2015: A Year in Review


| Books by Proxy – A Year in Review |

Welcome to my first end of year post – and what a year it has been! I started this blog on the last day of July and, over the last half of 2015, have found myself as part of a wonderful community of readers and bloggers. In my albeit limited experience, we book bloggers are lucky to enjoy a very friendly and supportive community, where sharing our books, our reviews and our experiences is all done for a love of reading and can be enjoyed by many. So thank you readers and thank you bloggers for making 2015 such an enjoyable year. I hope you all have a fantastic 2016!heart

| A Year in Books |

I think we can all agree these two very similar and equally profound books, Blood Song by Anthony Ryan and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, deservedly made it into my longest and shortest book categories.heart


Donna Leon


Leon 10

with ten books in her Commissario Brunetti series


2015 - 6

P.G. Wodehouse

with nine books in total including seven from his Blandings series


Jim Butcher

with eight books in The Dresden Files series


AC - 6

Agatha Christie

with six books in her Hercule Poirot series


best fantasyBlood Song

Book One of the Raven’s Shadow Series

by Anthony Ryan



Best SciFiRed Rising

Book One of the Red Rising Trilogy

by Pierce Brown

heartSci Fi Five


best novellaThe SerpentThe Serpent

The Gameshouse I

by Claire North



best crimeThe Few

A Leone Scamarcio Thriller

by Nadia Dalbuonoheart


best historicalLamentationLamentation

Book Six of the Matthew Shardlake Series

by C.J. Sansom



best classicSomething FreshSomething Fresh

Book One of the Blandings Series

by P.G. Wodehouse



There were so many more amazing books which deserve to be on this list but then it would just be most of 2015’s books!

Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful 2016!

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The Monthly Round-Up: December 2015

The Monthly Round-Up - DecWelcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!

| Books Read |

December has come to an end and we’ve crossed the threshold into 2016 – and what a year it has been! I’m currently compiling my year in review but December alone was a great month of phenomenal fiction. With a hefty pile of novellas bulking up the number, I’ve discovered some fantastic authors, read some thrilling tales and been taken to some truly amazing worlds.

And in the process of devouring – my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge was well and truly surpassed, I fell just short of the mark on my Dragons and Jetpacks 2015 Reading Challenge and I well and truly flopped on my personal goals for December… But nevermind! This has been a fantastic month and here are the books to prove it:

| 1. |

Rising Tide by Rajan Khanna

| 2. |

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

| 3. |

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

| 4. |

A Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 5. |

Rend the Dark by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 6. |

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

| 7. |

The Serpent by Claire North

| 8. |

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

| 9. |

Best Left in the Shadows by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 10. |

The Builders by Daniel Polansky

| 11. |

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

| 12. |

Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship by Aliette de Bodard

| 13. |

The Thief by Claire North

Book of the Month

The Serpent

by Claire North

| December Goals |

To finish at least one of the poor neglected novels which I am currently reading

(The Daylight War, NOS4R2 or Emma)

Status: 0 of 1 Complete

Status: Incomplete


To read at least one Christmas themed novel

Status: 0 of 1 Complete

Status: Incomplete (though started!)


| Goals for 2015 |

Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge: 115/100 Books Read (115%)

Status: Completed

Dragons and Jetpacks 2015 Reading Challenge: 41/50 Books Read (82%)

Status: Incomplete

| Reviews Posted |

5 Stars

The Serpent by Claire North

Superposition by David Walton

A Reaper of Stone by Mark Gelineau and Joe King


13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna

| Other Posts From December |

December brings with it a new feature – The Friday Face-Off – where I pit cover against cover to discover the best cover art from across both sides of the pond.

The Monthly Round-Up: November 2015

The Month Ahead: December 2015

Cover Reveal: Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie – UK Edition

Cover Reveal: Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Cover Reveal: Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie – US Edition

Bookish ‘Sci-Fi’ Beats: Oblivion OST

Bookish ‘Sci-Fi’ Beats: Ex Machina OST

Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Heligoland

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Debuts from the Gollancz Festival 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Newly Read Authors 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Classics of 2015

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

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

‘Sci-Fi’ Teaser Tuesdays: December 01 – Rising Tide by Rajan Khanna

‘Sci-Fi’ Teaser Tuesdays: December 08 – Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

Teaser Tuesdays: December 15 – The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

An X-Mas Teaser Tuesday: December 22 – The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

‘Sci-Fi’ Teaser Tuesdays: December 29 – Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

The Friday Face-Off: December 18 – The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

The Friday Face-Off: December 25 – The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

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


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


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Review: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

The 2016 Sci-Fi Experience

Slow Bullets

by Alastair Reynolds

Science Fiction | 192 Pages | Published by Tachyon Publications in 2015

| Rating |

This book was received from Netgalley in return for an honest review

My impromptu novella season continues with Alastair Reynold’s great new sci-fi short, Slow Bullets. Having never read any work by Reynolds, Slow Bullets seemed like the perfect opportunity to dip my toe in the water and get a taste of what this prolific author is all about. This is a novella which reads like a memoir, has all the vision of a science fiction epic, and is crammed full of mystery and danger, leaving me in more than a little need of another Reynolds fix.

