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, except for some series books that I grouped together. 🙂
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.
War of Hearts by Annette Lyon
Sweet Historical Romance
Two distraught hearts find each other in the midst of the Winter War in Finland. The cover of this novella drew me right to it, what with its soft but striking, creamy glow of frosty winter light in the snowy woods, and the appearance of the woman giving it its historical feel. The typography and gently faded flourishes around the title are lovely, too.
All is Calm and All is Bright by Colleen Coble
Christian Romantic Suspense
A woman runs to a ranch for safety, and a dangerous accident near a seaside hotel is no accident. There’s nothing like that holiday twinkle, and I couldn’t resist the twinkling nighttime stars and Christmas lights on this first novella followed by the Christmas lights and the homey feel captured on a softly bright evening on the second novella. While these two romantic suspense reads are also available in a single volume, I reviewed them separately just so I could enjoy both covers.
In the Shadow of Lions and In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garrett
Christian Historical Fiction/Supernatural Fiction
The rumblings of a 16th-century Reformation, a Sicilian village blindsided by the Black Death in 1347, and fierce angels behind the scenes in different women’s lives. Yes, these Chronicles of the Scribe novels are dark/grave reads, and the book covers are in accordance with that while they each also make dynamic uses of light and a dominant color. Not to mention the gold typography for the titles—gah! Strong but with a flourish, a great match for stories with both epic and supernatural elements.
Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace
A simple book with a simple task: to encourage authors. The book cover matches that simplicity with a clean and clear design that makes great use of angles—then its duo of complementing, vibrant colors makes the cleanness and clarity stand out with remarkable effect.
True: A Contemporary Retelling of Rahab by S.E. Clancy
Christian Contemporary Fiction
She may be able to save herself and her family during an enemy army’s attack. When I first came across this book, I skipped the book blurb beforehand but was pulled right in by the grayscale cover, stunning in its clear and simple understatement of emotion. A calm, a peace, before a coming storm.
The Starlight Inn by Lucie Ulrich
Christian Contemporary Romance
A mysterious matchmaker has set her sights on a seamstress and an innkeeper… This lovely book cover drew in my Christmas-loving self immediately. It’s got homey and Christmassy cold with bright, white lights woven in and shining through, and festive holly around the border for good measure. The cover rightly sets one’s expectations for this holiday romance.
Arcade and the Fiery Metal Tester by Rashad Jennings
Christian Children’s Fantasy
Arcade’s magical journey heats up to test his mettle! The cover of this third book in The Coin Slot Chronicles has a lot of action even though the hero is standing in one spot. The golden Triple T Token is shining/sparkling around his neck, he appears to be slapping his jacket on in preparation for his next adventure, and it’s all bursting with FIRE while keeping the actual flames pretty minimal so as not to compete with the clear focal point—Arcade. Let’s go!
Not in the Plans by Jessica Marie Holt
Sweet Contemporary Romance
A bachelor with an empty house, a divorced mother in trouble, and an unplanned Christmas. I couldn’t pass up this novella when I got a look at that bright red door decorated for the holidays: an uncomplicated yet striking and festive image with clear, white typography that takes a prominent place without getting too fancy.
Once Upon a Short Story Series by A.G. Marshall
Fairy Tale Retellings
“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”—and so on. 😀 A great deal of the power here is in how the covers of the multiple stories in this series look together. Even so, the deep background colors, the elegant embellishments, and the gold images depicting the stories really accomplish the “old-fashioned fairy tale” look for each cover.
Dancing and Doughnuts by Rachel Kovaciny
Christian Historical Western
He’s out to find out who spiked the dance hall girls’ cider! Well, now! Super-illustrated images can sometimes have a scribbly or stringy look. But the texture of this cover’s artwork is full-bodied with its hearty browns and blues while the overall style adds a delightfully homey feel to the Western theme. A perfect match for this wholesome retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Song in the Dark by Jessica White
Christian Romantic Suspense
A gifted harpist. A stoic homicide detective. And a chance to break through to new freedom. The cover of this novel with ties to Greek mythology intrigued me to no end. Without spoiling the art’s dark theme, the dynamic sunset casts its heat and last burst of intensity between the silhouettes of the Dobermans and the harp, and the strong typography plays on darkness and light. The whole scene radiates with atmosphere. Just awesome!
Petrified Flowers by Joiya Morrison-Efemini
Christian Young Adult Fiction
Six young sisters. A devastating tragedy. And what it takes for them to bloom—written as a novel-in-verse. Clearly, this book cover is all about the multicolored bouquet, representing six sisters named after flowers. A vibrant centerpiece with the softness of watercolor, set against a light background of weathered wood. Bright, simple, and telling.
Cindi/Ella: When Shoes Speak by Bokerah Brumley
Stunning (but deadly?) crystal shoes grab her attention—and won’t let go. Yeah, it was the (Victorian steampunk-inspired?) book cover that drew me to this contemporary retelling of a classic fairy tale. The white, light blue, and different pinks against fade-to-black. The striking fingernails, the lace gloves, the hat and feathers… And Cindi/Ella’s pretty intense look which I find pretty creepy, but in a way that works. It’s all rather fascinating.
Mixed Messages by Steve Rzasa
What’s coming next may turn Captain Vincent Chen’s world on its head… Gee, the covers for this science fiction series are just fantastic. Here we’ve got the hero surrounded by planets (or a planet and its moon?) and open space with stars, a smoky haze that adds atmosphere without taking over, the interior of a ship behind Vincent—all brought with the hue of electric green and the title’s great typography. There’s so much going on without at all looking too busy or cut-and-pasted together. Love it!
My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by Amanda Barratt
Christian Biographical Fiction
He’s a German pastor, plotting against the Nazi regime. And falling in love. The title and this misty, somber, but romantic cover let me know what kind of historical love story I was in for, striking a serious tone that captures the emotional depth of the story. Once I unwrapped a hard copy, I discovered a bonus: deeper red to the lettering with a satiny shine, subtly enhancing the sense of romance. A bittersweet kind of beautiful.
Entries for 2020’s Favorite Covers giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.
Speaking of book covers, one of my novels got a new look this year! Yella’s Prayers is available for purchase at Amazon.
Yella’s Prayers: Deleted Scenes
(free download, *contains spoilers*)
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. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. 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!