Mid-Series Cover Changes

Let’s talk about this topic that every bookworm ever either hates or doesn’t mind.

I mainly want to talk about this because of the recent blow up over Renee Ahdieh‘s duology of Flame in the Mist because it’s getting a mid-series cover change to have covers with people on it. Of course a huge part of the discussion was because it was a POC that was added to it, but… I honestly don’t know how to respond to that other than the book is literally a retelling of Mulan. A Chinese woman. A person of color. What else is she supposed to look like, a fish? (Also, yes I’m aware that this is based in Japanese culture, but I’m just saying.)

Anyway.

Okay, first of all let’s discuss these covers aesthetically speaking.

In my 100% honest opinion? I really like these covers. Not only do they feature a female POC who (I believe) is the main character of the story (I haven’t read it yet), but the colors and details around the cover are very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The cherry blossoms around the edges are representative of east Asian culture, which this story is inspired by. And then the twin dragons on the second cover in the shape of a heart? Dragons are also a large part of east Asian cultures.

But again, I want to state that I have NOT YET read the first book in this duology. I do not know the significance of the dragons, but I am assuming it has to do with a love interest in the story.

I also want to state that I don’t know the whole story as to the backlash that these particular covers are getting because I haven’t been very up to date with book Twitter lately (which is largely where I get my bookish news), so I apologize in advance for that.

My one caveat with the cover is her expression that she uses. I get she’s supposed to be all serious and stuff, but I kind of wish there was a different expression on each cover, which could bring more life to it. Other than that, I’m fine with it.

I would also like to point out that I am very glad that they’re changing BOTH covers of the duology SO THEY MATCH. That doesn’t happen often with mid-series changes. It could also be for the release of the paperback, I’m sure.

Now let’s discuss cover changes.

I think a large part of the backlash for these covers above is because of the face added and a lot of people – including myself – generally don’t like people on the covers of our books unless it’s significant to the book itself. I mostly say this because I personally find that when people are on the cover they look cheesy as hell and it just kind of makes me cringe. But I can look past that if 1) the synopsis captures my attention, and 2) if I enjoy the book when I read it.

That being said, cover changes mid-series is a very frustrating thing for many readers. The main reason is because, with a cover change, the new cover won’t match the aesthetic of the original cover and therefore can make it look less aesthetically pleasing to the eye when looking at it on a shelf or for pictures or what have you. There have been many examples of this exact thing happening over time and now with social media being such a huge thing in the everyday lives of many people, it’s very easy to understand why people are so vocal about it.

One example I can think about is the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. The last book in this series had a cover change when it was being released in hardcover and thus didn’t match the same aesthetic as the other two books in the trilogy. And I have to say: I am not a fan of the change. It’s clunky. It’s very ridged, with many defined edges and just a look that isn’t very… nice.

As you can see, the first two covers are highly aesthetically pleasing. At least to me they are. The first two covers tell me a bit about what the story is about (and no, I haven’t read them yet but they’re definitely on my TBR as my husband has read them and loved them). They tell me that they’re about two teens, a boy and a girl, who are most likely facing dangerous circumstances and manage to find love among it all. It probably has some type of harrowing journey along with it, too. But the Shade of Earth cover? Yes, while it is aesthetically pleasing in its own right, it is just very… different from the original two. This one tells me that it’s like the Earth is trying to break through what mankind made. (Who knows? Maybe I’m right?)

Eventually the first two covers were remade to match the third cover. (And yes, the first book did have a cover change BEFORE matching it with the third cover, and that cover was… okay.)

But that is just one of the frustrating things about mid-series cover changes. My main question, especially with the example above, is: Why do you have to change to flow of the covers like that, especially when its the last book in the series?

Now I’ve seen many authors over the last couple of years talk about this very issue. They don’t have control over their covers. 99% of them don’t have control, especially in traditional publishing. So when mid-series cover changes happen it’s because the company or marketing department of that company thinks that it will be appealing to more readers to change the covers now to boost book sales.

