Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Like/Dislike on Covers

Hi there and welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week we could choose an old topic to revisit. I went with things I like and don’t like seeing on the covers of books. I start with a few dislikes, then move on to likes, then wax poetic about Exit, Pursued by a Bear because I’m obsessed with its cover. Also, just want to mention that the picture below features only covers I like. I felt weird about calling out specific covers I don’t like. On we go!

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Dislikes…

Models: Let me imagine the character how I want to imagine them! A lot of the time I try to stray from just assuming that characters are white, and it’s harder to do this when there’s a photo on the front.

Full body shots: There are so many books with boring shots of someone just standing and facing forward. If you’re going to include a person on the cover, give me some movement! Make it interesting!

Uninspired couple shots: This is probably my stance for all of my “dislikes” from this list, but basically if you’re going to do something clever with it, then go ahead. Otherwise, stop and give it a minute until you think of something clever. Don’t just slap a girl in a dress or a couple about to make out on the front and call it a day.

Just plain ugly design: This one isn’t entirely fair because it’s so vague, but it’s true. I love graphic design. I want to see clever, engaging design that makes me want to read the book. Nice covers are an asset! Make the cover help you sell the book.

Likes…

Interesting type: Give me some interesting typography any day of the week. Actually, give me interesting typography every day of the week. There’s so much room to be creative here!

Accented neutral color schemes: I openly admit I’m a Plain Jane when it comes to color. I don’t like schemes with several colors or bright tones. My favorite palettes feature lots of neutrals with pops of color.

Clever illustration: I love clever designs. I always use the New Bedford Whaling Museum as an example because it’s my favorite logo of all time. The Six of Crows cover comes to mind as a book cover example. The edges of the wings turning into towers is exactly what I want to see more of. It is worth mentioning, though, that every square inch of this book is gorgeous and not just the cover.

Just plain prettiness: See the picture above. They’re all so pretty. I truly can’t help myself. I judge a book by its cover.

Getting creative with full body shots: Like I said before, I don’t mind my “dislikes” necessarily. They’re just often used in really boring ways. The cover for Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a great example of one of my dislikes used well. This cover is incredible. It’s eye-catching. It has a ton of movement. I can feel both the stillness of this moment and the action that comes after. The girl’s body makes an H for Hermione. It features a girl and still lets you picture her however you want. It tells you that the book features cheerleading. By showing you the hands of teammates waiting to catch her, you also get some insight into the story and themes within the book. It’s just such a good cover, guys. I love it so much.

Thanks for stopping by! If you have any suggestions for covers I should cry over, let me know!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Set Outside the US

Hello! I’m posting a suuuuper last-minute TTT because I forgot to queue something up last night. The prompt this week, provided as always by The Broke and the Bookish, is to list our favorite books set outside of the US. On one hand, this was hard because I live in the US and the book landscape is here is definitely US-centric. On the other hand, this could have been easy because we also read a lot of books by English authors. I tried to avoid including too many books from the UK.

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I would most like to highlight A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston and The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh. I’m not entirely sure in what current-day countries they take place (especially because they’re both fantasy, so they might not even be on “Earth,” in the strictest sense), but they’re both great takes on One Thousand and One Nights. Plus they’re the only books I’ve read recently that didn’t take place in a Western/English speaking setting (For the record, I also read Soundless, but I wasn’t crazy about it).

3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: My queen is Australian. Saving Francesca is probably my favorite of her contemporary novels, but that statement makes me feel guilty. Everything Her Excellency writes is great and I have trouble choosing between her books.

4. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K Johnston: This book takes place in Canada, which was cool because I don’t think I’ve read any YA that takes place in Canada. Or…anything, actually. I don’t think I’ve read anything Canadian at all. But anyways, I wanted to include this because I read it recently and really liked it.

5. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray: This book was so interesting! I loved how it jumped settings! I loved the alternate version of Russia! Everyone should read this! I want a print of the cover art!

6. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: I did cave and include two books that take place in London on this list, but I feel like I can justify them. They were both a fantastical take on London, and the city was central to the feel of both stories. Like A Thousand Pieces of You, this involved alternate versions of London/the world.

7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: This is obviously the other London book. I read this years ago, before I studied abroad in London, so I’ve been wanting to do a reread and see whether the story feels different now. In any case, I loved this when I read it in college.

8. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I caved again. Here’s another book by Queen Marchetta, also set in Australia. Like all Marchetta, it makes me cry.

