Saturday, November 27, 2010

What is up with this?

 How much did this model get paid? It's the same picture of her on both books, only they've been reversed and photoshopped.

I even did my research here; these aren't even from the same publishing company; one's from Hachette Group and the other is Macmillan Group.

Is this a stock photo from the internet that anyone can use?  Or is this some girl who apparently has a fantastic agent who can get her on the cover of multiple recent books and double her paycheck with one photo?

I admit, I have not read either of these books, so I don't even know if this girl's looks even make sense to the stories. But I keep seeing both of them all over the place and it drives me mad that they USED THE SAME PHOTO ON BOTH COVERS.

Are publishers caring less and less about their cover art? Do they just go for whatever is cheapest? Was the photographer of this girl just incredibly affordable?  Has ANYONE else noticed this?

Here is similar but completely different case:

Do you see the similarity?  Clearly, there are different girls on each cover, but the whole wispy-purple-look-at-my-pretty-outstretched-arm is kind of . . . erm, the same idea?
I cannot for the life of me find out who is responsible for the Soul Screamers covers.  I love this series and I think the covers are pretty, but I don't think they represent the books very well.  I'm sorry; that girl does not look Irish.  And she always has these dance move looking poses on the cover, which makes no sense; they really ought to put a screaming pasty girl on the cover. Also, she's got these flowy dresses.  KAYLEE DOES NOT WEAR FLOWY DRESSES TO SCHOOL. She dresses like a normal high schooler, and she isn't a dancer. She's too busy trying to figure out how to keep people alive and stuff, you know, like Harry Potter does.
Now, I have not read Bleeding Violet YET, but from the blurb, the cover seems to make sense.  It's about some crazy girl who always wears purple. And there is the word VIOLET in the title, meaning the book should probably be that color. I mean, Red Sky at Morning has a RED cover.  And while I know that Bleeding Violet was published first, I do not know whether that cover design was created before the cover of My Soul to Keep. So I don't know if anyone was ripped off for their design or not.

I have also noticed that many books use the red-black-and-white color scheme to catch people's attention.  I blame this on Twilight. Young impressionable females see this color scheme and immediately think 'OMG it'll be just like TWILIGHT! Or they think, 'Is this a NEW Twilight book?' And bookstores keep using it to attract teens.  Like Borders.  Yes, I love Borders, I have a membership, I get discounts, I email their customer care all the time telling them how to make things better even though they really don't give a crap, but they ARE SO TOTALLY RIPPING OFF THAT COLOR SCHEME TO MAKE MONEY.
Not that I blame them; I think it's a good color scheme, and probably helped make Twilight popular.  It's just so eye-catching, unless you have red/green color blindness (that's the most common type; I learned in high school biology), that it WORKS. Most authors who get this color scheme on their book are probably quite happy with it (this is conjecture).  I mean, they could end up with something YELLOW.  Can you imagine?  That's like, the WORST color to use in advertising ever (I learned that in high school art class).  No one would want to read that book. Their eyes would naturally skip over it because they'd assume it was crap without even realizing it. Or at least I would.  Maybe that's why I haven't read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Or maybe I haven't because it's really long and I have all these shorter books to read that I'm pretty sure I'll like better. Or maybe it's because I'm EXPECTED to, so therefore I must REBEL and not read it. Ha! I was expected to like this yellow book and absolutely hated it. I feel that this proves my point. Oh, and yes I see the yellow on North of Beautiful, but since it's blonde hair I don't think it really counts.  Plus it's contemporary (makes marketing a bit different), and I think it looks boring anyway. Like it's about some pretty blonde girl who cries because she's got a zit and a few extra pounds than she would prefer (okay, maybe I should read the description, but it's much more fun to make assumptions).

