Category Archives: book covers

Friday Faceoff – There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the way out is through… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFacetunnelcovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting TUNNELS. I’ve selected Tunnel in the Sky – Book 9 of Heinlein’s Juveniles by Robert A. Heinlein.

Well gosh! This spiffy adventure is a real blast from the past and this range of covers are either celebrating its age, or attempting to update its appeal to a new generation… You decide which option works best. This first offering, published by Pocket Books in April 2005 is firmly in the latter camp. There is definitely a tunnel there – in a very techy, cool way… It’s the cover that attracted me to this book for this subject in the first place and I do love the colours and the visual effect – if it was a book designed for adults.

Published in October 1987 by Ace Books, this cover is definitely of its time. I have a really soft spot for it – I love the determined look on the young man’s face. He is definitely out to subdue this landscape, rather than work with it! No environmental concerns in evidence here… I also like the sci fi font, which works well with the design, though I’d prefer the title font to be just a tad larger.

This edition, published by Ace Books in January 1972 is a real contender. I am always a sucker for spacescapes and I love the planet in the background as our plucky young protagonist stands on the edge of his adventure. I also like the way the author font matches the colouring in the planet, which gives strong visual coherence to the overall design. And though there is persuasive chatter in evidence – for once someone has given thought to how to present it so that it works with, rather than detracts from, the overall visual effect.

This Russian edition, published by Эксмо in November 2015, highlights the difference between the modern approach and the vintage covers. It’s far more about the technical equipment making this journey possible, full of cool-looking details. And I love that beam lighting up the backdrop, providing a really beautiful effect… It is a wonderful effort. And then some fool went and plonked that nasty acidic yellow blob in the middle of it, presumably assuring prospective readers that it is worth picking up. Really?? Why do publishers assume readers aren’t capable of judging a book’s merits by checking out the opening pages, or reading the blurb? Not that this winds me up. At all…

This audiobook edition, published by Brilliance Audio in March 2015, is the only one to feature the young protagonist as black – which is how Heinlein wrote him. Kudos to Brilliance for not whitewashing him. I also like the colourful backdrop, with plenty of pleasing detail, while the portal is effectively depicted, too. And while I wince at the ugly black strip across the top, at least it is difficult to ignore the important message – that this is a CD audiobook. This design, with its nod to the vintage feel of the story and picking up many of the important elements with respect, and presenting them in an exciting, visually appealing design, is my favourite. Which is yours?


Friday Faceoff – The tentacles of today reach out like an octopus to swallow yesterday… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffwindowcovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting TENTACLES. I’ve selected Kraken by China Miéville.

Del Rey 2010

This offering was produced by Del Rey in June 2010 and is more effective than I had initially assumed. The more I see it, the more I like the simplicity and pared back effectiveness. The underwater backdrop works well and the title font, where a couple of the letters trail away to form tentacles works surprisingly well. Unexpectedly, as I’ve been writing this post, this cover has become a contender.

Pan Books 2011

Published in May 2011 by Pan Books, this cover looks really cool in thumbnail, but once I enlarged it, I found I liked it less. I do have a bit of a problem with a cover where the author’s name is so MUCH larger and punchier than the book title. It’s almost as if the publishers don’t think this book is much of a read – other than it was written by someone already well known. That said, I do like the pink/rose red colour against the black, which I think works well.

Macmillan 2010

This edition, published by Macmillan in 2010 is definitely a contender. In fact, this so very nearly is my favourite. I LOVE the gorgeous suckered red tentacle rippling out of the black cover – it’s so effective and eye-catching. However, my grizzle about the previous cover stands – once again, we have the author’s name emblazoned across the top, while the title is almost afterthought. And I don’t like the chatter plonked right in the middle, either, as it clutters the striking visual effect.

Subterranean Press 2010

This edition, published in October 2010 by Subterranean Press is my favourite. I love the blue/green/yellow colour scheme and the image of those writhing tentacles in ink-patterned water is both visually beautiful and arresting. I also love the treatment of the title and the author font, as well as the fact that there isn’t any other chatter or nonsense on the cover. This is my favourite.

Bastei Lübbe 2011

This German edition, published by Bastei Lübbe in 2011 is another strong design. I love that red eye glaring out at us, as well as those creepy looking tentacles. This is another one that is so very nearly my favourite – and what impressed me is the treatment of the title font, which I think is quirky and effective. This selection made it difficult to choose this week, so what about you – which one do you prefer?


Friday Faceoff – Don’t miss the open windows trying to bang down the locked doors… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffwindowcovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting WINDOWS. I’ve selected The High Window – Book 3 of the Philip Marlow series by Raymond Chandler.

