Don’t judge a book by its cover (but we do)

We all know the famous quote – something may not be that attractive on the outside but there’s a world of beauty inside. But the thing is, the cover of a book is the first thing you see and it needs to catch your eye. There are some truly stunning books out there with beautiful designs, and I admit that beautiful book covers have swayed my decision whether to buy a book or not (always buy it, am I right?) but I’d never soley base my decision on what it looks like!

The blurb/synopsis is always the thing that clinches the deal for me. If it sounds like a book I’ll enjoy, then I’m in. If the cover is pretty as well, then great! But frequently I’ve seen a book on instagram and then looked it up on goodreads, and thought it didn’t sound as good as it looked. The synopsis is key.

But let’s face it, we see a pretty book advertised and we’re instantly intrigued and want to find out more, which is what leads us to the synopsis where you discover for yourself if it sounds like a book you’ll enjoy reading or not. However, if the cover doesn’t catch your eye, then you never discover the synopsis and it could very well be something you would enjoy! It just emphasises the stress on how important the cover design is, as well as the synopsis. And like I said, there are some absolutely gorgeous covers out there that were part of the reason I looked further into a particular book.

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One thing that’s interesting with book covers in the YA fantasy genre is there seems to be a recurring theme of using a plain black or white background and having the title and possibly one object at the focus – I rather think Twilight set off this trend and a lot of YA books that followed adopted this approach to cover design, or perhaps releasing a whole set of books in that format.

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This isn’t so much the case recently but it was a trend for a while to release books in this simple minimalist format which works well, however the thing I hate with book covers is when they release multiple different cover designs of the same series (looking at you Harry Potter and The Hunger Games). I understand a new generation will discover these books and they need to be updated – just think of how many different covers there are for the classics out there! – but what annoys me is when they are released in quick succession and it makes it even more difficult to find the edition you’re looking for to match your series. I think I lost count with how many different covers there are for The Hunger Games and that series hasn’t even been out that long in comparison to other books! I understand it generates more sales, particularly with those bookworms that like to collect all of the designs for the same book, but sometimes it’s just a bit too much.

One thing I do love seeing on book covers are detail and bright colours like for example:

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I love books that stand out on my bookshelf with their bold colours and little intricate details you later realise are mentioned in the book – it adds to the reading experience! But then I do really like the minimalist design I mentioned earlier, particularly in book series. It’s nice to have a mixture on my bookshelf and they all stand out in their own way when stacked next to their respective sequels and companion novels.

A bug bear of mine however is when they change covers half way through the series, particularly to something that isn’t as good as the original! It makes for incomplete series and disgruntled bookworms. Some cover changes that still upset me to this day are:

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Why on earth they made Harry look like a 12 year old girl I’ll never know, or why they thought changing the beautiful and colourful collection of The Bone Season to this plain old boring white one! Baffled.

There’s no doubt that the cover design of a book influences the number of sales and so it’s paramount to the publishing of the book with how it looks. We don’t like to think we do, but we all judge a book by its cover whether that’s intentional or subconsciously, but we are all doing it and inadvertently adding/subtracting to the sales of a book based on our preferences and what we deem attractive or not. Covers really do influence our decision on whether to buy or read a book and it’s important to remember that they are reflecting the story inside and so it must represent the writing and do it justice.

What are your thoughts on book covers? What do you prefer to see on the shelf? Were there any cover changes that upset you? Let’s have a discussion in the comments!

Beat the Backlist check-in

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Hey bookworms! I thought I’d do a check-in this week with where I’m at with the Beat the Backlist challenge I’m participating in run by Novel Knight. I had never heard of this until late last year and I think it’s such a fantastic way to motivate yourself to get on and read those backlist books! We all get swayed and distracted by shiny new releases, leaving our poor TBR books on the shelf but not in the good way! The Beat the Backlist challenge aims to encourage you to read those books which for 2019 means any book published in 2018 or before.

