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Friday Faceoff – Seems like, street lights, glowin’…

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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 week the theme is street light covers, so I’ve chosen The Cuckoo’s Calling – Book 1 of the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling – see my review here.

 

This offering, produced by Mulholland Books in April 2013, is an interesting one – giving us the back of a young starlet who is facing a barrage of press photographer flashlights. What spoils it for me is the white colour of the font against the white lights which makes it difficult to pick out the title. I do like the fact it is uncluttered.

 

This is the definitive cover for the book, produced in April 2013 by Sphere, and is the scene depicting Cormoran leaning into the wind under a street lamp – he looks utterly alone. This is my favourite. I love the street railings and the chilly turquoise sky that give it a sense of melancholy and threat – so much classier than many of the modern covers with weapons dripping blood… The title font is also nicely done – clear and easily readable without slashing through the artwork.

 

This cover design produced in June 2014 by Salani does what many Italian covers do so well – take the overriding theme of the original successful cover and then makes it their own. For me, this runs the original a very, very close second. I love the muted colours, the sense of solitude and the Thames running alongside the walkway with Westminster arising from the mist in the background.

 

This offering is another Italian effort, produced in July 2014 by La Biblioteca di Repubblica, which has gone for an art decco version of the previous cover. The pity of it is that this interesting design is only a small strip in the centre of the cover. While the large chunks of black bordering the scene certainly give it a sombre mood, they are also boring.

 

What a difference a shift in the coloration can make – giving that cold turquoise a reddish tint certainly warms the cover up. This is the Catalan edition, produced by Proa in November 2014 and I’m guessing they decided the initial colour palette wouldn’t appeal to their book-buying public.

Which one is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – I know why the caged bird sings…

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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 week the theme is bird covers, so I’ve chosen The Lies of Locke Lamora – Book 1 of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch.

 

This is the offering produced by Bantam Spectra in July 2006 is an evocation of a setting like St Mark’s Square in Venice, complete with the pigeons. The clean two-tone design and spare use of colour really works well. I also really like the flourishes on the title font and author name, although I could do without George R.R. Martin’s recommendation crawling across the artwork – I prefer such chatter on the back cover.

 

This cover, also produced by Bantam Spectra in June 2007 is far more lush with a gorgeous use of colour and giving us a representation of our young thief and his imagining how he will scale the high tower as he sits surveying the skyline. This design has even managed to tidy up Martin’s blurb, while keeping the attractive title font.

 

This cover design produced in February 2007 by Gollancz is once more in a Venetian-type setting, though there are clear differences. The buildings are piled far higher and there is a more chaotic atmosphere. The dark green water gives a sense of danger and I think the title font works really well against the darker background. This is my favourite.

 

This effort was produced by Del Rey in June 2013 once more gives a sense of a crowded city where the buildings are all piled upon each other. The detailing in the artwork is far more masked by the title, author name and other blurb crashing through the image, which is a shame, as it is yet another beautiful and effective depiction of the book.

 

This is the audio CD edition produced by Tantor Media Inc in May 2009. While the building featured is rather crude and simplistic in comparison to some of the other covers, I do like the face superimposed in the sky and the placing of the title font and author name has been well thought out. Another effective, attractive effort.

Once again, I don’t think there is a wrong ‘un in amongst this selection, though the most successful is the third offering in my opinion. Which one is your favourite?

Teaser Tuesday – 21st February, 2016

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tuesdayTeaser 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:

Clean Sweep – Book 1 of the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews
3% I walked up the porch stairs and petted the pale column. “He’s a rude idiot. Don’t pay him any cleansweepattention. I think you’re charming.”
The house didn’t answer.

BLURB: On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved.

As you can see, I’ve only just started this one, but it does sound very promising. I like the writing and I’m already interested in the protagonist and the intriguing premise.

