The Friday Face-Off: Shoot For The Moon


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.


Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald


Welcome back to the Friday Face-Off! This Friday we’re comparing covers which feature the moon.

If there’s one book that immediately springs to mind when it comes to moon-related-cover-goodness, it’s this one. Published by Tor in the US and by Gollancz in the UK, Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald has two out of this world covers which immediately catch the eye. Scroll down and take a look at these stellar beauties!


Tor – Cover #1

Cover Art by Victor Mosquera

Gollancz – Cover #2

Cover Art by Blacksheep


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Two different artists, two beautiful covers and one impossible decision. The Tor cover depicts a skyline emerging from the dusty moon rock glowing against a backdrop of infinite space. The subtle play of colour, the simple yet elegant typeface and the central flare of dust come together to create a beautiful and eye catching cover.

By comparison the Gollancz cover uses a bold theme to attract attention. A vivid image of a moon painted in blues and greys, a star scattered sky and a bold and brilliant title make it difficult to choose an overall winner from these two epic covers. Luna: New Moon – let’s call this one a draw.

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

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Post LinksNext week’s theme is:

It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness

A cover which features mummification

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


| Links |

Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

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Friday Firsts: Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson


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


| Friday Firsts: June 02 |

Legion: Skin Deep

Book Two of Legion

by Brandon Sanderson

 Sci-Fi | Novella | 208 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

What’s her angle?’ Ivy asked, walking around the table with her arms folded. Today, she wore her blonde hair in a severe bun, which was stuck through with several dangerous-looking pins.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore her.

‘Gold digger, perhaps?’ Tobias asked. Dark-skinned and stately, he had pulled a chair over to the table so he could sit beside me. He wore his usual relaxed suit with no tie, and fit in well with this room of crystalline lighting and piano music. ‘Many a woman has seen only Stephen’s wealth, and not his acumen.’

‘She’s the daughter of a real estate magnate,’ Ivy said with a dismissive wave. ‘She has wealth coming out of her nose.’ Ivy leaned down beside the table, inspecting my dinner companion. ‘A nose, by the way, which seems to have had as much work done on it as her chest.’

I forced out a smile, trying to keep my attention on my dinner companion. I was used to Ivy and Tobias by now. I relied upon them.

But it can be damn hard to enjoy a date when your hallucinations are along.

‘So …’ said Sylvia, my date. ‘Malcom tells me you’re some kind of detective?’ She gave me a timid smile. Resplendent in diamonds and a tight black dress, Sylvia was an acquaintance of a mutual friend who worried about me far too much. I wondered how much research Sylvia had done on me before agreeing to the blind date.

‘A detective?’ I said. ‘Yes, I suppose you could say that.’

‘I just did!’ Sylvia replied with a chittering laugh.

Ivy rolled her eyes, refusing the seat Tobias pulled over for her.

‘Though honestly,’ I said to Sylvia, ‘the word “detective” probably gives you the wrong idea. I just help people with very specialized problems.’

‘Like Batman!’ Sylvia said.

Tobias spat out his lemonade in a spray before him. It spotted the tablecloth, though Sylvia – of course – couldn’t see it.

‘Not … really like that,’ I said.

‘I was just being silly,’ Sylvia said, taking another drink of her wine. She’d had a lot of that for a meal that she’d only just begun. ‘What kind of problems do you solve? Like, computer problems? Security problems? Logic problems?’

‘Yes. All three of those, and then some.’

‘That … doesn’t sound very specialized to me,’ Sylvia said.

She had a point.

‘It’s difficult to explain. I’m a specialist, just in lots of areas.’

‘Like what?’

‘Anything. Depends on the problem.’

‘She’s hiding things,’ Ivy said, arms still folded. ‘I’m telling you, Steve. She’s got an angle.’

‘Everyone does,’ I replied.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

Brandon Sanderson is definitely an author who can do no wrong –  and has done no wrong – in my eyes, so I was excited to continue my exploration of his work with the next in his Legion novellas.

