Top Ten Likes and Dislikes on Book Covers

Each week, The Broke and Bookish host a Top Ten Tuesday based on a certain bookish topic. Other bloggers are able to participate and post their own lists, and if you are interesting in learning more,click here.


This was a hard topic for me, mostly because I know what I like and dislike on book covers, but I've never really tried to make a list about it before. I admit, I had to rewrite this list at least two or three times before I was finally satisfied...

Likes

1. Gorgeous typography - Books like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe immediately catch my interest with its use of lettering. 

2. Series with consistent covers - I love when an author keeps their covers consistent throughout a series (Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series comes to mind)

3. Creepy covers - If it gives me chills, I will almost always want to take a closer look. 

4. Pastel colors - This is just a personal preference of mine, but I am drawn like a moth to a flame if I see pastels (on anything, really!). 

5. Simple - While I really enjoy fantastic, over-the-top covers, sometimes having a clean, simple cover just works better than anything else. 

Dislikes

1. Public Displays of Affection - If it's not considered Erotica, I definitely don't want to see two people playing tonsil hockey on my book covers.

2. When the cover doesn't match the characters - This is a huge pet peeve of mine! Especially when the characters are whitewashed! 

3. Most "romance" and "chick-lit" novels - These covers rarely do anything for me. The majority are either poorly done or all look the same on the shelves. 

4. Covers that have nothing to do with the actual plot - How could you lie to me like that?!

5. The author's name takes up 80% of the cover - Hmm, who ever could have wrote this book? *heavy sarcasm intended*

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

“You're welcome.”  


15942674Title: Truly, Madly, Deadly
Author: Hannah Jayne
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: July 2, 2013
Format: Ebook
Source: Local Library
Rating: 2.5 Stars

They Said It Was An Accident...

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note:

You're welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren't the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer's every move...


I'll admit I began reading Truly, Madly, Deadly with fairly low expectations, so I wasn't all that disappointed when it didn't become more than something that would quickly pass the time. 

Everything about this book screamed thought-provoking thriller: the cover, the synopsis, even some of the reviews I had previously read. However, it seems like there was too much happening in such a short amount of time, and couple that with the fact that some scenes were downright unbelievable, I just couldn't connect with Truly, Madly, Deadly

Right away, I disliked Sawyer's character. Her actions throughout the entire story were unrealistic and consistently idiotic. I had a real problem with her attraction to Cooper, mainly because it is so incredibly unlikely that a victim of consistent abuse at the hands of her dead boyfriend is suddenly going to blindly trust a guy she's known for all of 3.5 seconds. 

Also, she had the self preservation of a moth, which is to say, none. If this were a true horror movie, she would be the one who runs back into the house instead of out the front door...

As for the mystery aspect, well, it was pretty flimsy. The majority of the secondary characters were solely introduced to be red herrings, which made me care even less about them than I did about Sawyer. And the suspense and thrill was lost for me about halfway through the book when I correctly guessed who the actual killer was (I'll let you in on a secret: it's the first person you think it is). 

Overall, Truly, Madly, Deadly fell flat for me. However, I will say it was a fast read that managed to keep my interest until the end, if only because I wanted to stick around for the reveal of the killer. 

Stacking the Shelves #10

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


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It's been a while since I really splurged and bought any books, so I went ahead and ordered some of the ones that have been sitting on my TBR list for almost a year. I have some major catching up to do!

Vessel, by Sarah Beth Durst

“You do not say no to the girl with the deities.”  


VesselTitle: Vessel
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 

Release Date: September 11, 2012 
Format: Hardback
Source: Barnes and Noble
Rating: 3 Stars


Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe's deity, who will inhabit Liyana's body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious--and sure that it is Liyana's fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice--she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate--or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

Vessel  had the potential to be an exceptionally good read. It really, really did. And while I still think it is a beautifully written standalone, there were many places where it just fell flat for me. 

Durst does a fantastic job at painting a truly vivid picture of living a harsh nomadic life in the desert. As I was reading, I would get the clearest picture of the glass dragons streaking across the sky or the way the bells woven into Liyana's braids would chime as she danced. There are very few authors who have been able to bring their descriptions to life in such a way and I applaud Durst for her ability to get her point across without being overly flowery or poetic. 

The plot itself was highly original, but fizzled out with no direction or well-developed characters to push it forward. I'm not going to lie, the pacing of the book dragged, to the point where I almost DNF-ed. There was very little to keep my interest until the last 100 pages or so, and even then I was quite unimpressed by the 'resolution' we were finally given. The majority of the book is spent travelling across the desert and convincing the vessels from each clan to join Korbyn and Liyana in saving the kidnapped gods. The lengthy descriptions of riding across the desert on horseback were uneventful and entirely unnecessary, if you ask me. 

