Different Strokes

It’s been a very long time since I did a UK v. US book cover post, but the contrast between these covers grabbed my attention.

So, Connie Willis’s CROSSTALK – UK cover on the left, US on the right.

I’d seen the US cover around previously, and thought it was an interesting choice for an SF book; it reminded me of YA romance (for instance, Julie Cross’s TEMPEST) so my guess was that the publisher was trying to widen the audience for this book.  The UK cover, on the other hand, comes across as much more retro and adult, and if I’d seen this in the New Releases section of the bookstore, I’m not sure I’d have connected it with SF if it wasn’t for Connie Willis’s name.

Even the back cover copy gives out different vibes – here’s the UK copy:

Briddey is about to get exactly what she thinks she wants . . .

Briddey is a high-powered exec in the mobile phone industry, overseeing new products from concept (‘anything to beat the new apple phone’) to delivery. And she works with her wonderful partner, Trent. They’ve been together for six magical weeks, in a whirlwind of flowers, dinners, laughter and now comes the icing on the cake: not a weekend away or a proposal but something even better. An EDD. A procedure which will let them sense each other’s feelings. Trent doesn’t just want to tell her how much he loves her – he wants her to feel it.

The trouble is, Briddey can’t breathe a word of it to anyone (difficult, when the wholeoffice is guessing) until she’s had two minutes to call her family. And they’re hounding her about the latest family drama.

The race is on: not just for new, cutting-edge technology, but also for a shred of privacy in a public world and – for Briddey – a chance for love at the heart of it all.

And then the US version:

In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior to a marriage proposal—to enjoy better emotional connection and a perfect relationship with complete communication and understanding. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and Briddey finds herself connected to someone else entirely—in a way far beyond what she signed up for.

It is almost more than she can handle—especially when the stress of managing her all-too-eager-to-communicate-at-all-times family is already burdening her brain. But that’s only the beginning. As things go from bad to worse, she begins to see the dark side of too much information, and to realize that love—and communication—are far more complicated than she ever imagined.

The UK version feels a bit chicklit (SF-style) to me, while the US one reads both younger and more romance-y.

What do you think?

(I should say that the UK cover came to my attention because of a Goodreads giveaway email – it’s here if you’re interested in entering, UK-only though).


Sarina Bowen’s THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR: Cover Reveal (& Giveaway)

It’s fair to say I rarely do cover reveals.  So rare that today’s post may actually be my first one.

Two, no, three reasons actually:

  • Firstly, I love Sarina Bowen‘s covers for her Ivy Years series (shallow, but sadly true) – I love the striking simplicity of the cover designs and the cohesive series feel
  • More seriously, I’ve read and enjoyed the first two full-length novels in her series – they’re inter-connected stories (with different protagonists) in a college setting.  I think I’ve talked before about how NA books were all starting to blend into one for me, and her books feel different – she doesn’t shy away from tackling tough issues, and they’re not the standard run-of-the-mill issues you find in NA books.  The first book, THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN, has Corey dealing with the life-changing results of a sports injury, while Scarlett has serious reasons for creating a new life for herself in THE YEAR WE HID AWAY.  I also have major love for the Harkness (a thinly-disguised Yale) college setting and the sports elements in these books (ice hockey, if you’re curious).
  • Finally, it’s an M/M new adult book – how rare is that?  (Possibly less rare than my cover reveals.)

So without further ado, here’s the cover for THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR, out Oct 1:

The Understatement of the Year coverThe Understatement of the Year (Ivy Years #3)
by Sarina Bowen

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: October 1, 2014

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexual preference from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.


Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

A few Q&As about the series/book:

Q: Is Harkness College from the Ivy Years series based on Yale?

A: Heck yes! But it’s based on a Yale which has gone soft and fuzzy in my mind, in all the best ways. So I’ve fictionalized it to avoid the errors and inaccuracies that I’d be likely to make if I tried to get everything just right.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about two guys?

A: In the first place, I didn’t really decide, so much as the idea for Graham’s struggle surgically implanted itself in my brain and would not let go. And when I pictured the two of them meeting up again in a locker room after five years of silence, I just got the chills. This became the book that I cheated on all my other books to write. (If my editors of other projects are reading this… sorry! I’ll get back to work now. Probably.)

