Friday Face-Off: A Wrap-Around Cover

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:

“~ a WRAP-AROUND COVER

Mogsy’s Pick:

The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

Today I’m doing something a little different by comparing the covers of all the books in a single series – and what a great series this is! The Memoirs of Lady Trent is one of my all-time favorites, and each volume is graced with a wrap-around book jacket featuring the gorgeous dragon artwork of fantasy artist Todd Lockwood.

Let’s take a look at them now:

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (2013)

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (2014)

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan (2015)

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (2016)

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan (2017)

Winner:

Almost impossible to choose a favorite considering how they’re all so beautiful, though I confess to being somewhat partial to anything to do with the ocean and maritime fantasy. So it’s The Voyage of the Basilisk for me!

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

 

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Book Review: Three Laws Lethal by David Walton

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

Three Laws Lethal by David Walton

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Pyr (June 11, 2019)

Length: 392 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I’m a big fan of David Walton, having greatly enjoyed his books like Superposition and The Genius Plague, but Three Laws Lethal has elevated my admiration for his talents and storytelling skills to new heights. It never ceases to amaze me how he can run with an idea and turn it into an entertainingly wild and engaging techno-thriller, and yet still deliver a high level of realism with sympathetic, relatable characters to make the premise feel entirely and all too disconcertingly plausible.

Case in point, Three Laws Lethal is something of a cautionary tale against artificial intelligence, using the concept of autonomous self-driving vehicles as inspiration. That said, I doubt the concept of the AI entity in this story is anything like you’d imagine, as it’s pretty unusual. As well, this is a very human story, focusing on the lives of four friends who bonded over a love of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship while in college. Their dream was to start a taxi service company using a fleet of self-driving cars, and between them, they had the money, brains, and ambition to make it all happen.

But then everything changes following a horrific tragedy involving the death of one of their own. Devastated by the loss of his girlfriend Abby, the project leader, Brandon, blames his best friend and programmer Tyler for causing the fatal error that got her killed. Naomi, Abby’s sister, retreated into her own world and threw herself into her research. After graduation, the three went their separate ways, their dreams now in tatters. However, Brandon is not ready to give up. Full of rage and determination, he is a changed man as he uses his hefty inheritance to start a self-driving car business, just as he’d always wanted. After convincing Naomi to join him, they end up being extremely successful, all thanks to a cutting-edge prediction technology she has developed. But no one besides Naomi knows the secret behind the seemingly miraculous algorithm that allows their cars to know exactly where they need to be and when, and she hates to think about how her research could be abused should anyone find out. And when it all comes crashing down, her old friend Tyler is the only one who can help her.

For me, the most compelling sci-fi novels are the ones that can entertain me and teach me something new at the same time. This describes all of Walton’s books. The man clearly puts in a ton of time and effort into research, and readers are rewarded with an experience that is both fun and educational. As you can probably tell from its title, Three Laws Lethal is inspired by Isaac Asimov, and his Three Laws of Robotics are given a modern twist using the idea of self-driving cars. With the number of people concerned about the advent of autonomous vehicles, as well as recent headlines about the threat of hacking or the intricate moral dilemmas involved in AI decision making, a book like this couldn’t be any more relevant. Walton explores these issues from multiple vantage points yet manages to keep the narrative smooth and fast-paced without bogging it down with complicated and lengthy explanations.

And rare for me when it comes to hard sci-fi novels, it was the characters I really enjoyed. Granted, we’re not talking about in depth personality studies here, and Walton has a tendency to gloss over important events in the characters’ lives and not dwell too long on emotions. To his credit, he knows what kind of story he wants to tell, and his no-nonsense writing style is well-suited to the techno-thriller genre. It also didn’t hurt my enjoyment at all, as I found the dynamics between Brandon, Tyler, and Naomi to be utterly fascinating. Brandon is a terrifying psychopath because of how convincing his motivations were despite his delusions of grandeur. His rivalry with Tyler was the stuff of legendary corporate politics. But I especially loved Naomi, who is so brilliant and adorkable and just plain awesome.

Above all, reading Three Laws Lethal simply gave me a deep sense of satisfaction. I love sci-fi novels that are exciting and smart. I also love being surprised. There are twists aplenty in the plot, several that had me gaping in shock. It kept me turning the pages, eager to find out what would happen next. It’s an energetic, non-stop thrill ride from start to finish.

