Hello everyone! Today we are wrapping up the final week of our Reading Challenge Month with our Judge a Book By Its Cover Week. I can’t believe how fast the month has flown!
As a reminder, you folks 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 right here 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 the great folks at JMS Books who donated FIVE $20 JMS bookstore gift cards!
And remember, all entries over the month qualify you for our amazing Grand Prize sponsored by NineStar Press! They are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 books from NineStar Press! You can see all our Challenge Month prizes here on our Prize Preview page.
Here is what you need to know this week:
- 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, October 2nd 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 Judge a Book By Its Cover Challenge. Comment on each for chances to win!
- The Bachelor’s Valet by Arden Powell
- Descent of Ravens by A.C. Andrews
- Not What It Seems by Nicky James
- How Not to Kidnap a Prince by S.M. Quill
- One Trick Pony by Eli Easton
- Chrysalis by S.E. Harmon
- The Depths of Time by Lori Fayre
- All the Stars by Duckie Mack
- Queen of Teeth by Hailey Piper
- If you read along your own challenge book this week, leave your mini review below in the comments of this wrap up post.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been participating all month! Don’t forget to leave your comments and your mini reviews for a chance to win!
I was lucky enough to get an ARC for “A Veiled & Hallowed Eve” Soulbound #7 by Hailey Turner, which releases today. All of the covers for this series are intriguing, hinting at a much bigger issue than just one location.
This is a great ending to a really good series.
It features epic battles, lots of gods, demons, zombies, magic, were creatures, vampires and immortals. The only difficult part is remembering who all the gods/immortals are and their various aliases. There was one time jump that made me wonder if a scene or chapter was missing, but the gap is explained if you keep reading.
All in all, Patrick comes full circle, and it makes me want to go back and re-read the series. But, like another reviewer commented, what happens to Wade and Sage, et al? They are not mentioned in the epilogue.
Overall, this is a really good series.
Thanks Linda! I agree these covers are lovely! Kris and I actually have a buddy review for this book coming later today. So glad you enjoyed it!
I wouldn’t say that I “love” the covers of these books, but they are all attractive to my eye.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
This is an interconnecting collection of stories; some take place in our world, others in a place with pirates, keys, a moon who visits the land, books (and more BOOKS), bees, cats, swords, doors of all kinds, and time loops. It’s written in the present tense and the focal character is Zachary who finds an old book in which one of the stories is of his own childhood discovery of a door (a door he did not open but which had disappeared on his return a day later). This isn’t a romance, but love develops between Zachary and Dorian. This is a very well regarded book and I have admiration for how the author constructed it; however, it did not speak to me. Perhaps I prefer a more linear approach!
Tattoos & Teacups by Anna Martin
This romance featured men who were quite different — Robert (Scottish, tea drinking, rather staid 32 year old professor of literature) and Chris (23 year old, tattooed, motorcycle riding, rock band and symphony percussionist). I almost didn’t finish the book several times in the first half, but then the book became more engaging. I’d describe the book as low angst. (Jay gave this 4.5 stars back in 2012.)
Honeytrap by Aster Glenn Gray
I quite enjoyed this cold war era romance featuring an FBI agent and a Soviet agent who are paired to find the person behind an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Khrushchev during his 1959 visit to the US. The first segment of the book takes place over three months or so as the men drive through various states seeking information; during this time, they get to know and care for each other. The next two sections take place a number of years later. I expect to re-read this book.
A Ferry of Bones & Gold by Hailey Turner
This book has mages, werewolves, seers, vampires, demons, succubi, Greek and Norse gods and goddesses manipulating others to their own ends, witches, a number of governmental agencies, and let’s not forget the villains; I’d describe it as busy! Our main leads are Patrick (a mage with metaphysical, physical, and emotional scars) who is sent to NYC to work on a serial killer case and Jono (a British alpha werewolf who is packless in NYC). This is the first book in a series; I enjoyed it, but I’m unsure whether I’ll read on. (This has received ratings of 4.5, 4.75, and 5 stars on the site.)
Dalí by E.M. Hamill
This science fiction work is set in space in the future; the title character is an empath, an ambassador, and a changeling third-gender (an intersex human able to assume a male or female form at will). Dalí’s husband, wife, and unborn child were killed in a bombing six months ago and, when the novel begins, Dalí is grieving. Other third-gender changelings have gone missing from various worlds, and Dalí is recruited to go undercover to learn more. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the sequel. (Elizabeth gave this 4.5 stars.)
Oh, I love the cover for Tattoos and Teacups (or at least the original, not sure if it has changed on re-release). THanks for all the reviews!
Being a gymnastics fan, the cover of “Rings of Lust” (Rings Trilogy, Book 1) by Finn Dixon caught my eye. I happily received an ARC of this new book, a 4.5-star read for me:
I so enjoyed this love letter to US men’s gymnastics in the form of a sweet and steamy coming-out romance between Olympic teammates.