Q: Why college hockey?

A. Because… duh! Hockey players are hot. And hockey is a fast-paced game where whining is categorically disallowed. Interestingly, fighting is not legal in college hockey, either. It’s all about the game. I love that!

Q: How many Ivy Years books do you have planned?

A: Five, if you’re counting the novella. After Rikker and Graham’s book, Bella is going to need her own book. What, you haven’t met Bella yet? You will on October 1st, when Understatement of the Year is published. She is a kick-ass chick in much the same way as Corey, Scarlet and Katie. You’ll love her. You can read a bit more about all the titles on The Ivy Years page on my website.

You can find and contact Sarina here: WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

Pre-order links: Amazon, Kobo (should be up shortly)


And if you’ve made it this far, there’s a tour-wide giveaway for the cover reveal of THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. You can win a signed set of paperback books which includes: The Year We Fell Down (Ivy Years #1), The Year We Hid Away (Ivy Years #2) and Blonde Date (Ivy Years 2.5). The giveaway is open internationally.

Finally – I’ve read an ARC of THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR and will post a review closer to the release date, but it’s a good one.

This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

Around the Web – The Cover Edition

I am not handling this back-to-work thing well.  Especially since it’s pretty full-on at the moment.  So many things to do, so little time…

I want to review Eileen Wilks‘ “Blood Challenge”, which I will, but probably not today, as I’m finding myself yawning at odd intervals, and will probably cave in and have a bit of a nap soon.  So in lieu of actual content, here are some links:

Jennie has posted new Mary Stewart covers at her Mary Stewart Novels fansite, and I am totally in love with them.  I am very tempted to get another copy of the “The Ivy Tree”, which is possibly my favourite Stewart!

At Sounis, the Megan Whalen Turner livejournal fan community, they’ve put up the concept art for the cover of  “A Conspiracy of Kings”, which is all kinds of fascinating.

And sticking with the cover art theme, here’s a new-to-me group blog called Muddy Covers, by some of the cover artists I love, and again, it’s really interesting behind-the-scenes stuff.  For instance, Dan Dos Santos (who does the fantastic Mercy Thompson US covers, amongst others) blogs about his covers for Gini Koch‘s Alien SF books, which I am meaning to read at some point.

More Lisa Kleypas Covers

I posted about Lisa KleypasHathaway UK and US covers recently, and was going to continue with her contemporaries, except I’ve just seen the UK cover of “Love in the Afternoon” and the re-issued Wallflowers covers, and had to add them.


519Zxl6S2XL._SL160_51JD0WgATLL._SL160_I included the first four covers in the Hathaway series, but left out the fifth book because I couldn’t find the UK cover. 

Well, here are both the “Love in the Afternoon” covers – no contest for me, I love the UK one (left)!  The colours really pop, and the style is pretty consistent with the last three in the series (we’ll put the UK cover of the first book to one side, shall we?).  So yes, total win.


As for the Wallflower books, here you go:

US covers












UK covers











What do you think?  I like how both US and UK covers work the “seasons” theme, but the UK ones appeal to me more.  I’m loving the vibrant colours of the summer cover and the mistiness of autumn.  I can’t find the UK cover of the fourth book, but I would imagine (and hope) it’s in the same style of the previous three.


And finally, before I forget, the contemporaries:

US covers – the first two are similar (and bright!), while the third has the same fonts but different design:












UK covers – and I am slightly confused, as there appear to be two sets, which I hadn’t realised before…

Original set:











The first two being rather women’s fiction (and even signalling a post-war setting, or it that just me?), and the third err… quite different.  I liked the first, though I believe it is a stock photo, as I recall having seen another very similar cover.  The first two certainly don’t scream contemporary romance, even if they do appeal to me – I like the image and the clean look.  Just doesn’t do the stories justice, IMO.  The third now, a bit too M&B for me, especially with the male/baby cover.


Latest UK ones, possibly mass market paperbacks:











Very different, huh?  A lot more contemporary, definitely romance for the first and the third, though the second still says women’s fiction to me.


Your thoughts?

