Wednesday: June 28 |

Princess of Blood

Book Two of The God Fragments

by Tom Lloyd

There’s a new Card in the Mercenary Deck – one Lynx isn’t sure if he’s happy to see or not. The assassin Toil now wears the Princess of Blood on her jacket and even Lynx would admit she’s a woman cloaked in chaos and bloodshed.

Their new mission is to escort a dignitary to the pious and ancient city of Jarrazir – beneath which lies a fabled labyrinth. Having barely survived their last underground adventure the mercenaries aren’t keen for another, but Toil has other plans.

Under threat of siege and horrors rising from the labyrinth, even the Mercenary Deck may have to accept that Jarrazir’s prohibition laws aren’t their biggest problem.

To be published by Gollancz on 27th July 2017

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| Announcement |

Just a quick announcement that I am currently in the process of moving house and have limited access to internet. Posts will remain infrequent or absent for just over a week!

Teaser Tuesdays: June 13

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker.

| Teaser Tuesdays: June 13 |


by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Fantasy | 298 Pages | Published by Tor in 2016

“There was a tearing sound and a flare of heatless reddish fire, and a man was stood there, caught as though in the middle of a conversation. He was bald , with a ferocious beard, and he wore robes of black stitched with red sigils. The same symbols glowed fitfully on the metal plates of his belt and the spiked pauldrons that capped his shoulders.

Cyrene did not know the man, but she knew the uniform. Her innards went utterly cold. A Doomsayer, one of Darvezian’s own elite: a true servant of the Dark Lord.”

~ 50% | Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

| Synopsis |

The Church of Armes of the Light has battled the forces of Darkness for as long as anyone can remember. The great prophecy has foretold that a band of misfits, led by a high priestess will defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian, armed with their wits, the blessing of the Light and an artifact stolen from the merciless Spider Queen.

Their journey will be long, hard and fraught with danger. Allies will become enemies; enemies will become allies. And the Dark Lord will be waiting, always waiting…

Spiderlight is an exhilarating fantasy quest from Adrian Tchaikovsky, the author of Guns at Dawn and the Shadows of the Apt series.

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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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The Friday Face-Off: It Shuffles Through The Dry, Dusty Darkness

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme 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.

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off! This week we’re comparing covers which feature mummification!

Lucky for us speculative fiction lovers there are numerous books in the fantasy world which have been inspired by Egyptology but those pesky mummies seem to be few and far between. Mr. Pratchett of course can never disappoint and threw Pyramids into my lap to aid in this week’s cover exploration. With mummies tearing their way out of the original cover and lying soundly in the sarcophagus for the Russians, these two covers go head to head in this Friday’s Face-Off!

Original – Cover #1

Cover Art by Josh Kirby

Russian – Cover #2

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

From chaos, colour and action to sombre, creepy and mysterious, these two covers for Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids could not be more different. As with all the original Discworld covers I love the vibrancy and detail, the riot of figures and the wonderful humour reminiscent of the novels. This is a cover which demands attention and further exploration; a cover you can get lost in as much as the book.

By comparison the Russian cover for Pyramids is startlingly simple. The typeface is elegant and uncomplicated and the single, mysterious image on a dark background allows the plume of dust and wispy wrappings to bring a hint of mystery and darkness to the fore. However, the beauty of Kirby’s art is that it captures Pratchett’s humorous writing incredibly well – you see it and you know it’s Pratchett; something that sadly the Russian cover barely even hints at.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Post LinksNext week’s theme is:

You Couldn’t Not Like Someone Who Liked The Guitar

A cover which features a guitar

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

| Links |

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Productions

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Friday Firsts: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?

| Friday Firsts: June 09 |


by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Fantasy | 298 Pages | Published by Tor in 2016

| First Paragraphs |

THE WORDS THAT TWANGED and thrummed their way to Nth said, New food coming, and he stirred, resettling his legs to take the measure of the message: how far, what direction, who originated it. Mother’s Brood was large. Some of her children were more reliable than others.

New food. Different food. That had everyone’s interest. Across the span of the web, that was strung in mistlike sheets from tree to tree across their forest, he felt the others rousing, rising from their torpor. There was always food, even for so many bodies as Mother’s Brood ran to, but variety was welcome.

In the dark wood, the deer ran in their many herds, feeding in the clearings under the shadow of the webs, and being fed upon in turn. Mother saw to it that there were always clearings, where the great trees had been poisoned and weakened. There would always be deer aplenty.

In the trees there were monkeys, and they were clever and often escaped the hunt or the web, but this, too, was Mother’s plan. The monkeys were just clever enough that there would always be enough monkeys. They were aware enough to realize their fate, when they were caught, and that gave their juices an extra savor.

There were no wolves, no stalking cats. It was not that the flesh of these things was unpalatable, but they were wasteful. They consumed too many deer and monkeys for their presence to be tolerated.

New food , though. Nth waited for the words of the web to tell him that this prize wastaken, so that he could beg Mother for a taste.

More speech came from the hunters, a constant commentary as they shadowed the intruders into the dark wood, hurrying above them while their siblings wove traps and barriers to channel them and funnel them.

New food. Man.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

| First Impressions |

My third week of Friday Firsts and once again I return with one of my favourite authors! Adrian Tchaikovsky has written a multitude of outstanding fantasy and science fiction novels which always appear to hit the mark – and Spiderlight, I expect, will be no exception.

