Friday Face-Off: Curse

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

“Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!”
a cover with CURSE in the title

Mogsy’s Pick:

Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

The Curse of ChalionThe Curse of the WendigoThe Winners Curse…er, it appears I’ve run out of “Curse” books that I haven’t featured yet for Friday Face-Off–almost. Jacqueline Carey saves the day with the second book of her Moirin Trilogy, a series that take place in her much acclaimed Kushiel universe. This novel continues the tale of a young bear witch who embarks upon a journey across the continue in search of her vagabond soulmate. Let’s take a look at the available covers, of which there aren’t too many:

From left to right:
Grand Central Publishing (2010) – Gollancz (2010) – Tantor Audio (2010)

Winner:

Well, I know which one’s not going to win this week. I love Tantor and their audiobooks, but their covers have always been a bit of a running joke. Simply put, most of the time they’re awful and the fact they always seem to be a “poor man’s” re-creation of the original. Granted, this one isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but it does follow the usual trend. As for which cover is my favorite this week, well, I guess that would depend on my mood. I like the minimalist style of the Gollancz edition, but I also love the detail of the Grand Central Publishing version and since I’m more into “people” covers these days, I guess I’m going to have to go with that one.

But what do you think? Which one is your favorite?

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Spotlight and Giveaway: Prophets of the Ghost Ants & The Prophet of the Termite God by Clark Thomas Carlton

***The giveaway is now over, thanks to everyone who entered!***

POWER. PIETY. PROPHECY.

Bringing epic fantasy to a micro world, Clark T. Carlton takes us into the world of ants and men in The Prophet of the Termite God. Clark was inspired to begin writing the series during a trip to the Yucatan when he witnessed a battle for a Spanish peanut between two different kinds of ants. That night he dreamed of armies of tiny men on the backs of red and black ants. After doing years of research on insects and human social systems, Clark says “the plot was revealed to me like a streaming, technicolor prophecy on the sixth night of Burning Man when the effigy goes up in flames.” 

Turning to the world he has created, Clark tells the story of Pleckoo, once an outcast, who has risen to Prophet-Commander of the Hulkrish army.  But a million warriors and their ghost ants were not enough to defeat his cousin, Anand the Roach Boy, the tamer of night wasps and founder of Bee-Jor. Now Pleckoo is hunted by the army that once revered him. Yet in all his despair, Pleckoo receives prophecies from his termite god, assuring him he will kill Anand to rule the Sand, and establish the One True Religion.

Can Anand, the roach boy who worked in the dung heap, rise above the turmoil, survive his assassins, and prevent the massacre of millions?

This acclaimed fantasy series is sure to appeal to lovers of the beloved Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s brilliant Shadows of the Apt series. 

The powerful Antasy saga continues with  The Prophet of the Termite God!

Once an outcast, Pleckoo has risen to Prophet-Commander of the Hulkrish army.  But a million warriors and their ghost ants were not enough to defeat his cousin, Anand the Roach Boy, the tamer of night wasps and founder of Bee-Jor. Now Pleckoo is hunted by the army that once revered him. Yet in all his despair, Pleckoo receives prophecies from his termite god, assuring him he  will kill Anand to rule the Sand, and establish the One True Religion.

And war is not yet over.

Now, Anand and Bee-Jor face an eastern threat from the Mad Emperor of the Barley People, intent on retaking stolen lands from a vulnerable and chaotic nation. And on the southern Weedlands, thousands of refugees clamor for food and safety and their own place in Bee-Jor. But the greatest threats to the new country come from within, where an embittered nobility and a disgraced priesthood plot to destroy Anand … then reunite the Lost Country with the Once Great and Holy Slope.

Can the boy who worked in the dung heap rise above the turmoil, survive his assassins, and prevent the massacre of millions?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Clark T. Carlton is the son of a barefooted, Floridian cowboy and a beauty queen from the Land of Cotton who ventured North to raise their children in the long shadow of New York City. When he was a teenager, his family moved from a blue-collar melting pot to a segregated and conservative enclave of Southern California, an event which forever altered his world view. He studied English and Film at Boston University and UCLA and has worked as a screen and television writer, a journalist, and as a producer of reality television in addition to a thousand and one other professions. He has always had more blue than white in his collar.

