This Top 5 series started back in October 2018 and it has grown really big! This is a series of books that all have a common theme. I post the schedule for the next month the last week of the prior month. You can talk about books you want to read or books you have read and all prompts are open for interpretation! Feel free to get as creative as you want with the prompts.
August 28th, 2021 — People on the cover
September 4th, 2021 — Intimidating Books
September 11th, 2021 — Hyped Books
September 18th, 2021 — Fast Paced Books
September 25th, 2021 — Illustrated Covers
October 2nd, 2021 — Magical Books
October 9th, 2021 — Bones on the Cover
October 16th, 2021 — Books Set in the Forest
October 23rd, 2021 — Blood on the Cover
October 30th, 2021 — Dark Reads
When I first came up with this prompt I was really just thinking about Charlie Bowater’s covers and how they’ve become all the rage lately. I was also thinking about how cartoonish covers have become very popular in the romance genre, and how I really hate that trend. I won’t pick up a book with a cartoonish cover because now my brain just associates those covers with romance novels. I think they look so cheap. There are some illustrated covers out there that I absolutely love though and I am so excited to share some beautiful cover art with you today!
I feel like the styles of covers really change over time and with Charlie Bowater’s work becoming so popular illustrated people on the cover is becoming quite popular for fantasy books. I had a really hard time coming up with this list because when an illustrated cover really grabs my attention I tend to read the book right away, and I also didn’t just want to feature only Charlie Bowater covers. I also wanted to be able to credit the artists, and I was surprised by how hard it is to figure out who designed covers for books, especially in the days where Bookstagram is all the rage and everyone judges books by their covers.
The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska
Publication Date: December 7th, 2021
The Wicked Deep meets House of Salt and Sorrows in this new standalone YA fantasy set in a snow-cloaked kingdom where witches are burned, and two enchantresses secretly compete for the heart of a prince, only to discover that they might be falling for each other.
It’s Karnawał season in the snow-cloaked Kingdom of Lechija, and from now until midnight when the church bells ring an end to Devil’s Tuesday time will be marked with wintry balls and glittery disguises, cavalcades of nightly torch-lit “kuligi” sleigh-parties.
Unbeknownst to the oblivious merrymakers, two monsters join the fun, descending upon the royal city of Warszów in the guise of two innocent girls. Newfound friends and polar opposites, Zosia and Marynka seem destined to have a friendship that’s stronger even than magic. But that’s put to the test when they realize they both have their sights set on Lechija’s pure-hearted prince. A pure heart contains immeasurable power and Marynka plans to bring the prince’s back to her grandmother in order to prove herself. While Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.
When neither will sacrifice their ambitions for the other, the festivities spiral into a wild contest with both girls vying to keep the hapless prince out of the other’s wicked grasp. But this isn’t some remote forest village, where a hint of stray magic might go unnoticed, Warszów is the icy capital of a kingdom that enjoys watching monsters burn, and if Zosia and Marynka’s innocent disguises continue to slip, their escalating rivalry might cost them not just the love they might have for each other, but both their lives.
This cover design is by Charlie Bowater
This is definitely one of my favorite Charlie Bowater covers, and it also happens to be a book that I’m super excited for. I love all the colors and the entire design just has a bit of drama to it. I requested this because of the cover, but when I realized it was by Alicia Jasinska this book rose to the top of my wish list. This book sounds so vividly magical and deliciously dark. I am so hype to read about monstrous girls eating the hearts of princes.
The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
New York Times bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner have crafted a gripping tale of magic and logic, fate and choice, and a deadly love. Perfect for fans of Laini Taylor and Brandon Sanderson.
Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate engines, powered by technology. Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the Surface, responsible for providing answers, direction—hope.
North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined—though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose between saving their people or succumbing to the bond that is forbidden between them.
This cover design is by Artem Chebokha.
This is one of my favorite covers that I’ve ever seen. I love the clouds and the city in the sky, just the entire design here really grabbed my attention. I have been meaning to read this book for a long time now, but I still haven’t picked it up because I just don’t want to be disappointed. The entire idea behind this novel is so intriguing. I just need to find time to read it!
Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler
Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy
Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.
This cover design is by Scott Fischer and you can actually read a blog post about the creation of it!
This is a really cool cover design and I loved reading about the process of creating the cover. It really gives you an abandoned dystopian fantasy world vibe and I love it. Honestly this book is still on my TBR because I’m intimidated by the length of the book. But that cover is a huge reason I wanted a copy in the first place.
Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani
Publication Date: September 28th, 2021
You think you know these stories, don’t you?
You are wrong.
You don’t know them at all.
Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that capture hearts long kept tame and set them free, truths that explore life . . . and death.
A prince has a surprising awakening . . .
A beauty fights like a beast . . .
A boy refuses to become prey . . .
A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again.
New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.
This cover design is by Julia Iredale and she also illustrated the book!
I LOVE THIS! I’m not surprised that I have picked up several other books that Julia Iredale has designed covers for as well. I don’t read short stories typically and I don’t read middle grade books very often, but this cover just called to me! I was on the blog tour for this book yesterday and I’m super excited about this book. When the finished edition showed up at my house I couldn’t stop flipping through it. The cover design for Beasts and Beauty definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.
Of course, some things are better left dead.
This cover design is by Tommy Arnold.
This is one of those covers that I love the more that I look at it. It’s got really dark and gothic vibes, but it’s also whimsical at the same time. This is the only one on this list that I didn’t get an ARC of and man do I regret not requesting one. Basically everyone I know has raved about how great this book is and I really just need to read it already.
Check out other book blogger’s Top 5 Picks!
Tagged! Join this week or next!
Auburn @ What She Will Read
Kris @ A Bookish Dream
Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den
Nicole @ Bookworm Bonomini
Ashley @ Reading Stewardess
Avni @ Avni Reads
Do you like illustrated covers? What are some of your favorites? Have you read any of the books I listed above? What did you think? What book do you think I should read first? Make sure to comment below so we can talk about books with illustrated covers!
I love illustrated covers! Photorealistic covers are nice too, but the illustrated ones just have that certain charisma. Lovely picks!
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Thank you! I am picky with illustrated covers, I dont like them to look cartoonish or like the book is for kids. There is definitely a fine balance but I feel like all of the books I listed were just beautifully done