The Friday Face-Off: Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new 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.

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Welcome to this week’s Friday Face-Off! This week we’re looking at covers which feature a road… preferably a lonely one!

Published by Titan in the UK and by Penguin / NAL in the US, A Curious Beginning is a book which fell into my lap through Goodreads a few months ago – and one which I am still yet to read! This Face-Off features two stunning covers in completely different styles, making this week’s choice incredibly difficult. Take a look and see which one, if any, came out on top!

Titan – UK Cover

Artwork by Julia Lloyd

Penguin / NAL – US Cover

Artwork by Michael Heath

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

This week is a definite draw! The style of the UK artwork is wonderful – and even better in real life! This eye-catching, illustrative cover is a light hearted edition which uses various Victoriana motifs to hint at the contents within. The colour palette – and that aged aquamarine especially – works perfectly as a backdrop to this elegantly fun composition, and the scroll-work and typeface used are interesting, detailed and work to draw the eye.

The US cover is a completely different affair and works with an atmospheric image to capture another side to the story. The use of lighting and a warm colour palette, especially the pink overlay to the street scene and the swirling mists, work together to create an eye-catching image – an image which almost feels like you could follow the figure into it – and the typeface is simple and elegant.

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

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Post LinksTomorrow’s theme is: You Got The Blues

A cover which is predominantly blue

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

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The Friday Face-Off: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Update

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new 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 Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Welcome to this week’s Friday Face-Off update! Apologies for the late post, Amsterdam beckoned! Last Friday we were looking at covers which feature something relating to death… so there was one motif that had to crop up (time and again) – the skull!

Published by Doubleday in the UK and by Disney / Hyperion in the US, The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud – the second book in the Lockwood & Co. series – features two creepy covers to sink our teeth into. Scroll down to see which one won last Friday’s vote!

Doubleday – UK Cover

Artwork by Alessandro ‘Talexi’ Taini

Disney / Hyperion – US Cover

Artwork by Michael Heath

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Well this Face-Off was something of a landslide. The UK cover really didn’t win me over and presents an almost amateur look – I’m not sure I would assume Stroud was an established author if I hadn’t read and enjoyed him previously. The skull is certainly creepy and draws the eye but looks oddly photoshopped into the sky, nor is the figure in the foreground interesting enough to lift the composition, and the typeface doesn’t do it any favours at all. Definitely a disappointing cover from this side of the pond.

The US cover however is wonderful! I love that creepy skull in the glass vial. I love that glowing, smoking green liquid and the chains, dirt and grime which surround it. This is definitely an interesting and eye-catching composition which benefits from a diverse range of lettering – and I certainly find my eyes drawn to the ‘Lockwood & Co.’ title. The US cover is the hands down winner for this Friday Face-Off!

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

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Post LinksTomorrow’s theme is: Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

A cover which features a road

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

| Links |

DJ @ MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape – Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Zezee @ Zezee With Books – The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek – The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books  – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

S J Higbee @ Brainfluff – Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Nick V Reys @ The Paper Dragon – Mort by Terry Pratchett

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Tough Travelling: Portals to Another Land

Tough TravellingJoin me each Thursday for some Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide, hosted by Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, we will set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.

| Portals to Another Land |

Fantasyland often has some unique entry points; not every traveler is born within its boundaries.  It is a regular event for someone from a non-magical place to suddenly find themselves in this world of dragons, magic, and danger.

After quite some time searching, it appeared that most of my favourite portal books were those from childhood. So this week I’ve gathered five of my childhood favourites. These are the stories of portals and time-slips, of nightmarish creatures and dangerous worlds, of brave children and unwitting adults. These are the five I’ve read countless times over the years.

| 1. |


by Alan Garner

The four Watson children enter an old and abandoned church in search of a football when one by one, they disappear through a heavy iron-ringed door. A door which leads to the world of Elidor, a dark and dangerous kingdom almost entirely fallen to evil.

