Thursday 19 January 2017

The Amazing and Fabulous WING JONES Blog Tour - Stop 28!

Welcome to Stop 28 on the whirlwind Wing Jones Blog Tour! I am so happy to be hosting this stop on the tour for this stunning book - I had the privilege to attend the launch party just over a week ago and the hype around Wing Jones is fantastic. I absolutely can't wait to sink my teeth into it.
If you haven't heard about Wing Jones or Katie Webber yet, where have you been?
Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…
Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London.
Now this blog tour is a bit different. Because close to 40 bloggers wanted to take part (because Katie is awesome), Walker have planned a rather special #WJphototour . This is a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! And here below is the photo I got:  
KATIE on moving to London:
Not only did I meet other aspiring writers and UKYA authors in London, I got to meet a TON of my favourite US YA authors too! It seems like EVERYONE comes on tour to London at some point. I was absolutely ecstatic when I got to meet my favourite YA author, Laini Taylor at one of her London events. Little did I know that less than two years later, she would be blurbing my debut novel!

Yes Laini Taylor, the amazing author of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone and more recently Strange The Dreamer! Laini is also one of my favourite authors, and she's given Wing Jones the best possible quote to send it out into the world:

“The pure and vivid voice of Katherine Webber's Wing illuminates an America of hope and tragedy, where both ruin and triumph lurk just around the corner. Life isn't easy for Wing, the unsung sister of a fallen hero, but in her darkest time, she'll find her own strength. I fell in love with Wing Jones, and you will too.
From everything I've heard about this book, I absolutely don't doubt it. If you want to pick up a copy of Wing Jones, you can get it at all good bookshops including the one I used to work for (yay, shameless promotion!) -

A million congratulations to Katie on her amazing debut novel! Bookish love,
Rachel xx

Thursday 2 June 2016

Review: Girl Out Of Water by Nat Luurtsema

Lou Brown's life is going down the pan. Best friend Hannah sailed through the Olympic time trials and is off to her fancy-pants new swim training school, while Lou's own failure to qualify leaves her without a hobby - or a friend.

As Lou tries to navigate her post-swim world, a chance encounter with three boys with stars in their eyes takes her life in a surprising new direction. One that leads to a crazy world of underwater somersaults, talent show auditions, bitchy girls and one great big load of awkward boy chat.

Back in October 2015 I attended the Walker Blogger Brunch and was lucky enough to hear Nat Lurrtsema read from her new novel Girl Out Of Water. There is something special about seeing an author who is particularly good at performing their work. It feels very intimate and authentic - and in Nat's case, hugely funny. As she very well should be as a Bafta nominated comedy writer and an actress. But it goes beyond Nat's ability to do a dramatic reading, as I discovered when I read the rest of the book. This is a milk-out-the-nose funny slice of normal life, with synchronised swimming and a TV talent show thrown in for good measyre. There is something about this book that reads like a very long but hugely enjoyable stand up sketch from a hilarious teenage comedian.

The awkward physical comedy moments are a laugh a minute and Lou’s dry, teenage sarcasm is utterly on point. Not since Lobsters have I smiled and laughed so much while reading a YA book. To be totally honest, people on the tube thought I was utterly crazy, smiling away to myself like the Cheshire Cat.

I'll admit that I am a picky reader, it takes damn near perfection for me to love something. And though I may have niggling, teeny tiny criticisms about the 'contrived' situation or convenient teenage boy characters, these are me forcing out criticisms for contrary's sake. I utterly loved this book. I loved the realism (a divorced family who still live together), the characters (Lou is brilliantly awkward and captures the gawky teen I think we all were at heart not to mention her sister Lav who is in equal measure bitchy and sweet as all sisters are), the ingeniously unique and relate-able inciting incident (synchronised swimming at a TV talent show a la BGT. I mean... where even did that idea come from Nat?!).

Eugh guys, I'm not eloquent enough to put into more detailed words how much I enjoyed this, just go read it! It's great! So great in fact that I'm going to do something I've never done on this blog before. 