In sum, I highly recommend Three Laws Lethal if you’re a sci-fi fan, especially if you’re keen on interesting and even weird perspectives on artificial intelligence. Even if you’re not big on the genre I think you’ll find this novel surprisingly accessible and easy to get into. Finding true gems like this is what I love about being a book reviewer, and David Walton has now earned his place on my list of must-read authors.

Waiting on Wednesday 07/10/19

“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

Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik (October 1, 2019 by Harper Voyager)

I’ve been feeling in the mood for some Romance Fantasy/Sci-fi, which might be why this sequel to Polaris Rising has been on my mind lately!

“Bianca von Hasenberg did her duty for High House von Hasenberg and ended up trapped in a terrible marriage. When her husband dies unexpectedly and leaves her a happy widow, she vows never to marry again. Instead, she uses her connections to save other young women. Information is power and Bianca has a network that would be the envy of the ’verse—if anyone knew about it.

After an attack, Bianca’s oldest brother, the House von Hasenberg heir, disappears from Earth without a trace. Determined to find him, Bianca leaves against orders. When she refuses to return, her father sends Ian Bishop, the director of House von Hasenberg security, to haul her home like a recalcitrant child.

Bianca leads Ian on a merry chase across the universe, but when their paths finally collide, she persuades him that they would be far more successful at finding her brother if they worked together. She will do anything to save her sibling, even if it means spending time alone on a small ship with the handsome, infuriating man who once broke her heart.

As clues lead them deep into rival House Rockhurst territory, Bianca must decide if she can trust Ian with the one piece of information that could destroy her completely. . .”

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

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

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

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Coming of Age, Contemporary

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Penguin Books (July 9, 2019)

Length: 240 pages

Author Information: Website

The Saturday Night Ghost Club was pitched to me as a coming-of-age story in a similar vein as Stranger Things, and after reading it I can see why. And yet, it is so much more than that. Craig Davidson, the author of a couple of horror novels I’ve read under his pen name Nick Cutter, delivers a haunting, evocative and curious little tale that can’t really be neatly pigeonholed into any one category. With its themes of growing up, making new friends, and waking up to the realities of life, I also believe that the story’s lessons and ideas are universal enough to be well received by both YA and adult readers.

Most of this story takes place in 1980s Niagara Falls, told in flashback by protagonist Jake Baker, a successful but somewhat melancholic neurosurgeon looking back at how his childhood shaped many aspects of his adult life. As a kid, he was aloof but friendly, somewhat timid but curious. Many of his best memories as a youth involved his eccentric uncle Calvin, an enthusiast of wild conspiracy theories and anything to do with the paranormal and occult. Uncle C owned an amazing shop of curious and other bizarre treasures, and he often helped young Jake get over his fears and anxieties by spinning fanciful yarns of adventure or coming up with fun, exciting games and activities.

The summer of his twelfth birthday, Jake also befriends a pair of siblings named Billy and Dove Yellowbird, and so came about the birth of the “Saturday Night Ghost Club”. Together, the three children fought off bullies, hung out at Uncle C’s shop, and visited the interesting nooks and crannies around town, learning of their colorful and sometimes eerie histories. Gradually coming out of his shell, Jake takes the first steps to becoming a stronger and more confident teenager while learning the value of friendship and family ties.

For anyone who has experienced being an outsider growing up or was always more of the quiet and introspective kid, they will see a lot of themselves in Jake Baker. Told in a style similar to a memoir, our protagonist describes his childhood as one characterized by a loving and supportive family, but his school days were troubled by loneliness relentless bullying. Then Billy and Dove came along, opening doors to a whole new world of possibilities. At twelve years old, Jake hovers at the cusp of adolescence, giving him a distinctive perspective. Despite his troubles, he is passionate, optimistic and still full of imagination—a unique point-of-view which gives this novel a lot of its quirky personality and charm.