I feel like there were a lot of borderline books for this topic. I could have included Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I love and takes place in Prague, but the series has another non-Earth setting that made me reluctant to include it.The biggest takeaway for me is that I need to read less US-centric/Western lit. I’ll definitely be checking other TTTs for recommendations this week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Facts About Me

This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish) calls for ten facts about me. I’ve always loved hearing little details about people, so I’m quite looking forward to reading these! For mine, I decided to go with bookish facts.

  1. I read for at least an hour every day. My commute to work is an hour each way, which gives me plenty of reading time, and I usually read a little more before bed.
  2. Since November(ish), I’ve been reading mostly ebooks (and lately audiobooks). Getting library books on my ereader is just so convenient!
  3. I have some cute bookmarks, but nine times out of ten, I’m using some random scrap of paper like a receipt to mark my place.
  4. My favorite audiobook narrator is Khristine Hvam. I loved her narration of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I need a full list of books she’s done!
  5. I like a lot of genres, but for the past year, I’ve been reading a ton of YA fantasy. It might be my favorite genre.
  6. I love to sit in the sun and read on my parents’ porch. One of my least favorite things about living in an apartment is not having a good place to sit outside and read when the weather is nice.
  7. Despite living in a major city, I’m still using my hometown library to get most of my books. I blame my New York pride.
  8. My favorite book as a kid was Ella Enchanted, which I have definitely mentioned here before. I re-read it a few weeks ago and it was just as good as I remembered. I was so relieved to find that I still liked it and I totally thought the story held up. Nothing is worse than being underwhelmed by your childhood favorites. (I re-watched Jumanji a few years ago and the crocodile was much less scary than I remembered. I was terrified of it when I was little!)
  9. I’m currently very afraid that I won’t finish The Golem and the Jinni before it is due back to the library. It’s due within the next two days and I still have six hours left.
  10. As of March, I work in academic publishing. So far, I’m really enjoying it!

Like I said, I’m excited to get back into reading other people’s TTTs. It’s good to be blogging again. Thanks for stopping by!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Books With Under 2,000 Ratings

Bet you thought you’d seen the last of me! But alas, I’m giving this blogging thing another shot. While I’ve been writing and reading a lot, I’ve missed talking about books. So bear with me while I try and get my blogging-feet under me again.

I’m making my triumphant return with a Top Ten Tuesday, though of course I’m not starting with an easy one. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books with Under 2,000 Ratings. As it turns out, I’ve read fairly few books (only 17) with under 2,000 ratings, and I wasn’t crazy about most of them. The ones I’ve included below are either 1) books I read and enjoyed, but maybe didn’t love, or 2) books I read and liked a long time ago, though my memory of them is a little fuzzy now.

Martha Quest by Doris Lessing: I took a class on bildungromans in college and I liked a lot of the books we read for it. This was one of them. I remember loving Martha, difficult though she was.

The Intended by David Dabydeen: Another book from the bildungsroman class. This is definitely one of the ones I liked but no longer remember very well. But, weirdly enough, I remember verbatim the exact line from which the title of the book was taken: “You are everything I intended.” It’s a very telling sentence within the context of the book, and clearly it stuck with me.

Swerve by Vicki Pettersson: This was a Goodreads Giveaway book. If you’re looking for something quick and creepy (and occasionally gross), this would be a good choice. While I managed to predict a couple aspects from the ending, there were still moments that had me cringing.

Thursday’s Child by Sonya Hartnett: This was another college assignment, this time for an adolescent literature class. As I remember almost four years later, it was creepy (can you tell I like creepy books?), with a good dose of magical realism and unreliable narration that gave it a surreal, dreamlike feel. I remember really liking this one, it’s definitely my favorite book in this post. I’ve been thinking for a while that I should revisit it.

Social Death by Tatiana Boncompagni: Another Goodreads Giveaway pick. I enjoyed getting to know the heroine. This book really shows you the ugly side of her struggle with addiction. As a whole, I found this book very entertaining.

 

This was a rather difficult TTT with which to jump back into blogging, but I’m glad to be back. Thanks for stopping by.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Hiatus Books

Hello from Boston! I mentioned in my last post that I would be moving to Boston in March and here we are. Three weeks later, I’ve moved, started my new job, and settled in, so it’s high time I get back to blogging.

It turns out that my lazy blogging streak actually started several months ago. Though I’ve been reading even more than usual, I haven’t posted a monthly wrap-up since November. I openly admit that’s absurd. So I thought for this TTT (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish), I would adapt the topic to be the Best Books I Read During my Hiatus (December-February). On we go, in order of when I read them.

