Judging a Book by its Cover

We all do it.

We say we don’t, but we do.

Our minds are drawn to beautiful or interesting visuals.  That’s just the way it works.

So first, I want to look at those oh so beautiful ‘leather bound classics’ that Barnes & Noble sell.

They are wonderful.  I would buy them all, if it wasn’t for the terrible shipping rates to Canada!

Here are the ones I do have:

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As you can see, I went for the same type of collections. Fairy tales and children’s stories!

This one, I’m hoping get rereleased.

narnia

Now, I’d love to talk fairy tales, and their impact on both writers and society as a whole, but I’ll save that for another post because I have tons to say about it!

This is all about the cover art.

I believe having shelves of old books, with decorated spines and beautiful imagery is a romantic idea that many people have.  Finding old books for a cheap price however is not easy! Now these books are not old, though the stories inside them are.  They are however beautiful, and are really like a piece of art in a way.

This brings me to a question though.  Do you prefer having your shelves filled with a variety of sized and styled books, or do you like the uniformity of having, let’s say, all the Barnes & Noble leather bound collection.  That would be all your classics, styled in this way.  Does that appeal to you?

As much as I think they’re beautiful, and I do want to get a couple more of them, I think having too much of the same would probably not be to my liking.  It would be too intentional, and would become more about the art, than the books themselves.  What do you think?

Another great cover:

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane

This one is gorgeous.

ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-neil-gaiman

A.G. Howard’s Splintered

splintered book cover2

So I haven’t read this one yet.  This is one of those cases where my thought process went: Oh wow, that’s beautiful! Oh, it’s about Alice in Wonderland.  I’m interested!

So clearly, that’s good marketing!

Hopefully the book is gripping as well.

 

And of course, no post would be complete without a mention of George RR Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire.  Walking into the fantasy section of a bookstore can feel overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Though this is changing now (possibly do to Martin’s covers), most fantasy covers tend to feel like they all started from the same template.  There will be a guy (or once and a while a woman) wielding some fancy sword, hair whipping around in the wind, determined look on their face.

You see the same kind of generic art in Romance covers, and it can be off putting.  Maybe the book is great, but I don’t know that when I’m looking at a cover, and I will not be inclined to read it.  So what sets Martin’s books apart, at least until everyone catches on and does the same, is that they don’t have typical fantasy art . Just a single image, on a plain background.  That’s it. Nothing fancy, and yet totally gripping!

A_Game_of_Thrones_Novel_Covers

Another fantasy writer got me this way as well.  Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy:

the-first-law-trilogy

They are so simple, with only the title being the focus, that I immediately was drawn to them.  And that’s what a good cover does, it makes you pick up the book, and read the synopsis (which is hopefully well written!).

This has worked in many genres.  Just look at how Fifty Shades of Grey, and other erotic/romance novels have used this kind of cover to grab an audience.  It really works!

As I’ve said however, people will catch on to this, and soon there will be too many books using this kind of cover, and then its impact will be lost.

 

So, when you walk in to a bookstore, what catches your eye?

What book on your shelves do you think has the best cover design and art?

Let me know in the comments!

 

Until next time,

Sarah

 

Curiousity Corner: Dracula by Bram Stoker

I’ve said this before – vampires are delicious. I may be paraphrasing. Now it’s no surprise that I would want to read this. It might just be my love for Gary Oldman, or my curiousity with all that good supernaturally stuff  that brought me here. Both, probably.

Since I saw the movie when I was much younger, I didn’t realize it was based off of a book. Though it’s actually one of my favourite movies (no matter how not great it was) so I’m going to make an exception and give it a read at some point. Dracula is supposed to be one of the original bloodsuckers…or as far as I know, at least one of them. I would like to see where Bram takes his imagination with this. I’m not sure if it was the same in the novel or something they changed in the film, but I liked the background that Dracula was given. I think it fit well with the story line. In the book, I just have to wonder if he’s just a lonely vampire wanting what everyone else has? Aww. Sad. Anybody have that problem with books and their movie selves?
Happy Halloween!

Xox,
Sasha

Biggest Book Turn-Offs

Hey there!

So this is eight hours late, but better that than never??

So a while back I noticed some people posting their top ten book turn-offs (a Top-Ten Tuesday?), and wrote up this list.

