Category Archives: Lynn’s Book Blog

Friday Faceoff – The grave’s a fine and private place… #Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is A HORROR NOVEL, so I’ve selected The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

 

This edition was produced by HarperCollins in September 2008. I really like this one – the blue-black background is both effective and attractive and the gravestone is striking. But what stands out is the treatment of both the title and author fonts, which I love. And then they go and RUIN it by plastering that large gold blob right in the centre! Couldn’t it have gone in a corner? Just asking…

 

Published in December 2008 by Bloomsbury, this cover is the exact opposite of the above cover. Rather than going for the minimalist approach, this cover is full of wonderful detail, featuring the two main protagonists scowling out at prospective readers. I could have done without the endorsement by Diana Wynne Jones impinging onto that glorious artwork, but overall I like this one, including the funky title font. This is the cover of the copy we own. The big problem with it is that it doesn’t look good in thumbnail.

 

This Spanish edition, published by Roca Editorial in October 2010. I really like it – the design is  clever, featuring the blade of a knife with the cityscape running along its length and young Bod running along the edge of it. I think it’s attractive and eye-catching – and again the author and title fonts look fabulous. However, the snag for me is that there is no graveyard in this cover, which features so heavily in the book – and the title.

 

Produced by Polaris in September 2008, this Czech cover does feature a graveyard. I like the design and appreciate that the ghosts also feature. However, unfortunately the execution of the otherworldly characters lets down this cover – they look like they’ve been painted onto material and then photoshopped into the cover. It’s such a shame, because I think the idea and the rest of the image is really strong.

 

This French edition, published by J’ai lu in April 2012, is also set in a graveyard and I love it. I think it’s the strongest of all the designs. It sings off the page with the eerie lighting and the silhouetted figure of the small boy against the wrought iron gates of the graveyard looks fabulous. This is mine – but which is your favourite?

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Friday Faceoff – Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again… #Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is MYSTERY NOVEL, so I’ve selected Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

 

This edition was produced by Little, Brown and Company in December 2013. Initially I didn’t like it – too gloomy and odd. But it is a cover that has grown on me. There is a lot going on despite the preponderance of black – the glamorous woman hugging herself, clearly in trouble. For once, I even think the textbox featuring the title is well done – though I generally hate them – as it gives a sense of the period in which this classic was written.

 

Published in 2006 by HarperCollins, this is a classic case of more is less. The sepia image of the steps, presumably leading to Manderley, are suitably appropriate. Granted, the very plain white font is rather bald and could have done with a bit of texture or shadowing to lift it – but then scrawling a fancy R over the whole thing in a mismatched colour just shouts that some big boss looked at it and decided it ‘needed something’. He was probably right – but definitely not the odd scolling either side of that very plain font, or that R…

 

This edition, published by Virago in December 2007 is more like it. Those wrought-iron gates with the ominous glow in the background, echoed in the sky above the author’s name leaves a sense of menace without giving the impression it’s horror. I quite like this one, though once again, I think the title and author name are rather too plain.

 

Produced by Virago Modern Classics in 2015, this is my favourite. For starters, unlike any of the others to date, this cover is actually beautiful. The scrolling of the wrought-iron gate, the looping font for both the author and the title are eye-catching and visually appealing. And yet… those hectic red flowers shout that something is amiss – maybe dangerous.

 

This edition, also published by Virago, though in July 2015, is another excellent effort. You can see echoes of the previous design (I’m not sure which one came first) in the styling of the author and title font, but the colour is different. The silhouettes of Manderlay and the second Mrs de Winters – or is it Rebecca? – stand out really well against the black background. This one is a very close second, though the previous cover still just edges it for me. Which is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – I spy with my little eye… #Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is EYES. I’ve selected The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

 

This edition was produced by Little, Brown and Company in May 2008. This is the definitive cover you see everywhere. It is surprisingly effective, that single eye staring out with such intensity – with the infamous silver line around the iris that glows eerily on the cover itself. This one is my favourite.

 

Published in January 2013 by Black Bay Books, this cover misses the whole point, while highlighting the love triangle in the book, which for me was the weakest part of the story. Still, I suppose it depends on whether you read it as a romance with a bit of science fiction thrown in, or an alien invasion with an added love story.

 

This German edition, published by Ullstein in 2011, features a butterfly. I’m not sure why. It makes for a lovely cover, though. I do feel the title is rather too curly, in fact this whole design makes me think fantasy, rather than science fiction alien invasion.

 

This Serbian edition, produced by Evro Giunti in 2009, is the failed version of the first cover. For starters, she is wearing far too much mascara and the light in her eye is entirely normal. So… is this our protagonist before the aliens got to her? In which case, why is the eye being specifically featured? I get the sense that they decided to rip off the really popular cover of this bestseller without reading the book, though I’m sure that didn’t happen. Did it?

