Top 5 Friday: Cover Love

I would love to start consistently doing a Top 5 Friday Blog! We will see how this resolution goes ūüôā

For this Top 5 Friday I want to feature my current favorite book covers, and because I wanted you to be able to see the covers really well I took screenshots of the covers from goodreads.com rather than taking them myself. ¬†With that, let’s dive in and start admiring:

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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This novel is gorgeous, one of my favorites, and I don’t even own it yet. ¬†There is going to be a slight trend with these books, in that I haven’t read a majority of them, even though I hear really good things. ¬†This cover is just beautiful and distracts me from the idea of dying from dysentery just enough to really want to start some adventure in the Wild West. ¬†The contrast of the orange/yellow with the black and white is perfect and does a great job of not overpowering with all the other things that are going on in this picture.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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Although this is another one that is on my TBR, I think it accurately portrays the historical fiction and magical feel this novel gives off. ¬†There are some editions that I have seen that has blue running along the page edges and I wish I had that copy with my whole soul, but in the end cost-efficiency won the day, and my paperback copy is still very lovely. ūüôā

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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This cover makes me wish I was some kind of watercolor genius and could make messy art look intentional and perfect, but I will just have to settle for using this as my art centerpiece.  I love this cover and it also portrays the confusion and chaos the protagonist suffering from schizophrenia feels throughout this story.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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My photo does not do this book justice.  The deep green of this cover is entrancing and something about it makes me want to keep looking at it forever.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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My final favorite cover is simple and whimsical.  It does a great job of conveying the attitude of the story, which is also amazing.  I love how the font for the title fits the cover and is made a real centerpiece in the entire cover.

What are some of your favorite book covers?

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Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover Playlist

Here is a Playlist to go along with Ugly Love. I hope you find it useful ūüôā

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Adieu – Enter Shikari

I Can’t Make You Love Me/Nick of Time – Bon Iver

Wake Me Up – Aloe Blacc

Closer – Kings of Leon

Cold Arms – Mumford & Sons

Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons

Have You Ever Seen the Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Closer to Love – Mat Kearney

Something I Need – Onerepublic

Rebel Mechanics – Shanna Swendson

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Uppercasebox bookish items I received along with Rebel Mechanics and this very photogenic train lamp ūüôā

Rebel Mechanics

by Shanna Swendson

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Rebel Mechanics was the book selected for Uppercasebox’s August monthly subscription. ¬†I will do a review and informative post about the entire Uppercasebox experience when I receive the September selection.

Rebel Mechanics is a telling of alternative history.  It is a steampunk story, taking place in New York City in 1888 if the American colonists had never succeeded in their revolution.  In this novel, the British ruling class are successful because they are able to use magic, whereas colonists lack these abilities.  In order to compensate for this, rebels begin building machines using steam and electricity that are able to accomplish the same tasks that the British have done with magic.

The story is told from the perspective of Verity Newton, who has just arrived in the city in the hopes of securing a governess job in one of the ruling classes’ homes. On her way to an interview she climbs aboard one of the rebels’ new inventions in order to arrive on time. ¬†After securing her position in the home of¬†a magister, she is contacted and befriended by the Rebel Mechanics. ¬†As her outings with the rebels increase and her familiarity with the family she serves grows, Verity’s loyalties are tested. ¬†She also learns that in this high stakes time, almost everyone is holding back key information, and the issues that everyone is fighting for are more complex than they seem. ¬†While digesting¬†this new information, Verity must remember to keep her own secrets, or she may find that regardless of her loyalties, she may end up all alone in this new city.

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Review: ¬†Just from reading the synopsis I was really intrigued and had high hopes for this novel. ¬†I was not disappointed. ¬†The inventions that the rebels came up with were similar to a lot of inventions from the Industrial Revolutions with just enough changes that it made sense with the new world that Swendson created. ¬†The Rebels in this novel were extremely dedicated to their cause. ¬†This was especially evident when they made some decisions that while advancing their agenda, also were morally gray and distanced them from Verity once she discovered the truth. ¬†It was during these times that the novel scored a lot of points with me. ¬†Despite their being a love interest among the rebels, Verity was incapable of easily forgiving the rebels for something she deemed unacceptable. ¬†Even after discussing it and finding a way to move forward, it is made clear that Verity’s relationship with the Rebels has changed because of their decisions. ¬†I really admired Verity’s strength and character because of this. ¬†This was an enjoyable novel and I look forward to reading the next installment.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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Falling Kingdoms

By Morgan Rhodes

Rating: 4/5 stars

Falling Kingdoms is a multiple point of view fantasy that follows the events and interactions between three kingdoms in Mytica.  This story is told primarily from the perspective of three characters. Cleo is the second born princess of the wealthy and bountiful kingdom Auranos, who spends a great deal of the novel coming of age and trying to understand her role in a murder that occurs in the beginning of the novel.  She also spends a great deal of her story making it her mission to try and find someone to save her ill sister, who is heir to the throne.