Sometimes the books are selling very well, though, even without the cover change. Sometimes book sales drop after the cover change. It really all depends and no one can really determine what may or may not happen when this change does happen.

With that said, though, I’m not talking about when standalones get cover changes or when an entire series gets multiple cover changes over time because that’s an entirely different subject matter. (For example, the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo just got new covers and btw they’re gorgeousssss~)

Like this? This is fine. The original trilogy with the original covers were all released and have the same very aesthetically pleasing style, which is great! And to now have the trilogy repackaged in equally stunning covers is just simply breathtaking. As the books were already released and received a lot of love, this kind of change only fuels readers to want to buy these versions of the books for collectability purposes if they already own the books with the original covers.

But when covers are suddenly changed mid-series, it can be very disheartening for readers who love to decorate or show off their shelves. Some readers don’t care either way because they want the book to have the book and continue reading the series – which is totally fine!

And then you also get books that are different sizes when as they continue along in a series. Like, why? What purpose does that serve? Why are you keeping the cover aesthetic but now changing the size? When they’re on a shelf they’re no longer even and THAT can drive readers mad.

I think that mid-series cover changes can help some book sales, though. Sometimes a cover change can make a difference and a new cover design can be a good thing. Honestly, it really depends on personal preference.

Let’s Chat! ^w^

Tell me what you guys think of cover changes mid-series. Do you mind? Do you hate them? What’s one example of a GOOD mid-series cover change? What’s your least favorite mid-series cover change? Let’s talk about it!

The Rose & the Dagger Book Review

theroseandthedaggerTitle: The Rose & the Dagger
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Pages: 416
Format: Purchased Hardcover

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers!

This second book was full of a heightened sense of urgency, of magic, of love, forgiveness, friendship, and more. I honestly enjoyed this sequel more than the first book and I think that it was a really great wrap up to this duology.

The plot starts right after the events of the first book after everything has pretty much gone to hell after a magic storm that Jahandar cooked up in order to “save” Shazi. Everything is in ruin and while Khalid works to restore the city and look for Shazi, she’s in a Badawi encampment being kept there for her own safety as well as Khalid’s. It continues to show more of the magic in this world because we got just the barest glimpse of it in the first book, as well as how Shazi’s magic actually works.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding several of the characters, and plenty of romance to drink in. I thought that, the plot itself, was a solid one, driving each of the characters into the next course of action that needed to be taken in order to break the curse over Khalid and Khorasan, as well as other opposing forces in the story.

I will say, though, that I thought the threat of danger wasn’t as immediate in this book as it was in the first. Yes, there were still threats and still concerns that had to be addressed, but otherwise I thought that it was more of a story of action than of danger. It didn’t take away from the story at all, but there was a difference in tone between the first and second books given the circumstances.

Shahrzad is as strong willed and silver tongued as ever in this book, and I kind of really missed that. I forgot how she can have such witty banter and come up with such awesome insults on the fly:

A rush of blood heated her cheeks. “If I had a fireball, I’d send it straight between your legs. But I worry there would be little to burn.”

OH SNAP. That part made me laugh quite loudly. But aside from that, she still uses her mind and her resources around her to get where she needs to go and do what needs to be done. I thought that her relationship with her sister, though strained at times, was still one that I could see the true love from them in. Shazi really cares for Irsa, even if she doesn’t reveal many things to her because she views Irsa as a child still. Through the many ups and downs and revelations, though, Shazi remains strong and brave. She’s a really amazing heroine, in my opinion.

Khalid is just as temperamental as ever, but we get to see a much more human side of him than we have before. We see him helping to rebuild his city and him trying his best to look out for those around him because he doesn’t want to shed any more unnecessary innocent blood. His love for Shazi is beautiful and I loved reading the moments with them together because they so perfectly reflect one another so well. I thought that he was a strong character, like usual, though he fought with a lot more conviction now that he has something to fight for. And we got to see him with some of his military skills, which was pretty strategic and cool.

