Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Judging Books By The Cover

You're at the grocery store and there's a small stack of paperbacks and magazines in the coffee aisle, and you just can't help yourself but look at all the nice covers. Some authors you may know and maybe you've also read one or two of these. But a few might stand out and you wonder... "Should I get this one?"

Then one cover blasts you. There's a cool chick on the front cover holding a gun and she looks like she could kick ass. Maybe that's your style of reading. But here we have Kim Harrison's novel. I happen to be a fan of hers, and I know that Kim's main character, Rachel Morgan is a witch and she has some pretty cool friends including a fairy and a "living" vampire, and her character is wonderfully flawed.
Let us move to a very different front cover. This one has a half-dressed man and woman and we can see that he looks like he's about to take a bite out of this hapless woman and maybe do some other nasty things to her and we would love to see how that works out, wouldn't we?
Sure we would.
I happened to read this one, after winning it from a contest. It turned out that Jeannine Frost is very good at writing paranormal romance. P.R. doesn't happen to be my cup of tea for reading, but the story was gripping enough that I felt satisfied at the end, the writing was superior to most writers of this genre.

This novel I saw on some site, offering to win it. I didn't win it, but after investigating it I thought it sounded really good, so I ordered it and read it. I thought it was a very good YA novel by Anne Spollen. This was one of those novel where the story was credible, I wasn't stuck in some school with the youth for very long, because the actual story didn't take place in school, but outside of it. The writing was smooth, wonderfully paced. I didn't skip a word. When writing is prose this good, you can't skip it because your mind is absorbing these wonderful images.  And when you look at the cover of "Light Beneath Ferns" you get a little glimpse of what the book might be about, but not totally. The main character reminded me of myself when I was her age--only not quite like her, but I had curiosity brimming as most teenagers do. But, the cover doesn't lead you astray too much. Pretty? Yes, it is a nice cover.

This cover is typical of most paranormal romances where you find a half naked man and woman together. There's no denying you think this looks like it would be good. And as far as covers go like this, these are a dime a dozen. It really tells you very little about what you might find inside. Again, I do not buy paranormal romances (I'm not a fan of romance books in general, but I've given a few a chance). This one was a free-bee. And it was disappointing. I couldn't get much past the first chapter.

The writing was rife with a lot of adverbs and adjectives. The lure of the story moves me to the end of the chapter where I see two paragraphs where the writer has used the word "violently". One line went, "he shrugged away violently from her touch..." I thought that "jerked away" would have been a better word choice (I get an image of him slapping her in my hand away, but he didn't). When I began the next chapter I wanted to get into the scene, but I just simply couldn't. I grappled with the next paragraphs and then the next pages trying to get past over-used words like "quickly" (3 times in one page). We'll just sum it up that the writing was less than stellar, or even well-done. Being that it was published by a big house, you would think this would have had a panel of editors going through it, striking out a lot of the over-used words like "quickly", and making better suggestions. I felt the writing simply gets in the way of the story. I'm seeing the author trying very hard to sound like a romance writer--maybe in the 70's and 80's. Thank goodness I didn't buy this one.

I like book covers with faces. Nothing gets your attention better (except for the half-dressed man) on a cover than someone looking out at you. It's like someone looking at you in a crowd. It does grab you. "Sunlight" by Jamie Wasserman was a great read. "Cold Magic" by Kate Elliott was one of those thick books that you can wrap yourself around (at least for me) for several weeks just before bedtime and want to get her next book. It's on my TBR list.
And they are beautiful covers, but you have no idea what might be within. Many people read the back covers and learn what the story is about. If that passes mustard, then you may open the book up and see if the first page pulls you in. If it does, then, I think you'll be happy to pay for the read.
There are a lot of great covers out there... and you really can't just look at a cover and figure out that the book is going to be good. Could you judge a book's worth by looking at the cover?


  1. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but a bad cover can turn me off looking further. I like dark covers, especially ones with a kick-ass woman ready to do battle.

  2. I have judged a book by it's covers. I do beleive I told you which author.



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