Teaser Tuesday – 24th January, 2016

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tuesdayTeaser 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:
The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter
49% These toiling others, the hair on their legs caked in mud, looked back at us with a kind of furtive themassacreofmankindboldness. And I thought I heard them mutter to each other in an odd, high-pitched, almost gurgling sing-song. It occurred to me that I had not heard the tall humanoids utter a word to each other, and did not even know if they were capable of it; perhaps language had been bred out of them too by their monstrous masters.
‘Then if not from Mars – where, Frank?’
‘They’re from Venus,’ Frank said flatly. ‘The Martians went to that planet, and brought them here to the earth. I think they’re from Venus, Julie. Here in England!’

BLURB:It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared. So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.

He is right.

This is the sequel of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds by one of the most established, respected science fiction authors writing today. Has Baxter managed to provide a suitably exciting story with sufficient references to the original book, yet respectful enough that this isn’t just some parody? Oh yes. I think he’s made a cracking job of it and I will be reviewing this book in due course.

Friday Faceoff – Ho, ho, ho to the bottle I go…

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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 week’s theme is drink, so I have chosen Dandelion Wine – Book 1 of the Green Town series by Ray Bradbury.

 

dandelionwineThis is the cover produced by Bantam in 1968. While I love the disturbing artwork, which accurately portrays aspects of Bradbury’s wonderful, shocking writing, the clunky chunk of black across the top really intrudes on the cover design, I feel.

 

danelionwine1This cover was produced by Earthlight in July 2000. The artwork is lovely – I particularly like the portrait of the young boy set against the apple blossom and the dandelion clock. The mood achieved is poignant and thoughtful – though I can do without the band of raspberry pink across the top of the cover for the title and author.

 

dandelionwine2This offering, produced by William Morrow Paperbacks in April 2013 is more like it. The night sky dotted with stars with the half-blown dandelion clock in the foreground is beautiful and evocative. I’d rather there wasn’t the ugly yellow blob announcing the National Book Award – but it might encourage folks to buy it and at least the yellow chimes with the dandelion flowers.

 

dandelionwine3I think this Harper Voyager edition produced in 2013 is ghastly. What a revolting shade of green and the dandelion seeds more resemble nails. Gone is the poignant delicacy of all of the previous covers in favour of a somewhat desperate bid for catching the eye, which it does – in the worst possible way.

 

dandelionwin4This 1973 edition produced by Bantam reprises the bottle of wine – but this time around they have lost that heavy border and thick band for the title and author. This gives us an opportunity to focus on the intricacy of the wonderful artwork, which makes this my favourite cover.

What about you – which cover do you prefer?

Teaser Tuesday – 27th December, 2016

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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:
Freeks by Amanda Hocking
34% “I did, of course, I did.” He moved back into the doorway, and motioned for us to come in. “Come freeks1on in. Welcome to my home.”

Since he was so tall, he had to hunch over to invite us in, and he kept his long arms folded up so we could pass. He looked very much like a praying mantis, and suddenly, I heard Blossom’s voice in my head—as crisp and clear as if she were standing beside me right now—reading aloud from a book of poetry, “ʽWill you walk into my parlor?’ said the Spider to the Fly.”

BLURB: Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night. When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

This NetGalley arc is due out at the start of January and I’m part of the blog tour. So far I’m really enjoying this paranormal crime thriller. Mara is an appealing protagonist and the low level tension that something isn’t quite right is steadily ramping up. I’m looking forward to diving back into this one during the holiday break.

Teaser Tuesday – 6th December, 2016

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Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat.
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:
Judged – Book 3 of The Blackhart Legacy by Liz de Jager
13% ‘Bro, it’s a mess.’ One boy shakes his head. He’s got eyeliner smeared under his eyes and too judgedmuch glitter down the side of this face. He leans against a girl, her arms wrapped around his waist. Looking at the group, I realize they all look shell-shocked. ‘We got here about an hour before the police showed up. Everything was going so well and we were all just partying hard.’

BLURB

Kit’s job description includes solving crimes – the supernatural kind . . .

Glow, a fae-created drug, is rapidly going viral and the suppliers have to be shut down. Teaming up with Aiden and Dante, Kit follows leads across London, tracking down dealers. They stir up trouble, making themselves a target for the gang they’re trying to stop.