Some of his favorite books are the classics of science fiction, all of which have an element of fantasy if they involve time travel or traveling faster than the speed of light (or through a wormhole) to another solar system. As a child, he had hopes of enlisting in Star Fleet Academy, but any physicist worth his neutrons will tell us that kind of space travel will never be possible. One of the greatest regrets of his life is that he cannot travel the galaxies to interact with alien societies- but it has opened him up to create his own imaginary world.

He lives with his family in Los Angeles where he enjoys tennis, volleyball, songwriting, and painting. A friend of his calls his paintings “Grandma Moses on acid”, which he takes as the highest compliment.

Twitter: @ClarkTCarlton / Facebook: @Clark Carlton / Website: clarkthomascarlton.com

The Antasy Series Giveaway

I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on the Antasy series! With thanks to the kind folks at Wunderkind PR and HarperVoyager, the BiblioSanctum has been offered this amazing opportunity to host a very special giveaway for both books in the series. Without apologies to our international readers, as per the publisher’s terms, this giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One lucky winner will receive:

—one paperback copy of Prophets of the Ghost Ants (Book 1)
—one paperback copy of The Prophet of the Termite God (Book 2)

To enter, all you have to do is send an email to bibliosanctum@gmail.com with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “ANTASY” by 11:59pm Eastern time on on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 and we’ll take care of all the rest.

Only one entry per household, please. The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.

So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!

Waiting on Wednesday 09/11/19

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson (January 28, 2020 by Tor Books)

This book was recently brought to my attention, and the more I read its description, the more I think it’s right up my alley! I’m picking up some old-school fantasy vibes, which is something I haven’t had a chance to revisit in a while. I haven’t read any of the author’s other series, so this also seems like it might be good opportunity to check out his work.

“The start of a new fantasy adventure from Brian D. Anderson, bestselling author of The Godling Chronicles and Dragonvein series.

Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she’s a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together.

But destiny has a way of choosing its own path, and when a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, the two are faced with a terrible prophecy. For beyond the borders, an ancient evil is returning, its age-old prison shattered.

The two must leave their home behind, and in doing so will face sorcerers and thieves, con-men and assassins, treachery and greed. How far down this path will they have to go to stop the rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?”

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Redhook (September 10, 2019)

Length: 384 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow is a lush and spellbinding coming-of-age portal fantasy about a young woman who finds answers to her past in a mysterious old book that can open pathways to other worlds. But first, can we take a moment to appreciate that drop-dead gorgeous cover? I have to say, never has a cover delivered a closer impression of what to expect from a book. It’s colorful, a little wild but still sophisticated and elegant, with just a touch of whimsy—which also happens to be exactly how I would describe this story to others.

Transporting us to the early 1900s, this novel follows January Scaller, who was just a little girl when she first discovered the Door. But as with many childhood recollections, soon the memory of that encounter began to fade, until many years later, when a teenaged January stumbles upon a strange book that changes her life forever. The mixed-race daughter of an explorer, our protagonist grew up in an unconventional household headed by the wealthy Cornelius Locke, the employer of her father Julian who is often away on his globetrotting adventures. But one day, terrible news arrives of Julian’s demise, sending January into a spiral of grief. Turning to the book for comfort, she instead finds the power to open doors leading to wondrous, fantastical realms.

Weaving together the magical words of the book with the revelations that January uncovers while on her journey through these different worlds, the story gradually unfolds to reveal the secrets about her family, the role of Mr. Locke, and the curious nature of the many hidden doors.

As you know, I’m a huge fan of “books about books”, and The Ten Thousand Doors of January is in its own way a celebration of that love—not only in the way it reveres knowledge, but also in the way it recognizes reading as a form of escapism for those of us who like seeking distraction from the realities of the world through fantasy and science fiction. These themes are front and center in this novel, and they were given their due respect with the author’s lyrical writing style which is vivid with meticulous detail, clever metaphors, and delightful turns of phrase. It made reading this book a real joy, especially once the story picked up in earnest and we embarked upon our quest to seek truth with January.