From the author of the Revelation Space series comes an interstellar adventure of war, identity, betrayal, and the preservation of civilization itself.

A vast conflict, one that has encompassed hundreds of worlds and solar systems, appears to be finally at an end. A conscripted soldier is beginning to consider her life after the war and the family she has left behind. But for Scur—and for humanity—peace is not to be.

On the brink of the ceasefire, Scur is captured by a renegade war criminal, and left for dead in the ruins of a bunker. She revives aboard a prisoner transport vessel. Something has gone terribly wrong with the ship.

Passengers—combatants from both sides of the war—are waking up from hibernation far too soon. Their memories, embedded in bullets, are the only links to a world which is no longer recognizable. And Scur will be reacquainted with her old enemy, but with much higher stakes than just her own life.

Slow Bullets follows the story of Scur, a soldier forced into service who, after a tortuous and almost fatal encounter with the enemy, awakens to find herself on a prison ship which by all appearances is adrift in space. Scur is not alone. Hundreds of detainees, soldiers who fought on both sides of the war,  and crew members are waking up to an atmosphere of confusion, rivalry and tension to find that their ship may be little more than a glorified tomb. And time is running out.

In one short story, Reynolds manages to create a universe saturated with history; wars, conflict and religious feuds have had an indelible effect on the lives of those on board ship, and culture is made apparent through snippets of art and poetry which permeate the narrative. Slow Bullets stays clear of the hard science and presents a tense and plausible situation with little straying from the main narrative, spurring on the action and allowing the tale to unfold. This is a short, sharp and exciting read which appears to have a whole novel lurking beyond its pages.

Scur is perhaps not the most likeable of characters and although I sympathised with her situation, her hard edges barely weathered over the course of the narrative. She does however have a sense of realism in line with her situation which makes her a very convincing character to read. The multitude of side characters seemed almost like passing acquaintances by comparison, inspiring little in the way of emotional connection – though perhaps this is a reflection of Scur as narrator. However, this lack of connection allows for an element of mystery and intrigue to saturate the narrative and ultimately cast Scur in a more favourable light.

Alastair Reynolds has certainly proven himself to be a skilled storyteller; his writing manages to conjure up almost an entire Universe in surprisingly few pages and I was hooked from start to finish. I would perhaps have preferred a more climactic and action packed conclusion – this novella certainly has the potential to be a full-length novel – but the conclusion was ultimately satisfying and the writing was fast-paced and exciting throughout.

If you’re looking for an exciting and suspenseful science-fiction novella to slot into the busy holiday season then Slow Bullets is an excellent place to start. This might have been my first foray into the writings of Alastair Reynolds, but it certainly won’t be my last!

Bookish Beats Suggestion

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

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The Month Ahead: December 2015

The Month Ahead - DecIn The Month Ahead, I will be rounding up the books I am currently reading, the ones I will start this month, and the ones I intend getting my mitts on… if I haven’t already! I will also be sharing any news about features or posts on Books by Proxy, and anything in the book world that has me all excited!

| Currently Reading |

We’re already well into December but seeing as I forgot to post ‘The Month Ahead’ when it was truly ahead, I figured now would be as good a time as any. And of course I still haven’t picked up three of the books which have been languishing on my currently reading pile for some time now… but there is always hope for December… if I don’t get distracted by too many shiny new books! Having made their way to the top of said pile, the currently reading list currently includes Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard.

| Current Events |

The 2016 Sci-Fi Experience
The 2016 Sci-Fi Experience

Hosted by Stainless Steel Droppingsheart

Upcoming Events |Rosemary and Rue Read Along


The Rosemary and Rue Read Along

Organised by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 1 (Saturday 9th January)

Chapters 1-6 – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow

Week 2 (Saturday 16th January)

Chapters 7-14 – hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Books

Week 3 (Saturday 23rd January)

Chapters 15-20 – hosted by Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings

Week 4 (Saturday 30th January)

Chapters 21-End – hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow


Vintage Sci Fi Month

Vintage Sci-Fi Month

Hosted by Little Red Reviewer


Blog Tour - The American

Blog Tour: The American by Nadia Dalbuono

Review scheduled for 16th January 2016


| Book Haul |

So many fantastic new books! This month I’m very excited to have acquired Golden Son by Pierce Brown, The Copper Promise by Jen Williams and The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay – three books which have been on my to be read for a while now and which I cannot wait to read!

Pyr very kindly sent me Supersymmetry by David Walton which, after the brilliant Superposition, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into, and following the brilliant The Few by Nadia Dalbuono, I received The American from Scribe Publications and will be participating in the blog tour during January.

Along with Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan, I acquired Isaac Asimov’s Foundation as part of the Dragons and Jetpacks Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book of the Month, and after seeing the final film in the cinema, I finally thought it was about time to jump on the band wagon and read The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (yes – it’s about time!).

And last but not least we have Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds, a fantastic novella which I’ve already finished reading – review to come!heart

| December Goals |

To finish at least one of the poor neglected novels which I am currently reading

(The Daylight War, NOS4R2 or Emma)

Status: 0 of 1 Complete


To read at least one Christmas themed novel

Status: 0 of 1 Complete


Have you picked up any great books lately or read any of those mentioned above? What are your goals for the month ahead? 

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