Judging A Book By Its Cover: Snow White

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

Oh the divine artist that is Camille Rose Garcia! Longtime readers may recall my Judging Post on her edition of Alice in Wonderland – now here’s Snow White! The insipid, cabin-dwelling, chore-loving princess is brought to a creepy new light with this awesomely designed edition. Not only is the artwork fabulous, but I love the overall layout of the pages and the typography as well. A drool-worthy edition to be sure. She simply needs to illustrate every fairy tale ever! This beauty was published in 2012 by Harper Design, (obviously) illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia with jacket design by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich. ISBN: 9780062064462

Book Review: Pax

Pax
By Sarah Pennypacker

My Edition:
(A beautiful) Hardcover, 276 pages
2016, Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 9780062377012

Peter is being sent to live with his grandfather while his father joins the war effort and must leave his beloved pet fox, Pax, behind. Confused and worried, Pax waits by the side of the road for his boy to return. Later that night Peter realizes that he never should have abandoned his friend and sets off on a journey he’s unprepared for. Boy and fox set off to find each other and both will learn lessons about family and war.

I knew I would love this book, but I didn’t know how much I would love it. In just under 300 pages, Pennypacker had me deeply involved in both the lives of the boy and his fox, and desperate for them to be reunited. This book was poignant and adorable and very moving. Pax gave me some nostalgic Homeward Bound feelings with the whole animal-journeying-to-its-human theme. I’ll tell you right now, I cried twice and have no regrets. (I love when books make me cry. I can’t be the only one, right?!)

Peter is twelve and still suffering from the loss of his mother five years ago, having bottled up his feelings rather than address them. His relationship with his father is distant and strained, leaving Pax as his closest family member. Readers learn a lot about Peter and his past and how he views life, and Pennypacker shaped him into a very realistic boy.

Now, I know nothing about fox behavior (or really any animal behavior, even that of my own cats) but Pax felt like a real fox. Obviously his thoughts are formed in a way we as humans can understand, but he still had a very animalistic feel and there was a simplicity there that I found charming.

I’m finding this book a lot harder to talk about than I imagined. I really just loved every minute of it. Pennypacker writes thoughtfully about emotion, personal truths and war. The book also has a timeless feel – there is little mention of technology, leaving the time period open to interpretation. I chose to read it as the recent past, but it could still be our present day, or even a future where we’ve lost some of the technology we’re so reliant on today. The ending was unsatisfying in the best way and this is certainly a book I’ll read more than once.

I can tell you right now, Pax will certainly be at the top of my ‘top whatever’ list I make at the end of the year. I think animal lovers young and old will enjoy this book and if you’re already a fan of middle grade, you’ll likely enjoy this too. If you’re not yet a middle grade fan, perhaps Pax will be the book to hook you in!

“We all own a beast called anger. It can serve us: many good things come of anger at bad things; many unjust things are made just. But first we all have to figure out how to civilize it.”

Bonus pictures:

Judging A Book By Its Cover: The Hobbit

I know we’re all familiar with that old phrase, “Never judge a book by its cover” and I’d like to think that as book fans, we try extra hard to follow that rule (both literally and more metaphorically in relation to all areas of life). But let’s be real guys, we do judge books by their covers. If we didn’t, publishers wouldn’t keep putting out different cover designs for our favorite novels!

I have a habit of buying different editions of the same books because I can’t help but admire and want to own the various beautiful copies I come across! So I’ve created these posts to show off some of my favorite editions. I hope you enjoy!

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I decided to start with one of my more recent copies of The Hobbit – I first saw this baby on Tumblr, as part of an epic set and I just had to own it. I did some sleuthing and found that it’s published by HarperCollins (ISBN: 9780007487301, 2012) and it’s a UK edition. At the time, it wasn’t available on Amazon so I ended up purchasing it from BookDepository (if you’re interested in owning your own copy.) I didn’t go for the whole set because honestly, I couldn’t get through the Lord of the Rings trilogy so I couldn’t justify the purchase, but damn all four books look good together!  But my love for The Hobbit remains strong and it’s one of my favorite novels!

Let the bookporn commence! (Click for full size, wink wink!)

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Book Review: Fool by Christopher Moore

Welcome to my blog! Lately I’ve really started working on a review format and trying to come up with more detailed, thoughtful reviews than I normally write. I’ll be posting reviews here, along with pictures of the books I read, pictures of books I own, little surveys, and really anything I can think of that’s related to books! Hopefully you enjoy! I’m always interested in hearing what others think about the books I’ve read, what they recommend, etc. Feel free to leave comments!

Fool
by Christopher Moore

My edition:
Hardcover, 311 pages
2009, William Morrow
ISBN 9780060590314

5/5 stars

Let me just start off by saying this book contains explicit language here and there and is definitely geared more towards adults.

Pocket is a fool in the service of King Lear and his three daughters – “selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia.” In a fit of madness (or maybe hubris?) Lear demands that his daughters declare their love for him before his court, in order to divvy up his lands to his “most deserving” daughter. “But Cordelia believes that her father’s request is kind of…well…stupid” and she is banished because of it. Pocket must keep the realm from falling into the wrong hands, try to bring Cordelia back into Lear’s good graces and generally avoid being murdered. He has the help of his devoted friend Drool, as well as a bit of magical aid from the witches three, and of course, a ghost! (There’s always a bloody ghost.)

What I liked:
I’ll start right off by announcing that this is my second time reading this book and I’ve yet to read a Moore book I didn’t like. I breezed through this again in anticipation of the sequel, The Serpent of Venice which was just released.

That possible bias aside, what I loved most is that I haven’t read Shakespeare’s King Lear, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Moore actually references this in his author’s note:

“A few who have read Fool have expressed a desire to go back and read Lear, to perhaps compare the source material with my version of the story…While you could certainly find worse ways to spend your time, I suspect that way madness lies. Fool quotes or paraphrases lines from no fewer than a dozen of the plays…”

Personally, I know enough of the general outline of the story, and I wasn’t concerned with the details. This definitely meant to be a parody and Moore did an excellent job. Several times he had me laughing out loud at Pocket’s wit.

There are even footnotes, both humorous and educational:

“Curtain wall – the outer wall of a castle compound, usually surrounding all of the buildings.”

“Slag – British slang for slut, tramp.”

“Saturnalia – the celebration of the winter solstice in the Roman pantheon, paying tribute to Saturn, the ‘sower of seeds.’ Celebration of Saturnalia involved much drunkenness and indiscriminate shagging. Observed in modern times by the ritual of the ‘office Christmas party.'”

What I didn’t like:
I really don’t have much to say. I suppose there were some scenes regarding Drool masturbating that were fairly descriptive and disgusting. Eg: “…said Shanker Mary, rolling her eyes at the spunk-frosted wall.” A bit more of a mental image than I needed!

If you’re a fan of Christopher Moore, humorous novels, or you’re interested in reading a Shakespeare parody, then check it out!

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Something I started doing recently while reading, to help me collect my thoughts for a review is to use little sticky tabs in my book. This is much easier than trying to write down little thoughts in my phone or on whatever random scrap of paper I have nearby. Right now I’m using little bears that I’ve had lying around for years, as well as the odd color arrow if I happen to be at my desk at work.

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How about you? Do you use anything special to keep track of quotes, thoughts, etc when reading?