In the Otherwhere, Thorn stumbles across a secret that could destroy both the human and Fae worlds. The Veil that separates our human world from the fae realms is weakening and the goddess is dying. And if she dies and the Veil fails, madness and chaos will wreak unstoppable havoc upon both lands.

As you can see, it’s early days, but I really enjoyed the first two books in this series – Banished and Vowed. Right now Kit is on the ropes after the devastating outcome in Vowed, but I’m just beginning to see her get her mojo back as the pace is picking up and she is becoming involved in this investigation to get to the bottom of who is handing out quantities of illegal and highly addictive drug Glow at clubs, raves, universities and schools. Yes – it’s great to be once more immersed in de Jagar goodness…

Friday Faceoff – The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play…

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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 week’s theme is storms, so I have selected Storm Front – Book 1 of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

 

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This is the cover produced by Penguin Roc in April 2000. It is certainly dramatic, with lightning splintering across the sky, featuring the Chicago skyline and Harry’s little house right in the foreground. I really like this effort.

 

stormfront1

This version was published by Roc Fantasy in April 2000 and is the one I tend to associate with the book. In this version we get to see Harry – and this is definitely how I imagine him, with the Chicago streetscape in the background with the inevitable downpour lashing down…

 

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This offering, published by Orbit in May 2011, uses the classic cover changing the font and focusing on the figure of Harry, while losing the black bar across the top. I think it is an improvement, giving a cleaner, sharper look to the cover. I also prefer the font – this is my favourite.

 

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This is the cover for the audio book, published in February 2009 by Buzzy Multimedia. Again, it has gone back to one of the original covers, producing a cleaner version. Another strong addition.

 

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I’m a tad torn over this one. It is by far the most boring cover and it is significant that while it was produced by Orbit in September 2005, they went on to use one of the earlier covers in their 2011 edition as you can see above. However, this is the cover of the book I read and subsequently bought and so I have very happy memories of getting lost with delight in this amazing urban fantasy.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you very much, BibliomanicEzza, for nominating me for this lovely, cheerful award – particularly as we are now headed into winter and can do with every scrap of sunshine we can get… If you haven’t visited her book blog, she’s now back after a break – swing by and check it out.

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BibliomanicEzza’s Questions
How many books do you physically own? (It doesn’t have to be a specific number, a guess would do)
I’ve around 800 books on my Kindle, although that is between us, as Himself and I share many of our books as we both enjoy fantasy and science fiction. And as for physical books… we must have around 1,000 physical books as well (gulp).

How did your love of reading start? Was it because of a specific book, movie etc?
I cannot recall a time in my life when I didn’t love reading and books. My mother says that when I was 18 months old, before I could walk, she would hand me her new magazines and Readers’ Digest book and I would carefully turn the pages without tearing them and look at each page, before turning over the next one. It would keep me occupied long enough for her to do the washing by hand, apparently…

What genre would you want to see reinvented or given new life?
I don’t think there’s any genre I love reading that seems to be stale. On the contrary, thanks to the influx of indie authors, I think there is a steady stream of interesting, well written books busy taking established tropes within the science fiction and fantasy genres and shaking them up.

Are you good at self-control when it comes to Netgalley?
Hm. To a point… I had a sticky patch during September when I requested too many books, so I’ve learnt to be self disciplined – because otherwise I run into difficulties with keeping a stream of material for my blog. And I love the diversity and range of books I’ve read via NetGalley, but I don’t want to find myself falling behind which could impact on the pleasure I get from reading.

What themes would you like to see more/less in books?
I’ve become thoroughly fed up with triangular love stories in YA books. It worked well in The Hunger Games series, but many scenarios just become sleazy, when two hapless men are kept dangling while the heroine we’re supposed to care about is busy sending mixed messages as she spends far too long deciding which one she loves. Really??

Is there any classic books that you would like to see be completely reinvented with modern values, themes and problems?
The only one that comes to mind is Treasure Island, which is a cracking tale.

