To Prepositionland, and Beyond!

Hey! For the record, we're both feeling a lot better, thank you very much, and while Maughta's taking a much-deserved Sunday afternoon (more like Sunday evening, but who's keeping track?) nap, I thought I'd sneak in and surprise her with another cover-bashing update.

Hmmmm...lessee...what genre should I pick on today? Hmmmm...

Howzabout one o' these here NASCAR romances, perhaps the trashiest of the trash fiction? I shudder to think that there is such a thing (I swear you cannot make this shit up) as the "NASCAR Library Collection" (winner of the Palm d'Or at the 2006 International Oxymoron Convention) Maughta's picked on a few titles in the past, now it's my turn.

This particular installment, To the Limit, comes to us from Pamela Britton, author of such gripping tales, apparently, as In the Groove and On the Edge. While not writing disposable novels for the marginally literate and completely indiscerning, Ms. Britton works on retainer for Sesame Street as their resident prepositions maven. The literary world is simply on tenterhooks during the current lead-up to her impending December release, Between the Lines, the long-awaited capstone to her critically-aclaimed trilogy Over the River, Through the Woods, and To Grandmother's House We Go.

Back to the work at hand: if this isn't Harlequin's attempt to tap into that elusive Y-chromosome-bearing market share, what is it? Aside from the fact that it's written by a chick, this book cover's designed to appeal to the casual male shopper. Mysterious Mr. Stoic (good-looking, but not, like, in a gay way, man...not like that Fabio dude) looks on as powerful automobiles hurtle by at incomprehensible speeds. He is distant, silent, brooding, aloof. He is all that is male: oil, gasoline, axle grease. He's wearing a headset, for Pete's sake! Men can feel safe reading this book. No sissy book, this: a real man can buy this book without shame.

'Cause I know you can't get enough of these (ah, schadenfreude!), here's another from the...ulp...NASCAR Library Collection:

I dunno about you, but I'm totally looking forward to that cameo appearance by Carl Edwards. Carl Edwards, people! Edwards! E-D-W-...You know! Um...I must admit I'm kinda proud that I had no idea who Carl Edwards is until I Googled him just a minute ago. Yep, another MF who gets paid about a gajillion times more per day than I'll ever earn in my life to drive around, really quickly, in circles. (Bitter? Naaah...I mean, as a society, we gotta have our priorities, right? And as we all know, supporting NASCAR is more important than educating our children.)

Back to the book, though, Carl Edwards notwithstanding: you know this book has gotta be good, because the author's a USA Today Bestselling Author. Which means she's big among people who turn to a cartoon newspaper to stay informed about current events. Oh, wait, I'm supposed to be picking on the cover, right?

Um...yeah, so there are these two really freakin' huge people looming in the ether above this race track, and the male person looks like he's about to gomp on the female person's nose. And vice versa.

"Lurlene, your nose is just 'bout the most delectable fruit I ever seen."

"Stop talkin' nonsense, Jim Bob, and kiss me."

"OW! Consarn it, Lurlene, whatcha go and bite me for?"

I'll leave it to you to complete the dialogue. I'm off to make some dinner. (But I won't be wearin' one o' those frilly aprons...)


Choose Your Own Mindfuck

Okay, I admit it. I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid. I loved reading and this was like interactive reading. What could be better? If you don't remember these, the books start out with about five pages of plot. Say, you're in San Francisco and the big one hits. A stranger is pinned nearby, but you know that a block away is someone whom you know and who might be in trouble. Then the book gives you a choice. Do you, A) save the stranger? or B) go save your friend? Either way could lead you to half a dozen more choices. In some of them you're a hero, in some you die, some scenarios just kind of fizzle out. As an adult I can look back and think about morality plays and critical thinking skills, but as a kid I was kinda a control freak (okay, so still am) and I enjoyed trying to make the "right" choice. Which was usually the boring choice. In Earthquake!, as detailed above, if you choose to save the stranger he ends up being a multi-millionaire and giving you money to go to college. Of course, the story ends there, which is dull and boring, whereas if you go the other way you run into tigers and poisonous spiders and all other kinds of cool things.

Choose Your Own Adventures also had cool plots like Journey to the Ant People and You Are a Shark! Of course, I don't think I ever ran across the following book:

Okay, so really I'm flabbergasted by the actual book and not the cover, but the cover is its own form of bad, too. My particular favorite aspect is the railroad that conveniently runs through the front yard of Mr. Slave-owning-rifle-shooting-but-not-chasing-guy. 'Cause kids are literal.


Back by Popular Demand: Mammary Monday!

