Judging A Book By Its Cover: East of the Sun and West of the Moon

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 do purchase special editions of books and multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: Time for Fairy Tales

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!

This is an awesome old book of fairy tales that I adopted from my mum. It’s from the 1960s and looks like it used to be a library book, which accounts for the extra wear and tear. It has fairy tales from around the world and someday I’ll read them all!

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Mini Review: The Dragon Hoard

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The Dragon Hoard
By Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Paperback, 162 pages
1971, Tempo Books
ISBN: 0441166210

The Dragon Hoard is a fairy tale following Prince Jasleth on his quest to win his family a fortune and maybe break the curse set upon he and his sister by the wicked witch, Maligna.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m making a better effort to read more of my Tanith Lee collection and I decided to start with the first novel she published. The Dragon Hoard is a children’s book, but I had fun reading it and would recommend it for fans of fairy tales (or Tanith Lee), regardless of age. Maligna puts a curse on Jasleth (love his name) and his sister Goodness on their birthday, which will last for one year – he will turn into a raven for an hour each day, but he will not know when it will happen, and his sister will be too good. Goodness immediately begins giving away all the king’s wealth to the servants and poor people of his kingdom. The king sends Jasleth on a quest to win them back their fortune before Goodness leaves them begging.

There are many familiar fairy tale elements mixed together in this story and Tanith weaves them with vivid simplicity. I had no problem imagining her world and its goings on, despite the shorter page count. I loved her characters too – Maligna could be your cliche fairy tale witch, but she has some original elements, like the bats living in her hair and her penchant for riding evil, winged chariots without paying her bills for previous rides. I wish I could draw, or find fanart for this book, because her characters are so wild and fun that I’d love to see them animated. There’s quite a bit of wit in here too – I found myself chuckling more than once.

It’s a quick read and I think it would be a good start for children who are learning to master chapter books and enjoy magical tales. Could also be a great bedtime story to read to your little ones.

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Aesop’s Fables

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This is my weekly post where I choose to appreciate a book for its cover art or overall design – to me, a well designed book is like a piece of art. We all judge book covers to some extent. Personally, it’s usually a title/cover combination that pulls me in when I’m browsing in a bookstore. 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 (looking at you, Penguin!) wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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I scored this lovely edition from Book Outlet for a couple bucks – I couldn’t resist. I was pleasantly surprised to find it has thick, glossy pages. I knew it was illustrated, but it was also nice to see just how many there were and that there are some line illustrations as well as full color ones. It’s published by Fall River Classics, 2014, ISBN: 9781454910978.

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Book Review: What-the-Dickens

What-the-Dickens
By Gregory Maguire

My Edition:
Paperback, 295 pages
2008, Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780769641474

From the back of the book: From the darkest night, amidst a terrifying storm, Dinah’s parents go missing. With supplies dwindling and worry growing, Dinah and her brother and sister listen to their cousin Gage tell them an unlikely story – about tooth fairies, known as skibbereen, who are living in warring colonies right in the neighborhood. Dinah is skeptical, but as the story unfolds and the storm rages, she begins to believe.

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Book Review: The Red Fairy Book

The Red Fairy Book
Edited by Andrew Lang

My edition:
Paperback, 376 pages
1966, Dover Publications, Inc.
ISBN: 048621673X

3/5 stars

I don’t have as much to say about this book as I did about The Crimson Fairy Book, because a lot of my thoughts are still the same – as a modern reader, I often find myself asking “why” when a character randomly does something. I long for more plot, character motivation, sound reasoning! I tried hard to leave those thoughts aside and just enjoy these wacky little tales.

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Book Review: Sunlight and Shadow

Sunlight and Shadow
By Cameron Dokey

My edition:
Paperback, 184 pages
2004, Simon Pulse
ISBN: 0689869991

2/5 stars

Mina is the child of the Queen of the Night and the Mage of the Day. They’ve married to complete the world and join light and dark forever. Mina spent the first sixteen years of her life with her mother before being abducted by her father to marry a man of his choosing, due to a prophecy he overheard. Mina’s mother enlists the help of Mina’s childhood friend, Lapin, and a prince, Tern, to save Mina. Together, Mina and Tern must face deadly trials to prove their love and wisdom.

This book is part of a series of novels called Once Upon a Time, which are all retellings of fairy tales featuring teenage heroines and written by female authors – Cameron Dokey, Tracy Lynn, Debbie Viguie, Nancy Holder and Suzanne Weyn. Sunlight and Shadow is a revamp of a work by Mozart called The Magic Flute, which premiered in 1791.

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April Wrap Up

So I keep a little notebook and I write down each book I read, how many pages it is, and any quotes I like and at the end of the month I total up my numbers for some nerdy statistics! My goal is to read at least 100 books each year (to try to catch up my overwhelmingly massive ‘to be read’ pile!) and I use a neat little Excel file that a friend created for me to total up all my numbers.

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Book Review: The Crimson Fairy Book

The Crimson Fairy Book
Edited by Andrew Lang

My edition:
Paperback, 371 pages
1993, Dover Publications, Inc.
ISBN: 048621799X

3/5 stars

Andrew Lang put together twelve Fairy Books filled with fairy tales from around the world, each named after its own color. Personally, I’ve arranged my collection according to the rainbow and that’s the order I’ll be reading them.

As described on the back of the book, “The Crimson Fairy Book contains a fascinating collection of tales from many countries: Hungary, Russia, Rumania, Finland, Iceland, Japan and Sicily are only some of them…All in all, the collection contains 36 stories, all narrated in the clear, lively prose for which Lang was famous.” This book is an unabridged copy of the original 1903 edition and contains a total of 53 illustrations.

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