Friday Face-Off: Spiders

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:

“All right! They’re spiders from Mars! You happy?”
~ a cover featuring A CRITTER OF THE EIGHT-LEGGED VARIETY

Mogsy’s Pick:

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

To be honest, spiders probably don’t bother me as much as they do others – yes, they’re icky, but unless I find one right up in my personal space, I typically leave them to do their own thing. Like people say, most house spiders are actually pretty harmless and are good to keep around because they take care of even worse insect pests.

But the spiders in The Hatching are another story. While reading this book, I had fight several urges not to jump into the shower because I was convinced I was feeling hundreds of tiny little skittering legs crawling all over my skin. The story begins in the jungles of Peru, where The Swarm (believe me, it’s completely appropriate to designate the spider horde as a character in its own right) claims its first victim. Before long, other disturbing reports are emerging all over the world. In China, a nuclear bomb goes off, which their government claims was a “training incident” gone wrong. In Minneapolis, an American billionaire’s private jet suddenly falls out of the sky. In Kanpur, India, a group of scientists receive unusual seismic readings at their earthquake lab. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, screams suddenly ring out aboard a cargo ship.

The commonality between all these events? Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed eight-legged creepy crawlies. Needless to say, if you’re an arachnophobe, this one’s going to go really badly for you. But let’s take a look at the covers:

From left to right:
Gollancz Hardcover (2016) – Gollancz Paperback (2017)

 Atria/Emily Bestler Books (2016) – French Edition (2018) – Spanish Edition (2016)

  

Portuguese Edition (2016) – Hungarian Edition (2017)

 

Winner:

There is just something about the Portuguese edition that really appeals to me. Maybe it’s the color scheme (I love the crimson/white/black combo), or the art style that makes that cover come alive with a hectic, frenetic energy. But even with the freaky image of the huge nasty spider dominating the picture, that one just keeps drawing my attention back to it.

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

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Book Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

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

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Book 7 of Peter Grant/Rivers of London

Publisher: DAW (November 13, 2018)

Length: 304 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I’ve made it no secret that I love Peter Grant/Rivers of London, and right now, it’s easily one of my favorite urban fantasy series. But for the last few books, our characters have been floundering in their hunt for the Faceless Man, the main baddie who has been a constant thorn in the Met’s side since the very beginning, and I was starting to worry that the lack of progress might soon be blowing up in all our faces. Luckily though, those wondering if we’ll ever get to see the end of this Faceless Man’s saga will be pleased to know, Lies Sleeping has the final showdown and answers you’re looking for. After seven books, this resolution was a long time coming, and it was awesome.

Needless to say, if you’re not caught up with the series yet, be aware this review may contain references to events from the previous books, so only read on if you’ve read finished The Hanging Tree to avoid any potential spoilers. Since the last time we saw him, Peter has received a promotion on the police force and is now playing a key role in the operation to take down the Faceless Man, now identified as Martin Chorley, as well as his associate Lesley May, a one-time friend of our protagonist. Chorley’s grand plan for London has also been revealed, involving a dastardly plot to lure out one of the city’s oldest and most deranged gods—a supernatural killer with whom series fans should be very familiar.

For this dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Peter and his mentor Thomas Nightingale must shore up their resources and gather all the support they can get, calling in help from all corners including the regular police force, history and archeology experts, and even Arthurian scholars. But unfortunately for Peter, Lesley knows all his usual tricks, and worse, where to hit him where it hurts the most. Chorley is up to something big, and no matter how well the Folly plans, their target always seems to be a few steps ahead, constantly slipping through their fingers.

Peter’s resolve has been tested before, but never like this. Lies Sleeping is the big shakeup this series needed, after all the breaks and build-up, and I think it succeeded in delivering both thrilling action and emotional impact. If the goal of the previous book was to bring us back into the thick of things and ramp up the momentum, then this one valiantly took up the baton and ran it to the finish line. I was also ecstatic that I got most of what I’d wished for, number one on that list being more Nightingale in action. While I’m not usually one for literary crushes, I’ve got it seriously bad for that guy. When all is said and done though, taking down the Faceless Man was very much a team effort, and I’m glad we also got the second item on my wishlist, which was seeing more involvement from the rest of the supporting cast. As I expected, Guleed has become a regular, and even more exciting is the fact she’s being brought onto the Falcon magical scene. Abigail becoming a fixture at the Folly was a nice surprise too, after getting know her well from The Furthest Station novella.