This Romanian offering was produced by Nemira in April 2011. Because there are so many covers for this book and a lot of them are frankly underwhelming – I’ve only selected those featuring windows. I really like this one, where the artwork is simple, but looks very effective in all sizes. My main grizzle is that while I know the famous author is the selling point, it would be helpful to have the book title sufficiently large and punchy to be able to see it when in thumbnail.

Published in July 1999 by Prószyński i S-ka, this Polish edition could have been strikingly arresting if those figures silhouetted in the window looked remotely lifelike. It’s a shame that the execution is so poor, because it’s a cool idea that could have been eye-catching and made for an effective cover.

This Spanish edition, published by Emecé in 2007, is another very pared back offering. Though I think it is a far better effort than the previous cover, as I really like the simplicity. But my gripe with this one is that I think the quirky, uneven font and perky curtain blowing in the breeze gives off a vibe that this is a humorous novel, rather than a murder mystery, which is a shame, because for me, that’s a dealbreaker. A cover needs to give the reader a sense of the genre and overall tone of the book – and though there is humour in Chandler’s books, it’s dark and sardonic. Certainly not the cute, perky type that comes to mind when seeing this design.

This edition, published in July 2014 by Mustbe Interactive is another indifferent offering. I’m not a huge fan of split images on covers, as they often end up unable to depict either design effectively – as in this example. A truncated block flats is never going to look right and as for the image below the author textbox – well, your guess is as good as mine as to what is going on there…

And finally a cover that really works. Produced as an ebook in July 2019, this edition is clearly using one of the original covers from when the book first came out in 1942. I love the drama with the flying glass and the two horrified faces – that of the falling man and the woman witnessing the whole thing. The large blocky title also underlines the drama – no one is going to mistake this for a perky comedy. This is my favourite, but what about you – which one do you prefer?

Friday Faceoff – A clock only turns in one direction… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceofftimecovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting TIME. I’ve selected The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – see my review.


This offering was produced by Random House in September 2014. While it isn’t my favourite – I do love the fact this cover is different. Very stripped back and spare, nonetheless, there is a lot going on, here. The sky appearing as a backdrop to this design, marked off with a series of concentric circles. It is certainly a cover that makes me stop and check out the book – which is what you want. If I have a grizzle, it is that the title and author fonts are rather underwhelming and tend to get lost within all those circles.

Published in September 2014, by Sceptre, this cover is a bit more traditional. It is also beautiful and the complete opposite of the previous cover. The golden apple is still there, swathed in water on which balances the lighthouse. The flock of birds describes another beautiful, colourful pattern across the black background, while the unravelling of an old-fashioned cassette tape in the corner provides yet more decoration and scrolling patterns. I love this cover and it is my favourite – partly because the way details and things appear to be disconnected, but actually aren’t. And that just about sums up Mitchell’s writing.

This Polish edition, published by MAG in January 2016, is another striking offering. This one is all about the clocks – with more of those concentric circles, but this time, it is a beautiful old clock face at the centre and a couple of other timepieces disrupting the pattern. The clockwork cogs and gearing providing the decoration are again, lovely and eye-catching. This is another cover I’m fond of, and if it wasn’t for the vibrant offering above, and the cover below, this one might have tempted me.

This Portuguese edition, published in January 2016 by Editorial Presença is another major contender. I really like the simplicity and strength of this design. The sky as a backdrop and the golden apple with a clock face. I think it is really effective and strong. What ultimately swung my judgement in favour of the second cover is the bland treatment of the title and author fonts, which could have been given more thought and originality, so they match with the striking visual statement of the artwork.

This Bulgarian edition, published by Прозорец in May 2019, once again depicts a clock – but this one has spines. I love the pattern it describes, spiralling into a volute. While it lacks the brightness of some of the covers above, it is still beautiful – and provides a strong visual metaphor as to how Mitchell uses Time in this book. I don’t think there are any poor covers here – a lot of it comes down to personal taste. But I’m extremely impressed that such a tricky book to depict has been so well served by a series of stunning and apt images. Which is your favourite?


Friday Faceoff – Bodice rippers… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFacebodiceripperscovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers for BODICE RIPPERS. I’ve selected Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier.

Reading a bedtime story?

This offering was produced by Pocket Books in 1964 certainly shows its age. The artwork is cramped and underwhelming, while the dreaded textbox is boringly white. Not even the infusion of a bit of colour for the author and title fonts can liven this one up. Apart from anything else, it looks as if our dashing Frenchman is sitting reading milady a bedtime story, rather than sweeping her off her feet.

