The Friday Face-Off: The sea brought you. The sea shall have you back.


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. Check out Lynn’s-Books for upcoming themes!


Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne


Welcome to my somewhat late contribution to the Friday Face-Off!

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea happens to have an inordinate quantity of editions across the globe, many of which feature tentacles by the dozen! After some time spent rooting around for my favourites, I settled upon the Vintage edition, published in 2020, and (because I’m something of a sucker for these editions) the Penguin Classics edition, published in 2015.  Take a look and see which one is your favourite!


Vintage | Cover #1

Penguin Classics | Cover #2


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Vintage and Penguin Classics have produced two of the most simple and straightforward designs I could find in a library bursting at the seams with kraken, jellyfish, and assorted sea monsters. They both stood out as simplistic, modern and, in their own refined way, beautiful.

The looping tentacles of the jellyfish pattern on a deep blue backdrop are a delightful addition to the Penguin Classics range, and the quirky typeface and the swirling tentacles of of the Vintage edition would have me instantly reaching for it off the bookshelf.

Eye-catching in their simplicity, only my adoration of the style of all Penguin Classics, and the knowledge of how they look and feel when you hold them in your hands, have made it this week’s winner.

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:

At the end of every light, is a tunnel of darkness.

A cover featuring a tunnel

Remember to check Lynn’s Books for upcoming themes


| Links |

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

S. J. Higbee @ Brainfluff

Steve Smith @ Books and Beyond Reviews

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

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Friday Firsts: Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell


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


| Friday Firsts: February 23 |

Lois the Witch

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Classics | 256 Pages | Published by Penguin Books in 2008


| First Paragraphs |

In the year 1691, Lois Barclay stood on a little wooden pier, steadying herself on the stable land, in much the same manner as, eight or nine weeks ago, she had tried to steady herself on the deck of the rocking ship which had carried her across from Old to New England. It seemed as strange now to be on solid earth as it had been, not long ago, to be rocked by the sea, both by day and by night; and the aspect of the land was equally strange. The forests which showed in the distance all round, and which, in truth, were not very far from the wooden houses forming the town of Boston, were of different shades of green, and different, too, in shape of outline to those which Lois Barclay knew well in her old home in Warwickshire. Her heart sank a little as she stood alone, waiting for the captain of the good ship Redemption, the kind rough old sailor, who was her only known friend in this unknown continent. Captain Holdernesse was busy, however, as she saw, and it would probably be some time before he would be ready to attend, to her; so Lois sat down on one of the casks that lay about, and wrapped her grey duffle cloak tight around her, and sheltered herself under her hood, as well as might be, from the piercing wind, which seemed to follow those whom it had tyrannized over at sea with a dogged wish of still tormenting them on land. Very patiently did Lois sit there, although she was weary, and shivering with cold; for the day was severe for May, and the Redemption, with store of necessaries and comforts for the Puritan colonists of New England, was the earliest ship that had ventured across the seas.

How could Lois help thinking of the past, and speculating on the future, as she sat on Bostonpier, at this breathing-time of her life? In the dim sea-mist which she gazed upon with aching eyes (filled, against her will, with tears, from time to time), there rose the little village church of Barford (not three miles from Warwick — you may see it yet), where her father had preached ever since 1661, long before she was born. He and her mother both lay dead in Barford churchyard; and the old low grey church could hardly come before her vision without her seeing the old parsonage too, the cottage covered with Austrian roses, and yellow jessamine, where she had been born, sole child of parents already long past the prime of youth. She saw the path, not a hundred yards long, from the parsonage to the vestry door: that path which her father trod daily; for the vestry was his study, and the sanctum, where he pored over the ponderous tomes of the Father, and compared their precepts with those of the authorities of the Anglican Church of that day — the day of the later Stuarts; for Barford Parsonage at that time scarcely exceeded in size and dignity the cottages by which it was surrounded: it only contained three rooms on a floor, and was but two stories high. On the first, or ground floor, were the parlour, kitchen, and back or working kitchen; up-stairs, Mr. and Mrs. Barclay’s room, that belonging to Lois, and the maid-servant’s room. If a guest came, Lois left her own chamber, and shared old Clemence’s bed. But those days were over. Never more should Lois see father or mother on earth; they slept, calm and still, in Barford churchyard, careless of what became of their orphan child, as far as earthly manifestations of care or love went. And Clemence lay there too, bound down in her grassy bed by withes of the briar-rose, which Lois had trained over those three precious graves before leaving England for ever.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Gaskell’s prose always endears me to her work from the very start. The lengthy, evocative descriptions which make up the opening pararaphs are characteristic of her writing, a key detail in her abilty to portray realistic characters.

