Judging books by their covers

In two days, we will know which books won the Cybils Awards. I have a tender interest in this announcement, as I was panelist for science fiction/fantasy. I thought that it would be fun to go back and take a look at the books nominated, and to judge them by their covers.

Here are my three favorites:

I think this is a beautiful cover. I just had to buy the book the moment I saw it. I like that Charlotte looks like an ordinary person, and I love the gold thread binding her hands...

I find the swirling action and fine detail very appealing here. I think it adds to the appeal that (I guess) Balsa is depicted in a very gender neutral way--boys won't be put off.

A cover that inspires daydreaming. Lovely.

And now, two covers that I so so so did not like. That I, in fact, hated.

Can you tell that this book is a fast-paced adventure focusing primarily on the exciting story of a gypsy boy with magical powers who must get an imprisoned girl out of France during the Terror? Can you tell that it is one boys might really really like? No? Neither can I. This is such an unfair cover to stick on a really great book. Grrr.

I loved this book. I loved the main character, the titular Stranger to Command. But what is up with the guy on the cover? He looks seriously wet. His long hair does not work for me. His posture has no zest in it. I can't imagine this guy being an effective leader even after he has gotten to know command a bit better. And why do we have to see him twice? It doesn't add to his appeal. I hate that he got shoved into my head as a mental image of the main character, and I still haven't quite gotten over it.

On a happier note, here's my choice for most beautiful cover girl. Isn't she lovely?

Edited to add:

My esteemed co-panelist Laini suggests that The Unnameables, by Ellen Booraem, could be included in the unfortunate covers category. I am not sure I agree. Sure, it gives absolutly no idea of what the book is about, but yet, having read the book, to me it convayes some of the wild magic of the Goatman, the catalyst for change on the island where the book is set, and the metaphoric embodiement of creativity. Or whatever.


  1. I must admit that the French Revolution cover is an EPIC fail. Wow.

    But I can't wait to read the Sherwood Smith book, dorky repeat photo or no. She's a great writer. I shall tape paper over that long-haired milquetoast's mug. ;)

  2. I haven't read either of the two you don't like, partially because the covers don't scream "read me". Amazing what a cover will do, isn't it?

  3. Hi Charlotte! Agree with you on all these. I'd add the cover of The Unnameables as offputting. There were surprisingly few standout covers among our titles.

    Tanita: milquetoast! I love that word :-)

  4. I don't know if it's just me, or does the girl on the Gardner cover look like she has a somewhat disproportional neck. Maybe it's just the angle of the laptop...

    Plus! Found your blog through that feature on Em's Bookshelf (lovelovelove) and I really enjoy your site! Would you mind if I added you to our link list at the Maelstrom?


  5. Tanita--Stranger to Command is awesome, in a completly character driven way. But you have probably already read Crown Duel, and formed you own mental picture of Shevraeth, so you may be more lucky than me.

    Melissa--they are both good books! if for no other reason, read them out of pity...

    Laini--I've put up a picture of Unnameables, and my thoughts on it...

    and finally,

    Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, Aella, and I would be flattered to be added as a link!

  6. I'd add Unnameables to the unfortunate category because if you have a copy of the book and can look at it closely, it looks like a photograph of pretzels or some weird bread sculpture. I just found that weird and disturbing.

  7. I like the over of The Red Necklace AS a cover, but not if it's mainly about a gypsy boy and is something boys might really like but probably wouldn't be caught dead with due to the cover.

    I don't like the cover for A Stranger to Command at all, either! It's very weird. Thankfully I already have a picture of Vidanric in my head from reading the sequel (which was written first), Crown Duel (originally two volumes, Crown Duel and Court Duel).


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