30 July 2012

Best contemporary covers.

Okay these are the last of the covers from the cover cafe contest. This post will cover three categories: contemporary, series, & two image, so I've only picked the top 2 from each. Why have I bunched them up rather than a post on each? I'm going to have to shrug and say whim.

 1st place contemporary:
Nice composition and color, and lets be honest you can't go past his bod.

As Kati put it, it’s “abtastically delicious!”

Other voters were attracted by the sports theme. Sue T. was one of them. “I absolutely love this cover! This is one of my all-time favorites; that pose just seems to typify all of the hard work and sweat that goes into making someone into a professional athlete.”

Cover Cafe’s Jeanette summed up the appeal of this cover: “Do I have to explain? No, I don’t think so.”

 2nd place contemporary:
 This didn't scream romance to me, but it is a lovely simple cover that draws one in, makes me want to know what's behind the image.

Many voters noted the simplicity of this cover, including Cover Cafe’s Christiane. “Simple and very heart warming. Both the author’s name and title are just the right size, they do not overwhelm the flower.”

Other voters mentioned the striking color combinations and graphic design, including Beth F.: “Beautiful colors! Unusual choice of the dogwood, no perfect people, the weathered blue wood. I want to know why! I want to read this!”
Anne H.: “Love the petals against the soft blue, very evocative.”

 1st place series:
I'm not a huge fan of cowboys so this wouldn't be my fav, but it is a nice atmospheric cover.

Sandy seemed to speak for many of the voters however when she wrote: "Cowboys have a special place in my heart, so had to give this one the nod. Honest, loyal, sexy, and hard-bodied. Who can ask for more?"

Other voters also appreciated the artistry of the cover. Lynne pointed out the “Unusual angle,[and] evocative colours…” while K.L. noted it’s “Fresh and Bold – also love the use of color.” 

 2nd place series:
I loved the connection between the characters and the fun they were having together. You can believe in their romance.

Several voters commented on the unusual pose and atmosphere: Elyse: "I like how he's trying to protect her from the rain with his hand. Ineffective yes, but sweet! They're just so joyful--not letting the nasty weather get them down."

Nana: "It's such an original pose. I like how the personalities of the characters come through - him protecting her from the rain, her so happy she flings her arm out in it. It's like Gene Kelly in cover form."

 1st place 2 image:
 I like the outside image better of the two, but hte second certainly fits with title :)

Cassie stated: "Decadent and glorious - both in colour and in the art direction. I want my bathroom to look like that." Linda added: "Forget taking a shower..would love to crawl in a tub like this with a man that looks like this!!!" And Pat exclaimed: "The bathtub, sigh! First they have a reason to be getting undressed, you can see the tub in the background. Then they are IN it! Hot."

2nd place 2 image:
 I think it's the red that catches my eyes here, and the inner image is certainly atmospheric.

Cover Cafe’s Mary Lynn stated: "There's a lot of mystery in this cover combination, from the sweep of her hair to the mists in the land she's walking through. And the connectivity between the cover and stepback is excellent: the use of red, the filigree in the corners of the images, and the movement in the hair (albeit in opposite directions!)."

Lynne C. voiced: "Love the colours! It's rich and it promises mystery. And it's left to us how the heroine appears, apart from her hair. The other covers are too cliche, apart from the Frost one, which I also liked."

23 July 2012

Prosthetics through the aes

After 3 posts on covers I thought we could use a pallet cleanser, but never fear I'll cover of the other categories next time. Today I thought we could look at something I personally found fascinating: prosthesis through the ages. If I thought of what people did before modern technology, guess I thought of cartoons of pirates and their wooden legs. Turns out things were more ingenious than I thought.

 Egyptian prosthetic toe, circa 950-710 BC

 Leg, 300BC from Italy.

 Metal arm 1500s

 1840-1940 metal hand

 Hand with fork attachment

 An arm for work with different hammer attachments - very steampunk.

 Leg, complete with joints at knee, ankle & toes

 A drawstring that closes the hand.

Gas powered arms made for a 12 yr old boy.

Not a happy topic, but certainly a fascinating one.
For better versions of the pictures and more info, go here.

16 July 2012

Best historical covers

After last week's scare-fest lets look at some more example of the good stuff. These are some of the best historical covers from 2011.

1st place:
 I love the feeling that I'm about to step into the room with her.