Already drawn in, I cannot wait to continue Lois’ journey to the New World – though I fully expect that it will be marred by hardship and tragedy, a trait that no Gaskell novel would be complete without.

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

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The Friday Face-Off: Groovy Baby


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


Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell


Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re featuring covers that are retro.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) has had many, many covers; of which a great many (many) can be called ‘retro’ – choosing between them, therefore, was more than a little hard work! That is why this Friday we’re comparing the very first cover, published by Secker & Warburg in 1949, with the 2009 anniversary edition, published by Penguin UK – a genuinely retro cover vs. a cover which is retro in style! Scroll down to see which cover wins your vote!


Secker & Warburg | First British Edition, 1949 – Cover #1

Penguin UK | Anniversary Edition, 2009 – Cover #2

Cover Art by Jon Gray


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

The simplicity of the 1949 edition – the shades of green, the stylised handwriting of the title, the lack of imagery – actually really appeals to me. Simple and modern, this cover wouldn’t look out of place on my shelf today, even if it is lacking some of the artistry which is a frequent feature on more recent covers.

The 2009 edition however, is, to me, almost perfection. I love the blocky type, almost like a bloodied stamp – the white on red and the red on white. I love the illustrative pipes –  breaking and spearing the letters as the eye moves over the page. I love that it hearkens to the Soviet Russian posters of the 20th Century. I love the bloody scrawl on its reverse and the fact that the title can only be found on the spine. I love the boldness and the simplicity. Jon Gray’s 2009 edition is most definitely my winner.

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:

There are too many steps in this castle, and it seems to me they add a few every night, just to vex me

A cover featuring a staircase

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


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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.


| The Friday Face-Off – An Update |

The Friday Face-Off is back at Books by Proxy! Many thanks to the wonderful bloggers who continued with the meme in my prolonged absence! The following is a list of upcoming topics (compiled by said bloggers!). As always, check The Friday Face-Off page for any updates!


| The List |

12th May 2017

Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it

A cover which features a phone

19th May 2017

When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it…

A cover which features a plane

26th May 2017

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…

A cover which features mice

02nd June 2017

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars

A cover which features the moon

09th June 2017

It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness

A cover which features mummification

16th June 2017

You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar

A cover which features a guitar

23rd June 2017

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this

A cover which features a cat

30th June 2017

It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself

A cover which features a hat

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


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: First Friday Freebie


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.


First Friday Freebie

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell


Welcome to the first post of The Friday Face-Off as a weekly meme! This week is a freebie so I’ve gone for a book which has been sitting on my shelf for far too long and has two gorgeous covers to its name (and who knows – possibly more!).

Published by Sceptre in the UK and by Random House in the US, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell features two covers from completely different ends of the design spectrum. Take a look and see which one is your favourite!


Sceptre – UK Cover

Artwork by Neal Murren

Random House – US Cover

Artwork by Oliver Munday and Peter Mendelsund


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

These two covers really couldn’t get much more different. The US cover is clean and modern and, dare I say it, almost transcendent. It’s one of those covers which makes you think without revealing too much of itself, and I love those pale blues and the simple, elegant typeface. The US cover really is the calm before the storm of the UK!

Sceptre’s offering is chaotic and eye-catching, with golds and bright pinks splashed across a dark, starry sky. Even though it’s hard to know where to look first, the more you look, the more detail is revealed. Its sheer energy and and riot of colour, imagery and detail just clinch it as this week’s winner.

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

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Next Friday’s theme is: Here be Dragons

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off feature page for upcoming themes

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The Friday Face-Off: February 26


Friday Face Off 2cWelcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new feature 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 Friday Face-Off: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss |

I’ve been feeling the Rothfuss cravings. The Name of the Wind was a spectacular début and, eight years after I first read it, I still wait with great anticipation for the third book in The Kingkiller Chronicles. So in this week’s Friday Face-Off we’re paying homage to this wonderful book by taking a good look at its covers.

Published by Gollancz in the UK and Penguin in the US, we have two entirely different pieces of cover art to compare. Take a look and see which one wins your vote.


Gollancz – UK Cover

Penguin – US Cover


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

The Gollancz UK cover wins hands down in this week’s Face-Off. It’s dark and unsettling and I love those creeping and twisting vines which enclose the hooded central figure (who is also strategically placed in the centre of my heart – a rather disturbing prospect considering his bloody red eyes). Together with that beautiful and whimsical typeface, the entire composition makes for a wonderfully enchanting and rather sinister cover.

