Hello everyone! We are nearing the end of our third week of this year’s Reading Challenge Month with our Judge a Book By Its Cover Week challenge.
You guys can play along with this event in two ways. First off, you can leave a comment on any of this week’s challenge week reviews and earn one entry point for each. And second, if you read along with your own challenge book, you can tell us all about it by leaving a mini review in the comments of this post and earn 10 contest entries. So if you comment on all the posts and do a mini-review, you can earn mega entries!
This week’s fabulous prize is sponsored by Riptide Publishing! They are THREE audiobook codes to two lucky winners (or ebook if preferred)!
And remember, all entries throughout the month qualify you for the one of three amazing Grand Prizes! They huge bundles of books for three different winners. You can check out the full list here on our Prize Preview post!
Ok, before we get too far, some things you may need to know:
- All the contest details and rules are in this post or at least linked from here.
- This week’s deadline to leave comments on our reviews, or your mini review of your own book here on this post, is Saturday, September 21st at 11:59 pm ET. All entries will also carry over for the grand prize at the end of the month.
- In case you missed any, here are the books we reviewed this week for the Cover Challenge. Comment on each for chances to win!
- Now You See Me by Lynn Van Dorn
- Hurricane by Laura Taylor
- Masquerade by Joel Abernathy
- The Wanderer by Dahlia Donovan
- The Musician and the Monster by Jenya Keefe
- The Beach House by Angelique Jurd
- Creature Comfort by Rob Rosen
- Blood and Bones by B.A. Stretke
- Today by R.J. Scott
- If you read along your own challenge book this week, leave your mini review here on this wrap up post.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been participating all week! Don’t forget to leave your comments and your mini reviews for a chance to win! And be sure to check in on Sunday for the kickoff of our final challenge, Older/Younger Hero Week!
The cover of Painting with Fire by Lissa Kasey shows the face of a young man with two different colored eyes who is not quite meeting the eyes of the viewer; I find it memorable.
That young man is Bastian Hart, a talented artist, who is a highly successful doll painter; he is the survivor of childhood abuse and is fairly reclusive. Our other hero is Charlie Fox, a wildfire fighter, and best friend of Bastian’s aunt. The two men meet when Charlie accompanies his friend home for a funeral. I enjoyed this book and learned a few things about the art of doll painting.
The cover of Anhaga by Lisa Henry shows a raven with a tower, castle, and other buildings superimposed upon it; it’s quite eye-catching.
This story is set in a medieval type world where magic (hedgewitches, sorcerers, and necromancers, oh my!) is commonplace and the fae are feared. Our hero is Min, a man of few coins and questionable morals, who comes to the rescue of his adopted nephew when he is caught bedding a young noblewoman. Harry, the nephew, is cursed and will die within weeks if Min does not carry out a task. That task is to travel to Anhaga to retrieve a young hedgewitch, Kazimir, who did not return home after his apprenticeship. Once home, Kaz will be forced to marry his uncle and bow to the will of his evil grandfather. Min can either save his nephew or Kaz but not both. I REALLY liked this story and recommend it.
I also read This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel for my book group. The front cover of the book shows an orange peel while the back shows a whole orange. I can only recall one mention of oranges in the book and cannot figure out the relevance of the art to the story; nonetheless, it’s an attractive cover!
This was an intriguing story about Rosie and Penn and their five sons. Claude, the youngest, likes wearing dresses. Life becomes challenging when he starts school. The family moves cross country soon after a traumatic incident, and Claude/now Poppy and family are keepers of a big secret. This is not a romance though Rosie and Penn have a romantic courtship and marriage. Life is mostly happy for them all but keeping a secret is stressful, and Poppy’s secret is revealed one day. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. In the author’s note, she reveals that this book is not a memoir but that her little boy is now a little girl.
I read Frankel’s book a while ago, and wondered if you found the second half as strong as the first. (I didn’t, and was especially annoyed by the Thailand sequence, which seemed to fall prey to the “mysterious, unnamed character of a different race from a foreign land shows up to give wisdom, then conveniently vanishes from the story” trope.) Frankel’s child was very young at the time of publication, and I suspected this happened because the author had lots of real experience to draw from for the early sections, but nothing to guide depictions of Poppy’s tween years…
Hello Trix, I could wish you’d been at my book group last night as you’d have added additional insight and depth to the discussion. The Thailand section was very different from the first half, I agree, but we were all taken with the cultural acceptance of trans individuals there as portrayed in the book. [One member visited the author’s site and said there was a picture there of the three bathroom signs that Frankel had taken while in Thailand (which I cannot locate … drats!).] You make a good point about the author’s own child being young. I can hope that Frankel might write a follow on book in a few years.