Speaking of which, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a bit of an oddity, much like a lot of its characters. In the story, Jake’s uncle Calvin is literally referred to as an “odd duck”, though he sounds like so much fun to be around, it kinda makes you wish you had an Uncle C in your own life. To be sure, he fits right in with the rest of the cast as well as the setting. As someone who spent many of my formative years growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, Niagara Falls was a frequent summer destination and reading about it in this book provided plenty of nostalgia. In some ways, it is a place of contradictions, and I felt Davidson did a good job capturing its atmosphere and peculiarities. On the one hand, you have the natural beauty of the falls, but drive a little ways and you’ll soon hit the seedier parts. A good chunk of the place is also dominated by tacky tourist attractions, while the rest of it is pretty much your typical sleepy, down-to-earth Canadian town. It’s a city wrapped up romantic, magical notions but for Jake and his friends who live there, it is also the gritty reality. It’s the perfect setting for a story that hovers between the extraordinary and the mundane.

In some ways, it does make this novel hard to classify. The narrative speaks of ghosts and haunted places, but I wouldn’t call it horror. Likewise, there’s plenty of speculation into the occult and paranormal, but I also wouldn’t call it fantasy. The book predominantly follows three tweens, but some of the themes are mature enough to be appreciated by an adult audience so I would also hesitate to label this one strictly YA. That said, the protagonist’s 12-year-old perspective is very convincing, and I can easily imagine the adult Jake reminiscing about his past and thinking about how his experiences with Uncle C, Billy, and Dove have influenced him as a husband, father, and a neurosurgeon.

More so than anything else, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a precious, artistically written novel about nostalgia and memory. It is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking, looking back at the passage of time and its effects on love, friendship, and family ties. Of course, no child’s life is completely idyllic, but adulthood comes with a whole new set of problems and responsibilities, and the themes in this book touch upon some of these ideas, exploring how one becomes aware of the scary realities of life, wishing for simpler times and the innocence and carefreeness of youth. Like most stories about letting go of the magic of childhood, it is a very touching read a times, and a little sad too, so don’t be alarmed if you find yourself reading the final pages with tears in your eyes. Craig Davidson should be extremely proud of himself for writing such an outstanding and heartfelt masterpiece.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club Giveaway

And now time for the giveaway! With thanks to Penguin Books, the BiblioSanctum is pleased to be hosting a giveaway for one paperback copy of The Saturday Night Ghost Club. With apologies to our international readers, as per the publisher’s terms, the giveaway is open to residents of the US only. 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 “SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Friday, July 19, 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!

Audiobook Review: The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

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

The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (June 11, 2019)

Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Nathalie Buscombe

You know it’s summer when there’s a gazillion interesting thrillers coming out and I want to read them all, and with The First Mistake being about the possibility of an unfaithful husband with a best friend involved, it looked to me like the perfect guilty pleasure beach read.

At the center of this novel is Alice, married to her second husband Nathan with whom she is running an interior design business and raising two daughters in their beautiful home. When her first husband Tom died in a skiing accident, Alice was devastated and became lost in her grief. Tom was the love of her life and losing him sent her into a tailspin so that she was committed into a mental health institution and was left with bad anxiety for years. But then, Nathan came along. Kind, patient and loving Nathan, who helped her get back on her feet. With his help, Alice was able to get her life back on track again and keep running the company that she started with Tom.

And then one day, Nathan needs to fly to Japan to negotiate a possible deal with a vendor. He wants Alice to go with him, since as the owner of the company, she should be part of the decision-making process. But still feeling haunted by her first husband’s death, Alice isn’t prepared to jet off to a faraway place, leaving her girls behind. Taking solace in her conversations with her best friend Beth, Alice reveals how she thinks her anxiety has been affecting her relationship with Nathan, and worse, she has been noticing some suspicious signs that he might be having an affair: an unfamiliar earring found in his car, dubious charges on his hotel bill in Japan, flowers addressed to another woman…. And then another blow: Alice stumbles upon evidence that her first husband Tom might not have been the man she thought he was. Dealing with possible betrayal from both the present and the past, Alice feels herself starting to lose control again and doesn’t know who she can trust.

I’m guessing cheating spouses isn’t exactly an uncommon theme when it comes to domestic suspense, though I appreciated how Sandie Jones tried to tackle it from a different direction. Not going to go into specifics, of course, though I will say she leads the reader to think one thing, and then pulls the rug from under us when we least suspect. Most of this book is told from Alice’s perspective, though when we get to the surprise POV, that’s when the plot thickens, as they say. That said, the story felt a bit far-fetched at times, pushing the limits of believability—and you really had to buy into the characters or else many of their actions will feel forced.

