Top Ten Books With My Favorite Color On the Cover

5b4a8-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. For a list of upcoming topics and more about this weekly feature, check out her site!

This Week’s Topic:
Books With My Favorite Color On the Cover

It was super clear to me from the start that there is a particular color that grabs me when it comes to covers: RED

Red is intense. Love. Fire. Blood. Red just brings intensity and passion. It was fun to see just how many of my favorite books feature red on their covers.

Red Covers.001

Twilight by Stephanie MeyerTwilight

As the only pop of color on this cover, red is prominent and a huge reason this cover was so iconic. I chose to feature this cover for two reasons. One, red is such an essential part of this cover’s design. Two, I watched this video essay on YouTube recently: Dear Stephenie Meyer–I’m Sorry. It’s worth watching, and helps me reflect on language and treatment surrounding chick flicks and romance. The shame, guilt, and bashing of things women enjoy or entertainment aimed at women is commonplace in our society. It’s definitely something I’ve done–called a movie I enjoyed a guilty pleasure rather than just admitting with confidence that I like it. It’s something I need to work on.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder

I adore this series as well as this cover! All of the books in The Lunar Chronicles feature the color red, but this first book in the series is by far my favorite use of red. The sexy red heel is such a fun twist on the glass slipper. The hint of the cyborg leg hints that this book will have more unexpected twists to the classic tale. And the lettering/font choice for the title is excellent. By far my favorite font from the ten books I selected for this post. The cover designs for the US Lunar Chronicles are up there with my all-time favorite covers for an entire series.

Little Brother by Cory DoctorowLittle Brother
If you want to learn about cyber security, programming, and cryptography–this book is a fun way to do so! Cory Doctorow does a great job of explaining complicated subjects within fiction in a fun way. His books serve the dual purpose of being entertaining as well as educational. I think the red “X” on this cover helps to create a tone of rebellion that is the core of this story. If you look closely at the “X” you can see rows of code. A perfect subtle detail that hints that the type of rebellion will be cyber in nature. Highly recommend this book for people looking for a cyber-heavy, near-future dystopian read.

Enna Burning by Shannon HaleEnna Burning
This is the second book in Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern series, and probably my favorite! Enna’s character has stuck with me years after turning the final page. What was it about her? The way Hale described Enna’s power with fire and the danger of wielding it is what most sticks with me. Drawing heat into her body fills her with power, but that heat can also burn her alive from within. She becomes addicted to the power, and what she can do with it. I’d love to see a fanfic that ships Enna and Avatar’s Zuko. That would be such an interesting crossover! A lot of books with red covers feature fire, but I love how this one shows the fire being on the brink of consuming Enna. So central to the story, and I love when covers reflect the contents of the book!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffIlluminae
This is, by far, my favorite sci-fi book in a long time! The storytelling method is so unique, but perfectly suited to the story it is telling. The cover captures the content and themes of the story: censorship, cover-up, technology. But I think the color red, particularly this fiery orange-red, for the first book accurately captures the intensity and danger of this first book. I see this cover and I prepare myself for a wild rollercoaster ride. Whoever designed this cover did a magnificent job! (I’ve bought Obsidio… and am torn between jumping into it… and holding off… because I don’t want this series to be over!)

Fire by Kristin CashoreFire
It’s been ages since I read this book (2011? Goodreads doesn’t have a date logged.) But I’ve been meaning to re-read this book and Graceling so that I can read Bitterblue. I remember loving this book for its plot twists. And appreciating that author’s view of the world: That nothing is just black or white/right or wrong. That everything is circumstantial and kind of gray. I’ve read more books, particularly in the fantasy genre, like this since then. But Kristin Cashore was probably the first author to get me thinking morality in a more nuanced way. She definitely inspired me to craft heroes with a dark side and villains you could sympathize with. And because this post is about covers… can we just stop for a moment to say how gorgeous that bow and arrow is?

The Elite by Kiera CassThe Elite
This series was a pleasant surprise. I listened to them on audiobook last summer, and really enjoyed the female friendship, romance, and dystopian elements. However, I totally think the gorgeous dresses featured on each cover were a big factor in how this series became such a success. Before even knowing what the books were about, this series was the “books with pretty gowns” series. Admittedly, I think I like the dresses on the other covers better than this red one. But the red is certainly striking! And I love the eerie reflections in the background. I think this cover captures more than the others that there is danger lurking around America, as well as her growing strength.

Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldLeviathan
I LOVE THIS SERIES. SO MUCH. I think it’s so underrated and more people need to pick it up. This is the original hardback cover, and it captures the steampunk genre. I think it’s a really gorgeous, neutral cover. But I don’t know if it captures much of the story. The later paperback covers give you bigger hints what this book is about, but I still love the gorgeous design of this cover. This book is an alternate history of WWI where gender roles are flipped and battles are waged with steampunk machines and genetically modified beasties. This series is so clever that I was in awe of Westerfeld’s genius by the end of it. I wrote an entire paper on the gender roles in the book for an independent study in grad school. So good. Read it!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasACOTAR
I read this series this past winter to see what all the fuss was about. The fans of this series are intense! While I’m not a fangirl, I was pleasantly surprised with the series as a whole. This first book was not my favorite of the three, but this cover is certainly eye-catching. I love the variety of textures in inky black: lace, scales, feathers, bare tree branches. All of these on a backdrop of red makes for a really sexy and alluring book cover. I’d recommend this series to mature readers who can invest some time. The second book in the series makes the investment worth it with great twists, character growth, and world building.

Fablehaven (Book 5) by Brandon MullFablehaven 5
Another series that I absolutely LOVE!! This is the cover of the final book in the series, which was my favorite. This series is the first fantasy series that I truly enjoyed after Harry Potter. Technically, this series is middle grade, but I think readers of all ages can find something to enjoy. There is a huge cast of characters. A huge magical world that spans multiple continents (yes–you travel around the world in this series)! And tons of unexpected twists. The final book was so satisfying because you saw such growth in the characters, there were high stakes, and a thoughtful resolution. I don’t think this cover truly captures the essence of this series–two kids who strive to protect magical creatures and sanctuaries around the world. The cover looks like some sort of Greek hero story. But if this cover pulls in Percy Jackson readers, I think they’d be so happy with this series. Seriously, these books are underrated fantasy. Everyone should read them!

Some of my favorite books definitely have red covers! Which color covers do you connect with?

Top Two Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

5b4a8-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. For a list of upcoming topics and more about this weekly feature, check out her site!

This Week’s Topic:
Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

Yup. Two books. Not ten. My to-read list is long enough. These are the two books that I’m most excited about in the coming months!

  1. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa TahirA Reaper at the Gates

    This is one of the only series that I’m seriously invested in at the moment. The characters, world, and plot of Ember in the Ashes and Torch Against the Night are so gripping, fresh, and fascinating. It’s been a long wait for book three, and I am so, so eager to jump back into this world. Laia, Elias, and Helene are all in such perilous situations where there aren’t easy paths to take. I love each of them, but I fear that my heart won’t make it through this series without someone from this trio breaking it.

  2. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton

    My Plain JaneMy Lady Jane was such a fun romp through an alternate history where Lady Jane Grey gets to keep her head. The voice, humor, and playful tone of this book makes me so gosh darn excited to see what they do with one of my all-time favorite Janes: Jane Eyre. The Goodreads summary:

    Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

Which books would you kill for?

Top Ten Books on My To-Read List (Winter 2015)

5b4a8-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

For more information about Top Ten Tuesday and a list of upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics, click here.

This Week’s Topic:
Top Ten Books on My To-Read List (Winter 2015)

I fell short of my reading goals for 2014, so I have a lot of catching up to do!  These are the books at the top of my list.  All book titles link to Goodreads.


  1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart- I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks this summer and loved it.  A hardback of We Were Liars is on my bookshelf, calling my name.
  2. The Unwind series by Neal Schusterman- My mom and brother are urging me to finish this series.  They LOVE it.  I really enjoyed the first book, but it’s been well over 5 years since I’ve read it.  I’ll need to do a re-read before tackling Unwholly, UnSouled, and Undivided.
  3. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier- I discovered this book at a new local indie bookstore called Greenrow Books.  If you’re in Maryland, you should totally check them out!  I’ll be teaching Poe soon, and this Victorian ghost story boasted a Poe-type vibe.winter4
  4. Maggie Stiefvater- There was a point where I had read everything Maggie had published.  I’ve since fallen way behind, despite my desire to devour everything she writes.  I’ve started Scorpio Races three times but have never finished.  SinnerDream Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue are all on my to-read list as well.winter2
  5. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen- This book has tons of buzz, and my mom read it already and passed it on to me after she really enjoyed it.
  6. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins- Sometimes I need humor in my life, and I can trust Rachel Hawkins to make me laugh!  I loved her Hex Hall series, and I want to check out her latest novel, too!
  7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas- I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this series, and I feel so late to the party!  Really, really want to read this one! winter3
  8. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate- I am normally so much better about reading the Newbery winners.  This one keeps escaping me, and I really must make time to read it.  I need to read more middle grade this year because I’m running out of books to recommend to my students!
  9. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo- Another series that I keep hearing wonderful things about!  I bought this ages ago and really must finally pick it up!
  10. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers- This series intimidates me because the books are sooooo long.  But it’s another series that people rave about, and I shouldn’t let the book’s weight deter me any longer!