| 2. |

AliceAlice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass 

by Lewis Carroll

Alice finds herself on all sorts of adventures after making her way down a rabbit hole and finding herself in Wonderland. It certainly doesn’t stop her from making her way through a looking-glass mirror.

| 3. | LionThe Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

After being evacuated from London, Lucy Pevensie is exploring her adopted home when she finds her way through the back of a wardrobe into the world of Narnia. One by one, the disbelieving Pevensie children follow Lucy through the wardrobe to discover a world frozen in deep winter and ruled by the dark and terrible White Witch.

| 4. |TMGTom’s Midnight Garden

by Philippa Pearce

When Tom Long goes to stay with his Uncle Alan and Aunt Gwen in an upstairs flat of a large house with no garden, he finds himself transported to the past every night when the old grandfather clock strikes 13 and the back door opens onto a magical garden.

| 5. |MoondialMoondial

by Helen Cresswell

After being sent to live with an elderly aunt in the country, Minty finds herself transported to the past every night by a strange moondial in the garden; a past where she must help the ‘lost souls’  of former residents find peace.

What are your favourite portal books? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the Fantasy Review Barn and sign up!

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Blast from the Past: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

Blast from the Past is a new feature where I discuss the books and authors that, over a lifetime, have meant something to me. These are the stories I grew up with; the books which inspired me, changed the way I thought and started me off on a journey of discovery through imagined worlds.

I remember my mum sitting on the edge of my bed, my hands clutching at the covers, as she told me the tale of Colin and Susan and their adventures with goblins and demon dogs, with warlocks, witches and wizards, and the forces for good and evil. I remember my heart beating faster, my eyes widening in anticipation, as the heroes started out on an adventure which was equal parts exciting, enthralling and terrifying. I was walking hand in hand with Colin and Susan to Alderley Edge; I was following them deeper underground, with the earth closing up around me and the forces of darkness at my heels. I was part of their adventure. For me, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen really did inspire a love of fantasy fiction which has lasted a lifetime.

Garner’s first tale of Alderley is rooted in folklore and local mythology, and is ultimately about the battle between the powers of good and evil. The book follows the story of two children, Colin and Susan, a brother and sister who are deposited by unwitting parents at a family friend’s house near Alderley Edge. Unknowingly, Susan has in her possession the Weirdstone – a magical jewel incorporated into a bracelet, and passed down to Susan as a family heirloom. This jewel holds the only magic which can defeat the evil spirit Nastrond.

When evil stirs, Colin and Susan must embark on a quest to return the Weirdstone to the wizard Cadellin, who guards an army of sleeping warriors in the dwarven caves of Fundindelve. Through tunnels and caves, forests and mountain; the children  must outrun the creatures of evil who pursue them and keep the Weirdstone from falling into enemy hands. Their very lives depend on it.

As a child, living not far from Alderley, we made frequent visits to the Edge. I spent my childhood playing in the woods and standing on the sandstone ridge, staring out onto the plains and peaks beyond. We would become witches and sorcerers at the Wizard’s Well and hunt for fairies in the Druid’s Circle. We even made trips down the old mines which riddled the area – dark tunnels breaking out into huge, earthy caves; the red sandstone glittering with coppery green. Alderley Edge was a place of magic and adventure, and there is nothing quite like discovering that your fantasy world is real. That every bird you see above you is an enemy spy, and that deep underground, under the very earth you stand on, dwarven caves and mines host an army of sleeping warriors. This wasn’t fiction – It was reality.

A few years later I was sat in a classroom, legs crossed on the floor with thirty other children, as my teacher told us the tale of the Weirdstone and how two young siblings, much like us, embarked on a journey to return it to where it belonged. After countless readings, I was delighted to find myself back in a world which, to me, epitomised adventure. I have gone back to Alan Garner’s world of Alderley time and time again, and will in all likelihood continue to do so. I love The Weirdstone of Brisingamen as much now as I did then. And perhaps there’s still something in me that sees the furtive looks between birds, and hears the rumblings from underground, and truly believes that the world of fantasy is closer than we think.


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