interesting book covers

You know the phrase “Never judge a book by it’s cover?” Not true. Covers are often the first impression we have of a book — and first impressions are everything. They influence whether we pick the book up, whether or not we read the book, and even our initial opinion.

And let me tell you. There are some fantastic covers out there. If you didn’t know, I actually work at the Emory Libraries as a temp in the Stacks Division, which means I shelve more books in a daily basis than you can imagine. And the interesting book covers that I see? Sometimes, they’re just too great not to share.

There’s something absolutely fabulous about  plaid jacket, a wide belt, and a floppy hat. Nothing classier for a book cover.

Creeper goat is totally into your nightly romance.

Honest? It’s just a great illustration.

Can you find the pokeball? Gotta catch ’em all!

The best advice Morgan ever gave me for my make up was to never use blue eyeshadow. She said it would make me look like a prostitute. But now that I think about it, I kinda want to learn to do my make up from this chick. I also want all the sorority girls who make the “duck face” to know this is what they really look like.

 

We’ll let the book speak for itself with the best excerpt…ever:

Was I an egoless starfish?
No, my needs, my needs
Have always been needy.

review: pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I did not have high expectations for this book. Thus, imagine my surprise to find myself up until 1:30AM to finish the novel! I quickly got in the groove of the old-fashioned sentence structure and word choice, and I never found the wordy monologues out of character with either the characters of the novel or the era in which it was set.

One thing I honestly appreciated was better-understanding some of the events in the movie, such as the impetus for Jane’s journey with her aunt and uncle. I also found scene where Lady Catherine de Bourgh visits Jane to demand her refusal of Darcy’s proposal to be more appropriate to her character.

Overall, I found the book immensely more enjoyable than the movie – reading about Mr. Darcy’s struggle and Jane’s reversal of feelings was incredibly satisfying. However, I found the ending of the novel to be a huge let down: it suffered from the egregious error of telling, rather than showing, the action – just as the action was getting good! As such, I think the movie does a much more satisfactory job with the ending, which leaves me all warm-and-gooey on the inside.

My biggest frustration is the last sentence as it dwells on the aunt and uncle –I do not see their overall importance to the novel at all, and I feel it brings the entire novel down. Anyone able to explain to give me a satisfactory reasoning will get a cookie and my undying gratitude.

review: one hundred years of solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

***

What can I say which has not already been said? There are two things which impress me greatly about this novel:

1. The novel is about a family. Four or five generations of family, actually. It is unique in that it does not have a single protagonist, and the point of view is third person omniscient. It is so challenging to pull off this point of view that I was constantly amazed by the fluidity that we would flow from Jose Arcardio to Ursula to Colonel Aureliano, and the multitudes of characters which had the same (or similar) name. It is a masterpiece of construction which should be studied by any aspiring novelist.

2. The novel is beautifully written — with imagery so vivid and beautiful that my love of Swamplandia! pales in comparison. And more amazingly, it was translated from Spanish. Anyone who has taken a foreign language will tell you how challenging translating is — sentences become blocky and cumbersome, and  imagery is never the same. Yet this novel is incredible– and while that is partially a credit to the translators, I think it is more precisely a credit to Marquez, who writes so beautifully that it carries the same poignancy across languages. I only wish I had greater fluency in Spanish, because I am sure that the novel is even more astounding in its native language.

In short, if you have not read this novel for a high school or college assignment, you should amend that oversight as quickly as possible.

***

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

Speaking of great book covers versus bad. Here are some examples:

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Some updates, in brief:

  • I move back to Decatur in two weeks. I am immensely happy for my imminent wireless internet, proximity to work, and general free time.
  • I have discovered Sally Hanson nail applications. They’re amazing, and my nails look manicured, but it only cost $5 and I did it in ten minutes.
  • That catches me up in book reviews! I have just started reading Pride and Predjudice, and I like it so far! (Note: I’m surprised by that). I actually bought 25 novels for $.99 on my nook – and of those 25, seven are on my reading list, and I could easily be persuaded to read many of the rest. A good purchase, if I do say so myself.

review: swamplandia!

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

***

This book was not what I expected — partially because of how my dad originally described it, and partially due to the misleading nature of the book-jacket cover. Regardless, it was an incredible, surprising, and overwhelmingly dark read.

I wanted to follow the story of Ava Bigtree — really, I did! But shortly after Kiwi defects to the World of Darkness, I got frustrated with the dual points of view. What purpose did Kiwi’s POV serve to the story overall? Similarly, I wanted Ava to be a heroine — I wanted her to rescue her sister, become the next big star Alligator Wrestler, and save the park. However, the whole novel falls short when a major event happens to Ava right at the end and it is just…not addressed.

You know that feeling from short stories that you get when something major happens, but then the novel just ends with some sort of image that can be either jarring or cathartic (you rarely know)? That’s how I feel about the ending of this novel. It’s like a 300+ page short story which just leaves you hanging.

That being said, it is incredibly well written. Beautiful imagery, complex characters, and an incredible premise. And in the long run, the intention of the story was fulfilled — because while the park has not been saved, and both Ava and Ossie are left broken hanging, in need of repair, the family has been saved. And that is, I think, what the story is all about.

