Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Book Haul!



WOW. So guys, I have not done a book haul in OVER a month, so just so you know I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth; I just haven't gotten many books in lately and I've been insanely busy this summer :) Haven't had a lot of time for the book hauls but boy have I MISSED THEM!!

I hope you enjoy watching this and seeing what I got in this week, I always love sharing with you guys and seeing what you got in as well, so please leave me links to your book hauls and STS's in the comment section below!

Amazon and Goodreads links are below, and also, if you like the vids, please like and subscribe to my channel on YouTube at Libraryland84 :) I'd really appreciate it!


~Links~
Crewel by Gennifer Albin Amazon | Kindle| Goodreads
Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout Amazon | Goodreads
Plague Town by Dana Fredsti Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads

~Blog News~

Just a quick recap of what I've been up to recently! ;)



AND!

If you want to check out an awesome giveaway, Krista from Nawanda Files is hosting one in celebration of her new blog design, so go check it out! ;)

~Grab Some New Buttons!~

These are buttons from the two latest blogs that I just did makeovers for... in case you want to grab one for your site! :D


LCs Adventures

LCs Adventures




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! The Anfractuous Bookaholic

PhotobucketSo I have been on a MAKEOVER rampage lately guys! This summer Lea Christine Designs has been super busy giving awesome book blogs some fabulous new designs, and as always, I love getting to share with you guys the latest design makeovers that I've done. Here is today's!

Cassie is the book blogger behind The Anfractuous Bookaholic, and let me just tell you, she was practically bursting with amazing design ideas for her site. She was looking for something that was both elegant and girly, but with a little bit of an edge to it as well. She loves the colors of purple, blue and hot pink so we decided to work with a very girly and glam color scheme. For her header design, Cassie wanted an ethereal look with a fairy-like girl wandering in a magical forest scene at night, lost in a book. But she also wanted her fairy to be a little edgy, so we put her in jeans and a black corset top. Here is the final design of Cassie's header!


And now-- so you guys can see the transformation-- here are the before and after shots of Cassie's blog :)

~Old Design~

~New Design!~

I am so in love with the color scheme that we ended up using for Cassie's new look- every time I visit her site now, I just have to give a happy little sigh over the prettiness of the colors lol! We also simplified and streamlined the design a bit so that the focus could be on her new header. I hope that you will stop on over to visit Cassie and follow her fabulous YA book blog-- and let her know what you think of her brand new design!

Want to grab a button from Cassie? Here it is!



*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
*****
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Pages: 398

Summary: Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

LC's Take:

So... This is one book that was really difficult for me to review. On one hand, there were some things about it that I really didn't like, but then on the other hand the story was loosely based off of Jane Austen's book Persuasion, which I've never read, so I feel like it's almost unfair of me to rate this book low considering that I may have missed a lot of the point of this story and its characters since I don't know anything about the classic it's based off of...

So because I have to critique this book more as a stand-alone and not as a new take on a classic, this review probably won't be as good or accurate as someone who has read Persuasion. If you were thinking about reading this one, it would be a good idea to read some other reviews for it as well!

OK, here we go...

So to begin with, my biggest problem with this book was that I didn't like the characters much at all-- and I absolutely despised whatever the heck was going on between Elliot and Kai. I wouldn't even call it a romance-- it was more just a desperate attempt on Elliot's part to hold on to a guy who acted like she was totally worthless through three-quarters of the book.

And I really need to emphasize that I seriously dislike it when girls in books come across as being desperate-- wait, scratch that-- I absolutely hate it when girls come across as being desperate! And Elliot was one of the most desperate characters I've ever read about. I mean, she was a total insecure mess and let Kai control and manipulate her, because she just could not cope with the idea of being without him. It really got to be pathetic to be perfectly honest. Elliot was like that girl friend you have who's stuck in a horrible relationship with a crappy guy, and you try to tell her that she's worth better, but she just won't listen. Except it's even more frustrating because you're reading about this train wreck of a relationship and can't stop it!

