book review · books · shanti · Uncategorized

Fervent Fairytales in Silver and Gold

Uprooted is a book that I have waited for. I have seen people talking about it and enjoying it ever since it came out, and I had the vague idea that it was Eastern European and somehow based on a fairy tale, and not really about a dragon. I checked the book out from the library several times but never managed to get beyond the first few pages. It took an audiobook to change that, and then the minute I finished it, well , to be precise, several hours in, I already knew I wanted Spinning Silver.

Continue reading “Fervent Fairytales in Silver and Gold”

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The Book Courtship Tag

Ages ago, Holly tagged us for The Book Courtship Tag. Thanks, Holly! I like reading books, but I don’t want to date them; it’s kind of creepy, as Heather pointed out. Still, I might as well do the tag, and I’m sure it’ll be fun. Let’s go.

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Stage 1: Initial attraction. (you bought it for the cover)

I actually don’t buy many books, but I will say that the amazing painting on Lirael’s cover(the A&U edition) helped me to buy it when I already had an e-book form.  Also, did you know that Goldenhand comes out soon? 

Stage 2: First Impressions (you got it because of the blurb)

The concept of A Wicked Thing totally intrigued me, and I loved the blurb, like, what happens after happily ever after in the Sleeping Beauty legend. 

Stage 3: Sweet Talk (a book with amazing writing)

Oh, this one definitely goes to The Winners Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. It’s so clever and well written and really makes you think. Read my review here, if you want! 

Stage 4: First date (when the first book in the series made you long to read the rest.)

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I had been avoiding it for a while but I finally read it and I was like I NEED THE SEQUEL NOW OR ELSE (and the sequel was brilliant also)

Stage 5: Late Night Phone Calls (a book that kept you up all night)

I’ve actually never stayed up all night reading…but I did stay up late reading The Girl At Midnight (appropriately enough, it was New Years, so I was awake reading at midnight while my parents were at a party. Shar and I were probably having more fun, haha)

Stage 6: Always on my Mind (a book you can’t help thinking about)

The incredible A World Without You is subtle, complex, extraordinarily well written, and the story is totally haunting. Also bonus: The Book Thief. The storytelling structure, the sadness, the tears… it’s all so powerful. I watched part of the movie last night and now it’s on my mind

Stage 7: Getting Physical (a book that is nice to touch)

See what I mean about this tag being a little messed up? I do really like the feel of the Penguin Classic edition of A Passage to India that I had to read for school.

Stage 8: Meeting the Parents (a book you reccommend to everyone you know)

These are two books that I got my mother to read recently, and if they passed her test, everyone else should like them too (right?). The first was Brown Girl Dreaming, an incredible book of poetry and a really lovely story. The second is Because of Winn Dixie, a book that will break your heart in the best possible way (That dog…)

 

Stage 9: Thinking about the Future (a book you’re going to reread)

I know I talk about this series all the time (with good reason), but I’m definitely going to read all of the Old Kingdom books again and again in the future.

Stage 10: Share the love (tag people)

So here’s the thing: I don’t mind being tagged, but I hate tagging people. Weird, isn’t it. So I’ve decided that ~approximately~ half the times when I do tags I won’t tag anyone, and the other half I will. Fair enough, right? This is one of the times when I’m not tagging anyone, but if this seems like something you’d enjoy, go for it!
Have you read any of these books? Do you like books for their physical appearance, their content, or both? Tell me in the comments.

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The Objectification of Books

I am so sorry I haven’t been around this week, guys! I’ve really wanted to be posting, but my laptop was acting up, and then my borrowed laptop was acting up, and I’m still having issues and it’s super terrible. Anyway, today I wanted to talk about a very pertinent issue, at least for me: what does it mean to objectify books? And is it a problem?

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So first, let me be clear. What do I mean by objectification? Objectification has a variety of meanings, but it essentially means—to me—that a thing which is more than an object—like, say, a person—is reduced to the qualities that make it like an object, or physical qualities. This is definitely a negative thing when it comes to people, for everyone wants to be seen in a way that goes deeper than how they look, but does the same go for books?

Books are objects. They are physical objects that sit on your shelf. They are digital objects that live in an app or a kindle. They are objects—but through them, people interact. Books share ideas, nurture passion, foster discovery, and teach people about both themselves and other people. Yet here we are, only buying series if they match or being intrigued in a book just because of it’s cover. The point of covers is, of course, to attract the intended audience of the book, so if you’re buying a book because of that, it’s not really a problem in the publishers eyes. I think that books are pretty (ah ha ha, get it?) awesome—I run a book blog for goodness sakes!—but sometimes I worry.

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Because to me, a book is an object—but it’s more than an object as well. It’s about stories that are important to tell,  important to hear, stories that can  change lives, not the publisher’s graphic design (and, let’s face it, marketing) budget. Books are about connecting people, hearing minority voices, empowering each other through the simple power of words, words, words, not the age of the medium those words are transmitted to you by. It shouldn’t matter if a book is ugly; it should matter if it makes you feel and think ugly things. If we focus on the object of the book, how it looks, then we may miss better, more important stories that don’t come in such a nice package.

