Saturday, July 7, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #10 - Favorite Book Covers {1st Half of 2012}

Alright now boils and ghouls, this week's Top 5 is taking a look at my favourite book covers so far this year. Everyone knows that old adage about not judging a book by its cover but, hey, the truth is that a book's cover provides potential readers with their first impression of what might lie within its pages. Sometimes, covers will pose the hero or heroine, other times it will snapshot a significant scene or perhaps show a collage of shadow and light, animal and human, architecture and nature that in one way or another indicate the essence of the story the book harbours. I remember reading somewhere that when it came to the blades held by heroines on urban fantasy covers, for instance, the degree of fantasy within the story was directly proportional to the length of the blade; a dagger meant low fantasy, a sword high fantasy. And have you wondered about the sudden change in cover style for MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series? Turns out the original cartoon based covers were drawing too young an audience.

All of which is to say that covers are important - very important. They attract readers, hint at their book's content, and, when you get right down to it, are works of art in their own right. So far in 2012 we've had, on average, about a hundred covers a month revealed for releases ranging as far in the future as January 2013. Here are my top five favourites so far.

#5 - Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks 
FBI agent Lily Yu is living at Nokolai Clanhome with her fiancé, lupi Rule Turner, when an intruder penetrates their territory, stealing the prototype of a magical device the clan hopes will be worth a fortune--if a few bugs can be worked out . . .

But the prototype can be dangerously erratic, discharging a bizarre form of mind magic—and it looks like the thief wants it for that very side effect. Worse, whoever stole the device didn't learn about it by accident. There's a Nokolai traitor in their midst. Lily and Rule have to find the traitor, the thief, and the prototype. One job proves easy when the thief calls them--and his identity rocks Rule's world.

As they race to recover their missing property, they find Robert Friar's sticky footprints all over the place. Robert Friar―killer, madman, and acolyte of the Old One the Lupi are at war with―an Old One whose power is almost as vast as her ambition to rock the entire world . . .

Expected publication: October 2nd 2012 by Berkley Sensation

So, admittedly, it irks me that this series has zero uniformity when it comes to its cover art, especially considering how amazing some of the more recent covers have been. This one in particular, set to grace the ninth book in the series due out in the fall, simultaneously captures the magic of the series, hints at setting and theme, and showcases main heroine Lily's strength, vulnerability, curiosity, and bravery all with a single snapshot. What greater accomplishment is there for a cover?

#4 - Out for Blood by Kristen Painter
After nearly dying at the hands of the Aurelian, Chrysabelle finds new determination to move beyond life as a comarré. That is until the Kubai Mata bring a new task to her doorstep: rescue the child Tatiana has kidnapped, or Mal becomes enemy number one.
Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Pocket 

Every cover in this series has shown main heroine Chrysabelle posed with some sort of blade and set into a Gothic styled frame. What I love most about these covers is the artist's use of colour. With the exception of a few details - the red of her ribbon, the blood-hue glow of her blades, the gold of her tattoos - the cover is predominantly black and white. Considering the plot can be summed up using such words as vampires, nobility, tragedy, blood, geisha, blades and outcast this style of cover definitely serves to convey its essence, no question.

#3 - Widow's Web  by Jennifer Estep

Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town.

Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back in town, she thinks he’s hers for the taking.

Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.
Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Pocket Books

This cover has made my list for two reasons. Every cover in this series has been stunning and this one has a twist, also known as Reason #1 - the cover you see above? Well, to quote author Jennifer Estep, "The paperback copies will actually have two covers — an outer white cover [on the left] and an inner blue cover [the right, minus the author's name and title, of course - those are there because this is also set to be used as the eBook cover]. Basically, the white cover is a flap that you open up to see the inner cover. This is called a step-back cover. Pretty cool, huh?" Gotta love the ingenuity of that. The second thing I love about this cover is how it harkens back to the earlier ones, once again obscuring Gin's face, once again revealing one of the Spider rune scars gracing her palms, once again giving her blade in the other hand. The introduction of the new coupled with the preservation of the old makes this cover more than just visually pleasing. 

#2 - Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea's former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world

Expected publication: July 31st 2012 by Ace Books

The books of the Kate Daniels series are usually sure to have three things: a long haired brunette holding a sword, a lion, and some hint of the book's setting. Well, this book, a spin-off featuring Kate's best friend, has a hint of the decaying skyline of Atlanta in the background but that's where the similarities end. There's no hyena or other hero-hinting symbol and certainly no sword, nope, instead you get a blonde with a smoking gun. The autumn colour scheme of this cover is also a change from the Kate covers - most keeping to darker tones of secondary colours. I love the vibrancy, the hints of bad-ass of this colour, but most of all I love how it breaks from its parent series and captures a style all its own.

#1 - Alien vs. Alien by Gini Koch
Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini and the rest of the American Centaurion Diplomatic Corps are still recovering from their introduction to Washington D.C. politics, parties, and conspiracies. So when compromising pictures arrive, no one’s too surprised. They’re also the least of anyone’s worries.

Evil androids running amok, birds of all kinds and from all places creating havoc, a Senator trapped in an ever-tightening web of intrigue, and escalating international tensions all seem tough but manageable. But the disappearance of Jeff Martini and Charles Reynolds during the International One World Festival signals more than the usual nastiness — and it looks like even ACE can’t help them.

Then new trouble arrives in old packages and even with the best hackers in the world, beings from near and far, the full might of Earth’s military, and the Wonder Twins on their side, Centaurion Division’s outmanned and outgunned.

Now Kitty’s racing against the clock to find not only Jeff and Chuckie, but to keep the peace between Middle Eastern countries, all while searching for the bases of super-soldier operations — to stop them or die trying.

Expected publication: December 4th 2012 by DAW Books

You've got a book about aliens that has a cover showing flying saucers and androids attacking Washington, D.C. while Kitty crouches down with her daughter, Jaime, with a gun in one hand while presumably her husband, Jeff, stands guard before them. Oh, and there's a bird. The stunning artwork captures so much emotion - anticipation, concern, fear, bravery, protectiveness, curiosity, love. The bright colours contrasts against the looming space ships. But best of all? It captures what amounts to a touching and typical family moment for the Martini family.

All in all, what all of these covers have in common is simple: they help to drive you crazy waiting for their books' releases!

And there you have it - this week's Top 5! Until next week, Ciao!

1 comment:

Barbara E. said...

Great picks! I wasn't so sure about the Widow's Web cover, but I like your reasoning. :D