Once more, I also found the humor in Lies Sleeping to be on the more muted side, but in this case, I think it’s okay, and even appropriate. Peter still makes me smile occasionally with his dry, sardonic wit, but this was probably one of the more serious sequels, because of all that it had to deal with. Over the course of this series, Peter has matured as a person, taking matters more seriously in both his professional and personal life, becoming a better police officer and a wizard while also settling into a stable relationship with Bev. Still, there are also certain things that never change, and Peter’s mega blind spot with regards to Lesley was the cause of much teeth grinding on my part. There was a moment too where I felt the plot might be falling into a repetitive pattern, but fortunately, Aaronovitch was able to pull things back on track following a lull around the halfway point and save the situation in time for the big finale. Personally, I found the climax to be a bit confusing, in the way things related to the genius loci usually are when it comes to these books, so I suppose that’s nothing new. Regardless, those who have always appreciated this series’ attention to the history and mythology associated with London will find lots of like about this book, I expect.

And finally, Lies Sleeping has the unmistakable feel of a conclusion, though I do sincerely hope that this is just a wrap for the Faceless Man arc, and not for the series itself. It would be cruel to end things right as we’re seeing so much promise for our side characters, not to mention the big news dropped on us in the final few pages, but if this is going to be it, I’m also happy with how things played out. There are a few loose threads I wouldn’t mind seeing addressed, but overall I was impressed with how many conflicts were resolved by strongly tying them back to the series’ roots, i.e. where it all began in Rivers of London. I have no idea where Ben Aaronovitch will take this world and his characters next, but I’ll be crossing my fingers for more.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Whispers Underground (Book 3)
Review of Broken Homes (Book 4)
Review of Foxglove Summer (Book 5)
Review of The Furthest Station (Book 5.7)
Review of The Hanging Tree (Book 6)

#RRSciFiMonth Waiting on Wednesday

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

Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey (March 26, 2019 by Orbit)

In honor of Sci-Fi Month, I’m featuring sci-fi picks for my Waiting on Wednesday posts for the whole of November. Up first is the next Expanse novel, book number 8 of 9 in this highly acclaimed rollicking space opera series. We’re coming down to the home stretch, folks. Can’t wait to see how these last two books will play out.

“Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper.

In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.

At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess.

And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule — and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose – seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough…”

Guest Post: “Five Weird Books of the English West Country” by Aliya Whiteley

The BiblioSanctum is pleased to be a stop on the blog tour for The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley, described as a genre-defying tale of fate and free will, and how the choices we make in our lives affect us. The book has been widely praised in the UK where it was first published, and this fall Titan Books is pleased to be bringing it to US readers for the first time. It is being released today, available wherever books are sold. We hope you’ll enjoy this guest post by the author! Be sure to check out her book and also stop by the other blogs on the tour!

FIVE WEIRD BOOKS OF THE ENGLISH WEST COUNTRY
by Aliya Whiteley

I grew up in North Devon. It’s a part of the UK known as the West Country, deep in rural countryside with thick hedgerows sitting between the farmers’ fields and sheep dotted on the hillsides. In many ways it was idyllic, but there were also fears lurking amongst the quiet woods and small villages. When I started writing The Arrival of Missives, I remembered the way I felt when walking over the moors in the mist, or standing on a deserted shoreline on a rough, grey day. There was a sense that something strange could happen, and I soon found that I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Other authors have put the West Country’s weirdness on the page before, and here’s a look at five of my favourites:

1. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

An inn stands on Bodmin Moor, miles from anywhere. The owner of that inn is a man without morals, who commits terrible acts. He’s also the uncle of Mary Yellan, a young woman who has come to live at the inn without realising what she’s getting into.

The wildness of the weather and the cliffs of the Cornish coastline dominate Jamaica Inn. Du Maurier creates a hugely charismatic villain who uses those elements to his own advantage, preying on the unsuspecting. We fear for Mary, and admire her courage in an inhospitable place that offers her no easy escape.

2. A Maggot by John Fowles

There’s really no way to place A Maggot in a particular genre. There are elements of crime, literary fiction, science fiction and even horror. But it is deliberately disquieting because it does not want you to categorise it; this is a reading experience that you have to accept on its own terms.

A band of travellers make their way across Exmoor, Devon. An event takes place. The nature of that event will form the backdrop of an investigation that includes interviews and newspaper articles, attempting to find truth. To say any more is impossible.