Pity about that textbox…

Published in December 2013 by Little, Brown and Company, this cover is a lot more modern, which is why it’s even more of a shame that it has ended up being quite so vanilla. This cover gives no hint of the colourful romantic adventure within its pages. While I like the depiction of Lady Dona – especially that we don’t see her face – the pallid author font and charmless textbox manage to turn what could be a mysterious, intriguing cover into a boringly bland affair.

Just what is going on?

This Slovak edition, published by Slovenský spisovateľ in 1992 is at least trying to enter into the spirit of the thing. I really like the idea – the torn insert featuring a lady in a crinoline gown dejectedly reclining in what looks like an old barn. Unfortunately, the lack of clarity in either the outside image or some of the details around her skirt prevents the storytelling going on here being as effective as I’m sure the actual cover depicted would have shown, given it was created in the days before ebooks were thought of. And why there is a scallop shell containing an oversized pearl is also something of a puzzle… Nonetheless, at least this cover gets marks for effort.

This is my favourite…

This edition, published by Triangle Books in 1946, has finally produced the goods. Our Lady Dona swooning in the arms of her French pirate during a moonlight tryst, with a galleon in full sail in the background, improbably festooned with numerous fleur de lys – just in case we don’t get the fact that he is French from that shifty, foreign-looking moustache… The title and author fonts are suitably clear, without cluttering up the artwork and this is my favourite.

Cornwall? I don’t think so!

This edition published by Doubleday Books is so nearly a contender. To be honest, I prefer this Frenchman – far more dashing and piratical than the previous version. But points are knocked off for the lush jungle backdrop. And yes… I know Cornwall has a microclimate where all sorts of tender plants can grow, but this setting isn’t giving me any West Country vibe. And while they are clearly flirting, I want to see a bit more passion… Which is your favourite?


PICKY EATERS – Cover reveal #PickyEatersShortStory #PickyEaters4thebattleagainstmentalillness #PickyEaterscoverreveal

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I have mentioned several times over the last couple of months that I was working on another project – and today I am in a position to finally talk about it. As lockdown clamped across my life, along with everyone else, I wanted to do something to help. But what? My own health issues and age meant I wasn’t in a position to volunteer for the variety of important jobs needing to be done. And given my sewing skills, or lack of them, no one would want to wear scrubs or masks made by yours truly. All I do these days is write…

So I went back through my stories, searching for this one. The story of a grumpy old grandfather, who is suddenly faced with looking after a couple of lively young dragonets… It had been published as a 1,000 story in Every Day Fiction way back in 2008, but I added more, as this family wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s humorous and quirky and as far away from the current difficult situation as you can get – a quick, easy read for folks, who perhaps like me, aren’t looking for anything too demanding or downbeat right now.

I’m planning on publishing Picky Eaters – Part I on 22nd June and for the duration of its publishing lifetime, I am donating all proceeds to mental health charities. So I’m hoping the story itself will provide a bit of escapist entertainment, while the profits will also go to a cause that I know is in desperate need of more resources. Mhairi Simpson, my book buddy and awesome cover artist has also donated her time and work on this cover for nothing, as her contribution towards this project.

In the meantime, advance reader copies of this story are available at Booksprout – this is the link – for the first 20 reviewers interested in reading about the exploits of Castellan and those lively dragonets, Sammy Jo and Billy Bob.

BLURB: This tale about family life, dragon-style, is escapist fun for adults. All proceeds to go to mental health charities.

Castellan the Black, now better known as Casta the Grey, has led an eventful life, but these days he’s content to live alone in his mountaintop lair, fending off occasional attacks from the food and waiting to die. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

Babysitting his young grandchildren is definitely not on his to do list. Sammy Jo doesn’t care that the world used to cower before Casta’s wrath. She doesn’t want barbecued knight in armour – it’s tinned food – and that’s that. Sadly, her little brother Billy Bob is more inclined to follow her lead than his grandfather’s, and what’s a grumpy old dragon to do with two such intransigent youngsters?

Things go from bad to worse when he wakes up from a nap to find they’ve been hunting for more appealing treats. Organic, free-range lunch was exactly what they needed, according to a very proud Sammy Jo. He’s never seen the food so upset, and now it’s coming up the hill, armed with spears and bows, hell bent on revenge.

Things go from bad to worse when he has to move in with the rest of the family. Whoever said family life was boring hasn’t lived alongside these two pesky lizards. Keeping his grandkids out of trouble might be more of a challenge than this over the mountain warrior can handle.