I’m a little bit disappointed by the US offering this week, a cover which was introduced for the fifth edition print of the book. The typeface does the composition no favours and, despite the darkened wilderness and the similarly sinister hooded figure in the foreground, this cover just fails to capture my attention.

Comparing the US edition to its previous incarnations I can certainly see the development of a darker and more atmospheric cover but it has a tendency, despite the hooded figure, to remind me more of a crime thriller than a fantasy epic. However, one thing is abundantly clear – Penguin missed a trick when redesigning this cover. Shirtless Kvothe is ridiculously entertaining and the incorporation of an angry and demonic Pat Rothfuss make for two very interesting and highly amusing pieces of cover art.


| The Name of the Wind: International Edition Bonus |

As I was rather disappointed with the US effort in this week’s Face-Off, I’ve decided to scour the globe to see what other beauties can be found. And this search has certainly turned up some good’uns – though no doubt I’ve missed some wonderful covers as there are a rather hefty number of translations! Take a look at some of the gorgeous covers the rest of the world has to offer.

TNotW - Worldwide

 From top left: Serbia, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Japan, Russia and Latvia

Choosing a favourite from this beautiful lot is nigh on impossible – the majority are simply stunning and vary considerably from country to country. The Serbian edition is particularly lovely though – the misty and mountainous backdrop with a lute festooned Kvothe in the foreground make for a beautiful and eye-catching composition.

The French edition follows closely behind the Serbian cover with a landscape bathed in golden light, a distant city and similar foreground Kvothe. Both the Dutch and German editions follow a similar line of thought but use a washed out, almost watercolour backdrop and the typeface, though different, is equally beautiful on each edition.

The Finnish version has a wonderfully folkish cover whilst the Japanese offering is bold, vibrant and showcases Kvothe’s flaming red hair. The Russian edition is an entirely different affair, displaying some beautiful fantasy imagery, and the Latvian cover is bold, vibrant and gives us a defined Kvothe doing what he loves best. Altogether, a rather impressive display of artwork.

Which is your favourite cover? Do any of the alternative editions take your vote? 

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

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Book Haul: February 06



| Book Haul: February 06 |

Welcome to my first book haul post! To avoid the inevitable crazy long list at the start of every month I’ve decided to create a separate post which will give a little more information on some of the amazing books which have made their way onto my bookshelves. Obviously this plan is a little flawed as I still have all of January’s finds to post… but instead of including an overwhelming number of books, I’m breaking them up and they’ll be cropping up in chunks over the coming month!


Frey and McGrayOdM2


| The Strings of Murder & A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel |

I won this lovely set of books in a Goodreads giveaway and they couldn’t have come at a better time! A week or so ago I had bought and read The Strings of Murder on Kindle and, after absolutely loving the first novel (review to come!) and in anticipation of the release of A Fever of the Blood, had planned to go to the book launch on 27th February at Waterstones in Manchester. Luckily for me, I happened to notice this giveaway on Goodreads and now I have a full set to get signed! And after my fantastic introduction to Frey and McGray, two highly entertaining and eccentric characters, I am in no doubt that I will thoroughly enjoy A Fever of the Blood.


The Strings of Murder


| Synopsis: The Strings of Murder |

A spellbinding concoction of crime, history and horror – perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes and Jonathan Creek.

Edinburgh, 1888. A virtuoso violinist is brutally killed in his home. Black magic symbols cover the walls. The dead man’s maid swears she heard three musicians playing before the murder.

But with no way in or out of the locked practice room, the puzzle makes no sense…

Fearing a national panic over a copycat Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey’s new boss – Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray – actually believes in such nonsense.

McGray’s tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason. And once someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next…

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Fever of the Blood


| Synopsis: A Fever of the Blood |

New Year’s Day, 1889. In Edinburgh’s lunatic asylum, a patient escapes as a nurse lays dying. Leading the manhunt are legendary local Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray and Londoner-in-exile Inspector Ian Frey. Before the murder, the suspect was heard in whispered conversation with a fellow patient – a girl who had been mute for years. What made her suddenly break her silence? And why won’t she talk again? Could the rumours about black magic be more than superstition? McGray and Frey track a devious psychopath far beyond their jurisdiction, through the worst blizzard in living memory, into the shadow of Pendle Hill – home of the Lancashire witches – where unimaginable danger awaits…

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


OdM3


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