The mutual secret crushes between closeted gymnast Cam and his publicly-out teammate Luke, as well as their playful (but all too brief) mistaken identity texting leading up to their first hookup, pulled me into the story from the start. The teammates’ agreed-upon, down-low Olympics fling deepens surprisingly quickly from there, as they build a real relationship while discreetly hooking up at every opportunity and not losing sight of achieving their dreams.
This is an engaging and surprisingly low-angst read with enough sports action and team bonding time to reasonably balance out all the smexy times (of which there’s a-plenty – this book lives up to its title), and it captured the excitement of experiencing the Olympics as an athlete. Delving into Cam and Luke’s competition mindsets was also an interesting touch, and overall they are well-developed characters – as are their fun and supportive friends/teammates – who make an adorable couple to root for in and out of the gym.
Being the first in an overarching trilogy, this book ends on a cliffhanger (and an emotional one at that), and I eagerly await their continuing story in Book 2.
Thanks Renee! I remember seeing this one when it came out. Glad you enjoyed it!
First I read an ARC of Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel THE GIRL FROM THE SEA. It’s the story of a fifteen-year-old Nova Scotian named Morgan, who’s hiding her lesbian orientation. She falls for the new girl Keltie, who turns out to be a selkie. Morgan read younger than fifteen (part of this may be due to Ostertag’s art style—I mistook the teens for middle-schoolers until I read the blurb), and was very hard to like. She insists on keeping Keltie on the down-low, pushes away her family and friends (who show nothing but good will to her throughout), and then acts hypocritically self-righteous when Keltie reveals another (understandable) secret of her own. The story’s environmental issue makes sense for the setting but is clunkily shoehorned in, and the drama at the end feels too afterschool-special to seem genuine. Those looking for a happy selkie romance (which are few and far between) should know that while things end on a hopeful note, there is no HEA or HFN. I’d bet the maritime scenes are gorgeous in color (my copy was black and white), and I’d actually like to hear more about some of the intriguing adults in this story. Otherwise, this book left me feeling bad.
I had seen Kat Leyh’s graphic novel THIRSTY MERMAIDS at a local bookstore, and read a rave review online shortly before the hold on my library copy came in this week. It’s the story of three mermaids (technically two mermaids and one sea witch), who, upon draining their stash of sunken-treasure alcohol, decide to become human so they can go on land to get more booze. They attempt normal life in a seaside town (with varying degrees of success—the job application scene was my favorite), and are befriended by human bartender Vivi. The art style is fairly grotesque at times, though I loved that the mermaids weren’t the stereotypical beauties of folklore (but still had positive self-images, with the touching exception of sea witch Eez). It’s not a romance, and the LGBT content seems less overt than in Leyh’s other work (even her children’s series LUMBERJANES in a way), though found family is certainly a touchstone. I didn’t love this the way I’d hoped, but there is some enjoyable world-building and comedy.
Thanks Trix! What a great idea to choose graphic novels for this challenge! Thanks for sharing your reviews
I read Work For It by Talia Hibbert. This book has a beautiful cover, it’s an excellent representation of Griff.
Olu and Griff are carrying years of tremendous amounts of emotional damage. Olu is dealing with depression, anxiety and recently from deep trauma caused by a horrible betrayal. Griff’s life has been tragic. Born out of wedlock, his late mother was ostracized by the people in the small village. Griff is a massive man, he is looked down and bullied by the villagers and is considered a freak. He finds solace in growing plants and concocting recipes for his cordials
Olu needs to disappear for a while, to fix himself. Looking for places to hide away he finds a website looking for help during the elderflower harvest season. The farm is located in a remote village in the English countryside. Soon after Olu is on his way. Olu and Griff meet for the first time in the village pub and their first encounter is an absolute disaster. Their following encounters don’t get any better or easier, specially since Griff is the manager of the farm where Olu will be helping with the elderflower harvest. Through the weeks they develop a more friendlier, easier relationship that slowly develops into a very hot sexual relationship with a lot of consent, care and healing.
This is a beautifully written book dealing with some serious, heavy emotional issues. The story is also very swoony,sweet,with lots of humor and great banter and great sexual chemistry. I shed some tears before the very sweet, satisfying and very romantic HEA.
Work For It is the fourth and final book in the Just For Him Series by Talia Hibbert, but this book can be enjoyed as a stand alone.
Thanks for the review! I’m not familiar with this one but sounds intense
TBR week’s review of Ginn Hale’s The Long Past convinced me to try it with the cover depicting Grover riding Betty. Like everyone else, my favorite was the first and longest story of Grover and Lawrence reconnecting as they travel to close a rift that has flooded the area. And I loved the animals Betty, Romeo, and King Douglass. The second story hit my sweet spot because I love automatons. I gave it 5/5 stars and I would read more with these characters and in this world and try more from this author
Oh yay! That makes me so happy you ended up picking this up from the challenge! And yes, such a gorgeous cover. I could have easily used it for this challenge. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the book and it was a good recommendation. I too would read more in this world in a heartbeat!