So here it goes:

1) The line often seen in YA literature: “she let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding”. Why are so many teen girls holding their breath all the time? Is this a part of teenage development that I missed out on? Perhaps it’s just because almost EVERY teen book I’ve read has some variation of this line in it, but it’s an immediate eye-roller for me now. You’ll notice it too, from now on. I’ve ruined it for you. Sorry! (not really :p)

2) Characters losing weapons by accident, just to make sure their situation is more dire than it already was when they had one. Repeatedly in one book. So clumsy, guys… and yet these characters are also equally skilled with every weapon/tool you put in their hand. Incredible, but clumsy fighters? I am trying to extend my sense of belief here.

3) The character who is only in a book to give important information at the “right time”, even though the right time is really about two-hundred pages too late, cause the protagonist could have really used this info before everything went to hell.
I LOVE putting obstacles in my characters way, it’s what makes a story interesting, but I want to have a believable and intelligent plot line, that won’t make me go “BUT YOU COULD HAVE SAVED THEM FROM ALL THIS TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE. NOW I MUST THROW THIS BOOK ACROSS THE ROOM”. The usual suspects: best friends, lost but found parents, wise old wizards…

4) The word “quest” in any title. Just no. I will judge this book by its cover. I’m sure many of the books out there with the word quest in the title are very well written, but when I see it, I just don’t even want to try. So let me know if you have any good recommendations! Free me of my prejudice!!

5) A POV that only shifts once or twice in a book because there was no way to communicate what happened through your protagonist. I’ve seem this done well, but more often than not, it’s done badly. Disjointed and sometimes even giving away important information about the antagonist that should have been given another way!

6) Long run on sentences that become paragraphs and that don’t end for over a page, and continue in this fashion for the entire novel, communicating a lot of unreliable nonsense and sometimes even describing things to death and all because stream of consciousness is so edgy that we absolutely need to forget the use of punctuation and refuse to give the reader a break because the mind doesn’t take breaks, now does it? I tried to make that sentence much longer, but just couldn’t. Hopefully you know what I mean!!
(Not referring to Woolf or Joyce. I bow down to their mastery of stream of consciousness. There are however, several classics that are written in this way. I can’t say it’s wrong. I just personally find it irritating. )

7) Endings that magically tie together all plot lines, often forgetting certain obstacles or character traits so that it can all be resolved in a way that was made clear to be impossible 200 pages before.

8) The too happy, happy endings. Unrealistic. I like when characters have reached their goal, become better people, fallen in love, sure. I just don’t want it to be “and they lived happily ever after, with all evil gone forever, and magical resolutions to all world problems.” I can just watch a classic Disney movie for that.

9) Flat, boring, unimaginative love interests. Can they not be more than what’s on the surface? And I mean more than just angsty boys with only sarcasm and brooding to offer.

10) This character never met one of their parents?! This parent is going to resurface at the climax of the novel!?! They’re evil too!?! Omg.
Okay. Stop. This totally easy to see coming plot line is overused. To be clear, I’ve enjoyed books that use this, but I definitely wish it came up less. Every time I hear a character never knew a parent, I get an anxious annoyed feeling that I’m about to read a book filled with all the other typical plot twists out there as well.

TO BE CLEAR, I’m not bashing the authors who choose to use some of these in their books. I have loved many a novel/series that have one, if not more of these used. Even my favourite books have things that can get on my nerves. I think as a writer though, these will be the things I look out for in my own writing, as things I don’t want to do.

So that’s it.

What are your biggest book turn-offs?

Let me know in the comments.

Have a great week!

Sarah

Mandy’s Miscellaneous Flavours: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Mindy Kaling

Three Rivers Press (Sept. 18 2012)

Hardcover

Humour and Entertainment, Humour, Essays

222 pages

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Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

***

First off, on the extremely slim chance that you are somehow reading this, I love you Mindy Kaling and I wish we were friends 5ever.

Anyways…

After lugging around numerous dense and heavy books amid midterm season (lord help us), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me is the perfect break from it all.

Not to say that this book is merely consisted of fluff. On the contrary, this book still has substance underneath all the jokes. Like Ben and Jerry’s after a long day filled of BS. Ice cream with the yummy brownie bits in it.

