I received complimentary copies of some of these books for honest reviews of their content, which is separate from my personal assessment of their covers here.
I’m not strictly a “judge a book by its cover” kind of reader. Still, I have an appreciation for cover art as a part of the overall reading experience. Here are covers that particularly stood out to me from books I read this calendar year. The books are listed in the order I read them.
To the authors of these books, if you’d like a medal (one for you and/or for your cover artist) for being on this list, see the bottom of this post.
Eden Hill by Bill Higgs
Christian Historical Fiction
Two competing service stations may upset the easy order of this 1960s town.
Okay, so it’s actually been a few years since I read this novel, but the cover has grown on me more and more. The classic car, the cover’s overall tone and texture, the retro feel to the typography, and the little illustration of the throwback gas pump above the title—it’s all spot-on for nostalgic small-town fiction. And what a “novel” license plate!
Arcade and the Dazzling Truth Detector by Rashad Jennings
Christian Children’s Fantasy
Answers about the Triple T Token are finally revealed!
And this cover of the fourth and last book in The Coin Slot Chronicles is indeed dazzling, what with the shining Token around Arcade’s neck and the cover’s golden rays of light bursting down and around from the top. Arcade’s and his sister Zoe’s poses rightly promise action and mysterious adventure as this series closes with a bang.
Nicole by Sarah Monzon
Christian Romantic Comedy
She’s raising a child and saving the planet. No time for dating!
The expressive and vibrant illustrated cover on this rom-com, with a bespectacled and stylish heroine I heard is a plus-size gal, convinced me right away to pick up this third book in the Sewing in SoCal series. I especially love the bursts of red on Nicole’s diamond-printed top and the second tier of her earrings, plus her nail polish and glossy lip color to match. Such thoroughly fun and girly artwork!
The Samurai’s Honor by Walt Mussell
Christian Historical Fiction
Sen’s curiosity could lead to her death.
Even if I hadn’t already been into The Heart of the Samurai series, my “fascinated with samurai-related Japanese history” self would have had trouble resisting this novella’s book cover. The suggestion of artistry, honor, and danger presented by the sword, juxtaposed with delicate cherry blossoms, set against the faint background of Japanese architecture. Gorgeous.
The Butterscotch Bride by Parker J. Cole
Christian Historical Fiction
What if escaping to freedom means leaving love behind?
Oh, how this soft, bright, buttery book cover immediately drew my eye. Granted, there are serious reasons why I don’t often gravitate toward historical fiction with lovely plantation land pictured on the front, but a main character in this story sees what many others like him would see when looking up at that big house: “the beautiful façade of [a] two-storied prison.” There’s much behind an eye-catching image like this, and it matters.
The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep
Christian Historical Romantic Mystery
He’s a constable under fire. She’s a savvy swindler. And they need to find a cabby gone missing.
Besides the great blend of cloudy and grainy texture and dashes of soft light in the pelting rain here, this cover is all about showcasing the hands-on-hips interplay of the couple. The confident stance (and scheming look?) of the heroine especially says so much. And, of course, the iconic clock tower that houses the iconic Big Ben stands tall in the background of this glimpse of Victorian London. It all works!
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin
Christian Historical Romance
Two Americans strike up a scheme against the Nazi regime in 1938 Germany.
This novel’s cover has a relative stillness to it, with a single airplane and a woman’s slow walk on an empty street—creating a sense of foreboding without needing to make the cover too dark. Stars are spread through the twilit sky, blending seamlessly into the faint, handwritten script running through the background. Vintage, suspenseful, beautiful.
The Comeback by E. L. Shen
Middle Grade Fiction
Being a figure skater and a middle schooler is hard—especially when you’re bullied because of your heritage.
Now, if this sparkling cover doesn’t reflect the quintessential, graceful artistry and magic that is figure skating, I don’t know what does. Color, warmth, and the essence of ice and light are captured in this image that all but twirls on its own. Oh! And the illustrations of the young heroine continue on the inside of the novel too, in black and white.
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
Africanfuturistic Science Fiction
Sankofa never asked for this fearsome, deadly power.
Such bold and fitting imagery here. (I won’t give away all the reasons why, plot-wise, but still.) Because this headshot of the heroine with a shaved head and hoop earrings and a doleful expression depicts a tree glowing green in her neck and flourishing in her face, the image coupled with the style of the title’s text positively screams, “SCI-FI.”