But I’m a hypocrite, because I love to own actual physical books, and I can’t deny that covers have drawn me into a story multiple times. (remember, books are supposed to be judged by their cover, even if they are more than their cover). Books may be able to change how you think and feel, may even give you that most essential tool of empathy, but the reason books are more than objects isn’t because of the paper pages or the shiny covers, or the inked words. The reason books are more than objects is because of people. People make books. They write them and edit them and design covers for them, and blog about them. People care about books. People remember books. Books are just one medium of storytelling, and as much as I love them, I don’t think I have any grounds to say that they’re the best ones. Books are my favourite way to access stories right now, but that could change. The reason that the books that sit on my shelf or my kindle are meaningful to me is because I have read them, I have written about them, I have made memories attached to them. Or maybe it’s not me, it’s my parents, or my siblings—but that doesn’t matter.

For me, books are just objects. They are objects that I want to own, objects that I love to spend time with, but objects nonetheless. I want to—I should—attach less import to their physical appearance, and more to their personal significance—what they mean to me, right now. Books are many things, and they’re precious to me. But I don’t want to get caught up in their beauty—for that’s entirely subjective anyway. I want to be captured by stories and their tellers, not by objects and their designers.

Do you think there’s too much focus on how books look? Have you ever had #laptopdrama? Tell me in the comments!

books · shanti

Goldenhand (!!!!!) cover reveal and analysis

Hi there, Virtually Readers! If you’ve been around here for a while, you *may* have noticed that GARTH NIX IS BASICALLY MY FAVOURITE AUTHOR EVER. A Confusion of Princes, Newt’s Emerald, The Keys to the Kingdom and Across the Wall and To Hold the Bridge, his short story collections, are good books. But it is The Old Kingdom Chronicles that truly hold my heart. They are magical and dark and the characters are fabulous and THERE AREN’T ENOUGH WORDS FOR MY LOVE. (but if you’re curious, check out the posts from Garth Nix Appreciation Week and my full-length reviews of Sabriel and Lirael). A few months ago, the US cover for the latest instalment in the series was released, and a few days ago the Australian cover (the ones I own) was also revealed. Now I’m going to be ridiculously excited and talk all about these covers and what they promise. (the first section of this will 100% have no spoilers unless you count, like, character names. I’ll tell you when it might spoil parts of the books. Okay?)

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American left/Australian and NZ right. Images copyright HarperCollins and Allen and Unwin respectively

First off, let me just say that I LOVE these covers. I like both editions, but I prefer the Australian edition a little more. I like how on both covers there are Charter Marks on the cover, because the magic is so central to this series. And this time you can see the Charter Mark on Liraels forehead, so she’s probably doing magic—and I love how that detail is included. I love how Lirael is taking an active stance and is looking wary on both covers—especially how she’s bearing a bell now, as well as a sword. I like the font of both titles, and the tagline—‘for everyone and everything, there is a time to die’—is deliciously creepy.

The covers are really different as well, though. The Australian cover is all blue-tinged, while the American one is more yellow. The Australian cover has three figures while the American one only has two. The Australian cover just has the hint of charter marks in the air, while the American one has lots of little Charter marks, and a big purple mark, but is it a Free Magic sign or a Charter one. (Free Magic is the more evil sort of magic, the kind all but Abhorsen’s need for necromancy). The Australian cover just has grey clouds in the background, while the American one has this distinct landscape  of rocks in the background. The Australian cover has well lit characters, from the front, but Lirael and presumably Nick are backlit on the American cover.

‘But anyone could list the differences between the covers. Tell me what you think it means, Shanti’ I imagine you cry. And now is when we might get to potential spoilers (and trust me, you want to read this series, not be spoiled, so skip ahead to where the spoilers end)

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I have a little idea of what is going to happen in this book based on the blurb, which you can find on goodreads. Lirael and Nicholas are going to hang out. Nicholas is going to be really confused because a)magic is real and b)he’s not possessed. Meanwhile, they’ll have to go on an epic quest, because the second girl on the Australian cover knows a secret that will change everything. What more do the covers tell me?

First off, there will be FIGHTING. Lirael is carrying weapons in both covers. She will fight against evil, even if the Disreputable Dog isn’t there, and she will be brave.

Secondly, there will be MAGIC. Both covers and the blurb promise lots of magical endeavours. Lirael always was a fabulous Charter Magician and she’s going to get even better now that she’s the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with Sabriel to teach her. It is called Goldenhand, presumably because Lirael has lost her hand and had a new one made by Sameth, the Wallmaker, as the end of Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case implies.

Thirdly, there will be NECROMANCY. Lirael is holding a bell, so she must have progressed beyond panpipes. The Old Kingdom is probably in a pretty dire situation after what Orannis did, especially because Orannis encouraged Free Magic, so both Sabriel and Lirael will have their hands full.

Fourthly, there will be TALKING CATS.  The cover doesn’t imply this, but I’m hoping to see more of Mogget/Yrael as well. I also want a lot of awesome Paperwings, maybe some cool creatures from the Glacier Library (and awesome books too yes please) and those drill worms to make another appearance.

Fifthly, there will be QUESTING. I’m hoping that the bridge we found out a little about in To Hold The Bridge will play a role, and that the landscape in the American cover shows that they’re going on a quest, with Nicholas and the girl from the North. I’m hoping to see lots more of the North, especially since in Abhorsen it was really far south, in the capital of Ancelstierre.

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I’ve been waiting for this book ever since Garth Nix mentioned that he was writing it in the afterword to Clariel. This series is just so good—magical and dark and so well detailed. I’m really excited to read it. (And it’s being published just a few days before my birthday *hint hint family*.

Are you as excited for Goldenhand as me? (probably not…) Which cover do you like better? And would you like to see more cover analysis posts in the future? Tell me in the comments.(Also: please nag Shar to read this ASAP)