First Impressions + GAME!

Hello, fellow book lovers! This is a continuation of this post 🙂

An integral part of reading books is judging by their covers. Covers attract us, repulse us and play with our emotions. They play with design in order to hint at a story… basically, they can make or break a book sale. Since I’m reviewing the books nominated for White Pine 2016, I wanted to convey my first impressions.

[Hi  it’s Faith and for this post, I’ve written a mini book cover rant and  “made” a book cover matching game. 😉 That says something about the covers beforehand, but I’ll let you “judge” them for yourselves. In this game, there are 3 pairs and one group of 4. If you’re interested, stay until the end! The rant and the game will be way down at the bottom of this post so keep an eye on those covers and see if you can figure out the patterns that we’re finding – Good luck!] 

Originally, this post was supposed to be a mini feature, but morphed into this. Oops.


#sorrynotsorry XD

And since this became a full length feature, I decided to look at their summaries as well! To spice things up, I’ve decided that the covers and summaries shall determine the order of reviewing!

May the best books be reviewed first, mwahahaha XD



After a school video she produced goes viral, sixteen-year-old Sloane Kendrick is given a chance at a film school scholarship. She has less than two weeks to produce a second video, and she’s determined to do it. Unfortunately, she must work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history.

On the heels of this opportunity comes a horrifying discovery: a bald spot on her head. No bigger than a quarter, the patch shouldn’t be there. Neither should the bald spots that follow. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata. The auto-immune disease has no cause, no cure, and no definitive outcome. The spots might grow over tomorrow or Sloane might become completely bald. No one knows.

Determined to produce her video, hide her condition, and resist Isaac’s easy charm, Sloane finds herself turning into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with her looks. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, Sloane is forced to make the most difficult decision of her life.

Embarrassing fact of the post: I thought this book’s name was The Art of getting Started At for the longest time. I saw it once, but since I forgot the name, asking librarians if they had a copy got hella frustrating.


Stephen Colbert literally grew 2 extra arms to face-palm my stupidity.

Ahem. I think the cover is pretty and relevant (to the summary, at least). It doesn’t excite me, but it’s sending pretty, solid, contemporary vibes at me.


A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

Heam: It’s the hottest drug around. Users are able to see Heaven—a place so beautiful, so indescribably serene, many people never want to come back. And some don’t, like Faye’s best friend, Christian. But when Faye was forced to take Heam, she didn’t see Heaven; she saw Hell. And now she spends her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her future and murdered Christian. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye’s plans suddenly get a lot more complicated.

Love and Death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

“…fans of Scott Westerfeld”. Ahem. Bad vibes already. Why? Unpopular Opinion time: I have never finished a Scott Westerfeld book in my life. Not even Uglies, which I tried to read on 5 different occasions and with an open mind. Not even the Uglies graphic novel. Not even Zeros. And keep in mind, I do not DNF books.

But, back to the cover. It’s not the best cover, but it isn’t the worst. And it looks better in person. It seems like typical YA action fare. The summary suggest revenge, so I hope she actually wreaks havoc on those mofos who drugged her. The mysterious young man angle? YOU BETTER NOT GET IN THE WAY OF HER REVENGE. Overall though, it looks like it’ll be entertaining.


Willa Jaffrey is beautiful, rich, dating the perfect guy and determined to have a fabulous senior year. Enter Keegan Fraser, a handsome new student who wants no part of the games everyone plays at Willa’s school. Despite a rocky start, Keegan and Willa gradually become closer, even as Willa’s carefully constructed universe begins to fall apart. But little does Willa know that Keegan’s past holds the darkest of secrets—and it’s about to catch up to him.


The rest of that summary was praise for the author… which kinda puts me off. I mean, really? Praise for an author that’s the length of the actual summary? Not cool. But the cover looks quite similar to The Art of Getting Stared at. Maybe they used the same filter? I have no idea what the story will be about… so I can’t pass judgement. Oh well.


Brannan filter, anybody?


The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Well well well, what do we have here? I see the Forest of Reading is taking on rape culture here. A bleak cover, for a bleak summary, for what is shaping up to be a bleak book. There are also hints of a mystery here, so I wonder how this book is going to unfold. I wonder if it will be on Speak‘s level. Speaking of Speak, if you haven’t read it, you need to go read it now.


Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

I’m sorry, but what a bad cover. When I look at this, I don’t want to read it. It’ll probably remain in the pile until I absolutely cannot find anything else to read. But the story itself sounds interesting…


Two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.

Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. One night, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, get into a big fight, which sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail. Initially, Pete keeps up ties to his crew, until a jail brawl forces him to realize the negative influence he has become on Joey, which encourages him to begin a process of rehabilitation that includes traditional Aboriginal healing circles and ceremonies.

Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.

OH MY GOSH, IT’S A GRAPHIC NOVEL! A moment of silence please, to observe this momentous shift in thinking (pictures can tell deep stories too, literary snobs). It also deals with Aboriginal issues, something that is actually very relevant in Canada right now (aka The Truth and Reconciliation Committee, aka Canadian politics, aka feel free to ignore 😉 ). The art looks very nice and doesn’t get on my nerves. I feel this might be a hard novel to read with a straight face. I’ll tell you if the onion ninjas get to me.


Kaya is adopted, multiracial, grieving the death of her father—and carrying a painful secret. Feeling ill at ease with her family and in her own skin, she runs away repeatedly, gradually disappearing into a life of addiction and sex work. Meanwhile, her sister, Beth, escapes her own troubles with food and a rediscovered talent for magic tricks. Though both girls struggle through darkness and pain, they eventually find their way to a moment of illumination and healing.

