Good Books, Lousy Covers

So there's been some call for me to stop picking easy targets (romance novels, Baen sci-fi covers, Christian chick lit) and profile some good books. *Sigh* You people demand so much from me! I hesitate to do this because sometimes it's hard to disassociate covers from novels, but here goes:

Billy Budd -- Good Book, Bad Cover

"Check me out, ladies. I've got a mullet, a pornstache*, and a rakishly-tilted kerchief round my neck...I'm ready for action!"

"No, no! Look at me, baby! I've got a tattoo! My kerchief is bigger, too! Of course, I've got this creepy guy staring over my shoulder..."

The Natural -- Good Book, Bad Cover

Clockwise from top:

  • Creepy Clown
  • Mysterious Ghostly Gypsy
  • Basketball Players from a Different Book
  • Ollie North
  • Vampy Transvestite

And a host of others, all surrounding Dick Tracy at bat with a HUGE...peni...ummm...right thigh.

Anything by Anthony Trollope -- Good Book, Bad Cover

Drawn in ink and dipped in urine for your reading pleasure.

And finally, Good Book about Jesus -- Bad Cover

Jesus' disembodied head is staring at you!

Okay, confession time. I thought long and hard about this book 'cause it's written by my advisor from grad school, and she's super scary. But nowhere in the book does it say "Thanks to Maughta, without whom my life would have no meaning," so I feel justified in this scurrilous attack. Hell hath no fury like a graduate student scorned. A-J, if you're reading this, please don't hunt me down and kill me, but seriously, couldn't you have picked a better picture of Jesus?! Maybe one that looked Jewish? (Yeah, you'd maybe have to draw that yourself, but surely it'd be better!) Jesus's aquiline nose is frightening the bejeebus out of me. Amazingly good book, though.

In other news, just got a link in my e-mail from Pistil Books that you've got the check out: The Museum of Weird Books. I think you'll enjoy it!

*MaughtaMom and other easily confused people: pornstache means a mustache that looks like it should be on a porn star


Greek Theme

So today's theme is the fabled Isle of Greece. "Why?", you may ask. Is it the spanakopita I had last night for dinner? (This is my favorite recipe to make, but I use butter spray instead of a whole stick of butter and two packs of frozen spinach instead of fresh 'cause, let's face it, I'm lazy.) Am I suddenly yearning for the dippy sorority chicks and fraternity dudes that I hated in college? Is it that time I spent four weeks naked on the beach licking Ouzo off that Greek Adonis I met in the hotel lounge? No, wait, that didn't happen in real life, did it?

Okay, so what is it about Greece, eh? Well, it's just that I went to the grocery store and found, in their small pulp collection that's hidden behind their larger popular Christian section (remember?), not one, not two, but THREE Harlequin Romances featuring Greek Tycoons. It must be Greek Week at Harlequinland.

I don't have much to snark on, other than the fact that they all look exactly the same, down to the models and poses (That Greek Boss gets around!). And, of course, they're awful, and the circle thing reminds me of Family Circus. I actually have to commend Harlequin for getting the possessive correct on Boss's (but sadly failing with Aristides's). See Strunk and White if you don't believe me.

But anyway, it got me thinking about judging a book by its title. Let's all pretend we are copy writers at a major romance novel publishing house, shall we? It's like Chinese restaurants, where there's always some form of China, Garden, Dragon, or Jade in the title.

Simply pick a word from Column A:

  • The Duke's
  • The Earl's
  • The Greek Boss's
  • The Pirate's
  • The Drunk's
  • The Socially Maladjusted Misfit's
  • The Viking's
  • Bart Simpson's
  • OJ Simpson's
  • The Savage's
  • The Gentleman's
  • Longarm's
  • Baby's Daddy's

Add an adjective:

  • Reluctant
  • Convenient
  • Mistaken
  • Unwilling
  • Unwitting
  • Unwieldy
  • Unclothed
  • Unsavory
  • Passionate
  • Frigid
  • Pretend
  • Imaginary
  • Purple People Eating
  • Wanton*

And finally pick a word from Column B:

  • Bride
  • Wife
  • Hellion
  • Mistress
  • Teacher
  • NASCAR driver
  • Welfare Lady
  • Baby's Momma
  • One-eyed Ogre
  • Dragon Lady
  • Duchess
  • Princess
  • Babe

And Voila! Your very own Romance Novel Title. Try it, it's fun! I'm surprised no-one has created an online generator.

*So when I was young and dumb, I read A LOT, but had no idea how to pronounce anything. (Whom am I kidding? I still can't pronounce for shit.) One day I was going out with a friend, and my parents were harassing me, as parents are wont to do, about where we were going and what we were going to be doing. I finally threw up my hands and loudly proclaimed that we were going to have WONTON sex. Of course, they let me go!


