Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #15: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters



Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Expected Publication Date: March 8th, 2016

Synopsis (From Goodreads): 

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s HamletThe Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

***
I am really excited for this book to come out! I am a HUGE fan of Cat Winters, and you can see my review for In The Shadow of Blackbirds here. She is phenomenal and crafts wonder stories, and really does pull on your heart strings. Her stories are a beautiful blend of sorrow and happiness, of melancholy and JOY.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

RTA 103: Photoshopping Christine

Final version of Christine (note to followers, this was an assignment I had to do for my teacher. I am sorry for that your eyes had to witness my terrible photoshopping skills).


Friday, 25 September 2015

RTA 103: What's Your Type?

So, what is my type? Not guy (that list is too extensive to say actually), but typography. 

This week we learned about typography, which was really interesting because as a book blogger, typeface is really important to me (personally). I just feel that typography really does bring a book cover together. For this weeks post, I was asked to find 3 examples of typography, and explain how it's affective towards its target audience. Below are some examples of typography that I enjoy. 

This first one is the album cover for Marina and the Diamonds third studio album, Froot. While I am not sure of the font used on her album covers, the use of  the "hand drawn" and bold fonts are affective. The boldness is affective, as it really goes with the funky, seventies pop glam vibe of the album. It really shows the new direction she's going for in her music, as all the album covers use very feminine and cursive font that followed her body's positioning. The use of the "hand drawn" font for her name (Marina and the Diamonds) is affective towards her audience because despite the fact that everything is bold (from the font of the album to the colouring), it's still very feminine- in fact, the use of this font for her name is consistent throughout all her albums.


The next one is the Gentleman's Collection DVD cover of Carry Grant and Grace Kelly's To Catch a Thief. The font used here is serif typeface (probably Bell or Baskerville) and is used consistently throughout the DVD cover. It reinforces its elegant, timeless and clean cut feel of 1950s aesthetic. The third and final one is a book cover of Claudia Gray's YA dystopian novel, A Thousand Pieces of You. Unlike the serif typeface in To Catch a Thief, the one used in the book cover is sans-serif, probably Helvetica or GE Inspira. However, the font used on the cover is very clean cut (like the DVD cover), not to enforce timelessness and elegance, but to keep our eyes attracted to the art behind the words. The entire story revolves around the imagery of the dystopian London and Moscow, and we can see with the font that the title isn't to be too harsh.


After this lecture, I have learned enough to keep an eye out for the typefaces used on ads, book covers, albums etc. It's really opened up my eyes to a new world, and made me realize how important it is when drawing an audience. For me personally, the font used and how it was placed on book covers attracted me to buy books, but our recent lecture has shown me that there's more behind the placement of fonts that goes to making something presentable.

Monday, 21 September 2015

ARC Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett



Author: Kim Liggett
Pages: 352 
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Expected Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Received from: publisher
Status: Blood and Salt #1

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

***

A chilling and haunting tale about destiny, love and skeletons in the closet. 

Ash has known about rituals and cults her entire life, but after her mother sees a bird and suddenly runs away, she realizes that everything she's known her whole life is just more than stories. 

What unfolds is a story about a young girl who's present is tied to the past, and how decisions affect the ones around her. She walks a fine line between reality and illusions, of death and life. Her character develops well after a few rough patches in the beginning, and the love, heartbreak, pain and joy that comes with her character does genuinely play a big role in the story. Although there were some parts that did seem a little slow or characters that just got on my nerves, Ash's relationship with the other characters and her family's history really does make it enjoyable.

If you're looking for some haunting romance for this fall season, I recommend this book, which is a great way to start off a new series!

Friday, 18 September 2015

RTA 103 #2: CRAP! And Who Said Design Principles Weren't Cool?

This week in RTA 103 we learned about CRAP! It's not the type that you're thinking of- it's an acronym for design principles: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. With CRAP, we're essentially able to pick out how ads appeal to us, and why they are very (or not so very) affective.


This first ad uses contrast, as the lighting in the photo goes from dark (top), to light (bottom). The reason why there is contrast here is to shed light at the gun's reloads, where you'll find pencils instead of bullets, to emphasize that ideas are worth fighting for. It uses alignment as well, as the writing "Fight for Your Ideas" is slightly slanted towards the main focal point of the poster (the reloader). Also, proximity is used as the wording for this poster is further and smaller than the image, making the readers drawn towards the compelling image first.

This ad does a good job at impacting their readers as it is something that leads the eye towards the pencils. However, I find that the placing of the actual message at the top isn't right. I understand that maybe the reason that the words are placed at the top is so that it can balance the rest of the ad out, but i would've preferred if the writing was near the bottom by the bottom of the barrel, as the eye naturally leads towards that end regardless. 



This second ad uses almost all the design principles as well. There is contrast between the woman's body and the colours of the photo, as well as contrast between the colouring of the first two lines and the rest of the writing on the ad. It uses also uses alignment with the curve of the words to mimic the woman's pose. The ad does a good job incorporating the principles, however, I feel like the alignment is off. I just feel like the alignment of words should be closer to her body, near her arms.



