I received complimentary copies of most of the books I mention here in exchange for honest reviews, which you’ll find in the posts I’ve linked to.
I’m not strictly a “judge a book by its cover” kind of reader, as I’ve found and have read some wonderful books with covers I didn’t particularly care for. 🙂 Still, I have an appreciation for cover art as a part of the reading experience, and here are covers I particularly liked from books I’ve read this year! They’re listed in the order I read them.
*And to the authors of these books, if you’d like a little gift (for yourself and even for your cover artist) for making the list, see the bottom of this post.*
The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart
I actually read this novel last year, after the cover awards cut-off date, so I saved it for this year’s awards. Yes, red is my favorite color–garnet red and reds close to it, more specifically–but that’s only part of the point, here. This cover’s impact is in its simplicity, plain white text against deep red, and then an uncomplicated but striking two-part image that tells so much of the story: an unshadowed fedora sitting atop a man’s shadowy silhouette. Dreamlike, as if he may or may not really be there. Excellent!
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Does this cover or does this cover not virtually shout “The Golden Age of Hollywood”? There’s the woman with the glamorous vintage haircut and a peek at the Hollywood Sign, which would have said “Hollywoodland” at the time this story begins. The cover design hints at this, with the woman’s arm and the boldly floral back of her dress tastefully interrupting the sign. It may be a depiction of nighttime, but this cover is all about fabulous light, giving the stars–the ones in the sky and the one in the dress–time to really shine. I’ve seen three or four different covers for this novel, but this version here is definitely the best.
In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar
Gentle romance with golden earth tones in a beautiful field. Gotta love it. Ruth’s gaze at Boaz is perfect, clearly “in love” but not overly dramatic, and her smile is slightly obscured at just the right level by the brilliant sunlight making its way in over her shoulder. What I may love most about this cover, though, are its features you can only fully appreciate when a physical copy of the book is in your hands: the gold embossed lettering and the flecks of gold spread over the entire image, making the cover literally shimmer.
The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer
I passed over this novel a number of times without picking it up, but its gorgeous cover eventually made it too much for me to resist. The colors, the warm tone of it all, and the evening lights are reminiscent of a wedding reception at night, or something much like it. And, hey, who doesn’t appreciate seeing a dimpled smile and a nice hint of a beard?
Abraham and Sarah by Roberta Kells Dorr
Bring on the textures that give this cover an “ancient” feel, especially toward the left side edge and including the look of Abraham’s skin, obviously roughened by wind and sun. (Sure, Sarah’s face looks a ways softer, back there, but it’s likely she may protect her complexion from the elements more, as a woman.) I believe this cover actually incorporates more separate images than it may appear, and if there’s a way to bring separate or unrelated images together into a complete, natural-looking whole, this is it.
Unconditional by Eva Marie Everson
Yes, I saw the movie version of this story before I read the book, and, yes, this cover puts me in movie mode as much as reading mode. The separate images here take much more of a blending approach, flawlessly fading into each other, bringing a mixture of moods that all fit together. The models/characters/actors are ideal for their roles, which their facial expressions give a glimpse of here, and my favorite aspect of the cover is the stormy, possibly tragic, night fading into the hopeful sunlight piercing over the horizon.
Rise and Shine by Sandra D. Bricker
This may be the most I’ve ever liked a cover that I feel doesn’t quite match the tone or subject matter of the book inside. Of course, this contemporary fairy tale has got its quirky and humorous moments, but I think the cover suggests more of an out-and-out comedy than this story is. Nevertheless, the bold colors and clouds are absolute eye candy (literally putting me in the mood for candy, something sweet ‘n’ tart ‘n’ crunchy.) And while I don’t normally go for covers with pets so prominently displayed, how could I not make an exception for this heroine’s dog after seeing that quirky contemplation on the heroine’s face?
That’s How She Rolls by C.L. Wells
Christian Fiction/Romantic Comedy
I originally read this novelette in the Where the Light May Lead anthology, so the story didn’t have a cover of its own at the time. But it does now, and, wow! Yes, the heroine leaning on the car with her keys in hand is right on theme. Then not to mention the fun fonts and texturing along with great layering and blending. See how the background color matches the model’s nail polish? And speaking of the model–I found her refreshing! Not only does her smile and pose make you anticipate a rom-com, but as the story itself highlights how beauty and hotness come in all different packages, the model fits the story’s message to a T. For fiction in general with all kinds of positive messages, I, quite frankly, would love to see heroes and heroines of different sizes on a more regular basis. Brava!
The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley
Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction
It’s rare that book covers, even great ones, are my strongest initial attraction to a book, but, come on. Just look at this. The cover models here are on point, giving us personality without melodrama; everything in the image is on theme; the layering is superb; there’s a beautiful blend of light and shadow; and the overall tone is muted but bold, giving us a modern look without sacrificing the historical feel. This is only the first book in the Home to Milford College series, but every book cover in the series is as “right” as this one.
Zimrah, Dream Singer by Susan Valles
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. The sunrise, the city, the lyre, the almost reflective text, and the woman with a hint of mystery, seamlessly blended into it all. The whole image gives a remarkable sense of time, place, and atmosphere, and it virtually sings just as much as the novel itself does.
Broken Like Glass by EJ McCay
Christian Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Really, folks, it may not seem like it while I’m going on about my favorite covers, but it is truly rare for a book cover to be the driving factor that gets me to read a book. This novel was one of those rare times. It sounded like the story itself would be somewhat too depressing for my taste, and if the book cover had been dismal and gloomy, I likely would’ve passed on the book. But I kept running into the “broken beauty” depicted on this cover, the spot-on imagery. Plus, again, with my being so partial to deep reds, I was finally persuaded to give the novel a go. Glad I did.
You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo
Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction
Ah! The Roaring Twenties so wonderfully depicted by this fun, glamorous, and vibrant cover art. It’s rather intriguing, a woman holding a steaming cup of coffee (instead of a glass of something…else) during the era of Prohibition and speakeasies in the U.S. I felt that the book blurb incorporated the title–and, hence, the woman’s coffee, there–somewhat more meaningfully than the story itself did, but as this novel’s heroine would say, “That’s beside the point.” How could you look at this cover and not know you’re in for a good time?
Long Way Gone by Charles Martin
I was in for a surprise when I received this book and finally took a real look at the cover. While I’d initially seen the misty, wooded path with sunlight and shadow, and even the small silhouette of the man in the distance, I didn’t notice the most telling feature of the cover until I held the book in my hands: the path is a guitar. That alone, without “yelling” it out at the reader, speaks volumes about this contemporary prodigal son story. It’s pretty simple, really, and all kinds of excellent.
Well, there you have them, and my applause to the artists who gave these books such a great look! Entries for 2016’s Favorite Covers giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.
Interested in starting the Home to Milford College series right away? You can pick up a free copy of The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley. I got mine at Amazon.
Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If yours has one of my favorite covers, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media–wherever you wish. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. (The lined watermark will be removed, of course, and the medal will include the year on it, 2016.) If you know the artist who designed your cover, feel free to pass on the word about the award. The artists are welcome to display the medal as well. Thanks again!