1. Name a book with a cover that best captures its main character.
My Pic: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon. This cover’s central female figure serves as a great fill in for the main character (at least I think so – I always picture this image when I envision the novel’s lead character), and I was glad the rest of the books in this series kept the same character design. This cover as a whole is a good example of classy sci-fi cover art as it’s sleek, sets the tone of the environment, and does a great job letting us know what to expect from the story, which lives up to this awesome cover.
2. Name a book with a cover that least captures its main character.
My Pick: The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey. This cover strikes me as too perky for the story, which is a dark feminist retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. The central female figure here reminds me more of a beauty pageant contestant and less like the formidable title character, hence turning her into a generic fantasy stock image rather than a queen deserving to be feared like she’s depicted in the story. However, I do love the color palette, which makes great use of all of my favorite colors, so that’s at least something in its favor. 🙂
3. Name a book with a cover you love but not so much the story.
My Pick: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. This cover is absolutely stunning in person! It looks so realistic, as if the cover itself is literally filled with water. The color palette creates a murky effect to generate the illusion of looking underwater yet the lines and details are crystal clear. There’s also a sense of mystery and power regarding the central image, which I assume to be the novel’s chief female lead, as she is suspended in the water beneath a beam of light while a sword hangs at her side in a firm grip. Overall, this is a compelling image, but the story, not so much.
4. Name a book with an artistic/symbolic cover.
My Pick: The Onion Girl by Charles De Lint. Just to prove how long this cover has stuck with me, I remember seeing this on my local bookstore’s shelves when I was a young teenager, but it wasn’t until years later that I decided to read it. The cover is simply gorgeous (and it was created by artist John Jude Palencar). It uses a muted palette so it has a gentle, ethereal look to it. The range of purple to nudes is easy on the eyes, not to mention the artist cleverly relied on these shades to tint the sky, central figure, and tree, so all three images are connected. The expression on the woman is one of utmost serenity, giving you a sense that she’s in a world all to herself but she’s not entirely unattached to what’s going around her yet she’s above it all (as she sits, elevated, in a tree). Overall, this is a beautiful cover that could easily double as a painting – if I could get this as a framed print, I would!
5. Name a book with a cover that doesn’t tie in with its story.
My Pick: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett. This cover is classy and makes a great use of symmetry, which draws your eyes to the entire cover, not just the title, the model, or the orb alone. What really appealed to me was the orb and, while it’s hard to make out here, the artwork has a slightly warped, watery effect that lets you know the world the model exists in is vastly different from the world you’re glimpsing in the orb. Image-wise, it creates a good contrast between the Regency Era setting and the magical world inside the orb. But as lovely and wonder-inducing as all of this is, the story isn’t as mystical as the cover would lead you to believe.
6. Name a book with a unique/creative physical design.
My Pick: Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley – This cover is just so cool (though I wish I could say the same for the story, which was just meh-level paranormal YA) and looks even better in person. It’s a board-based hardcover but it’s an elongated shape (like a coffin, perhaps?) and doesn’t have a dust jacket. The front image utilizes a shadowbox design and it’s just fun to look at. The color choices here, while simple, are very pretty as the silver (which is metallic in real life) and pink contrast nicely with the bold, black cover. Whoever designed this really took their time to create something truly unique.
7. Name a book that you bought judging by its cover.
My Pick: Zodiac by Romina Russell. The use of bright colors here immediately caught my eye was well as the embossed lettering for the title. Likewise, I love how the constellation designs are incorporated, giving this novel a very blatant sci-fi edge without coming across as campy or cheap. Overall, this is a very crisp, clean, lovely cover design. Unfortunately, the story itself is simply a YA love triangle set in space and didn’t live up to the epic nature implied by its beautiful cover.
8. Name a book with a cover that looks better in person.
My Pick: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This cover definitely deserves to be seen in person. The background silver and white ombre effect has a metallic sheen to it that isn’t accurately captured in 2D pictures, and the main title’s font is bold and raised, which, again, appears flat in photographs. But even more impressive is the blood-stained crown: not only does it look like it’s made from real metal, as you can see all of the intricate details, but the embossed blood looks unbelievably real thanks to a play of various shades of red for an eye-catching effect. Overall, this cover is gorgeous (as gory as it is!).
