First of all: I am back from YALC London! I am so tired but had a fantastic time!!! You’ll hear more about it in the coming days/weeks with posts about “how to prepare and tips”, posts about “small things and anecdotes” and post about “authors and books signed”.
It also means that I am trying to catch up with the comments you’ve left on my scheduled posts (sorry I’ve been a bad blogger as I did not answer immediatley but with no computer …) and with all your posts!
Top 5 Tuesday
Today in Top 5 Tuesday organized by Shanah @bionicbookworm we should have spoken of books with ugly or common or plain …unappealing covers.
I wanted to tweak it (yes yes I am back to my “rebel sometimes naughty” old self).
I am a huuuuuge cover junkie.
Publish with a pretty cover and my fingers are itching to one-click already.
Some months ago I did a post about how the covers play an important role in deciding to buy a book. You have around 2 minutes to decide when online if you’ll buy it or not. So the “cover power” is really a major factor in deciding a sale. If you are interested you can find this post HERE
Yet the books I chose today for all their either ugly or plain exterior were real gems.
They are some of the best books I’ve ever read and should not be judged by their covers!
How did I come to read them? Only because trusted friends recommended them. They were so enthusiastic about these stories that I overlooked the covers and took a risk.
Today I want to SHOUT that you just have to READ THEM!
The “outside” does not match the “inside”. They are like these “chocolate fondant” plain on the outside but gooey, melting, pure pleasure inside!
OK let’s go now that I’ve opened your apetite!
First one is “If you Find Me” by Emily Murdoch
The cover is not really ugly but as it is rather dark and naked aside that girl’s face I’d say that’s not a book catching my eyes.
There are some things you can’t leave behind…
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
My thoughts about this book (well, an excerpt of what I wrote):
“Wow, just Wow!
I was hooked from the beginning. It’s a story of survival of resilience and of the deep bond of sisterhood. Emily Murdoch’s writing is down to earth, matter of fact and progressively the little clues pile up to lead us to the truth. I’ve been bluffed all right, sucked into Carey and Jenessa’s world, not wanting to stop reading for anything in the world.”
Second book: Radiance by Grace Draven
This is a true UGLY cover. One I would never ever had read if not for friend’s recommendation. It’s dark and the “man” is some kind of ugly beast. Yet it’s brilliant and so beautiful inside! It matches perfectly the book topic but the author took a huge risk choosing that kind of cover.
THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.
THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.
Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.
Some of my thoughts: “I discovered two very lovable and strong characters. Both are the one you overlooked all your life, people of low importance, content to live far from the court’s conspiracies but lonely. They may be discreet but they don’t lack in strength, astuteness and determination.
I really fell in love with the author’s writing. It has its own magic and flows effortlessly, with a graceful quality. It makes us think about what true beauty is it demonstrates that strength is not a show of brute violence but rather lies in tranquil determination.”
Third book: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Once agay with a murky brown/green cover I would have overlooked this stunning story completely. It was the same friend as above that recommended this one and I became a huge Jeff Zentner’s fan!
Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.
The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.
Some of what I wrote about it: “It was a slow building for me as I needed some time to really fall in the story but once I fell, I fell all the way. It punched me hard in the face, gripped my soul and 70% in the book, my heart broke in thousand pieces, one piece at a time. It was not a hysteric crying, it was a deep unstoppable leaking of the eyes, an overwhelming sadness.
I loved everything in this book: the writing, the setting of the story in this small town, the heavy past of two of the main characters, their unbreakable friendship and of course, I loved the three main characters. I think the author did a fantastic job portraying them. You can see who they are, live and eat with them. They become YOUR best friends. That’s why you suffer with them when fate struck. Their pain is your pain their loss is your loss.”
Fourth book: The man I love by Suanne Laqueur
This is not really an ugly cover but the simple silhouettes rather two dimensionals and no nuances in the colors did nothing for me. Once again it’s been after reading the review of one of my friends that I bought this and now I can say that Suanne Laqueur is on the top of my top 5 authors.