My point to this whole article is basically that books covers are just not usually up to my standards (I am entitled to these since I am a part time artist).  Get more creative, people.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things Reviewers Say That I Hate

Don't you get tired of reviewers saying the same things over and over about completely different books?
You know, you'll see a new fantasy series, and they'll say, 'It's like The Lord of the Rings!' or, 'No one has made anything this epic since The Lord of the Rings!' But clearly people have made things as 'epic' as The Lord of the Rings since so many books get this remark. And then you read the book, and you think, 'What? This is nothing like The Lord of the Rings. In fact, I like it way more than the Lord of the Rings.  There's no random songs that take up two pages for no apparent reason in this book.'

I mean, since Tolkien created Middle Earth, and since it was the first majorly successful fantasy series, people like to compare other fantasy series to it. And sometimes people steal from it.  They do, it's true, but that doesn't mean it's fantastic. And just because it's a good fantasy series, it doesn't mean it's anything like Tolkien's work.  I mean, they should say WHAT it is that makes the book good, instead of saying 'it's like THIS; the end.' Because when they do that, you can't be sure they actually read it.

Then of course there's the modern popular stories, and people just say, 'It's like TWILIGHT' just to get people who like Twilight to read it. 'This is better than HARRY POTTER,' just because Harry Potter is so ridiculously popular, and the book is, in fact, NOT better than Harry Potter.  I'm sorry, it's not. Everything I've read that had that remark on the back was nowhere near as good as Harry Potter. Like that Lost Years of Merlin series. It was awful. I couldn't get 30 pages into it. Bloody terrible, sappy crap.
And even Harry Potter was compared to other books. Like Narnia. And of course, The Lord of the Rings.  Even though I found Harry Potter to be significantly different from those two series.  They're all fantasy.  There's magic.  That's it.  Tons of books have those characteristics. Maybe if you like one of them, you'll like the others. You could just pick up any random fantasy novel, and there you go. It's just like them!  Only it's not at all!

It's also funny when people compare His Dark Materials to Narnia. I mean, Philip Pullman hates Narnia.  He thinks it's terrible.  He thinks the message is awful. But since they're both fantasy and written for young people, they're JUST LIKE the other!

Then there are certain words that are totally overused. For example, 'compelling.'  'This book is so compelling, I loved it.'  So you had the book, and it was good!  You liked reading it!  That's ALL you said!  You didn't say WHY it was good at all!

Then of course there's 'epic.' Yes, I know I just used that term earlier when I was complaining about The Lord of the Rings. But seriously. Sometimes, a book tells a tale that is considered an epic.  It's a tremendous, ambitious story.  It's long. It's big. But many people will say, 'dude, this is EPIC,' when really they just think it's awesome. Get a new word. Make one up if you can't think of one; I don't care, new words make it more interesting. I really don't think you can use the same word to describe both Spiderman and The Iliad.

I realize that comparing books does give the reader a better understanding about what the book is like, but people just do the same over and over. I mean, I did mention that the last book I read, Girl Stolen, was kind of like some of Caroline B Cooney's books.  But I also pointed out how it was different.  And I told you what the plot was.  So you wouldn't just see it and think, 'Oh, this is JUST LIKE Caroline B Cooney!' Because it's not.  It's a different book.  There are some similarities I noticed, but honestly, there was more to it than that. And really, if you wanted a book that was JUST LIKE another book, why don't you just read the same book again?  The Hobbit, is, in actuality, EXACTLY like The Hobbit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Girl, Stolen - April Henry