That is a good point; maybe if we’d gotten to know the Thai characters better, it would have helped. I’d love to read a follow-up too!
Interesting, thanks Trix!
Awesome, you had a busy week! Thanks for the reviews! I adore the cover of Anhaga!
I chose Larry Boots, Exterminator by John Inman – the cover is a contemporary graphic design rather than a photo and give a much more joyful scene than the title would suggest. However, the bench does feature!
It is a great, quirky read told with a deft touch! We get to find out why Larry has become an urban vigilante and the style of writing makes us sympathise rather than criticise his decision.
I liked that not everything was resolved in a happy everything is right now sort of way – somethings just were.
The descent into madness of Larry’s last case was well done and didgive a satisfactory resolution to all the ‘what will happen if’ questions it raised.
Entertaining and highly enjoyable
I really liked this book too!
Thanks Suze! I thought this one sounded interesting when Veronica reviewed it. Glad you liked it! (and here is a link to the review if anyone is curious)
This week I chose A.F. Henley’s BABY’S ON FIRE. The tones were very sensual, and I loved the sparkles of the stars and the platform boots. More intriguingly, the cover character reminded me of Maxwell Demon, the alter ego of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Brian Slade in Todd Haynes’ 1998 movie VELVET GOLDMINE (which I highly, highly recommend)! Some theorize that Henley’s story might have fanfic roots (which I can’t confirm or deny): Brian Eno’s song “Baby’s on Fire” is performed during a key scene in the movie, and the young fan Gerry Faun evokes Christian Bale’s Arthur at times. Mark Devon (and his stage persona Maxx Starlight) resemble both Brian Slade and Ewan McGregor’s Curt Wild occasionally (the latter more in his interactions with Gerry than personality-wise). I hasten to add that (while fans can certainly imagine this as a VELVET GOLDMINE sequel in their heads, as I sometimes did) there are a lot of differences in plot, setting, and story structure in Henley’s book, and VELVET GOLDMINE itself was criticized back in the day as being glorified David Bowie fanfic with imagined Bowie/Iggy Pop shipping, no problem for me but upsetting to some then. (Plus, Henley’s Diedre is a huge improvement on Haynes’ Shannon!) So, with all that out of the way, I’ll get to the actual story! I empathized with Gerry and Mark quite a bit, yet I wasn’t always sure that they brought out the best in each other. As I read I truly had no idea how things would turn out, which is very unusual during a romance. There are a couple of “gotcha” reveals, one I predicted and one I did not. Henley covers several decades ably, alternating between the guys’ ’70s escapades and their more circumspect, careworn mid-90s lives in most chapters. I usually dislike that tactic, but it really engaged me here. It really showed how two secret romantics fought circumstance and their own disillusionment, and I admired that Henley risked making them look unlikable sometimes. While the epilogue seemed a little tacked-on to me, it will do the trick for a lot of people. I plan to check out more Henley books (and watch VELVET GOLDMINE again, though my copy is only on VHS, drat it)…
Thanks Trix! This is a really interesting review!
I picked Don’t Fight the Spark by Kasia Bacon. It has the outline in black of 2 people almost kissing with a blue outer space and stars background. If I could get this cover in poster form, I would hang it on my wall. This is a short story is set in Kasia’s medievalish Order universe of elves and other creatures. This story focuses on a pit fighter and a healer, who are trying to escape the situation they are in. There is a star-crossed lovers vibe to the story, which harkens back to the cover. All of her stories so far are short, but I love the glimpses you get in each one to the alternate universe she has created. I highly recommend them all!
Thanks Jennifer! I know Michelle has enjoyed a lot of this author’s work too
I choose a book from Jay Bell with a graphic design cover from his husband. I like those truly unique covers, and I just love Jay Bells books 🙂
“Straight Boy” is a standalone and a YA story. Jay Bell writes teenage characters in a wonderfully natural way. There is a lot of quiet humour in this book. The characters are extremely sweet and likeable. This one is not a conventional romance. It’s about the difficult love between a gay and a straight boy but it’s not a gay-for-you book! I liked it very much! 4.25*
Oh yes, Andreas is so talented and they are such a good author/illustrator team!
