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Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011

Justin (Staffer's Musings) and I were on Twitter the other day - hard to believe I know - when we struck up a conversation on the relative crappiness of U.S. covers to their U.K. counterparts. Admitting there could be some selection bias afoot, we endeavored to discover whether or not the art direction across the pond is truly superior. Over the course a few posts we'll be discussing various groups of covers arbitrarily selected using some nonsense criteria. For this first installment we're looking at some of the more hyped 2011 Science Fiction and Fantasy releases that had covers worth discussing. You will not see A Dance with Dragons (AKA: Most Boring Covers on Earth) here.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
UK
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
US
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
Justin: This is tough one.  The title embellishment on the U.S. cover is beautiful.  It’s unfortunate that the tents in the palm look like Shiva the Destroyer was hired as a candy striper at a local hospital with rollers in her hair.  In contrast, the UK imagery is much stronger with the red scarf really popping off the page.  It much more clearly identifies the themes of the novel.  If I were Doubleday I’d have dumped the hand all together and gone with the stark night snowfall.  Winner: UK Sally: I like the UK cover a bit more. While the colors and styles are very similar, I don't really like the hand in the US cover.  The tattoo reminds me too much of hair!  The hand holding the circus is really not germain to the the story.  "The Night Circus" on the US cover shimmers and changes color, which is kind of cool.  Both covers convey the circus and the dominant colors of the book, but I think the UK covers captures the theme of the book much better. Winner: UK




The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
UK
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
US
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
Justin: The U.S. cover says:  1) This book is the next installment in the Highland television series.  That’s Duncan MacLeod back there in his trench coat. 2) This will be made into a movie starring Tom Hanks where he finds ancient relics to uncover a conspiracy.  The U.K. cover says: 1) This book has ninjas with glowing swords who are also gingers. 2) There is lightning coming out of the trees. Ya, lightning. Buy me.  Winner: Nobody.Sally: I prefer the US cover. The style of the UK cover makes me think this is a YA novel - vines, cartoony character, glowing sword.  While the US cover is somewhat formulaic, it still appeals to me much more than the UK cover.  The US cover says moody and dangerous to me.  Perhaps a real winner would have been the UK cover in the style of the US cover.  Winner: US, but barely.





Reamde by Neal Stephenson
UK
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
US
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
Justin: My choices…  Black with what looks like an Apple icon of a document.  Or, a city skyline with choppy seas that gives me Independence Day meets the Poseidon Adventure vibrations.  I want to like the U.K. version, I really do, but it’s so generic.  It also strikes me as a publisher trying to look like anything but a science fiction novel.  Ultimately, the stark black with the document icon works for me with Reamde which looks a lot like Read Me.  Winner: U.S. Sally: Neither of these covers tells me much about this book. There is more to see on the UK cover of course, but even those images really don't give you much to go on. It's hard to tell what that mess of images is beneath Readme on the UK Cover. The US cover is simply stark and boring. Neither of these covers spark any interest in this book for me. I don't like either of them. No Winner.






The Postmortal / The End Specialist by Drew Magary
UK
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
US
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
Justin:  I can’t decide if the skeleton puked on the cover or whether it’s a cleverly constructed ruse to distract me from the fact that stabbing something with a scythe is really freaking hard.  Either way, I guess if the goal is to be eye catching I have to give Penguin a thumbs up.  I suspect the point though is to make this look as little like a science fiction novel as possible.  As for the U.K version, under a different title, I guess it’s cool.  It’s also exceedingly boring.  Winner: U.S. Sally:  I'm having a really hard time with the color of the US cover. I know it's green but what color is that exactly? The Grim Reaper being stabbed in the back by his scythe is ok. The yellow face screams cartoon to me.  While there are moments of levity in The Postmortal, I don't think this cover really does the book justice. The UK cover is better in my opinion. It reminds me of the plague that swept Europe in the Dark Ages. I think that makes sense in the context of this book. Winner: UK




Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
UK
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
US
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011

Justin: Here’s the thing… I thought the U.S. cover was pretty weak until I looked closer and saw the little man inside the O reaching for the key.  That’s pretty sweet.  He looks like the Pitfall guy from Intellivision (look it up people under 30).  Throw in the cool C’s that look like Pacman and my nostalgia is adequately piqued.  On the other hand, the U.K. cover has pixels.  Lots of pixels.  But it all feels like 80’s video game generic.  I don’t get nostalgic, just sad about how crappy video games were back then.  Winner: U.S. Sally: The UK cover looks pixelated, it also looks like a needlepoint to me.  Pixelation makes sense in the context of the book, but it's just a really boring cover.  I like the eye catching colors of the US cover.  The "O" also has a couple of little embellishments (a little man and a key) that I like a lot.  In addition the C looks like Pacman.  I think the US cover clearly conveys more about the book. Winner: U.S.







The Magician King by Lev Grossman
UK
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
US
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011
Justin:  Is it just me or does the U.S. cover look like some homemade crap you’d find in the Kindle book listings.  That thing screams self-published or at best small press (read: my fax machine).  In contrast the UK cover is full of color and energy.  It plays a bit on the cover of the preceding volume’s U.S. cover (The Magician), but really ups the volume.  Sure it looks like a tree that fashions itself a new Doc Brown from Back to the Future, but I’m not going to be overly critical. Winner: UK and it’s not close. Sally:  The US cover is so frighteningly generic I don't know where to start in my criticism.  It also strikes me as more of a science fiction cover.  You're in a cave and on another planet.  Or you're in the middle of a solar eclipse.  It doesn't work for me at all. I prefer the UK cover.  I like the clock on the tree and the keys.  The UK cover says 'fantasy" to me in lovely autumnal colors. Winner: UK






What do you think?