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The Young Elites by Marie Lu (December 3): Marie Lu sets up her world so well. Adelina is such a great character, and I like when I can’t pick out who’s right and who’s wrong. Who doesn’t love some moral ambiguity?

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (December 10): This isn’t my favorite from this list, but still a great read from the past few months. The angst is too real with this book, and I expect it only gets more intense as the series goes on.

Scarlet / Cress by Marissa Meyer (December 16/January 31): I love this series. I’ve enjoyed each book and I’m honestly super angry that someone wrote a huge fairytale scifi series before I got a chance to. This series is so much fun and larger-than-life. I just love it. If this doesn’t become an enormous movie franchise, I’ll be livid.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (December 22): This was exactly as charming as everyone says it is. And I finished it just as they announced that Dumplin’ would get a sequel.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (December 27): This was bizarre. It’s such a strange, otherworldly book. But if you don’t mind a little surreal flavor in your books, it’s worth a read. It has been months since I read Bone Gap and I still think about it at least once every couple of days. It stays with you.

Graceling / Fire by Kristin Cashore (January 6/January 14): I have a friend who has loved this series for years. I trust her taste in books so I really don’t know why I didn’t read this series sooner. I was a little surprised when Fire was such a deviation from Graceling, but both were amazing. Such perfect fantasy.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (January 27): I’m honestly so surprised that QoS makes it onto this list. While I enjoy the Throne of Glass series, I never think it deserves the amount of hype it gets. I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed by this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I still don’t think it’s worth the hype and there are certainly aspects of this series I can’t stand (like I can’t bring myself to care about Rowan and Aelin), but I did enjoy this installment.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (February 5): I resisted reading this book for so long because I don’t actually know anything about the eighties or video games. Nevertheless, it was a great read, and one I was able to recommend to my boyfriend when I was done. (Unfortunately, our reading tastes rarely overlap.)

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (February 28): I love when a cover for a book matches how good the book is, and this cover is incredible. The concept was great and full of high stakes and suspense. I couldn’t stop talking about it.

Let’s hope it won’t be another three weeks before my next blog post. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, and it conveniently gives me blogging topics when I’m being a lazy blogger (which is all the time). This week we’re talking our favorite historical or futuristic settings.

This honestly isn’t the best topic to ease me back into blogging. I like history and sci-fi, but if I’m going to be heart-eyed over a setting, it’s almost always a fantasy setting. So I’m tweaking this a little and listing settings I would like to read more of.

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1. Regency: I had a Jane Austen phase in college and it’s nice to step back into a time period with which I’m already familiar, since I have a decent idea of what constitutes acceptable behavior. That way, I can be properly scandalized when characters break the rules.

2. Victorian: Speaking of rules, what setting has more rules than the Victorian era? I love how uber-feminine it feels. I feel like everyone likes a nice Victorian setting.

3. Edwardian/WWI: I’m not going to lie. My interest in this time period can be attributed to my college women’s history class and Downton Abbey. But I’m interested all the same! I feel like the Edwardian era is overlooked since it’s sandwiched between the more popular Victorian and Twenties periods.

4. Non-Western settings: I actually feel guilty about this one. I almost never read translated works. I very rarely read books taking place anywhere other than England or the US. I don’t even read all that much by Hispanic authors, which feels like an insult to my own background. So I need to make an conscious effort to be more varied in my reading selection.

5. Russia: I don’t even have a specific time period for this. I’m just interested in reading more about Russia.

6. Revolutions (American, French, Russian, etc.): I love a good revolution. The American and French Revolutions were always my favorite history topics in school. I always associate revolutions with reckless optimism, which makes them such interesting environments.

7. Dystopian: Yeah, I’m still not over that dystopian trend from a few years ago. Like I said, I love a good revolution. Give me an oppressed people overthrowing a corrupt system any day of the week.

8. Space-based sci-fi: Maybe it’s my recent Star Wars kick, but I want to distance myself from Earth a little. I want to read a novel taking place on some sort of spaceship.

 

It’s a shame I don’t read more historical novels. I genuinely do like history, as I like to be a collector of information and insight. If you have any recommendations for books with these settings, please point me in the right direction!

