Bookish bits & bobs

 

Just a random collection of some bookish thoughts bouncing around my brain this week.

 

 

 

  • Audiobooks. Love ’em. But here’s my issue: Why don’t audiobooks include the acknowledgements or author’s notes at the end? If I’m listening to a book, I want the full experience and full content. I only discovered the lack recently after listening to a couple of historical fiction audiobooks. I ended up browsing through the hardcovers at the library, and saw that the print books includes notes about the historical setting and context. Well, why wasn’t that on the audiobook? It adds to the reading experience, and clearly the author felt it was part of what she wanted readers to know. I don’t understand… and it makes me mad. Not that I’ll stop listening to audiobooks, but it leaves me wondering what I’m missing.

 

  • Book review ratings: I don’t do them. At least, not here on my blog. I play along on Goodreads, but I made the decision way back when to do narrative reviews without any sort of quantitative scale. Lately, though, I’ve started rethinking this. I know when I read reviews on other people’s blogs, I’ll often check the star (or unicorn or banana or teacup) rating first, and then decide if I want to read the whole review. So shouldn’t I expect others to expect the same from me? This is a bigger question than just a few lines and a bullet point, so I’ll be expanding on the topic sometime in the coming week, and would love some input.

 

  • Amazon customer service rocks! I have never had a bad experience once I connect with a service rep, and this week was no different. I bought a Kindle edition of a new release in early April, and started reading it this week. And hated it. By 15%, I just knew I couldn’t continue. And I was mad, because it was past the one-week deadline for returning Kindle content. I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. It’s not the amount spent was going to break me or anything, but if I’m spending money on a book, I don’t want it to end up being something I actively dislike. Anyway… I reached out and ended up in a chat with a lovely and helpful Amazon rep, who arranged to return the book for a refund within the blink of an eye. No quoting policy, no trying to convince me of anything, no telling me I was wrong. Just a very nice “I’m sorry the book didn’t work out for you” and a resolution that made me happy.

 

  • When is a novella a novella? When is it really, instead, a short novel? Is 200 pages the dividing line? 125? I haven’t found a hard and fast rule to go by — I’ve found a lot of notes on word count in novels and novellas, but I’m a reader, not a writer. Do you have any firm ideas on what distinguishes a novella from a novel?

 

  • Oh, the things a book lover will do for the sake of bookish satisfaction. I’m a big fan of Susanna Kearsley’s writing, and beside the glory of the stories themselves, I adore the covers of her books.

Well, now she has a new book coming out, Bellewether, and I knew I needed a copy. I preordered it ages ago (the book releases in August), then discovered that the US cover is… well… unappealing. But hey, the Canadian cover is gorgeous and goes with the rest of my books! So I cancelled my US preorder, and got a copy from Amazon Canada instead, which gave me the added bonus of getting the book early, since it released in Canada this month already. And really, which of these would YOU want?

Anyhoo… that’s what’s on my mind today. How about you? What deep bookish thought are bouncing about in your brain?

 

And seriously. What is up with audiobooks and the lack of afterwords and notes? Can someone please make them fix this? Annoyed now.

Book Review: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction

Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

 

A must for horror fans. This book traces the history of all sorts of insane horror trends from the 70s and 80s, and makes some fascinating connections between the crises of the times (inflation, environmental issues, HIV/AIDS) and the rise and fall of horror publishing themes and crazes. The author’s commentary is often snarky and truly funny — but the real highlight of Paperbacks from Hell is the amazing assortment of cheesy, disgusting, disturbing book covers. Some are iconic (Jaws, The Omen, Flowers in the Attic), and some just head-shakingly awful — but put them all together, and it’s a truly entertaining look back at horror’s not-so-distant past.

Take a look at just a small sampling of the amazing books featured in Paperbacks from Hell:

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The details:

Title: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction
Author: Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Quirk
Publication date: September 19, 2017
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Horror/non-fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of Quirk Books

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Cover Cousins #3

Everyone once in a while, a book cover will call to mind another for me… and when that happens, I think of them as Cover Cousins.