The Most Rebarbative Envelope Pictures

Guten Tag to all my German speaking readers. I found this while perusing my stat counter:

Die Falsifizierung von Binsenweisheiten
Wer auch immer behauptet hat, man könne Bücher nicht nach dem Äußeren beurteilen, kannte offensichtlich Judge a book by its cover nicht: in diesem Blog veröffentlicht eine Bibliothekarin die garstig- sten Umschlagbilder, die ihr im Rahmen ihrer Arbeit unter die Augen kommen.

Now, it's been a while since I've had German (and then just barely enough to pass the reading competency exam for grad school), so I put this through a trusty translator program that I found online (it's amazing, these internets!). Here's the translation I got:

The Falsifizierung of Binsenweisheiten
Whoever has stated, one can judge books not by the appearance, Judge a book by its cover did not know obviously: in this Blog a librarian publishes the most rebarbative envelope pictures which you
come within the scope of her work under the eyes.

I'm so chuffed! I promise to continue publishing the most rebarbative envelope pictures I can find. Next time. I promise.

Auf Wiedersehen!


Creepy YA lit (isn't it all?)

So what, exactly, is up with the publishers of YA literature? Do they want kids to read their books? Are they trying to garner an audience? Not very hard, it seems to me. Take a gander at Ron Koertge's book, Harmony Arms (scanned and e-mailed by faithful reader Larry New -- 10,000 thanks, Larry!):

The first thing that all my colleagues at the library wanted to know, upon being shown this cover, is: Why is his nose bleeding? I'm not really sure, but I'm guessing it's 'cause of the cocaine 8-ball that the cover artist binged upon before getting out his/her scissors and collaging this all together. It's a bit difficult to tell in this scanned image, but everything, from his lips to the girl with the camera (to her arm that's totally out of place and the wrong size...and not attached in any way to the video camera) to his hair has been cut and pasted together. It seems like something a seriously disturbed kidnapper with a primary color fetish would send to his victims.

Larry has also taken the opportunity to scan in some other covers from Ron Koertge. As you can see, odd covers are par for the course for Mr. Koertge. Is that a bra with a bullseye motif?!

Ron Koertge


Headed North by Northwest

So folks, DocTurtle and I are off to Kentucky to visit the WORLD FAMOUS Mammoth Cave. I apologize for the snark interruption. I'll be sure the check the gift shop for any good books.
Because they're just so damned snarkworthy, here're some more Harlequin NASCAR romances. Enjoy!

(Is there one of these titles that's not a '90s rock song?!)


Plutonium Blonde

This is for all the moms out there. You ever notice how people give you toasters? Banks, wedding guests, husbands/significant others who have since learned their lesson and gave you chocolate and flowers this year? Well, here's what you can do with said toasters:

In case the picture is not enough, here's a glance at the small type:

He was the last P.I. on the planet, but could he save the world from a
nuclear-powered, genocidal, exotic-dancing fembot?

...who hurls toasters? And wears a gold bustier? Austin Powers, eat your heart out.

Plutonium Blonde


S. E. Hinton

Okay, I admit it. I've never read The Outsiders. I have no idea what it's about. Nor do I have any idea what the other novels by S. E. Hinton, Tex and Rumble Fish, are about. But I can guess...

Upon further reflection, I cannot think of anything to say. I'm struck speechless. I....I'm just...I'm in awe...


Okay, so I'm not speechless anymore. I see from some of my comments (hello, Atlantic Monthly readers! Welcome!) that people are having a hard time disassociating covers from books. Mea Culpa for writing such a terrible and curt post to begin with. I was a little spazzed out with all the hits I was getting there, and let it go to my head (ah hah hah hah, I am the arbiter of all that is taste in book covers! Atlantic Monthly says so!). DocTurtle has already told me that S. E. Hinton is an amazing author and I'm not fit to lick her books. Be that as it may...these are bad covers! Let's look at them again, shall we (and I will try to justify my horror, yes)?

Tex, here, has a mullet. Which, if you ask me, is inherently funny. And he's wearing a shearing jacket in the middle of what looks like summer. And he's on a motorcycle in the middle of a corral. Surely that's not safe. And how long can you ride around in circles before you get bored, anyway? At least there's the saddled fence in the background for later. I'm all for Bildungsromanen, but surely it's a little trite and sappy to say that "he was carefree and big-hearted, but pushed into growing up too fast?" And surely I'm not the only one to get serious Ho-yay (Homosexual, yay!) vibes from the cover? [NOTE: I am not impugning the book! I am not fit to be stepped upon by S. E. Hinton. We've established this.]