So how have I been getting on so far this year? I’m elated to say that I have read a total of six backlist books which are:

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’m loving participating in this challenge so far, and would gladly advocate partaking in to all other bookworms that want to read some backlist books! All of these books have been sat on my shelf or on my virtual list of TBR books and I’ve finally made time and read them, thanks to this challenge. I’m also participating in the Hogwarts Mini Challenge which is where you just add which Hogwarts House you’re in, and it tallies up a total of points for each house each time you add a book so you’re effectively winning house points by reading books. I’m participating for Ravenclaw but so far Slytherin are winning! You can still join up (just follow the link here) and earn points for your house – Ravenclaws, we need you!!

Have a great week bookworms ♥

 

 

Book series I need to finish!

Hey bookworms! Sorry this week’s post is a couple of days late – I’ve had a bit of a hectic time at uni, but I have now finished rotations!!! I’m back home and I’ve got a few more placements to do at different vet practices but hopefully I can get reading some books I have sat on my shelf and get on top of that TBR in the meantime!

So this week it’s all about book series that I have started but not finished – yet. We all have them. Those series you start and absolutely love, but then a year goes by and you either buy the sequel and it sits on your shelf for months or you don’t even get round to buying it at all! It’s not because you don’t want to or don’t intend to, it’s just because you have so many other books you want to read and sometimes, you just aren’t in the mood for a reread, which is what’s often needed to remember what exactly went on in that last book. I both love and hate rereads because I already know what happens and I lose that spark of magic that you get when reading a book for the first time, but you pick up on stuff so much better the second time round. Rereads are essential for the bookworm and a joy, but sometimes they just don’t quite hit that spot and so they get put off in favour of a lovely new shiny release instead.

But this year I am DETERMINED to finish off some series (and there are quite a few I need to finish!) so here’s a list of the series I need to finish, where I’m at and if I’m planning to reread or not.

1. The Crown’s Game

I loved The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye and discovered a new author whose writing I really enjoyed, however I haven’t gotten round to reading the sequel yet because I need to reread The Crown’s Game first and it just hasn’t happened yet! This series is just a two book series though so I will aim to finish this series soon and get it ticked off my list.

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2. Everless

Another duology on my TBR, but the sequel Evermore only just came out in early 2019 so I think I can let myself off for not having read this series yet! I’m thinking I will need to reread Everless before I read Evermore just so I’m fresh for the sequel.

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3. The Queen of the Tearling

Goodness this trilogy has been on my TBR for YEARS and it’s about time I finished it! I had to reread The Queen of the Tearling the year before last before reading the sequel but I can’t do another reread on top of that, so I might just look up a summary online before finally getting onto reading the last book in this series. I have all of them on my shelf though so no more excuses to finish this series!

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4. Ruined

A three book series whose first book I got in my very first book box, Fairyloot, way back in May 2016! Ruined by Amy Tintera was included as part of the high fantasy box which was just what I needed at the time as I was reading more and more YA fantasy. I still haven’t read the two other books in the trilogy but I do have the second on my shelf so all I need is to get the third and get reading!

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5. Strange the Dreamer

Another duology and I definitely want to reread the first because it was gorgeous and I want to be fully invested for the sequel when I finish this series. Muse of Nightmares only came out late last year though so I haven’t had much time to finish this series yet.

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6. Burning Glass

The last in this trilogy just came out late last year as well and I think I’ll have to reread the second book before reading the last – this was another series I had to reread the first before reading the second but I can’t do a second reread when there are so many other books waiting to be read out there! Hopefully a reread of the second will suffice and I can get cracking with the last one which is waiting on my shelf for me to pick up!

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7. Caraval

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I still haven’t read Legendary by Stephanie Garber. I know I’m ashamed but I will definitely be getting it and reading it before Finale comes out!

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8. The Last Namsara

A gorgeous book I loved reading but whose sequel I have yet to buy because I want it in the same format (hardback and font) as the first! Troubles of a bookworm with a little OCD.