Here’s how I framed the concept for my first Cover Cousins post:

I love when I pick up a new book and am instantly reminded of another — not necessarily because the covers are the same, but more because there’s a common feeling to them, a style, a color pattern, an image. The connection may only be in my mind, but it’s something I really enjoy thinking about.

Here’s my newest set of Cover Cousins — first, a book that I read last year and loved:

girl with all the gifts

And now, two books whose covers immediately made me think of The Girl With All the Gifts:

The three books are all quite different when it comes to genre and content… but those yellow covers with a single, representational figure!

What do you think?

Cover Cousins #2

Everyone once in a while, a book cover will call to mind another for me… and when that happens, I think of them as Cover Cousins.

Here’s how I framed the concept for my first Cover Cousins post:

I love when I pick up a new book and am instantly reminded of another — not necessarily because the covers are the same, but more because there’s a common feeling to them, a style, a color pattern, an image. The connection may only be in my mind, but it’s something I really enjoy thinking about.

Here’s my newest set of Cover Cousins:

 

These two are quite different, but between the title fonts and the overall layout, including the flowers and plants around the edges, seeing Vengeance Road immediately made me thing of The Darkest Part of the Forest.

What do you think? Do see a connection, or is it all in my mind?

Cover Cousins

I love when I pick up a new book and am instantly reminded of another — not necessarily because the covers are the same, but more because there’s a common feeling to them, a style, a color pattern, an image. The connection may only be in my mind, but it’s something I really enjoy thinking about. So… I thought I’d create a feature to highlight great book cover pairs whenever I happen to stumble across them.

To kick things off, here’s my first set of Cover Cousins:

5 to 1

White Cat

 

They’re not identical or anything, but there’s something about the look — the black background, the stylized graphic, the color scheme — that makes me want to put these two together.

Pretty cool covers, aren’t they?

Cover Cousins is a just a goofy little diversion of mine… but I like it. I’ll be back with more cover match-ups from time to time!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art

fireworks2

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art. I’ve done other top 10 lists with favorite covers (and even one with scary covers) — so I’ll try to come up with 10 “work of art” book covers without repeating myself… too much.

1) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

golem

2) Mokoka’i by Alan Brennert

molokai

3) Impossible by Nancy Werlin

impossible

4) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

dovekeepers

5) Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore

sacre bleu

6) Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich
(I haven’t read the book, but I do love the cover!)

meet me

7) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (original edition with Tolkien’s cover art)

hobbit

8) Any of the new series of covers for Susanna Kearsley books, especially:

 9) The covers from any of the Fables series volumes, especially:

10) The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
(Two different covers, and I like them both!)

If you want to see one of my earlier posts about favorite covers, check it out here. (Only 2 repeats! Not bad…)

What’s on your list this week? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

 

Top Ten & a Teaser for Tuesday

Tuesday

Switching things up a bit this week…

Usually, I participate in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish… but for this week’s topic, I mostly drew a blank. So, I thought I’d do a two-fer post: Two memes for the price of one! (Hey, don’t worry! There’s no cover charge on Tuesdays… )

First up, for Top Ten Tuesday: The topic is Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign. I couldn’t come up with more than five, so here’s my abbreviated list:

1) Joyland by Stephen King: As I said in my review, this cover really bears almost no relation to the content or the tone of Joyland, which is — for me, anyway — a nostalgic look book at a special summer, in which the main character unravels a murder mystery but more importantly does some serious growing up. Here’s the real cover, on the left:

JoylandAnd on the right, ferris-wheel-100234_640_2here is my not-terribly-artistic attempt at something that better captures the mood of the book. (Pretend someone with actual design skills made this, and use heaping doses of imagination):

2 & 3 & 4) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: I love the Harry Potter series so very much… but seriously, the cover art on the first three books makes Harry look so dorky!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

From Goblet of Fire onward, Harry looks much cuter and cooler. I mean, I love him no matter what — but I was much happier with the cover art for books 4 – 7!