Jonas, is a wine-seller’s son from Paelsia. ¬†He is from an impoverished kingdom and after tragedy befalls his family, he seeks revenge by working to support an uprising to overthrow their southern neighbors. ¬†Paelsia has been living in squalor since a century old agreement with southern Auranos has gone bad, leaving Paelsia in an economic free fall, and agricultural hardship.

Prince Magnus of Limeros is the last character that the reader follows within this novel. ¬†Son of a blood thirsty king, 17 year old Magnus has worked to create an air of indifference to survive his father’s cruelty and hide his dissension with his decisions. ¬†Discord within Mytica, forces Magnus into the focus of his father’s attention, and he must confront the disharmony between his conscience and what his father is doing. ¬†This is all occurring while he is also trying to guard a secret that could destroy his closest relationships and fill him with shame.

While all this is occurring, God-like figures called Watchers, take on the form of hawks and observe all that unfolds.  They are hoping to discover the powerful sorceress whom was prophesied to be born and could help them regain the powerful magic that has been taken from them.  All these characters collide as uncontrollable events much larger than them begin to unfold, causing loyalties to change and secrets to be revealed.  Cleo, Jonas, and Magnus are all put through this violent rite of passage that uncovers their true nature and how they react under pressure.

Review: ¬†This was a really well-written fantasy. ¬†I was concerned when first starting¬†it because their is a large cast of primary and secondary characters and was worried that I would get bogged down in keeping everyone straight and not be able to pay much attention to the plot. ¬†However, Rhodes does a phenomenal job of giving each character a very unique set of characteristics that painted a clear picture of them in my mind. ¬†Falling Kingdoms¬†had really great character development in this novel alone and it makes me very excited to see how these characters will be changed even more in future books. ¬†A great example of this was Prince Magnus. ¬†In the beginning of the novel, he was a favorite character of mine. ¬†He had a really heart breaking childhood and although he worked hard to appear indifferent about his father and his discontent, it was clear that he was affected. ¬†But because of very believable events and the more negative aspects of Magnus’ character he becomes less appealing as the novel moves forward. ¬†He is an example of the complexity of people and the effect nature can have on them. Rhodes captures this in all of the characters really well. ¬†I am excited to continue this series, and find out the future for Mytica.

Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

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Title: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Rating: 3/5 stars

Aza Ray Boyle has suffered from an extremely rare lung disease her entire life.  Previously unseen, Aza Ray Syndrome makes it extremely painful and difficult for Aza to breathe at all times.  Doctors have little faith that Aza will live much longer and every year that she manages to hang on is seen as a miracle.  Now approaching her 16th birthday, Aza still continues to battle the effects of this condition, and it manifests itself in anything from seizures and lightheadedness to hallucinations.  The novel kicks off with Aza experiencing a hallucination in her English class, when she sees a ship breaking through the clouds outside her class window, and someone from that ship calling out to her.

Aza soon discovers that she not hallucinating and her lifetime of breathing complications are explained by something much more fantastical than a rare breathing condition.  She soon learns that she is originally from a different world where the makeup of the atmosphere is much different.  As a result, Aza has spent her life on Earth slowly drowning.  Now faced with a possible new existence, Aza must determine who has her best interests in mind and what would be the best direction for her life.

Review: ¬†This book was really difficult for me to get into. ¬†I’ve had it for a few months and kept starting it and getting sidetracked within the first 50 pages. ¬†Aza’s character in the beginning of the novel is characterized as extremely cynical and full of angst. ¬†As the reader, I took on this blas√© attitude about the story which caused me to be indifferent about the characters and events. ¬†When Aza experiences a very real health scare within the first few chapters of the novel, and begins to get very emotional and upset in front of her mother about her possible death I found it jarring and inconsistent with her previous attitude towards her mortality. ¬†If this display had been utilized when I was more comfortable with the cynical character,¬†I think it could have been¬†really powerful to see her¬†feel such deep emotion and display an attitude that is so different from Aza’s norm. ¬†But in this¬†case it left me more confused, and I didn’t have any emotional attachment to it at all.

I think Headley’s skill in this novel was her description of the ship and the people of Magonia. ¬†That is when I took a real interest in the novel and wanted to hear more about how the characters looked and acted. ¬†Overall, this book was okay and creative, but I wish I was able to connect more with the characters causing me to have more of an interest in how the plot was going to play out.

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The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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The Game of Love and Death

Martha Brockenbrough

Rating: 5/5 stars

In¬†The Game of Love and Death, humans are pawns in a centuries long competition to prove who has more power. ¬†In this novel, Love and Death are mystical figures who¬†repeatedly choose human players to manipulate in order to try and achieve their desired outcome. ¬†Past players have included the likes of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony, and Helen of Troy and Paris. ¬†For the latest round, it is the early 20th century and Love, despite never having won a round of the game, has chosen a young man named Henry and Death has picked a young musician named Flora. ¬†By marking them at their birth these players are connected for the rest of their lives. ¬†Death and Love are allowed to change their surroundings, by having Flora and Henry’s loved ones pass away, for example, but neither can directly interfere with the players’ personal safety.