I also thought that Elliot's thought processes could be totally unrealistic to the point of seeming ridiculous-- She was just so insecure! As one example, there is a part where Benedict tells Elliot that her mother had left his father for Baron North. Immediately, Elliot jumps to the conclusion that her mother was only out to get money from the Baron, and it was no wonder Kai had tried to bribe her, Elliot, with money to stay quiet because she came from a long line of women who would do anything to get rich. Umm... what?? How the heck did you surmise that?? Do you really have that little confidence in your mother and yourself? I just didn't get it. It was such a strange conclusion to jump to, and I was seriously baffled.

Then there were the letters back and forth between Elliot and Kai, which were also ridiculous. They went something like this:

Dear Kai,

Please don't ever leave me. I am totally head over heels in love with you and would die if you ever went away.

Your friend,

Elliot

*****

Dear Elliot,

You're a stinking Luddite with no brains. Bring me stuff and maybe I'll still hang out with you.

Your friend,

Kai

*****

Dear Kai,

I hate you.

Not Your friend,

Elliot

*****

Dear Elliot,

Yeah well, I hated you first.

Not Your friend,

Kai

Yeah, no joke, that's basically in a nutshell how the letters came across to me. There was no affection, just misunderstanding and immature insults. For me the reader, it was impossible to feel the same loss as Elliot did when Kai left, because there was nothing between her and Kai to lose in the first place!

So let's talk about Kai-- where do I even begin? In this book, Kai is a total jerk who acts selfish, manipulative, and immature. Until the very end, there is never a moment where I got to see a sweet side to him, where I might've thought to myself, OK I get why Elliot likes him, even if he can be mean and rude, I can understand her attraction. No. He was a douche to her throughout almost the whole book-- even in all the letters-- there was nothing revealed about him to make him seem worthy of Elliot's love and attention. And from the moment he and Elliot are reunited, he's badmouthing her and her family. But this was the kicker-- he was staying on their property. Yeah! He's staying on Elliot's family's property and he thinks it's OK to badmouth her and her family and treat her like dirt! If I was Elliot? I would've been like, you know what dude? If you don't like me and my family, why don't you pack your bags and get the heck off our land. OR, if that would have threatened the Fleet staying there and paying rent, I would have gone to the admiral of the Fleet and let him know to put Kai in line because getting insulted on a continual basis wasn't part of the deal. Why did Elliot just stay quiet and take his abuse? And why on earth did Elliot feel so guilty for making the clear responsible choice of staying behind on the estate and taking care of business instead of running off with Kai four years ago?

So in case you're a bit confused, the whole "thing" between Elliot and Kai went something like this:

Elliot was born a Luddite and Kai was born a child of "The Reduced," which are the lower class who serve the Luddites. Elliot and Kai grew up as "friends" (even though in their letters I never saw anything revealed of friendship, it was just Kai being resentful and trying to take advantage of Elliot) and then four years ago, Kai asked Elliot to leave her home, family and the estate she's ultimately responsible for to be with him. Elliot made the tough decision to stay behind because she had to take care of the farm and the people who depended on and worked for her family. So Kai left anyways, and then comes back one day as a member of a Sea Fleet which is renting land from Elliot's grandfather to build a new ship. And the rest of the story is about Kai trying to make Elliot feel sorry for not leaving everything for him and bringing her down for trying to be responsible... Well hey Kai, guess what? Not everyone is as selfish and immature as you-- some people actually understand that there are obligations and responsibilities in life and people that depend on them and things they're accountable for and they can't just up and leave because they're in love with you. And if you weren't such a selfish ass throughout the entire flipping book, maybe you would have realized that Elliot not leaving was because she was objective and wise when you were being a delusional idiot. The world doesn't freaking revolve around you buddy, sorry! Seriously, grow up already because you act like a spoiled little brat throughout the entire stinking story. And also-- you wanting Elliot to leave with you in the first place was not romantic-- it was foolish, selfish, and irresponsible.

[Whoa. Glad I got that off my shoulders!]