5) The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones:

The Uninvited Guests

When I checked this book out of the library, I expected — based on the cover and the synopsis — something a bit Downton Abbey-ish.

But no. The book is a weird muddle of a comedy of manners and a ghost story, and perhaps it’s just because my expectations were so far off, but it didn’t work for me at all (Read my review, here, if you want to know more!) Give this book a spooky or sinister image on the cover, and maybe it would have worked out. Truth in advertising, people!

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And for my second Tuesday book meme, it’s Teaser Tuesday!

TTe

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, and here’s how it works:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Link up over at Should Be Reading!

My teaser this Tuesday are from Just One Day by Gayle Forman:

On the ride back to Utrecht, I call Agnethe the Dane to see if Lulu sent her any photographs, if there had been any correspondence. but she hardly remembers who I am. It’s depressing. This day, so seared in my memory, is just another day to everyone else. And in any case, it was just one day, and it’s over now.

Do you have a top 10 list or a teaser to share this Tuesday? Leave your link in the comments and I’ll be sure to come check out your blog! Thanks for visiting Bookshelf Fantasies… and have a great Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Creepy, Eerie, Scary Book Covers

Happy Halloween! What a perfect week to focus on covers that give us the chills!

halloweentop10

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten Scariest Looking Books Covers. What makes a cover scary? I’m less impressed by actual blood and gore — but give me just the hint of something sinister or creepy, and I’m hooked!

My top ten creepy, eerie, spooky, chilling, scary book covers are:

it1 it2 it3 it4

1) It by Stephen King: Responsible for a generation or two of people completely traumatized by clowns and storm drains.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

2) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

The Replacement

3) The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

I am Legend and Other Stories

4) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Poe's Children: The New Horror: An Anthology

5) Poe’s Children: The New Horror by Peter Straub
Doll parts? Always creepy.

Red Spikes

6) Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan

Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Eden Moore, #1)

7) Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2)

8) Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist, #1)

9) The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
I don’t know what’s in the jar… and I don’t want to know.

Sunshine

10) Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Honorable mention: I wanted to give a special shout-out (or should that be a scream-out?) to some blast from the past creep fests:

Suffer the ChildrenWhere Are The Children?Rosemary's Baby

The OmenThe ExorcistThe Amityville Horror

Happy Halloween! May your reading be extra spooky and creepy this week!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Favorite Book Covers of Books I’ve Read. I’m a sucker for an eye-catching cover, so my main challenge this week will be in limiting myself to just ten.

To get the full effect, I’m leaving most of the pictures here BIG size. ‘Cuz they’re just too pretty to shrink.

In no particular order:

1) Soulless by Gail Carriger. Proper Victorian lady, crazy-ass parasol, top hat and goggles. Not to mention the tagline at the bottom: “A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves, and Parasols”. I love the screaming pink title as well. Here’s one cover that is visually appealing and at the same time completely conveys the feel of the book.

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

2) Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler: Book one in the Jane True series introduces us to a small-town girl whose world is about to get blown open as she discovers her secret heritage — as a half-selkie! I love the punky feel of this adorable cover:

Tempest Rising (Jane True, #1)

3) Lamb by Christopher Moore: Specifically, this special edition of Lamb, featuring a leatherette cover, gilt-edging on the pages, and a silk bookmark. Quite Biblical, wouldn’t you say? And totally appropriate for Christopher Moore’s one-of-a-kind view of “The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”. One of my favorite books ever… especially with this cover.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

4) The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: This is the book that — for me — completely defies the “don’t judge a book by its cover” rule. As soon as I saw the cover, I fell in love. Had to have it. The fact that I ended up really enjoying the story (timeslip romance, Scotland, Jacobites, etc) is just a plus. This is just gorgeous:

The Winter Sea

5) The Silent Land by Graham Joyce. This book is fantastic, and the starkness of the cover, with its eerie landscape and empty chairlift, is a perfect portrayal of the book’s mood and setting. It’s hard to tell from just a picture, but the book jacket is translucent white, with the black areas showing through from the book itself. Amazing.