 

This Italian edition, published in February 2013 by Rizzoli is a far better effort than the previous offering. The face is far better, though I think the silvering in the eye looks too heavy-handed. I do like the title font, which works well as it glows out of the gloom and stands out well in thumbnail size. This is a close second for me. What do you think? Do you agree with me?

Friday Faceoff – Clouds in my coffee… #Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is CLOUDS. I’ve selected Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, which is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read…

 

This edition was produced by Random House in August 2004. They do have my sympathy – trying to get a sense of this remarkable book on the cover must have been an almighty problem. They have gone for the prosaic, opting to provide six cloudscapes, presumably to represent the six viewpoints that feature within the narrative. The trouble is that the overall effect ends up looking like a book about the weather. That impression isn’t relieved by the red textbox featuring the title, which simply looks like a weather warning when the cover is in thumbnail.

 

Published in February 2005 by Sceptre, this cover is far more effective. The vibrant blue is both beautiful against the deep crimson cover and gives a sense of the extraordinary nature of the story. I love the treatment of the title font, too.

 

This Spanish edition, published by Duomo in 2012, once again falls back on the idea of the cloudscape, this time adding a ship to presumably denote the voyage of one of the protagonists. While I think it is a really cool idea, it is completely spoilt by chopping the lovely image in half and presenting the title and author in the most boring textbox on the planet. The two sad efforts at clouds plonked in there by someone who must have winced at all that white, aren’t sufficient to ease the visual tedium.

 

This edition, produced by Sceptre in 2014, is far more satisfactory. This time we have clouds, along with paper and ink, denoting one of the themes in the book – the fragility of historical records. I think this cover has caught the sense of the book really effectively and is my favourite.

 

This edition, published in January 2004 by Hodder & Stoughton, is just beautiful. I love the vibrancy – once again, it’s a surprise to see just how changes in colour can impact the overall design. My niggle is that the title simply doesn’t sufficiently stand out – and because of that, this week it is a tie. I cannot decide between this offering and the previous one. What do you think? Do you agree with me?

Friday Faceoff – Mirror, mirror on the wall… #Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week featuring on any of our covers is the word QUEEN. I’ve selected Queen Lucia – Book 1 of the Mapp and Lucia novels by E.F. Benson.

 

This edition was produced by Wildside Press in August 2003. I think the figure raising the crown to her head is particularly apt, given the content, but the rest of it is just wrong. This book charts the power struggle of two society figures striving to be the arbiter of taste and culture in a small ex-pat community. It’s all about light and brightness – harshly so at times… So why anyone thought a gloomy old offering like this would work is beyond me. They haven’t even got the font right.

 

Published in February 1984 by Black Swan Books, this cover is far more appropriate. I love this depiction of a key scene in the book which brings out the period detail and I’m pleased to see the font is spot on. My one niggle is that border which cramps the lovely artwork, adding nothing to the period detail or appeal of the cover.

 

This Spanish edition, published by Impedimenta in September 2011 is beautiful. I love the stylised scene. Whereas the previous cover is crowded with lots going on, this is far more stripped back, featuring the two beautifully dressed women. The detail of the light fitting on the wall adds to the period feel and the colouring and design is sheer class. However the title and author fonts are too small and in the wrong font.

 

This edition, produced by Harper Perennial in March 1987 has nailed the period feel. We have Her Majesty seated on her throne in all her glory, while the border detail and font are all part of the design and add to the appeal of the cover, rather than feeling like an afterthought. I would have liked that wonderful image to dominate more, though.

 

This Italian edition has it all. The beautifully dressed woman, with her hand on her hip and dressed to kill, glares out at us, taking no prisoners. The colour scheme is bright and beautiful, the detailing wonderful. Those pillars framing the image are spot on, giving the artwork that 1920s outline. And the title and author text is the right size, right font and in the right place. This is my favourite – but what do you think? Do you agree with me?

Friday Faceoff – Myths and Legends… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week featuring on any of our covers is the word LEGEND. I’ve selected Myths and Legends by Anthony Horowitz.

 

This edition was produced by Kingfisher in April 1994. I love the Medusan head glaring out at us, but that ugly blue textbox really spoils the whole effect – particularly as the font is so very boringly ordinary. It is entirely in the wrong place, blocking out too much of the cover design.

 

Published in November 2003 by Kingfisher, we still have the threatening glare by an angry female, but this time she is an Eastern princess. I love the box opening and all the creatures escaping. The title running up the side of the cover works well and allows the attractive design to be properly seen.

