Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Postcard from autumn

Autumn is aflame across Shropshire, where I spotted these glossy, plump berries.  As alluded to in the previous post, I do have a fondness for the season when leaves deck themselves in their party gear.

I wanted to come back to the theme of 'Red Leaves' to let you know how I got on with the Paullina Simons book I was sent by HarperCollins.  The climate confusion on the cover was down to artistic licence - the book is set in winter and the only red leaves are in the name of a building which plays a key role.  Slightly odd title to have gone with, I thought.

Sad to report, I didn't love it.  While the cover intrigued me, the prologue and first section were not compelling.  It perhaps had something to do with the US accent in the narrative, which, to a UK ear, can lead to some phrasing sounding odd. The details of basketball and Ivy League colleges passed me by too.  My main concern was that none of the major characters who appeared in the opening section were likeable though.  Yes, one was particularly enigmatic to make the reader suspicious, but it felt contrived.  I didn't get into the book until Detective Spencer Patrick O'Malley arrived on the scene and had all the charisma and appeal the others were lacking. Shame about the first 150 pages, the events of which we then had to revisit as Spencer investigated them.

The next book on my 'to read' pile promises to be much more gripping: Remix by Lexi Revellian.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Postcard from the bookshelf

I belong to a reader's panel run by HarperCollins.  They recently sent me a questionnaire about the author Paullina Simons and whether various cover designs and blurbs would entice me to look at her books.  As I'd not heard of her, I had nothing to base the decision on but the pictures and words presented. Writers may not like it, but cover design is critical to the process of a reader deciding to buy or not to buy.

I've now received the one whose cover most appealed to me; but the style was similar across the titles: young, thoughtful woman with partly obscured face and suggestion of outdoor background.  So it passed the first test of intriguing me enough to look further.  Nothing to do with the story - I'm a fan of autumn leaves and my first impression of the woman wasn't off putting as it may have been were she more glamorous.

There are a few differences from the version I saw in the online survey.  The author's name is plastered over this one in larger font than the title.  It's put me off a bit.  I don't know her, I don't know her work, it seems a bit presumptuous of the publisher to assume that it's her I care about.  It's not.  I want to know what that thoughtful woman's doing in among the leaves.  I'm having a bit of climate confusion about the snow covered ground and autumn colour, but it's set in the US so I'll put it down to my unfamiliarity. The little teaser sentence was 'Some friends are not what they seem' in the version I 'chose'.  A minor thing, but it had a slightly different tone. The lack lustre title and vague claim of 'International Bestseller' worry me.  The picture worked for me; the words so far don't.

I'm prepared to give the book a go now it's here, but the huge name might have been enough to make me keep walking past the shelf in the shops.  I'll let you know how I get on with the story. It's the bit which counts, after all.