We'll be talking covers again soon!

Interview with Erin Morgenstern and Giveaway - September 16, 2011

Please welcome Erin Morgenstern to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews. Erin's debut, The Night Circus, was published earlier this week. You can read my 5 Qwill review here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Erin:  Oh, I have a lot of writing quirks. I don’t write in order, I love adverbs, I write pages and pages that I never end up using. I listen compulsively to the same music over and over again while I write. I’m not sure if any of these are particularly interesting, but there you go.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers?

Erin:  Margaret Atwood, Douglas Adams, Donna Tartt, Nick Bantock, Tom Stoppard, Dashiell Hammett, Jhumpa Lahiri, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Tom Robbins, Diana Wynne Jones, Shakespeare.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Erin:  Traditionally I’m a pantser but having gone through so many revisions I’ve become something of a hybrid, I still write free-form to come up with material but then I try to work within a structure.

TQ:  Describe The Night Circus in 140 characters or less.

Erin:  It's about a singular circus & a competition held within it. A tale of love & choices & the shades of grey between the black & white.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Night Circus?

Erin:  The Night Circus actually began as a tangent in a different novel, since I was never much of a planner I got bored with what I was writing and sent all the characters to the circus. The circus was a lot more interesting than anything else in that novel so I focused on that instead, developing it first as a location and then building the story into it.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Night Circus?

Erin:  I didn’t research much, I mostly took a love of the time period and an overactive imagination and made things up. I would occasionally check to make sure elements weren’t overly anachronistic but I didn’t bend over backwards to make it historically accurate. I was delighted to discover after the fact that Barnum & Bailey’s circus did at one point have acrobats perform in evening wear, I’d had no idea when I dressed my own acrobats so formally.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Erin:  Poppet and Widget were the easiest, they were the very first characters created so in a lot of ways they’re the most familiar and I understood their personalities and their relationship with each other almost immediately.

Celia was the hardest, though now she’s the one I’m probably the closest to. She's a complicated character and she changes a lot during the course of the story so getting that right was a struggle, but a very worthwhile one.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Erin:  It’s very difficult to choose, as I love a lot of scenes but I am particularly fond of all the scenes that Celia and Marco share and of those the anniversary party is likely my favorite, with that burst of color and passion within all the black and white.

TQ:  What's next?

Erin:  Next up I’m about to embark on a whirlwind of a book tour, but after that I hope to get back to working on my next novel, which is still in exploration stage and I’m looking forward to figuring out its secrets.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Erin:  You are very welcome, thank you for having me!


About The Night Circus

The Night Circus
(Doubleday, September 13, 2011)

US Cover
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.



UK Cover

About Erin

Erin Morgenstern is a writer and artist. Most of her writings and paintings are fairy tales, in one way or another. She lives in Massachusetts.


Erin's Links

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter









The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of The Night Circus from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

If you could work at a circus, what would you like to do? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, September 23, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Release Day Review - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 5 Qwills

The Night Circus
AuthorErin Morgenstern
Format:  Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher:  Doubleday (September 13, 2011)
Price:  $26.95
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy
ISBN978-0-385-53463-5
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Cover and synopsis:

US Cover
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.




UK Cover


My thoughts:

After hearing about The Night Circus for the last few months I was wondering if it could live up to the hype surrounding it. I can unequivocally say "yes, it does." Let me just state it up front: I love this book. There aren't many books that I will read again, but this is absolutely one of them. This is a book to be read and savored much like you'd savor and enjoy visiting Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) in the novel. Erin Morgenstern has created a magical world of great depth with wonderful characters.

At the center of the story are Celia and Marco who are bound together in a magical competition and then so much more. I enjoyed both of these characters tremendously. All of the characters that inhabit or are connected to the Circus are also remarkable. There was not a one that did not intrigue or charm me in some way. At times I wanted to clap my hands so delighted I was by what was happening.

The book is mainly two intersecting stories connected to Le Cirque des Rêves that move toward each other throughout the book. It's easy to keep track of where and when you are because the information is provided at the beginning of each chapter. There is mystery, romance, intrigues, and amazing settings. In addition to the two narratives, there are little chapters interspersed directed at the reader to walk you through the Circus. These little chapters enable you to feel that you are there experiencing the Circus yourself. They are dreamy and evoke the Circus beautifully. 

I was sad when I got to the end of the book because I wanted to linger a bit longer among the black and white tents of the mysterious and magnificent Le Cirque des Rêves. The Night Circus is a fantastical book with rich prose, superb characters, and a mesmerizing story.  Once touched by Le Cirque des Rêves you will never forget it.

I give The Night Circus 5 Qwills.

2011 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 21, 2011

The Qwillery is pleased to announce that Erin Morgenstern has joined the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. Her debut, The Night Circus, will be published in September. I love the book trailer! See it below.


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.





You can keep up to date on 2011 Debut Author Challenge happenings on the 2011 DAC page.
Cover Conundrum: Staffer's Musings and The Qwillery Talk Covers - October 10, 2011Interview with Erin Morgenstern and Giveaway - September 16, 2011Release Day Review - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 5 Qwills2011 Debut Author Challenge Update - May 21, 2011

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