That's right bitches, 5 stars! (warning - reading Girl Out of Water may cause unnecessary and out of character sassiness). But it was just so brilliant that I can't not! I really do hope that Nat continues to write in this genre for a very long time and become the Louise Rennison of the next generation. Just saying... 

Bookish love, 

Rach xx

I received a copy of Girl Out of Water from Walker Books in exchange for my honest and very ravey reviews. 

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Gorgeous YA Book Covers

I wandered into Foyles, Charing Cross the other day and as per usual started to peruse the YA section. And what struck me were just how many gorgeous covers are gracing the shelves at the moment. 

When I started working at a publisher, one of the coolest things I got to do was sit in on cover meetings. There's so much thought and creativity that go into these covers guys, you don't even know!

I've picked out some of my favourites below so you too can have beautiful bookshelves forever. 

Gorgeous Illustrations

Absolutely gorgeous colour palette here.
Faber & Faber 
All of Alexia's covers are beautiful,
but this one especially pops.
Faber & Faber 
Hot Key covers are always great, but this is
one of my all time favourite covers!
The creativity, the layering, the colours...
Hot Key Books 
I knew nothing about this book before,
but its spine's hand drawn lettering stood out
 and I'm so glad it did.
This is also an Amnesty International title.
Walker Books  
I love how you immediately get the essence
of each character from such  a simple concept.
Chicken House
Does anything really need to be said...
The eye of the feather on the dust jacket
is a cut out revealing... 
I mean come on! 
And the back!
Macmillan Children's Books
I had to check this was in the right section
as it looks like something that would be
shortlisted for the Booker. It is wonderfully
Algonquin Young Readers
There is massive love for Noelle Stevenson
who illustrated this cover (and Nimona which is excellent!)
I love the idea that an artist with a fanart style
was selected for a title about fanfiction.
Macmillan Children's Books 
Simple and brilliant - perfectly conveying
the book's message without a single word.
David Fickling Books 
Lovely to see a recognisable in-house style
emerging from DFB. This is also the 2nd title
DBF have shortlisted for the 2016 YA Prize,
including the title above.
David Fickling Books 
HarperCollins getting in on that matt action.
And nice to see different representations
of body sizes also.
Harper Collins
Anyone else getting a Juno vibe?
Excuse my terrible photography here -
 link to better image.

Beautifully illustrated (sadly I cannot find
 out the illustrator from the web)
- it really pulls you in to the characters and story.
Anything hand illustrated it attractive
to me, and so I will naturally love the
cartoony look of this cover!
Hot Key Books 
The illustration combined with the
 foil finish on  the title is so well done.
There's an instant atmosphere!
Hachette Children's 
I really like the layering and use of colour here.
Swoon Reads

To me this looks ever so slightly like a nipple 
and areola. But a very nicely designed one.
David Fickling Books  
Love the background blue which is a gorgeous 
colour in and of itself. Combined with that
 striking title and the image of the doll behind 
is a very mature looking cover. I like that
 nothing was 'dumbed down' for the teen market.
The colour palette is really standout here, 
but the use of braille elevates this to another
level, which could have been easily overlooked.
Harper Collin's Kids 
I really rate the simplicity of this design, 
taking the familiar image of a generic 
stick man and messing with it. 
Also love the perspective. It also reflects 
the two character well.
Faber & Faber 
People love this cover, and I can 
readily see why. Look at that
holographic finish!
Electric Monkey 
Now I know this is a pretty standard
cover, but I like the inverted use of the
image. I think it nicely reflects the
closing in of the maze around the
characters (yes I'm a douche).
Chicken House 
Set in Japan, this cover is striking
and evokes the appropriate
sombre mood. I would question
the fonts used in the title but
I'm just being picky now.
Love the varying use of colour the layers 
and the cut paper/diorama feel to it.
Atlantic Books
Do you remember in Word everyone 
used to use the colour fade tool? 
This is the only contex in which that
 ever looks good. Amazing pallette 
and arresting image!
Other things that are awesome

So it may be hard to see, but this is a high
 shine finish (looks like oil - that's my reflection).
 The figures are cut outs with a beautiful 
end paper underneath. It's understated but
cool! I also like that it has 'no title' aka
Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black.
Margaret K. McElderry Books

Okay so this is a book I found by accident and it is
 just beautiful. Look at the cover for one -
the photo is lovely, the models are
relaxed which is hard to do and the title is awesome!