First impressions? Sanderson makes an art of reintroducing characters and themes throughout his sequels in a delicate and unobtrusive way and from the opening chapter I was once again submerged in the many aspects of Stephen Leeds. Sanderson’s writing has once again hooked me into a fast-paced and exciting novella which I cannot wait to get back to!

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

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The Monthly Round-Up: May 2017


Welcome 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!


| The Monthly Round-Up: May 2017 |

This May saw my return to book blogging, something I have missed for a long time! While I’m still finding my feet – reading more books, writing more reviews and generally posting more than once in a while – I’ve really enjoyed this month! So thank you for reading this blog, for continuing memes in my absence and for recommending such awesome books! And though small in number, here’s what’s made it off the TBR this month:

| Books Read |

| 1. |

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

The second book in Sanderson’s Reckoners series carries on in the vein of its predecessor, Steelheart. Firefight is an action packed, power flexing, villain infested romp across an unrecognisable US which leaves me eager to complete the series and write up a review! 

| 2. |

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons is the first in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan and transports the reader to a world steeped in Victoriana, where lady adventurers explore exotic climes and feats of science, industry and progress await discovery.

| 3. |

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

The Tropic of Serpents, the sequel to A Natural History of Dragons, continues the tale of Lady Trent in another beautifully written and utterly engrossing memoir which paints a picture of a world not entirely different from our own.

| 4. |

The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters

The Pilgrim of Hate is the tenth novel in the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters. From a pilgrimage of the devout comes another murder, another mystery and a whole lot of trouble for our ex-crusading holy man.


Firefight

by Brandon Sanderson


| Goals for 2017 |

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge: 14/50 Books Read (28%)


| Reviews Posted |

Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak


A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan


| Other Posts From May 2017 |

The Friday Face-Off: An Update

The Friday Face-Off: May 12 – Don’t Use The Phone

The Friday Face-Off: May 19 – The Airplane Takes Off Against the Wind, Not With It

The Friday Face-Off: May 26 – Of all the Words of Mice and Men

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books on my Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Mother’s Day Special

Teaser Tuesdays: May 09 – A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Teaser Tuesdays: May 16 – The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

Teaser Tuesdays: May 23 – The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Teaser Tuesdays: May 30 – Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Waiting on Wednesday: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

Waiting on Wednesday: The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan

Friday Firsts: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan


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Teaser Tuesdays: May 30


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


| Teaser Tuesdays: May 30 |

Legion: Skin Deep

by Brandon Sanderson

Sci-Fi | Novella| 208 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2015


“Arnaud adjusted his spectacles. ‘Well, um, you see, in quantum physics we talk about possibilities. One interpretation says that dimensions are infinite, and everything that can happen, has happened. It seems to follow if this is true, then each of us aspects somewhere has existed in some dimension or realm of possibility as a real person. A curious thought, would you not agree, Étienne?’

‘Curious indeed,’ I said. ‘It –’

‘So I’m real,’ J.C. interjected. ‘The smart guy just said it.'”

~ 33% | Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson


| Synopsis |

Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous…

What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices.

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.


| 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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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Recent Impulse Book Buys


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Recent Impulse Book Buys |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! This week we’re looking at our Top Ten books bought on a whim. As a result of my undeniable cover love and a rather impulsive nature, the majority of my bookshelf consists of impulse buys – so this Tuesday I’ve gone for my most recent acquisitions! In no particular order, here are the latest surprise additions to my shelves:
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| 1. |

BookofPhoenix

The Book of Phoenix

by Nnedi Okoraforheart

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell….

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.
heart

| 2 |

The Folding Knife

by K.J. Parkerheart

Basso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man.

He is ruthless, cunning, and above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he’s only ever made one mistake.

One mistake, though, can be enough. heart

| 3 |

The Electric Church

Book One of the Avery Cates Series

by Jeff Somers

heart

In the near future, the only thing growing faster than the criminal population is the Electric Church, a new religion founded by a mysterious man named Dennis Squalor. The Church preaches that life is too brief to contemplate the mysteries of the universe: eternity is required. In order to achieve this, the converted become Monks — cyborgs with human brains, enhanced robotic bodies, and virtually unlimited life spans.

