Shelf Analysis: ARCs vs Final Covers – Round 2

If you’re new to Dead Book Darling then… Hi. I’m Kay. I love books and hold serious grudges. I don’t forgive and I don’t forget. And just because I love books, that doesn’t mean they are automatically spared my ire.

Often times a gorgeous cover will come out – a cover that says all the right things, makes you swoon and has you running to the chapel. Then, that cover you loved? It changes into a cover you wouldn’t want to be seen in public with. And when that happens, I don’t tend to keep calm and carry on. I hold a grudge.

I’ve addressed this subject before (don’t get me started again on the covers of the Strange Angels series), but a few books that I’m kinda in love with have had their covers changed this year. And while most of these new covers aren’t terrible, someone has to pay homage to their gorgeous but recently-deceased ARC covers…

ARC // Final Cover
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Talk about radically different covers! When I first saw the change my thoughts on the new cover were simple: “meh”. It is a really boring, give-nothing-away cover. It’s nice, but there is no detail. Razorland, on the other hand, was detail mad. It features absolutely gorgeous artwork that fits in well with Ann Aguirre’s other illustrated covers. It also really has the post-apocalyptic, do-or-die feel to it that the book has.
But Enclave is a great non-gender specific YA read. And which cover do I think a teenage boy is more likely to pick up? Er, the Enclave cover of course! So while I am glad that I have the ARC of this book and get to have the “best of both worlds”, I am (reluctantly) glad that they changed the cover. Reluctantly
US ARC // US Final Cover
I saw the ARC cover to this book ages ago… and went “ick” and promptly forgot about it. Then, months later, I got the UK ARC in the mail and realised that Laini Taylor was also the author of Lips Touch: Three Times (a book I have heard sooooo many great things about). After I finished the book – and loved it – I did a bit of research and found the US ARC cover that I had seen so many months ago.
And now? Now I really really like it!
OK, I so I can admit that it is not the most… coherent of images. It’s a bird, no it’s a girl, no is a turquoise girl – red girl mashup. What on earth is that about?? But trust me when I say that it works for this novel. Out of all the 3 released covers I’ve seen for this novel, the US ARC is the most representative of the content.
But if you haven’t read it… well, then my original “ick” response applies. So, yay! for feathered masks.
UK ARC // Final Cover
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Oh, dear lord. I loathe the US Bloodlines face covers. This one and the already released cover of The Golden Lily. I had always thought the Vampire Academy face covers were alright: not worthy of loathing or loving. But these? These are dreadful. The font is cheesy, the models look annoyingly stuck-up, and there isn’t even a proper background to them. Just… dreadful.

So when the UK publishers released their cover to book, I was rather excited. I hadn’t liked how they had re-issued the Vampire Academy series to give them simple, face-free covers… but they hadn’t done too bad a job with Bloodlines.

Then, shortly after releasing the ARC cover to the blogosphere, they changed their mind. They’ll be using the US face covers to give a more “global” feel to the series.

Nooooo! Why ditch the perfectly nice cover you’ve already designed? The cover that would sit nicely next to the non-face covers you had given to the Vampire Academy series! Why?? And if you honestly wanted a “global” feel, then why on EARTH did you choose the face cover from HELL to spread across the globe. Why??

So while I will, of course, be buying Richelle’s new series… am I a happy bunny? No, I am not.

August 2011 Releases: Books I Can’t Wait to Read!

So the last time I did one of these posts was in August… 2010! Where does the time go exactly? Anyhow, this August is packed with some fabulous new releases – some of which I will literally start as soon as I get them out of the mailbox. If you want a few more comprehensive lists of August releases, check out Tor’s Fiction Affliction posts for Paranormal Young AdultFantasy, Science Fiction, and Urban Fantasy/PNR releases, Tez Says for a list of August releases, and Literary Escapism’s gigantic list of upcoming release dates.

Two Books by Two Rebels

The Near Witch Possess by Gretchen McNeil

The Near Witch  by Victoria Schwab – August 2nd (US)
Possess by Gretchen McNeil – August 23rd (US)
Both of these books are by YA Rebels. I’ve loved their channel since they started up at the beginning of 2010 – especially videos by Gretchen and Victoria. So excited that I will finally be able to get my hands on their books!

Two Books I Won’t be Able to Read

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – August 23rd  (US) August 25th (UK)
Aftermath by Ann Aguirre – August 30th (US)
I’ll be buying these as soon as they come out – but I won’t be reading them for a while! I still haven’t finished the Vampire Academy series, which I want to start before I get to the sequel series. And then there is the Jax series, which I love too much to read (I am saving them for rainy days).

Two New Series by Two Great Rachels

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent – August 23rd (US) September 1st (UK)
Working Stiff by Rachel Caine – August 2nd (US) October 31st (UK)
These Rachels are demi-Gods in the Urban Fantasy world, so it is super exciting to be getting some fresh new series from them! (Although I should probably complete their other books first…)

Two Books I Pre-ordered Months Ago!

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles – August 16th (US)
Rip Tide by Kat Falls – August 1st (US) August 4th (UK)
These books are radically different from each other, but I really really really can’t wait to read them! Rip Tide is the sequel to the fabulous Dark Life, and Chain Reaction is the last Perfect Chemistry novel. I expect wonders from both of them!