But the element that absolutely set this novel apart for me was the voice of our protagonist. January narrated this tale with an aplomb that belies her young age and experience, though as a woman and minority living in American society at the turn of the century, she’s had to grow up pretty quickly to harden herself against the rampant racism and sexism in those days. She also has a boundless imagination, a result of plenty of lonely childhood days spent finding fun and companionship in books. Furthermore, her personality is complex and often contradictory in a way that actually made her feel more genuine and interesting. At once contemplative and excitable, sweet and stubborn, January tells her story with an infectious charisma and precocious attitude that makes her completely irresistible.

If you like to read stories about the love of books and reading, you really need to check out The Ten Thousand Doors of January—and bonus if you enjoy portal fantasies. But this novel is also about so much more, including a thoughtful and heartfelt exploration of family, growing up, and finding your identify. Passionate and atmospheric, this book will fill you with nostalgia and wistfulness but also uplift your spirits with its beauty and warm vibes. I had a great time with it and I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Ninth House

Publisher: Tor.com (September 10, 2019)

Length: 448 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

This one’s going to be tough to review, and I thought a week of mulling it over would have helped me figure out my feelings, but nope! If anything, I’m even more torn. For me, the problem stems from the uneven nature of the book, specifically the difference in pacing, interest, and entertainment value between the first and second half of the story.

To begin, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir starts with a introduction to our eponymous protagonist, an orphan who has grown up living in servitude to the Ninth House. For as long as she can remember, death and necromancy has been a part of Gideon Nav’s life, as well as being tormented by the young scion of the house, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, a powerful bone witch in her own right. Eventually though, Gideon becomes tired of always having to play the servant to the princess and devises a plan to get off planet in an escape shuttle. However, before she can make her move, a major shakeup at the Ninth House suddenly causes all of Gideon’s plans to fall apart.

Now Harrow has been summoned to a competition held by the Emperor of the Houses, and as the necromancer representing her house, she will need a cavalier. Promising freedom as a reward, Harrow manages to convince Gideon, who is a skilled swordswoman, to fill the role. But as the two of them arrive at the First House where the competition will be held, it becomes clear things will be much more complicated than they thought. For one thing, the instructions they are given make no sense. Harrow and the other representatives of each house are only given the vaguest details of what will happen, and no rules—only that the necromancer who wins will be given immortality, and that they will need to ascend with a cavalier by their side.

Desperate to save her house, Harrow needs to win. Which means she also needs Gideon. But the two of them have never gotten along, and Gideon immediately becomes frustrated by her necromancer’s secretive ways and lack of communication. Curious to find out more about the First House and the contest, she takes it upon herself to do some exploring, making the acquaintance of the other contestants as well as their cavaliers. Not counting the First or the Ninth, seven other Houses are vying for the prize of Lyctor-hood, and all their representatives possess their own individual talents and quirks.

And so, that that brings me to the one of the major obstacles I encountered with Gideon the Ninth. Now would be a good time to mention that I highly recommended studying the list of characters at the beginning of the book before you start reading, simply because of the sheer number of people involved in this clunky saga. It also doesn’t help that every character seems to have at least two names. Needless to say, it’s hard to get into a story when so much of your attention in the first half is tied up in trying to figure out who is who.

Second of all—and this is a biggie—the writing style is real tough on the eyes and until you get used to it (if you ever do), it can present a fair bit of struggle. Not to mention Gideon’s snark and anachronistic slang against this strangely formal style of writing makes it feels about as incongruous as her aviator glasses on the cover. Unfortunately, this also had a way of making the character come across as extra obnoxious and trying too hard to be the ultimate edgelord. To be honest, Gideon’s insufferably snide personality and her sometimes juvenile remarks often made me want to throw in the towel, but it was Harrow’s awesomeness that kept me reading.