This YA novel is rooted in the tragic life of the author’s sister, Sarah, a victim of serial killer Robert Pickton and the subject of Maggie de Vries’s Governor General’s Literary Award–nominated memoir for adults, Missing Sarah. Sarah’s tragic experiences inspired the character Kaya, as well as an adult sex worker she meets on the streets.

Well. The cover looks familiar (Delusion Road, TAOGSA and Brannan filter), but that’s just me. This also deals with sex, albeit sex work, and looks very, very, very sad. I’ll save this until I’m being annoying. It’ll probably shut me up quick. But anyway, the Robert Pickton (aka the most infamous Canadian serial killer) twist (and the real life relation) are certainly unexpected… I’d like to see how this goes.


By the author of Wild Awake, a coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

ALL THESE COVERS LOOK THE SAME ~ WHAT’S WITH THE MOODY LOOK, GUYS? Admittedly, the open blue sky does give you a sense of the infinite. So I can’t really complain. But the summary really isn’t interesting. I mean, best friends, growing up? GROW UP! Hypocritical of me, but although my bestie and I have grown in different directions, we still manage to call each other best friends. Ahem. Well, I feel meh. Not interested.



Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bryant is not happy. She’s had to leave all her friends behind and move across the country for her dad’s job in the military. One hot summer evening, she’s out killing time at a local garage sale when she spots a little soldier doll amid the junk. She thinks only that it might be a good last-minute birthday gift for her dad, who’s about to ship out to Afghanistan. She doesn’t realize that it might be a missing (and very valuable) historical artifact. With the help of Evan, the cute guy she’s just met at a local used book store, Elizabeth discovers that the doll might be THE soldier doll: the inspiration for a famous World War I poem of the same name.
Elizabeth’s story is interwoven with the amazing, tumultuous story of the soldier doll itself. Fashioned with love by a father for his only child in England years ago, we follow the doll back to England during World War I, then on to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, a Czech concentration camp during World War II, Vietnam in 1970 and through the aftermath of 9/11.

I like the cover. It looks simple and conveys it’s military setting. Makes me wonder if the doll is behind that brown paper packaging. And I really like the attention to the stamps (all are places/battles mentioned in the summary). However, I do not feel an intense urge to read it, so meh.

With out further ado, the review order, arbitrarily decided by Sarah is:

The art of getting stared at

The story of Owen

All the rage

Rabbit ears

The bodies we wear

The outside circle

Delusion road

Soldier doll

A sense of the Infinite

Basically, I get the feeling that these books are going to make me emotional.


Obviously not reading books that may or may not have torn my heart out.

While these books don’t really give me the overwhelming must-read feels, I think I can safely say they are a lot better than last year’s selection. Long story short, last year was filled with books that all had the same problems (literally) and the same cliches. They were also too obviously, ‘moral of the story’ books, which only pissed off this very aware teenager.


We’re teenagers. Not idiots. Not children that need to preached to. Say it with me. TEEN-AGE-RS.

Book Cover Mini-Rant & Matching Game Answers

(as declared by Faith)

Here is an overview on all of the book covers for this year’s White Pine selection… have you made up your mind for any potential pairs yet? If not, jot some titles down! (Remember, I’ve chosen 3 pairs and one set of 4 as the matches). The answers will be right after my rant. 😛

book covers

Found any similarities? Or is it just us? Honestly, it’s hard not to see it after awhile. When I saw all the covers together, I just said, “TELL ME THAT THIS IS NOT A MATCHING GAME.” So that’s how this game came to be. In my head, their logic would be that everyone is aware of the fact that you’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, so less regard is given towards the covers in a selection of books for an award. I mean, it’s the content that really counts, right? If I was Hazel (because I’m going a bit nuts) in The Fault in Our Stars (the fault in our book covers), I’d be going “This is NOT OKAY, OKAY?”

Okaaaayyy I’m definitely coming off way too sassy here but my point is, that it is hard to differentiate books with similar topics and covers between one another, especially when one is to be selected by teens as an award winner. To dull the edge of my ranting knife, I will say that I understand that publishers wouldn’t change the book covers on whim just for the White Pine selection. But in a book utopia, I’d say that the covers would be finer than my 0.5 felt tip fine-liners. Then again, all book covers would be on point. You get my point? (At this point everyone is exhausted from these horrific puns/attempt at some sort of word play. I could go on forever… so instead of pointing fingers, someone please stop me before these puns get out of hand. Wow, I am disappointed in myself.)

Are you ready for the cover matching results?

Here are the matching game answers:

“All the Rage” & “The Bodies We Wear”

“The Art of Getting Stared At” & “Rabbit Ears”

“Delusion Road” & “A Sense of the Infinite”

“The Outside Circle”, “Soldier Doll”, “The Story of Owen”, & “The Troop”

Thanks for reading all the way through this uber long post and enduring our sass! XD Let us know if you have any thoughts or comments and especially if you’ve done our spontaneous matching game!

And hi, you look nice. 🙂 We dare you to spread some happiness like you spread Nutella today!

~ Sarah & Faith @Sublime Reads

11 thoughts on “First Impressions + GAME!

  1. Yash says:

    I can vouch for All The Rage and Rabbit Ears. They are both difficult reads, but then they are difficult topics that people in real life hesitate to talk about. I guess if you feel up to it (or have chocolate handy), I would recommend them? I have a personal bias for Rabbit Ears. It’s written by one of my professors. (Or, ex-professor? Since I graduated?) And it’s semi-autobiographical. 😦 I KNOW I AM NOT TALKING THEM UP WELL BUT THEY ARE GOOD! REALLY!

    Also, and most importantly, I loved the puns. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Danni Mae says:

    Is the first one NOT called The Art of Getting Started At? I can’t find anything that looks like that’s not part of the title =o
    So don’t be embarrassed!
    Also, I think they’re all moody looking because people think that’s what teenagers are into =P

    Liked by 1 person

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