And really, I didn't understand why Elliot was constantly lamenting the fact that Kai was no longer "her Kai," how he was no longer the "old Kai," and how now he was this horrible person. Because in reality, he was just as much of an ass even way back when-- in all his letters to Elliot, he just came across as being totally selfish and immature and didn't care about Elliot unless she was completely under his control. It was one unhealthy and twisted relationship, and you'd think that after 4 YEARS of mulling it over, Elliot would have had time to figure this out. She acts like she's lost this amazing person who used to love her, when actually, Kai treated her like crap even before he left the estate. And lo and behold, he still acts like a child having a temper-tantrum now that he's 18.

I also didn't understand Elliot and her sister Tatiana's hate for one another. To me, there was no motivation behind it and was just added in as another point of conflict to the plot. Why couldn't they stand each other again? I mean it would have been one thing if Elliot and Tatiana just annoyed each other but in the end really loved one another, but they were completely estranged, with absolutely no sisterly bond or affection. It just didn't seem natural to me. I have a sister and we don't always get along or see eye to eye, but I don't see how you could dislike your sister as much as Tatiana and Elliot did.

OK, so what did I like about this book, you're probably wondering... Well, I did like the world building, and I thought it was really interesting to take a Post-Apocalyptic society and put them in a classic storyline. It almost came across as Steampunk because the characters acted Victorian in their manners and speech, but then there were futuristic elements as well. So that aspect of the book was very interesting and creative.

Also, the ending of this book did save it for me *somewhat.* Kai redeems himself for the most part, even though any explanation for why he was a jerk did not justify his attitude and behavior in my opinion, and if there was any explanation for why he all of a sudden pulled a 180 and became this awesome kind and caring guy, well-- I missed it. Basically, the strings were all tied together but it seemed a bit too convenient for me. But at the very least, Kai did change by the end and Elliot didn't end up with the jerk he started out as.

So all in all, I wasn't a big fan of this book, but I feel like my opinion isn't the best one to be taking because like I said, I'm totally clueless about the book it is based off of. Maybe if I read Persuasion by Jane Austen I would have a better understanding for the motivations behind the characters and why they acted the way they did, but on the other hand I think that a book should be able to stand alone and be likable whether I read the classic it was based off of or not. I guess it just wasn't for me, unfortunately!

~Cover Talk~

I like the concept behind the design for this book cover, but at least from the ARC cover, it just doesn't look like it was executed that well. The image when you see it from afar looks very pretty, but there is just something about it that I can't put my finger on-- it looks sort of fake and artificial to me. Not to mention, the girl on the cover looks nothing like how Elliot is described in the book, and that's just a big pet-peeve of mine. I'm not trying to sound all negative about it, because in some ways it is very lovely and the galaxy stars are gorgeous, but this cover just isn't a favorite of mine.

LC's Rating:
25star
Unfortunately I was not very impressed by this book- I didn't like Elliot's desperate attachment to Kai and I could not stand how horribly Kai treated Elliot. The ending sort of made up for the first three-quarters of the book, but overall I just didn't like it that much. However, I've also never read Jane Austen's Persuasion which is the classic that this story is based off of, and that probably affected how I interpreted the characters and their actions...

Check it out!

Amazon| Kindle| Goodreads



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! Nawanda Files

PhotobucketIt's MAKEOVER time again at Lea Christine Designs!! I love getting to share with you guys the latest design makeovers that I've done for some awesome book bloggers and their fabulous blogs, so here is today's:

Krista is a YA book blogger over at Nawanda Files, where she had a super cute space-and-robot theme going on. The problem was she had no fancy header to go along with her theme! Krista asked me if I could give her blog a Custom Makeover that stuck with her current theme, but just spruced everything up and of course gave her site a focal point with an awesome new header...

For Krista's vector illustrations, I drew a cute astronaut girl on the moon, staring in wonderment as some bookish robots make off with her stack of books. In the background, I added some other spaceships. Krista also ordered a custom menu bar to go along with her theme, and a matching favicon. Here are the results!

