Friday Face Off :  “You can’t choose between life and death when we’re dealing with what is in between.”

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are liste d below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

 “You can’t choose between life and death when we’re dealing with what is in between.” – A cover that is grainy or looks like ‘white noise’

I quite enjoyed this week’s theme – probably because it wasn’t quite as tough as I’d imagined.  I was thinking a ghost style story would have worked well for this or maybe something sci-fi – or a horror book like the Ring? I’ve gone for The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch – it was actually the book I had in mind in particular for this theme but I didn’t know if there’d be any variety in covers so I was quite happily surprised to find 8 or 9 choices.  Here they are:

The first cover was the one I read and the cover that gave me the idea for ‘white noise’.  I find myself drawn to the two covers below which really couldn’t be further apart in terms of design:

Difficult to choose between these but I quite like the solitary figure walking away:

Gone2

Like last week I’ve added a Mr Linky here so that you can leave a link if you wish or please leave me a link in the comments so we can all visit and check out each others covers.  Thanks

I’ve updated the list and included themes through to the end of 2019 – I’ve also included events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share that let me know in the comments).  I also have a list prepared for 2020 and so will set up a separate page soon for forthcoming themes.  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment.

Next week –  A cover that is Upside Down

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers)

2019

26th July – “Ludo ….. down” – A cover that is Upside Down

2nd August – “There are children here somewhere. I can smell them.” A cover featuring children

9th August – “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

16th August – “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

23rd August – A cover that is a movie tie in

30th August – “I wandered lonely as a cloud” – a cover that is predominantly yellow

6th September “Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

13th September – Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

20th September – “Your hair is winter fire,January embers.” – A cover featuring hair

27th September – Freebie

4th October – “Feed me Seymour” – A cover that is 60s horror

11th October – ““And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”  – a cover featuring an Inn

18th October – “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had on the white mask, he stalked the babysitters.” – A cover featuring a scream

25th October – for Halloween – pick any scary cover you like

(I’m hoping that November will once again bring to us SciFiMonth – Twitter @SciFiMonth)

1st November – A cover that is predominantly grey

8th November – “big badda boom” – a cover that features an explosion

15th November – “No thinking thing should be another thing’s property, to be turned on and off when it is convenient.” – a cover featuring a robot

22nd November – A cover that is Futuristic

29th November – “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – a cover that is 60s sci fi

6th December – Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”  – a cover that puts you in mind of winter

13th December – A cover that features a temple/or religious icon

20th December – Longest Night –  a dark and foreboding cover

27th December – the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.

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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #GodsofJadeandShadow

GodsofGods of Jade and Shadow is the third book I’ve read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  I was so excited to see this one pop up and I’m pleased to say it doesn’t disappoint.  Steeped in folklore and taking inspiration from fairy tales this is the story of one young woman’s journey across Mexico, accompanied by a God, Hun,-Kame – the Lord of Shadows – or Mayan God of Death.

Casiopea Tun is the Cinderella of the story.  Downtrodden and treated as a servant by her family she spends all day cleaning and running errands.  And all this for one of the wealthiest and most respected families in the small dusty Mexican town in which she lives.  She daydreams about the simple pleasures in life, travelling, seeing the ocean and dancing and although she holds little hope of achieving these things she remains optimistic, particularly in the face of her cousin Martin who is constantly tormenting her.  Casiopea’s life changes dramatically when she one day opens a locked chest in her grandfather’s room releasing a long imprisoned spirit and in the process tying herself to his fate.  Has anybody heard about Pandora and what she released – or maybe curiosity killing the cat??  Anyway, to an extent, downsides notwithstanding, Casiopea finally gets her wish to leave the confines of her family home and travel – and with a dashing and sometimes daunting God no less.  What could possibly go wrong?

So, this is told in a fairly linear fashion.  Casiopea and her companion must travel across Mexico, collecting various ‘items’ along the way, in order to return Hun-Kame to his former self and render him capable of standing against his twin brother, Vucub-Kame, and reclaiming his throne that was most treacherously stolen from him.  We travel from place to place making the acquaintance of a number of fantastical characters.

To be honest, what I loved about this most was the difference.  It’s set in the Jazz Age, beaded dresses, art deco and the Charleston are in full swing.  It’s a new era and a lot of the elements, short bobbed hair for example, are shocking in the extreme. I loved seeing all of this afresh from Casiopea’s perspective and watching her gradually awaken to the multitude of possibilities.  She goes from strength to strength and along the way she also falls a little bit in love.  But, don’t think this is a romance, it isn’t, that’s just an aside to the story.  Really this is more about Casiopea’s own journey, about her finding herself, gaining confidence along the way and being strong enough to do the right thing.  Casiopea is a young woman poised on the brink of possibility.  On top of that, although she has help along the way she basically becomes the hero of the piece which is just so refreshing.