***

I would give this book a 4/5 when it comes to ratings so arbitrary as stars. I see a lot of potential in Karen Russell as a novelist — she writes in a manner which is hauntingly beautiful, with imagery as vivid and startling as the red mouth of the alligator in the jacket cover image.

Speaking of the cover of this novel — it is beautiful. I’ve been frequenting this blog for about a year now, which has made me considerably more aware of how to choose a book by its cover — not meaning the content of the book, but which edition or publisher I will purchase given a choice of fantastic covers and mediocre.

This author is on my radar, and I really look forward to her next novel!!

review: dead reckoning

I think many other people have already hit this on the head: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris falls short of its predecessors. The main complaints:

[Spoilers ahead!]

1. Sookie is no longer a solid character. While she previously stood for herself, she frequently lets herself be pushed around. The few times she stands up for herself, she often turns around and cries. She reads more like the TV character than herself, and I find the televised-Sookie beyond annoying.

2. The relationship between Eric and Sookie quickly deteriorates for no apparent reason. They both make stupid, out-of-character mistakes. I used to love their romance — especially since Eric’s amnesia — but I now find there is no chemistry.

3. There are too many pointless, disjointed plot lines. The book jacket summary led me to believe the focus of the book would be the death of Eric’s boss — and while that is the focus of the end of the novel, it takes a while to get there. Along the way, there’s Sandra Pelt, the beginnings of a Faerie war,  a conversation about romance with Bill…what? And that’s only a small sampling.

I must say I did enjoy this book overall. I thought the final scene, while hypocritical to Sookie’s character up to this point, could provide a lot of potential room for the growth of Sookie’s character — it all depends on the next installment. Can Sookie participate in all this darkness without becoming dark herself? Is she okay with the integrity she sacrifices for her own happiness?

***

If I didn’t already own all of the Sookie Stackhouse series, this book probably wouldn’t even make the cut to move with me into my next apartment (every time I move, I try to send some of the books I’ve accumulated home so as to minimize the number of boxes I take containing obnoxiously heavy books). However, it did do its job — I was entertained on my bus rides, and I even took precious time out of sleep to stay up and read a few more pages. I will read the next book with enthusiasm. But honestly? This book rates a very mediocre 3/5 stars. It is very middle-of-the-road, and not a fraction of a star better.

review: fool

Fool, by Christopher Moore

In the words of Christopher Moore: “This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank . . . If that’s the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!”

While the above quote is only the first few lines of the book jacket summary, it is an accurate summary of the book. I have never laughed out loud at more bawdy jokes, more absurd scenes, and more vulgar sexual innuendos. And I read this book almost entirely while on public transportation and in the break room (side note: attempting to politely explain the vulgar jokes to general society is nearly impossible. Well, you asked, dammit).

Many people on Goodreads, however, seem to find Fool disappointing for a lack of hilarity…uh, excuse me? While I can see how following the story of Shakespeare’s King Lear would be challenging and could potentially detract from the humor, I think Moore expertly manipulates both Shakespeare’s story and his own humor to create an entertaining, well-crafted story.

Whether or not you have read King Lear, and whether or not you have read other books by Moore, this book is well-worth your time. Unless you’re a prude, in which case you should go read something easy and safe, like The Joy of Cooking, just to be safe.

***

Other thoughts:

* A strange comparison: while Lord of the Flies and Fool both expertly manipulate the English language, you would think were written with different dictionaries. LotF specializes in vivid imagery which leaves a lasting impression of both horror and fascination – but honestly, Fool merely specializes in crafting sentences which make you laugh.

*Since I loved Fool so much and since many reviews on Goodreads imply that I read one of the “lesser” Moore books, I plan on looking at more of Moore (haha) in the near future. Right now I’m debating between Lamb and A Dirty Job.

And finally, a list of my new favorite words:

  • Dogfuckingly: adjective, as in “you are dogfuckingly ugly, you poor bastard.”
  • Shaggacity: the wisdom of shagging.
  • Bunny cunny: noun, as in, “she is a right bunny cunny,” implying something deviously coy and shaggable about a woman.

review: lord of the flies

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

Somehow, I missed this book in high school; after reading The Hunger Games, I was intrigued to see how the themes of children and brutal survival would be combined. However, I found those themes to really be the only ones the two books have in common. While THG is about the survival of humanity in the face of brutality, LotF is instead about the inevitable decent of humanity into savagery.

After a plane crash leaves a group of young boys stranded, Ralph is elected leader, and immediately instigates practices to maintain society (daily meetings) and aid rescue (maintain a fire); Piggy stands as his wise, yet socially and physically clumsy sidekick, while Jack serves as the jealous antagonist who eventually succeeds in leading the other boys in a descent into brutal savagery.

The symbols are refreshingly clear – so overtly so that I often felt I had to be missing something, that it couldn’t be that simple.  After reading too many annoyingly subtle and complex books in high school, this novel was pleasantly succinct in its discussion of the pitfalls of human nature.

The imagery is my favorite part of the novel – so disturbing, so powerful, so vividly described. I have such a clear image of the death of Piggy in my head that it disturbs me, even weeks later. Each word is chosen so that each sentence is expertly crafted to leave a lasting impression.

Well worth my time to catch up on standard high school reading.