Book Talk: Importance of Book Covers

Book talk

I’ve been playing with the idea of book-related discussions in my head for some while now but today, for some reason, I’ve decided to just go ahead and start a topic and we’ll see how it goes. So I chose one of the most obvious topics and one I think most of us, as readers (regardless of what you read), will have an opinion about.

Book Covers — how important are they?

We’re all familiar with the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and though I think that holds true for a lot of books published prior to 1990s (maybe even 2000s), I think this rule actually applies to humans more than books in today (or at least we all think it does). Here’s the fact: because of every person in this world who owns a computer today has access to programs like Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, etc., I think book covers do matter. In a time when all that mattered was the reading material itself, I can see why covers hold little to no importance but in our world, it is all about that one glance from the bookshop window. And I might seem a bit judgmental about choosing the best cover/edition during purchase but let’s fact it, today, thousands of books are published each year, each month, and besides a good plot and writing (which somehow seems to have lost its importance in YA and independent publishing), you need something to draw the reader in. How many of us have walking into a bookstore and been absolutely awed by that one gorgeous book right up front at least once in our life? Me!

I’m not exactly talking about purchasing as much as the simple acting of judging but even bookshops know that the best covers (and, of course, bestselling authors) need to go up front. So the next question that sprouts from my response is: to what extend will my reading choices be affected when I judge a book by its cover? Surprisingly, not as much as you would think after my brutal response. I like my books to be pretty but it will never stop me from reading a book that sounds promising enough—even if it looks hideous.

Take a vote–

Truth be told, for me, book covers (particularly the US editions of fantasy/sci-fi covers) are my little glimpse into what the book may be about. They may portray a character, a world, a scene, whatever the case may be but more often than not, what I see on the book cover usually ends up reflecting on how I imagine the fictitious book world playing in my mind. For example, let’s take a look at the cover of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

Because of what is being portrayed on the front cover, my vision of the world in The Way of Kings looks very similar to the desolate lands and the storms haunting the skies that we see on the cover itself. It doesn’t even matter that the fantasy world inside the book describes a completely different scene—once I see that cover, the image is stamped into my mind and it’s incredibly hard to shake it off. I think this also holds true for a lot of YA book covers as well (with female models on the front covers).

But I’m not a total bitch. More often than not I will look through the ugly pile of book covers and look for a good synopsis. Especially since purchasing a Kindle Paperwhite last year, book covers don’t seem as important when getting an ebook because quite often the first page on a kindle ebook doesn’t even show the book cover—it’s just all text. So no, it doesn’t always matter to me if the book has a nice cover or not, but I think we instinctively do look for the best covers (if we can afford them at least).

Largely it’s when I’m looking at a book published by an independent author that I struggle with the idea of not judging a book by it’s cover (since they don’t all have the resources to get a creative cover design in the first place). The negative aspect of that is also the fact that a lot of independent authors don’t really write very well and are just either looking to share a story (which is great but good writing is essential to me) or possibly make easy money. A lot of them don’t even bother to go through an editor, which is so destructive that, regardless of the book covers, it will demolish their writing careers before they even begin. But that’s a topic for another day…

To conclude, I think book cover designs do matterespecially for new releases. I don’t particularly care for the covers of a book/edition published before 1990s (or 2000s) because we really didn’t have the technology to be that creative in the first place but now we do—so there really is very little excuse, especially for traditional publishing houses.

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Thoughts? Comments? Pop ‘em below!

Review | Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

ABOUT THE BOOK

Published: 2002
Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBT
Edition: Paperback
Length: 582 pgs.

GoodReads | Amazon | BookDepository

THE BLURB

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways…But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

☁  ☁  ☁  ☁  ☁

ramblings

Considering I haven’t read many LGBT novels, Fingersmith being as labeled as a “lesbian Dickens” greatly appealed to me the first time I came across the title. Because I will be required to read The Little Stranger in October for my university course, I wanted to jump into Fingersmith as soon as my professor handed out the syllabus. Fingersmith has been recommended as the perfect first novel for anyone wanting to read a Sarah Waters book and I have to agree that this book definitely does not disappoint.

Fingersmith follows two female voices, Susan Trinder and Maud Lilly, two teenagers that come from very different societies. Sue is an orphan raised by fingersmiths (thieves, if you didn’t know—I certainly didn’t!) and Maud was raised to be the perfect lady by her suspiciously strict uncle. One day, an associate of Sue’s caretaker, Richard Rivers, appears and proposes a plan to attain a large sum of fortune that requires Sue to position herself as Maud’s maid. Accepting the job, Sue, somewhat proud to finally obtain money for the family that raised her, doesn’t stop to realize the person Maud is and what she will eventually mean to be in Sue’s life.