~Old Design~

~New Design!~

I hope you'll take a minute to stop on over to Krista's awesome book blog and let her know what you think of her new look! Just click on the new design image above or click Nawanda Files to stop by and say hello :)

UPDATE: Krista is ALSO hosting an awesome GIVEAWAY to celebrate her new design as well, so now you will definitely want to stop on over! :D --> CLICK HERE FOR GIVEAWAY!

*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: Eldest

Author: Christopher Paolini
Series: Inheritance #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 23, 2007
Pages: 668

Summary: Darkness falls ... Despair abounds ... Evil reigns ... Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider.

It is the journey of a lifetime, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn't sure whom he can trust. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall - one that puts Eragon in even graver danger. Will the king's dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life.

LC's Take:

When I went into this series, I knew that I was making a pretty big commitment. In order to finish the four books in the Inheritance series, I was aware that I was setting myself up for a story that comes in at a whopping 2,800 pages. Not exactly quick reading! However, after finishing Eldest, the second book in this series, I am so happy that I did decide to read these books, since they really do come together to make for one totally epic, high-fantasy adventure story.

The world-building in Eldest was once again fantastic. I said this about Eragon and I'll say it again-- I absolutely love when a book is able to take me away to another world, where each time I sit down to read another few chapters I am immediately transported to a fantastical, magical, otherworldly place. Christopher Paolini is able to paint an incredibly detailed and fully-formed setting for his story of Eragon and the Dragon Riders, and this is one of the number one reasons why I am so in love with these books-- it's like a mini-vacation every time I sit down to read them!

I really like how the story progressed in this one. It picked up the pace a bit from the first book, but it didn't rush through things too quickly either. Much of the story in Eldest is about Eragon and his dragon Saphira traveling to the Elf City of Ellesmera, where Eragon can be fully trained in the arts of being a Rider. But in the outside world of Alagaesia, the Varden is struggling to survive in the independent country of Surda, while the Empire under the evil King Galbatorix threatens war to any who stand in his way, and Eragon's home village of Carvahall is in danger of being totally annihilated...

One thing that you could definitely see in Eldest was a lot of character development-- Eragon especially has gone from an innocent and pretty head-strong boy to a much wiser and mature leader. After finding out that he is the only Rider in the Empire and thus the only person who can save everyone from Galbatorix, Eragon becomes much stronger and decisive as a character, and I loved that we could actually see those changes taking place.

Another character I really loved-- and trust me, there were many I liked!-- was Nasuada, the new leader of the Varden rebel force that stands against the Empire. She was the perfect example of a strong female leader who was not whiny or cruel or a man-hater, which is unfortunately the case in many YA books that try to portray the female lead as being "strong," but rather she was extremely loyal and wise and able to take on the responsibilities of a ruler. Also, I do like Arya but it just killed me to read about the rocky relationship between her and Eragon! She just seemed so distant-- which I'm sure was done on purpose-- but I want to know more about her and her story.

In Eldest, we are also introduced to a whole new perspective-- that of Eragon's cousin, Roran. Because the first book in this series was told completely from Eragon's point of view, it threw me off a little bit to unexpectedly add in a whole other POV. But as I read on, Roran's story back in Carvahall and his journey to save his village and his love Katrina began to take shape, and it became much easier to follow the flow of both stories at the same time. In the end, I became just as invested in Roran's side of things as in Eragon's.

So yes, I absolutely loved this book, and cannot wait to return to Alagaesia when I pick up Brisingr, the next book in this series! I may take a break for a little bit however, since I'm a pretty slow reader and it takes me forever to read through these. To anyone who loves fantasy stories, these books are definitely must-reads!

~Cover Talk~

It's no secret that I am absolutely in love with the covers for this series. Probably the thing I like the most about them is that, not only do they stand out and look awesome by themselves, but when you put them all together, they look so amazing side by side. For me, these covers really do stand apart from all the other YA covers out there-- not just because of their subject matter (totally kick-ass looking dragons) but also because of the artwork that was done for them.