But before I get too negative, recall how I did say the book picks up in the second half—and boy, does it ever! I can’t recall the last time a book made me do such a complete one-eighty. No surprise, this also coincided with the point where the story transformed itself into a gothic-style murder mystery. From that moment onwards, I was hopelessly and irrevocably hooked, and that’s no exaggeration—whereas it took me about a week to read the first two hundred pages, I devoured the rest of the novel in about two days. That Gideon the Ninth can be considered a slow-burner goes without saying, but I promise that the latter part of the novel makes up for it in spades.

As such, I was left with a conundrum. If it were possible to rate the two halves of this book separately, the first half would probably earn a 2.5 to 3 stars while the second half would be awarded a full-hearted 5. While it is not ideal, I’ve decided to settle for a 3.5 rating overall—with the caveat that the story takes a long time to build, and readers might not see the payoff until much later. It’s hard for me to go into the details of the plot, the intricacies of the world-building, or the relationships of the characters without giving too much away, which makes it difficult for me to discuss the positives, but suffice to say this is a book where I am glad I persevered.

And here’s the thing—on principle, I don’t DNF, even though they say life is too short for bad books. But then once in a while, a book like Gideon the Ninth will come along and make me glad I hold to that rule. I’m just so glad I kept reading until the end, because against all odds, I actually enjoyed myself quite a bit. So, if you’re thinking about picking this novel up, I say give it a chance. It has all the hallmarks of a “either love it or hate it” book, and the fact that its elements are so different and eclectic means that it’s best experienced personally. I didn’t think it would be for me, but obviously the end of the book changed my mind, and after this wild ride, I find myself looking forward to checking out the next volume in the series.

Audiobook Review: Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction, Media Tie-In

Series: Book 3 of Star Wars: ThrawnStar Wars Canon

Publisher: Random House Audio (July 23, 2019)

Length: 13 hrs and 13 mins

Author Information: Website

Narrator: Marc Thompson

This third novel which wraps up the new canonical Thrawn trilogy quite nicely, and might actually be my favorite of the three books. As readers have come to expect from this series, Treason once more takes us into the mind of the Star Wars’s greatest military strategist and tactician, the blue-skinned red-eyed Chiss alien known as Grand Admiral Thrawn. His creator and author Timothy Zahn also takes this opportunity to further embed the character into the greater universe, tying together the elements from the previous books to Star Wars: Rebels as well as Rogue One and more.

Treason, however, takes place prior to the culmination of those events. Our protagonist still has his hands full with Ezra Bridger and the rebels on Lothal, while Director Orson Krennic is yet pounding away at his secret project, codenamed Stardust, which of course is the Death Star. Dissatisfied with the rate at which things are going, Emperor Palpatine has temporary halted Thrawn’s own TIE defender program, tasking him to help Krennic instead. Needless to say, this does not go down well with anyone, except maybe the Emperor, who takes some sick delight from watching his senior commanders sweat under pressure. For Thrawn though, it is a revelation—he now knows where the Empire’s priorities are, and in order to maintain his own place in its hierarchy, he’ll have to learn how to play ball. First order of business is to find a solution to the gralloc problem, which has been plaguing Stardust’s supply lines for years. Closely related to the mynock, these giant space-faring creatures have been hampering ships by attacking and damaging their power cables. But as you’ve probably already guessed, the problem goes far deeper than a mere vermin infestation, and in time, Thrawn’s patience and methodological approach will suss it all out.