Rain by Dana McNeely
The son of a high priestess. A prophetic curse. And a notorious queen bent on revenge.
Just look at this. The emotive image of pouring rain, the sun breaking over the horizon of the landscape of hills and valleys, and the soaring raven effectively set a mystical tone for this story inspired by legendary events in Scripture. Can a cover get any closer to palpable drama?
Seal of the Sand Dweller by R. Rushing
The Egyptian courtiers around him are waiting for his downfall.
The deep teal of the background above and below this cover’s panoramic image has a jewel-toned effect, and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are a striking complement to the theme. The image itself has a bold, dramatic feel, and what most gripped my attention here: the image’s unambiguous conveyance that the people here are people of color. A fitting, refreshing way to represent the period and place where this biblical story unfolds.
Simulated by Nova McBee
Young Adult Suspense
A (former?) mathematics genius goes after a sims hacker who may be an ally—or an enemy.
I’m quite a fan of blue when it comes to suspense, and the dark blue tones on this suspenseful cover are effective. The yellow accents cracking through the top and bottom add gritty texture and intrigue, and what I like most about this cover is the vertical cityscape with cultural architecture running down the side and the dark sky holding numerous stars.
Never Miss by Melissa Koslin
Christian Romantic Suspense
They’re on a race to prevent a worldwide bioattack.
This novel pulled me in with its multicolored but ominous cover with typography both atmospheric and sharp. The atmosphere compounds with escaping smoke near the bottom and the wind breathing through the bronzy heroine’s hair as she stares intrigue straight into her audience’s eyes.
A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams
Sweet Contemporary Romance
Returning to Charleston presents her with business—and romantic—prospects she may not be ready for.
Well, this lovely cover with its minimal collection of soft colors falls right in line with the story’s message of authenticity, from the palmettos in the background and the cobblestones under the Blasian heroine’s feet, to the heroine’s natural curls and the touch of pattern and color around the waist of her flowing white dress. A fitting representation of grace and culture.
Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar
The journey to find her Cushite father becomes a dangerous one.
The power of the image on this biblical fiction cover is in the angle of the shot and the poetic pose of the woman representing the novel’s biracial heroine. We see that curly hair of hers, and the red and brown of the cover’s earth-toned theme fits wonderfully with the story’s connection to roses and cinnamon. Ahhhh, yes.
The Christmas Miracle of Maria Potter by Charles Adkins, illustrated by Alina Besanidou
Christian Children’s Historical Fiction
A sad loss after war. New neighbors in town. And a special Christmastime request.
This book is a special pick, not only because of the book cover…
…but because I adore the illustrations inside the book, from the soft and cold feel of the snow outdoors to the warm firelight indoors. What’s more, the thoughtful detail the artist uses to convey emotion in closer images of the characters’ faces—especially Maria Potter’s—adds such dimension to this heartwarming tale of friendship.
Lost and Found by Jessica Marie Holt
Grief. Compassion. Changes of heart. And hope.
This cover matches its short story in a contemplative and understated way, with the lonely but peaceful image of a single boat near the shore and the soft sweep of blending colors in the sky. The title adds gentle texture and emotion, enhanced with a hint of shadow and the word “lost” slightly off center, as it isn’t too lost to be found.
Entries for 2021’s Favorite Covers giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.
Giveaway is open to U.S. residents and mailing addresses only in the contiguous U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Two randomly determined winners, one for each book, will be notified by email on Saturday, December 11, 2021. If a winner does not respond by Sunday, December 12, 2021, a different entrant will be selected. Add p[dot]prospects[at]live[dot]com to your address book to ensure that a giveaway notification isn’t sent to your junk mail/spam box. For additional giveaway terms, see the Blog Giveaways and Giveaway Privacy information on my Policies page. Entering the giveaway indicates your agreement to the terms.
A fictional world. An era for historic change. And the people who bring it.
More of my favorite book covers are from my Eubeltic Realm series. I’ve been envisioning the main characters for years! You can pick up copies of the books at Amazon, or read them with Kindle Unlimited.
Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If yours has one of my favorite covers this year, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media—wherever you wish. 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. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. Thanks again!