9. Name a classic book with a favorite cover.
My Pick: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This was the cover of the edition I checked out of the library to read when I was in junior high school, and it was the first time I had ever perused Jane Eyre. While this classic novel gets an occasional face lift concerning its cover, this particular cover I like the best out of any other incarnation, and I deliberately tracked down a copy of the novel sporting this particular cover for a spot on my bookshelf. While it’s not a depiction of the title character as this is actually a real painting, not an artist’s rendition of Ms. Eyre, it still serves as my mental image for Jane.
10. Name a book in a series that has the best cover in that series:
My Pick: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Hands down, the cover for Order of the Phoenix is my favorite. First, it makes awesome use of various shades of blue (my favorite color), and I love how Harry is front and center with a determined look on his face. The overall atmosphere of this cover, meant to depict the scene in the Department of Mysteries, is cold and ghostly yet avoids being sinister or creepy. I also appreciate the smoke motif here as, not only do we see smoke drifting from the candles but the novel’s principle title is in smoky, curly letters, both of which also evoke a fantastic sense of mystery. Overall, this cover presents a frosty, intriguing image that expertly meshes with Harry’s internal and external struggles in this particular novel.
11. Name a book with an international cover that you liked better than your home country’s cover.
My Pick: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I love the Spanish cover (showcased here)! Not to say the American cover is terrible – I think it works brilliantly. I just really like the overall design here, which uses a doll as a fill in for the lead character. The dress is lovely and the level of detail on it is exquisite. Plus it all stands out against a plain black background, so the focus is on the doll and her single-shoe foot. Likewise, the lettering contains a subtle lunar reference as the C in Cinder is drawn to resemble earthshine. Overall, this cover is tastefully elegant and helps set the tone for the lead character in the novel.
12. Name a book with a cover that made you go, “Huh?”
My Pick: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. The symbolism here utterly befuddles me (and I’ve already touched on it in my review). In chess, the queen (the white piece seen here) is the most powerful piece because she can move in any direction and capture any single opponent piece in her way. But she’s not the most valuable piece (that would be the king). The red chess piece in the background is a pawn, the least valuable piece in that it’s the most restricted in mobility and its ability to capture. Fair enough. But when I try to apply the symbolism here to the novel, I get confused. I understand that Bella, as the lead, becomes powerful due to her transformation and, as such, is less of a protected character and more of a protector. But there’s the underlying aspect that the queen is not the most valuable piece. So does that mean that while Bella is powerful she’s somehow lacking in value? And who, or what, is the pawn? The pawn is red (rather than white), meaning it’s an opponent’s piece, so I presume this represents someone who is not aligned with Bella. But who could that be? If that’s meant to stand for Jacob, that’s kind of cold to call him a pawn as it implies he’s weak and expendable (though Bella has a nasty habit of using him). If it’s the Volturi, I’m not sure they qualify as weak or expendable (though their inclusion in this novel is certainly disposable). If the image is symbolic of Bella’s old life, that could work as she’s certainly in opposition to it now. But again, why a pawn? Did Bella view herself as weak and powerless? Not to mention the queen here isn’t in an immediate position to capture the pawn, so this isn’t intended to be an image of combat. Furthermore, pawns can be promoted to the status of rook, knight, bishop, or queen if you can get them across the board. So is that what this elusive pawn is trying to do, get across the board and past Queen Bella so it can be promoted to a more powerful status? You can probably see why this cover made me go, “Huh?,” right?
13. What is your all-time favorite book cover from among your all-time favorite books?
My Pick: Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull. This is not an easy choice because there were several books I could have named. But, alas, I can only choose one, so I decided to let this be my pick. This is yet another book cover that is far more striking in person. For starters, the actual cover itself is textured and reminds me of tree bark in a way, which fits with the novel’s nature-focused setting. The title is of embossed, metallic-looking, copper letters that really catch the light and your eye but not in a gaudy way. Naturally the highlight is the tree branch frame populated by a wide variety of birds, both large and small, all overseen by a massive swan. Yet not to be missed is the small bird hovering above the two Ms in Summer, which, for me, symbolizes the two sisters who go up against overwhelming odds, much like how the smaller bird takes center stage beneath the far more imposing swan. Overall, this is a very striking cover that doesn’t rely on flashy colors or tacky gimmicks to grab your attention. Of course, being an avid bird watcher, I was drawn to this. But the lovely story within definitely fits with and deserves this equally gorgeous cover.