Enter Avery Cates, a dangerous criminal known as the best killer-for-hire around. The authorities have a special mission in mind for Cates: assassinate Dennis Squalor. But for Cates, the assignment will be the most dangerous job he’s ever undertaken — and it may well be his last. heart

| 4. |

The Rook

Book One of The Checquy Files

by Daniel O’Malley
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“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, The Rookis a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer. heart

| 5. |

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Book One of the Fairyland Series

by Catherynne M. Valente
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Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.heart

| 6. |

Malice

Book One of the Faithful and the Fallen

by John Gwynne

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A black sun is rising…

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust. heart

| 7. |

Dark Eden

Book One of the Dark Eden Series

by Chris Beckett
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A marooned outpost of humanity struggles to survive on a startlingly alien world: science fiction as it ought to be from British science fiction’s great white hope.

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you.

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought.

You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden.heart

| 8. |

The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King

by Michael R. Miller
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Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.

Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon’s Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons and fairies has fractured.

Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging… heart

| 9. |

Shadow and Bone

Book One of the Grisha Trilogy

by Leigh Bardugo
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Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.heart

| 10. |

city-of-bohane

City of Bohane

by Kevin Barryheart

Forty years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the Northside Rises and the eerie bogs of Big Nothin’ that the city really lives.

For years, the city has been in the cool grip of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say his old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight… And then there’s his mother.

City of Bohane is a visionary novel that blends influences from film and the graphic novel, from Trojan beats and calypso rhythms, from Celtic myth and legend, from fado and the sagas, and from all the great inheritance of Irish literature. A work of mesmerising imagination and vaulting linguistic invention, it is a taste of the glorious and new.heart

Which books have you recently acquired on a whim? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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The Monthly Round-Up: April 2016


Welcome 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!


| The Monthly Round-Up: April 2016 |

April has been a strange month of sun between intermittent snow showers which, as it happens, makes for excellent reading time! I managed to read eight books this month; five novels, two novellas and one short story collection. However, I’ve been looking with increasing horror at my reading pile – as it rapidly makes its monstrous growth all the more apparent – and have decided that I’ll have to start crossing some of those books of my read list – eight books a month is not going to cut it! Backlist Burndown here I come. But in the meantime, here are the books which took over this April:

| Books Read |

| 1. |

Civil Blood by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Another Gelineau and King novella, another wonderful piece of bite-sized fantasy! These novellas are really quite addictive and Civil Blood has upped the intrigue factor tenfold leaving me, and no doubt many other Echoes fans, in great suspense for the next Alys novella.

| 2. |

Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky

Tomorrow the Killing continues the story of Warden as he once again finds himself embroiled in the customary death, murder and mayhem which pervades Low Town. A wonderful sequel and a firm reminder that I need to get my Polansky reviews out!

| 3. |

Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

Black City Saint took me completely by surprise and is now one of my favourite urban fantasy novels. Set in the roaring twenties, and with its fair share of magic, mystery, saints and dragons, this is a novel which had be hooked from start to finish.

| 4. |

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is the first short story anthology I’ve read in a long time – and it certainly lived up to expectations. Ken Liu is a phenomenal writer with an effortlessly engaging style. With Grace of Kings firmly placed on my TBR, it’s only a matter of time before it too has been devoured.

| 5. |

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

I was a little hesitant about starting the Mercy Thompson series having heard that the first novel, Moon Called, really isn’t the best. However, it turned out to be a really rather enjoyable read and I can only look forward to a series which has a reputation for getting better and better. Blood Bound here I come.

| 6. |

Faith and Moonlight Part 2 by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Yes! Another Gelineau and King, and yes! Another exciting and suspenseful conclusion. This second round of novellas is certainly pulling out all the stops when it comes to action, excitement and leaving you on the edge of your seat.

| 7. |

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

An Artificial Night was April’s Read Along – and what an awesome read it was! The October Daye series has taken a distinctly dark turn with this third novel and has become my favourite of the three so far.  

| 8. |

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

The Steel Remains is dark, brutal, bloody and brilliant. With a surfeit of sex, violence and obscenities, an unforgiving world is carved out of its pages and reaches nothing short of a spectacular conclusion. This is one tale where the author never holds back.