LC's Rating: 
Photobucket
5 stars for an amazing, multidimensional story, awesome characters I could become emotionally invested in, and world-building that took me to a whole other place-- Eldest was another breath-taking book in the Inheritance series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Video & Book Review: Half-Blood

LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
*****

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #1
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Pages: 281
Source: The library

Summary: The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

~Video Review~




LC's Take:

Half-Blood was one of those books that instantly pulled me into the story and had me hooked until the very end. I loved the setting, the characters, and all the twists and turns in the plot, and overall it was just a lot of fun. With that being said, there were a few things about Half-Blood that I wasn't totally a fan of, but for the most part I thought it was a very enjoyable read!

So first, I really loved Alex the main character. Alex is a "Half-Blood," which in the mythology world is basically the equivalent of being a second class citizen. Unlike Pure Bloods who are the elite and powerful descendants of Hematoi, Half Bloods lack godly powers and only have two options in life: Fight against evil daimons who try to kill Pures, or become life-long slaves in Pure households. Alex is clearly dead-set against becoming a brain-washed servant forever, so she's aiming at becoming a kick-butt Sentinel who protects the Pures. Problem is, awhile back she and her mother ran away from The Covenant and after a tragedy, Alex is back but far behind the rest of her class.

Enter Aiden: the Pure Blood sentinel ordered to help train Alex before school starts up again. Totally dreamy and insanely hot, Aiden is also off-limits to a Half Blood like Alex. But does that stop them from being incredibly attracted to each other? Of course not :)

It was a lot of fun to read through Alex's perspective throughout the story-- she was strong, snarky, with just the right mix of vulnerability and a sharp edge to make her a thoroughly likable character. As you may know, I hate whiny, weak female characters who obsess over guys who in turn walk all over them, so Alex was much more my kind of gal!

I also loved the three main guy characters in this book- Aiden, Alex's off-limits trainer, was just sexy as all get-out and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the tension build between them. Caleb, Alex's best friend at The Covenant, was loyal and always there when Alex needed him. And then Seth, the Apollyon who Alex finds herself irreversibly linked to, provided a lot of the romantic conflict, once again being a very interesting type of character to follow.

Along with characters, I HAVE to mention the huge surprise for me in this book, which was that there was not only a character named Lea-- spelled just like my name-- but she had red hair too! I couldn't even believe it. Now, in the book, unfortunately she was a major biotch who you want to slap a dozen times, but still, she added a fun element to the story as she and Alex squabbled back and forth.

So what didn't I like so much about this book? Well, I guess my biggest issue was similar to a lot of other people's-- it is extremely reminiscent of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Like, to the point where you just can't deny it. The dynamics that play out between Alex and Aiden are pretty much identical to those between Rose and Dimitri-- Dimitri and Aiden are both off-limits instructors who get romantically (and sexually) caught up with the main female lead. The daimons in Half Blood acted almost exactly like Strigoi in VA, and both evil creatures are out to get the more elite and powerful. Both Alex and Rose have big conflicts going on with their mothers, both are going to a secret school to learn fighting, both are extremely sarcastic and snarky, honestly-- I could go on but I won't!

Now these similarities did not ruin Half-Blood for me, because I really liked both it and Vampire Academy, but it did impact my experience reading it and how I ended up rating it. Another thing that bothered me about this book was that I never felt any true close connection between Alex and her mother, which was actually crucial to the story. I would have liked if there was more history and emotion revealed there, because I wasn't able to feel totally invested in everything that was going on with Alex and her mom.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Half-Blood and am happy to finally see why everyone has been raving about it for so long! Let me know in the comments below if you have read Half-Blood, or plan on reading it, because I'd love to hear your thoughts on it too! ;)

~Cover Talk~

Oh. My. God.  I know that I gush about A LOT of book covers, but I kid you not when I say that this one is one of my all-time favorites. I mean, it is just drop-dead gorgeous! From the second I saw it, it caught my eye with that purple flower made out of flames-- the colors, the design, everything about it is just amazing!