Although I haven’t read a full novel by Charles Dickens, through various different pop culture references over the years, I have some idea of what goes in a Dickens novel. Though Fingersmith stays true to some minor elements of a Dickensian story, it demands a respect and place of its own in the literary realm. Sarah Waters, my dear readers, is a true and master storyteller. Fingersmith is not only a truly well-written and well-constructed novel with interesting twists and jaw-dropping surprises, it is one of the first novels that actually made me want to bang my head against a wall several times throughout my reading. Let me tell you fellow readers, Fingersmith and it’s full cast of treacherous characters put me through such emotional stress that I am still quite unsure as to what exactly I read.

Many have reviewed and commented that this book is really slow in plot and that it needs to be read and treasured thoroughly but I found it a rather fast read. I agree that it is technically very slow in plot, particularly part two where Waters traces back to the beginning to tell us the story from Maud’s perspective, but it is story that, once you being, will grip your heart and will not let go. Though we do have to bear through some repeated scenes, each scene told twice adds a lot to the initial reading of the first scene and it certainly makes the story and characters a bit clearer as the plot progresses. Also, what makes this book a rather quick read is that there are satisfyingly numerous amounts of plot twists that, and I guarantee this, will keep you at the edge of your seat.

I do, in fact, have much more to say about this story but I’m afraid that most of the parts that I want to talk about contain major spoilers and though I could do a separate review to discuss spoilers, I think I prefer to send you into this book without knowing or expecting anything from it but the wonderful storytelling it promises. Though, if you have read this book, please feel free to comment on what stood out to you and I would love to discuss this book in-depth.

If I haven’t already mentioned, it should clear that I highly recommend this book to everyone. Though I should probably add that there are some scenes that could be considered R+ so fair warning to those of you who prefer to stay away from such material. All in all, Fingersmith was a fantastic book and I cannot wait to read The Little Stranger next month!

This review is also available on BookLikes.

4star

Top 5 Wednesday: Series I Won’t Finish

top 5 wed

Oh man, oh man, oh man. I have so many picks for this list. Also, I do want to mention that I was aware of the fact that I did not post a Top 5 Wednesday last week. This was because I did not have 5 total picks of “top fictional schools.” :)

Top 5 Series I Won’t Finish

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

One of the boringest (I know that’s not a word) books ever. I never understood the hype.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

4. The Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

This book was just terrible. Every single aspect of this book was horrible.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

3. Mind Games by Kiersten White

Wanna make easy money selling books? Better yet, wanna make even more money selling your one book into three and four volumes? Learn a lesson from this author. The book is about 200 pages long and the plot beings at the end of the book. As in…on the last freaking page. What a ripoff! If I owned it in print, I would throw it into the fire and keep my family warm during our long Chicago winters.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It really was not that good.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Please don’t hurt me. I really tried to like this book. I read the first three and then finally decided to give it up. Sorry guys!


Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 5 Wednesday post, I would love to see what you have for the week! If you have read any of these titles, share your thoughts below. :)

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Happy Reading!

Review | The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

ABOUT THE BOOK

Published: 1980
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Edition: Paperback
Length: 493 pgs.

GoodReads | Amazon | BookDepository

THE BLURB

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

☁  ☁  ☁  ☁  ☁

ramblings

Partly inspired by a buddy read and partly by another review, I finally decided to purchase and read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, even though it was mostly an impulse purchase. The Name of the Rose, although defined by many categories is at its core a mystery novel of the medieval era. Set in 1300s, Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his novice, Adso, set out to investigate a string of peculiar deaths.

Others who were also reading this book as a part of the buddy reads (discussion post) found this a difficult read and hard to get into. Although the latter is true for my reading experience as well, once I actually got into the book, I flew through the pages. There is quite a bit of latin used in the story but I didn’t that it necessarily took anything away from the story. I wish I could understand it all brilliantly but it really doesn’t affect the reading if you are paying attention to the dialogue and passage surrounding it.

After reading this book (and having reread A Study in Scarlet just before this book), the protagonist reminded me quite a lot of Sherlock Holmes. Some of the deductive thought processes of William are remarkably similar to those of Sherlock Holmes. Though Watson was more involved in the crime-solving aspects (in my opinion—and perhaps I think so only because we there are more Sherlock Holmes stories in general), Adso is somewhat less important in my opinion. What I thought was extraordinarily similar in the books (which, again, I read back to back) was that both of the stories are narrated by the protagonist’s partners (Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Adso in The Name of the Rose). This really made me chuckle because when first reading Sherlock Holmes stories, I thought about how absolutely chaotic it must be to reading a story from Sherlock’s perspective. We would be all over the place! And because William of Baskerville is similar, I was actually glad that Adso narrates the The Name of the Rose, though the idea was at first perplexing to me.