 

This hardback edition, published by Kingfisher in September 1985 demonstrates just what a difference a textbox can make. This version of the first cover is far more effective as we now can see those amazing snakes writhing around. I also prefer the green colour of the textbox as it merges with the overall design, rather than clashing with it – though given the choice I’d do without it altogether.

 

This edition, produced by Kingfisher in July 2007 has nailed it. Who doesn’t love a dragon – and what a dragon! The vibrant orange hues are glorious, snagging attention and begging for me to pick this one up. The artwork is beautifully detailed without any textbox AND the font has been bevelled and shaded to give an attractive 3-D effect. This is my favourite.

 

This edition is something of a mystery. Unusually, it appears on Goodreads with no other publication details alongside it, though it does look rather amateurish. The dark background doesn’t work with the deep blue font, to the extent that the author’s name is nearly invisible. That’s a shame, because the shading across the title works quite well. Which is more than can be said for the various creatures floating around the page, as they look like they’ve been selected from clipart and simply plonked there without any overarching design to pull them together. Which of these covers is your favourite?

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Foundryside – Book 1 of the Founders series by Robert Jackson Bennett #Brainfluffbookreview #Foundrysidebookreview

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I spotted this one on several book blogging sites I respect, but when Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog featured it as one of her upcoming reads, I scampered across to Netgalley and managed to get approved for it. And we agreed to buddy read it…

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle. But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims. Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them…

Part of the rather chatty blurb above makes it clear the magic system is complex with a long, involved history. Back at the height of a lost civilisation, the ancients were able to wield magic to do unimaginable things and it is the discovery of some of their magical objects that has allowed the brightest minds to work out how to rekindle magical power, albeit in a bastardised form. It is the discovery of this magic powering the rise of the four merchanting families, who have a stranglehold on Tevanne. Furthermore, those who are not born into the service of these houses, or are thrown away after they have outlived their usefulness, scrabble for survival in the Commons. And there’s Sancia, whose backstory is different again…

I loved the premise and the world. It seems entirely plausible that a capitalist system would reward those with the magical skills and artefacts, while neglecting those who aren’t so fortunate. Sancia is a brilliant protagonist – one of the best I have read this year. Gritted, determined and focused on surviving, with a special ability that she would love to lose, she is a thief. Bennett writes her ability brilliantly and I found myself engrossed in her plight.

So I was more than a tad fed up when the action scenes were halted by chunks of explanation of how the magic works in omniscient point of view. The most egregious example occurs about halfway through the book during a fight – where the courageous hero is left hanging in mid-realisation that his attackers are flying, while we break off for a detailed explanation as to why flying is technically a really tricky business and therefore illegal… It was the only sheer quality of the writing and characters saved the book from flying across the room at this point. I would prefer an appendix where the magic system is explained in detail for those who like drilling into such details of the worldbuilding, rather than crashing across the story so intrusively.

Rant aside, this book is a joy. Fortunately the info-dumps decrease significantly in the second half of the book, allowing the pace to pick up. The world is well described and the characters gripped me – I like the fact that despite the patriarchy running Tevanne, there are plenty of strong, not necessarily likeable female characters who punch through the institutional obstacles in their path. But the character who shines through all of this is Sancia – I dreamt of her… Damaged, scarred and struggling with mental issues, she is still battling to move forward and strive for something better. The climax works brilliantly and I liked the ending, which nicely sets this one up for the sequel, which I look forward to reading.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy detailed, urban fantasy tales peopled with awesome characters – if that appendix was in place this book would have scored a 10. While I obtained an arc of Foundryside from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10

Friday Faceoff – A very little key will open a very heavy door… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week to feature on any of our covers is a door. I’ve selected A Wind in the Door – Book 2 of The Quintet series by Madelaine L’Engle.

 

This Polish edition was produced by MAG in May 2018. The dark cover immediately stands out and I really like the depiction of the planets around the edge. While that image of the eyes and wings in the middle of the round door or window – I’m not sure which – is sufficiently odd and disturbing to stop me in my tracks. While the way the title and author fonts are incorporated into the main cover design is really slick and attractive.

 

This offering, published by Dell Laurel-Leaf in March 1976. It’s this creepy, shocking design that has been the inspiration for many of the subsequent covers and looking at it, I can see why. It’s well ahead of its time and hasn’t dated anything like as much as many 1970s covers I’ve seen. The green-tinged trees immediately evoke a sense of menace and when you add that freakish doorway with that many-winged, multi-eyed creature, it certainly make you take a closer look.

