Time for a Holiday

Today, I am flying off to Florida for a long overdue holiday. Actually, I've scheduled this to post just as I'll be taking off.

You have no idea how much I need some time off.

Since last October, I have been juggling three jobs, and very rarely get more than one day off. I even worked Christmas! I know, it's a hard life.

So I feel like I deserve a full two weeks of R, R & R aka rest, relaxation and reading. And I am going to revel in it.

I'm going with my family, my parents and my sister. We are spending a week in Orlando, mainly for the Wizarding World, then the second week down in Key West. Key West is definitely the relaxation side of things, but hopefully with some scuba diving thrown in.

OMG I'm so excited!!!

Follow me on twitter for any shenanigans I might get up to and I'll see you on the other side!

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Book Covers

It's that time of the week again, it's time for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog.

This week's topic is:
Favourite Book Covers

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK edition). I have always loved this cover. It gives nothing away but is at the same time very exciting, with all the action going on. And once you've read it, the cover means so much more.

And call me weird or whatever, but I also love the Ukrainian version of this cover. Unlike the British or American covers, this one is completely spoilerific and practically tells the whole story on the cover! It's like playing spot the references. And they've definitely used the actors as face models... One day I will own a copy of this version.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Now, before you judge me, I am not saying this book is good or anything (though I did love the Twilight books/films, leave me alone ;) ), but I do think this cover is a good one. The whole metaphor of the pawn becoming the queen is subtle, but not too subtle. I also like the continuing theme of the high contrast white and red on a black background (before it got way overdone). So yeah, I just think it is a good cover. 

Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I love the allusion to how this story starts, where Amy is woken up by Elder, and the chasm of space between them and around them. I just really like it. I am not so impressed with the new versions of the covers.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green. Some day I will shut up about this book, but today is not that day. Although, initially I was dubious about the cover, I have come to love it as it is so bold and eye-catching. I mean, you can't not spot it on the shelf with such a bright cover and simple design.

Watching the English by Kate Fox. The cover for this book just sums up the English in one picture. Two people stubbornly reading a newspaper under an umbrella at a soggy Wimbledon. I instantly wanted to read it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Or any of the Roald Dahl books. The Quentin Blake-drawn covers just remind me of reading all the those books again and again as a kid. This is definitely a nostalgia thing.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I like the simplicity of the cover, with just the blood network of the brain hinting at what the book could be about. It almost looks like a non-fiction book at first glance. Also looking at it after reading the book I think it even hints at how the story resolves itself.

Matched by Ally Condie. It's unfortunate that I like the covers more than the series itself. It felt like the cover promises more than the book offers. But still, it's a good concept, carried through the series. I like me a nice matched (no pun intended) set.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. I just really like it. Particularly the almost invisible shiny black on matt black details. A nice touch of metaphor in the cover.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Not technically one I've read yet but on my To-Read list. The completely blank cover apart from the embossed Quiet is ingenious. Sort of backwardly eye-catching. (My google-fu was not working for a good picture of this cover so literally imagine a white cover with an embossed Quiet.)

So these are the ones that stick out in my mind. Let me know if you agree/disagree and which ones you chose in the comments!

Film Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Abrams (dir.)

Certificate: 12A (PG-13)

Rating: 9/10

Overall: A twisty main story with an emotional side dish. Benedict Cumberbatch really steals the show as the baddie. I really enjoyed the edge-of-the-seat action and the effects are stunning.

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Coverflips and Gender Stereotyping

Maureen Johnson, author of several books including 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star, has written an article for HuffPost about how the gender of the author affects the cover of their book. It is a great article, and throws up some very interesting points.

Initially, it struck me as similar to the whole giving children's books 'adult' covers √† la Harry Potter. 
It's like giving adults a legitimate disguise to their 'embarrassing' reading habits. As if that douchebag on the bus is going to point and laugh at you less than they would have before for reading the adult-covered version.

And another argument that will often be cited is that some books will naturally be aimed at certain demographics. Therefore the covers are going to convey that.

But both of these arguments dismiss the point that books penned by women often get flowery, 'girly' covers that could cover up deep/dark themes and/or literary masterpieces. From the coverflips submitted to Maureen Johnson (see an example below with the original on the right, and the coverflip on the left), an overriding theme of covers from female authors is a stock photo of a girl, either face hidden or looking longingly out of the cover, both often in soft lighting and/or focus.

John Green gave his two cents saying that he had to fight for the cover of TFiOS. While his triumph is great for the publishing world in general (i.e. it shows that an abstract cover with little hint to the story within can still become a bestseller), some could/would say that he was always more likely to get his way because he is male, and male authors can often have more abstract or dark covers.

Considering that some of the best-selling authors in the past decade have been female - JK Rowling, Hilary Mantel, Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, EL James*... - it should signal the change in tides for covers to not give away the gender of who wrote the book, but reflect the content. And of those authors I mentioned, three of them have (I like to think...) relatively gender-neutral covers for their books.

Obviously, part of the problem stems from the fact that in our society, it is not considered 'normal' or even 'right' for a man to be seen doing things that are considered girly or feminine. This, of course, includes being caught reading a book that may be construed as a girl's book. The old adage of "don't judge a book by its cover" is nigh-on impossible to keep, because that is exactly what a cover is setting out to do: help you make a snap judgment on whether that book would appeal to you or not. So a man sitting on the train is not always going to feel comfortable reading a book which is covered in flowery, soft-focused imagery that screams "I'm reading a book aimed at women!"

With the increasing movement behind equality for everyone, I do believe this type of subtle sexism and misogyny will start to become a thing of the past. And people can read a book because it interests them, with no fear of being ridiculed. That's what I hope anyway.

*Yeah, it may be a trashy novel, but doesn't take away from the fact it's a bestseller. 

Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Synopsis: I'm Annabel. I'm the girl who has it all. Model looks, confidence, a great social life. I'm one of the lucky ones. Aren't I? 

My 'best friend' is spreading rumours about me. My family is slowly falling apart. It's turning into a long, lonely summer, full of secrets and silence. But I've met this guy who won't let me hide away. He's one of those intense types, obsessed with music. He's determined to make me listen. And he's determined to make me smile. But can he help me forget what happened the night everything changed?

Pages: 390

Rating: 8/10

Overall: Annabel is a girl who gets broken out of her shell by a painfully honest guy who is obsessed with music. Despite some confusing timeline issues, it was a compelling read and I came to really like Annabel and Owen a lot. A great intro to Sarah Dessen's books.
Just Listen

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