So my ARC of this great little book kept telling me I needed to read it, so I did.
And yes, this book was worth the read.  It's about a blind girl with pneumonia who accidentally gets kidnapped because a guy came to steal her stepmother's car, and oops!  Cheyenne was lying in the backseat!
This book reminded me of the Caroline B. Cooney books I read as a teenager, since it had the thriller angle, and a teenage girl caught in the middle of something bigger than her, and also it was very adept at telling me to read it.
The difference is that Cheyenne is a better heroine than anyone I ever read in Cooney's books.
For instance, Cheyenne is sick and blind, but she isn't stupid.  She figures out ways to improve her situation that a lot of 16-year-old girls wouldn't figure out.  I don't think Janie Johnson was anywhere near as clever.
I also liked that you could hear the 'bad guys' part of the story.  Griffin, the one who accidentally kidnapped her, is not just some hardened criminal stereotype.  He's an actual character with flaws and  conflicts and circumstances that made him who he is.  The other 'bad guys' weren't as complex, but Cheyenne had less contact with them, so it makes it harder to convey their full personalities.
This is the kind of book lots of reluctant readers would enjoy.  It's not too long, exciting things happen, and it has a few twists. It would be interesting for both girls and boys.
Once I finished, my thought was, 'Dogs are the greatest things ever! That's the moral of the story!' which of course makes me happy since I love dogs.  There were only two canine characters, but they were good.  And the book showed that even mistreated mean dogs can still be wonderful if you treat them right. It also illuminated how a guide dog can improve the life of a blind person.
In my opinion, a book that has thrills, smart heroines, and an inspiring message about dogs is definitely a good read.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

7 Things in Literature/Pop Culture that I really don't quite get.

 There's a lot of things I don't understand. These are only a few.

1. High School girls who obsess over their status as 'slut' or 'not slut.' This has never happened to me.  Does it happen that often?  Really?  Because popular media seems to think it does.  Was I really that out of the loop in high school?
Examples in literature: Thirteen Reasons Why, Goth Girl Rising, The Boyfriend List

2. People who go to rehab or a psychiatric ward and ACTUALLY receive help. Like, they have GOOD DOCTORS and THEY GET BETTER. In my experience, this does not happen to anyone. They just stay the same or get worse.  Most people have to fake feeling great just to get out of those hellholes. And then something happens and they end up back in there a few months later.
Examples in literature: Wintergirls, Hunger, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Hate List

3. Books about rich snotty girls who have everything they could ever possibly want but still act like bitches. Who would want to read that?  Even more, who would PUBLISH that?  It's like, 'hey young impressionable females, you really ought to act like spoiled shallow idiots because then EVERYONE WILL LOVE YOU and you will be FILTHY RICH.'
Examples in literature: The A-List, Gossip Girl, The Clique, The Ashleys, Pretty Little Liars

4. Why do certain authors publish a new book at least once a month?  How do they do that?  Besides using ghost writers  like James Patterson? And why do these authors get so popular when they kinda suck?
Best example in literature ever: Nora Roberts.

5. Why are vampires so popular?  Is it REALLY just because of Twilight?  I mean, there's all these other vampire stories all of a sudden.  Not just in books, but on TV.  Bloodthirsty, an excellent book, used this strange pop phenomenon to great hilarity.  So did Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story.  But MOST people want to know about the vampires who fall in love with human girls. And everything is fine, once you tell everyone that the human girl will be a vampire eventually anyway. Not like with Dracula, in which he was an actual DEMON, who did BAD THINGS like kill people, even though he liked that Mina chick, but she managed to survive and he died like he was supposed to because of Van Helsing and those dudes. Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler and his father, Vlad Drakul.  And NO ONE liked them.  They were REALLY NASTY MEAN JERKOFFS who liked to slowly torture people to death.  How the HELL did that become sexy? I would like to point out one of my old favorites when it comes to vampire stories: Look For Me By Moonlight.  This had this teen girl who found the vampire alluring, like Mina did, but she did NOT become a vampire for all time and have mad crazy sex with him every night for eternity.  Because he was BAD. She was into it for a while, but she realized how BAD it was. Based on my vampire mythology research, vampires are supposed to be alluring, but they only do that because they want to suck out all your blood and kill you. And they do this because they're BAD. But nowadays, they're bad but with a heart of gold and love for humans and conflict and ANGST my GOD the ANGST! Dracula never got angst.  He just went about his business preying on people and being BAD.