Elyse: “The use of light & shadow in this cover is superb. The heroine is neither headless nor only a back, yet she remains mysterious & intriguing. Not to mention the gorgeous chandelier!”

Malvina: “Simply simple and gorgeous. Stunning setting, stunning looking heroine in a lovely gown, muted but rich colors... she's looking out over the balcony wall... does she see 'him' coming? I think we all hope so!”

Jen: “The cover really depicts the character's loneliness even though she is surrounded by opulence. The fact that she is seen through an open door but she is turned looking out the window really evokes a feeling of longing to escape.”

 2nd place:

I do love the dress, but also the feeling that she fits her surroundings. I don't think I'm the only one on the dress :)

Mary Ann: “Love the ballroom dress and the color of the dress is striking.”

Krista: “The red dress just really stands out against the gold color of the room in the background. It makes the whole book cover look rich and lovely!”

 3rd place: This is another cover that had a lonely feel. Of wishes and dreams.

Roe: “Love the colors and the Cinderella fairy tale quality of the cover. Very pretty.”

Ariel: “The whites and pale blues are really striking. They give it a sort of fairy-tale effect, which the dreamy background and island further highlight. I'm not used to seeing those colors; usually there are more reds and blacks. So this one really stands out.”

This one uses come classic tropes but it reminds us that just because it's not unique doesn't mean it doesn't work.

Cover Cafe's Karen H.: " I really like that it's not another woman in a floaty gown seen from the back. I want a guy on my romance covers, not just a woman, since the point of a romance is the relationship between a couple. This picture makes me want to be on that balcony overlooking the water in a good-looking man's embrace. And, her dress is really pretty even if it's orange."

Ashley: “Seriously sexy! I love her dress and it's such a moody, intense scene!"

Cover Cafe's Karen W.: "I think this is the most difficult category this year! This is my choice because it's a traditional, romantic cover that manages to be sexy without anyone losing their clothes. (And what beautiful clothes they are!)"

5th place:
I like the sense of connection between the characters. They are laughing together, I don't feel like they know each other well, but that they would like to.

 Cover Cafe's Mary Alice: “Man in uniform, 1940's romance, mature hero and heroine (for once), no nudity or bodice ripping~what's not to like!!”

Rick B.: “This is an attractive depiction of a perfectly believable moment in a pivotal time in history. Not just for the USA, but a pivotal time for the whole globe.”

Katie: “Because it is such a sweet, touching scene that seems to be frozen in time. And I just love the innocence and sweetness between the couple as they look into each other’s eyes. SO sweet!”

More historical nominees here.

09 July 2012

Worst covers of 2011

Last week we looked at the best paranormal/fantasy romance covers of 2011, now for what we've all been waiting for... the worst.

I know, I know, it's like a car crash. You pray it doesn't happen to you, yet you can't helping looking out the corner of your eye as you pass.

1st place
 This cover would benefit from a little photoshop fading. Maybe to the point where the characters are so faded we can't see them. I get no sense of connection between the characters, and oh, lord, what is she wearing?

Laura: “Words fail me! WHAT is she wearing? And how are they staying on???...”

Other readers tried to imagine what the cover designers were thinking, including Alissa. “They are all dreadful, but this looks like badly made costumes for a “dress as your favorite pulp sci fi cover” party. Was this meant to be funny?...”

2nd place:

This is like a challenge to the reader, how many separate photoshopped images can you count? The hat, his face, her face, the man body, the woman body, the background.

Jen B.: “Where to start! The editing/cut and paste/crayons and markers are horrible! There isn’t even an attempt to hide the fact that this is more Photoshop than photo. The facial expressions and body positions make me feel dirty looking at them. I need a shower!”
Dagny: “Hardest category, hands down, they’re all so awful. I picked this one because it’s a warning to the dangers of an unsupervised Photoshop license. Also, I want as many people as possible to be warned that these mutants may breed.”
Many voters found this cover “so bad it’s funny”, including Cover Cafe’s Katherine. “there are many different types of worst covers: the scary, the gross, the way, way, way too much skin, and the funny. My favorite is the funny cover. I love a cover this is so ridiculous that it makes me laugh out loud, so I picked Sweet Temptations.

3rd place: 
 I actually kinda liked this cover, the trouble is it's completely inappropriate for a romance. It would work quite well for a high school zombie story.

This cover just did not appeal to many romance readers (although it’s described as a romance). The most common descriptions were “gross”, “icky”, “awful” and “horrid”, or as Rick put it, “I just had lunch, but this image makes my eyeballs wish they knew how to vomit.”