Speaking of which, as the protagonist, Alice holds her own marvelously, though I think she’s a tough character to relate to until you progress far enough in the book to get the full picture of who she is. Both Alice and her best friend Beth have been damaged by certain events in their past, and it shows in the way they approach their problems. I didn’t find either them to be all that likeable, though I also believe this is by design. While it was difficult to connect with them on an intellectual level (there were so many things I would not have done if I had been in their shoes) I was still nonetheless able to understand where their motivations were coming from.

I also enjoyed the second half of the novel a lot more than the first, which is not surprising given the way this mystery was structured. Once we get the second POV, I think that’s when the dam broke and everything started coming together. Of course, the author also saves a bunch of earth-shattering surprises for the final few chapters, when the shocking twists and revelations just didn’t seem to end. It would have been nice if the pacing had been better balanced, because I found the first half of the book to be somewhat of a slow burn, though at the end of the day, I agree that for a thriller it’s best to go out with a bang.

All told, The First Mistake was a quick and entertaining thriller, and I wish I could have provided a lot more detail in my review, but when it comes to this genre that’s almost impossible without revealing any spoilers. As always, it’s best to go into these types of books blind if you’re curious! I had a lot of fun with this one, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a light and easy thriller-suspense to kick back with this summer.

Audiobook Comments: I think it would have been more effective and mysterious had they gone with two narrators for novel, but nevertheless, Nathalie Buscombe did a fantastic job as narrator. Even when the rapidly fluctuating emotions of the characters presented a bit of a challenge, I think she handled the voices well and made them feel convincing.

Book Review: Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes

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

Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Grave of Empires

Publisher: Orbit (April 9, 2019)

Length: 608 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I don’t think I enjoyed this one as most others, but honestly, I believe it had more to do with my mindset going in than anything to do with the book. Seven Blades in Black is rollicking action-packed epic fantasy full of spellbinding magic, tantalizing intrigue, and bloody violent battles—in other words, pretty much everything an avid reader of the genre could ask for. That said, it is also a heavy clunker of a book and there’s a lot going on, resulting in plenty of highs but also many lows when it comes to the story’s pacing and interest.

The main setting of the novel is an area of the world called the Scar, a continent that has been torn apart by a brutal war against the Empire and the Revolution since time immemorial. At the center of it all is our protagonist, a feisty mage by the name of Sal the Cacophony. Sal is known throughout these parts as a quick-witted gunslinger who rides a giant bird, carries a thunderous sentient hand cannon, and wields a sword named Jeff. She’s quick at the draw and sharp as a blade, but she also has plenty of issues including a massive chip on her shoulder and a vendetta against the mages who betrayed her.

At the beginning of the book, we find out that Sal has been captured by the Revolution, robbed of her weapons and magic, and is awaiting execution. Under interrogation, she recounts her story, gradually revealing the sequence of events which led her to begin her journey of vengeance and how it ended with a trail of destruction and death left in her wake.

Sitting at over 600 pages, this is definitely a book that requires a substantial time investment and a fair bit of patience. Others have been able binge this one in a couple of days, but for me it was a struggle to motivate myself to even pick it up on most occasions. But like I said from the outset, this probably had little to do with the book itself and everything to do with me. My goal had been to find a fun fantasy to read for the purposes of unwinding and de-stressing, and when I heard about the swashbuckling action and witty humor in this, I thought it would be perfect. And to be fair, it did provide a fair amount of entertainment and excitement in a general sense, though as I soon found out after I started reading, the story was also a lot more complicated and not as easygoing as I had expected.

For one, the plot itself is fairly complex—gratuitously so, I felt at times. And while the time shifts were somewhat clever, there was also a forced quality to them, like I could feel the author’s hand in pushing the characters and events through to his desired storyline every step of the way. There were also numerous sections in the book that made me question whether they were really needed, like dense paragraphs of tortured melodramatic internal monologue or repetition of certain character or story themes. The thing is, lengthy books don’t typically pose a problem for me; usually when I find a doorstopper of an epic fantasy novel that is skillfully written and keeps me well engaged, I can breeze through them like any other. With this one though, there were certainly moments where I definitely felt the full brunt of its massive page-length and a mental countdown of how many pages I had left to go was on the back of my mind far more frequently than I would have liked.

