Friday Firsts: Malice by John Gwynne


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


| Friday Firsts: August 04 |

Malice

Book One of The Faithful and the Fallen

by John Gwynne

Fantasy | 672 Pages | Published by Tor in 2012


| First Paragraphs |

Forest litter crunched under Evnis’ feet, his breath misting as he whispered a curse. He swallowed, his mouth dry.

He was scared, he had to admit, but who would not be? What he was doing this night would make him traitor to his king. And worse.

He paused and looked back. Beyond the forest’s edge he could still see the stone circle, behind it the walls of Badun, his home, its outline silvered in the moonlight. It would be so easy to turn back, to go home and choose another path for his life. He felt a moment of vertigo, as if standing on the edge of a great chasm, and the world seemed to slow, waiting on the outcome of his decision. I have come this far, I will see it through. He looked up at the forest, a wall of impenetrable shadow; he pulled his cloak tighter and walked into the darkness.

He followed the giantsway for a while, the stone-flagged road that connected the kingdoms of Ardan and Narvon. It was long neglected, the giant clan that built it vanquished over a thousand years ago, great clumps of moss and mushroom growing between crumbling flagstone.

Even in the darkness he felt too vulnerable on this wide road, and soon slithered down its steep bank and slipped amongst the trees. Branches scratched overhead, wind hissing in the canopy above as he sweated his way up and down slope and dell. He knew where he was going, had walked the path many times before, though never at night. Nineteen summers old, yet he knew this part of the Darkwood as well as any woodsman twice his age.

Soon he saw a flicker amongst the trees: firelight. He crept closer, stopping before the light touched him, scared to leave the anonymity of the shadows. Turn around, go home, a voice whispered in his head. You are nothing, will never equal your brother. His mother’s words, cold and sharp as the day she had died. He ground his teeth and stepped into the firelight.

An iron cauldron hung on a spit over a fire, water bubbling. Beside it a figure, cloaked and hooded.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

First impressions? Well first I have to admit that I started this book a long time ago and for reasons I fail to remember, put it down and haven’t picked it up again until now.

Re-reading the opening however, which is brimming with dark tension and mystery, has drawn me back into The Banished Lands and I’m already hooked. While the slow build-up of the opening chapters is almost certainly what made me put Malice down to begin with, it’s detail and character development on second take is a joy to read. I certainly won’t be putting it down again until it’s finished!                   

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Advertisements

Waiting on Wednesday: The Ember Blade


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


| Waiting on Wednesday: July 26 |

The Ember Blade

by Chris Wooding


A land under occupation. A legendary sword. A young man’s journey to find his destiny.

Aren has lived by the rules all his life. He’s never questioned it; that’s just the way things are. But then his father is executed for treason, and he and his best friend Cade are thrown into a prison mine, doomed to work until they drop. Unless they can somehow break free…

But what lies beyond the prison walls is more terrifying still. Rescued by a man who hates him yet is oath-bound to protect him, pursued by inhuman forces, Aren slowly accepts that everything he knew about his world was a lie. The rules are not there to protect him, or his people, but to enslave them. A revolution is brewing, and Aren is being drawn into it, whether he likes it or not.

The key to the revolution is the Ember Blade. The sword of kings, the Excalibur of his people. Only with the Ember Blade in hand can their people be inspired to rise up . . . but it’s locked in an impenetrable vault in the most heavily guarded fortress in the land.

All they have to do now is steal it…


To be published by Gollancz on 15th February 2018

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Plot


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


| Waiting on Wednesday: July 19 |

The Lost Plot

Book Four of The Invisible Library

by Genevieve Cogman


A covert mission

A royal demand

And a race against time

The fourth title in Genevieve Cogman’s witty and wonderful The Invisible Library series, The Lost Plot is an action-packed literary adventure.

In a 1930s-esque Chicago, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses and tommy guns are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon vs dragon contest. It seems a young librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him there could be serious political repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai find themselves trapped in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail and fiendish security systems. And if this doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences for Irene’s job. And, incidentally, for her life…


To be published by Pan Macmillan on 14th December 2017

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday Firsts: The Immortals by S. E. Lister


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


| Friday Firsts: July 14 |

The Immortals

by S. E. Lister

Fantasy | 328 Pages | Published by Old Street Publishing in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

Rosa came home after seven years, in the same year she had left. It was the beginning of the wet spring she knew so well. She found their cottage on the edge of a village, the latest Hyde home in a string of many, tucked out of the way behind a disused cattle barn. There were sandbags stacked against the steps, blackout curtains in every window. Bindweed framed the doorway. Beyond the fields a church spire rose into the dusky sky, lashed by rain, its chimes silenced.