 

Published in May 2007 by Square Fish, this attractive cover is far less disturbing. At least at first glance… until you look at that flock flying in the sky and realise that the some of them aren’t necessarily all birds… Other than that, the landscape is beautiful, which lovely autumnal colours. If I have a grizzle it’s that the title and author fonts featured on the door are really boring, which is a shame.

 

This Commemorative Edition, published by Dell in 1997, is far darker. I like the way the author’s name runs along the side of the book, making a feature of her fame without impinging on the cover design. Those disturbing eyes feature again, along with a pair of wings emerging from what looks like a fire. The problem that I have with this one is there is nothing that ties all the images together in any kind of coherence, so I can’t make sense of it – a shame because it’s so nearly a good design.

 

This cover, published in 1973, by St. Martins Press is my favourite. I love the detail and oddness, which is also very beautiful. I am not quite sure what exactly is going on, but I definitely want to find out, whereas those eyes – while certainly getting my attention – repel rather than attract me, as I think they look horrific and I don’t do horror. There is certainly a wide range of covers for you to choose this week – so which is your favourite?

Teaser Tuesday – 14th August, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #TeaserTuesday

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:

Foundryside – Book 1 of the Founders series by Robert Jackson Bennett
63% He glanced at her. “And if we pull this off—what happens to you, Estelle?”
She smiled weakly and shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe they’ll let me take charge. Maybe I’ll get a moment of freedom before they bring in another ruthless merchant to run things. Or maybe they’ll suspect me immediately, and execute me.”
Orso swallowed. “Please take care of yourself, Estelle.”
“Don’t worry, Orso. I always do.”

BLURB: The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, industrialised magical inscriptions that make inanimate objects sentient; they power everything, from walls to wheels to weapons. Scrivings have brought enormous progress and enormous wealth – but only to the four merchant Houses who control them. Everyone else is a servant or slave, or they eke a precarious living in the hellhole called the Commons.

There’s not much in the way of work for an escaped slave like Sancia Grado, but she has an unnatural talent that makes her one of the best thieves in the city. When she’s offered a lucrative job to steal an ancient artefact from a heavily guarded warehouse, Sancia agrees, dreaming of leaving the Commons – but instead, she finds herself the target of a murderous conspiracy. Someone powerful in Tevanne wants the artefact, and Sancia dead – and whoever it is already wields power beyond imagining.

I am buddy-reading this one with Lynn of Lynn’s Book Blog. As you’ll appreciate from the blurb, the magic system in this interesting fantasy world is extremely complicated. I love the characters and the premise is excellent – but so far, the story has been punctuated by chunks of information about the magic dumped in the middle of the action in omniscient pov. I have found it rather jarring and am hoping that as the book progresses, this will lessen. Other than that, it’s a cracking read and I will be reviewing it in due course.

Friday Faceoff – Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week the theme to feature on any of our covers is masks. I’ve selected The Masked City – Book 2 of The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. I loved this one – see my review here.

 

This edition was produced by Tor in December 2015. It is the default cover and is the one on the book I read. The maroon, leather effect is striking, especially with the details standing out so clearly in a white silhouette. Overall, this cover has a classy, period feel which nicely echoes the book. If I have a slight issue, it’s that it might be mistaken for a straight historical adventure, though perhaps the detailing of the dragons in the corner should dispel that impression.

 

This German edition, produced by Bastei Lübbe in August 2016, has chosen to depict the cover as an old map. The detail is lovely and the rather scuffed, battered effect to replicate ageing is a nice touch. However there are two issues with this version – it simply looks a drab mess in thumbnail size and once again, there is very little to guide the reader that this is actually a fantasy book.

 

Published in November 2017 by Omega, this Czech edition is also beautiful. The gold against the navy blue gives this cover a glorious, luxurious feel, harking back to the days when books were so exclusive and expensive, only the rich could afford to own them. I love the title font, which echoes this splendid opulence. However, the caveat I raised with some of the other offerings still stands – more so, as there isn’t a discrete dragon outline in a corner to give a prospective reader a clue that this is a fantasy adventure.

 

This Italian edition, published by Fanucci Editore in April 2018 is my favourite. I love that beautiful, eye-catching mask which sings out of the cover, giving this one extra focus and impact that I think is slightly missing from the more restrained efforts. If I have a niggle, it’s that the title font could be less boring.

 

This cover, published in February 2017 by Wheeler Publishing Large Print, is back to the sumptuous, old fashioned feel of most of the others. Though this time around, there are more clues for readers. While I generally dislike lots of chatter on covers, there isn’t any artwork to be obscured and the recommendation by N.K. Jemisin should provide a hint that we are dealing with a SFF book. Once again, the effect is elegant and eye-catching. Which is your favourite?