Sal was also a difficult character to like. By design, she’s a cantankerous, belligerent piece of work. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly enjoyed my fair share of other “unlikeable” characters who come across endearing and charming even when they do nothing but act like jerks through the entire book. But something about Sal just rubbed me the wrong way. Her swagger, snark, and devil-may-care attitude seemed really artificial in the way she was written, and her anger and woe-is-me self-pity came across as overly dramatic. It made connecting to her nearly impossible, and once sympathizing with her became difficult, inevitably there also went much of my interest in Sal’s story or resolution of the conflict.

Again, I am very much a mood reader and I imagine I would have enjoyed this one a lot more had I been in the right frame of mind and more lenient towards some of the issues I mentioned. But as it was, I had expected a story line that flowed better and a more engaging conflict and main character. I will say however that the premise of Seven Blades in Black was unique, with a concept behind the main character that was solid and imaginative. The world-building was also phenomenal. For those reasons, I give this book 3 stars despite the weaknesses in the plot and story structure. To its credit, I do think that it managed to pull everything together for a great finale—perhaps not in time to wow me, but it did make me more open-minded to the possibility of checking out the next book (and I’ll know what state of mind to be in if I do)!

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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Hello summer! For today’s roundup, I actually have a few life updates. Things have been a little crazy on my end for the last few weeks, now that the kids are out of school their days are packed with other activities that require me to run around and be with them everywhere. I also started a new gig a couple months ago, but as with all freelance/contract stuff it gets a little slow during the summer months so I have to work whenever I get the chance and pick up anything I can get. I’m also preparing for my upcoming vacation, which involves trying to get as much reading and reviewing in so that I’ll still have steady content here on the blog while I’m gone. With my schedule being the way it is now though, that’s been tough but I’ve been managing. All I can say is, thank goodness for audiobooks.

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!

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending a long a finished copy of The Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller. I’m reading this now, and though progress is slow, it’s got nothing to do with the book and everything to do with just not having enough time to sit down and read these days. I’m enjoying it a lot! So far it’s living up to the first book. The publisher also sent along Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor, which is new to me, but it sounds interesting! It is a memoir by the author about her life, how she went from a college track star to waking up paralyzed in a hospital bed, and how she channeled her feelings and experiences into writing, becoming a successful science fiction author.

Thank you also to the amazing folks at Ace/Roc/DAW for this next batch! First up, a gorgeous finished copy of The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan, which I’m curious to read to find out more since this series returns to the world of the author’s Raven’s Shadow trilogy. I also received a couple of ARCs: Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine is the fifth and final book of The Great Library series, and I can’t wait to see how things end; and Shield of the People by Marshall Ryan Maresca is the second book of the author’s newest series, called Maradaine Elite. Of course I still need to read the first book, but with the number of series he has set in Maradaine, I think it’s going to be a while for me to catch up. And from the publisher I also received a finished copy of Crowfall by Ed McDonald, book three of Raven’s Mark. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of the series so far, so I’ll probably tackle this one sometime later this summer since it’s the final book.

And a big thank you to the team at Harper Voyager for sending me a bunch of goodies last month, including an advance reading copy of To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers. Yay! I love her Wayfarer books and I can’t wait to dive into this novella. I also received a finished copy of The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey, described as a dark fantasy standalone which has also been compared to China Mieville. That makes me think this one will be a bit weird, so we’ll see how it goes. A couple weeks ago, I also received an ARC of The Emperor’s Fist by Jay Allan which I initially balked at when I saw that it was the fourth book in the Far Stars series. Apparently though, it can be read as a standalone, so I think I’ll give it a look later this summer.

Thank you also to Orbit for spoiling me silly last month with a couple of exciting ARCs: The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett is the first book of a new fantasy series called Hostage of Empire. Despite the low-key cover, the East Asian inspired story described in the synopsis is definitely calling to me. And I’m so beyond psyched for The Bone Ships by RJ Barker, which is at the top of my list of most anticipated releases of 2019. I loved the author’s Wounded Kingdom trilogy so I’m very excited to see where he’ll take us next.

Last but not least, courtesy of Subterranean Press I received this beautiful ARC of The Best of Uncanny edited by Lynne M. Thomas. It’s a collection of two novelettes and many stories and poems from the first 22 issues of Uncanny Magazine, and it’s huge!

I’ve been showing great restraint. In the digital pile this week, only audiobooks: with thanks to Audible Studios for a listening copy of Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light which brings to life an epic origin story about two teenage superheroes; from HarperAudio I received Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa, sequel to the incredible Shadow of the Fox; and finally, my thanks to Macmillan Audio for listening copies of Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton and The Escape Room by Megan Goldin!