The world here is not overly described but there are enough descriptions to really build up a convincing picture.  I think this is one of the strong points for this particular author.  She doesn’t labour the point and yet is able, apparently effortlessly (although probably not effortlessly at all) to really conjure a sense of place.  Heat, dust, food, mode of travel, dress, etc.  They’re all worked into the narrative without the need for info dumps.  I guess this is made possible in some respects by the fact that Casiopea is so sheltered and so we, the reader, are experiencing things through her eyes and yet it just helps to really pull you into the story.

In terms of characters.  Well, obviously, we have Casiopea – and what a wonderful character she is.  She isn’t waiting to be rescued.  She’s sheltered, downtrodden and naive and yet she isn’t afraid to grasp the bull by the horns, take risks and go out into the big wide world.  What a fantastic protagonist she is.  She made me smile.  She’s not perfect, not always fearless, not always immune to persuasion but at the end of the day she’s just great – I simply have to applaud the author to come up with such a strong female character.  The Mayan God of Death – what can I say, he’s a moody sod.  Tempestuous, aloof, superior, downright good looking and with some rather brilliantly caustic dialogue – he’s a rather decent bit of mind candy and I loved watching the relationship between the two of them grow but that isn’t the entire focus here.  It’s more about the changes that people bring about in each other and it’s rather brilliantly portrayed.  At the end of the day the baddies aren’t always necessarily bad and the goodies aren’t necessarily always good – and sometimes it takes somebody with a different way of seeing things to step in and connect people to their ‘better selves’ and that’s what I felt came across really well.

The ending – I’m not going to tell you.  You’ll simply have to read the book.  All I can say is that I thought this had the perfect ending and if the author ever wanted to pick up and revisit from the place she left off I would be the first to pick up that book.

In terms of criticisms – I don’t have much.  I had a certain slowness during the middles sections of the book.  It didn’t make me want to put the book down but I definitely felt a little lag in the pace.  Other than that – I have nothing.

So, think Cinderella, think Labyrinth, think Pan’s Labyrinth, think American Gods – and then think of none of those thing.  Yes, of course, if you like those then this might resonate with you but it strongly stands on it’s own two feet.

I received a copy, courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Finally my thanks to Jo Fletcher Books for including me in the blog tour for this wonderful novel.  I’ve posted the banner below so you can see which other bloggers are taking part and maybe pay them a visit to check out their thoughts too.

Blog Tour Visual.png

 

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone #TimeWar

This is HowTIHYLTTW is such an unusual book, quite extraordinary really.  Thought provoking, clever and the type of read that will appeal on multiple levels.  I loved it.

Here we have a most unlikely love story, told primarily in epistolary format, this is a tale that spans the ages and cunningly side steps some of the issues that can sometimes accompany time travel and science fiction.

On the face of it this is a story of two agents, both jumping back and forth through time in order to manipulate the timeline.  Both pitched against each other and yet eventually, through loneliness, finding a place in each other’s affection that could prove deadly should that affection become known to their commanders.

I’m not going to enter into details of the plot to be honest.  I think each reader will have a different experience when reading this and so to try and sum it up in a nutshell is not something I’m keen to do – plus at just over 200 pages I really believe this will be best discovered with no prior knowledge going into the read.

So, what else can I tell you.

This works quite simply as a story of two people, adversaries to begin with, who slowly become enamoured with each other.  The writing is beautiful, flowery maybe but also with so many unique concepts that it is simply fascinating.

This brings me to the sci-fi elements.  This is the type of science fiction that doesn’t over elaborate – which means I love it.  It also means that it doesn’t become convoluted with over ambitious explanations.  The time travel element simply ‘is’.  I don’t know how it works, I don’t really know what missions both of these agents are undertaking, I don’t know what the objectives are – I just know that things happen and taken on face value like this there’s a sort of easy acceptance to it all.  Time travel can be another very complicated thread with all the paradoxes and getting turned around in circles but the simplicity here means no headaches for me – and no doubt no headaches for you too.  Now you might be thinking that you want all those explanations and details – and maybe I would have liked some hints – but, at the same time I found I really didn’t miss them.  It’s incredibly odd – they simply weren’t necessary to the story.  In fact, given that the two characters are so firmly rooted in this future world why would they need to explain anything to each other.  They wouldn’t – and so any such detail would only end up feeling forced.

The writing is really rather lovely.  There’s a sparsity to it where nothing at all is wasted, everything has a meaning here and it’s the sort of writing that makes you want to stop and reflect.  Don’t be too keen to gobble up these pages in a rush, you will be missing out if you do.

I may have mentioned that I love letter writing in my stories and this is no exception.  The letters here are sprinkled in the most unlikely places, scattered amongst seeds and other unexpected items.  I loved reading them.  The thoughts and desires but more than that the way the letters change over the course of time becoming something that both correspondents are desperately waiting for and have in fact become dependent upon.  On top of this there is the almost poetic style which when coupled with the unlikely romance between the two main characters gives it an uptodate Shakespearean feel.

