Judging a Book By Its Cover

I know the saying really is “Never judge a book by its cover”  but I’m speaking in the more literal sense. You know, actual books and their actual covers. Being a very visual person,  I notice book covers.  If there is an interesting or intriguing photo or illustration,  I stop and look.

I’m a bit of a book store addict. Shopping online only works if I know what I want. When I’m just browsing I need to be in a room surrounded by actual books. Secondhand bookstores are my favorite because you never know what treasure you might find tucked away on the shelves.  On these expeditions, I  often purchase a book just because I am am fascinated by the cover or title. What can I say, I’m reckless like that sometimes.

Here are some examples. These are only the covers. I’m not going to tell you what the books are about (if you don’t already know) because I figure if you are as intrigued by the covers as I was, you will find out for yourself!  I will, however, tell you that they all lived up to my expectations and were well worth the time.


Creepy, huh? I admit, I like weird, especially weird photographs. The entire book is filled with the same kind of visuals. This is a Young Adult book, by the way, but as far as I’m concerned a good story is a good story no matter what section of the store it’s in.


Another YA book. I found this one at a yard sale and was desperate to find out how a baseball bat and an umbrella worked together in the story line. The characters are wonderful. My 16 year old has read it several times and considers it one of her favorite books.


So so here is a book about…..a book! I’m already hooked.  I really wanted to know more about this intense society woman posing in her 1920’s finery. This was a real person and a real diary and that alone made me curious.

imageAnd finally, how could you not love the title of this book?  I am a great lover of letters and post cards. They are so much more personal than emails or texts. I think that  woman gazing off into the water and the hand written card tugged at the romantic in me.

This isn’t a foolproof method though.  I’ve bought other books because of their great covers only to be very disappointed by the story. Live and learn, you know. I still enjoy the hunt and I get really excited when I discover a hidden gem.

Let’s hear your thoughts. Have you ever judged a book by its cover? What book was it? Was it worth the risk?

O is for Opening Lines

All writers know the importance of a good opening paragraph. They only have a few lines in order to get the reader hooked and to make them want to read more. Good writers usually equal good openings.

There are lots of list on the Internet of famous opening lines. They are usually from classic novels and they really are “great opening lines” but they don’t always include more modern book.

Well, I have very eclectic taste in novels so I thought, just for the fun of it, I would make my own list.

So, in no particular order, here are Nancy’s 10 favorite opening lines:

1) “When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

2) “There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me–not forever, but periodically.”
– Janet Evanovich, One For the Money

3) “I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.”
– Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark

4) “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
5) “Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York.  Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber, as a word, was better.”
– Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
6) “The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.”
-H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

7) “Marley was dead, to begin with.”
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
8) “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”
– Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind

9) “The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end – began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
-Stephen King, It

10) “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 

Okay, how did I do? What opening lines would you add?

N is for Nancy

Today it’s all about me!!! Okay, it’s all about me and other people named Nancy. Maybe these other Nancy’s are  better known than I am but I don’t mind sharing my name with them anyway. So presented in totally random order:

Nancy Drew


Teenage sluth extraordinaire! Who could forget Carolyn Keene’s talented young lady with the matching sweater sets. I must have read every book in the series 3 times. We still have copies in the school library that are borrowed on a regular basis.

Nancy Reagan


I am always impressed by the poise and grace with which this former First Lady moves through life. First she took on Hollywood (check out her and her husband as they star together in “Hellcats of the Navy”1957), then she took on Washington (Say No To Drugs!). She gives the rest of us Nancys something to strive for.

Nancy Sinatra

Her boots were made for walkin and her dad was from Jersey. ‘Nuff said 


Fancy Nancy


Could any literary character be any sweeter? The illustrations and the shear joy in these books make them worth reading. My hubby gets me a new one for Christmas each year just because I’m his Fancy Nancy!  I know-he’s a keeper!

I could go on but I think that’s enough Nancy-ness for one day and I have to say, speaking as a Nancy, I think this is pretty good company!

B is for Books

This was an easy one. All I had to do was look around me. There are books in every room of my house and yes, that includes the bathroom! But as I look at the covers and titles of these book, I realize how much of my adult history can be told through them.

In my early twenties, on a quest for independents and enlightenment I decided to read my way through the classics. On a table in my hall between  the bookends my mom made are copies of  The Great Gatsby, Sun Also Rises, To Kill a Mockingbird and on my shelves is The Complete Works of William Shakespere  (which, I’ll admit, I never actually read but it has come in handy for flattening out posters).image

Later, as a young wife I developed a passion for mystery novels, which are represented by the entire (so far) collection of Sue Grafton’s  Alphabet Series, along with The Cat Who… novels by Lillian Jackson Braun.

On to my thirties when I was in between marriages and a working woman thirsting for new adventures. Here on this shelf sits Michael Crichton and John Grisham. I confess, I have read Jurassic Park and The Firm more times than I can count.