Greetings from a survivor of Unbelievably Bad Cold '07; the Hacking and Snorting Tour. There is nothing worse than having a cold when it's 100 degrees outside. Okay, there's one thing worse: Having a cold when it's 100 degrees outside, getting better for a week, and then having it COME BACK for an encore performance. Motherfucker. But enough about me. I know you're all here for the boobs. Take it away, Virgin of Flames!

Okay, first off, let me say that this is probably a good book. It looks artsy enough, and apparently the author won the PEN/Hemingway award, which if I weren't so lazy I'd look up, but it sounds classy, anyway. So don't yell at me about snarking on a good book. I'd snark on my own (nonexistent) book if it had a lousy enough cover. Right? Good.
And from far away it looks kinda normal, right?

Strangely enough, there's something missing from this little picture that Amazon.com has...something that becomes apparent as you slowly let your eyes go from the top of the book to the bottom...

Marian imagery...o-o-o-o-o-okay...


Flower bikini...weird, but okay...


Whoa! Naked chick! Lopsided tits!

What is she doing there?!? Why is she traumatizing me?!?

'Cause I know you are all sick, sick people who only come here for porn, here's a closeup:

Who is this poor girl? Did she know that her boobs were going to be plastered across a trade paperback from Penguin? Are we sure she's a girl? Is that really her body or has her head been badly photoshopped onto it (as it kind of appears)? Is she the ex-girlfriend and this is some kind of revenge by the illustrator? Questions I will leave you to mull.


A Quickie for All of Our Jewish Friends

Me again. Maughta's still under the weather (but on the mend), and just after my inaugural post to y'all this past week, I came down with whatever's been ailing her. Bleh. Fortunately, I've just about recovered, too, just in time for school to start tomorrow. Good timing, Maughta. Next time, get me sick in the middle of July.
Anyhow, onto the book cover-bashing!

Faithful reader Ryan (a different Ryan from the eagle-eyed reader who pointed us towards the beautiful and dubiously-grammatical Lexicon: Dragons Triumvirate from the last post) wanted to let Maughta know about a book entitled Jewish Sci-Fi Stories For Children. While looking for a highly postable version of that book's cover (yes, Ryan, agreed, it's ugly, but hang on...), I happened upon something much more heinous. Behold:


According to the folks at Jewish.com, in this book "Danny embarks upon a journey of thousands of miles, in search of a meaningful spiritual adventure. What he finds is that his own 'coming-of-age ceremony' was what he was looking for the whole time!" Meanwhile, he gets face-painted by some extremely goyische "native" types. I've never known goings-on of this kind at any bar mitzvah I've ever seen. Mazel tov, Danny! I wonder how many of the 613 laws he's breaking on this cover alone.


Mining the Mailbag

Hey there, ladies and germs! [squeezes horn attached to belt] Anybody out there? Is this thing on? [taps mike] Seriously, folks! I came here to be funny! Uh...yeah...

So Maughta's feeling under the weather and hasn't had a chance to update this site for a while, so to stave off the tar and pitchforks and the unending flow of bad book covers she's sent me (DocTurtle, a.k.a. TurtleBoy) to the gates to deal with y'all.

You've helped out by providing a good deal of material to work with. In addition to the lists of illy-illustrated books she's got scattered all over the place (her corner's a bibliographer's nightmare) and the mental list I've been mining for a while now ("Do this one, Maughta, this one!") your submissions give enough fodder for five or six healthy posts. I'll go ahead and start with a few gems from the inbox. For our first course, we have faithful reader Feral Boy to thank:
This looks like a Senor Wences skit gone very, very awry, a sort of Hieronymous Bosch meets The Muppet Show. I'm actually cheating here, drawing from the inside of the book, since the cover isn't nearly as bad, as pointed out by Feral Boy:
At least we know that John Stamos landed on his feet after Full House was cancelled. I like the fact that the illustrators were too ashamed to have their full names included on the front cover.

Yes, the above both come from Helen A. Rosburg's Elsie and the Elven King, which, if I'm understanding things correctly, is kind of like a Tolkienesque rewrite of the Kama Sutra. Elf sex, anyone? Regular comics readers might be getting a Brooke McEldowney vibe right now. Maughta checked this book out and had it lying around for a few days (though not prominently, lest the neighbors get ideas). Scary stuff.

Moving on, we find this beauty, courtesy of faithful reader Ryan:
What's not to like about this cover? It's got dragons engaged in in-flight swordplay, carrying laser cannons and semiautomatic pistols...I thought that dragons were fearsome for powers that inhered in their being, like fire-breathing and whatnot? Wouldn't a dragon catch hell from his dragon buddies if he started packing a sidearm? Just sayin'.