Lisa Kleypas – The Covers

I mentioned in a previous post that I really liked the recent covers that Lisa Kleypas’s UK publisher, Piatkus, were using, and I thought it would be fun to do one of those posts that form the mainstay of cover discussions – US versus UK.


Taking her current historical series, The Hathaways, here are the US covers:












They’re lovely covers and certainly shout “historical romance”, but IMO, wouldn’t stand out in the Romance section.  The first three have a level of cohesiveness that indicate they’re part of the same series.  Granted, not massively strong, but if you put them side-by-side, they have similarities – (headless) female model, a lovely lush evening gown, with a one-colour theme. 

For the fourth, St Martin’s Press seems to have decided to go with a different cover style – no models, instead, the title is on an invitation-style card, with flowers in the background (the cover for the next book in the series is also in the same style).


What about the UK covers?  Here you go:












The differences between the UK and US markets have never been clearer…

This time around, the first book is the odd one out.  “Mine Till Midnight” has a much more subdued colour palette compared to the other three, and it’s rather restrained, which I’m not sure conveys the right feeling for a Kleypas romance.  I recall comparing this to the US cover when it first came out, and wanting the US version. 

So, not a winner for me, and the cover art department may have agreed, because the second cover is very different.  I liked this one, not least because it shows the model engrossed in a book.  And oh, I actually saw the same picture on another recent book, but for the life of me, can’t remember which one.  All I recall was that it was a completely different genre, which amused me (yes, I’m easily amused) and that they tweaked the colours.  Any ideas, anyone?

And then for the third and the fourth books, finally some consistency.  And I like, I really do.  The ornate dresses, the rich colour schemes, the lace and gloves, they work for me.  I’m hoping they use this style for the next one, “Love in the Afternoon”, but I can’t find a cover online.

I was going to cover Ms Kleypas’s contemporaries as well, but this has been longer than I expected and that’ll have to wait for another post.

What do you think of these and which are your favourites?

Covers and Stuff

New coverI was in the bookstore the other day, and saw the new cover for Dawn Cook’s “First Truth” (on the left).  Now that Kim Harrison has officially come out as Dawn Cook (or is it the other way around?), Ms Harrison’s name is prominently displayed on the cover. 

Old coverIt’s been a while since I read the Truth books and while I can’t quite remember the plot now (put this down to my dismal memory as opposed to a non-recommendation for this series), I do recall hunting down all the books in the Truth series after reading the first.  I’m a bit lukewarm about the new covers – I think the slightly nostalgic part of me prefers the original old-school fantasy covers (see right), but I’ve a feeling the rebranded covers will reach a new audience.


Speaking of covers, I am massively impressed with The Book SmugglersCover Matters essay on whitewashing – it’s evident that a lot of thought, effort, and passion has gone into this, and it is, well, inspiring.  I’ve been more or less absent from blogland for the past month or so, and am not up to speed with the ins and outs of the recent “Magic Under Glass” cover controversy, but their essay is well worth a read and I am certainly going to visit the links listed in their post when I’ve a moment.

Around the Web – and a Bookstore Closure

The last day of November (yes, I am very aware of how inactive my blog has been for the past month) and it is absolutely freezing.  I wonder if we’re in for snow this year?

Anyway, a few posts around the blogosphere that have caught my eye lately:

Ilona Andrews posted about the difference in writing styles between her Kate Daniels and Edge books – it’s a lot more than just first-person v. third-person POV.  Fascinating stuff.  I also love the note about how her Samhain SF novella “Silent Blade” was written in the style of a Harlequin Presents (or M&B to us UK readers) – no wonder it felt so familiar!

On tor.com, their art director, Irene Gallo, posted about The Covers that Got Away, that is, covers that for some reason didn’t make the final cut.  We’re not talking the small tweaks we tend to see for most covers; instead, the two examples she gives are radical redesigns.  I adore the original Charles de Lint cover with a skeleton puppet – I’ve never read his books but that cover would have definitely caught my attention.

And finally, not blog-related but certainly book-related, Borders UK went into administration last week (note that they are a completely separate company from the US operation).  I’m not entirely surprised by this – the last time I went in there, their ground floor was crammed with non-book displays, which left me wondering who they were targeting.  I mean, if I wanted plush toys or jewellery boxes, I certainly wouldn’t have thought of going to Borders!