The Silent Land

6) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: The book that started the classics/monster mash-up craze! I know we’re probably all sick of them by now, but P&P&Z was really an original at the time. I love the cover — you could easily walk right by it in a bookstore, assuming it’s just a portrait of a traditional Regency-era young woman… but then the teeth or throat jump out at you and practically force you to do a double-take. So simple. So clever.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

7) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman: The girl on the cover is just so beautiful, and I love the sepia tones and uncluttered layout. The cover gives the book a classic yet exotic look. Stunning.

The Dovekeepers

8) The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater: I like these books individually, but love them when you put them all side by side. The colors, the changing seasons, the wolves — it all works. Plus, the print inside the books matches the color theme on the jackets, which seemed weird at first, but actually works nicely once you get used to it.

9) The Radleys by Matt Haig: White picket fence… with just a drop or two of blood. Not your average day in the suburbs, that’s for sure.

The Radleys

10) Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll.  This is one odd, twisty book, so hard to describe — but I really love the intricacy of the black and white cover, with just a touch of red for added oomph.

Bones of the Moon

Wait, what? I’m up to ten already? How can that be? As I do on so many top 10 lists, I must give a shout-out to my honorable mention books. I love these covers too, not necessarily any less than the ten above — but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right?

My honorable mention — but I really, really love them — book covers are:

  • Under the Dome by Stephen King
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham

SunshineSisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Someone stop me!

So what made your top 10 list this week? Do tell!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies. Thanks for stopping by!

What’s black and red and read all over?

Some of the most striking book covers on my shelves, that’s what.

There’s something about that black and red combination that is so sharp and so eye-catching — maybe that’s why we’re seeing more and more of the black and red look in bookstores these days. I suppose you could credit this one for really popularizing the color combo:

This is not a Twilight post! I’m talking about the color scheme here.

Then publishers decided to Twilight-ify some of the classics, as if adding shiny black and red covers would suddenly make teens salivate over Emily Bronte:

Let’s ignore the “Bella & Edward’s favorite book” caption at upper right, shall we?

They’ve even done it to Austen:

“The Love That Started It All”. Please…

Well, I do have to admit that the black and red look is quite catchy… and perhaps a bit sinister. Does this version imply that there will be blood in Pride & Prejudice? (Gotta love that ampersand, by the way.) Teens who pick this one up expecting sparkles and red eyes may be a tad disappointed.

As I was reshelving books this past week, I pulled out some of my favorite red and black covers from my own collection. Excuse the shoddy camera work — that just proves that these are really mine. Here are some from my shelves that I think are most effective:

Replay by Ken Grimwood

A wonderful, awful, disturbing book of timey-wimey weirdness, as a man replays his life over and over again. If you had the ability to change your life, would you? The black and red cover with the repeating half-photo gives me a bit of the chills.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

This YA book is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with a Buffy-style heroine who kicks butt, brings down the monsters, and tries to make a better life for her sister.

Restless by William Boyd

I will admit to not having read Restless, but it sounds fascinating — and I do like the cover. Stark and a bit mysterious.

Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

Such an odd book, mind-bending at times. I’m still not sure whether it worked for me, but one thing’s certain — I do love the cover.

The Radleys, a genre-defying story of vampires living in the suburbs, got a comic-esque cover aimed toward the YA audience in the UK (above), but I actually prefer the US version, which conveys more of a sense of something sinister lurking behind the domestic facade:

The Radleys, with the US version, marketed as adult fiction

Sadly, my more camera was not up to completing its task, so although this book lives on my shelves, I could not get a decent picture of it and had to resort to importing an online version:

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

This story of dark secrets in a small town is well-served by the sharp cover art that combines a gothic feel with modern images.

Another that I’ve read, but only as an e-book:

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

This modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter is hauntingly well-done, and I really love the sharpness of the cover portrait.

Finally, I just came across this image of new editions of classic works by Stephen King:

I think I’ll be dreaming about these tonight. Wouldn’t they look terrific on my shelves?

That’s all I’ve got. How about you? What black and red beauties have caught your eye lately?