Judging A Book

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Hiddensee

This is my weekly post where I highlight beautiful books from my collection. We all judge book covers to some extent (don’t lie, you totally do!) I created this feature to showcase and admire the art and design elements of some of the books I own. If covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t make so many wonderful editions!

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Book Review

Book Review: After Alice

After Alice
By Gregory Maguire

My Edition:
Paperback, 273 pages
2015, William Morrow
ISBN: 9780060859749

Ada has been somewhat overlooked since the birth of her brother, so she manages to wander off and tumbles down the rabbit hole in Alice’s wake.

Unfortunately, since I didn’t enjoy the book and certainly didn’t understand the purpose or theme of the story, that’s about all I have to say about the plot. I’m incredibly disappointed with this book, because I love much of Maguire’s other work and I’m a big fan of Alice as well. I figured I’d be diving into a new perspective on Wonderland, while keeping with the time period.

In a nutshell, what I received was a bland rehashing of the original story, mixed with seemingly pointless chapters about Alice’s sister and Darwin (and maybe some commentary on slavery? I’m not sure) and stuffed to the gills with pretentious vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong, I like to learn a new word now and then, but I have zero patience for books that require me to keep my dictionary handy for practically every page. I gave up my research a handful of pages in.

Ada should have been an engaging character – she’s very literal-minded, which would be a challenge in Wonderland, and she also suffers from a disability. Yet, moments after falling down the rabbit hole, Ada no longer needs the apparatus that helps her walk and she soon stops being puzzled by all the nonsense surrounding her and moves through the crazy world with little to no difficulty. As a result, she became  as bland as the rest of the cast.

Ada is essentially following Alice, visiting all the main characters that appear in the original book (which, I’ll admit, while I do collect it, I prefer the Disney movie over Carroll’s text), but none of the scenes felt fresh or reimagined in any way. It felt more like a vague tour of popular Wonderland hotspots and I vacillated between bored and confused while reading.

When we’re not reading about Ada, we’re stuck listening to Lydia complain about her life and try to flirt with some guy (though she really seemed annoyed with him) and those chapters were even worse than Ada’s. I’m clueless as to why Lydia was the other main character, because I don’t think she had much depth, nor do I think she added to Alice’s backstory.

Bottom line, I hated this book. But it was so dull and confusing that I couldn’t even build up any hatefire for it. I don’t like to feel that way about something from one of my favorite writers, but I have to be honest. I almost didn’t finish this book, but I bought it new and the cover was pretty and it was Maguire so I pushed through. But I wouldn’t recommend this book for fans of Alice or Maguire. If you haven’t read any of his work and you enjoy fairy tale retellings, I highly recommend Mirror Mirror or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister instead.

Book Review

Book Review: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
By various authors
Illustrated by Chris VanAllsburg

My Edition:
Hardcover, 196 pages
2011, Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 9780547548104

Who is Harris Burdick? In his intro, Lemony Snicket tells us that Burdick dropped off fourteen beautiful illustrations, each with their own title and caption, to a stranger, promising he’d return with more illustrations and stories to match. But he never returned, and so fourteen writers have done their best to put a story behind each picture (or perhaps, as Snicket theorizes, these fourteen were contacted by Burdick in secret and given the stories to match, or had them hidden in their homes for safe-keeping).

This book was recommended to me by my friend Mel, but even if she hadn’t pointed it out, the list of authors would have drawn me in.

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Judging A Book

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Wicked & Son of a Witch

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!

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Judging A Book

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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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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Book Review

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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