6. If vampires are so popular, why does everyone like angels all of a sudden? And why are vampires and angels never in a showdown? It's just vampires and werewolves in a showdown, but personally I would think angels and vampires would be more antagonistic to each other.
Examples of Angels in Literature: Hush, Hush, Halo, Fallen

7. Why are zombies funny now? Carrie Ryan got the traditional zombie with The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but then there's all this Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and what have you. They're DEAD.  They just eat people and make them dead.  Who the hell even came up with zombies anyway (if anyone knows, please elucidate me)?

 So yes.  If you understand why all these things happen, please let me know.
Because I really don't get it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Boyfriend List- E Lockhart

Okay, so yes, I know, I got all those books and sure I was GOING to do a review of one of those next, but I was in the mood for something else.  My friend told me this book series was good, and it was completely different from the fantasy/paranormal/etc type of book I normally review, so I said, 'a'right then, I'll read this one here right quick.'
So I did.
Anyway, this is the first book in the Ruby Oliver series.  Ruby is a bit boy-obsessed and goes to a fancy school even though her home life is distinctly not fancy; she lives on a small houseboat and all her classmates live in large houses.
The basic premise of the book is that Ruby's life is falling apart.  Her boyfriend dumped her for her best friend, then everyone decided she was a slut, then she was ostracized, and then she started having panic attacks, so her mother sends her to a shrink.
Oh yippie!  A shrink! And this kind of messes things up even more. See, Ruby talks about boys so much that her shrink tells her to make a list of all the boys she either liked, was remotely involved with, or dated; hence, The Boyfriend List.  But someone finds the list in the trash, and since she only used first names, people thought, 'oh, this must be all the guys at this school she's been messing around with.' Therefore, The Boyfriends List leads to becoming a 'leper.'
But Ruby's biggest problem is her ex, Jackson, a Japanophile anime fan, who decides he'd rather dater her (you guessed it) JAPANESE friend! Who would have seen that coming?
Now, this is an issue I am very familiar with.  I know lots of anime fans, and male anime fans do tend to lust after the Asian girls.  However, in my experience, these guys are distinctly NOT POPULAR. I don't know if this is a sign of times changing, but in my high school and college days, those kids were the nerds.  No one liked them. Except me, because I liked science fiction and fantasy, and that was the closest I could find, but they weren't always nice, and they tended to leave me out of things because I wasn't obsessed with shojo or what have you.
But apparently, that is not the case at Tate Prep School.  And Ruby, poor thing, just doesn't understand that there is a world OUTSIDE of Tate Prep School, and just because the kids she goes to school with are a bunch of rich jerks, it doesn't mean her life is over.
Personally, I can attest to that.
Most high schoolers are jerks. They just are. Especially at rich kid schools. I know, I was there. I went to the rich kid school in sixth grade, and then said, 'this sucks, send me to the poor kid school please,' so that's where I went.  And sure, buying clothes at Wal-Mart was not something to be ridiculed at the latter school, but the kids still had their jerk moments. It's just how it is.
Ruby has this whole need to fit in with everyone, even though fitting in with everyone isn't always that great, because if you fit in with a bunch of jerks, then wouldn't you rather not fit in?
This books expresses some of the issues with which high school girls deal, and it does have some pretty hilarious moments. Though I was not like Ruby at all in high school, I could still understand how she was feeling. I mean, panic attacks are something I do know very well, and of course almost every girl has that boyfriend who dumped them and they just . . couldn't . . get . . . OVER! Gah!  Why do they do that? Why can't boys not suck?
Oh wait, I'm married now.  I don't have to worry about any of this anymore! I have it made- no more getting dumped, no more pining away for some idiot, no more competition with Asian girls, I'm in the clear.
But sometimes it's nice to go back and look at the single angsty life, and then I can appreciate what I DO have all the more. 
And I feel sorry for my friends who still have to deal with dating crap.
I will probably read more about Ruby Oliver in the future, or at least more by this author, because I think she captures angst well, and you know how much I love angst.

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