Friday Face-Off: Metaphorical Crowns

Today I’m returning to the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”  – A cover featuring a crown

I thought I’d do something a little bit different, because the first book that came to mind was a metaphorical crown: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett, last book in the Discworld series.  Unlike last week, all the covers for this one are pretty good–and no one’s made the mistake of showing an actual crown!

I like the simplicity of this one, and the way they evoked a crown without actually depicting one.  It has an appropriate natural and homey feel with the bees and the sand dollar.

This one is more communicative, and I like how the images glow against the dark backdrop.  The Nac Mac Feegle on her hat brim is a nice touch, and I can’t decide if I like that her expression isn’t sweet, or if it’s just a touch too irritable.  But it kinda fits!

I love the energy of this one, the action promised in her cloak and those massive boots, and I like the swarm of Nac Mac Feegles all around her.  And Tiffany’s expression here feels perfect.  This is also the only cover that makes it look like a comedy!

In some ways less striking than the previous cover, this one is still my favorite, because I think it’s the cover I needed on this, Pratchett’s posthumously-published last book.  We still have the witch’s hat, the swarm of Nac Mac Feegles and the mountain landscape, but I love the way Tiffany is clearly leading them here.  This cover captures an element the others don’t, that this book is about Tiffany accepting the (metaphorical) crown as a new leader in her world.  Tiffany actually looks like a (metaphorical) shepherd here, and there’s something very satisfying in that.

Have you read this one?  Which cover do you like best?

Friday Face-Off: Heroic Covers

Today I thought I’d try a different-for-me meme, and join the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

One of my favorite bookish heroes is, of course, Alanna the Lioness in Tamora Pierce’s wonderful book series.  I thought I’d highlight the second book in the series, In the Hand of the Goddess, because I’m fascinated by how cover illustrators handle the issue of a female hero disguised as a boy.  The answer is…not very well!

We start here with this rather awful cover, which clearly did not even try to depict Alanna’s disguise.  It’s an action sequence and her hair is the right color, which is about all I can say for it.

This cover graced the library copy I read the very first time I encountered this book, so I have a nostalgic fondness for it.  I like the drama of the moment and the framing of Alanna, as well as the nice detail in the setting.  She at least isn’t showing much figure, but that hair isn’t helping the disguise.

This cover wins for the most convincingly androgynous protagonist–she actually could be a girl disguised as a boy, and neither the disguise or the true gender seem impossible.  I like the clothing choice and the sword hilt too.  It’s just too bad she has such a glowery expression!

By contrast this one has a great expression, resolute and defiant, and I like the hair style.  I want to love this cover, probably for the expression alone.  If she was just standing a little less model-like, with a little less figure…well, then I could more easily forgive it for not only getting the color of her magic glow wrong, but also the color of her horse wrong.  And is it really safe to hold a sword like that?

This is the cover on my copy, and I like the detail of it a lot.  Someone actually read the book because there’s a lot of elements in play correctly here: the purple glow for the magic, the horse in the background, the jewel on the sword hilt and the necklace.  Points for putting Faithful on her shoulders too, and the ghostly Goddess hands look protective and evoke the title nicely.  If she just looked a little more boyish (and what’s with the tunic/miniskirt?) this would be the break-away favorite.  Instead, I’m calling it a tie with this next one.

This is just a little bit busy–but I’m liking all the detail in her clothing, we get Faithful, the magic necklace, and the Goddess hands, plus a convincing job done on that disguised-as-a-boy aspect–which obviously is a stumbling point often!

Cover comparison really is pretty fascinating 🙂  Especially with a book as difficult to depict as this!

 

Blog Hop: Time-Travel Book Browsing

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

Seems to me there’s two ways to approach this…is this a book I’d buy to keep and cherish, or is it an investment?  If we’re looking at it as an investment, than the three that come to mind (although none are actually novels) are the Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare First Folio, and Action #1 comic book (the first Superman story).  I think any of those would be a very tidy investment!

Aside: I saw a First Folio once in Stratford, and just for fun I tucked one into the Phantom’s bookshelf in my Phantom trilogy, on the theory that he has a lot of money, and they may have been less sought after 140 years ago anyway.  I don’t call it a First Folio, just mention the title sitting on the shelf in one paragraph–and Hamlet, surprisingly enough, has a bit of a prominent role in the story.  /End Aside.

If we say I can buy the book but not re-sell it, then of course my brain goes towards L. M. Montgomery.  I probably wouldn’t get a first edition Anne of Green Gables (although I do have a “Thirty-Eighth Impression” 1914 copy, which I believe to be in the style of the first edition–$10, I kid you not).  I’d actually rather have a first edition of The Blue Castle, seeing as it’s my favorite.

Truth is, I’m not that enthralled with first editions, though.  I’d much rather have a signed copy of a favorite book than a first edition.  The cheapest L. M. Montgomery signed book I can find online is over $1,000 though, so…not something I’m purchasing!  At least, not right now. 🙂  But if I could time-travel to buy a book, see Montgomery and have it signed…yeah, that would definitely be what I’d do!