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9. Frostblood

Another book I absolutely adored, I’ve read the sequel, Fireblood, but have only just bought the last in this trilogy, Nightblood, but I think this series definitely deserves a reread because I did really enjoy it first time round. I might save it for later in the year after my exams as a treat maybe.

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10. Vicious

Annoyingly, IMMENSELY annoyingly, I have Vicious in paperback in the original cover but they haven’t released the sequel, Vengeful, in the same design. I’ve had to get the sequel in a completely different design and I hate it. I still want to reread the first and get onto the sequel though.

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And there you have it! Ten book series I need to finish (this year I’m optimistically hoping!) – I haven’t included my current read which I’ve just finished, The Cruel Prince, in that list either because I’m not sure how many books are going to be in that series as of yet.

What are some series you are hoping to finish this year? Let me know!

How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World Film Review

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So I’m doing something a little different today and doing a review of How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World. The How To Train Your Dragon films are based off the children’s book series written by Cressida Cowell. In the third film, we see Berk threatened by a new enemy, the discovery of a Light Fury, and Toothless learn how to get a girlfriend. It’s heart-warming and heart-wrenching and concludes the story of How To Train Your Dragon by Dreamworks Animation.

I’m writing this as I’m listening to the How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World soundtrack so let me start off by saying how absolutely amazing and painfully beautiful the music is in this film. Composed by John Powell, the person who composed the soundtracks to Chicken RunShrekKung Fu Panda, and of course the previous two How To Train Your Dragon films, we are given some truly outstanding new pieces of music and reminded of some of our favourites from the first and second films. The introduction of the new Light Fury means there are some stunning scenes together with Toothless and the music matches it perfectly, pulling on all the heartstrings and filling you with joy and hope.

Here’s the beautiful Furies in Love piece below, along with a couple other of my favourite songs from the film:

We also get a new song performed by Jónsi who did a song in both of the previous films. It’s full of awe and matches a scene in the film perfectly making for an effortlessly captivating watch.

I absolutely adore the music in these films and this one had some breath-taking songs and I know I’ll be listening to the soundtrack for a long time in the next few months!

Another thing we got with this film was some incredible animation and scenes that were visually spectacular to behold. Two of the most gorgeous scenes to watch were Berk’s transformation with all the new dragons living there at the beginning, and the one where Hiccup and Astrid discover the hidden world. The animation in this film was truly phenomenal.

As I’ve mentioned already, there’s a new Light Fury in town and Toothless has his eye on her. There’s a really funny scene where he’s trying to ‘court’ her let’s say, and she isn’t too keen! I laughed out loud at this bit and though this third film is a bit darker than the previous two, this scene helped lighten it up (with a Light Fury, ironically) and reminded me of why I love this franchise so much.

The new enemy, Grimmel, is completely horrid and makes a brilliant yet awful villain. I hated him from the start with his ease and carefree manner. We learn he has a past to do with the Night Furies, and he’s stealthy as he plans to close in on Hiccup and Toothless.

One thing I was expecting with this film and thought I had prepared myself for was the ending to an era of humans and dragons. We all knew it was coming what with the fact that it’s based on a story already written, but I just did not expect such a bittersweet ending and I cried. I could have cried ugly tears if the cinema wasn’t full of people to see me. We see the end of a story of friendship between Hiccup and Toothless as the How To Train Your Dragon films come to an end and it’s tear-jerking and heart-wrenching to say the least.

The How To Train Your Dragon films are a total favourite of mine and will always have a special place in my heart, but this one saw the story come to an end and I always struggle with goodbyes. The end scene was particularly difficult to watch even though it wasn’t meant to be completely sad, but it tore my heart a little and there were more tears crawling down my face by the end credits.

But not to end on a sad note, I will say that we get some funny scenes with Ruffnut and Tuffnut who are hilarious as always, and we get another Toothless drawing scene!

It’s a poignant film about the relationship between humans and animals and about bringing peace to the world. It’s about friendship, love and loss. But most of all, it’s about Hiccup and Toothless as they find their way in the world as best friends, Together From Afar.