Sneak peek…
He came to with a sudden awareness that he must have dozed off, which was happening more often these days. Still, no harm done… He stretched and yawned, choosing to ignore the patter of dirt falling from his crusted scales. Only as he started to curl up, ready to turn the nap into a proper mid-morning snooze, did he recall he was supposed to be babysitting his pesky grandchildren. Where’d they got to?
Once he located the youngsters huddled in the corner, he decided Billy Bob and Sammy Jo were up to something, so he tip-taloned across the cavern, before whispering, “What are you doing?” in Billy Bob’s ear.
The small dragon shot straight into the air with a shrill squeal, while his sister crouched lower over whatever-it-was in the gloom, gobbling it up in a couple of hurried gulps.
An irritated wisp of smoke leaked from his nostrils. “And why are you eating between meals?”
“’Um unngree…” she mumbled, still chewing.
The delicious whiff of a meaty something didn’t improve his temper. “If you’d eaten all your breakfast, you wouldn’t be wanting something, now!”
“Sorry, Granddad,” Billy Bob whimpered, his wings drooping submissively.
But young Sammy Jo was made of sterner stuff. Her wings remained neatly folded across her back as she announced, “Didn’t like breakfast.”
Impudent little piece! Why, when he was a dragonet, if he’d spoken to a lord so insolently, he’d have been walking around with singed scales for a month. Smoke now was trickling steadily from his nostrils, as he growled, “And what does like have to do with anything? Answer that one, miss! There’s sub-Saharan dragons who’d give their wings for a tasty morsel like the one I picked out for you.”
“They can have it, then,” Sammy Jo said sulkily. “It tasted funny.”
The rank ingratitude! His temper flared, and a gout of flame belched out of his mouth with his roar, “Ahh!”
She dodged his fiery blast with ease. “You can’t singe us, Granddad. It’s not allowed.” Sammy Jo stretched her neck in an unmistakeably female way. “If we’ve been bad, we have to sit on the naughty crag and think about what we’ve done wrong and how to make a-mends.”
He regarded her with smouldering annoyance. “You sound just like your grandmother.”





Friday Faceoff – My soul is in the sky… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffflyingcovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting FLYING. I’ve selected Searching for Dragons – Book 2 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede.



This offering, produced by HMH Books for Young Readers in November 2002, is clearly not featuring flying – it’s underground and depicting a band of rather desperate men facing down some really cross-looking dragons… I love the font and the artwork – it’s full of detail and while of its time, it is delightful.

 

Published in September 1992 by Scholastic, I love this cover. The artwork is again, absolutely fabulous with so much delightful detail, from the costume of the princess and the pattern on the underside of the carpet, to the landscape below… This is one of my favourites – despite the presence of that nasty strip of textbox running across the top.


This edition is the updated version of the first cover, published in September 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers. This is a very strong contender, as those wormlike dragons are absolutely terrifying and I also love the details on the font and the treatment given to the author font.


This edition, published in October 1991 by Harcourt, Brace and World, is another cover featuring the flying carpet. I love the bright colours, the rippling carpet and the clear font. What I don’t like is that odd metallic frame sectioning the cover up and yet adding nothing to the design. It looks odd and is visually distracting. I’m not sure if it is supposed to represent the magical barriers raised by the wizards – but as far as I’m concerned, it simply doesn’t work.


This Thai edition is extraordinary. I love the way that elements of the story are all represented – with the protagonists toiling up the mountain in search of the lost dragon, which is trapped in a bubble. There is one of the manipulative wizards looming up the left-hand side of the cover, with an even darker, mightier draconic creature towering over everyone in the background. Here are the elements of high Fantasy portrayed in a single cover, through the lens of another culture. I love it and this one is also my favourite – because I simply cannot choose between this one and the classical European fantasy cover. They are both wonderful in completely different ways and for different reasons. Which one is your favourite?


Friday Faceoff – Silhouettes are reductions… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffsilhouettecovers #WyrdandWonder2020

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers with SILHOUETTES. I’ve selected Dark Lord of Derkholm – Book 1 of the Derkholm series by Diana Wynne Jones – see my review. I am linking this post to Wyrd and Wonder 2020.

 

This offering was produced by HarperCollins Children’s Books in August 2013 – though as far as I’m concerned, this is NOT a children’s book as it has a scene including rape and sexual exploitation, even though it isn’t at all graphic and in places is very funny. Back to the cover – this is the one that came to mind when I thought of silhouettes and I think it is an enjoyable effort, although probably just a tad too cluttered to be truly effective. With such a genre mash-up, it’s often difficult to encompass the mood and themes, but I think this cover succeeds in giving a sense of the book.