 4th place:

Um... ow. I don't think this is something one should do naked, on the other hand if they're not your legs maybe you can get away with it.

ome readers really liked this cover (including Cover Cafe’s Linnae) but other readers didn’t get it. This included author Carly Phillips, who laughed and commented, “It speaks for itself.smiley3 ” 

Other readers noted the title, which is a play on the title of a German Christmas carol. Virginia: “I speak German, so this one really deserves a few awfulness bonus points for the pun on the Christmas carol Es ist ein Ros’ entrsprungen (There is a rose e’er blooming.)”

5th place: 

Why did they put the stalker on the cover not the hero?

Mary Jo:  “This cover has a stalker on it and needs a belle too. Without lust/love illustrated on the cover, I’m left with a vaguely “stalked” feeling as a reader. I don’t want to be scared, but involved in a romance novel.”

Lesley: “A hard choice as usual. Some are surely meant to be funny. But this guy is creepy. Is he meant to be the hero? He looks more like a serial killer.”

Zizie: “I’m all for a half-naked man on the cover, but this guy? With this title, just run, run, RUN!!!!”

More worst here

02 July 2012

Great covers

It's that time of the year again, when the results of Cover Cafe's cover contest come in. This year, since the winner is on a book by four of my favorite authors, I thought I would start with the paranormal category.

First place:
 There is something very evocative about this cover, the way his wings wrap to embrace her, the drape of the cloth..  there is a great sense of connection between the characters.

Few other comments:
Dina said: “AR is always my favorite category since the art work is consistently good. I was drawn to a few of these covers, but kept coming back to AoD. I usually don't like being given a visual of what the characters look like, but in this case the Pre-Raphaelite feel of the artwork made a strong impression on me.”

Kara P.: “When every cover these days seems to be going for the ultra-photoshopped photograph look, this cover has a painterly feel.”

Sandy: “I can just feel all the sensations going on in this cover - his lips, his breath, his hands, and his wings. Soft and rough and oh-so-sensual all at the same time.”

2nd Place:
This was actually my favorite cover, although is was a very close call. I love the feeling of magic between these two.

Cover Cafe's Katherine voted for this cover: “The cover is beautiful and I love the mix of light and shadow. My favorite part is the speckling of lights. It almost looks like the lights are are twinkling. The sweet embrace of the couple makes the cover look romantic and the twinkling lights make it look magical. This cover is fresh, romantic, and magical. What more could you ask for?”

Malvina said: “Gorgeously romantic. That's what it's still all about, isn't it? Romance? Lovely kiss, lovely sparkles all around them.”
Yuri: “One Thousand Kisses' is a lovely image, really sweet and romantic. I love that there is actually a couple on the cover and that the image matches the title so well.”

3rd place:
 This was another lovely cover, not quite as clearly a romance, but again something a bit magical about the gold dusk over the flower.

Cover Cafe's Christine voted for this cover: “The light from within, reflecting the light on the pearls got my attention. Even if half of her head is missing!!!”

Many voters loved the colors: Sue T. was one of them and said: “ I love the colors, the sparkles on her hand and the leaves twining about the title and authors name.” Linda L. was another: “Love the color and the use of the muted/hazy background with the dimension and the flower centered with the large title of the book with the vines--very lovely!”

4th & 5th place:
These two cover are both very nice and seen alone would probably catch my eye. The only trouble is seen together they look a bit samey.

4th: The colors in this cover also caught voters attention: Raeline G.: “I love the colors and the fancy scrolling, how it starts above and works into her dress.” Darcy B.: “Gorgeous colors and design. I can't stop staring at it.” Kim W.: “Gorgeous colors, love the artwork and the title - all combined make a compelling and eye-catching cover. Just lovely.”

5th:  Cover Cafe's Mary Alice voted for this cover and gave us this reason: “I get the sense that this woman is hovering between two worlds, and the evil world is winning.

6th place:
This cover had a wonderful emotional feel to it, my only trouble is I wasn't sure that emotion was romantic, it felt more like grief. I would pick this up, but I wouldn't feel like I was guaranteed a HEA. 

RRK: “I love the emotion portrayed in stone and that it does not look like any other cover I've seen lately.”

Tersia: “The cover is just perfect representation of the story within. Hauntingly sad”

More of the nominees here