LC's Rating:
Photobucket
Thoroughly enjoyable with a fun and fast-moving plot, Half-Blood was a great read in the mythology genre. My only major issue with it was the numerous similarities to Vampire Academy! Still a great book though ;)

Check it out!

Amazon | Goodreads



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Blog Makeover! Books Beside My Bed

PhotobucketIt's MAKEOVER time again at Lea Christine Designs!! I love getting to share with you guys the latest design makeovers that I've done for some awesome book bloggers and their fabulous blogs, so here is today's:

Karen is a lovely librarian who has a cute blog called Books Beside My Bed. However, her design was more generic with a Blogger template and she really wanted to get something that reflected her personality more and also tied into her blog's name. She asked me if I could create for her a whole new design with an illustration of her lounging on a daybed, reading a book, with her favorite collie dog next to her. She wanted her blog to be really colorful, with pinks, purples, blues and greens, and then she also ordered some extras like a custom menu bar, custom sidebar titles, and a favicon. So I thought it would be fun to take a moment today for a little...

~How I Make Custom Vector Graphics~

OK! So today I am going to show you guys how I create these graphics for my designs-- and this is how I make all the graphics you see here at LC's Adventures in Libraryland, too. So when a blogger asks me to draw custom graphics for them, I first try to get as many details as I can-- what hair color, eye color, what kind of clothes do they want their character wearing, etc. Then, I typically sketch out the drawing on paper, and then upload it to my computer and into my image editing program.

Here is the drawing I did of Karen's collie:


So once I get it uploaded, I use what is called the "paths tool" to make a series of points that connect, and then I change the curves and adjust everything to the shape I want my final image to take:


It takes lots of practice and patience! When I first started doing this, it would've taken me hours (and LOTS of head-banging frustration) to create this collie, but now it probably took me about 45 minutes to get finished. Here is the collie drawing a little farther along...


Each different color and shape you see in this graphic is its own separate layer-- that way I can change, manipulate, and adjust the layers to make everything just the way I want. After I finish adjusting the colors and shading to how I want it, here is the final graphic! :)


Alrighty, so now you have a better idea of how I create my custom graphics-- now here is the MAKEOVER!!

~Old Design~


~New Design!~

I really love how everything turned out in this makeover, since we were able to take that basic, generic Blogger template and create something totally unique and colorful for Karen's style and personality! Now things are very bright and fun and, I hope, will make blogging an even better experience for Karen now that she has a one-of-a-kind look that is all her!

Be sure to stop on over to Karen's blog at Books Beside My Bed to say "hi" and let her know what you think of her new design-- and of course, show her some blogger love by following too! :)


*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cover Reveal! Finale by Becca Pitzpatrick

OK guys, I know I'm a *little* behind with this one, but I just HAD to do a cover reveal post for the cover of Finale, Becca Fitzpatrick's LAST book in the Hush, Hush series. So here it is!

Ta-Da!!

Oh, man. I LOVE IT!! I love all the covers in this series, Nora looks gorgeous and Patch? Well I think we can all agree that he's sexy as all get-out! ;) The dramatic black and white of these covers really make them stand out and be instantly recognizable. I have no idea what is going to happen with Patch and Nora in this final installment about heavenly war and earthbound angels, but I definitely cannot WAIT to find out!!

What do you guys think of the cover for Finale?? Let me know in the comments! :)

~Details~

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: October 23rd 2012
Pages: 352

Summary: Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean that they will always be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. But now they face their biggest challenge. Can their love survive a seemingly insurmountable divide. And in the end, will there be enough trust left to rebuild what has been broken? The lines are drawn - but which sides are they on?