Covers don’t mean a lot to me and I don’t often pick what I want to read this way. Therefore, when this category was announced, it was easy to pick the only book in the past couple of months that actually made me want to know more just based on the cover, which is Lore and Lust by Karla Nikole (https://www.amazon.com/Lore-Lust-Queer-Vampire-Romance-ebook/dp/B08GK77CD6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1633112016&sr=1-2). I liked the cover so much that I bought a paperback copy of it. This is a slow-burn vampire story in which the vampires are not dead/undead. They’re more like evolved humans that still give birth in the same way and can breed with each other. The vampires are obsessed with finding another vampire to feed from and bond with. This is mostly Haruka and Nino’s story and I loved these characters. This is a grumpy/sunshine tale, but they’ve both suffered in their lives and I just wanted to hug them both. There are actually 2 books (second book is Lore and Lust: The Vanishing), which together make a complete story. I enjoyed the first book more than the second. For me, the second book had too much of a secondary character’s POV. While it was nice that she finally got her HEA, I didn’t really care that much about the details.
I clicked the link to see the cover, Jennifer, and agree that it’s eye-catching! I also see that the book is currently free for US Kindle readers.
Thanks so much for the review. I love grumpy and sunshine!
** Don’t enter me in for the JMS books prize**. I’m going to start Dune this month, it could take me a long time.
I read three books this week. Truth or Dare, the final book of a trilogy by Ella Frank and Brooke Blaine. It was a sweet, fluffy end to the trilogy. But it did not need three books to tell the story. I hope this isn’t a trend with authors writing contemporary stories dragging out their story unnecessarily.
Written In The Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur, a f/f contemporary romance. I love the cover and I wanted to love the book but it was a miss for me. I found it bland and forgettable.
Last book was His Truth by Riley Hart. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Joel Leslie. He was a great narrator. Trigger warnings for parental neglect, violence, homophobia and internalized homophobia. It was angstier than I’m used to but it had a realistic HEA. I enjoyed it but my preference is low angst.
Thanks for all the reviews Lorraine!
I picked Drawn Out Love! By Derek Fairbanks. The comic strip style cover with the vibrant colors really stood out to me. Unfortunately, the book didn’t work for me. I’ll just past my original review from Goodreads/Amazon below.
Okay I’ve been trying to figure out why it was so difficult to see any connection between the two main characters here. It boils down to two things for me I guess. 1) We get the entire story from one characters point of view. This is rare in my experience. However, that would not have been a problem if not for 2) which was that the other character shows basically no interest or minimal interest in the other character. Without the benefit of seeing any of the story from his POV or just his actions told on page, he doesn’t get any real character development. All I could tell was that he was basically a jerk leading the other character around. This guy would have made for a barely tolerable acquaintance let alone a potential love interest.
Thanks Shante’! I also thought this was a great cover. Sorry the book itself didn’t work so well for you.
As soon as I read the challenge would include judge a book by its cover, I knew I’d be reading Parker Foye’s Foxen Bloom (take a look here at this gorgeous cover: https://parkerfoye.com/). It features a deep blue background and the art looks like woodcut, with vines and flowers swirling all around the edge and various images embedded in the design with the MCs (human and forest god) walking away holding hands. If you’re attracted to the cover, then I feel like this slow burn, folktale-style romance will absolutely delight you. Prior, the human goes looking for answers as a blight has come to his town and many people, including his sister, fall into a deep sleep. When he goes into the forest, known for a deep magic and killing those who enter, Prior encounters Fenton, a forest god with a crown of flowers and vines moving about his head who agrees to find an answer to the blight as long as Prior will help him slay his sibling. Fenton has been trapped alone in his forest for a very long time, and the feeling of being part of the world and learning about the human who braved a visit to his forest have him feeling and growing as each day passes. This is a very sweet book, if you don’t look too close to the many times Fenton (in different forms) has killed people. He is a god, after all, and humans and magical creatures alike do well to stay on his good side. There’s just so much I loved about Foxen Bloom from the cover to the last page. There’s lots of pining and declarations of such sweetness that I just melted at these two. The addition of the creatures and plants that Fenton befriends just absolutely charmed me. There’s wonderful balance to the story, though, with sufficient danger throughout their journey together. I feel like we’ve arrived at the perfect season for this book, the great mixture of sweet and dark happenings!
This sounds great! So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the review!
I read The Bandalore by D.K. Girl this week, a new to me author, book picked up as an Amazon freebie. Both the cover and blurb piqued my interest. The main character Silas, recently revived from the dead, no idea of his past or what is expected of his new future. Finds himself a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, a mysterious group who perform seances, tarot readings, and exorcisms for 1885 London society. Silas find himself sent off without much instruction and paired with infuriating Tobias. This is to be a 3 book series. 1st book states slow burn, but there’s no burn in this 1st book, not even any sexual tension, the 2 MCs don’t even really like each other. Not sure if I want to read all 3 only to have something come about in book 3. This book took way longer to read than it should, I started on Sunday, and by Friday I’d realized I’d only read 44 pages, it felt like so much more. Finally able to buckle down and finish by late this evening This book is well written and vivid, but I found the story to be ok, so I’d go with 2.5 stars
Thanks for the review Debbie! Sorry this one wasn’t a hit for you