Next, I met the love of my life, bought a house and started a family. This began my love of science fiction and fantasy novels (I could say it was because my life had become like a fairy tale but that would be really corny). One shelf in my living room is dedicated to The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Later on they were joined by books about witches and vampires by authors like Charlaine Harris and Patricia Briggs.

On came the children! With them came all the classic children’s books of course, but when they grew old enough for us to read novels together we began with Harry Potter and continued through Percy Jackson. Personally, I really enjoy YA books and on my shelves now are novels like  Inkheart,  The Hunger Games, and Perks of Being a Wallflower. 

imageNow I am at the beginning of my fifties and my choice in books has become very eclectic. I might go back and reread a classic or pick up a mystery. The last book I finished was called Bless the Bride and was a paperback I had picked up for my mom who passed away in October. She was an avid reader too and I’m sure I got my love of books from her just as my daughter has gotten this from me. I miss being able to talk about what I’m reading with my mom but I’m glad I have so many of her books to remember her by.

So basically, I am the sum of my bookshelves. My history is written (pun intended) right there in front of me. As Thomas Jefferson said “I cannot live without books!”

A Bookworm’s Guide to Fitness

My husband of twenty some years has exercised 5 days a weeks since before I knew him. He’s always said it is necessary for him as a stress reducer  plus now that we are both over 50 we want to stay as active as we can and that comes with a price. During his annual stress test, the doctor told my honey he had the body of a thirty year old (don’t think I don’t appreciate that!)

Anyway, I was never much into exercise. Frankly I find it really boring. I never understood that “high” people say they get with it, and because I’ve never had issues with my weight, I convinced myself I was in good enough shape.  That was until a few years ago at work when I had to go up a couple of flights of stairs to a classroom and couldn’t tell the teacher why I was there until after I caught my breath! It was kind of embarrassing. I didn’t want to do that again so I talked with hubby about options. My knees are not my friends so walking or running was out, swimming would be great but not practical and I knew I would never go out to a gym so it had to be something at home. He suggested the recumbent stationaly bike he used which was conviently parked in out basement. It turned out to be the perfect solution for me because….and here is the secret…..I can READ while I ride!!! I would rather read than almost anything else and I found that if I had a really good book I could go 10 miles at a good pace without even realizing it!! Of course I have to make a deal with myself every evening not to pick up a book unless I am on that bike. Even if I’m tired I tell myself   “Just  ride for 10 minutes”.  Usually, once I start I end up doing 30 minutes anyway.

It’s been three years now and I still ride 5 days a week, plus I found this nifty yoga app for my iPad that keeps all my joints oiled. Between the two, I can climb stairs without huffing and puffing and I don’t groan every time I get up off the floor.  It really does help and it has become such a routine I notice when I don’t exercise. Besides I have to stay in shape. I have a “thirty year old” husband to keep up with! 😉

I’m not obsessed with vampires, really…

My husband and children think I’m obsessed with vampires. It’s true that over the past year I have read some books about the undead but since I read voraciously, going through a large number of books in a twelve month period, I hardly think that reading one or two (or 15) books dealing with vampires constitutes obsessive behavior. Let’s be honest, though, vampires have become a lot more interesting lately. We’re no longer talking Bela Lugosi or even Gary Oldman type vampires. We’re talking more GQ vampires.

It all started with the “Twilight” series. The young girls at the school I work in began drooling over Edward Cullen and the Twilight books and since I have a tween daughter who might soon be interested as well, I thought I should see what all the fuss was about. The first book led to the second and I was hooked. The movies I could live without, but the books, couldn’t put them down. After that a fellow bookworm suggested the Ann Rice vampire series and I tried, but they just didn’t do it for me. So I kept searching for another “undead high”. My nephew, who is also into the weird and unusual (book-wise, at least) kept telling me about a series of books the HBO show “True Blood” was based on. Enter Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse books. I read all ten in the series during summer break. A couple I read more than once. What can I say….Eric Northman is one hot vampire. Don’t take my word for it, buy the book.

Lately, I’ve become hooked on a new SYFY channel series called “Being Human”. The main character is (you guessed it) a vampire. To be fair, he shares a house with a werewolf and a ghost so there is a little diversity here. My family has learned not to talk to me or walk through the room when it’s on. This has probably fueled that whole “obsessive” thing. “What’s the appeal?” they ask and I’ve thought about it, really. Maybe it’s just that the whole subject matter is so far removed from my everyday life (I mean I really don’t want to read a book about a fortysomething wife and mother living in the suburbs-I could write that book, but after all, who would want to read it?) Vampires, werewolves, wizards, elves and hobbits. Now that stretches the imagination. That entertains and helps us see beyond our world and into the unknown. That’s entertainment. And that’s what I want to experience every time I open the pages of a book. I’m sure I’ll move on to other topics soon. Untill then, anyone have any recommendations?