Book of the Month2

Tomorrow the Killing

by Daniel Polansky


| April Goals |

To finish NOS4R2 and Emma before the month is out!

Roll over!

Status: Incomplete

… Goal shake-up coming up!

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| Goals for 2016 |

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: 33/100 Books Read (33%)

Status: +8% in April


| Reviews Posted |

5 Stars

Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd


Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner


Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu


| Other Posts From April |

The Monthly Round-Up: March 2016

The Month Ahead: April 2016

The Friday Face-Off: April 01 – Water, Water Everywhere

The Friday Face-Off: April 08 – Peace is Poor Reading

The Friday Face-Off: April 15 – Metropolis

The Friday Face-Off: April 22 – Dead Men Tell No Tales

The Friday Face-Off: April 29 – Like One, That on a Lonesome Road

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… SFF Books That Will Make You Laugh

Teaser Tuesdays: April 05 – The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

Teaser Tuesdays: April 12 – The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Teaser Tuesdays: April 19 – Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

Book Haul: April 09 – Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Book Haul: April 11 – The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Book Haul: April 17 – The Air War, The Man in the High Castle and Gardens of the Moon

Read Along: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire – Week 1

Read Along: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire – Week 2

Read Along: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire – Week 3

Read Along: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire – Week 4

Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu



The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

by Ken Liu

Speculative Fiction | Anthology | 450 Pages | Published by Saga Press in 2016


| Rating |


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

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is an anthology of short fiction which stormed to the top of my reading pile following the success of The Grace of Kings last year. Throughout this anthology, Ken Liu, who has received much acclaim for both his feature length work and his short stories, explores a series of isolated narratives which strike a fine balance between truth, history, fantasy and science fiction.

An author who doesn’t shy away from the dark; within his narratives Liu weaves together the horrors which come with both truth and history and delivers it with a flair for the fantastic. Through addiction, memory and the choices we make, he constructs tales of the collective conscience where cultural memory, technological evolution and the growth of the species are the constant throughout. These are tales which resound with morality, with the choices we make as human beings, and with the weight of our own global past; attributes which make The Paper Menagerie an altogether beautiful, eloquent and often harrowing collection.Ken Liu has published almost 100 short stories and won nearly every genre award in existence. Here, he has selected his 15 favourite stories, including The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary (Finalist for Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards), Mono No Aware (Hugo Award winner), The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species (Nebula and Sturgeon award finalists), and the most awarded story in Science Fiction and Fantasy history, The Paper Menagerie – the only story ever to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

The Book Making Habits of Select Species is a beautiful, transcendent tale of the written, carved, created and experienced word. In a universe where a myriad of cultures and alien species have innumerable methods for documenting knowledge and memory, the one constant is the desire to record, whether the method is obvious or not. This succinct tale is a lyrical exploration of books and the passage of information, a tale which provides an intriguing opening in which to introduce Ken Liu and his beautiful and captivating writing style.

State Change is a story of a young woman whose soul takes the form of a physical object – an ice cube. In a narrative which shows the pains she takes to protect and nurture her soul, this tale becomes a metaphor for those parts of ourselves we cling to and which become the defining force in our lives, even when beyond all sense and reason. Both poignant and humorous, this is a story about personal growth and the things we must sacrifice in ourselves to truly live.

The Perfect Match is a disturbing prospect of the future. In a world where huge technical corporations take control of every aspect of our lives, privacy and individual thought and reason become almost none existent. Both catering to our every need and taking away all our freedom of thought and action, these companies come to rule the lives of anyone linked to their technology but, perhaps most disturbing of all, it is a world that we have  already dipped a toe into.