What is your opinion about stretching a well known series VS a new fresh story?
It depends on how successfully its done. I’ve seen series taken on beyond their initial planned demise and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the subsequent books – the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold is a case in point. However, I did have a sense that the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris was limping a bit by the time we got to the end.

Are you an aspiring writer/author? If so what genre would your story be?
I am an author, as yet unpublished other than a number of short stories and some poems, and I mostly write science fiction books although the book I’m working on at the moment is a fantasy book based on Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

What is your favorite book of all time?
Oh noooo… you can’t do this to me! It seriously depends on the circumstances – if I was stuck on said island, I’d want to turn to my proverbial comfort blanket, so it would have to be a Pratchett novel, probably Small Gods. If I needed to get lost in a book that made me laugh and cry and I’ve thought a lot about, then it would be Mendoza Goes to Hollywood by Kage Baker, which is the fourth book in her awesome Company series. If I wanted brainfood and a book to mull over and consider carefully, my choice is Necessity, the third book in Jo Walton’s Thessaly series. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – I haven’t covered me in grumpy mode… feeling sorry for myself… wanting a purely escapist read… But just one book? Can’t do it, sorry…

Physical book or e-book?
If it’s fiction, an e-book, but if it’s non-fiction or a picture book then it has to be the physical version. And with some of our favourite fiction authors, we still insist on ordering the hardcover edition.

How do you overcome a reading slump?
I don’t get them. However, when I’m bang in the middle of writing a book, my reading rate tails off so that I’m barely managing 7 or 8 books a month and I do find when I’m busy editing, I need to read to lose myself in other worlds, so my reading rate increases.

My nominations for The Sunshine Blogger Award:-
Emma at One Reader’s Thoughts
A great review site for book bloggers, with readable entertaining reviews all attractively presented. If you haven’t visited it, do swing by.

Jo at My Chestnut Reading Tree
Another splendid book review site, particularly for fans of psychological thrillers and twisty murder mysteries.

Leona at Leona’s Blog of Shadows
Particularly for fans of fantasy, particularly grimdark, though there are a wide range of reviews and bookchat going on at this enjoyable, well presented site. And I got to meet Leona at Bristolcon this year – yay!

Anyone else who wishes to take part by answering my nosy, bookish questions below, please dive in.

My Questions
1. What was the last book that made you both laugh and cry?
2. Do you finish reading books you really dislike?
3. Name one of the first books you read that gave you the ‘tingle’ factor.
4. When and where do you most regularly read?
5. What makes you pick up a book and want to read it?
6. What is your pet peeve that can spoil your reading experience? (Misleading book covers, blurting blurbs, lazy plotlines…)
7. What is the funniest book you’ve ever read?
8. Name a must-read author and say a little bit about why you like their work so much.
9. What is your favourite book cover of 2016 so far?
10. Which book that you’ve recently read would you like to see made into a film or TV series?

Friday Faceoff – Falling Off the Rails…

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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 week’s theme is train tracks, so I have chosen Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett. Thank goodness this crop of covers are better than the shower produced for Equal Rites.

 

raisingsteamThis is the hardback cover of the book produced by Doubleday in November 2013. It’s the cover of the book I possess. I love the colours and the sense of madcap mayhem that tends to abound in all the Discworld novels and is effectively depicted in this cover. This is my favourite.

 

raisingsteam1This hardback version published by Doubleday in March 2014 is also enjoyable, though I don’t think it packs the punch of the previous one. But you definitely get a sense of the comedy and that it is set within a particular time, albeit with a strong Fantasy slant…

 

raisingsteam2This offering, published by Corgi in October 2014, is back to the sense of mayhem and joyous feeling of PROGRESS that comes out clearly in the book. I really like this one.

 

raisingsteam3This German cover, published in November 2014 by Manhatten, is far more sedate and there is little indication that the story is humorous or full of the satirical joie de vivre that was Pratchett’s speciality in the Discworld universe.

 

raisingsteam4

I was amazed at how much an identical cover design can be changed by different colour tones last week and this French cover is another example. Published in November 2014 by L’Atalante, this cover gives quite a different feel to the brighter Corgi version.

Which is your favourite, or the one you dislike the most?