Meanwhile, the story also focuses on Eli Vanto, the young lieutenant we first met in the first novel of this trilogy. Having become Thrawn’s protégé of sorts, Vanto has gone to serve as an Imperial liaison in the Chiss Ascendency under the Grand Admiral’s direction, assigned to Admiral Ar’alani. When a turn of fate brings mentor and pupil together again, a larger threat in the form of a common foe to both the Empire and Chiss Ascendency is uncovered. This enemy is known as the Grysk, an aggressive alien race originating from the unknown regions who show no mercy in conquering and enslaving whole star systems. The problem is, they are already here, and may have already infiltrated the upper echelons of the Empire.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this novel, and appreciated the way it accomplished multiple goals while delivering a quality reading experience—which, I have to say, is a pretty high bar set by a lot of the new Star Wars canonical fiction as of late. First and foremost, I loved how Zahn continued to build on Thrawn’s character, which isn’t simply limited to telling us again and again what an evil genius he is. On the contrary, Thrawn isn’t really a villain here, nor can you really quite quantify him with words like “good” or “bad” because the truth is more complex. He is also not infallible, and Treason reveals some of his personal foibles and shortcomings. The Grand Admiral is an intellectual and results-driven type of personality which makes him scarily good at what he does, but it also means he has no time to waste on pleasantries and politicking. And unfortunately, in Palpatine’s Empire, political maneuvering is both a necessity and an art form. I also liked how we got to learn more about Thrawn through the eyes of his subordinates, which has been a recurring theme in all three books in the trilogy. Thrawn is good to his people, who reward him with their complete loyalty, and this can be gleaned through the POVs provided by Eli Vanto and also Commodore Karyn Faro.

As for the story, Treason offers plenty of action and intrigue. Whether you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan or just a reader with a passing interest, I think there’s plenty of entertainment here for everyone. As expected, the seemingly minor gralloc problem introduced at the start of the novel ultimately snowballs into a narrative of epic proportions, involving conspiracy, possible war, and of course, treason. But the book’s title also contains deeper meaning, as we soon discover. Thrawn is put in a very awkward place between the Empire and the Chiss Ascendency, leading to some of his fellow Imperials questioning his loyalty, and now he has apparently also landed his protégé Vanto into a similar position. Some pacing issues aside, the plot was overall quite impressive, and I have to applaud it for being more complex, clever and multilayered than I’d originally thought.

To sum up my thoughts, Thrawn: Treason was definitely worth the read. While the entire new trilogy has been a fantastic in-depth study on the character, this last novel takes it to another level and excels in characterization, making it my favorite of the three books. I won’t make any morecomparisons to the original trilogy because I think I’ve already done that enough in my reviews of the previous novels, but I will say this would also be a perfectly suitable introduction to Thrawn if you’ve ever been curious about the character, especially now that Rebels and Zahn have made him such an integral part of the new Star Wars canon.

Audiobook Comments: Mark Thompson is amazing, but you probably already knew that if you’re familiar with the Star Wars audiobooks. Once again, he delivered an outstanding performance, bringing the adventure and characters to life. His voices are superb, especially for Thrawn, whose tight-lipped inflection is just short of a lisp and sounds almost exactly like he does on the Rebels show voiced by Lars Mikkelsen. Thompson’s Eli Vanto is also worth a mention, his southern-boy accent emphasizing the character’s down-to-earth charm. I just can’t praise his work enough.

Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every other weekend which fills the role of several blog memes, like Stacking the Shelves where I talk about the new books I’ve added to my library or received for review, as well as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? where I round up what I’ve read since the last update and what I’m planning to read soon. Mostly it also serves as a recap post, so sometimes I’ll throw in stuff like reading challenge progress reports, book lists, and other random bookish thoughts or announcements.

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Received for Review

My thanks to the publishers and authors for the following review copies received, and be sure to click the links to their Goodreads pages for more details and full descriptions!

I’d like to kick things off with a big thanks to Orbit for following finished copy haul: An Orc on the Wild Side by Tom Holt looks to be a funny one, but humor being so subjective, I’ll be keeping my hype in check. I’m also very excited about A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie and am looking forward to starting it later this week. And Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw is the third book of the Dr. Greta Helsing series which I’m enjoying a lot so far.

Also courtesy of Ace Books, I received a surprise ARC of Novice Dragoneer by E.E. Knight, a YA/coming-of-age fantasy about a girl who enters into a military order of dragonriders. Thanks also to Tor Books for a finished copy of Inch by Inch by Morgan Llywelyn, which reminds me I still have to read the first book Drop by Drop! And with thanks to Del Rey for sending me a finished copy of The Nobody People by Bob Proehl, which I reviewed earlier this week.

