28 June 2023

8 Books on my TBR with Birds on the Cover

I've recently noticed a trend in my to be read (TBR) pile, and it's the sheer number of books with birds on the cover. I don't know whether I have an unconscious bias towards books with birds on the cover, or whether the publishing industry and graphic designers have agreed that birds are used in cover designs for specific genres and I just happen to be attracted to those types of books. I'm not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but at last count I had 15 books with birds on the cover.

I thought it would be fun to share 8 of them with you, along with a summary of what I think they're about. Let's go!

A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven by Joe Shute book cover

A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven

Joe Shute

What better way to kick off this list than with a non fiction book all about the raven Corvus Corax. Ravens were once revered, and Viking and Norman warriors invaded England with ravens taking pride of place on their shields and banners. Centuries later, the birds were seen to represent evil and death, with ravens driven out of towns and cities as vermin. The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in raven numbers and I'm looking forward to learning just how intelligent ravens are and more about their ongoing relationship with humans.


Chuck Wendig

Published in 2012, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig is an urban fantasy novel and the first in a series that at the time of writing, was up to Book 6, Vultures. If the protagonist Miriam touches you, she is able to see the manner and time of your death. A GoodReads nominee for Best Horror 2012, this is the story of Miriam Black and how she deals with her unique gift. Not sure why it's called Blackbirds, but with an awesome cover design like this (your hair is a bird comes to mind) I'm keen to find out.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig book cover
Elsetime by Eve McDonnell book cover

Eve McDonnell

Elsetime by Eve McDonnell is a middle grade historical fiction novel set in the 1920s. I didn't know this, but in 1928 there was a terrible flood in London when the River Thames doubled in volume, killing fourteen people and leaving thousands homeless. The protagonist in Elsetime is Glory Bobbin, a 12yo orphan who works at the Frippery and Fandangle Emporium creating jewellery. Assisted by a peculiar crow, Glory meets Needle Luckett, a mudlark who has travelled through time, and the three of them together will try to save those endangered by the flood. I love stories about mudlarks, and you might remember my review of Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem.


Jenni Fagan

I love the cover design for Hex by Jenni Fagan. It's one of my favourite covers in this list, but Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan was a DNF for me in January this year, so I'm worried I won't enjoy Hex. It sounds so good though! On 4th December 1591, Geillis Duncan is a convicted witch in a prison cell awaiting death when she receives a visitor. Iris has come from the future and offers her support and solace. Coming in at just 100 pages and inspired by the North Berwick witch trials in 1590, I should know very quickly if this is for me or not within the first few pages.
Hex by Jenni Fagan book cover
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz book cover

Magpie Murders

Anthony Horowitz

There's a good chance you may have already read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz or have it waiting for you on your own towering TBR piles. Published in 2016, Alan Conway is the successful crime writer behind his fictional English Detective Atticus Pund. With nods to vintage crime fiction including Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Conway's editor Susan Ryeland is concerned about his latest manuscript, which seems to reveal a hidden story. Horowitz went on to publish a sequel Moonflower Murders in 2020 and according to GoodReads, each "volume is two mysteries; one in Susan’s world and a book-within-book detective story set in the 1950s".


Marcus Aurelius

Time for a classic! Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD and a Stoic philosopher and I've been looking forward to reading this since receiving a copy in 2021. The famous Emperor and Philosopher is known for quotes like: "You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength" and “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” I'm hoping for some timeless wisdom in these pages but with time to reflect on key insights for greatest impact, it'll likely to be a slow and meaningful reading experience.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius book cover
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier book cover

My Sister Rosa

Justine Larbalestier

This book captivated my attention instantly with a brilliant premise: "What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?" It certainly puts the cute bird and black and white cover design into a new perspective doesn't it? I added this book to my TBR in 2017 but still haven't read it yet. What's it about? My Sister Rosa is a young adult thriller about Che Taylor who loves his younger sister Rosa despite fearing she's a psychopath. Nominated for a bunch of awards, Justine Larbalestier is an Australian author, so I'm pleased to include a homegrown author in this list.

The Book of the Raven: Corvids in Art & Legend

Angus Hyland

This book explores the behaviour of ravens as tricksters, thieves, problem-solvers and gift-givers through artwork and includes photographs, paintings, texts and poems. I'm hoping for a stunning coffee table book that includes artwork and literature from Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe right through to Game of Thrones - "there was a raven in the night" being one of my favourite quotes of the series.
In case you thought it couldn't get any better, Christopher Skaife, author of The Ravenmaster - My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London has written the Introduction.
The Book of Raven: Corvids in Art and Legend by Angus Hyland book cover

That's it! I'm pleased to see an Aussie author and a variety of genres represented in this list: middle fiction, historical fiction, non fiction, crime, urban fantasy and even a classic! Have you read any of these books? Which one are you most drawn to read?

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