Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY

As announced a few weeks ago, I’ve asked three independent bookstores to contribute to this year’s Favorite Covers of 2009 coverage. Here are the selections from the staff of WORD in Brooklyn, NY. Three more lists (including my selections) are on the way.

The only guideline I asked the good folks at WORD to follow was to limit their selections to books published this year, so I was glad to see them include some YA and children’s books — I don’t get around to discussing either genre very often.

I couldn’t chase down all the design credits, so if you know something I don’t, please set me on the right track so that I can give proper credit for this fantastic work. And of course correct me if I’ve gotten something wrong.

There’s a poll at the bottom of the post: vote for your favorite. The top three vote-getting designs from this list will eventually join the other favorites from the upcoming lists in a final poll.

Lastly: each title is linked to WORD’s online store. Something tickling your fancy? Support indie bookstores and buy from them.

WORD’s favorite covers of the year, in no particular order, are:

Wuthering Heights, design by Ruben Toledo: “This is our favorite of the three covers Toledo did for Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions.”

The Sickness Unto Death, design by David Pearson: “This is really a shout-out to the entire line-up of the newest installment of the Penguin Great Ideas series, though this is probably our favorite cover of the bunch. These are some of the most irresistible book covers I have ever seen. They’re all embossed. Almost everyone who looks at them touches them and then moans ecstatically.”

death - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby, design by Christopher Brand: “This made our top 10 last month, probably solely on the strength of the cover.”

woman - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, design by Barbara de Wilde: “We love the new Nabokov covers, and this is our favorite of the bunch.”

nabokov - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
Seven Nights, design by Rodrigo Corral: “Love this so much that I continually re-display it just to look at it.”

seven - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
Pure, design by Cara Petrus: “a teen novel about purity rings and the girls who wear them (and a girl who breaks her pledge). “

pure - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The Book of Fathers: design by John Gall, collage by Nicole Natri: “The men and the arms on the cover are raised. It’s possible we just like this because it looks like the art of a former employee. Didn’t love it at first, but it has really grown on us since it came in, to the point that now we love it.”

word1 - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY

Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image
; design by Mark Abrams, cover image by Jim Fitzpatrick, original photo by Alberto Korda: “There could be no better cover for a book about history’s most reproduced image.”

che - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The Children’s Book, design by Stephen Parker, “adapted by Gabrielle Wilson” (per the jacket): “A beautiful cover that only gets more beautiful after you’ve read the book.”

byatt - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
(I snapped this to show some of the detail; there’s a much better photo here):

Picture+16 - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The City Out My Window: “The only die-cut we will ever like in this store (we hate die cuts because they inevitably rip on the floor, no matter what you do with them, and then nobody wants to buy them). But this one is thick cardboard, and obviously a perfect choice of a book of window pictures.”

city - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The End of Food, design by Mark Robinson: “Love when the paperback is way better than the hardcover.”

Roberts THE END OF FOOD - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The Lion and the Mouse, designer by Saho Fuji: “Not sure if this one counts, but we love it.”

lion - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
The Most Beautiful Book in the World, design by Emanuele Ragnisco: “Even though it feels kind of busy on this cover, the image is just so great.”

beautiful - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY
Never Smile At A Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember, design by Scott Magoon, illustration by Steve Jenkins: “Even though it kinda scares me.”

monkey - Favorite Book Covers of 2009, Part One: WORD, Brooklyn, NY

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.