Irsa, I think, was a welcome sigh of relief when it came to this story. As Shazi’s younger sister, you would think she would be a little more headstrong and quick to act, but I felt that she was very mature for her age in some of the ways she acted and how she responded in certain situations. She was very knowledgeable on medicinal herbs and her love for her sister was very strong, though she knew that Shazi would lie to her constantly to protect her. Irsa was a welcome surprise and I thought the interactions between her and Rahim were so adorable.

Tariq was just as angry as he was in the last book when it came to him thinking about Khalid, and he acted with a blind heart instead of an open mind on more than one occasion, causing something almost terrible to happen to Shazi. Even though he and Khalid had an altercation, an understanding on Tariq’s part happened and I think that’s when he became a more agreeable character after that. Though he still reacted on pure guts than brains, I thought he did his best in the situations handed to him.

Jahandar, I thought, was trying to do so many things for the wrong reasons and I was so mad he seemed to care more about his book than his daughters. He tricked and lied, and he did it with the best intentions, but I think the gift he gave in the end was fitting and right.

We didn’t have as much Despina or Jalal at all in this book, which made me very sad because they’re two of my favorites, but there was still an interaction with them that made me smile at the end.

There was fighting, blood, worry, curses, magic, and more in this book and I thought that it did very well for a conclusion, for sure. And I just want you to know that I ALMOST CRIED at one part – like, there was a tear and everything – because holy carp was it sad and OH THE FEELS. Renee Ahdieh’s writing is very beautiful, just like the last, and will capture you with lush details and exquisite settings, sprinkled with awesome banter.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars.

My duology review: 4.25/5 stars

The Wrath & the Dawn Short Stories Reviews

thecrownandthearrowTitle: The Arrow and the Crown
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #0.5
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Fantasy, Short Story
Pages: 9
Format: Free eBook

Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.

That was it? I was expecting more, that’s for sure. It didn’t really add much to the story at all, but we got to see the very beginning from Khalid’s point of view. I mean, it was fine. You could tell he hated what he had to do, and he could see the hate burning in Shazi’s eyes, but it leaves so much that I wish could have been added. Seriously wish there was more.

3/5 stars

themothandtheflameTitle: The Moth and the Flame
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Fantasy, Short Story
Pages: 37
Format: Purchased eBook

It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

This short story had me holding my breath and my heart racing. I thought that this was such a better short story than the last, and I was not disappointed.

This story follows the handmaiden, Despina, and the Captain of the Royal Guard, Jalal. Both of these individuals have their own tasks with which they have to think about and attend, and then when they run into each other one day, it seems like it just goes from there.

Despina, though I was weary of her in The Wrath and the Dawn, turned out to be a really intelligent young woman with a strong will and a sharp tongue, and this short story definitely continued to show that. I enjoyed reading from Despina’s point of view to see what it was like serving the calipha and her interactions with Jalal. It was funny at first, playful even, and then things became more serious as time progressed.

Even Jalal was likable in this story! I don’t really remember what I felt for him when I read the main book, but in this one we got to see a couple glimpses from his point of view and we got to learn a little bit more about him and his… “reflections.” He’s funny and tries to be charming, and I love how Despina can disarm him with her own retorts.

What made me really enjoy this was the heart racing moments they had together, for sure. There was one scene in particular that I was like, “Yesyesyes!” I also enjoyed reading about Despina’s interactions with the calipha because we got to see a little bit of who this girl was before the things that happened in the main book. I wish that their relationship could have turned into somewhat of a friendship, but it didn’t happen that way.

I just wish that the last chapter could have been a little different? I’m not really sure what I was expecting… Well, I do know what I was expecting, but it didn’t happen the way I hoped, so I’m disappointed only in that aspect, haha! But otherwise I think that seeing the progression of time and feelings was useful. I only wish there could have been one more chapter in between the last two to further dive into Despina’s, and even Jalal’s, feelings of one another.

Overall, I think this short story added to the main one because we got to get more from two of the important side characters. I loved this a lot and highly recommend it if you’ve read The Wrath and the Dawn.

I rate this short story 4.5/5 stars.