A glossy blackbird shook its wings in a tree above her head, its liquid song filling the evening air. Everything was green, fat raindrops sliding from oak leaves and splashing onto the newly sprouted daffodils on the side of the road. There was a bicycle leaning against a silver birch. The grass at her feet was thick with snails.

She knocked, and after a few moments the door clicked open. A fair-haired girl blinked up at her politely. Rosa stared at her sister, now ten years old and tall for it, and felt the whole breadth of her own absence.

Bella ducked halfway back into the hallway. She peered out from behind her hair, plainly confused as to why this ragged stranger was familiar. Rosa’s words, rehearsed across many miles and decades, caught in her throat. She had nothing to say.

“Who is it?”

Footsteps, and then Bella had been pulled aside, making way for an apron-clad woman with her hair in curlers. She had a tea-towel in one hand and a mug in the other. Her mouth grew small and tight. The mug began to shake, spilling a slick of coffee onto the floor.

“Come in. Hurry! Come in…” Her mother’s hands did not touch her, but beckoned urgently. The door was pulled closed. In the hallway Rosa looked at Harriet Hyde, who had grown thinner, her face lined and her fiery hair dulled with grey. The softness around her edges had been replaced by a strained, brittle look. She bent to dab at the stain on the floor, shooing Rosa away when she tried to help. Bella clung to her apron.

“Did you walk through the village dressed like that?” Harriet asked at last, straightening up. Rosa nodded. “Were you seen by anyone?”

“I don’t think so. It’s dark, mother.”

“Yes, yes, I know. But busybodies at their windows…” Harriet’s eyes were bulging.

“Nobody looks out of their window at this hour.” Rosa lowered the pack from her shoulders. She peeled off her raincoat, and untied the scarf from around her hair.

“You might at least have changed your clothes.”

Rosa felt her jaw clench. “That wouldn’t have been easy.”

The whitewashed hallway was lit by a single bulb, umbrellas stacked beside the door, shoes in a neat line. No pictures on the walls, no peg for visitors’ coats. She had forgotten that they always had this feel, the Hyde homes, this stale, unloved impermanence. The carpets were worn only by other peoples’ footsteps, the pencil-scratches by the door marking the heights of other peoples’ children. Occupants long-gone, each place a borrowed shell.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Having heard little about this book or its author prior to opening it up – indeed I hadn’t even read the synopsis! – I dived in head first with no expectations. From the opening sentences this book gripped with its beautiful style and somewhat melancholy air and, with little to go on but the writing itself, I fully expect this to be an enchanting if somewhat haunting tale which I am already eager to continue.

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Waiting on Wednesday: The Core


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


| Waiting on Wednesday: July 12 |

The Core

Book Five of The Demon Cycle

by Peter V. Brett


Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett brings one of the most imaginative fantasy sagas of the twenty-first century to an epic close.

The war begun…

For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them.

Two heroes arose—men as close as brothers, yet divided by bitter betrayal. Arlen Bales became known as the Painted Man, tattooed head-to-toe with powerful magic symbols that enable him to fight demons in hand-to-hand combat—and emerge victorious. Ahmann Jardir, armed with magically warded weapons, called himself the Deliverer, a figure prophesied to unite humanity and lead them to triumph in Sharak Ka—the final war against demonkind.

But in their efforts to bring the war to the demons, Arlen and Jardir have set something in motion that may prove the end of everything they hold dear—a Swarm. Now the war is at hand, and humanity cannot hope to win it unless Arlen and Jardir, with the help of Arlen’s wife, Renna, can bend a captured demon prince to their will and force the devious creature to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons breeds an inexhaustible army.

Trusting their closest confidantes, Leesha, Inevera, Ragen, and Elissa, to rally the fractious people of the Free Cities and lead them against the Swarm, Arlen, Renna, and Jardir set out on a desperate quest into the darkest depths of evil—from which none of them expects to return alive


To be published by Harper Voyager on 28th September 2017

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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!

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin