Best Book Covers of 2016

Every year I walk into a bookshop and ogle at all of the amazing covers. There are so many I love, but here are a few of my favourites from this year, in no particular order. I haven’t read any of these books yet, but the covers certainly caught my attention.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I do love trees, and often take photographs of them, so this beautiful cover really caught my eye. The version with the apple is also equally creative and beautiful.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Although this cover features yet another YA novel with a girl in a floaty dress, in this case the composition and colours in the image make it very striking.

 

 

 

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The hand print on a cover is nothing new, but the white pattern over the top is different and interesting, and made me intrigued to find out what the book is about.

 

 

 

 

 

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

This cover, although very simplistic, I found highly effective.

 

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

The cover for the first book in this series was one of my favourites from last year, and this one from the second book is also a stunner.

 

 

 

 

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The more I looked at this cover, the more details I picked out. At first I didn’t notice the face in the wave!

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

From a photography point of view, it’s a brilliant photograph, freezing the moment of shattering. I also liked how the font ties in with the image of the chalk.

 

 

 

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I thought this cover was beautiful. I love the colours and shapes.

 

 

 

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but I can’t help but take notice of ones that catch my eye.

Book Review: The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Genre: Science Fiction, Alternate History

Publishing Info: 2015 TV tie in edition by Penguin Classics (first published 1962)

Pages: 256

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

Philip K. Dick’s acclaimed cult novel gives us a horrifying glimpse of an alternative world – one where the Allies have lost the Second World War. In this nightmare dystopia the Nazis have taken over New York, the Japanese control California and the African continent is virtually wiped out. In a neutral buffer zone in America that divides the world’s new rival superpowers, lives the author of an underground bestseller. His book offers a new vision of reality – an alternative theory of world history in which the Axis powers were defeated – giving hope to the disenchanted. Does ‘reality’ lie with him, or is his world just one among many others?

 

The Man in the High Castle explores the concept of an alternate outcome of WWII. This is the first alternate history novel I have read, and since I enjoyed Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I thought this would be a good choice. It was slow to start, with a lot of seemingly unconnected characters. However as the book goes on and you see the connections between the various strands it gets a lot more interesting. It was a slow build that got more intriguing as it went on.

The setting was a little confusing at times, to get my head around in what ways this world differs from our own, and which parts of America are occupied by the Japanese or the Germans. Although I was confused I had enough idea of where the characters were and what was going on to enjoy reading it.

The world building could have been stronger descriptively. Dick conveyed a clear picture of the political landscape and tensions, but visually there weren’t many descriptions to show what the setting is like. This meant I wasn’t sure if the setting was supposed to just look like America would have done at that time in our reality, or if it was different – architecturally or in terms of technology.

The ending baffled me at first, and I had to think about it and even Google it to be sure if I had understood it right. It is an ambiguous ending, which could be interpreted in many different ways, which was interesting. Although at the end there were a couple of the plot/character strands that I still wasn’t sure how exactly they connected. I think this is a book that could do with a second reading in order to fully understand it.

It was slow in places but an interesting read that, as a whole, was thought-provoking and engaging.

The Death of the Paperback?

With the rise of eBooks and the fast pace of technological developments dominating this century, a question that often comes up is whether the paperback will die out. I own an eReader myself, but I also have a rather extensive collection of physical books which are overflowing from my two bookcases. While the eReader often presents a lower price (which is rather appealing for a student) and has the convenience of being able to take a whole library out and about with you, the paperback book still has something special which keeps me buying hard copy books. One of the most enjoyable things for an avid reader is to explore a bookshop, browsing the beautifully designed spines and searching for the next great read. This is something that you cannot do with an eBook. The experience of purchasing an eBook online while sat at your desk at home, is entirely different to that of the pleasure of approaching the till with a book in your hands.

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These reflections are something which was prompted in me by my readings of classic science-fiction novels such as Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World. A common thing that keeps cropping up in this genre is not having physical books anymore, for various different reasons (and then of course there is the burning of banned books in Fahrenheit 451). People don’t read in Brave New World, but the character of ‘the savage’ has a volume of Shakespeare which he has spent hours poring over, thus spending a lot of the book quoting Shakespeare.

Recently, paperback sales have gone up while eBook sales have gone down. So perhaps it is not yet the end of the traditional paperback and bookshop. I certainly hope not. There are aspects of eBooks and paperbacks I like, and would like to see them continue to exist alongside each other for as long as possible. A future without paperbacks? There’s nothing quite like seeing a room full of hard copy books. The age of the digital has not quite taken over yet.

Book Review: Infected by Tara Ellis

Infected by Tara Ellis  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: Self-published May 2016 (first published 2013)

Pages: 241

Star Rating: 3/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

An alien plague. A sixteen-year-old girl. A fight to save the world.

When a rare meteor shower unleashes a mind-altering infection, the people Alex loves begin to change. They’re smarter, faster, emotionless, and they have a plan. One that doesn’t include her.

Guided by cryptic clues left behind by her deceased father, Alex follows a trail of increasingly shocking discoveries. Earth’s history isn’t what she learned in school, and a new hive mind threatens to rewrite the future.

Alex is a fighter, but pursued by both friends and an unknown enemy, it will take everything she has to fulfill her destiny. Desperate to save her little brother, she flees to the mountains surrounding her home, where the only chance for humanity has lain hidden for thousands of years.

WINNER, Reader’s Favorite Book Awards, 2015, Honorable Mention, YA scifi
FINALIST, Young Adult Finalist in the IAN Book Awards, 2015.

Infected, The Shiners is book one in the Forgotten Origins Trilogy.

 

I read this as part of a book club. Although I wasn’t sure about it at the beginning, it got much better as it went on. The start has far too much info dumping about Alex’s past which took me out of the present story and made me lose interest. I got pretty bored of all the recap about her life. If it hadn’t been for the book club, that really would have put me off and I might not have carried on reading. Fortunately, I did carry on and things picked up. The first half was quite slow but I was intrigued, especially when it started getting creepy. The latter half of the book is much faster and I finished it quite quickly once I got to that point as the pace was full on. Although I like that it got really intense and fast paced, I think the first half could have been paced better so there wasn’t such a dramatic shift.

There’s not much I can say about the plot without giving away spoilers! It reminded me of a strange mix of The Host, National Treasure and Indiana Jones. I liked the mystery and adventure element – I do love a good hidden clue. There isn’t really an explanation for the infection and how or why it came to Earth in a meteor shower, but I’m guessing that’s something that will be dealt with more in the next books in the series. The middle section was particularly creepy once people started changing as a result of the infection, and the author did this suspenseful aspect really well.

I liked Alex’s character and the relationship with her brother was shown really well. Their faithful dog companion was also adorable. I thought Chris’s character was great, and I liked that the author didn’t ignore religion. Most YA literature I’ve read, especially science fiction, just seems to ignore religion, but Chris is religious. It just made a nice change for it to be featured in a story, not for any particular plot reason, but just as part of the characterisation.

The first few chapters were more like a 2 star, but it picked up, especially in the second half (which I would have given a 4 star), and I found myself really gripped. The quality of the writing also improved. Overall I enjoyed it but the pacing of the book and the opening few chapters were weak in comparison to other aspects of the book.