I chose Imperfect Match by Jordan Castillo Price because I love her stories, and the colours in the cover caught my eye
A single kiss can change your future forever…
Lee Kennedy has never stopped to question his reluctance to finish his studies and start a family. Pampered and protected, he’s never wondered how the Tax Rats, the people outside the privileged “boomer” district, live. Sharing a forgiven kiss with Roman Sharp, tax rat and waiter at his sister’s wedding, makes him realise there are deep roots to his reluctance to trigger an algorithm and follow the path he is supposed to. But following his heart may risk his family, his career and his future for good. Is it worth it?
I must recognise I’ve been completely enthralled by this story. In a dystopian society where your status determines your future, Lee goes through a journey to self discovery and acceptance. We find out the particularities of this society at the same time Lee does, although there are things which are only hinted at, not fully explained, that kept me very intrigued (like what happened in the past that led to this new concept of society). The main focus of the book is not the romantic relationship between Roman and Lee, which is really slow burn but plenty satisfactory at the end, it is Lee’s struggle to accept himself and to decide what role he wants to play in his own life. One of the things I liked the most about this story is the fact that there is no judgement, whatever path you decide to take, there is joy at the end. There is a HEA for Lee and Roman, but there is also a HEA for Emma and Howard.
I loved it
Thanks for the review Susana! I enjoyed this one too!
This week I read many books. One was Adam Only by Roe Horvat. The muted lighting on the cover grabbed my attention, it looks intimate. The soft ambiance suggested a little mystique and passion. I didn’t notice at first but if you look closely, the bold font hides a hand that’s touching skin, and it looks entirely silky.
It’s a sugary, erotic fairytale. It was a little too pink (or dreamy) for me (that was my problem with the first book too), but I actually believed the instalove. Lots and lots of yummy sex. The story plays out over 2 weeks, and Christoffer and Adam can’t keep their hands, mouths and dicks to themselves. There wasn’t much plot. It’s basically an erotic meet-cute which stretches out, because the men are very attracted to each other. But it’s more than that, they feel like soulmates to me.
Adam is a ballet dancer and I was looking forward to that part where we get to see him enjoy dancing, but it actually played very little part of the story unfortunately.
Overall I enjoyed it.
Also read the last 4 books in the Daniel and Ryan series by Tamryn Eradani. I enjoyed this series immensely, I’m sad it’s over. I’m glad the author or publisher decided to change the covers. These are so much more fitting for the story.
Daniel is a little meticulous and obsessive-compulsive. In Ryan he found something new to be obsessed about. Not in a stalkerish way, though he does spy on him a lot in the office. lol
He’s so cute. His carefully planned arrangement (BDSM) with Ryan is changing, because he starts to fall in love. He wants more kisses and touching and wants to make Ryan happy. Isn’t that sweet. *.*
Also read Change of Heart by Mary Calmes, but I had to dnf at 50%
This review is a little spoilerish.
The flow was off. Too smooth, I think. Conveniently smooth, if that makes sense. I mean… one problem was solved and then another immediately reared it’s head, without any lull. It was too much. It was weird how one semel confronted Jin in an alley, he barely shook him off and the other semel find him too. The guy was living there for 6 months, and no one noticed him before. And then all at once they just knew where to find him. Weird.
Also weird that after Jin goes to Logan, they practically abduct him from under his nose. And then he just escapes, so easily?
The bigger problem for me however that I didn’t like the MC’s…. well now that I think about it, I didn’t like any of the characters. Logan is really possessive and overprotective. Sure he just found his mate, but he doesn’t want to allow Jin to even leave his sight. No one’s allowed to touch him, not even his best friend. He’s borderline controlling and I didn’t like it one bit.
Jin, the main character confused me. I don’t have a grasp on his personality, coz he changed his mind all the time. I loved how adamant he was at the beginning “I don’t need no mate”. And I thought he would resist longer than he did. It’s practically insta-love.
And one other thing I hated is that everyone was so polite, because they wanted to please Jin, the only reah in the whole wide world. Everyone wanted to be in his presence, wanted to touch him and just simply talk to him. He has this kind of aura I guess, or maybe something is pulling them to Jin. I dunno. This kind of effect he has on people reminded me of Kai Gracen (Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford), though it was more subtle there. And it honestly grated on my nerves.
