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Judging Before Reading – T5W: Favorite Covers

I’m combining this week’s Top 5 Wednesday with my new series of posts “Judging Before Reading”. My first post was about covers I don’t like.

Top 5 Wednesday is a goodreads group created by Lainey (gingerreadslainey) and now hosted by Sam (thoughtsontomes). This week’s topic is Favorite Covers.

We’ve done this topic in the past, but with so many new, beautiful covers, it is time for an update.

I haven’t read all the books on this list, and if I’ve read them, I don’t necessarily recommend them. These are not my favorite books with pretty covers, this is a list about my favorite kinds of covers, with some examples.

Really Detailed, Atmospheric Illustrations

This is probably my favorite kind of cover. I love illustrations (I will always complain about the fact that, unlike adult SFF and middle grade, YA fantasy rarely has illustrated covers) and I love when the illustrations are detailed and their details remind me of some scenes in the book.

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng – when I say I like details, I mean something like this. Every time I look at this cover, I notice something new. This cover also represents the book’s atmosphere perfectly – it’s a Gothic story about Victorian missionaries in fairyland with really creepy faeries.

Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift – this is a gorgeous one. Not only you can immediately tell this is a story about time travel (look at the clock) set in France (look at the color scheme), but all the symbols – like the creepy bird and the violin – are references to some specific scenes in this book. I love this cover a lot.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang – I love this illustration for its style and atmosphere and I don’t know if I would have picked this book up if it hadn’t been for the cover. The details in the cloud are my favorite part.

Plants and Animals

Anything that is in any way tied with plants and animals (creepy trees and dragons as much as goldfish and kittens) is automatically more interesting to me. Especially if the covers has marine animals on it.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman – I haven’t read this book, I don’t know if I will, but every time I see this cover, I want to. Not only it’s purple (which is almost always pretty), it’s also a jellyfish. And jellyfish are some of the prettiest animals on this planet, when you’re not touching them.

After the Woods by Kim Savage – Creepy woods are my favorite kind of setting, and this is one of my favorite covers because of that. It’s beautiful, it’s mysterious, it’s far less peaceful that one might think, and it represent the books perfectly. Yes, I’m almost sure the main reason I liked this book was the setting, since it’s the only thing I remember about it. (I really need to reread this.)

For A Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig – Dragons! I love reading about dragons and I love seeing them on book covers. Also, that color scheme. The brightness. This cover must be so beautiful to see in real life. (Maybe I will? I’m reading it right now and really liking it, maybe I’ll like it enough to buy a physical copy too?)

Floating Girls

Atmosphere and weirdness. Those are two things I always look for in books – and in covers, too. Floating girls may be a bit of a cliché and I don’t love all covers with them [I really don’t like the Mara Dyer ones] but when the cover gets it right, I can’t look away.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – this is the vaguest and also most creepy of these covers. It shows a girl – probably dead, since all that red is not her hair as one might think at first – floating in the darkness, and the way the title is written makes you think of water. I love this cover, it looks dark and violent like the book’s content without looking like a scene out of a splatter movie.

The Sin-Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury – I tried (and then read) this book just because I love the cover that much. It’s about a girl who can poison people with her touch, and the cover represents both the poison part and Twylla’s feelings (she feels very alone and trapped). I love it conceptually and I love it because it looks pretty.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé – this book is a underhyped f/f YA new release I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all if it hadn’t been for the cover. Now it’s one of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m so glad the cover was pretty enough for me to remember it. The deep blue under the ice, the creepy atmosphere, the floating girl – it’s a mysterious cover I really like and it made me want to read the book.

Title on Flat, Dark Background

I love when the cover is just (or almost just) the title on a dark background, especially if said dark background is the night sky and there is a skyline. It looks mysterious and “mysterious” always makes me want to read the book.

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma – this is purple and I love purple, but what I like the most about this cover is the skyline, the moon and the stars. It’s the perfect cover for a creepy, atmospheric book set in New York I probably wouldn’t even have read if I hadn’t loved the cover.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke – this is really intriguing and symbolic and tells you nothing about the book, but that’s why I love it. I read the book just because of it, so I guess it’s a good one.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter – this cover is even prettier in real life. I know because I own a hardcover copy, this is one of my favorite books of all time. Like in A Room Away From the Wolves, there’s a skyline, but this time there’s also the silhouette of the Brooklyn Bridge and one of the most important symbols in the novel, the swan. It’s simple and mysterious and I love the color scheme.

Just Be Weird!

