Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cover Re-creation: Help Me? Round II

Okay, so this comes in quick succession, but I need your help again. To help me pick a cover. For the cover recreation contest at Confessions of a Bookaholic.

So, yesterday I posted 6 covers I re-made for Holly Cupala's new book Don't Breathe A Word. And I asked for your opinions regarding which you thought would make the best entry (for the contest, ie). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, refer here. Well, THANK YOU for your suggestions! I really appreciated it :)

Anyway, based on what you said, I narrowed it down to the top three. I reworked one, tweaked another and let one just be. And now I need you to tell me which ONE you think should be my contest entry, okay?
So, here's the actual book cover:

In Holly's own words, these are visual ideas from the book:

Streets, darkness, light (I love the bokeh lights in the final official cover!). Asher, the abusive boyfriend, is obsessed with crows, and Joy feels like she is trapped like one. He gives her a Tiffany I.D. bracelet with a crow dangling from the edge. At the beginning of the novel, Joy cuts off her long, dark hair and bleaches it to disguise herself on the streets. There is a romance, too, with Creed—a talented musician who is on the streets for reasons of his own. 

Taken from here.



And here are the ones that I made:

Cover#1

Cover #2

Cover #3

Please choose just ONE cover. It would make my job easier AND I will love you forever. For reals.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Help Me Pick A Cover?

So, Confessions of a Bookaholic is hosting a re-cover contest for Holly Cupala's upcoming 2012 release, Don't Breathe A Word. Which obviously means, that it's the fun fight over recreating the cover of Don't Breathe A Word. Recreating THIS cover.


I really like this cover. There's a certain subtle fierceness to the way the girl's hair is whipping about her face. And I love the font used. Overall, I think it really captures the mood of the book, from what I get out of the summary. For those not in the know, this is what it's about:
Joy Delamere is suffocating... 
From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From delectably dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. 
Joy can take his words - tender words, cruel words - until the night they go too far. 
Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe... if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late. 
Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.
So, as you must have guessed by now (unless you're skimming through this - which I can't really blame you for. I ramble a lot), the Queen Procrastinator in me took over (as it does, most of the time) and *I* decided to participate. Of course there's the added perk of winning a signed copy of Don't Breathe A Word. I mean, who wouldn't want that? I really, really liked Holly Cupala's debut novel, Tell Me A Secret, so of course, I'd read every book she comes up with.  And, DUDE, this one's a *signed* copy!
This happens to be the first time ever that I'm recreating a cover. Any cover, at all. It's just that, I always knew I wanted to read this book, but there's the matter of *when*. I need to be not-broke, like I perpetually am, so I can pre-order/buy it. And ever since I read an excerpt from the novel I was a goner. It was THAT good. Which brings me to this contest. With the recreation, I actually ended up creating several different covers for Don't Breathe A Word. I'm obsessive like that. Sadly, it's only one cover per person, so I need to choose. Which I can't. So I need you. To choose for me. Can you do that? Please? I've told you what the book is about and I've showed you the original cover - well, my covers are waaay different from that, I think, but I need you to tell me which you think works best for the book. Okay?
Here goes.

Cover #1

Cover #2

Cover #3

Cover #4

The next two aren't in book cover size only because it's distorting the photograph. But don't chuck them out because of that! :)
Cover #5

Cover #6

So, there.
Tell me which one you like best. Choose one to make it easier for me ;)
Tell me if you like something but think it could be better. I appreciate suggestions.
Tell me if you hate them all. Then I'll think about reworking them.
Sound off in the comments!

See how much I want that book?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Post

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home  ~ Charles Dickens


It's Christmas eve in my part of the world.
Which means I'm full of that giddy joy that accompanies the 24th of Dec. Which also means that I'm so bubbling with, well, feelings, that I don't quite have the words, for a proper post.

So I'm gonna let other things do the talking.
Like Safe & Sound - the Taylor Swift ft The Civil Wars song from the official The Hunger Games soundtrack. WHO KNEW? I mean, I'd never associate Taylor with HG (c'mon, she's so sweet and fairy tale-ish, while HG is..well, HG) but..GAH, THIS IS PERFECT.



