12 February 2016

Best Book Covers | Part I

I love good books, but what I love even more are good books with great covers. "You shouldn't judge a book by its cover" blah blah blah, but I'm pretty sure everyone does anyway. So today I've picked out five of my all time favourite book covers to show off.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This one should come as no surprise, as it won my Best Cover 2015 award (that post is here). Basically, this book is gorgeous. The style is actually quite simple, and only four colours (white, purple, green and gold) are used. But I like it because it's so graphic and striking, without being boring. It's a little like a traditional woodcut, which fits with the eastern European aspects of the book's mythology and character names.

Uprooted is fantasy book about a girl called Agnieszka, who is chosen by the wizard known as The Dragon who protects the surrounding lands from a magical, corrupted wood. She has to go back to his tower home and act as his servant, but all sorts of amazing, enchanting, exciting things happen instead. Not only is this book cover great, but I loved the story itself too (it got a rare five star rating from me), and it is one I would highly recommend.

It is probably the most beautiful book I own, and because I have it in all its hardback glory, it's probably also the book which most stands out. It's also the only book I have displayed outwards on my bookshelf (I used to be against this kind of thing originally, and would scoff at people who did so because they were wasting precious shelf space, but since this book I've been converted).

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I love this book cover because it has a pretty lady in a pretty dress with some pretty fonts. But seriously, this is the kind of cover a ton of series try to get at, but (in my opinion) it's never been pulled off as well as it has here. I think I particularly like the placement of the title, because it's actually covering up the main image, which is unusual for books that have clearly made such a huge effort to get a picture this gorgeous. The third and final book of this trilogy is released this year, and I know there was a bit of a hoo-hah about a cover change, but since then the publishers have decided to stick with this style - which lots of us are very grateful for.

I believe this book is classed as fantasy, even though no actual magic appears in it. It's about Kestrel, the daughter of a General in a huge and kind of bloodthirsty empire, and one day she buys a slave on a whim. Eventually she and her new slave, Arin, develop a romantic relationship, but, true to form, he has his own secrets, and then serious stuff goes down and it all spirals a little out of control. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, as I'd suspected I would end up just dismissing as another silly YA romance.

Even though this has made by Best Book Covers list, I don't actually own the physical copy of this book yet. I haven't read the rest of the trilogy yet, but I know they have covers just as lovely as this one, so they're pretty high on my book wish list, and I'm hoping to get my hands on their actual covers sometime soon.

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

The cover I have on my copy of this book is not the original one, I believe, but if that is true, then I am eternally thankful that they changed it. It's simply stunning! I absolutely love the orange flames, and how bold they make it. But most of all I like the arched cut out in the centre, through which you can see the traditional Arthurian scene of a hand holding a sword emerging from a lake. If you know anything about Arthurian legend, you should recognise this scene, but what is so fantastic about this book is that it gives you a cover showing something you know, but as you actually make your way through the book, you discover a whole other version of the same story.

That's what this book is; an Arthurian retelling, but through the eyes of Gwyna, a slave-girl taken in by Myrddin, magician to Arthur (aka Merlin!), and who sees Arthur's rise and fall and the secrets behind his success. It's a beautifully told story, and Gwyna is maybe one of my favourite characters ever, but all the characters in this story are incredible and memorable. There's nothing magic about this story, but the author (Philip Reeve - one of my favourites) explains how the modern tales of magic and enchantment, which are so integral to the figure of King Arthur, arose anyway. Simply put, it's a great book and I'd highly recommend it.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

When I was looking through my shelves on Goodreads to pick out the best covers, I realised how all of the Kate Morton books I own have similar style covers: some kind of doorway (or gate, in one case) leading to a green, natural landscape or scene. But despite the similarities, this cover is my definite favourite. The thing which puts it above all the others is the simple contrast of the colours - the faded pale blue doors which frame the picture, and the yellow/green/browns of the scene in the centre. It makes the whole thing strikingly beautiful.

The Distant Hours is a mystery, and while the majority of the book wasn't amazing, I loved the reveal at the end so much that I am still impressed by how much it managed to surprise me. The book follows the stories of Edie Burchill, the protagonist, her mother, who was evacuated to Milderhurst Castle during WWII, and the three now elderly Blythe sisters (twins Percy and Saffie, and their mentally unstable younger sister Juniper) whose family has always lived in the castle.

There are some great characters and lovely description in this book, as well as the wonderfully creepy story of "the Mud Man". This book is packed with secrets and mystery, just like all her other books, but - like I said before - I think this one has the ending that stood out to me most - I just wasn't expecting it at all!

Mighty Fizz Chilla by Philip Ridley

This cover is just ... wow. How could you describe it? It's just a bit mental, and I love it. It shows the creature of the Mighty Fizz Chilla in all its glory - a mish-mash of a tiger, shark, and unicorn, among other things. It looks a bit scary, to be honest, and makes it seem as if this book it about mutant sharks, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It is actually telling the story of thirteen year old Milo Stick, sent by his despairing mother to spend a little time with old friend of the family, Cressida Bell. While there he meets Dee Dee Six, Spock-like but hilarious, and the intriguing Captain Jellicoe, and first hears of the mysterious Mighty Fizz Chilla. There are loads of different stories told by the different characters and woven together expertly, including the truth of what happened to Milo to make him so angry.

This book looks chunky, but it flies by. I think the first time I read it was on a school trip aged about 8 or 9, and I still love it now. It's got everything, the amazingly crazy characters you expect from Philip Ridley, the incredible illustrations you expect from Chris Riddell, and an exciting, twisting and turning, surprisingly touching story at its centre. I remember being spell-bound by all the different tales that come together and then twist off in different directions again, as well as the various mysteries and secrets which are gradually revealed. An amazing book with a fantastic cover.

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