This book gets special treatment with a look inside
because it is brilliant. A visual love story, it is a great mix
of photography, written pieces and interesting spreads.
Really great for art lovers!

Firstly, the image is very cool. Really like
 the exposure and saturation of the image,
and the wibbly effect of the writing really

 accurately reflects the themes throughout
 the book of patchy memory etc.
Hot Key Books 
This seems to be on everyone's shelfies -
 and I can see why. This photo perfectly
 sums up the feel of the book - the title 
placement is genius and it feels like 
an Irvine Welsh cover!
Love the stark white background with the 
massively colourful inverted title. So pretty! 
Simple but massively effective, I just
really like the muted colour palette here
and the placement of the text. Understated
but impactful for me.

Series - because it's hard to get one cover right, let alone doing it multiple times. 

These are really great covers that truly capture the essence of the book.
Not sure why they changes the style halfway through but I think I prefer
the Dickensian style cover of the far left. The illustration style across
all though is superb.
Hot Key Books 
Nicely tapping into the inspirational meme aesthetic here, these covers are young
but interesting and not too literal. Really like the vibrant but not overly saturated colours.
Hot Key Books 
I love that these look like old travel posters with a pop-art edge. Get on my shelf now!
Does anything really need to be said? Stunning!
I know the old saying is don't judge a book by its cover, but I judge these most highly!
I have since bought the first book because I simply have to have them!
Curious Fox 
Yet another beautiful use of colour - the watercolour effect is inspired
 (often cover designers hand paint these).
Harper Collins 
Call me a contemporary snob, but often contemp covers can be boring
and a bit two a penny. These are anything but - simple, classy and nailing that
very hard to do trope of having a person on the front cover. Bravo,
Love the popping use of colour here, the simple style and the
recurrence of the same palette and styles through unrelated books.
 I like when authors' books have a running style, it makes the such collectors items.
Andersen Press
Another gorgeous and certainly hand-painted series, I personally think the newly
released Raven King is the best in the series with that deep blue. Plus I love deer!
Brilliantly dark, this series is about cannibals. Not that you'd know it overtly from
the cover, but you know something isn't quite right. Love the tag lines too!
The illustration style is great - love the use of shadows in the first cover
and the hue of pinky/red in the second.
Hot Key Books
Not a series, but similarly to Susin Nielsen's books, these designs are cohesive
but not a pair. What isn't there to love about Trouble and Remix's bright colourful palette screams summer festival.

Examples of what not to do - these covers hit certain tropes that I just really can't stand. 

I hear many a good thing about this
book/series, but the cover just turns
me right off. The odd person staring
out from the cover with the hugely
foreboding background is just bleh.
Also, the font looks really amateur to
me, but that's just my opinion. 
Again, I feel quite amateurish - like I could
put this together with paint myself.
Again, I hear great things about the book
but the cover doesn't make me want to
buy it. I have since seen re-worked versions
of this cover which are much better. 
Sigh... TV/Movie tie-in covers...
I can forgive Beautiful Creatures because
the cast is so awesome and the styling
is great, but generally I dislike them.
I understand why we do them, I just
personally chose not to own them.
The newest TMI cover is just... eugh...
not good! Angsty image of Clary
looking intense. I don't like the show anyway,
so highly unlikely to like the cover. Sorry!
This one isn't that bad, I like the contrast
of colour etc. but it's just a bit cliché
and unoriginal. It looks like a bad
romance novel my auntie would read
on holiday. 
Eugh... see all of the above.
I know he's dead, but could they have any
less connection/chemistry? 

So those are my thoughts on book covers out at the moment (or those I could find in the YA section of Foyles, Charing Cross). Do you agree/disagree with any of these? Which is your favourite? Any gorgeous covers just come out/due? 

Let me know in the comment below! 

Bookish love, 

Rachel xx