I can imagine so many instances for this song to be featured. Like, when Katniss tries to console a crying Prim before leaving for the Hunger Games - I don't remember if there's such a scene in the book, but if there's one in the book, and this song is played in the background, it would be so fitting. Or after Rue dies and Katniss sings her a lullaby, this could be the background score - it has such a lullaby-like quality to it. Also, I just know it's going to rip my heart to shreds. In fact, this song can even fit in when Katniss and Peeta are alone together and Peeta's certain that he would die. I just this song would be compelling anywhere.
I only, really, hope they actually use the song in the movie. Unlike what was done with Christina Perri's A Thousand Years from Breaking Dawn (it was part of the official soundtrack but didn't feature anywhere in the movie).

It's crazy, but this song just made Christmas a little more perfect :) And if for some reason you are down and sad and lonely, I hope these photos make you smile. Because photos kinda do that.

















Don't tell me that last one didn't crack you up ;)

My comfort read for this Christmas is Trisha Ashley's The Magic of Christmas.




In the pretty Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzy is on the verge of leaving her cheating husband, Tom, when tragedy strikes. Luckily she has welcome distraction in the Christmas Pudding Circle, a group of friends swapping seasonal recipes – as well as a rivalry with local cookery writer Nick over who will win Best Mince Pie at the village show… 

Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the annual Boxing Day Mystery Play. But who will play Adam to Lizzy’s Eve? Could it be the handsome and charismatic soap actor Ritch, or could someone closer to home win her heart? Whatever happens, it promises to be a Christmas to remember! 



(And that cover? It's got sparkly bits all over it!)




Have a great Christmas, blogstars! And make sure you're under the mistletoe when there's a smexy boy/girl (whichever you prefer) around ;)


(All photos taken from here)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hushed

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her. 

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed. 

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is. 

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.



This book? MIND. BLOWN.


It was this crazy, crazy ride through the lives of psychotic teenagers with very, very dark secrets that are so disturbing, they'll leave you breathless. Keep an inhaler handy.

So, what we get from the book description is that Archer's a sort of teenage Dexter who is killing people (actually killing the people who've hurt his friend Vivian), thinking it's the right thing to do.
It's twisted.
It's creepy.
And it heightens your curiosity quotient. Because any thinking person will want to know 'why' Archer is so crazy twisted. And what is his deal with Vivian, that he would go this far for her. And what on earth had happened to Vivian.
What? Why? How?
Hushed quickly raises numerous questions, and while you flip through the pages at phenomenal speed, it spinballs into a black hole of anticipation that might just give you a mini heart attack. And then, it'll hit you back with answers. Answers that will make you squirm and bite your lips till they bleed.

Hushed made me go through a range of emotions. Dark emotions, mostly, but dark has its range - rage, jealousy, despair. There's a lot going on there.

And oh man, Kelley York writes killer characters (no, the pun wasn't intended). She turns convention on its head and gives you brainsick teens in parasitic relationships, trapped in the role-plays they have created for themselves. Goes without saying, they are not your usual guys-and-girls-next-door. No.


Archer - Going into the book I had no idea what to think about Archer. Except for the fact that I'd be scared around him. Come on, the guy kills! (even if he's doing it for the benefit of his friend). And the book opens with a rather graphic-of-sorts scene of Archer murdering someone. But, you know, as with skillful storytelling, this man-killing-antisocial grows into somebody who deserves your sympathy. Archer is amazingly written. There's no black-and-whiteness about him. Archer walks in smoky grey haze, wanting so desperately to be loved by Vivian and doing all the wrong things to make things right that he sometimes makes your heart bleed a little.

Vivian - WHERE DID THIS GIRL COME FROM? I don't remember having detested any contemporary character (besides the mother in Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden) as much as I detested her. She's so manipulative, so unstable, so emotionally abusive and misguided, most of the time I wanted to slap her left, right and centre. But as with Archer, I could tell where she was coming from. I never liked her, but I didn't hate her as much as I started out doing. And that's where Kelley York scores. Because Vivian wasn't meant to be a character to be liked (at least I don't think so) but not understanding where her motivations and insecurities arose from would have totally defeated the purpose of her presence. It's no surprise, perhaps, that she felt like the most REAL among the three main characters. She breathed right out of the pages.