Reviews

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

Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong (5 of 5 stars)
Wicked Fox by Kat Cho (4 of 5 stars)
The Rumor by Lesley Kara (3.5 of 5 stars)
Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich (3.5 of 5 stars)
The Girl Who Can Move Sh*t with Her Mind by Jackson Ford (3.5 of 5 stars)
The Girl in Red by Christina Henry (3 of 5 stars)
The Brink by James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth (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: Historical Figure

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:

“The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe…has been answered”
a cover featuring A HISTORICAL FIGURE

Mogsy’s Pick:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”

But unbeknownst to young Abraham at the time, Nancy Hanks Lincoln’s death was actually caused by a vampire. Losing her became the catalyst for his revenge and lifelong obsession with ridding the world of the nefarious bloodsuckers. In this highly entertaining fantasy-historical mashup, Seth Grahame-Smith actually managed to fit the plot around historical events quite well. Not much more to say about this book, besides it was an fun, interesting read (and much better than its movie adaptation).

Let’s check out the covers:

From left to right:
Grand Central Publishing (2010) – Corsair (2011)

Grand Central Publishing Movie Tie-in Edition (2012) – Thai Edition (2011)

French Edition A (2011) – French Edition B (2012)

 

Portuguese (2012) – W. F. Howes Large Print (2011)

Winner:

As usual, the movie tie-in editions have the brighter, more visually appealing covers, but they do seem to lack a bit of the class and elegance I prefer from the “old-timey” covers, blood-splattered as they are. I’m going to have to go with the original Grand Central Publishing edition for this one.

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

Audiobook Challenge 2019: 2nd Quarter Update

It’s that time again! Summer is in full swing, and that means as the 2nd quarter of the Audiobook Challenge comes to a close, we’re ready for another update on my progress in the year thus far along with a rundown of the list of audiobooks I’ve completed in the last three months. But first, here’s a quick refresher on what the challenge is all about:

Challenge Details

  • Runs January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2019 than you did in 2018.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.
  • Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be June 30, 2019, and the last update will take place on December 15, 2019.

Levels

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

Relative to how I did at the beginning of the year, I kicked ass this quarter. After tallying up all my audiobooks for the past six month I’m now sitting at 31 completed for the year, which means I’ve already passed my soft goal of My Precious so I guess this means I’m trying for Marathoner!

Waiting on Wednesday 07/03/19

“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

A Golden Grave by Erin Lindsey (September 17th, 2018 by Minotaur Books)

I had a lot of fun last year with Erin Lindsey’s supernatural mystery Murder on Millionaires’ Row and I’m so excited to see that the sequel’s on its way (with such a pretty cover too)!

“The follow-up to Murder on Millionaires’ Row, Erin Lindsey’s second historical mystery follows Rose Gallagher as she tracks a killer with shocking abilities through Gilded Age Manhattan. 

Rose Gallagher always dreamed of finding adventure, so her new life as a freshly-minted Pinkerton agent ought to be everything she ever wanted. Only a few months ago, she was just another poor Irish housemaid from Five Points; now, she’s learning to shoot a gun and dance the waltz and throw a grown man over her shoulder. Better still, she’s been recruited to the special branch, an elite unit dedicated to cases of a paranormal nature, and that means spending her days alongside the dashing Thomas Wiltshire.

But being a Pinkerton isn’t quite what Rose imagined, and not everyone welcomes her into the fold. Meanwhile, her old friends aren’t sure what to make of the new Rose, and even Thomas seems to be having second thoughts about his junior partner. So when a chilling new case arrives on Rose’s doorstep, she jumps at the chance to prove herself – only to realize that the stakes are higher than she could have imagined. Six delegates have been murdered at a local political convention, and the police have no idea who–or what–is responsible. One thing seems clear: The killer’s next target is a candidate for New York City mayor, one Theodore Roosevelt.

Convinced that something supernatural is afoot, Rose and Thomas must track down the murderer before Roosevelt is taken out of the race–permanently. But this killer is unlike any they’ve faced before, and hunting him down will take them from brownstones to ballrooms to Bowery saloons. Not quite comfortable anywhere, Rose must come to terms with her own changed place in society–and the fact that some would do anything to see her gone from it entirely.”