I dunno. The whole scene reminds me of an unfortunate Japanese import I would've seen back in 1980 on TBS if I'd turned the TV on on Saturday morning waaaaaaaay before the good cartoons came on. I think the cover artist here was going after his own demographic, to wit, fantasy-addled fifteen-year-old boys. (Note to fantasy-addled fifteen-year-old-boys: please don't sue. We don't have much money.)

Blam...er...thank Erin for our next course. The titles say it all:

I guess there is a niche to be filled here, and a captive audience [rimshot]. The cold, hard simplicity of that first title is just marvelous, poignantly coupled with the brutal black cover design. Bravo! I have to admit being intrigued by the second book. As advertized, I'm sure there's a treasure trove of useful information on any number of topics, from drug smuggling (what percentage should you tip the crooked cell block commander?) to romantic encounters (is the laundry room a good place for a first date?).

On a more serious note, if you do a little digging you find that this text was written in 1951 by a number of pretty well-known authors (such as Robert Lowell, William Everson, and William Stafford) who were imprisoned as conscientious objectors during the first half of the century.

Socially responsible snarking here, folks.

Damn, that killed the high, didn't it? Um...

...And we're back! Anna sends us this wonderfully-airbrushed 1925 Newberry Award winner by Charles J. "Pull My" Finger, chocked full of "stories of enchantment and mystery." I'm sure the stories are indeed enchanting (Anna calls them "quite good"), but you wouldn't know it from the look of the kids on the cover. They were so busy being enchanted that they didn't notice their transportation to the Silver Lands. Where exactly are those? I'm voting on fin-de-siecle Rhodesia. Colonial brutality, internecine warfare, oh the enchantment!

Meanwhile, girlfriend there looks positively enraptured by Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris. He's just spewing forth those hilarious hijinx with Screech and the gang, like the time when they all got together and sawed each other's arms off, replacing them with mannequins' limbs? Good times, good times.

On that note, I'll end my first guest posting. Maughta's on me to tag-team with her more in the future, so you might see more of me, for which I apologize in advance. Until next time, happy snarking!


Raccoons in SPAAAAACE!

Why? Did I miss the memo that it'd be cool to have a woman and a raccoon on the cover of one's pulp sci-fi?

Guess so.

To my right I feature the ever popular Eric Van Lustbader (that's a name of a porn star if I've ever heard one...something like Schlong Wars: A New Poke) with his lusty-reading-wench-with-feral-raccoon. So I personally see a ring of what looks like at least 12 dragons etched into the wall behind our low-cut lass. Twelve is better than five, I guess.

"Kids, cats, and telepaths...Heartwarming!"

Just what I'm looking for in a sci-fi novel.

That chair looks extremely uncomfortable. And what's with Jor-El in the background? Maybe he's telepathically saying, "A matching raccoon is every piebald heroine's perfect accessory as she reclines in an extremely uncomfortable chair."

I like the leggings, though. As we've seen before, I have a fondness for leggings.

And finally, A picture of my poor little guinea pig Maelion who is under the weather with a (really gross, kinda zombie-looking) infected eye. I know you're all sending her cyber-broccoli and wishing her to get well soon!


Bless you, faithful readers!

I've been sick as a dog. There's something so wrong about having a cold when it's sunny and hot outside. Fortunately, even when I'm under the weather my faithful readers come through for me. I'm including Dolf's entire e-mail 'cause he is right on about this cover. The only thing I'd like to add is, GREAT PELVIC THRUST!

Hello Ms. Judgeabook,

My coworker was reading this book this morning and i just loved the cover. Apart from the mandatory fantasy stuff (a hooded and cloaked villain), there is also "the girl that has fallen down and twisted her ankle". I think that that is only mandatory for the monster movies from the '50s,but the cliche itself is pretty obvious and the picture deserves credit for that. Apart from that, i just love the attempts to give this book as much credibility as possible. First there are the burning books. I immediately associate that with Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Great marketing! Then there is the marvelous line: "This is fantasy for grown-ups". You don't have to be ashamed when caught reading this book. The whole composition of the drawing is kind of icky. What kind of emotions bubble up when your typical grown-up geek looks at the cover? I hope you like the cover. If not you can always toss it away. Anyway, thanks for maintaining a very original blog. Best regards, Dolf Schuurman

Thank YOU, Dolf Schuurman!


ADDENDUM: here's a really interesting discussion on what effect a cover has on the perception of a book, and I've been called a "seminal" blog. My inner 14 year-old boy is giggling his ass off.