What books are on your to-read list this winter?  Please share!

Top Ten Resolutions for 2015

5b4a8-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

For more information about Top Ten Tuesday and a list of upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics, click here.

This Week’s Topic:
Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015 — bookish, blogging or otherwise!

Preface: In the past, I’ve set concrete/measurable goals for myself, like read 3-5 contemporary fiction books or write 1,000 words per day.  But I’m not feeling concrete today.  I’m feeling more like I have a vision for what I want 2015 to look like, and below are the parts of that vision.

  1. Guard my Time- Time is precious and limited. I want to use my time for the things most important to me. I want to use my time to write, to read, and to relax with those I love. Success will depend on being conscious of what is sucking time away as well as prioritizing what I spend time on.
  2. Be Kind- I want to be someone who spreads kind words. Someone who does kind deeds. And someone who thinks kind thoughts. The world needs more kindness.
  3. Be Supportive- I want to show support for the people around me. We don’t have to be in competition with each other.  We don’t have to compare our lives to other’s lives.  Let’s be happy for each person’s successes and build people up through their struggles.  That’s the world I want to live in.
  4. Unplug at 9pm- I want to get off social media and get away from shining screens every night by 9pm.  I need time to wind down at the end of the day.  I want to establish better sleep patterns.  Sleep is so important to both health and mood (article about sleep from Washington Post).
  5. Dedicate time to read EVERY DAY- Even if it’s just the twenty minutes before bed, I can make sure I have time to read every day.  I’m a happier person when I’m reading, and I want to be a happy person.
  6. Read Diverse Books- I teach in diverse schools, and I recognize the need for diverse books.  I want to support publishers and authors who are putting diverse books out there for readers.  And I want to have more diverse books to recommend to my students. (
  7. Type up Book Reviews within 3 Days of Finishing Reading- I struggle to compose a thoughtful review unless I do so before starting a new book.  There is that perfect period after finishing a book where you are spinning it around in your head, where the characters still feel real, where you’ve gotten over initial feelings and are becoming objective.  Did I like this?  What would I change?  What did the author do well?  What can they improve?  Once this time period passes or I start a new book, I feel like my reviews become lackluster and far less thoughtful.
  8. Write- I’m happier when I’m doing it.  It helps to turn off the TV in the evenings and disconnect from social media.  But ultimately, I have to make time and make my writing time a ritual.
  9. Cook Food- I’m doing better and better at using my microwave less and my oven more.  I plan menus. I have a growing supply of spices and ingredients in my cabinet.  I feel overall healthier after making my own food.
  10. Squats, Lunges, Leg Lifts- Because reading and writing both involve sitting on my butt.  So I need a strong butt.

What are your goals for 2015?  Please share!

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader

5b4a8-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

For more information about Top Ten Tuesday and a list of upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics, click here.

This Week’s Topic:
Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Reader

  1. Go Anywhere- Whether it be a country, time period, or a fantasy world, books allow you to travel anywhere.  Some of my favorite places I’ve traveled are: Hogwarts, a battle school in space, Prague, and a giant whale airship during WWI.
  2. Be Anything- At this point in my life, I know for the most part which careers I won’t ever pursue.  Writing is kind of my thing.  Working with teens is my thing.  Perhaps someday I’d like to make editing my thing.  But there are a thousand other occupations I can experience through the pages of a book: pilot, mad scientist, princess, detective, archeologist, astronaut, revolutionary… The list goes on.
  3. Using My Imagination- Who doesn’t want to be a kid again?  One part of what is so special about being a kid is not knowing life’s limitations.  Every door is wide open.  And part of that comes with the young’s unique imagination.  When I read, part of that essence of being a kid comes back to me.  When reading, I can suspend my disbelief and allow my imagination to open up possibilities that as an adult, I know now aren’t really possible.  Reading is still a place where anything is possible, with the help of a little imagination.
  4. Libraries are Free- As a reader, my entertainment can be 100% free–thanks to libraries!  I recently read this little anecdote in a speech by Lois Lowry (Arbuthnot Speech, 2011):

    Annika said something in German to my granddaughter, who translated for her. “She wants to know how much it costs to use the library.”
    I told them it was free.
    Yes. Free.
    “Do other towns have free libraries?” they asked.
    By now we were in the car. I sat there for a minute, thinking about the geography of the area, then said, “I’m going to show you something.”