The Wrath and the Dawn Book Review

thewrathandthedawn

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Fantasy, Retellings
Pages: 388
Format: Purchased Hardcover

“The Wrath and the Dawn” is a retelling of the classic tale of “A Thousand and One Nights” and in this story it tells about a young caliph – a king – who takes a new wife every day and kills her by the next dawn. No one knows why he does it, but they hate him for it. And it also tells about the brave young girl, Shahrzad, who volunteers to be this caliph’s next bride; but she’s determined to make it to the next sunset, and the one after that, and so on. But there’s some darker secrets that are lying behind this tale of romance, and it weaves an interesting story.

I thought this book was both enjoyable and frustrating, but more so enjoyable than frustrating.

Let me talk about the characters:

Shahrzad (aka Shazi), our leading lady, is a stubborn, strong willed, fierce young woman of sixteen who has a silver-tongue and a quick mind. She’s very fiesty in many parts of the book and I really enjoyed that about her personality; that she wouldn’t just sit down and obey whatever was dished out to her. But I also felt like that was a flaw at some points because her stubborn head could possibly get her into trouble or even killed. I did think that her being on a warpath for revenge was kind of annoying at times, but that may be because I sort of knew how the book would progress? I did think that she gave in too easily at the end and that she lost some of her flare (like seriously, I wanted to slap her for just going along with the plan and not putting up more of a fight). She’s still a strong main heroine and I thought as she got to know Khalid more the more she opened up and her personality really started to shine.

Khalid is the caliph of Khorazan, the King of Kings, in this book and I thought he was very… well, interesting. I thought because of his quiet demeanor that he’d be kind of boring, but I found that I was just as entranced by him as Shazi was throughout the book. He was fiercely protective and very quiet, but wise. I thought that he didn’t really overreact in any situation, but I was confused at the end as to what happened and whether or not he knew what was going to happen… I thought that the fact that the relationship between him and Shazi developed in such a strange and tense way was kind of refreshing. I also appreciate that he appreciates honesty above all else given his past.

Despina was a fireball when we saw her and I was surprised she was able to say so much in free reign without being chastised for it. She was the kind of friend who wasn’t afraid to tell you the truth, but would still do anything to protect you from being hurt. I wish we had seen more of her, but I also know that the story was more about the relationship and romance.

Jalal is Khalid’s smooth talking charmer of a cousin who is also Captain of the Guard for the palace. He’s kind of the bad boy of the story, but he’s not mean or anything, just teasing and joking all the time. He can be serious when he needs to be, but sometimes it can be hard to distinguish those moments.

Tariq is Shazi’s first love, and as such I could understand why he wanted to save her and all of that, and I believe he had good intentions at the beginning. But as the story continued to progress and things just kind of escalated over time, I was extremely frustrated with him at the end because he was being a possessive idiot and not letting Shahrzad get in any words. I hope I’m not the only one who felt that way.

Now we met some other characters who I’m sure will play a much larger role in the next book, but as of right now I’m not very fond of those characters because I know there are schemes behind them. Some characters I do like, but others, not so much.

As for the plot, I enjoyed it. I really thought that it was interesting to see a girl go in with this plan for vengeance for her best friend, and discover that she is falling in love with a supposed monster. I couldn’t help but feel for Khalid and how things happened to him and why things are the way they are and just… Oh, he really isn’t that bad. I was annoyed at times with how things progressed or what was thought or said, but I think that was mostly because I knew the other side of the story.

This book included multiple points of view from Shahrzad, Tariq, Khalid, Jahandar (Shazi’s dad), among a couple others. It wasn’t really hard to discern who was speaking because it was often told right from the first word or paragraph of that section.

I enjoyed the progression of the romance and was so happy to see that even though all the hateful feelings Shazi had toward Khalid that she could really sympathize with him and to really just see the progression… well, it was lovely. I honestly don’t even know how it happened, but it did.

I’m anticipating reading the next book because now I need to know a few things and what happens next.

I gave this book a 4/5 stars and highly recommend it.