I’m not an artist or a graphic designer, but I am a reader that shamelessly judges (and often chooses) her books by their covers. If the cover art is sexy or sweet, or if the colours are appealing and the fonts well-chosen, chances are I’ll be willing to give the book a shot. Likewise, if the images don’t evoke some emotion, or if the layout is poorly designed and the fonts make my eyes want to bleed, I’ll probably skip the book unless it receives glowing reviews from my Goodreads friends. Sometimes this approach to choosing my next book works in my favour. Other times, it bites me in the ass. Either way, it points to the importance of hiring a talented cover artist who pumps out amazing art.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share with you my 3 favourite and 3 least favourite covers of books and short stories that I read this month. Check out the full list of candidates below:
#1. Pup by S.J.D. Peterson (Cover art by Paul Richmond) – 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… GUSH! I love literally everything about this cover. I love the moody black and white photo. I love the gritty black speckled overlay. I love the dramatic contrast of the crimson title against the image. I love the clean sans-serif font choices. And let’s not forget how smokin’ hot that cover model is (even the goosebumps on his pecs are sexy as hell)! I mean… excuse me while I roll my tongue back into my mouth and wipe the drool from my chin. This cover practically jumped out at me from a sea of other covers and screamed, “READ ME! READ ME, NOW!”
* Richmond also did the cover art for the rest of the series (Tag Team and Pony) and they are equally as amazing. In fact, I actually prefer the image to title space ratio of Pony more than Pup (what can I say, my brain appreciates the two-thirds rule).
#2. Unexpected Daddy by Brenna Lyons (Cover art by Reese Dante) – I friggin’ adore this cover! It’s moody and sexy and sweet all at the same time (just look at their hands entwined in the lower right corner!). I like the fact that the artist stuck with two fonts (one sweet, the other practical and clean), the title and publisher information information was well placed so as to be noticeable but not detract from the image, and I even like the understated line beneath the author’s name. All of the elements combine skillfully to make me believe that the photographer has caught a special, quiet moment between this couple. A significant moment. This is the type of cover that makes me feel, it makes me want, and it promises me a fabulous story. It’s practically criminal that the short story did not live up to the hype of the gorgeous cover.
* Unsurprisingly, Dante also designed the totally sweet and fun cover I loved so much for Eli Easton’s Blame It On The Mistletoe.
#3. Mark Cooper Versus America by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock (Cover art by Dar Albert) – Let’s be real: headless, naked male torsos sell a lot of romance novels. However, it’s scientific fact that as humans we’re drawn to the faces (specifically the eyes) of others as well. This is true for art, for advertisements, and for book covers (which is essentially a combination of the two), so I’m always appreciative of cover designs that use this approach. Plus… Did you see that guy?! He’s fucking adorable. Who wouldn’t want to read a book about him?! I dig the red, white and blue colour-scheme used for the titles (very fitting), the neutral gray background that makes the image feel like a school picture, and the guy’s super stylist outfit which is somehow both modern and cool and a throwback to a by-gone frat era of soda pop machines and sock hops. The only thing I don’t really like about this cover is that I feel like the title text is crowding the model’s face; move it a smidgen to the left and you’d have had perfection!
*Warrior’s Cross by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux (cover art by Anne Cain) was a very close runner up to Mark Cooper.
Least Favourite Covers:
#1. Coming Home by Jay Northcote (Cover artist unknown) – I probably found this to be the most offensive cover simply because of how generic it is. The image is clearly a stock photograph that could have been taken by any amateur on a beach vacation. It doesn’t tell me anything about the characters or the story or even all that much about the setting (supposedly the “wilds” of Cornwall). To be honest, I half expect some barefoot, silver-haired couple to come strolling into frame hand-in-hand at any second to sell me life insurance or that little blue pill that changed the life of men everywhere. Fail. Ms. Northcote, your writing deserves better than that cover.
#2. The Winter Courtship Rituals for Fur-Bearing Critters by Amy Lane (Cover art by Catt Ford) – Ugh. I’m sorry, I’m sure that this is supposed to be whimsical or adorable or something, but it just does nothing for me. The words in the title are stacked too tightly together and seem to have no rhyme or reason to where their alignment starts and/or ends and the visual of an animal in knitted accessories (which have been clearly photographed separately and layered together using the magic of Adobe) is super dorky. The only thing that I really do like about this cover is the colour; using a relatively plain, light-coloured backdrop and then using such bold, fun colours for the title was a great choice. I love Amy Lane’s writing, but I did not love this cover.
#3. The Ghost on My Couch by L.A. Gilbert (Cover art by Paul Richmond) – Okay, I’ll admit this upfront: I am really, REALLY hard on hand-drawn covers (or covers given a hand-drawn effect). I think they are cheesy and I tend to avoid them like the plague. Objectively, I think the blue wash over the entire cover, the typical horror style font on “Ghost”, and the nod to Ghostbusters hit absolutely the right notes for this book. And yet, if a friend hadn’t highly recommended this book as tots adorable, there’s no way that I would have touched it with a ten-foot pole. Hand-drawn, cartoony images are just not my cuppa.