C'mon, tell me this isn't a funny cover! Miniature greaser posed provocatively with slightly-larger-version greaser, in front of a motorcycle (theme, anyone?) over blue wavy lines and GIANT FREAKY FISH!!! Look, look, it's about to eat his head! I'm a Pisces, and very fond of the fish, but the cut-and-paste quality of this cover just screams BAD COVER! Oh, and I may have to pick my mind up out of the gutter, but it also screams HO-YAY to me!

Okay, wow, I've used up my entire monthly allotment of exclamation marks right there. Whew. I feel better. I'll try to do better next time. Please don't beat me.

Next up: More Romances! Maybe more cheesy Fantasy. Or cheesy Romantic Fantasy. Yay!

S. E. Hinton


Godlessly Bad

I love this cover, and I'll tell you why. Every time I see it I think it's saying that Ann Coulter is Godless, and I think, "yup." Or, at least, Gd-awful. Something about the way she's leaning on the word tells me that she really owns it, you know what I mean? Leaving aside, for the moment, the question of whether or not Ann Coulter is a man (but pointing out that she's #80 on the Phoenix's list of the 100 unsexiest men in the world), she really has a lack of taste and artistic je ne sais quoi, if you know what I mean. She does this shoulders turned three-quarters and face full-on to the camera angle for every book. It's really irritating. And what is that grey bar on the bottom all about? I though conservatives only saw thing in black and white? Ewww, I have seen the devil, and he's a ten-foot tall woman who weighs ninety pounds.
Just to counterbalance the absurd above, here's some absurd below. Judge a Book by its Cover is nothing if not fair and balanced, yeah?


Kmart trip

So I got some weird looks today in Kmart (I get weird looks in Kmart, anyway, with the nose piercing and tattoos, but I got especially weird looks), as I stood in the "book" aisle and jotted down a few titles for y'all. I had no idea all of this existed!

First up is a little something I like to call So Harlequin romances weren't trashy enough to begin with

Yes, it appears they do have a whole line of books written with a NASCAR theme. What could possibly go on in these? They meet at the track, drink beer, eat spray cheeze, and wind up having babies named Peyton and Angel?

Next up in the Kmart lineup are Romances Aimed at the Lucrative Single Mother Market

Bagwell! That's almost as good a nom de plume as Nina Bangs (another romance novelist, hat tip to Snow for pointing that out). I didn't realize the single mother market was so lucrative, but I guess they want to dream about cowboys like the rest of us.

And finally, we have a simple What the Fuck?!


Speed Bumps

Back on Track

One Man's Family

Having the Cowboy's Baby

Marriage for Baby



So I have been working my butt off for the last fifteen minutes (at least!) for you all, sadly to no avail, trying to find a good picture of the following covers: Youth Violence (Current Controversies) by Michael D. Biskup and Charles P. Cozic (Paperback - Sep 1992) and The Harmony Arms (An Avon Flare Book) by Ronald Koertge (Paperback - Sep 1994). If any one of my intrepid readers can manage to track down a good picture of either of these titles, you'll have my undying gratitude (and surely that's worth at least the cost of a cup of coffee, right?).

But this gives me a good chance to stop for a moment and say to everyone who comes here, especially the 150 or so returning visitors that I get every day, thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm glad that you like this idea. I'm glad that you find me entertaining enough to take a few moments and read my mindless blather. I'm glad that you leave comments which are, for the most part, funnier than whatever I say. I'm glad when you send me suggestions of book covers to snark on. To those of you from Austria, Germany, UK, Canada, Norway, China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and all the other places I dream of one day going, welcome. To my Mom, who worries about my language, my best friend, who corrects my grammar (bad grammar makes me [sic]), and everyone whom I know and don't know, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. To the publishing industry folk, thank you, and please don't sue me (and surely you have money in your budgets to hire a freelance cover approver, right?!). Especially to all the other librarians; y'all rock, and I'm glad I left graduate school to pursue librarianshipnessity.

Anyway, I've dribbled on long enough. I promise to keep posting regularly as long as y'all continue coming regularly. Drop me a line, eh? Oh, and 'cause I know my dogs are the cutest ever, here're some more gratuitous dog pictures. Ciao for now!


My pecs are freakin' huge!!

Oh-h-h-h-h yeah! How could I call myself a snarker of book covers if I don't Sfehm;dakg;lhbdf;bgshei'wr;t...Oh, damn, sorry for that. Spider just fell on my head. And it looks like this!

I was just yesterday bragging to my colleagues at the library that I liked this spider 'cause it mostly hung out on my ceiling and ate ants (Chez Maughta seems to have its share of ceiling-dwelling ants). So let me clarify. I like spiders when they hang out on my ceiling and eat ants. I DO NOT like spiders when the fall on my head.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was about to say that no self-respecting snarkette of book covers would neglect to snark on Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. So here you go. I call this one, "My pecs are freakin' huge!!"