~Check it Out!~




Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review: Dark Companion

Author: Marta Acosta
Publisher: Tor/Macmillan
Release Date: June 2012
Pages: 368
Read it in: 2 weeks (it takes me forever to read PDFs!)
Source: EGalley from the author

Summary: When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

LC's Take:

Jane Williams has just been given a full scholarship to attend Birch Grove Academy, an elite girl's school where she will have a second chance at life, away from the violent city slums of Helmsdale where she's lived her entire life. Once Jane arrives at the school, she starts making friends and falling for a couple of the boys who live near the school-- both who happen to be the sons of the school's headmistress. However, Jane starts realizing that there is something strange about Birch Grove, and that her reason for being there might not be as simple as she thought it was.

This book was just "OK" for me... I did like reading it, but there were some things about the characters and the plot that I wasn't really a fan of. I'm not even sure I can put my finger on exactly what it was that I disliked, but there were definitely parts about this book that rubbed me the wrong way.

I did like the main character, Jane Whitfield, who was sort of like a modern-day Eliza Dolittle, who rises up from her slum-life background in order to become an educated and well-spoken student with a chance to succeed in life. I loved how she came from such a dismal background but worked hard to overcome her disadvantages. There were also many similarities between her and Jane Eyre, which were echoed throughout the book.

I also liked the secondary characters in this book, especially Mary Violet and Jack-- they were quirky, strange, and kind of unbelievable, but still managed to give the story somewhat of a dream-like quality, because they were slightly "off." It's sort of hard to explain I guess, but basically I liked them because they were different! The ways they talked and behaved were a bit funny, but still very memorable.

One character I could not stand was Lucian "Lucky" Radcliffe, the headmistress's son. Lucky was your typical, unattainable golden boy, who was also extremely selfish and walked all over everybody to get what he wanted. At the start of the story, Jane has thoughts of "How could someone as awesome as him like someone as average as me?" Not that that's bad necessarily, but she did get a little too fan-girl for my taste at times, and I wish she didn't feel like she had to try so hard. Lucky, on the other hand, was controlling and possessive, and even made Jane promise to keep their abusive relationship a secret, and I really wish she would've taken that as a major warning sign to stay the heck away from him a lot sooner than she did.

The story unfolded a bit slowly, but it was still able to build up the right amount of mystery and suspense-- for the first hundred pages or so, you know that something isn't quite right, but you can't really put your finger on it. I was really impressed by this subtle eeriness that only "hints" at something being off, because it made me really curious to figure out what was going on!

I did like the element of mystery in this plot, trying to figure out what Birch Grove Academy's secret was, and how the scholarship girl that Jane replaced disappeared. However, I did think that the story began to drag  a bit, about halfway through the book, and the ending was somewhat anticlimactic, even though there were a few unexpected twists and everything ended up being neatly resolved with all the strings tied up.

Altogether, I think that there will be people who really like this one, and others who may not be huge fans. The dark, Gothic nature of the story and the mysterious mood that surrounded the plot were done really well. However, I wasn't able to connect with the characters quite as much as I would have liked, and I had some trouble keeping my attention going towards the last half of the book. I personally didn't mind reading it, but it was by no means a favorite unfortunately!

**NOTE: I wanted to mention that I did read this book as a PDF file, which might have influenced my overall impression of the book a little bit... I am really not a fan of reading e-copies of books and I think I can be a bit more impatient at times when I do read e-Galleys. I just wanted to be fair and bring this up as a factor that may have affected my overall experience a little!

~Cover Talk~ 

I really love the eeriness of this cover, and the monotone color scheme with the blues and greens is really beautiful! I like how it shows the girl-- presumably Jane-- walking away with her back to us, through the creepy woods. Altogether, it is very beautiful and definitely sets the mood for the story. The only thing that I think feels out of place is the font of the title-- it is too "cheerful" and whimsical for the book. Something more Gothic-inspired would have been a better choice. I've heard that the font may be changed in the final editing of the book though!

LC's Rating:
Photobucket
A Gothic story set with a dark and eerie mood, Dark Companion is a paranormal romance with lots of mystery and suspense. The story did take some time to build, and the ending was a little less exciting than i would have hoped.

Check It Out!



Creative Commons License