3. Puffball by Fay Weldon

Imagine moving from your flat in the city to a fixer-upper in the heart of the countryside, thinking you’re going to live a quieter life in the clean air, only to discover your only neighbour is a very jealous witch. Mabs, the witch in question, resents the fertility of the young woman who has dared to move into her territory. So she rolls up her sleeves and sets out to ruin lives.

Puffball is very dark and very funny, and Fay Weldon’s characters are always so recognisable to me in their wants and fears.

4. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

We associate Sherlock Holmes with Baker Street, London, but most of the action in this story takes place on Dartmoor, Devon, described brilliantly by Doctor Watson as he is driven to Baskerville Hall to investigate strange goings-on and a family curse. He writes that, “a tinge of melancholy lay upon the countryside… as we drove through drifts of rotting vegetation.” Whenever I visit Dartmoor I think of that tinge of melancholy.

5. An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

Kim Newman understands that many people’s dream house, deep in the countryside with nobody nearby for miles around, can easily become the perfect location for a nightmare.

The Naremore family find a beautiful house in rural Somerset; it will come as no surprise from the title to find out that the house is haunted. But how this affects a family that have their own problems to begin with shows that our personalities can be influenced by our surroundings in strange ways.

 

These stories of ghosts and witches, supernatural animals and weird happenings, only add to the charm of the West Country, I think. I feel like I belong there, considering I’ve always loved a strange story too. I hope it inspires many more tales that make people want to visit it – not only for the green fields and blue sea, but also for the moors and mists, and the houses and inns that still hold their own secrets through the years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aliya Whiteley was born in Devon, UK, in 1974. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and has been published in places such as The Guardian, Interzone, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Black Static, Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as Fox Spirit’s European Monsters and Lonely Planet’s Better than Fiction I and II. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, and won the Drabblecast People’s Choice Award in 2007.

Her novella for Unsung Stories, The Beauty, was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award and a Sabotage Award, and appeared on the Honors List for the James Tiptree Jr Award. Her writing is often violent, tender, terrifying and funny. It has garnered much critical praise and provoked discussion. Other published works of hers include a collection of short stories, a novel from Dog Horn Publishing, and a blackly comic crime novel from Macmillan. Further details can be found on her website and she tweets most days as @AliyaWhiteley.

http://www.aliyawhiteley.wordpress.com

#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

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

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Titan (September 4, 2018)

Length: 288 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Occupy Me was probably one of the chanciest books I have ever attempted to read, knowing full well from the blurb and countless reviews how strange and bizarre it would be. I’ve made it no secret that I don’t always do well with “weird” books. But still, I decided to give it a try because I was in the mood for something a little outside of the box, and I was also curious to see what the science fiction literary awards circuit had been raving about.

And wow, what a trip this was. I’m not even sure how to describe the story, so I’m going to let the publisher description do most of the talking: “A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world.” Pearl is the woman with wings in question, an “angel” who works for a nebulous organization known as the Resistance. Posing undercover as a flight attendant, improving the world a little bit at a time with small incremental acts of kindness, she secretly hides an uncanny past and is determined to track down a killer responsible for pulling her out of her dimension and trapping her here on this earthly realm.

However, the killer is actually her prey wearing another man’s body. Dr. Sorle is not Dr. Sorle, for he has someone else living inside him. He is also in possession of an ordinary looking briefcase that is in fact an interdimensional gateway defying all the rules of time and space—an item which Pearl is in desperate need to get a hold of, for only then will she be able to unlock the mystery of herself and find her way home. But the briefcase isn’t going to yield its secrets freely, nor is Sorle willing to relinquish it that easily. Released from the Resistance, Pearl is forced to embark on her quest alone, chasing down this unpredictable madman and his freaky briefcase that can open into any number of dimensions, allowing all kinds of creatures to escape.

Obviously, if you’re looking for a coherent and straightforward story, you’re not really going to get that here. Occupy Me is mind-bendingly weird, there’s no doubt about that. Thing is, it’s not exactly weird in the “I’ve eaten a bunch of mushrooms and I’m all tripped out” kind of sense. I would say it’s more weird in the way that a lot of people find anime “weird”. The book is certainly contained in its own eccentric, quirky little world, and like all unfamiliar and odd things, it takes getting used to. The plot itself is actually quite easy to follow, and I enjoyed it immensely once I fell into the rhythm of not expecting anything to conform to reality. For me, I think that happened around the time a fucking pterosaur flew out of the briefcase.