My thanks also to Subterranean Press for spoiling me these last two weeks with the following ARCs: Knife Children by Lois McMaster Bujold is one I’m thrilled to discover, because it is part of the Sharing Knife series which I loved when I read it years ago. The Best of Elizabeth Bear is an anthology of 27 of the author’s stories and novellas and looks to be a great collection for any fan. And finally, I really like the sound of King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats James by Patrick Kelly. It’s got a circus and animals, what’s not to love?

Also thank you to Entangled: Teen for sending me Mirror Bound by Monica Sanz, the second book of The Witchling Academy. I believe I have the first book, so I look forward to catching up. From the kind folks at 47North and Wunderkind PR, I also received an early copy of The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith. I wasn’t all that sure about this one, but the more I’m learning about it, the more interested I am to read it. And from Tachyon Publications comes this quirky little title called Peter Watts Is An Angry Sentient Tumor, a collection of “Revenge Fantasies and Essays” by the author. I’m not sure this one is for me, but I did have a bit of a chuckle reading the publisher description.

 

In the digital haul, I was approved for Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the sequel to Little White Lies. Thank you to Freeform via NetGalley! Also from NetGalley, I grabbed A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris, the sequel to An Easy Death, with thanks to Saga Press. I just featured this book on a Waiting on Wednesday a couple weeks ago, so needless to say, I’m pumped to read this. And courtesy of Harper Voyager, I also received an invite widget to read Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden. I’ve read only one other book by the author, which didn’t really work for me, but I definitely wanted to give her work another shot.

And last but not least, in the audio pile, huge thanks to Macmillan Audio for listening copies of Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff and The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young! I’m so excited to listen to both of these!

Reviews

Here is a quick summary of my reviews posted since the last update:

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas (5 of 5 stars)
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton (4 of 5 stars)
Gears of War: Ascendance by Jason M. Hough (4 of 5 stars)
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau-Preto (4 of 5 stars)
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (3.5 of 5 stars)
Missing Person by Sarah Lotz (3.5 of 5 stars)
The Passengers by John Marrs (3.5 of 5 stars)
The Nobody People by Bob Proehl (3 of 5 stars)

Roundup Highlights:

What I’ve Read Since the Last Update

Here’s what I’ve managed to “unstack” from the TBR since the last update. More reviews coming soon!

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Have you heard of or read any of the books featured this week? What caught your eye? Any new discoveries? I hope you found something interesting for a future read! Let me know what you plan on checking out. Until next time, see you next Roundup!:)

Friday Face-Off: Autumn/Fall

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

“Warm September brings the fruit”
a cover that is seasonal for AUTUMN/FALL

Mogsy’s Pick:

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Well, I’ve officially run out of books I’ve read with covers featuring color-changing foliage and falling leaves for this topic, so I’m going to look to another theme for fall: Harvests!

In this second book of The Passage trilogy, the apocalypse continues to unfold as our group of survivors take action to fight back against the virals and their collaborators, and even aim to take down the twelve original infected plague-bearers that started it all. Let’s take a look at the covers:

From left to right:
Random House (2012) – Orion Hardcover (2012) – Orion Paperback (2013)

Dutch Edition (2012) – Portuguese Edition (2013) – Spanish Edition (2013)

 

Turkish Edition (2014) – Serbian Edition (2012) –  Bulgarian Edition (2013)

 

Romanian Edition (2019) – Finnish Edition (2013) –  Hebrew Edition (2014)

Winner:

I love a lot of the harvest covers, especially the ones with the gorgeous colors in the sky. Some of these are almost too beautiful for a bleak apocalyptic novel like this. My favorite is the Portuguese edition this week, because of the brilliant contrast between the fields and sky.

But what do you think? Which one is your favorite?