Every good mystery needs a good selection of characters (suspects, pretty much) and The Name of the Rose provides a sufficient amount. Because the book is so rich with historical details and a wonderful protagonist, William, though I did have my doubts on who did it, I really couldn’t form a solid enough theory to feel like I was getting close to solving who did it and more importantly, how.

There is quite a bit of philosophical jibber-jabber going on between the monks with the usual topics of hell, women, sin, etc. I wasn’t really put off by them—one particular discussion about whether or not Jesus laughed was actually quite funny—but I did wish the story would move forward a bit faster. I wasn’t bored at any point in the novel exactly but a little bit more progress for 500 pages worth of a novel would have been nice. And since I was really wasn’t bored (even though at another time it might have irked me slightly), I have to give props to Eco for penning such a fantastical written and well-paced novel. I can certainly see why this book tends to receive such high praise.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or mystery or even better, both. It is well worth the time it takes to get through this book and, once I myself have forgotten the ending of the story, I might even revisit this book. For the time being, I will definitely be keeping my eye open for another Umberto Eco novel.

This review is also available on BookLikes.

4star

August Reads. September TBR.

wrapup

18 BOOKS. I’d consider it a fantastic number if it weren’t for the fact that a lot of book were actually graphic novels. :)

Here’s what I read:

  1. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland – ★★
  2. #1 Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead – ★★★
  3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – ★★★★★
  4. Opposition by Jennifer Armentrout – ★★★★
  5. Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald – ★★★
  6. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – ★★★★
  7. Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1 (The Shrike) by Kelly Sue DeConnick – ★★★★
  8. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – ★★★★★
  9. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – ★★★
  10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – ★★
  11. Amulet Vol. 1 (The Stonekeeper) by Kazu – ★★★
  12. Rat Queens, Vol. 1 (Sass and Sorcery) by Kurtis Wiebe – ★★★★
  13. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster – ★★★★★
  14. City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte – ★
  15. Amulet Vol. 2 (The Stonekeeper’s Curse) by Kazu – ★★★★
  16. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare – ★★★★★
  17. Metamorphoses by Ovid (needs a re-read) – ★★★
  18. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (class req. reread) – ★★★★

Read, but yet to finish:

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert (set aside)
  2. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (currently reading)
  3. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (currently reading, almost done!)
  4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (currently reading)

I also read Hippolytus by Euripides but it’s 1 out of the 4 plays in the edition I own so I have yet to mark it “read”.


TBR

I miscounted the number of buddy reads I am going to participating in in September so I have a larger than normal TBR this month (much like last month).

What I am still reading and am going to (for the rest of Sept):

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – A classic! I was supposed to read this for a read-a-long in Aug but clearly, didn’t get to it.

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch –  I’m not enjoying this as much as I expected so I’m setting it aside for a week or two, will resume it later on in September.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – I wanted to read this for the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon but never got to it so I’m joining in a Booktube Reading Buddies buddy read for September instead.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – Yes, this is the edition I own. I’m reading this for a Booktube Reading Budies buddy read too. And I’m almost done actually. About 100 pgs. left. :)

Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie – This is the main group read in the Booktube Reading Buddies. It’s the winner of the Hugo Award and sounds fantastic so I am really excited!

Amulet, Vol. 3 (The Cloud Searchers) by Kazu Kibuishi – Continuing on with the graphic novel series!

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What are you reading in September? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Share your thoughts below!

Haul #16 | The large and long overdue haul of July 2014

haul
 GoodReads | Leafmarks
BookLikes | Shelfari Instagram | Twitter

I got so many books I’m out of fingers and toes to count them all. This is mainly the reason why I was delayed in editing and uploading these images (and this post). But here it is—enjoy!

Kindle e-Books

Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
How to Read Literature like A Professor by Thomas C. Foster
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones
Inamorata by Megan Chance
The Divine Comedy by John Ciardi
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Batman: Year One
Batman: The Dark knight Returns
Batman: The Killing Joke
How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckmann (Netgalley)
The Half That Has Never Been Told by Baptist Edward (Netgalley)


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Share any of your purchases below!
Happy Reading!

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Book Spines

top 5 wed

Top 5 Book Spines

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5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

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4. Homage to Catalonia/Down & Out in Paris & London by George Orwell

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

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3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

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2. We, the Drowned by Cartsen Jensen

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

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1. A tie of my favorite series editions of classics!

(includes: Penguin and Vintage classics)


Please feel free to leave a link to your Top 5 Wednesday post, I would love to see what you have for the week! If you have read any of these titles, share your thoughts below. :)

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Happy Reading!