Book by Its Cover

London is now coming to the end of one of the best and most patriotic summers in memory. I’ve been waving my Union Jack flag at every opportunity, cheering as our Olympic and Paralympic athletes show the world how it’s done, and soaking up the rays in Holland Park – big time! But as the excitement dies down and the crowds – hopefully – disperse, I’m looking for beautiful new books to fill my suitcase for my impending trip to Istanbul and to chase away the blues as summer becomes winter in the blink of an eye! So here are some lovely ones that I have been eyeing up for my autumn reading list . . .

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked In by Magnus Mills (Bloomsbury)
A strange title for a strange novel – a surreal portrait of a fairy-tale empire known as Greater Fallowfields with an unnamed narrator who leads us through Magnus Mills’s bizarre but somehow recognisable imagined world. I love British illustrator Anna Wray’s cartoony graphic illustration for the cover. Like Mills’s novel, there is so much too see and so many quirky little elements making up an eccentric, comic wonderland.

The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen (Vintage)
This is a completely stunning jacket by New York-based illustrator Grady McFerrin. It’s cool and wintery, but hugely inviting. The vivid turquoise colour really stands out and the type and the woodcut-style illustration of the stars and the sea are gorgeous. This beautiful debut is one I am going to save for when it’s cold and windy outside and I can curl up in the warm with this magical tale about a girl called Minou – whose mother mysteriously left a year ago – and her search for the truth on the mystical frozen island where she lives with her father. I can’t wait!

Genie and Paul by Natasha Soobramanien (Myriad Editions)
This imaginative reworking of the French 18th century classic, Paul et Virginie, about a sister’s search for the brother she loves and their journey to a small island in the Indian Ocean, has a really beautiful cover. I think the colours are lovely – and so calming. The simple line illustrations evoke the waves of the ocean and add energy, while the tiny figures reflect both the isolation of the two characters and their unshakeable bond. I love how wonderfully imperfect and a bit wonky it all is!

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel (Headline UK, Doubleday US)
Great covers for both the UK and US editions of Laurie Frankel’s second novel about a man who invents a scientific computer program that will allow the living to communicate with their recently deceased loved ones. It’s funny and sad and heart-warming in equal measures. The US cover with toy aeroplanes against a bright blue sky is really eye-catching. And the UK cover uses simple silhouettes to maximum effect for their edition. I really like the use of reflections and echoes in the cover illustration which subtly references the plot of the book. The bright grass green is unusual, but effective.


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