History!

Alongside identifying CRAP! in modern day ads, posters, albums etc, we also had to look for modern day designs based on historical posters.

The first one here (from the Modern Art Movement section) is an example of how Picasso's Vase of Flowers inspired the Kartamira Travel Company ad, as well as the Altezza Cafe ad I found online.


The second one (from the Beauty of  London in Design) shows an advertisement of footwear. This advertisement below shows not only the brand being advertised well, but what's being marketed. It's a clever way to show that our footwear is for the everyday Londoner, and you should buy a pair.

The image right below it is a modern take on the advertisement. The ad below is for a band called "Vampire Weekend", and their tour dates around the UK. What makes this ad a nice modern day version of the poster above are the passengers on the bus. Above, the passengers on the bus where the footwear being marketed; below, they show animals riding (which symbolizes the craziness of the concerts) who are actually vampires (to represent their fans).


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #15: Never Never by Brianna Shrum



Author: Brianna Shrum
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Expected Release Date: September 22nd, 2015

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.  

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

***

After recently reading Charm of Books review of the book here, I was very intrigued.

This is not one of those retellings of classic tales where the main characters get their happy endings/the endings they deserve. No. This is one of those stories that make you re-evaluate those stories you knew as a child and see it in a new light. As a child, I knew about Peter Pan through the Disney movies and that one with Robin Williams, Return to Neverland. In those versions of the story, we see Peter and Wendy taking centre stage, and it's really interesting that an author decided to write about the "villain" of the classic tale and peel back his history to find some human connection.

Never Never doesn't bring you the traditional tale of a child not wanting to grow up- but a child fighting his own childhood to become an adult. 


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

RTA 103: Las Vegas Postcard

In today's lab, we had to do a photoshop tutorial. My photoshop skills are VERY minimal, but I'm surprised that I came out fairly decent.



Monday, 14 September 2015

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater



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Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 391

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: October 21st, 2014

Status: The Raven Cycle #3


Summary (from Goodreads):



There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.




****


As a person who didn't really enjoy the first book, I have come a long way. Blue Lily, Lily Blue was a wonderful book to read, that left me feeling impulsive enough to sell all my stuff to get an early copy of the book, and wanting it to end where it was because of my knowledge of what will happen to my beloved Gansey.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue isn't a story about one specific character like The Dream Thieves, nor is it a story that sets up the characters or its world like The Raven Boys-- it's a story of adventure, and delves deeper into the actual quest (and consequences) of trying to wake a magical, sleeping, gift-granting Welsh king.

The synopsis of the book doesn't give too much out, but it does give enough out that it makes sense in the books. It says that Blue's problems have become the Raven Boys' and vice versa, and we do see this throughout the novel.

Unlike the first two books, this book was told by everyone (TDT centered around Ronan, and while TRB did get told by multiple POV, it was mostly told by Blue and Gansey, who set the tone and one of the major plots of the story), and it was nice to see how everyone has grown since the first book.

While we do see a lot of character development with the characters individually and the relationships in the book do change as well. And while it was exciting to see my lovely Blue and Gansey ship in cutesy moments, Ronan slowly telling others what he really feels, and Adam accepting that the world isn't entirely out to get them, it was minor compared to the majority of the story. Their development in  this book is crucial, because they seem to be more confident as they get closer to finding Glendower, however, in this novel, we also see a lot of uncertainty that can also spell disaster for them.



 

***What I liked about this book is the fact that we got to learn about Ronan more, and see him as an entirely different character. His backstory and his emotional connection to his father and dreaming really does bring his character to life. In addition to Ronan's back history and new found abilities, we get to see the other characters in a new life as well.



I found that Adam's character seems more dangerous than Ronan's. I feel like I mentioned this before in the Bookish Book Theories and the review of the first book, but to make myself clear, he is not a trusted character. There are many moments that we sympathize for Adam's character, but there is this wickedness that's tied to his yearning to be like or more than Gansey that makes him scary. Add in the fact that he's tied to Cabbeswater, you have a boarderline villain in the making.



Although book 2 focuses on Ronan, yes, you do see some Jane and Dick moments. I like how their relationship is slowly building, but I don't know how I'm supposed to feel knowing that Gansey is going to die. Yeah, that really puts a damper on my OTP. I don't know how, but Gansey has become one of my newest fictional boyfriends after this book with his charming nerdy/old world-ish personality.



Also, there is a lot of foreshadowing to his end, which scares me a lot, but then again, I have been warned since the summary of the first book. So...



We also have the introduction of the Grey Man, who at first, I thought was a bit random, but I have learned to slowly love. He's a pretty awesome dude, and there is some shipping of him with another character, which I'm totally for since the Dick and Jane thing will obviously not work out.



I don't know how, but this book has become one of my favourite reads this year. The Raven Cycle is a difficult series to grasp the first try, but it's definitely one of the ones that steal your heart.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After



Author: Stephanie Perkins
Pages: 339 
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: August 14th, 2014
Status: Anna and the French Kiss #3

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, √Čtienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

***

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the end of the French Kiss books, and let me tell you it will melt your hearts! If you're looking for a love story about true love, then this is the book for you.