So what is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me book about? In Mindy Kaling’s words: “In this book I write a lot about romance, female friendships, unfair situations that now seem unfunny in retrospect, unfair situations that I still don’t think are funny, Hollywood, heartache, and my childhood. Just that really hard-core, masculine stuff men love to read about.”

So it’s no surprise being the manliest manly-man out there that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Within this book Mindy Kaling talks about her life from childhood to adulthood, her success with The Office, from her ups and downs, to bullies and best friends, all in the form of witty stories.

We are given a peek into Mindy’s creative and playful mind, with passages entitled “Don’t Peak in High School”, “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real”, “Why do Men Put on Their Shoes So Slowly?” and other clever remarks that are sprinkled throughout the book.

At times serious, at times hilarious, but always honest, Mindy Kaling manages to weave a string of what would seem as incoherent thoughts together. Among one of her musings, one story that stuck with me well after reading it was of one about the friendship between her and a girl called Mavis in high school. The story of two friends finding each other at the perfect time only to drift apart and go their own ways just seems like something everyone will be able to relate to.

At times it’s as if she was peeking into my own mind (“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it”) rather than the other way around. And I guess that’s what I ultimately liked about this book and Mindy herself, how relatable she is. Flipping through the books pages was like reading letters sent by a close friend, which I liked a lot…

And not because the only thing I get in the mail are bills.

Until next time!

Amanda  

Curiousity Corner: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

This week instead of a review, I’ve decided to write about something that I have hopes to read at some point…soon? In the distant future somewhere at least.

Okay. So. I feel like everywhere I go, I’ve been seeing this book. That’s weird isn’t it? And each and every time this happens, I’m reluctant to flip through its contents. After all my stubbornness, I’m taking it as an extremely delayed sign. I think because the cover shares the same color scheme as the Twilight series (which I’ve read…though I shan’t speak of it) that it through me off a little bit? Yeah, let’s go with that. So I shoved my bitterness aside one day whilst bored on my cellular device as usual. I ordered a sample from Kelley Armstrong. Bitten seems to revolve around werewolves. Normally, I wouldn’t indulge in this sort of furry fantasy. But I’m thinking Year of the Vampire is over. At least for now.

The first few chapters that I got to peek, introduces our main character Elena who is a newly bitten wolf still trying to hold onto her humanity. It does seem to sound like the usual self-loathing supernatural creature, but I’m interested to see where this goes. Especially when Elena gives into her wolfy urges. It’s always a little fun when they join the dark side for a quick spin, don’t you think?
This is going to be added to my collection soon enough. Hopefully it won’t be collecting dust.

xox,
Sasha

Mandy’s Miscellaneous Flavours: Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock (Review)

Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence

Nick Bantock

Chronicle Books- September 1991

Hardcover

Romance/Mystery/Illustrated novel/epistolary book/fantasy/Paranormal

28 pages

Image

Griffin: It’s good to get in touch with you at last. Could I have one of your fish postcards? I think you were right — the wine glass has more impact than the cup. –Sabine

But Griffin had never met a woman named Sabine. How did she know him? How did she know his artwork? Who is she? Thus begins the strange and intriguing correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. And since each letter must be pulled from its own envelope, the reader has the delightful, forbidden sensation of reading someone else’s mail. Griffin & Sabine is like no other illustrated novel: appealing to the poet and artist in everyone and sure to inspire a renaissance in the fine art of letter-writing, it tells an extraordinary story in an extraordinary way.

***

I have to admit I’m not quite sure where to begin with this book, but I do know that I wish I could take a picture of each page and post it here, but I’ll refrain myself. This is a book blog after all, not a picture album (also imagine the copyright issues, yikes!)

With that said, I should probably begin this review by saying that Nick Bantock’s book isn’t for everyone.

If you’re the type who prefers their books to have a clear plot and narrative, Griffin & Sabine is unfortunately not for you. However, if you’re up for an unconventional form of storytelling, and have an appreciation for art, then you should give this book a try. I know I don’t regret it.

 Also as the title suggests, yes, it’s a romance. Yet it’s so typical of me to finally read a romance “novel” that isn’t truly a romance novel.

I haven’t encountered any books like this one before, so its peculiar format instantly caught my eye. An epistolary novel, the story unfolds (literally) before the readers’ (viewers?) eyes as a series of postcards and removable letters.