In 1937, Love and Death find that Flora and Henry have both matured and that their game can now commence. ¬†The stakes: In order for Love to win, the two players must have the courage to continually choose each other despite all the odds. ¬†If they do not, Death wins the right to take the life of her player. ¬†There are several barriers that make a relationship between Henry and Flora difficult and unlikely during this time in history. ¬†The largest obstacle being the fact that Flora is black and Henry is white. ¬†Death uses this and several other factors to constantly try to push doubt and hesitation to the front of Flora’s mind. ¬†Love on the other hand uses the other strong relationships in Henry’s life to encourage him to have the hope, courage, and patience, to try to convince Flora to take the risk on their love.

Review: I really enjoyed the concept of this story and Brockenbrough does a great job of giving both Love and Death very human characteristics.  Throughout this competition it is very clear that while this game is meant to be a diversion from their eternal duties, both Love and Death, are not happy with their current situations.  Despite being immortal, they each have their moments when they ache for the lives and relationships the players around them possess.

¬†Being pawns of such opposing ideas, it was interesting reading about the opposite reactions that¬†Henry and Flora had to tragedy. ¬†While the death of Henry’s parents, seemed to make him ache for a relationship where he could once again feel that close of a connection with someone, Flora turned into herself and tried to form bonds with as few people as possible. ¬†One of these tactics serves to protect the soul from further damage, but only one could lead to the opportunity for renewed happiness. ¬†Although a secondary character, one of my favorite parts of this novel, was getting to know Henry’s cousin Ethan, and his own struggles that he was trying to work through.

The Game of Love and Death is beautifully written, and tells a heart warming story that is really original and creative.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

By: Stephanie Oakes

Rating: 3/5 Stars

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly opens to a young woman named Minnow, standing over the body of a boy who has been beaten. Author, Stephanie Oakes, does not reveal to the reader what occurred, but within minutes the police have arrived. Before the chapter is over, Minnow has been convicted of assault and sent to a juvenile detention center for other girls. The reader is also left wondering about Minnow’s past and how she came to be missing both of her hands in a crude amputation and patch up job.

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The rest of the novel takes place within the detention center, and revolves around Minnow coming to terms with her new life and trying to acclimate to life outside of the cult she has lived within for over 10 years. Oakes keeps the reader in suspense of what occurred in Minnow‚Äôs previous life by only revealing the facts through flashbacks, when Minnow can no longer keep the memories at bay, or through the interactions with an FBI agent who comes to speak with Minnow on several occasions. He is trying to uncover what happened at ‚Äúthe Community‚ÄĚ Minnow used to live in. When police arrived in the beginning of the novel, the commune was burning to the ground and the ‚ÄúProphet‚ÄĚ or cult‚Äôs leader was the only person dead at the scene.

Review:

This book was intriguing and suspenseful. While the mystery of trying to uncover Minnow’s past kept me reading, I also appreciated reading about Minnow dealing with her violent past and learning to cope in a society that she is almost entirely unfamiliar. This is further compounded because she is also learning to work with a severe handicap in that new world. Oakes acknowledges the complexity of Minnow’s situation by including that while Minnow wants to be free, she is conflicted. Not only is there a comfort in returning to a new form of prison after being essentially a captive within the cult. The juvenile detention center almost provides the training wheels Minnow needs in order to be able to function in her new surroundings. This book reveals the character development Minnow goes through in the short time she spends at the center, as her goals and dreams from the beginning of the novel definitely begin to adjust and change as the bubble she has lived in her entire life pops under the weight of all of the new knowledge she gains.

Out of the Easy – Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy is a historical fiction that is good for anyone who likes characters with grit and are not your typical underdogs. ¬†Taking place in the French Quarter of New Orleans, there are many characters in this story who are less than admirable as well as those who are trying to make the best of very difficult situations. ¬†The main character of this story is a 17 year old girl named Josie, who has spent most of her life looking after herself with some help from the owner of a book shop that she works for as well as her mother’s madam, known to everyone as Willie Woodley.Image

After spending her life surrounded by the underbelly of the city, Josie wants nothing more than to leave New Orleans and go to college, and she sets her sights high.  Josie is determined to go to college at a prestigious Northeastern college, as far away from her past and her mother as possible.  Throughout the novel, Josie faces several setbacks that make this goal seem utterly unattainable.

And it is this aspect of the story that I enjoyed so much about this character and this story.  As Josie faces each new challenge, it becomes clear that she may never get her happy ending, despite what happens to most main characters in most novels.  And regardless of this sense of hopelessness, Josie manages to maintain a rugged determination that has kept her alive since she was a child.

I found Josie to be a very interesting character. ¬†It would be unrealistic for her to have grown up in this environment and managed to escape the muck completely clean. ¬†As a result, there are times in the story when she takes on an “ends justify the means” mentality which sometimes works out for her and other times digs her into a much deeper hole.