Still, I’m not going to lie and say it was smooth sailing from there. I struggled plenty to wrap my head around a lot of the ideas and crazy concepts to spring forth from the hyper-imaginative mind of Tricia Sullivan, but I will say, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. While everything about the book was unusual, I also thought it was highly entertaining and even humorous in many places. Pearl is a hoot to follow with her unique personality and background, not to mention her forthright way with words. Never knowing what to expect around the next corner meant at no time did I find myself caught in a dull moment, and I always felt on guard trying to prepare myself for whatever strange surprise might pop up next.

Needless to say, it’s very difficult to recommend books like Occupy Me. Because they are so different and unusual, they may only appeal to a thin slice of the speculative fiction audience. All the same though, I feel that they also demand a certain level of admiration, if nothing else for being so boldly imaginative and fearless in defying genre expectations and convention. This novel is most certainly not for everyone, but if you’re looking to shake up your reading with something outside your comfort zone—something that might twist your mind and kick your imagination into high gear—then it might be worth a look.

YA Weekend: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

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

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Book 1

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (November 6, 2018)

Length: 384 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Here’s another one for fans of Asian-inspired fantasy: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean is set in a world reminiscent of feudal Japan with historical and supernatural elements. It is also a world where humans and yōkai live side by side—but not as equals. Whether you are a kappa demon or a near human-looking harionago or “hook girl”, all yōkai in Honoku are required to be registered and fitted with an unbreakable iron collar which would enslave them and keep their powers in check. The only free yōkai are those that live far away from the cities, hiding in little pocket communities in the wilderness. Mari, our protagonist, grew up in one such village with her clan the Animal Wives, a class of shapeshifting demons who can turn into beautiful women in order to seduce men and steal their fortunes.

Mari, however, was raised by her mother to follow a different path. Trained to fight and to survive, she has been groomed from childhood to become an empress and steal the treasures of the royal family itself. Each generation, a competition is held in the capital of Honoku to select the crown prince’s new bride. Hundreds of young women from clans across the empire would gather and attempt to conquer the challenges in the four enchanted rooms of the imperial palace, one for each of the seasons. Only one girl will prevail to marry the future emperor Taro, also known as the Cold Prince because of his utter detachment to anything to do with ruling, preferring to spend his time tinkering in his workshop. He especially despises the idea of being a prize, but is nonetheless drawn to Mari, who has arrived to enter the competition. Mari on her part is determined to win, but must contend with the difficulty of hiding her true nature while simultaneously trying to best all the other girls in the seasonal rooms. That’s because the rules strictly forbid yōkai from competing, and it would be an immediate death sentence if she is found out.

Well written and entertaining, it’s a shame the story wasn’t a little more original because then this book would have been even better. The first quarter was interesting, introducing readers to the mythology and background of the world, as well as the compelling role-reversal of warrior women competing to win a prince’s hand. But after that, the plot falls prey to the usual YA tropes. There was not much complexity to the parts where Mari had to survive the seasonal rooms. By and large, these sections played out exactly the way you would expect them to, with no surprises, and I’m somewhat disappointed we didn’t get more out of the rooms beyond a riddle and a scroll to retrieve. There’s also a case of instalove, which was especially annoying because of all the excessive hand-wringing and the “oh why oh why did not I see this coming?” later on in the story, and it’s like, well, maybe if you hadn’t thrown your heart at a guy/girl you’ve only known for all of five seconds, this might not have happened?

For better or worse though, this is the kind book where you really have to go through the motions before getting to the good parts. It’s not an ideal situation, but it also pays off in spades once you reach the point where the plot actually starts offering up more conflicts. In a way it felt like the second half of the book was an entirely different book all together, where the real meat of the story came in the aftermath of the competition, which turned out to be the gimmick. That said, some of the later parts of the story still felt scripted and contrived, but at least there were moments of unpredictability that kept things interesting.

This is also a book where the secondary characters far outshine the protagonists. Akira was the only perspective character I admired, the other two being Mari and Taro, whose voices were engaging enough but their personalities did not strike me as too different or special. Mari was not in fact as bold or dangerous as we were first led to believe, whereas Taro struck me as stiff and ineffectual, whose role was very limited and lacked any real kind of agency. On the other hand, Akira was written in a way that felt more alive and full of spirit. The Son of Nightmares was a wild card where anything could happen, and I also think his character went through the most changes. There were other side characters I enjoyed but a couple of them met untimely ends which rendered them somewhat pointless, and it was doubly frustrating because their deaths didn’t even elicit the intended emotional impact. A notable exception was Hanako, who only became more prominent after the first half of the story, and I found myself always looking forward to what further mischief she can do.