Book Review: The Nobody People by Bob Proehl

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Nobody People by Bob Proehl

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Series: Book 1

Publisher: Del Rey (September 3, 2019)

Length: 496 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

The Nobody People is one of those books with a great premise that maybe looks better on paper than in execution. It is also very ambitious, resulting in some difficulty engaging on my part, simply because a lot was happening and the at times the plot felt all over the place. The novel begins with an introduction to Avi Hirsch, whom I’d initially assumed to be our main protagonist. A former war correspondent, he is a journalist who has taken to doing more local jobs after losing his leg on his last assignment overseas. But due to his expertise on terrorism and explosives, Avi was asked to investigate disturbing reports of young man who was able to carry out a string a suicide bombing attacks at multiple locations without dying himself—and without, apparently, a bomb.

And so begins Avi’s first exposure to the group of super-powered individuals who call themselves “Resonants.” His investigation has drawn their attention, but there is also another reason why they decided to approach him, and that is because they have identified his young daughter Emmeline—whom Avi had always just assumed was especially precocious and gifted—as one of them. Their leader, a man named Bishop, has established a school which he would like Emmeline to attend, where she would be able to learn to use and control her powers.

Eventually though, with the occurrence of even more high-profile cases involving Resonants in the news, they are forced to reveal themselves, and as expected, the response is not exactly friendly.

First off, that author Bob Proehl was inspired by the X-Men is immediately obvious. In fact, if he hadn’t made so many deliberate references to comic books, I might even have called this book a blatant copy-cat rather than the homage it’s probably meant to be. He’s borrowed a lot of ideas from the X-Men universe, from little details like the Bishop Academy in New York to the overarching themes of marginalization and bigotry against the mutants—oops, my bad, I mean the Resonants. This in itself isn’t a negative, per se, since I love the X-Men and Proehl is by no means the first author to be influenced by the comic or use its tropes for himself. That said, I was a little taken aback by how bold some of these similarities were, and a little disappointed that this book wasn’t a tad more original. At times, the story even had a fanfic vibe to it that I found hard to shake.

But my main issue with The Nobody People, as I’ve alluded to already, is the fact that there is just SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. There is a lot of conflict, but not really a unifying thread to make everything feel cohesive. Like I said, I started the book thinking Avi was the main protagonist, and the first handful of pages made me think we were settling for a detective story. Of course, that belief was quickly dispelled as we were introduced to the Resonants, and ultimately, it was Fahima Deeb, a queer Muslim woman with an uncanny supernatural connection to mechanical objects who ended up taking over the reins. But throw in other POVs like Emmeline, Patrick, Carrie and many more others, over time it became increasingly more difficult to feel emotionally invested in each character equally. There were a lot of names to keep track of, and some inevitably fell through the cracks and felt undeveloped, uninteresting.

The story also dragged and rambled at times, coming across as more episodic like a TV series rather than having a distinct beginning, middle, and end (which, while we’re on the topic, was very abrupt and I can’t say I was a fan of the ending at all). To the book’s credit though, I have to say there were many highlights and memorable moments, plus plenty of intrigue. I just wished that all these ideas, themes, plot points, and character motives could have been better pieced together to form a smoother, more cogent and convincing narrative.

Overall, I would say The Nobody People is worth a read if you’re into superhero type fiction, keeping in mind it won’t be offering up anything too new or groundbreaking. The story also had the feel of an ensemble cast TV series with numerous mini-arcs complete with multiple climaxes (and anti-climaxes) which could be quite awkward and tiresome at times. However, the plot was not without its high points, and occasionally an action scene or a particular subplot would really shine through and grab my attention. The way the book ends makes me think this will be a series, one that I feel has some promise. Should a sequel be written, I may be open to continuing with the story.

Waiting on Wednesday 09/04/19

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

The Other People by C.J. Tudor (January 28, 2020 by Ballantine Books)

I’ve become quite a fan of C.J. Tudor after The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place, so I was excited to hear she will be coming out with a third novel in early 2020.

“Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’ It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter.

Then, the car that Gabe saw driving away that night is found, in a lake, with a body inside and Gabe is forced to confront events, not just from the night his daughter disappeared, but from far deeper in his past.

His search leads him to a group called The Other People.

If you have lost a loved one, The Other People want to help. Because they know what loss is like. They know what pain is like. They know what death is like.

There’s just one problem . . . they want other people to know it too.”