I’m just going to mention some things that happened in the film now so there will be SPOILERS – look away now! Here’s a picture of Toothless to hide the spoilers from you:

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Okay so I’m just going to mention the things that upset me in this movie because while it was gorgeous and amazing, it was so utterly sad and bittersweet it was unreal.

Things that upset me:

  1. They evacuate Berk and never go back – they have to leave to save their dragons from Grimmel, WHICH THEN LEAVE THEM ANYWAY! But they have no way of getting back to Berk, so they’ve all left their home of generations and can’t even get back.
  2. Toothless is a bit of a flake and leaves his best friend for a girl – Toothless sees a female Night Fury and suddenly it’s bye Hiccup and off he goes to be with her. I can’t believe their friendship was so easily broken, especially considering Hiccup has Astrid and still makes time for his best friend. Hiccup gives Toothless a new tail and off he flies, away from his friend and he wouldn’t have returned if it weren’t for Hiccup and Astrid going to find the Hidden World.
  3. ‘You’ve always got my back’ – Hiccup says this to Toothless at the start of the film and it’s just so sad because then Toothless doesn’t ever has his back again at the end of the film.
  4. The dragons leave so quickly and easily – the dragons all go to the Hidden World and don’t even look back. Are they not bothered they’re leaving their friends? The people cried and said a quick goodbye, but I don’t even understand why the dragons had to leave because Grimmer had gone (I’m guessing he died) so why can’t they keep defending dragonkind and spreading the idea that humans and dragons can live in peace?
  5. The reverse hand scene – Hiccup places his hand on Toothless’s face and takes it off – the exact reverse compared to the first film. It’s mirroring at its most gut-wrenching sadness. There are tears down Hiccup’s face and mine.
  6. THE END SCENE – I CAN’T believe how they ended this film. They show Hiccup grown up (Astrid doesn’t seem to have aged) with kids, and they somehow just randomly find Toothless chilling on a rock somewhere and Toothless DOESN’T RECOGNISE Hiccup at first. It cut my heart in half, and when Toothless eventually does recognise Hiccup, they have a little fly around and that’s it. Do they ever meet again? Why is this the first time they’ve met up? How much time passed and how did they manage to arrange this meet up? Did Toothless never want to go and visit his buddy? How has Hiccup coped with his life without dragons when that’s all he’s ever known?
  7. There’s no ‘This is Berk’ sign off – it’s in both of the previous films but this one is where we don’t get the typical goodbye from Hiccup. We get a ‘Once there were dragons’ instead which just makes sure your heart is well and truly torn in half before the credits roll up. The ‘This is Berk’ sign off would have reaffirmed the new idea that Berk is the people and not the place, maybe mention that life was different after the dragons left, but we find out what the Berkians have been up to since.
  8. Hiccup failed in his mission to bring peace between humans and dragons – he was trying to show the world that they could live in harmony and train dragons, but they all go off into the wild again because humans will never stop hunting them and it showed that Hiccup failed. He couldn’t bring peace and the whole training a dragon thing just got dissolved so quickly – the film showed humans are awful and they’ll always be someone out there to ruin something beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film but the ending just could have been done differently to make for a more satisfying end to this wonderful franchise. They could have had the Light Fury come live with them all on the new island since she saved Hiccup and came round to him in the end. They could have visited Toothless or him come visit them every year so we know they see each other regularly, but they had to choose the saddest ending possible. They are both off enjoying their lives, without the other. They’re ‘Together From Afar’.

How To Train Your Dragon will always have a special place in my heart, but not without the sting of the ending that I don’t think I’ll ever get over. But as Stoick said: with love, comes loss. But it’s worth it in the end. While I love How To Train Your Dragon and I’m devastated to see it end, it’s a loss that’s worth it because it really is some of the best films out there. With brilliant characters, beautiful music, fantastic animation, heart-warming friendships and very real and relevant messages, it’s one of the best stories you could discover.