 

Published in April 2001 by HarperTeen, this cover features Kit the Griffin and Derk enacting one of their more dramatic battle scenes. It’s a lovely and accomplished cover, full of action – but my quibble is that I’m not sure you get a true sense of what is really going on. The book is a satire, using fantastical tropes to highlight what is happening to some of the most beautiful parts of our planet and there isn’t a hint of that in this cover.

 

This German edition, published by Knaur in April 2018, is another dramatic offering, though I also get a sense of the humour on the expression of that magnificent dragon. I also love the overall design – and while not usually a huge fan of borders, the way this one evolves out of the flames engulfing the castle against the night sky is eye-catching and effective. It is so nearly my favourite…

 

This edition, published in 2000 by Millennium is another beautiful cover – and unusual in that the five-star treatment has been given to the author name, rather than the title. The glowing backlighting sings out – although the actual lettering rather fades into the textured background – I’m guessing the print version of this cover looked stunning. However in thumbnail it isn’t quite so successful – though that doesn’t stop the artwork being fabulous.


This Japanese edition, published by 東京創元社 in 2002 is glorious. It has taken the book and nested the author’s amazing fantastical animals within a Japanese setting, which works perfectly. So the design is beautiful as well as giving a sense of the parody and satire of the book. This is my favourite cover. Which one do you prefer?

Friday Faceoff – Tears come from the heart and not from the brain… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffSorrowcovers #WyrdandWonder2020

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring SAD covers.

I’ve selected Miranda and Caliban by Jaqueline Carey, see my review, which I absolutely loved and broke my heart. And yes – I’m aware there aren’t many covers and those there are don’t provide much variety. But the brief was to find a cover that made me sad. I don’t read many sad books these days – not if I can avoid it, but this is one of the most heartbreaking, beautiful books I’ve ever read. I am linking this post to Wyrd and Wonder 2020.


This edition was produced by Tor Books in February 2017. It is haunting – and yes, we are talking Miranda and Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s an odd play with a fantastic setting and a disturbing undercurrent, which Carey takes full advantage of in her fabulous book. This muted, stolen embrace sums up the situation between these two lost, lonely souls in this fabulous retelling and I think it’s beautiful.

 


Published in January 2018 by Tor Books, this less muted version (you couldn’t really call it colourful, could you?) makes a surprising difference. But I think, on balance I prefer the first cover. The highlighting of Miranda’s face seems to emphasise the difference between them, while the reality is that they are startlingly alike.

 

This Audible edition, published by Tantor Audio February 2017, is my least favourite. It is two characters, with the same colouring and design, but seeing their faces staring out at us robs the cover of a great deal of its power, I think. However, we still get a sense of their sadness… Which is your favourite?




Friday Faceoff – Pink isn’t just a colour – it’s an attitude, too… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffdogcovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring PINK covers. I’ve selected Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – see my review.



This offering was produced by Macmillan in April 2017. This is the default cover for this book – and is… extraordinary. You keep looking at it and seeing something else every time. I think this has to be one of the weirdest designs I’ve ever featured – and not remotely like any other PINK book cover I’ve encountered. I love this one – it’s so clever and original.

 

Published in April 2017, by the publisher Fourth Estate, this cover is a bit more traditional. It is also beautiful. The rainbow-coloured background is lovely and I love how dear little Borne is wriggling through the title font. Another creative, clever design that grabs your attention and makes you want to pick this one up.

 

This Italian edition, published by Einaudi in February 2018, is another amazing offering, though I can make sense of this one. This is Borne, as he is found in amongst the fur of the bear, Mord. I love that beautiful iridescent eye and the lovely glowing colours punching out of the dark grey. And yes, I know the title and author fonts are rather underwhelming, but I do love this one. It is my favourite.

 

This Russian edition, published in January 2018 by Эксмо: fanzon, is another unusual offering. We have Borne in all his odd glory staring out at the reader. This one is enjoyably quirky and the colour glows against the dark brown background – presumably against Mord’s bulk. I really like the treatment of the title and author font on this one.

 

This Dutch edition (I think!) published by Bezige Bij b.v., Uitgeverij De in July 2018, once again depicts Borne living in Mord’s coat. This time we get to see the ruined city in the background through the thick, pink haze of the toxic pollution, which is disturbingly pretty. I love the elegant simplicity of the design and how the lettering is white against Mord’s fur and black against the pink air. That bee is just a lovely little detail, as it Borne himself becoming the O of the title. This one was so nearly a contender – in fact this week I found it very hard to choose. Which is your favourite?