 “Imagine that it's sugar," Korbyn said. 'You're riding across candy.'
"Salt can never be sugar," Fennik said.
"We should talk about the definition of the word 'imagine'.” 

In fact, the only redeeming quality to the unexplored plotline would be the trickster god, Korbyn. With a sense of humor as sharp as a tack and a wicked streak a mile wide, he reminded me very much of his Norse counterpart, Loki. He managed to keep the dull moments between the action interesting with his jokes and fables (all of which were fascinating in themselves).


The rest of the bunch, Liyana included, felt one dimensional to me. We are given this group of what could have been such a diverse cast of characters, but unfortunately, they all felt like carbon copies of one another. You would think someone who has been told they must die in order for their god/goddess to live would do something other than mildly question their situation once and then ultimately accept their fate with what essentially equates to an emotional shrug, right? 

It isn't until Liyana falls for Korbyn that she even remotely begins to question her existence and whether or not she actually wants to sacrifice herself for her goddess, Bayla. This definitely rubbed me the wrong way because she should have chose to live for her own self and not because some cute boy bats his pretty browns at her. 

Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about Vessel. On one hand, the descriptions and the fables woven into the story were enough to keep my interest until the end. However, the one-dimensional characters and stagnant plot were ultimately what prompted me to give such a lukewarm rating. 

Geisha, A Life, by Mineko Iwasaki

No woman in the three-hundred-year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story -- until now.” 


Geisha, a LifeTitle: Geisha, A Life
Author: Mineko Iwasaki
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Release Date: September 1, 2003
Format: Hardback

Source: Goodreads
Rating: 3 Stars


"Many say I was the best geisha of my generation," writes Mineko Iwasaki. "And yet, it was a life that I found too constricting to continue. And one that I ultimately had to leave." Trained to become a geisha from the age of five, Iwasaki would live among the other "women of art" in Kyoto's Gion Kobu district and practice the ancient customs of Japanese entertainment. She was loved by kings, princes, military heroes, and wealthy statesmen alike. But even though she became one of the most prized geisha in Japan's history, Iwasaki wanted more: her own life. And by the time she retired at age twenty-nine, Iwasaki was finally on her way toward a new beginning.

Geisha, a Life is her story -- at times heartbreaking, always awe-inspiring, and completely true.

Whenever I tire of reading about straight, white female protagonists in pointless love triangles with supernatural douchewaffles, I turn to Historical literature. After having read, and somewhat enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, I heard about how Mineko Iwasaki, the main source of inspiration for the novel, was upset with how Golden had portrayed life as a geisha and had endeavored to write a memoir on her own experiences. I have to say, I can definitely see major differences between the two pieces of literature.

I should probably mention up front that Geisha, A Life reads more like an autobiography than a memoir. The writing is incredibly dry and lacks the emotion truly needed in order for me to successfully connect with the characters. The intricate world Iwasaki shows us is fascinating, and while my interest kept me reading on, I couldn't bring myself to really care about the people she describes, herself included.

That said, I could certainly see some similarities between her biography and Arthur Golden's novel -- if you asked me to grasp for straws... Memoirs of a Geisha is supposedly based on this woman's life. Very, very loosely, in my opinion. Most of the events in Golden's book seem to be highly embellished and what I like to dub "Hollywoodized" for Western consumption. Realistically, aside from a few major details, the two books have little in common.

One aspect I enjoyed was reading about the intricacies of everyday life as a geisha in Gion Kobu. While some might find the lengthy descriptions of dance, tea ceremonies, and proper etiquette to be tedious, the part of me that loves learning about other countries' cultures found it absolutely intriguing.

I also appreciated the time Iwasaki took to dispel the "high-paid prostitute" myth surrounding the geisha's work. Of course, it was not uncommon for a woman to engage in physical relationships with some of the clients they entertained, but only after years of continued patronage and loyalty from those men. It was seen as a sort of complicated dance between the two parties, and only ever if the woman was of age and agreed to a mutual relationship. Very much unlike the conditions sex workers would have faced in the "red light" district at that time.

The biggest issue that kept me from truly enjoying the story was the author's sheer arrogance. While it's true she may have been one of the most influential geisha of her time, the way she repeatedly built herself up as this flawless, talented woman really just made her an unlikable character.

Another downside was the massive amounts of unexplained information constantly being thrown at us. Because the text is originally written in Japanese, some words cannot be translated to English, given that they have no equivalent substitute. Therefore, I spent quite a bit of time looking up these words online and it made the flow of the book a bit too choppy for my tastes.

Overall, I found Geisha, A Life to be, if not emotionally fulfilling, than at least an intellectually poignant read. I truly feel like I have learned at least a little more about an incredibly important part of Japan's history, and I would strongly recommend this memoir to those who enjoy a bit of a history lesson every now and then.