Sad news, however, not just for the employees who must be pretty much in limbo now, but also for readers.  I remember when Borders was the best place to get American imports in London – now, with the internet allowing you to purchase a wider variety of books for lower prices (and possibly more quickly too), it was probably a losing battle.

Waterstones is now the only specialist bookstore chain in London – and yes, I am all for supporting local independents, except there aren’t actually any near me!  Note to self: must go more often to Charing Cross Road.

Oh Dear

41pntdnAGiL._SL160_Okay, Twilight is a global phenomenon, and goodness knows how many YA covers have adopted the black background with a striking image.

So was I surprised to see Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” with a new cover in the YA section?

Well, not entirely.  I quite like the image and composition, and I love the font.  And I completely applaud the publisher for trying to reach those who stay well clear of the Classics section.

But I admit I nearly disgraced myself in the bookstore by whooping with laughter.

It wasn’t so much the fact that these were displayed right next to the Meyer books.

It wasn’t even the tagline of “Love Never Dies…”.

It was the little red stamp – the one that’s probably too small for you to see.  Do you know what it says?

It says… *drumroll*… “Bella and Edward’s favourite book”.

Books for Grownups?

I was in Waterstones today, and saw Holly Black’s books being very prominently displayed in the SF/F section with new covers. 

Ironside_AdultValiant_AdultTithe_AdultI can’t remember the shelf blurb word-for-word, but it was along the lines of these books were originally released as teenage fiction, but have been re-released with new covers for adults.

The new “grownup” ones are above, the original YA ones below.  I have to say that I prefer the YA ones myself.  The new ones are fairly generic and look more as though they should be shelved in the Mystery / Crime / Suspense sections.

Tithe YAValiant YA Ironside YA Thoughts?

I’ve been meaning to try Holly Black for ages – I remember reading some pretty good reviews last year, the year before?  I never did get around to buying “Tithe” though.  So maybe the new covers aren’t a bad thing, they certainly have me considering these books again.

I’m trying to remember other teenage/adult crossovers.  There has been lots of talk recently around UK v US covers, but not much around teenage v. adult covers.  I know Philip Pullman’s books have different covers and so do Maria V Snyder’s “Study” books.  Oh, and obviously the Harry Potter books.  And Harlequin Teen’s re-releasing PC Cast’s Goddess books soon.

So maybe it’s not that unusual – what struck me about this one was the direction, i.e. teenage to adult, instead of the other way around.  I’m thinking the massive success of Stephenie Meyer is encouraging publishers to think about already-published YA books that would have mass appeal.  And if it’s in the paranormal / urban fantasy genre, even better!

Are there any recent crossovers that have caught your eye recently?  Or what do you think of this trend?

I Have Just Ordered…

51veKT4RdvL._SL160_ 51wsbUOfImL._SL160_ Eva Ibbotson’s “Magic Flutes”, which is being re-released on 1 May.  I couldn’t quite decide between the UK (left) and US (right) cover, but finally went for the UK one since I have the UK edition of “The Secret Countess”  as well.

And as for the different titles – I’ve been perusing the back cover blurbs online, and I can guess why “The Reluctant Heiress” is fitting, but “Magic Flutes”?  Is it an allusion to the opera?

I’m excited about this one – and hoping that it will get me out of my slight reading (and blogging) slump. 

Oh, and for the curious, here is the blurb:

Spring, 1922 Tessa is a beautiful, tiny, dark-eyed princess – who’s given up her duties to follow her heart, working for nothing backstage at the Viennese opera.  No one there knows who she really is, or that a fairytale castle is missing its princess, and Tessa is determined to keep it that way.  But secret lives can be complicated.  When a wealthy, handsome Englishman discovers this bewitching urchin backstage, Tessa’s two lives collide – and in escaping her inheritance, she finds her destiny…

9780330444989 And staying sort of on-topic:

I adore the the covers that UK Picador have created for the Ibbotson books, and aha – I knew I had posted about them previously

I’ve spotted a new “A Song for Summer” cover (left), which is much prettier and more striking than the one in my original post.  It really stands out on the shelves (and I’ve been thrilled to see copies faced out in the Recommended Reads shelves recently).