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle MeadBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #4
Published by Razorbill on August 25th 2009
Pages: 503
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
Add to Goodreads
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

Thoughts: Richelle Mead is one of those authors that makes you desperate for a conclusion. So, I’ll just come out and admit it… I read spoilers for Blood Promise before I’d even read Shadow Kissed (which, FYI, broke my heart into so many ickle pieces, I couldn’t deal enough to write a review). I knew what was going to happen before I picked up both books – and I have a pretty clear idea about the last two books in the series as well. I just had to know. Emotionally, I just wouldn’t have made it through this series without some warning of what was ahead.

So, despite having a pretty fair idea what would happen in this book, it still blew me away. I wondered how far Mead could take vigilante!Rose. I mean, the book is over 400 pages long and there’s only so much angst a girl can handle. But as Rose makes her way through Russia, Mead takes the opportunity to introduce some fabulous new characters: including Sydney, who will be the star of the spin-off series.

Along with the painful Dimitri/Rose action – which kept a lump in my throat the whole time – there are about a dozen new plot lines that pop up in Blood Promise. For one thing, we got a look at a very different Moroi/Dhamphir society – the one Dimitri was raised in, and boy does that ever explain him. We also got a whole new insight into the twisted world of Strigolis, and introduced to a whole new branch of supernatural none of us had even known about. I adored all the new intrigue. When it really comes down to it, the Vampire Academy is all plot plot plot and it’s fantastic.

On top of that, Rose went through some extraordinarily terrifying things in this book. Seriously, there’s death and torture and blood and prostitutes. It’s not stuff for weaklings, and even knowing how everything could turn out did not comfort me! Rose proved to be stronger than I think humanly possible. I couldn’t help but be proud of this girl for keeping herself together, both physically and mentally.

On the less-positive side… I still don’t see what Rose sees in Lissa. I find her rather bland and continue to only be interested in her because of her friendship with our leading lady. I also don’t get the fuss over Adrian. He seems a perfectly all right guy, but that’s it. I guess he’s a great rebound… but I found his woe-is-me business is extremely unattractive.

Bottom line?  I loved this book for its angsty, plotty goodness.  In case you haven’t heard, the Vampire Academy series is a Must. Read.

Shelf Analysis: YA has a Heart Attack

You might have heard that the Vampire Academy books in the UK are to be re-released with brand new covers.  Very exciting, of course, as it is bound to attract more readers – hopefully by the masses.  And despite how lovely the new cover is, I can not say that I am a fan.  Why?  Well, take a look.

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead – New Edition
Finding  Sky by Joss Stirling
This book has suffered from its cover, at least on my behalf.  I saw it in the store and thought it was Claire de Lune!  It wasn’t until I saw The Bookette’s review that I remembered that I had seen this book on the shelves… that said, really want a copy!
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
One of the few times this cover is applicable.  Hello, incestuous relationship?  Certainly merits a barbed-wire heart.
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Not quite as hearty as some of the other covers, but it is still clear what they were going for!
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Love this cover, but my goodness gracious is it ever the same as the cover of Forbidden!
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant
This is the US cover, but I think the UK cover will be the same.  Lovely ghost-smoke effect… but, er, yeah.

I noticed the glaring similarities between The Dark and Hollow Places and Forbidden a couple of months ago, but it seems that publishers have gone crazy with this new trend.  When is unfortunate is that, unless you are really focusing, these covers blur together.  Unlike the Twilight-effect on YA covers – which, at least, resulted in some vaguely distinguishable book covers – I have a feeling all of these books will just blend together and then no one will end up buying any of them.  *frets*  Is no one else worried?

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Review: Frostbite by Richelle MeadFrostbite by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #2
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
Add to Goodreads
Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Blood Promise

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

Thoughts: Frostbite is a fantastic follow-up to Vampire Academy. The second book in a series is usually filled with flaws, but not in Mead’s case.  Action-packed, and emotionally gut-wrenching, this series is a definite must for YA and Vampire fans.

Rose does not have the ideal life by a long shot. Her gender and genetics give her limited options in the vampire world. Rose can’t be with the man she loves without sacrificing her best-friend, and even if she makes the “correct” choice she won’t ever have anyone of her own to love. It’s all very depressing, but she does the very best to make the most of bad circumstances.

Rose really matures in Frostbite, but not by choice. After the trauma she is put through in this book leaves her no choice but to make the “grown-up” decisions. In a way, I miss the more naive Rose from the first book, the one who looked forward to being an adult and fighting the Strigoi. Watching Rose lose that optimism was terribly tragic.

Wow, I have made this sound like the most miserable book in history. READ IT ANYWAYS. What I love about Mead is that she never introduces her characters fully formed – they always have plenty of room to develop. And watching that process? Heartbreakingly brilliant.

In retrospect, I am amazed how much Mead fit into such a small book. Compared to the rest of the Vampire Academy series, Frostbite is a sliver of a book. But so damn much happens in it! Mead deals with the epic Dimitri/Rose tragedy, Rose’s addiction to being bitten, Lissa’s ever worsening condition, the introduction of Rose’s mother, and a whole new (vaguely Chuck Bass-like) character. It’s actually quite impressive.

Bottom line? The Vampire Academy series just keeps getting better. Mead actually seems to have a plan for these characters, and I really can’t wait to see how it ends!