Let's look at the closeup, shall we?

Oh, yes, mullet-boy is about to be imbued with the fiery phallic power of the Darksword, here being modeled by some guy who would look much more appropriate as a distinguished lawyer or judge than he looks in wizard's robes wielding a flaming sword. Didn't anyone tell the cover artist that wizard=white beard? Sheesh, do I have to do everything? At least our esteemed artist followed the convention that hulking, mulleted heros-ala-Hercules are always bare chested, even when working in a freakin' forge! (See, mom, I can watch my language.) Third degree burns, anyone?


Fortune's Fool

So I've decided that no site dedicated to showcasing bad book covers would be complete without a Mercedes Lackey cover. This one's been on our New Books shelf for a while and it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Ahhhh, the '70s. Although, actually, I see people like this all the time in Asheville. Personally I'm waiting for the '80s to come back in style. I've got some some AquaNet hairspray and jelly bracelets that I've been saving.

I did, however, want to draw your attention to the guy in the background on the left side (c'mon, did you really need me to point him out?!). I think I've seen him somewhere before...Oh, yeah, here it is: Armi and Danny

Fortune's Fool


Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys

Secret confession time: I totally read the new adventures of Nancy Drew when I was a kid. She was so blonde and perky and drove a red sports car and went undercover at high schools; it was Barbie meets 21 Jump Street and I thought it rocked. Of course, I also thought Sweet Valley High books and, earlier, the Babysitters Club books rocked, which shows you I had neither taste nor discernment. Then I moved straight on to bodice-ripping romance novels, and I have no idea what that says about me. Anyway, for a trip down memory lane today, here's some Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys covers. Fun fun!

First up is Goth Nancy Drew. I don't know who the others are and, frankly, I don't really care. I'm just totally digging the lighting scheme on this cover, which brings out their WASPy little ski-jump noses so nicely.

Oh, no, some one's collapsed in the park! Quick, Nancy, go get help, you twit! Don't just flee into an artistic windstorm!

And just to show you that I'm equal opportunity, here's a Hardy Boys cover.

Has any bank robber, in the history of bank robbing, actually worn a gimp mask along with a stylish red string tie? And what is he holding, a drill? I do like the shattering "glass", which gives a nice little covered-in-saran-wrap feel to the scene.

I hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane. And for those who are into the whole snarky spoofy thang, I totally recommend the Nancy Clue and the Hardly Boys series, a lesbian/gay spoof by Mabel Maney (who also does Jane Bond). There's only one joke, but it's a good one!


Google me this...

News you can't use, but it's cool anyway:

If you do a google search on Longarm western books this blog shows up as #9. Yes, yes, I do indeed rock.

Boo ya!


I have to say, everyone is less cool than I am (I'm coming down off a cold and feeling invincible again!). Although I did enjoy this guy's description of Longarm: Mark B's Place. He mentions several times how massively well-endowed Longarm is. I could have told you that from the name!


I'm totally #3 if you google Longarm Tabor Evans. Okay, no more playing with google. It's going to my (massively endowed) head. Oops, I lied anyway. I'm actually #63. Damn. I'm an idiot.

Rules of Engagement

DocTurtle and I saw this in the grocery store and he will not SHUT UP until I do a post about it. This is the power that my faithful readers have over me.

Yes, it's a book about Jesus in his ever-popular warrior mode. Prince of Peace? Turn the other cheek? Screw that, he's come to set brother against brother in an all out battle for your soul! (Please pretend that the last sentence was said in a kind of monster truck rally advertisement voice, it makes it funnier. Thank you.)

Excerpted from the back cover for your pleasure:

As a believer, you interact every day with invisible spiritual powers in heavenly places. Hierarchies of angels are engaged...(yadda yadda yadda...war war war)...Derek Prince offers the guidance you need to take your place in this monumental conflict. As you build the character of a warrior, you will become more and more like Jesus Christ, your commanding officer.

Ja wohl, mein Gott, I am present and accounted for and READY FOR ACTION!

There, DocTurtle, I hope you're happy! Personally, I prefer the following covers, also from books that happen to be called Rules of Engagement.

First, the cheesy romance:

Hometown USA? Why, oh why, are they getting their purdy dresses all mussed up on the hood of a car?

Then the not so cheesy, intriguing romance:

I am intrigued by the location of that firearm. And the "Phoenix Brotherhood," whatever that is. (See, it's intriguing!)

And finally, a classic Sci-Fi:

Kirk squares off against the Klingons and their square foreheads with his square jaw and not-so-square sideburns. Intriguing!

Derek Prince

Bonnie K Winn

Gayle Wilson

Peter Morwood