At the end of the day, do I think Empress of All Seasons worth reading? It depends. If you’re looking to read more Asian-inspired fantasy, this would be a good novel to add to your shelf. One of my favorite things about it was the handling of the supernatural elements, including the yōkai, who are an intrinsic part of this book’s world. Japanese culture is rich with legends and myth, and I loved how so much of it has been incorporated into the story. On the other hand, story-wise this is a very typical YA novel, and some may want to skip the mostly paint-by-numbers characters and tropey plot. Still, I experienced fun and excitement while reading this, even if it wasn’t always consistent, and I think it has potential.

#RRSciFiMonth YA Weekend Audio: Street Freaks by Terry Brooks

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

Street Freaks by Terry Brooks

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Audible Studios (October 2, 2018)

Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins

Author Information: Website

Narrator: Simon Vance

Despite being the son of a wealthy renowned bioengineer, Ashton Collins is just your ordinary teenager. In fact, due to his strict and protective upbringing, Ash is probably much more sheltered than the average kid. But when he is ambushed in his home by a squadron of armed invaders, he finds himself on his own and without anyone to turn to. His only lifeline is a panicked message from his father right before the attack cut the feed, telling Ash to head to the Red Zone, located in the dangerous heart of Los Angeles, in order to find a group known as the Street Freaks.

Once in the Red Zone, Ash finds himself swallowed up by this futuristic dystopian mega-city, a world he knows next to nothing about. Luckily, the Street Freaks find him before he can get into too much trouble, inviting him into their circle. They’re a band of adolescent outcasts, including a young woman with super-strength, a boy with more robot than human parts, a synth created to be pleasure bot, and many others. Brought together by the street racing scene, the Freaks also run a vigilante-style operation on the side, and Ash’s photographic memory and near perfect recall are skills that immediately make him an asset. But Ash is also on a personal mission to find answers, like the identity of those responsible for the attack on his home. News of his father’s death also turns his world upside down, though not for a second does Ash believe it was a suicide as reported.

I confess, I’ve not been a big reader of Terry Brooks over the years, despite him being a huge name in fantasy fiction. That said, I know enough about his work to know Street Freaks is a bit of a departure for him, exploring the sci-fi dystopian landscape with a Young Adult bent. However, what I did not expect was how skewed it was towards younger readers, for it does not feel as though it carries much crossover appeal, unlike a lot of Brooks’ other work. While the characters are likeable, they’re still very much the teenagers they’re supposed to be—impulsive, snarky, somewhat hot-headed and volatile and oftentimes immature. For fans of the YA genre who are familiar with the typical YA character shenanigans, I don’t think this will pose much of a problem, but for readers expecting something more serious and hard-hitting, you may find that Street Freaks has little to offer beyond surface-scratching territory.

To its credit though, the book does reads like an action movie, the plot’s lack of depth be damned. The scenes of the street races were almost reminiscent of the podraces of Star Wars complete with roaring crowds and fiery explosions, and I can’t help but think Brooks might have been channeling a little from his time writing the novelization of The Phantom Menace. These types of action sequences, which bordered on blatantly gratuitous, were nonetheless entertaining and provided well-timed bursts of spirit and dynamism in between sections where the narrative attempted at discussing weightier topics, such as the ethics and social consequences of genetically or technologically enhancing humans.

But ultimately, Street Freaks ended up being a rather typical YA sci-fi dystopian—though I don’t want to paint that as too much of a negative. The book is a mystery adventure-thriller, but at its heart also explores important coming-of-age themes such as finding yourself and seeking acceptance. Brooks’ style trends towards being lighter and not too subtle, which worked well in this particular case. However, his tendency to tell-versus-show made the romance (yes, of course there’s a romance arc) feel forced and awkward, and not even listening to this in audio made it any less cringey, though happily, this was probably the worst of my complaints.

Bottom line, I won’t deny I wish Street Freaks had been more. Still, at the same time, it was also pretty much exactly as I expected, so I can’t say I was too disappointed. It’s certainly accessible enough for Terry Brooks fans coming from his fantasy, and to many, the fun and readability might be all that matters.