Top Ten Tuesday: Interesting Yet Unread 2015 Releases

It’s Tuesday again, which means I’m obviously participating in Top Ten Tuesday (from The Broke and the Bookish). I may not be a super consistent blogger, but my TTTs are always reliable. This week we’re discussing 2015 releases we meant to read last year, but never got around to. I struggled with this week’s topic. It turns out that I read most of the 2015 releases that caught my eye, but here’s a list of the sneaky ones that managed to evade me. It would appear that there are two different kinds of books I’m interested in but still don’t read: the kind I don’t go searching for, and the kind I just can’t get my hands on. The first three on this list are the latter type, while the last three books on this list are of the former type.

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Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: I spent much of 2015 reading the first 3 books of this series, then I requested QoS in ebook form from my library. I finally got it in the last week of December, but had to return it unread thanks to a couple of unlucky coincidences.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu: I read the first book in this series a month or two ago, towards the end of 2015. I’ve been on my library’s wait list for The Rose Society ever since.

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch: This was another series I started towards the end of 2015. Unfortunately, my library doesn’t yet have the ebook available for this sequel.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Moving on to the books I didn’t even try to read. Everyone loves this book, so I hope I get around to it in 2016.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman: Another book with good buzz. Another book I may have neglected to look for.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen: I’ve been following Sarah Dessen on Twitter for years, so sometimes she feels a little like an aunt. She seems like the sweetest woman in the world and I feel almost like I know her. I would like to read her newest book at some point, to both support her and indulge in a little high school nostalgia.

 

There were an awful lot of books by Sara/Sarah’s in this post, weren’t there? Thanks for stopping by and be sure to leave me your TTTs in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Resolutions

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday here at Great Exhortations, hosted as always by the Broke and the Bookish. In honor of the new year, this week’s topic covers our resolutions for this year. Read on to see mine.

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1. Read 60 books: As I mentioned in my last post, my reading goal for 2016 is 60. This is the same as my goal from 2015, but I’m anticipating having less free time this year.

2. Be more active on my GE Twitter: I have a personal Twitter, which I use quite a bit (mostly to tweet funny things my friends say), as well as a Great Exhortations Twitter, which I neglect. I want to get better about tweeting and interacting with the book blogging community.

3. Create a GE Instagram: I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, but I haven’t because having to sign in and out of two Instas on my phone seems like a pain. Thankfully, my boyfriend got me a tablet for Christmas, which I’m planning to use for a GE Instagram.

4. Finish writing my novel…: I wrote about 23k words of a novel in December and I want to finish a preliminary draft soon.

5. …And iron out the details…: I love fantasy. I live for it. But world-building takes a ton of time, and I am totally the type to get caught up on details.

6. …And make progress in editing it and getting criticism: Writing is all about revision, and I’m really looking forward to reaching the point where I can actually comb through my scenes, get opinions, and make improvements.

7. Move to a job I like: This has nothing to do with reading, writing, or my blog, but I really need to move to a new job this year. I’ve been at my current job for about a year and six months now, and I’ve disliked it this entire time. I need to move to a different sort of environment.

8. Get better about blogging: My blogging in 2015 was sporadic, unpredictable, and mostly on Tuesdays (for obvious reasons). I want to get better about blogging on a set, regular schedule.

9. Finally read Ferragost by Melina Marchetta: WHAT AM I WAITING FOR??

10. Try audiobooks more: They’re so convenient for driving, walking, or doing mindless work. I have a problem staying focused (my mind tends to wander), but I very much enjoyed my first audiobook experience last month and I’m keen to try it again.

 

Share your resolutions with me in the comments! Thanks for stopping by.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Anticipated Releases

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re talking 2016 releases. I’ve mentioned this before, but I never really know about new/upcoming releases until I hear about them from other bloggers. So this is my attempt to scrounge together a list of books I will definitely be reading once they’re out. Be forewarned, there are only four of them.

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Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: I feel like they started doing press for this book forever ago, so long ago that I actually assumed it had already come out. I’m curious about this book, though I also feel like these aren’t true witches. (Lately I’ve been keen to read a book about more “legitimate,” traditional witches.)

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: The ugly blue of this cover kills me. I feel like it wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t such a terrible blue! But anyways, when I first finished The Wrath and the Dawn, I was furious that I had to wait almost a year for the next book.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke: On one hand, the cover is gorgeous and the blurb sounds interesting enough. On the other hand, that same blurb was frustratingly vague and it compares this book to We Were Liars (which I hated) and The Raven Boys (towards which I am very indifferent). But let’s be honest, I’m still going to read this. That cover alone would be enough.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton: That cover, that concept, that blurb. There’s not a single part of this that isn’t working for me.

 

Clearly I’m no good at this type of TTT. I’m never on top of the new release scene, so if anyone has any recommendations, let me know!