    Lowry goes on to drive them by several public libraries all within a small radius of her home, and at the end of the tour, while eating ice cream, the visiting German girls proclaim that libraries are the best thing in the United States.  Reading this story made me truly appreciative of the fact that I not only have a free library, but a stunningly beautiful one just two miles from my home.  I have thousands of books at my fingertips, which would certainly be more than people in other parts of the world have access to.

  5. Reading Fiction is Good for the Brain- A recent study showed that reading fiction boosts brain activity, and not just while reading, but for up to five days after finishing a book.  Scientists are calling it a type of muscle memory.  I always feel more positive, clear-headed, and productive after finishing a good book, but I always just attributed it to being in a good mood.  But this study would suggest that after finishing a work of fiction, your brain actually gets a power boost that goes on for days.  Who’s going to be making more time for reading?  This girl!
  6. Reading Makes You a More Empathetic Person- Another recent scientific study found that reading literary fiction improves a reader’s ability to understand what another person is thinking and feeling.  Nonfiction, popular fiction, and genre fiction did not have the same results.  But literary fiction showed a significant increase in empathy and understanding.  Perhaps the expression, “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes” should instead be “put yourself in someone else’s narrative.”
  7. Reading is Both Relaxing and Exciting- Reading is my form of relaxing in the evening.  Curling up under a blanket with tea and a book is idyllic.  But when I’m in the middle of a page-turner, I can tell you that my heart is literally racing.  The duality of a book being both relaxing and inciting racing heart-palpitations is a uniquely wonderful experience.
  8. Books are Better than Movies- Isn’t this a universal fact?  The book is always better than the movie.
  9. Never Ending Supply of Books- It is physically impossible to read every book ever written on this Earth.  How glorious is it that you will never run out of new, fresh stories to read?  While I sometimes feel daunted by my to-read pile, it is actually a wonderful thing to have so many great stories waiting for me to enjoy.
  10. Belief in the Power of Words- I believe that books have the power to change the world.  Whether it’s through spreading knowledge, creating empathy, inspiring the future, or simply providing pleasure, I sincerely believe in the power of words.

Whew!  What a Top Ten Tuesday!  I think this may be one of my favorites because writing the post has left me feeling so many warm, fuzzy feelings about reading.

Three cheers for being a reader!

Any great parts of being a reader I missed?  Please share!

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For more information about Top Ten Tuesday and a list of upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics, click here.



J.K. Rowling
(Harry Potter series)

  • Does this need any explanation?
Shannon Hale
(Books of Bayern series, Princess Academy)
  • Every single book that I’ve read by Shannon Hale, I’ve loved. She writes beautifully, and I’m always enchanted.
Scott Westerfeld
(Leviathan series, Uglies series)
  • Westerfeld is a master at world-building. Period.
Lois Lowry
(The Giver, Number the Stars)
  • Lois Lowry is a children’s lit legend. I’ve bought many of her books, though these two are my favorites.
Marissa Meyer
(Lunar Chronicles series)
  • I’m thoroughly engrossed in this series, and I love what a huge scope the story has and such a wide cast of characters. Confident I will enjoy anything Marissa writes.
Laini Taylor
(Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight)
  • Laini Taylor’s writing is so beautiful and captivating. And her imagination is amazing.
Maggie Stiefvater
(Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Scorpio Races, Raven Boys)
  • I’ve enjoyed all of Maggie’s books for their originality and gorgeous writing.
Kristin Cashore
(Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue)
  • Cashore writes fresh, original fantasy with strong heroines.
Cynthia Hand
(Unearthly series)
  • I can’t wait to see what Hand does next because I loved her blend of contemporary and fantasy, as well as her emphasis on positive family relationships.
Stephanie Perkins
(Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door)
  • This is the first contemporary/realistic fiction author that I can honestly say I ADORE.
Who are your auto-buy authors?  Do we have any in common???

