Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Silence by Deborah Lytton

Love is blind. But it's also deaf. 

I love getting an advanced readers copy (ARC) of a book because I feel like I get to make my own opinion of a book before anyone else has read it and influenced me. I got my hands on this book a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to pick it up.

Title: Silence
Author: Deborah Lytton
Pages: 312
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Summary: Stella was born to sing. Someday Broadway. Even though she's only a sophomore at a new high school, her voice has given her the status as a "cool kid." But everything changes when a tragic accident renders her deaf. She can't hear herself sing not to mention speak. She can't hear anything. Silence. What happens when everything you've dreamed of and hoped for is shattered in a single moment?

Enter Hayden, the boy with blond curls who stutters. He's treated like an outcast because he's not "normal." And, yet, Stella feels an attraction to him that she can't explain. As Hayden reaches out to help Stella discover a world without sound, his own tragic past warns him to keep a distance. But their connection is undeniable. Can the boy who stutters and the girl who's deaf ever find a happily-ever-after? Silence is a story of friendship and hope with a lesson that sometimes it takes a tragedy to help us find and appreciate beauty and love in unexpected places.

My Opinion: Like a sonnet. A steady rhythm of beautiful words and feelings. You anticipate the ending, but don't want it to be over either.

4.25/5 Stars

I was initially intrigued with the idea of this novel - a girl who loves to sing, but tragically loses her hearing. A boy who stutters is the only one she can understand. 

I loved the quick connection that I felt to Stella and Hayden. I'm glad I got to see both of their perspectives (I wish I'd had more from Hayden!). The teenage voice was spot on. 

The best part about this novel is the feelings and thoughts it created in me. Stella has to rediscover herself and the question is posed: is her voice what makes her? It raised the question in me: am I defined by what I can do or by who I am?

I love that Hayden is there, literally and figuratively saving Stella and teaching her that she doesn't need her hearing to live, that Someday Broadway isn't what makes her who she is. She can be something in silence.

I haven't read a lot of books lately where I love the ending. This book changed that for me. Throughout the story I kept hoping that Stella and Hayden would heal each other, but I wasn't sure if I wanted Stella to get her hearing back. I was so pleased with the turn of events (I won't spoil it). 

This would be a great read for anyone that enjoys YA or light romance. Even though it wasn't set in the Jane Austen era, it had the feel of a Regency Period piece - a slow and steady building to a dramatic end.

My Content Rating: PG

Sexuality: Mild (Kissing, Hand holding)
Language/Profanity: None
Drug/Alcohol Use: Mild (Hayden's mom and alcohol at a party)
Intense/Scary Scenes: Mild (Pool scene, some blood)
Violence: Mild (Physical/Emotional Abuse by Hayden's mom)

**Robin-approved for teens**

Friday, September 5, 2014

Top 24 Books for Teen Boys

It's sometimes hard to get our boys to read, let alone LOVE reading. I grew up with seven brothers and most of my best friends growing up were boys too. For the longest time I wished I was a boy - I even wrote a poem all about it (that no one will ever see). Now that I have three boys of my own, I realize the importance of finding the right book fit for the male population.

In conjunction with Delicious Reads, I put together this list of books that I think any tween or teen boy (and adult male) would enjoy. They aren't all told from the male perspective and not all filled with gun and bombs. They are just books that have a quality about them that makes them relate-able. Hop on over to Delicious Reads for summaries of each book, but until then, I give you the best books for the boys and men in your life:

Book covers of all the books Robin King recommends to teen boys

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Making of a Book Cover: Remembrandt

People keep asking me if I got to chose the cover to Remembrandt or not. I kind of ho-hum around the topic because it is a yes-no answer. Any of you who know much about the publishing world, know that most authors have no say whatsoever in their cover.

After Walnut Springs Press offered me a contract earlier this year, they had me send them a list of some book cover ideas, along with a detailed description of all the characters and places in the book. I sent a list of about 5-6 ideas. Since their graphic designer was out of the office until the next week and would only have a few days when they got back to deliver some mock-up covers to Deseret Book, I asked if I could put some of my own mock-ups together. They said yes!

I spent a few days searching for stock images of the main character (a blonde teen with gray eyes) and scenes from Russia (one of the settings in the book). I came up with a few possible ideas and put together a couple cover ideas. BUT I still was't happy with them. Then a friend and fellow photographer (thank you, Mary!) reminded me that I am a photographer too and offered to help with a photo shoot. We gathered together seven or eight models who matched the description of the main characters in the book and clicked away at our cameras.

I spent the next couple of days editing photos, adding text, and layering images. It was a blast coming up with different ideas. Here are some of the many mock-ups we came up with:

Mock-up covers for Remembrandt by Robin King
My favorites were was the top left one, the black dress with the pink shoes, and the ones with fingers crossed behind back. The publisher also liked the top left one, along with the boy and girl on the bench, Unfortunately, the distributor wanted a more "suspense" looking over. Now that I look back, I totally agree with them. In the end, the graphic designer and Walnut Springs found another model (which is the perfect Alexandra!) and used the Russian scene from my favorite mock-up cover and combined them, similarly as I had done in the top middle mock-up above to get this:

Young Adult Romantic suspense

The amazing designer, Tracy Anderson,  added a little makeup to make her appear older (since she's 17 in the book):

Young Adult suspense and romance

At this point, I loved it, but my artist brother, Devin, noticed a crane in the city background, Alexandra's missing shoulder, and thought he could make the transition between her hair and the city more natural. Willow Springs gave me permission to make the changes and here's the final image:

Young Adult Romantic suspense
The final cover of Remembrandt