The Friday Face-Off: All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter


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.


Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb


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

And when it comes to fantasy you’re never far from a beautiful gilded or embossed cover. This week the UK and the US are going head to head with Assassin’s Fool by Robin Hobb. With two gorgeous covers from Harper Voyager and Del Rey, take a look and see which one is your favourite!


UK Harper Voyager – Cover #1

Cover Art by Jackie Morris + Stephen Raw

US Del Rey – Cover #2

Cover Art by Alejandro Colucci


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

The composition of this series of covers never fails to hit my cover sweet spot. The Harper Voyager cover is awash with gold, with a beautiful calligraphic typeface and that gorgeous flying flag. Simple, elegant and eye-catching and, like with all good treasure troves, as soon as I saw it I coveted it!

By comparison the Del Rey cover portrays an artistic view of a lone figure striding through the snow. Beautifully imagined with faded antlers and a misty white snow storm, I just wish this cover captured my attention as the Harper Voyager cover does.

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

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Next week’s theme is:

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…

A cover which features a boat

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


| Links |

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Wendell @ Bookwraiths

Steve @ Books and Beyond Reviews

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Friday Firsts: The Vagrant by Peter Newman


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


| Friday Firsts: July 07 |


The Vagrant

Book One of The Vagrant Trilogy

by Peter Newman

Fantasy | 400 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

Starlight gives way to bolder neon. Signs muscle in on all sides, brightly welcoming each arrival to New Horizon.

The Vagrant does not notice; his gaze fixes on the ground ahead.

People litter the streets like living waste, their eyes as hollow as their laughter. Voices beg and hands grasp, needy, aggressive.

The Vagrant does not notice and walks on, clasping his coat tightly at the neck.

Excited shouts draw a crowd ahead. A mixture of half-bloods and pimps, dealers and spectators gather in force. Platforms rise up in the street, unsteady on legs of salvaged metal. Wire cages sit on top. Within, shivering forms squat, waiting to be sold. For some of the assembled, the flesh auction provides new slaves, for others, fresh meat.

Unnoticed in the commotion, the Vagrant travels on.

The centre of New Horizon is dominated by a vast scrap yard dubbed ‘The Iron Mountain’, a legacy from the war. At its heart is the gutted corpse of a fallen sky-ship; its cargo of tanks and fighters has spilled out in the crash, forming a skirt of scattered metal at the mountain’s base.

Always opportunistic, the inhabitants of New Horizon have tunnelled out its insides to create living spaces and shops, selling on the sky-ship’s treasures. Scavenged lamps hang, colouring the shadows.

One tunnel is illuminated by a glowing hoop, off-white and erratic. In the pale light, the low ceiling is the colour of curdled milk.

Awkwardly, the Vagrant enters, bending his legs and bowing his head, his back held straight.

Corrugated shelves line the walls, packed with bottles, tins and tubes. The owner of the rusting cave hunches on the floor, cleaning a syringe with a ragged cloth. He appraises the Vagrant with a bloodshot eye.

‘A new customer?’ The Vagrant nods. Syringe and cloth are swiftly tucked away and yellowing fingers rub together. ‘Ah, welcome, welcome. I am Doctor Zero. I take it you’ve heard of me?’

The Vagrant nods.

‘Of course you have, that’s why you’re here. Well, what can I get you? You look tired. I have the finest selection of uppers this side of the Breach, or perhaps something to escape with?’ His eyes twinkle, sleazy, seductive.

One hand still on his collar, the Vagrant’s amber eyes roam the shelves. They alight on a small jar, its label faded to a uniform grey.

‘Ah, a discerning customer,’ says Doctor Zero, impressed. ‘Rare to have somebody who knows what they’re looking for. Most of the rabble I get through here can’t tell the difference between stardust and sawdust.’ He picks up the jar, flicking something sticky from the lid. ‘I assume whoever sent you appreciates the scarcity of good medicine … and the cost.’

In answer, the Vagrant kneels and places two platinum coins on the ground, sliding them across the floor towards the Doctor.

‘I hope you aren’t trying to trick me,’ the Doctor replies, picking them up and tapping each one in turn with his finger. The coins vibrate and a brief two-note duet fills the cramped space. For a moment neither speak, both moved to other memories by the sound.

Doctor Zero holds them to the light, the clean discs incongruous with his sallow skin. ‘My apologies,’ he says, handing the jar over quickly, hoping no change will be asked for. ‘And if you have any other needs, don’t hesitate to come back.’

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Newman’s writing style. Even from the opening paragraphs the flow of his words and the lyrical construction of his sentences drew me deep into its pages and refused to let me go. The mystery and tension is palpable, the world a dark unknown, and the characters ever more so. This is one novel which already has me hooked.