Top Ten Favorite Characters in Harry Potter

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For more information about Top Ten Tuesday and a list of upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics, click here.
Top Ten Favorite Characters in Harry Potter

Today’s Top Ten Topic is technically “Top Ten Favorite Characters in ______ Genre” but I decided I didn’t want to do a single genre, and instead would like to do Harry Potter.  Last year, at this time, I was in Harry Potter World down in Orlando, Florida.  And I’m feeling quite homesick.  I need some HP in my life right now…

These are in order.  With my number 1 being my MOST FAVORITE.

10. Hagrid
I was so worried that Hagrid might die in the last book, and was so relieved that he didn’t.  Hagrid loved Harry so much.  It was a genuine, total, complete kind of love.  Between his dialect and his distinctive appearance and quirks, Hagrid was such a memorable character from the series.

9. Mrs. Weasley
We all loved Mrs. Weasley’s shining moment against Bellatrix in the last book.  I both laughed and cheered.  But Mrs. Weasley was also that perfect mom.  Stern but loving.  Held the family together.  I have a super wonderful mom, but if I had to have a wizard mother… I’d want Molly Weasley.

8. Fred and George
This series wouldn’t have been as fun without the Weasley twins.  From their epic departure from Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix to their “Holey” jokes, they provided comedic relief when we needed it most.  They showcased Rowling’s brilliant sense of humor, and I adore them.

7. Minerva McGonagall
Do I have a soft spot for McGonagall because she’s played by Maggie Smith in the movies?  Very likely.  But when she commands the knights and gargoyles to defend Hogwarts in the last book, I couldn’t help but cheer.  McGonagall was such an image of strength and loyalty throughout the series.

6. Severus Snape
The complex character.  The double agent.  I predicted early on that Snape was a good guy and connected to Harry’s mother.  Rowling did a lovely job of leaving us hints about Snape throughout the series, and his backstory was so beautifully revealed.

5. Albus Dumbledore
I loved everything about Dumbledore.  He is everything you want in a classic wizard: long beard, swirling robes, wise words, powerful magic.  But it was the twinkle in his eye, his love of lemon drops, and his wish for new socks that bumped him to near the top of my list.  I loved that he was a great and powerful wizard, but also so very human, too.

4. Dobby
I cried harder for Dobby than I did any other character in the series.  And he’s a house elf?!?!  Am I crazy?  No, I don’t think I am.  I loved Dobby for three reasons.  He had ambition.  He refused to aid evil.  He was loyal.  And as I’ve said before on my blog, sacrifice is one of those things that really gets to me.  Giving your life for another person is something that is sure to make me bawl.

3. Hermione Granger
I love Hermione, probably because I completely understand her.  I’ve had people get annoyed with me because I’ve come off as a know-it-all.  I love books and would be more than happy to spend all my time in the library.  And my solution to most problems would be to do research.  Bonus points for Hermione for also being brave, strong, loyal, and loving.

2. Luna Lovegood
I have Luna’s wand!  It’s shaped like a tulip!

Luna made me laugh and I loved her quirky personality.  Luna is another character who is exceptionally loyal.  She is a great example of someone who is brave by going against the crowd and believing in something even if it’s not popular.  I admire that.

1. Sirius Black
What wouldn’t I give for a seven book series about the Marauders, preferably from Sirius’ point-of-view?  J.K. Rowling, that would make me the happiest girl in the world.  I wrote some Sirius Black fanfiction back in the day because I was so fascinated by Sirius’ rebellious backstory.  Being put in Gryffindor when his entire family was Slytherin.  Him running away from home.  His flying motorbike.    Everything about Sirius fascinates me, and I loved visiting Grimmauld Place or his visits with Harry.  Was not a huge fan of Gary Oldman though… pictured Sirius as more devilishly handsome.  But I do think Gary Oldman had the godfather role down.  And Sirius was a great godfather.

And as a side note… Did you hear about the 15th Anniversary covers?  I heard Kazu Kibuishi speak at the 2011 National Book Festival (writer and illustrator of the Amulet graphic novels) and I think his covers are GORGEOUS.  I love the detail, and I think he picked such a iconic, memorable moment to feature on the cover of Sorcerer’s Stone.

Kazu at the 2011 National Book Festival

The 15th Anniversary Cover

I know I left out some lovely characters from Harry Potter… (Neville, Ginny, Lupin, Tonks, Mad-Eye, Arthur Weasley, Kreacher, Dudley)  It was so hard!  Who would have been your top picks?  What do you think of the 15th Anniversary cover for Sorcerer’s Stone?