The only reason I got this far is because I couldn’t decide what to read instead, so I just kept going. :/
This was my first read from the author, but I’m not giving up on her yet. I’ll try something else
I have not read this one by Mary Calmes, but I have read her Marshalls series and really enjoyed it. You might try that one and see know what you think.
Thanks Stacy! Others have recommended that too. I plan to give that one a try.
Busy week! I listened to the first book before Only Adam, so I am definitely intrigued by reading Chris and Adam’s story too. Just haven’t quite gotten to it yet.
The beautiful cover that drew me in was Talia Hibbert’s Work for It, which has a field of daisies tops as a background and a bearded man with a shirt off looking down over his shoulder with his back facing the front. I’m not a fan of bare torso covers, but since he wasn’t facing front ways and just the pose he has with the flowered background, it’s a beautiful juxtaposition of hard and soft.
I’m happy to say the inside was as beautiful as the outside. Hibbert did the smart thing by introducing us first to the “unlikeable” MC, Olu (also known as Keynes to people he doesn’t know/like), showing us the strain/anxiety he’s under while trying to get through his touch aversion caused by a bad situation with an ex. (If you read the other books before it, you know what happened, but I hadn’t so I found out as the story progressed). It shows his pain and vulnerability, so we can have more understanding when he comes off as a jerk. The other MC, Griff, lives in a village, working at a farm/orchard. He’s lived there all his life, which is about how long he’s been treated so poorly by the other people living there. He’s got a few kind people in his life and Rebecca, a fierce friend in a small package. When the two of them meet things seem to go well, but the second that Olu starts feeling bad and Griff notices and tries to help, Olu’s hackles rise, and he uses all the hateful attitudes his parents burdened him with to keep Griff away. When they run into each other again at Fenley Farm where Griff is a supervisor, tentative inroads are made after a bad start.
This story was wonderful and very emotional. Olu has a lot of feelings he doesn’t like to acknowledge, except to his journals he writes in all the time. He has a lot of love to give, but he’s mainly expressed that with his sister and some close friends. Failed attempts to have sex have made him especially prickly after a disastrous relationship he’d been in, which combine to make him very wary and uncomfortable with Griff. But Griff is a gentle giant, who doesn’t deserve the scorn and pain others cast his way. He’s never had a relationship, living off one-night stands with anyone who gives him a chance, but with Olu he wants and works for more. Once these two really get together, after an admittedly horrible start, it’s beautiful. A wonderful cast of side characters rounded out this a really rich, emotional, lovely story.
I have heard good things about this story. So glad you enjoyed it!
I chose Investigating Julius Drake by Daisy Harris. I’ve seen the cover of this book a jillion times over the years while looking through the books at Riptide and I really love the contrast between the red sneakers and the foggy look of the rest of the cover.
I don’t usually read YA but since I was buying it for the cover (and it was on sale) I decided to go for it.
The book is about a young teenage boy that has just moved to Seattle from Texas with his mom. His dad is in the service and apparently spends very little time at home, so it’s just Henry and mom. Henry is just starting high school at a pricey private school, but he has a full tuition scholarship. On his first day at school he meets Julius Drake, who is an extremely rich, and very intelligent.
The two boys begin investigating an attempted suicide and a runaway student and find out that the have all been talking to someone on social media that is leading them to this destructive behavior. Most of the book is the boys following leads to find out who is behind the catfishing.
I enjoyed the book but kept finding myself a little baffled about exactly what was going on…I must have been skimming or missed something because I wasn’t always sure how they got from A to B.
The “romance” part was sweet and I was fairly happy with the ending. Probably anyone that enjoys YA will like this book. 🙂
Thanks for the review! I read a lot of Harris’ books way back when but not this one yet.
I just read Happy For You by Anyta Sunday and really enjoyed it! The cover instantly made me feel happy and I wanted to know the story behind it. It definitely delivered. It was a slow-burn redemption story with a lot of layers.
Mort and Felix have known each other for years, he was like a part of Felix’s family and then one day he leaves, no explanation just gone. This book picks up when Mort returns and tells the story of how he proves himself to not only Felix, but their whole family. It definitely pulled at my heart and I felt for these characters. There was a slow-burn, simmering angst that just made me feel so much and I couldn’t put it down.
I liked this one too! Poor Mort was so lonely… 🙁
Oh Mort totally got to me, I just wanted to wrap him in a hug! He really deserved happiness!
Thanks for the review Jenn! This sounds good!