Evan - Good heavens, I LOVED this guy! And his family. And the things he did. And the things he said. He is the reason his pair-up with Archer has moved into my list of Favourite Contemporary Couples (right next to Tessa and Adam from Before I Die and Lennie and Joe from The Sky Is Everywhere and Anna and St. Clair from Anna And The French Kiss). I loved how their relationship progressed. Not love at first sight, but gradually, unwinding layers and layers of each other, sometimes accidentally, sometimes with that intent. And, OH DEAR LORD, there is a Shower Scene which is probably the hottest thing I've read in ages. (Read, I tell you, READ!)

What. Can. I. Say.
I've never finished another book on netgalley as quickly as I did this. Characters that creep you out but make you remember them, taut writing that keeps you flipping and flipping pages, Hushed is a stellar YA Contemporary Thriller. READ.

Be warned: this ain't your bedtime fare. It'll keep you up ALL night. I speak from experience.

Also, Kelley York put up an amazing cast for Hushed, on her blog --> Check. It. Out.

What's the best YA Thriller you've read?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DARKER STILL: Magic Most Foul #1

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...
Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

I was on the cheering squad for this book even before I'd read it, when only the title, the cover and the summary had been released. I felt a kinship with it. Because -
  • Dorian Gray! That's the first thing that crossed my mind. And I'm so fascinated with anything and everything to do with/related to Dorian Gray, I HAD to read this. And this clearly had the Dorian Gray concept going for it. Suffice to say, Oscar Wilde (that man I LOVE!) is right on top of the author, Leanna Renne Hieber's acknowledgment list.
  • I have a thing for the Gothic. So naturally, Gothic romance appeals to me greatly. See that summary above? Perfect Gothic romance fodder for me.
  • Magic Most Foul. That's the tagline for this new series. What's not to love? Magic (um, ghosts, too) is the thing I love above all fantastical or paranormal elements. It has my heart. So this book had it, too.
  • Dude, cover love!
I have to say, right from the beginning, I've thought this book has a very clever concept. And Leanna Renne Hieber works on that well. The book starts off as very, very intriguing. It's in epistolary format, and while the majority of it is written as part of Natalie's diary entries, there are a few excerpts from the New York City Police Record Case Files and letters exchanged between the characters.

A mysterious - and delicious - new portrait of a handsome young Lord moves into town (actually, into the Art Association on Twenty Third street, New York) and catches the fascination of many, including Natalie, thus triggering off a series of unexpected happenings involving magic most foul.

I like Natalie. A trauma at a young age took away her speech, rendering her mute. She is gutsy (remember this is the 19th century we are talking about, so gutsy now is different from gutsy then, but gutsy nevertheless), thoughtful and a heroine to commend.

And Lord Denbury? (I prefer calling him that than by his first name) He is delicious. For some reason, I kept picturing him as Ben Barnes. I'm guessing its the Dorian Gray effect.

Except for the fact, you know, Denbury lives in a portrait. I wasn't really crushing on him (as much as I was on my fantasy Barnes) but I think the author does a good job of putting across to the reader why Natalie was so taken by him. Fact is Denbury is delicious in his own way.

Darker Still is well-written and the author does a good job of capturing the 19th century suitably. And the added magic bit to it does wonders.

However, while the book got off to an exciting start, it was, well, kinda bland in the middle. Not to say there weren't things going on. There were. Secrets were being discovered and all that jazz, but for some reason, it left me feeling a little underwhelmed. I'm thinking that while the diary format is an interesting addition, the book could have done with being written in the present tense. It could have added an immediacy to the action. Thing is, the middle made me stall. It almost made me give up reading (although I blame that on the fact that this was on netgalley and I HATE e-reading). 

Fortunately, I didn't. Because hells yeah, the last quarter's a romping ride of excitement. I really liked how Darker Still ended. It didn't leave me with a cliffhanger but it left me with the possibility of a lot more exciting and magical stuff to come.

Although it has its ups and downs, Darker Still is intriguing with a magical mystery at its core that will keep you on its pages. I'd say you give this book a chance. It's the new Dorian Gray on the block. And a pretty cool homage-of-sorts to Wilde.

I'm already looking forward to the next installment :)


What classic story would you like to see given a new twist?
 
Blog Design By Use Your Imagination Designs With Pictures from Pinkparis1233
Use Your Imagination Designs