Up until this part, I talked about covers I find pretty. But beauty isn’t the only way a cover can catch my attention: here are some cover that intrigued me because of how weird they looked.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – if this cover hadn’t looked like a very weird space urchin, I doubt I would ever have found, noticed and read my all-time favorite book. [Which makes me wonder how many great books am I missing just because their cover was unremarkable]. As I said before, I love everything that has to do with marine animals, and this space station looks like an Arbacia lixula in space. The ones whose spines regularly end up in my toes every summer. I hate them and I love them and I had to read the space urchin book. There are no urchins inside, but I’m fine with it.

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – this book is about a very colorful and weird biopunk apocalypse. I would never have dreamed of picking up if it hadn’t been for the very weird cover. Is that a plant? An animal? An alien? I don’t know, but it’s Borne and it makes sense for the book. It helps that part of the creature looks like the feeding tentacles of the fanworm Sabella spallanzanii.

Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko – I requested this on edelweiss just because the cover looked really beautiful and weird. I have no idea what that illustration means, if it means something, but I find it intriguing and I probably wouldn’t even have noticed this novel if it hadn’t been for it.

What characteristics do you like in covers? What are your favorite ones?

21 thoughts on “Judging Before Reading – T5W: Favorite Covers

  1. So many beautiful covers 😍 I generally prefer books with a detailed-atmospheric artwork as it often makes the cover look stunning and help it stand out! I also have to say that anything with stars/nightsky immediately hooks me, as I love looking at that 🙂

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    1. Atmosphere is one of the things I like the most in books, so an atmospheric cover is good marketing [and they’re pretty. I want to own a copy even when I don’t like them].
      And same – the night is beautiful, so many covers I love have it too

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  2. I love everything about this post! I think every single MG novel on my wishlist is there cause of a pretty, illustrated cover. I love plants, animals and skylines on covers. Borne was a total cover buy for me, it’s simply too weird looking not to try! And that totally makes me think of all the amazing books I might be missing out on too… After the Woods is stunning, I think I’m gonna add it to my TBR just cause of the creepy woods.

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    1. I remember nothing about After the Woods but the fact that I liked the atmosphere and the main character, I don’t know if I would recommend the book itself (I read it more than two years ago) but it had some nice creepy wood descriptions.
      And same thing about middle grade books. I only add them because I love the cover, then I usually remove them because I realize I didn’t actually want to read them, I just thought they were pretty

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  3. I love all your picks, you have great taste in covers. The cover is such an important part of a book, people love toting out the old “don’t judge a book by its cover” but what the else am I supposed to judge it on before I’ve read it? I have The Dark Beneath the Ice on my tbr but what you said makes me want to bump it up. I’m not really feeling my current mystery/horror read so I might just replace it with The Dark Beneath the Ice instead.

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    1. Thank you! I think covers are more important than most people seem to think, too.
      The Dark Beneath the Ice is now one of my favorite books, but I don’t know if I would recommend it as horror; I didn’t find it that scary even if it is horror, I just thought it had the best representation of mental illness I’ve ever found in YA – some parts of it were very close to things I’ve experienced – and that’s the main reason I loved it (other reasons are the atmosphere and the romance).
      Anyway, I hope you like it too if you try it!

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    1. I don’t think I would have read either of them if it hadn’t been for the gorgeous covers. And I hope you like Wink Poppy Midnight! It’s been a while since I read it but I remember really liking its atmosphere and how weird it was.

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    1. The Black Tides of Heaven is the first book in a really underrated novella series I would never have noticed if it hadn’t been for those illustrations on the cover. So beautiful.
      And I hope you like A Room Away From the Wolves! It’s atmospheric and a just a bit creepy, I really liked it.

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  4. Ahhh I love these! I never thought of “floating girls” as a category of covers but yeah, there *are* quite a few of them out there. And this is my first time seeing After the Woods and damn, it’s super gorgeous. Love how the typography matches the image. And YES to titles on dark backgrounds. I also love that both A Room Away From the Wolves and Vassa in the Night have starry backgrounds, and you know how I feel about those! 😀 And I still have no idea what’s going on in the Vita Nostra cover but whatever it is, it looks pretty and I love it.

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    1. The typography of After the Wood is so pretty. One of the things I like the most about that cover is how unique it is (I wish books with creepy forests found a way as effective to show that the book has a creepy wood).
      And yes, there are so many floating girls/girls underwater on covers – some of them aren’t as pretty as the others, the Mara Dyer ones and the cover of another book by Nova Ren Suma, Imaginary Girls, don’t work for me – but most of the time I love how they look.


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