I read Downtime by Tamara Allen
According to good reads this book has 3 different covers but the one I have is like the view of standing in a doorway looking into a bedroom. You can see the corner of the bed, a window and a nightstand with an open picture frame displaying two men. I don’t remember how this book was recommended to me but at some point I purchased it. Everytime I scrolled through my TBR list to start a new book I paused on the cover. I felt a longing to be in a time that seemed quieter and without the stress of the ping/vibrating cell phone or 12 hour news cycle. But I usually kept scrolling because the book is 506 pages which was daunting.
I read this while on vacation ( so on the plane and in a country where I didn’t have access to wifi) A present day FBI agent(Morgan) gets pulled through time into the nineteenth century. He falls in love with the man who accidentally pulled him through(Ezra).
The story went places I was NOT expecting (Ezra’s extra talent, the case Morgan tries to solve, how it all resolves) and it was very exciting. There were some scenes that pulled me out of the story but overall I decided to just enjoy the story and not nitpick. 3.5/5 stars
Thanks for the review Heather! I have heard such good things about this author but still haven’t had a chance to read any of her work. Glad you enjoyed it overall.
I read Nox by Adrienne Wilder. The cover was interesting and gave off a sci-fi vibe, which was what I was looking for since I wanted to read something different than my usual mystery/romantic suspense books. This one was definitely different. The book was good, but was slow in places. The Anubis were a different type of big bad and that made it intriguing. However, there were too many things that weren’t explained and the relationship of the MCs wasn’t really fleshed out. The premise of the book was very interesting though. If she writes a sequel, I will read it. There are enough threads left over that I’d enjoy finding out more about the Anubis and the characters. Sadly the sample chapter at the end of the book (which is supposed to be a sample of the next book she will write IF she gets enough reviews to decide to write it) was more interesting than the book. All in all, I’d rate this one a 3.5.
This story really does sound so interesting to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I decided to give Dead Man Stalking By TA Moore a read. The cover caught my eyes when I first glimpsed it during it’s cover reveal. I like the gothic and mysterious feel of the cover which depicts a man in red shade who is wearing a Victorian like gothic coat and detective fedora hat surrounded by well placed white splotches mimicking blood splatter (well to me anyway).
The story itself was interesting and what wasn’t confusing was good. It also doesn’t hurt that the characters were pretty likable. I was disappointed with it’s execution though. I think the author was trying to make the characters come off as mysterious and secretive and leave the audience wanting. But it became too ambiguous and backfired. I had a lot of questions and the story a lot of the time just felt really disjointed. There were times while reading where I questioned whether or not I really understood what words meant because the dialogue and thoughts between characters didn’t feel as if it followed any sort of context. I also think it suffered because there was no glossary. There were actions associated with words that I had to piece together and even now I’m not sure if I have the right assumption/interpretation of what was really meant. At the climax the description of the showdown scene came off a bit confusing and I had a hard time trying to imagine the actual scene of what was described.
I thought his cover was interesting too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I’m a big fan of Hailey Turner and I’d been looking forward to this book for months. Crown of Iron & Silver was everything I hoped for and more. This was another action-packed story in the Soulbound series, which is full of magic, myths and gods. Their adventures take us from the freezing cold winter of NYC to the other realms where the fae and humans fight for their lives. There is a lot things happening, but I never felt like it was too much. I just kept flipping the pages! There are a few different mysteries going on from a missing baby, a missing Fae princess and a missing artifact. We also have secrets that get revealed, which causes lots of hurt feelings and trust issues with Patrick’s old team. And, as usual, there are bargains to be made. One of which is good for Jono and his pack. I really loved watching Patrick and Jono’s relationship grow along with the additions to their pack, and all of the edge of your seat action. This series just keeps getting better and better. Seriously, I loved how this book made me smile and laugh and cry at the most unexpected moments. And I adore Wade with his never ending hunger for snacks.
“Jono thought of the accidents and decisions that had led them to each other, and the way nothing in their lives seemed to happen by chance, but by what the Fates decreed. Maybe they could’ve fought going down this twisted path, but Jono knew they couldn’t win against gods. What was important was they were each other’s in all the ways that mattered—lover, partner, weapon. It was enough.”
Overall, this is another great book in this series along with a very good ending. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for all of these characters and new family members!
Thanks for the review! We are very much enjoying this series as well (Kris and I are reading the books for Buddy review and Elizabeth is listening to the audio). I agree that the series is excellent!