The bad, the ugly and the cheesy…
We are all guilty of it. Judging a book by its cover, I know I certainly am! I have picked up so many books based on how much I have either a) stood in wonderment about how pretty the cover is, or b) have drooled in wonderment at how delicious those abs were. Sometimes it has worked out and I have found something fantastic, other times…the best thing about the book was the cover. But today I am not here to talk about the book with amazing covers, instead I am making a case for the ugly ones. The cheesy ones. The ones you are too ashamed to even check out the blurb of.
The advent of the e-Reader was one of the best things for ugly covers. Instead of using a book jacket to try and hide your cheesy Fabio style covers you can just download it to your kindle. For all people around you know you could be reading War and Peace. For me this is when the floodgates open. I bought Kenny the Kindle, my first in a long line of e-Readers, and I was finally able to take a chance on something a little ugly.
For example, one of the more popular fantasy romances and a book I would highly recommend: Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson the first in the Tairen Soul series. It doesn’t matter that how romantic the story is, which it is. It didn’t matter how interesting the new fantasy world is, which it was. Or that it was choc full of intrigue and adventure. I would never have picked it up. In fact in my review I say “…the cover may look like your teenage sister has just got hold of photoshop for the first time…”. Which it does. The cover consists of a dude groping giant invisible boobs with a big cat with bad breath in the scene behind him. But the groper I assume is representing the hero of the book… who turned out to be one of my favourite ever Fae characters.
We’ve covered bad. Let’s move on to cheesy. Where to even begin! There are so many cheesy covers, especially if you look back to the 00s and 90s. But for this I am going with Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series. When I first started reading this series, each cover seemed to be an exercise in how to repel readers. Even now, although the covers have improved they are still a little…old school. And although they are all uniquely awful my favourite must be Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh, which is book 7. A man in a blowsy shirt and sunglasses holding his, frankly ginormous, gun with dramatic red writing and something burning in the background. It looks like an 80s movie trailer for an Arnie film.
But does it matter? Not really, I am glad Singh concentrated on making this series as amazing as it is and not on making the covers as pretty as possible. The Psy Changeling series is still going strong and it’s on book number 18. And, honestly, I miss the super cheesy covers. They make me smile and bring back fond memories. The more generic pretty covers are kind of forgettable…the Blaze of Memory cover has stuck in my head for the last 7 years.
The last series I need to highlight has actually had its covers changed to something more modern since I first read it. However, I miss the old, slightly ominous covers of the original. It’s the ‘Burg series by Kristen Ashley. I was obsessed with this series, I still kind of am. But it definitely wasn’t the cover that had me racing to get the next book as quickly as possible. For You by Kristen Ashley was the first book in the series and has a close up picture of a wide-open eye. It also has outlines of tulip like flowers around the edges. When I first saw it I actually thought was spoons trying to gouge out the eye…
But if I had let the weird staring eye put me off then I would have missed out. Ashley has written a great romantic suspense, heavy on the romance light on the suspense, in the ‘Burg series. It’s regularly on my reread list. Although now I have to put up with a far more tasteful cover popping up on my kindle. I kind of miss the gouged-out eye.
It’s funny how the very thing that put me off reading the books, be they cats with bad breath, cheesy 80s action men and surreal tulip placement can be the thing that you look back on most fondly. So, next time you see a book with a cover that makes you either laugh or wince a little bit, read the blurb. Give it a try, you might have found the next book that you proudly stack on your favourites shelf, cover and all.
What are your favourite ugly covers?
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Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?