“A watershed moment exists in every man’s life, Fish—the moment he stops being his mother’s son and starts being his lover’s man. When he transitions from protected to protector.”
Erik “Fish” Fiskare is only a college junior when a gunman walks into the campus theater, intent on stopping the show. From the lighting booth, Fish sees his girlfriend, Marguerite “Daisy” Bianco, get caught in the line of fire. Everyone runs away from the stage but Fish, in a watershed moment, runs toward it.
Spanning fifteen years, The Man I Love explores how a single act of violence reverberates through a circle of friends. At the center are Fish and Daisy, two soul mates who always brought out the best in each other. Both are hailed as heroes after the shooting, yet the tragedy starts to bring out the worst in them, tearing the circle apart.
Soon, Fish is running again—not toward Daisy this time, but as far away as possible. But can you really leave the one you were born to love? And is leaving always the end of loving?
“You never got over her, Fish. You just left. You may think that’s closure, but it isn’t. You may think a woman like Daisy comes along twice in a lifetime, but she doesn’t.”
Fearlessly touching on today’s social and mental health issues, The Man I Love follows Erik Fiskare’s journey back to the truth of himself and a woman he can’t forget. With its gripping story and an unforgettable cast of characters, this epic novel of love and forgiveness lingers long after the last page is turned.
Some of my thoughts :“If you’re looking for a very emotional and intense story written from third point of view, I want to shout: “just give this book a chance!”.
I had never read anything by this author and never expected her to trigger such extreme and primal emotions in me.
It began all smooth charming and sweet with Erik’s childhood and later on his encounter with Daisy on campus. I was intrigued by this world of dance and concert with fifty percent of the male population openly gay. The mirror is the dancer’s best friend. It’s a world of discipline and dedication. You go into dancing like you would enter religion: you’re all in or not at all. Passionate.
When Erik met Daisy it was instant recognition of two souls. Their love was shining. They were utterly happy surrounded by friends all very interesting characters. They made the story bright, vivid. Their interactions and banter made it real, relatable.
When the tragedy happened it was terrible…
Little did I know the worst was yet to come for me… It was like a slap in the face. I could not breathe anymore. Bile gathered in my throat. I was cold all over. What happened pushed my buttons so hard I wanted to stop reading, stop suffering, stop…just make it stop!”
Fourth book: The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred
Honestly the “old fashioned” or “vintage” covers do nothing for me. I know they have fans but not this girl. Yet it got so many good reviews that I tried and was convinced!
I don’t have a big review to offer this time as I read it before I wrote reviews but I do recall that I wished (and still wish) that Mrs Allred would still write books.
Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.
Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick’s abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.
Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick’s abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she’s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she’s content if not happy—until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He’s back…and he’s not alone.
Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she’s built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson’s death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.
Now as I said I was back to my old rebel self, you’ll get a sixth book! Yes it’s still sale period today 😀
My bonus book is “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” by Brynn Greenwood
Once again the cover is very dark and simple. I realize now that I must have “a thing” against dark covers! The enthusiastic reviews convinced me to ask this book on Netgalley and I even created my profile on Netgalley especially in the hope of getting this book.
As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.
“I fell in love with this author’s writing and the choice she made to tell Wavy’s story. The multiple POV she used made me feel like watching a documentary told by different witnesses, the main protagonists included. Some narrators speak with fondness and indulgence of Wavy, her quirks, her relationship with Kellen. Others berate the child, want her to fit in a mold, repulsed and outraged by her choices. I should have felt overwhelmed by all the horrors and the bad experiences that kid lived from her very first days but this “matter of fact” no nonsense writing helped me go through the book without ending a blubbering mess. I still had many thoughts and feelings but the author’s choice made everything bearable.
I don’t want to spoil your fun. Just know there are many delicate topics broached in this book. Some would normally have me screaming murder but they did not seem ugly, astonishingly they seemed rather beautiful. That’s what this story is about: the ugly and the beautiful in the ugly. “
Now do tell me what are some of your “worse covers” but that you did end loving?
Thanks for reading!