Isla's a really quiet person, and when she get's the chance to have an actual conversation with the guy of her dreams, Josh, she's determined to get to know him more. When their friendship quickly turns into romance, they have to deal with the repercussions of falling in love.

 If you think Anna taking notes on how to pronounce french phrases in Anna and the French Kiss was really awkward, think again: out of all the narrators, Isla is the most quiet, most socially awkward, yet the most developed out of all of them in my opinion.

While it's easy to say that Isla's character is too boy crazy, and that her life solely revolves around Josh. But we have to understand that without Josh, Isla wouldn't have become her own person. Before her relationship with him, she was really introverted and not used to taking risks, but after all the two had gone through, she slowly started realizing it was time for her to start making her own decisions, and going on her own adventures.

The overall story was very overdramatic love story that just played at your heart strings. Perkins has the ability to turn the YA contemporary genre into something light-hearted yet serious, with dashes of quirkiness and lots of cute romance.

Isla was a wonderful book, and I am sad to see one of my favour series finally ending. If you're looking for something romantic, something funny, and something to make you fall in love with Paris, then I totally recommend reading the entire Anna and the French Kiss trilogy!





Thursday, 10 September 2015

RTA 103 #1: Who Are You? Who Will You Be?

My first impression of the term "digital media" was just it's literal media: digital media. Electronic media. I thought the word only meant social media, news websites and blogs, like Youtube, Twitter and Blogger. My narrow minded perspective of the term before my first Digital Media class was probably due to my limited experience. 

As a blogger (and as a teenager in general), always assumed my experience of the internet (and by default, most of digital media) was better than most. I used various social media networks (eg. Twitter, Facebook etc) for my blog, and websites to keep me connected with other bloggers (eg. Bloglovin, Goodreads etc). And for personal use, I have a slew of other social media accounts that would probably take up this whole entire post. Alright, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point, right? I guess my experience with digital media is thorough, but now I realized that I have more experience than I thought because digital media isn't limited to apps or websites. Students should take the Digital Media course to further their knowledge on their experience of what digital media actually is.

I look forward to learning more about different forms of media in this course, especially how to create different forms of media; one of the things that Laurie mentioned we'd learn about was typography, and I am actually interested to learn about that. As for what I'm looking forward to overall in RTA? I have no idea. I think just feeling proud of something I worked so hard on is something that I look forward to, aside from making new friends and getting to actually learn about the industry I want to get into at a professional level. I guess the reason why my goal is to be proud of something I create is because I expect a lot of challenges/failures (and also, lots of critiques), because I know once that's over, once I've reached the lowest point, it will motivate me to work harder on my ideas and motivate me to put in my all in something I love. I think aside from the technical stuff, by the end of the course, I expect to achieve 1) thicker skin 2) to use the critique given to me to go above and beyond expectations, and 3) just have fun.

Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Author: Ally Carter
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Status: Embassy Row #1

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

***

All Fall Down is a story filled with international intrigue, conspiracy, family drama and romance- it has all the signatures of an Ally Carter novel, however, with an a 'grown up' writing style for the lack of a better phrase.

Grace Blakely knows her mother was murdered, but everyone assumes its just shock. Concerned for her health, her father sends her to live with her grandfather, a very powerful ambassador, to "get better". However, in the country of Adria, amidst the politics and the overbearing control, Grace becomes even more determined to avenge her mother's death.

While the story did grab my attention, it was really hard not to compare it to Carter's other series, Heist Society and the Gallagher Girls. The comparisons were very easy to make: all the narrators lost one parent, and it plays a crucial role in their character development and their [respective] story's arc; they get tangled in bigger conspiracies and controversies; and they have the best support group ever- even though sometimes they take them for granted.

However, the biggest difference between the three series in my opinion [thus far] is their writing styles. The tone of the book was more serious than the tone of Heist or Gallagher, and I feel like that has to do a lot with Grace's character. She's more angry and driven than Carter's other narrators, and unlike the other two, has a long term goal, and she's very hard to like in the beginning, but her character develops into someone you can sympathize and enjoy as the novel progresses.

It's not like I'm saying that Kat or Cammie weren't driven, but Grace's character is fuelled with a lot of grief over her mother's death, anger over the adults who won't listen to her, and justice to avenge her mom, something that we don't see in the other narrators because they've had more time to process their [respective] parent's death and dealt with it differently, especially because their support system was different as well.

I think that's what I loved about Grace- her determination. When nobody wanted to listen to her, she felt completely useless and ignored (like most teenagers), but then and went something about it.

The story's overall plot was very Carter, although I did enjoy the ending a little bit, and like the way that this story is heading. While I do feel like I've read stories like this before (kids going off solving mysteries and uncovering secrets behind people's backs), Carter has this uniqueness to her writing that gives it a flare- she gives the story an edge that makes you root for the rough narrator, the sexy Russian, and the poor friend zoned guy.

Overall, the book was great, and I recommend this book to anyone who loves international conspiracies, and unexpected/mysterious deaths. I also recommend reading Ally's other series too.


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