The novel begins in the heart of the dark brood itself. The thoughts,  hungers and animalistic desires that creep through this cluster of spiders are brought to the fore in Spiderlight’s opening paragraphs, leaving an impression of tension, excitement and a sense that this is going to be one unique novel!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Our Dark Duet

Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.

| Waiting on Wednesday: June 07 |

Our Dark Duet

Book Two of Monsters of Verity

by V. E. Schwab

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

To be published by Titan on 13th June 2017

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Historical Fiction On My TBR

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

| Top Ten… Historical Fiction On My TBR |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! This week I’m taking a look at the historical fiction which has made its way onto my shelves. Ok, so some are more fantasy than history… and some are only by authors who made their name in the historic fiction genre… but they still made it onto my TBR! Take a look and see if any made your list.

| 1. |


by Robert Harrisheart

The Pope is dead.

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.

Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

| 2 |

All The Light We Cannot See

by Anthony Doerrheart

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence.

| 3 |


by Conn Iggulden


In the year 937, King Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a great spear into the north. His dream of a kingdom of all England will stand or fall on one field and the passage of a single day.

At his side is Dunstan of Glastonbury, full of ambition and wit, perhaps enough to damn his soul. His talents will take him from the villages of Wessex to the royal court, to the hills of Rome – from exile to exaltation.

Through Dunstan’s vision, by his guiding hand, England may come together as one great country – or fall back into anarchy and misrule…

From one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and performer, a visionary, a traitor and confessor to kings – the man who changed the fate of England.heart

| 4. |

Clash of Eagles

by Alan Smale


In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, a legion under the command of general Gaius Marcellinus invades the newly-discovered North American continent. But Marcellinus and his troops have woefully underestimated the fighting prowess of the Native American inhabitants. When Gaius is caught behind enemy lines and spared, he must reevaluate his allegiances and find a new place in this strange land.

| 5. |


by Andrew Caldecott


The town of Rotherweird stands alone – there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird’s independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

For beneath the enchanting surface lurks a secret so dark that it must never be rediscovered, still less reused.

But secrets have a way of leaking out.

Two inquisitive outsiders have arrived: Jonah Oblong, to teach modern history at Rotherweird School (nothing local and nothing before 1800), and the sinister billionaire Sir Veronal Slickstone, who has somehow got permission to renovate the town’s long-derelict Manor House.

Slickstone and Oblong, though driven by conflicting motives, both strive to connect past and present, until they and their allies are drawn into a race against time – and each other. The consequences will be lethal and apocalyptic.

Welcome to Rotherweird!

| 6. |

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead


Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

| 7. |

The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy

by H. B. Lyle

London 1909: The British Empire seems invulnerable. But Captain Vernon Kell, head of counter-intelligence at the War Office, knows better. In Russia, revolution; in Germany, an arms race; in London, the streets are alive with foreign terrorists. Kell wants to set up a Secret Service, but to convince his political masters he needs proof of a threat – and to find that, he needs an agent he can trust. The playing fields of Eton may produce good officers, but not men who can work undercover in a munitions factory that appears to be leaking secrets to the Germans.

Kell needs Wiggins. Trained as a child by Kell’s old friend Sherlock Holmes – he led a gang of urchin investigators known as the Baker Street Irregulars – Wiggins is an ex-soldier with an expert line in deduction and the cunning of a born street fighter. ‘The best’, says Holmes.

Wiggins turns down the job – he ‘don’t do official’. But when his best friend is killed by Russian anarchists, Wiggins sees that the role of secret agent could take him towards his sworn revenge.

Tracking the Russian gang, Wiggins meets a mysterious beauty called Bela, who saves his life. Working for Kell, he begins to unravel a conspiracy that reaches far beyond the munitions factory.

| 8. |

Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman

Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

| 9. |


by A. D. Swanston

Summer, 1572 and England is vulnerable. Fear of plague and insurrection taint the air, and heresy, fanaticism and religious unrest seethe beneath the surface of society. Rumour and mistrust lead to imprisonment, torture and sometimes murder. To the young lawyer Christopher Radcliff and his patron and employer, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the prospects for peace are grave – and as Leicester’s chief intelligencer, he is charged with investigating both the rumours of rebellion at home and invasion from abroad.

But Radcliff’s own life is far from orderly. His relationship with the widow Katherine Allingham is somewhat turbulent and the cut-throat world of court politics leaves no room for indiscretions.

That the queen’s own cousin, the Duke of Norfolk, is found guilty of treason, it is a sign of just how deep the dissent goes. Jesuit priests have been sent to England in order to foment revolt but the threat of a Catholic uprising comes not just from within. Across the channel, France is caught up in a frenzy of brutal religious persecution and England’s other enemy of old, Spain, is making preparations to invade. England is a powder-keg, just waiting for a spark to ignite it – and then Christopher Radcliff hears word of a plot that could provide that spark. The word is ‘incendium’ – but what does it mean and who lies behind it? Suddenly Christopher Radcliff is caught up in a race against time…

| 10. |

Eight Months on Gazzah Street

by Hilary Mantelheart

Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband’s work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom’s areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive, watchful. The streets are not a woman’s territory; confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self begin to dissolve. She hears whispers, sounds of distress from the ’empty’ flat above her head. She has only rumours, no facts to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease. As her days empty of certainty and purpose, her life becomes a blank — waiting to be filled by violence and disaster.

What books have you added to your TBR recently? 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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