Good Hunting is a story about cultural growth and change. In a tale where the face of China is changed forever, the inherent folklore and traditional magic which once permeated society is pushed aside by the coming of the British and the age of steam. No longer do the creatures of myth and legend stalk the nights, no longer are demon hunters required to protect their villages; but this is the age of steel and steam, where the possibilities produced by progress may just echo the magic of the past. Through the device of a fantastic alternative history, Liu’s narrative illustrates how tradition must adapt if it is to survive the future.

The Literomancer is a beautiful but harrowing tale of a young American girl living in China. When just one seemingly innocent word can have such unfortunate consequences, The Literomancer illustrates how fate can both bring two people together and tear them apart. This is a narrative about words and stories, about the futures we can discover through their telling, and the futures which may be lost because of them, demonstrating a darker and more haunting side to Liu’s writing.

Simulacrum is a tale about the invention of a technology which allows an exact record of a person to be projected and interacted with in three dimensions, and the consequences such a technology might have on society. In a narrative which switches between the inventor and his estranged daughter, this is a story about how a girl railing against the simulacrum is in fact acting as one herself by capturing a single moment of memory and replaying it over and over until the real person no longer remains.

The Regular is one of the highlights of this collection and showcases the diversity in Liu’s writing. A dead prostitute, body mutilation and an unknown killer on the loose; The Regular is a dark sci-fi thriller following the story of Ruth Law, private investigator, as she tracks down a murderer who is targeting the city’s working girls. Tense and exciting, this is a longer piece which touches on sorrow as Law’s cybernetic improvements become a necessity to take away the pain of her past.

The Paper Menagerie is  heart-breaking tale of a young boy of half American and half Chinese heritage who struggles to accept his shared culture. In a tale woven with enchantment and magic – a magic that comes with innocence and one which is almost lost in the desire to be something and someone else – Liu explores the themes of cultural identity, acceptance and the consequences of not realising what we have until it’s gone.

An Advanced Readers Picture Book of Comparative Cognition is a lyrical exploration of time and space which showcases the breadth and beauty of Liu’s writing through the vastness of the universe and the human desire to discover. In the same vein as The Book Making Habits of Select Species this is a tale which, through a number of fascinating literary sketches, explores a myriad of alien species in something akin to a field guide for the universe.

The Waves is a story about humanity and their existence, growth and evolution as they sail through time aboard The Sea Foam. As technology advances and immortality is within our grasp, this is a tale which asks how difficult it would be to let go of our pasts and become something new.  In a narrative which explores stories of creation, The Waves illustrates how the choices we make can lead to our adaptation and evolution, and how such growth may spark our transcendence from humanity to creators.

Mono No Aware is an incredibly beautiful but sad tale about the last days of humanity and the chance of survival given by the Hopeful. In a narrative which showcases the strength and beauty of a people who accept their fate and will do all they can for the survival of the whole, Mono No Aware tells the story of the survivors of an asteroid impact through the voice of the last Japanese man in the universe. This man, who has seen the loss of both his family and his entire people, finds that it is his decisions which will ensure either the destruction or survival of humanity.

All The Flavors is a long and sprawling tale of the Chinamen of Idaho. In a narrative which weaves together history, folklore and mythology, All the Flavors is both a story of cultural identity and acceptance, and the strength and adaptation of tradition. Despite the fascinating tales of China and its history told by Lo Guan, this tale was perhaps my least favourite in the collection and failed to capture my imagination as readily as the other stories.

A  Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel is a short alternative history which tells the tale of a great tunnel built between the Americas and Asia and its impact on the history of the twentieth century. This story demonstrates that no matter how much we change history, there will always be people who make the wrong choices and who will discriminate and subjugate others to their own ends. History may have changed but the players remain the same, ensuring the survival of the same prejudices and the same oppression which comes so readily to mankind.

The Litigation Master and the Monkey King is a tale about a cunning litigation master who makes his living aiding peasants in their troubles with the law; a litigation master who can both speak to and see the Monkey King. In a dark and distressing tale which resounds with history, truth and bravery, The Litigation Master and the Monkey King weaves together the story of the Yangzhou Massacre and how one man may change the course of the future by the revelations of the past.