Audiobook Comments: I make it no secret that I am a huge fan of Simon Vance, who is one of the most talented and versatile audiobook narrators in the industry. However, my first impression was that his voice might have been too mature for this very YA tale, though in the end he managed a fine job of it in any case. A good narrator can sometimes compensate for some weaknesses in the writing, and I felt Vance fleshed out a lot of the characters by bringing them to life with his voice.

Friday Face-Off: Bonfire Night

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:

“Remember, remember the fifth of November”
~ a cover reminiscent of BONFIRE NIGHT

Mogsy’s Pick:

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

This week’s was a tricky one. Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night or Firework Night, is an annual celebration in Great Britain commemorating the foiling of the Gun Powder Plot on the 5th of November 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding explosives that had been planted beneath Parliament. And that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge into this holiday, being a mostly culturally specific to the UK, though of course many other countries also have their own variations Bonfire Night, celebrating different traditions or on different dates of the year.

Anyway, I deferred to Lynn’s advice for this one, and went with a book cover depicting fires and fireworks, or in general anything that looked historical with big glittery celebrations. I’ve chosen Days of Blood & Starlight, the second book in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, which perhaps apropos to today’s topic also features a tale of political conspiracies and secret plots. But mostly I had to bend the rules a little today, hence my changing of “inspired by” to “reminiscent of” Bonfire Night, since I could not come up with a book I’ve read directly related to the events of the Gun Powder Plot.

Let’s take a look at the covers:

From left to right:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers HC (2012) – Hodder & Stoughton HC (2012) – Hodder Paperbacks (2013)

  

German Edition (2013) – Italian Edition (2013) – Portuguese Edition (2015)

  

Hodder Tesco Exclusive (2013) – Italian Edition (2016) – Dutch Edition (2014)

  

Czech Edition (2014) – Polish Edition (2013) – Hungarian Edition (2014)

  

Serbian Edition (2017) – Chinese Edition (2013) – Korean Edition (2014)

  

Winner:

I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a German edition winner before, but there’s just something so lovely about this one. The fiery colors contrasted with the girl’s icy blue glare gives this cover a certain intensity.

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

#RRSciFiMonth: Sci-Fi Month 2018 Introduction

You may have noticed the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth and its related images popping up all over the book blogosphere today. That’s because it’s November, which means it’s that time of the year again! Yep, it’s Sci-Fi Month. The BiblioSanctum has had such a great time being a part of this event in previous years that we’re participating again in 2018. This year, the hosts are Imyril of One More and Lisa of Dear Geek Place.

Starting today, we’ll be joining other bloggers, authors, and readers in a month-long celebration of everything science fiction. That doesn’t mean we’ll stop covering all our other favorite speculative fiction genres though! You will most definitely continue to see our usual fantasy reviews, weekly memes and features, spotlights, and all that other fun stuff. The only difference is, some of our reviews and posts will branch off from the usual to encompass the various mediums of science fiction.

This year, I’m not as on the ball with regards to planning, so I’m probably just going to play things by ear. I might use this opportunity to catch up with some science fiction books I missed. The great thing about Sci-Fi Month is that it’s a casual, low-pressure event. It has no deadlines, no specific challenges or quotas to meet–just a month of fun to enjoy, discuss, and share everything science fiction. The organizers have also arranged for some exciting features like giveaways and Twitter parties, so if this is something you want to be a part of, head on over to this Google form to sign up.

After that, grab the banner and button, and dive right in! Everyone is welcome, and you can join up anytime. Be sure to also follow the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth on Twitter so you won’t miss a thing.

Here at The BiblioSanctum, simply look for posts tagged with “SciFi November” or those that contain the SciFi Month images and hashtags to see how we’re getting involved. Come explore the wonders of science fiction with us, and to kick off the discussion, feel free to let us know:

How long have you been a fan of science fiction?

Why do you like sci-fi and what is your favorite thing about it?

What are your favorite books/games/films/TV shows in the genre?

What are your plans for Sci-Fi Month?

Waiting on Wednesday 10/31/18

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 Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor (February 5, 2019 by Crown)

Happy Halloween! To put you in a hair-raising mood, today I’m featuring the upcoming novel from new talent C.J. Tudor, who made me squirm last year with her disturbing and bone-chilling psychological thriller debut, The Chalk Man. Note: the book will also be published in the UK but with a different title, The Taking of Annie Thorne.

 

“The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.”