I’d also be rather tempted to get pre-first editions–to get a Strand magazine edition of a Sherlock Holmes story, or the original magazine installments of A Princess of Mars or The Phantom of the Opera.  I think that would be great fun!

If you could time-travel to buy a book, what would you get?  Would you sell your purchase, or would you buy something sentimental?

Blog Hop: Studious Reading

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you take notes about the book you are reading as you read?

In brief, no.  I don’t take notes of any fiction I’m reading, which is a big bulk of my reading.  The closest I come is that I will occasionally flag or underline (in a book I own, of course) a quote that strikes me, often to be written down in my quotes notebook later–but not in the midst of reading.  And even that happens…I don’t know, one book in fifty?  Or even a hundred?

I will note, when the fifth book of Valente’s Fairyland series came out, I reread the previous four with a pencil in hand, and did copious underlining (like, every page…) because they’re that brilliant.  But that’s a vanishingly rare situation.

I also read spiritual books, and for those books I do a lot more flagging or underlining.  I have a spiritual journal as well, and after I read one of my spiritual books I transcribe quotes into my journal.  But again, it’s after I read the book–I don’t stop reading to copy things out.  I tried that and didn’t like it.

Reading is relaxing for me–or it’s a quick snatch in a small space of time.  In either case, it’s not conducive to copying down notes.

Do you take notes while you read?  Or do you flag things to make notes later?

Blog Hop: Not Too Horrible Horror

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Recommend one horror novel for non-horror readers.

Well, I’m a non-horror reader, so I suppose I can recommend the very few horror novels I’ve read!  My Stephen King reading stands only at Secret Window, Secret Garden, which I read long ago after the movie came out–I remember it being pretty good, though I thought King had a cleverer ending, only the movie told theirs better.  Make of that what you will!

I’ve done a few classic horror books.  I didn’t find Stoker’s Dracula very disturbing.  A friend who read the book alone late at night disagreed though, so your experience may vary!

I think Frankenstein is considered very early sci fi, but if it can be considered horror, I did like that one very much–despite the fact that I hated Victor Frankenstein, the narrator.  One of the cleverest things I’ve seen on Facebook was a meme reading “Knowledge is knowing that Frankenstein is not the Monster.  Wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein is the monster.”

Gothic is not exactly horror (ish?) but I greatly enjoy Northanger Abbey, Austen’s gothic parody.  It gets a bad rap somehow, but it’s my favorite!

And perhaps Gaston Leroux’s classic Phantom of the Opera would fall into the horror category too.  An interesting read, though more interesting through the lens of the versions that came afterwards.  I really wonder, had no one made the Lon Chaney silent Phantom, if Leroux’s book would have quietly sunk into obscurity.  But I’m glad it didn’t!

Do you have a favorite horror read to recommend for non-horror readers like me?

Blog Hop: Literary Disguise

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you were to dress up as a literary figure {author or character} for Halloween, who would it be?

I have dressed up as a literary figure–I was September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland several years ago.  Probably long enough that I could bring it out for another Halloween!  I still have the orange dress in my closet (it’s not especially attractive, unfortunately), and I periodically wear the Coat of the Green Wind.

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of dressing as Lyra, my lead character from The Storyteller and Her Sisters.  I have a blue cloak that would be period-appropriate, and it wouldn’t be too hard to find a blue medieval-ish dress.  And I’m sure I have a nice old book I could carry under one arm…

I’ve thought about other costumes, but the dilemma is to find a favorite character with a distinctive enough look to be recognizable–which is harder than you’d think.  Though no one recognized my September costume anyway!

Have you dressed as a literary figure?  Did people know who you were?

Top Ten “Tuesday” – Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

I love Top Ten Tuesday and rarely post for it–but this week’s Book Blogger Hop question didn’t appeal to me, so I thought I’d see what was happening on Tuesday, and it was a pretty good one!  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, with a new topic each Tuesday.  This week, it’s the longest books I’ve ever read.

Off the top of my head, very long books that come to mind…

  1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (though I admit I skipped past large portions of the history)
  2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (a little skimming, much less though)
  3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien (which are not actually that long, they were just built up in my head as massive)
  4. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (32 hours on audiobook, I kid you not, and he kind of lost focus about halfway through)
  5. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (I read this 800 page book in a week for a book club meeting that I ended up missing due to a confusion of dates.  It was sad.  And I never read the rest of the series because I couldn’t figure out why this one took 800 pages!)
  6. Winston and Clementine: Personal Letters of the Churchills (they were married for…60 years?  So that adds up to a lot of letters, even for people who were together most of the time.)
  7. The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier (long historical fantasy books, with 100+ page climaxes…they get intense)
  8. The Mrs. Quent Trilogy by Galen Beckett (fantasy books inspired by Bronte and Austen, delightful but big)

Since I put some series on here, let’s call it good at eight.  The only two that seemed longer than they needed to be were The Eye of the World and The Pickwick Papers.  All were fairly serious undertakings, but that also makes them some of the most satisfying books I’ve read.

What are the longest books you’ve undertaken?