Without giving too much away, Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, is exactly what it sounds like. Griffin, a postcard designer from London, has his life turned upside down after a cryptic postcard from Sabine Strohem, a woman he has never met. Claiming to be from the Sicmon Islands, Sabine adds a splash of colour and intrigue to Griffin’s grey and dreary existence. So of course they begin to correspond regularly, leading the two to ultimately fall for one another.

As Griffin writes in one of his handmade postcards: “Why doesn’t this alarm me as much as it should?”

I can honestly say I was thinking the same thing.

As the readers, we are not given any more insight into the characters’ or story’s development. All we have to rely on are the letters that we have before our eyes, and the unfounded trust in the words of Griffin and Sabine. We are forced to be some kind of detective, putting the pieces (or rather letters) together to better grasp what is happening. Despite being so restricted of material, it is notable how heartfelt and believable the connection is between the two star-crossed lovers. However, the “realness” of the exchanges is forever disrupted by subtleties that add to the mysterious and even mystical feel of the book. For example, a major difference between the letters of Sabine and Griffin are how they are dated. Griffin’s always have a date, Sabine’s never do. This shouldn’t really matter; however, Sabine’s timeless and dateless letters only build up Griffon’s theory of his slow descent into madness. His final letter to her is heartbreaking, while Sabine’s last letter basically says:

Shit’s gonna go down.

With all that said, the world has changed since then. This book was published in September of 1991. Now we live in a time of emails, texts messages, instant chat and tweets. Ultimately leaving one to wonder how a book in this format would be received if it were written today.

Seriously, when’s the last time you handwrote a letter?

I thought so.

Mandy

Michelle’s Paper Garden Presents Clockwork Fairy Tales: A Collection of Steampunk Fables

Title: Clockwork Fairy Tales: A Collection of Steampunk Fables

Author(s): Stephen L. AntczakJames C. Bassett,Pip BallantineK.W. JeterJay LakeKat RichardsonPaul Di FilippoSteven HarperNancy A. CollinsG.K. Hayes,Gregory NicollPhilippa Ballantine  

Publisher: Roc Trade

Year: 2013

Number of Pages: 336 pages

Type: Paperback

Genre: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Short Stories, Fairy Tales Retellings, Fantasy

Summary: Combining the timeless fairy tales that we all read as children with the out-of-time technological wizardry that is steampunk, this collection of stories blends the old and the new in ways sure to engage every fantasy reader.…

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes”, New York Timesbestselling author K. W. Jeter’s “La Valse” forges a fable about love, the decadence of technology, and a gala dance that becomes the obsession of a young engineer—and the doom of those who partake in it.…

In “You Will Attend Until Beauty Awakens”, national bestselling author and John W. Campbell Award winner Jay Lake tells the story of Sleeping Beauty—and how the princess was conceived in deception, raised in danger, and rescued by a prince who may be less than valiant.

The tale of “The Tinderbox” takes a turn into the surreal when a damaged young soldier comes into possession of an intricate, treacherous treasure and is drawn into a mission of mercy in national bestselling author Kat Richardson’s “The Hollow Hounds”.

In “The Kings of Mount Golden”, Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee Paul Di Filippo tells the story of a young man’s search for his heritage and a mechanical marvel that lies at the heart of a sinister pact in this fascinating take on “The King of the Golden Mountain”.

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES FROM
Steven Harper
Nancy A. Collins
G. K. Hayes
Gregory Nicoll
Pip Ballantine

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15810153-clockwork-fairy-tales?ac=1]

My Rant:

Alright so I have not begun to read this book yet, but I am very excited for it. I saw the cover and just had to pick it up. Also, I love fairy tales. If I could just read fairy tales for a living, I would. I have actually never heard of some of the stories that are retold in this anthology, which only added to my excitement. I also hope that this book’s steampunk theme will make up for all the bad steampunk I have read in the past few months. I want airships, automatons, gadgets, and goggles! Is that so much to ask? Well we will find out once I sit down and read through the stories. I highly doubt that I will read them all at once, so my next review may just be on one or two of them.

Goodreads readers gave the book a 3.57/5, which isn’t too bad and to be perfectly honest, the readers on Goodreads and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on books. Most of them thought the Time Machine was a good book.