The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary closes this anthology with a science fiction narrative which bears witness to a horrific truth. A terrible and traumatic tale, this is a story which details the horrors of Unit 731 at Pingfang and the atrocities committed by the Japanese against its Chinese prisoners during the Second World War. Denied, covered up and used by those who claim to fight for justice to further their own ends, this narrative reads like a future documentary where individuals are taken back in time to witness the shocking brutality, and raises the question of who, if any of us, has a claim on history.The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a wonderfully inventive, beautifully composed and impressive collection of stories which weaves together history, fantasy and science fiction with a thoughtful and moral undertone. Ken Liu has an effortlessly engaging and lyrical style which is almost poetic in its transmission, and constructs tales which explore both the vastness of the universe and the breadth of our own history. Evocative and intelligent, this is an anthology which I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… SFF Books That Will Make You Laugh


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature hosted by those lovely bookworms over at The Broke and the Bookish. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… SFF Books That Will Make You Laugh |

After something of a break, I’m returning to Top Ten Tuesday with my top ten comedic reads in the world of science fiction and fantasy. From the outright comedic to the darkly humorous, this is a list of those books that never fail to put a smile on my face!
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| 1. |

Envy of Angels

Book One of Sin du Jour

by Matt Wallaceheart

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour – where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.heart

| 2 |

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

by David Wongheart

Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements.

An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move.

Mysterious, smooth-talking power players who lurk behind the scenes.

A young woman from the trailer park. And her very smelly cat.

Together, they will decide the future of mankind.

Get ready for a world in which anyone can have the powers of a god or the fame of a pop star, in which human achievement soars to new heights while its depravity plunges to the blackest depths. A world in which at least one cat smells like a seafood shop’s dumpster on a hot summer day.

This is the world in which Zoey Ashe finds herself, navigating a futuristic city in which one can find elements of the fantastic, nightmarish and ridiculous on any street corner. Her only trusted advisor is the aforementioned cat, but even in the future, cats cannot give advice. At least not any that you’d want to follow.

Will Zoey figure it all out in time? Or maybe the better question is, will you? After all, the future is coming sooner than you think.heart

| 3 |

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

heartSeconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. heart

| 4. |

The Colour of Magic

A Discworld Novel

by Terry Pratchett
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In the beginning there was… a turtle.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.

But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…heart

| 5. |

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

by Lewis Carroll
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Weary of her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground–to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature.

The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat–each more eccentric than the last–could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll.

In penning this brilliant burlesque of children’s literature, Carroll has written a farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, an arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up.

Carroll was one of the few adult writers to successfully enter the children’s world of make-believe: where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal–real, and where the height of adventure is limited only by the depths of imagination. heart

| 6. |

The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Gentleman Bastard Sequence

by Scott Lynch
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In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood”, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…heart

| 7. |

The Blade Itself

The First Law Trilogy

by Joe Abercrombie
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Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.heart

| 8. |

The Palace Job

Book One of the Rogues of the Republic

by Patrick Weekes
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The most powerful man in the republic framed her, threw her in prison, and stole a priceless elven manuscript from her family.

With the help of a crack team that includes an illusionist, a unicorn, a death priestess, a talking warhammer, and a lad with a prophetic birthmark, Loch must find a way into the floating fortress of Heaven’s Spire–and get past the magic-hunting golems and infernal sorcerers standing between her and the vault that holds her family’s treasure.

It’d be tricky enough without the military coup and unfolding of an ancient evil prophecy–but now the determined and honourable Justicar Pyvic has been assigned to take her in.

But hey, every plan has a few hitches. heart

| 9. |

Rivers of London / Midnight Riot

Book One of the Rivers of London / Peter Grant Series

by Ben Aaronovitch
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Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. heart

| 10. |

Storm Front

Book One of The Dresden Files

by Jim Butcherheart

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.

So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.

Magic – it can get a guy killed. heart

Which books make you laugh? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to The Broke and the Bookish and sign up!

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