I loved all the references, the ones I picked up on anyway, I’m sure I missed a good few or they were simply above my head as this is a clever little nugget.  And this brings me to my final thoughts, which I’m still dwelling on.  This is a story that I felt had a subtle underlying message.  The two central characters are fundamentally opposed in the first instance purely as a result of their own make-up.  This is set in a far future that has seen advances not only in technology but also in nature and yet the two don’t sit well together – in fact they’re at war with each other – right up until they discover they can get along.

Anyway, this book is very different, very unusual in fact, and, very good.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

4.5 of 5 stars.

Finally my thanks to Jo Fletcher Books for including me in the blog tour for this wonderful novel.  I’ve posted the banner below so you can see which other bloggers are taking part and maybe pay them a visit to check out their thoughts too.

Time War blog blast.png

 

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Dispel Illusion (Impossible Times #3) by Mark Lawrence

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Dispel Illusion (Impossible Times #3) by Mark Lawrence.  The final instalment of the highly enjoyable Impossible Times series by Mark Lawrence.  I can’t wait to see how everything concludes and there isn’t a long wait – due out on 14th November.  Here’s a snippet from the first chapter taken from Goodreads:

Dispel Illusion“Chapter 1 – 1992

The two saving graces of explosions are that from the outside they’re pretty and from the inside they’re quick. The one I was in was taking forever though and had none of the fiery goodness of the typical Hollywood offering. When time explodes it tends not to create exciting fireballs, and most of the shrapnel inside the Winston Laboratory was crawling through the air at a pace that makes snails look zippy.”

So, looks like things are going to get off to a fairly dramatic start then.

Literally – I can’t wait.

 

Here are my reviews for books 1 and 2.

TTT : ‘Go to’ Authors

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

Auto-Buy Authors

I’ve gone for an all female cast this week – maybe I should do a male version of this list too.  To be fair my ‘auto buy’ author list is expanding, I had well over 20 female authors at least for this list but decided to show restraint – this is Top Ten Tuesday after all – I may have cheated and gone for 11 but shhhh don’t tell anyone.

Sarah Pinborough – I haven’t read a book yet by SP that I didn’t love.  She writes in so many different genres.  Thrillers – Behind Her Eyes and Cross Her Heart; gothic style supernatural murder mystery – Mayhem and Murder, 13 Minutes; fairytale retellings – Poison, Charm and Beauty; and many more  I don’t pretend to have read all her books but I’m working on it.

TalesfromtheKingdoms.jpg

Lauren Beukes – Again, I’ve not read all of this author’s books but the ones I’ve read so far have been fantastic – Zoo City, The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters – highly recommended.

The shining girls

Laura Purcell – I’ve only fairly recently discovered this author but I’ve absolutely loved the two books I’ve read by her so far – The Silent Companions and The Corset (or Poison Thread).  I can’t wait to read her next book Bone China.

Bone China

Joanne Harris – So many books that I’ve loved by JH.  My most recent was The Strawberry Thief which was absolutely captivating.  Read it – pretty please.

StrawberryThief

Alice Hoffman – Similarly I’ve read a lot of Alice Hoffman’s books and absolutely loved them.  She has a way with words and is the master of magical realism.  Most recently the prelude to Practical Magic – The Rules of Magic which was, well, magical.

RulesofMagic

Marie Brennan – dragons, dragons and more dragons (and other fantasy as well of course).  I love her books, I love the covers, I love Lady Trent and I am so excited for the next book due out soon – Turning Darkness Into LIght which is a new series starring Lady Trent’s granddaughter. Check out this cover and resist this synopsis if you can

Turning Darkness

Diane Setterfield – I’ve read three books by this author, The Thirteenth Tale, Bellman & Black and more recently Once Upon a River.  I love her writing and eagerly await her next book.  That is all.

The Thirteenth Tale.jpg

Susan Fletcher – my first book by Susan Fletcher was Witch Light.  When I first started reading the book I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea, and yet, as I was having that very thought the pages began to captivate me and before I knew it I was hooked.  I’ve read quite a few books since then – most recently House of Glass which was a beautifully told gothic tale.

Katherine Arden – The Winternight Trilogy –  need I say more.  Any author that gives me a fairytale style series with such fantastic characters, set in Russia and loaded with folklore wins the day for me.

The bear

Anna Smith-Spark – Queen of Grimdark and an author who can paint the pages red and yet instill the tale with a unique sense of beauty.  I’ve loved the first two books in the Empire of Dust Trilogy – The Court of Broken Knives and The Tower of Living and Dying and I’m about to start on the final instalment – The House of Sacrifice.  Excitement am I.

HouseofSacrifice

 

 

 

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