First impressions? Breathtaking. If The Vagrant continues in the vein in which it started I have high expectations of it being an outstanding and incredibly memorable read.

Fingers crossed.

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

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Waiting on Wednesday: Successor’s Promise


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


| Waiting on Wednesday: July 05 |

Successor’s Promise

Book Three of the Millennium’s Rule Series

by Trudi Canavan


International No.1 bestselling author Trudi Canavan returns with the third instalment in the Millennium’s Rule series – her most powerful and thrilling adventure yet.

Five years have passed since the Rebels confronted the Raen. Five years, in which the boy Rielle rescued, Qall, has grown up among the Travellers, with no memory of the life that was stolen from him.

Five years of chaos, barely contained by Baluka and the Restorers. Worlds are at war, some overrun by deadly machines, some drained of magic by power-hungry sorcerers.

As Qall comes of age, and Rielle and Tyen’s hard-won peace is threatened, their loyalties are tested – and Qall’s very existence is at stake.

Because Dahli is still determined to restore Valhan to power, and he will stop at nothing to succeed.

Escape to a new world.

Discover the magic of Trudi Canavan.


To be published by Orbit on 21st September 2017

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Teaser Tuesdays: July 04


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


| Teaser Tuesdays: July 04 |

The Hit

Book Three of the Leone Scamarcio Series

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | 320 Pages | Published by Scribe UK in 2016


“All this travel of Piocosta’s was making Scamarcio wonder quite how influential he had become. Rather than being responsible for one aspect of the clan’s dealings in the capital, was Piocosta in fact responsible for all of it? Had he scrambled his way to the very top?”

~ 46% | The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono


| Synopsis |

The investigation of an apparent hit-and-run unravels a tangled web in modern Rome.

When the family of Micky Proietti, a top television executive, goes missing, Leone Scamarcio is called to investigate. Everyone, it seems — from Premier League footballers to jilted starlets and cabinet ministers — has an axe to grind with Proietti. What starts out as an investigation into his countless affairs soon becomes an inquiry into how Proietti does business and the people he has discarded along the way. Finally, Proietti’s finances attract Scamarcio’s attention, and he discovers that the drama commissioner has been granting favours to some very shadowy sponsors.

Like a swimmer trying to escape a riptide, Scamarcio comes to realise that this new inquiry threatens to bring him head to head with his father’s old lieutenant, Piero Piocosta. If he’s to survive in the police force, Scamarcio knows that he must find a way to get Piocosta off his back, once and for all. And find it quickly.

Reluctantly, he travels home to Calabria in an attempt to understand how powerful Piocosta has really become and whether he might ever be silenced. It’s a perilous journey, but one Scamarcio has to make if he’s to finally banish the ghosts of his past.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| 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: An Update


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.


| An Update |

The list of weekly topics for the Friday Face-Off has now been updated for the months ahead. Check out the list of upcoming themes below – and remember to check back for future themes!


| The List |

07th July 2017

All that is gold does not glitter

A cover which features gold

14th July 2017

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…

A cover which features boats

21st July 2017

Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it

A cover which features a planet

28th July 2017

The kindest use a knife, because the dead so soon grow cold

A cover which features a knife

04th August 2017

From the ashes a fire shall be woken

A cover which features fire

11th August 2017

No soldier outlives a thousand chances

A cover which features a soldier

18th August 2017

The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork

A cover which features food

25th August 2017

If I be waspish, best beware my sting

A cover which features an insect

1st September 2017

Being born in a stable does not make one a horse

A cover which features a horse

8th September 2017

That great condenser of moral chaos, The City

A cover which features a city


For those of you who are interested but haven’t seen a Face-Off post before, here’s how it goes:

Each week I select a book and make a comparison between the UK and the US covers, displaying the artwork (in all its awesome glory) before selecting one of the two or more covers as the ultimate winner of my Face-Off.

Simple! The following is a rough guide to how this meme will work:

  • Each week will follow a theme
  • The Friday Face-Off feature page will be kept up to date for the theme of the week and those several weeks following it
  • For the purposes of comparing a good variety of cover art only one of the two or more book covers chosen for comparison need relate to the theme (although if you can find two then great!)
  • The books most certainly don’t have to be the UK or US editions – they’re just the covers I’m usually most familiar with and consequently post more often – so post whichever covers catch your eye!
  • Still unsure? – Take a look at some past posts!
  • To sign up just add your link to the bottom of that Friday’s post and link back!

As always, topic suggestions are welcome!

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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


| 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!