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Unattractive Book Covers That Hide Fantastic Stories

We, bookworms, tend to use “don’t judge a book by its cover” quite literally. After all, we know that not every author, or publisher can afford a beautiful cover, and, perhaps even more importantly, what works for us may not work for others and vice versa. Thus, judging a book by its cover is unfair and shouldn’t be done… even if it’s hard not to do.

To fight against negatively judging covers – which is an all too easy habit to fall into for many of us – I’ve brought you a couple of my favorite novels that have, well, unfortunate covers. Not necessarily bad, no, but they seem(ed) unattractive to me at first sight, and made me not want to pick them up. *hides*

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

PLOT: In an attempt to get back together with her ex, CeCe follows him to a Christian summer camp. The problem? She knows nothing about the Bible, which prompts her best friend – and soon to be fake boyfriend – Paul to accompany CeCe to camp.

πŸ’™ Hartl makes excellent use of the best friends to lovers trope: Paul and Cece are the cutest. Their interactions made my heart melt, and I adored the way they were both so adorably clueless when it came to how the other felt about them. *sobs*

πŸ’™ It approaches sex in a way few YA novels (that I have read) do; it’s incredibly sex positive, while it directly states that not every person wants to have sex. It’s also very inclusive of same sex relationships – as it should be.

πŸ’™ On that note, the open and honest discussions on sex ed and consent are two of the most important parts of the novel.

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Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

PLOT: Katie and Sarah have been best friends since they were kids – their different personalities make them one hell of a pair. Everything changes, however, when they get mistaken for a couple, and, to appeal to Sarah’s crush they go along with it. The question is: what happens when Katie starts developing very real feelings for Sarah?

🌸 It’s an F/F romance with OwnVoices lesbian rep and a bi heroine.

🌸 The friendship between the girls and the friendships they develop during the novel are extremely beautiful.

🌸 It actively condemns lgbtq+ stereotypes and shows the struggles of lgbtq+ teens.

🌸 It’s a cute and entertaining novel that will 1000% melt your heart on multiple occasions.

🌸 The atmosphere/voice reminded me a bit of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so if you liked that, try this.

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Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

PLOT: Private detective Nevada Baylor is tasked with a quasi suicide mission – she has to find and bring in a magic user who can set anything and anyone on fire.

🧑 The romance is pretty fantastic – it’s kind of a slow-burn; the attraction is there from the start but Nevada is not about to start anything with a man who would try to control her.

🧑 The magic system is fascinating – there are different ranks between magic users, and every magic user is part of a House, which they can (a) born into, (b) marry into, (c) found themselves.

🧑 Nevada’s family is delightful – she lives with her four younger cousins/siblings, her mom, and her grandma, and they are all so fun!? For sure I felt like they were uh, a lot at times? To the point where they felt incredibly unrealistic, kind of as if they were the comic relief of the novels, but I enjoyed reading about them a lot.

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The Fifth Season by N. K Jemison

PLOT: All fifth seasons are distinctly different from each other, but they do have something in common: they can last for years and they feel much like the apocalypse. The novel starts with a new fifth season and with a tragedy – Essun comes home to find her son brutally murdered, by no other than her husband. The Fifth Season is about the fight for survival, but it’s also about revenge, as Essun sets out to find her husband who also kidnapped their daughter.

πŸ’š (This is actually my “favorite” cover from this post, but I think it’s still pretty boring and this wonderful book deserves better.)

πŸ’š The world-building is detailed, dense (in the best way possible), unique, and captivating. I was confused for a while there, but it all comes together wonderfully as you get more into the book.

πŸ’š I adored the way the novel was divided – we had multiple narrators with great voices.

πŸ’š There’s a big reveal in the novel that took me by total surprise. It’s the kind where you look back at everything and say, “oh, yes, this makes so much sense” but reading the book I was clueless.

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Act Like It by Lucy Parker

PLOT: After Richard’s reputation takes several blows, he and Lainie are forced/cajoled into playing a couple by PR to make him look better. The only problem? They can’t stand each other.

πŸ’› Truth to be told, there are plenty of romance covers like and this isn’t the worst, BUT this wonderful, fun rom-com deserves better, so I am including it.

πŸ’› The hate to love romance means that Act Like It blesses us with some of the best banter I’ve ever read – reading this book always puts a smile on my face.

πŸ’› It’s super light-hearted and funny – even when some “drama” is going on or when heavy topics are brought up Parker quickly compensates with a few laughs.

πŸ’› I love the characters so much – Richard is super-grumpy and it took a while for him to grow on me, but I loved Lainie from the start. She is kind and sunny, but will 1000% stand up for herself in any and all situations.

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Let’s chat!

Have you ever turned away from a book because of its cover? Have you ever bought a book because you loved its cover? Do you like these covers? Have you read any of these novels?

30 thoughts on “Unattractive Book Covers That Hide Fantastic Stories

  1. I hate covers with real life models on them. The only reason I read the To All the Boy’s series, even though there are models on the cover, was because I had it on ebook so I wouldn’t have to look at the cover. I definitely have an aversion to those types of covers. They just strike me as cheesy and sometimes creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same!! I do think there are some exceptions – like the first four Selection covers – and I have seen some cute YA contemporary covers with real life models, but generally speaking it’s not my favorite type of cover. Also, adding to what you said – it’s ANNOYING when the models look nothing like the characters.

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  2. I usually don’t like covers with people in them, whether it’s photos or drawings (the exceptions being when it’s just silhouettes or the drawings are very very simple), it feels weird and cheesy and the icing on the cake is that more often than not they don’t even look like the character as described in the book!
    Oh, Ilona Andrews… their novels are FANTASTIC, but all the covers are a mess. It’s not just that they’re cheesy, it’s that a lot of the time they’re very poorly done, it’s terrible.

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    1. I really like graphics of people on covers – although I feel like graphic design covers, particularly for romance, are becoming so damn common that it’s, uh, too much right now? – but real life models are (usually) a no from me as well!
      I agree about Ilona Andrews’ covers – and most paranormal romance authors get similar covers. I love Nalini Singh, but even her “better” covers are still disappointing and unattractive. 😦

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  3. As a cover snob, I have to agree with Have a Little Faith in Me being on this list. Is the cover relevant? Yes. The statue is referenced in the story and it plays with the concept, but I think I much rather have seen a camp map or something (anything) else. I don’t mind the Parker cover, but I do agree, the book was fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really do not understand how the cover of Have a Little Faith in Me was accepted by the publisher and whoever else has to say “ok, it’s good” because it’s terrible. Easily one of the worst – if not the worst – I saw this year, which breaks my heart because it really is one of my favorite books of 2019. IT DESERVES BETTER.

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  4. Great idea for a post – or on second thoughts, for a post series! (hint hint…πŸ˜‰).

    I agree that those are not BAD covers, but not very appealing/apparently relevant ones either…

    I have bought at least one book that looked like it was light years away from my confort zone, and I don’t even remember WHY I looked past the cover and read the blurb and realised it was something I would probably enjoy (which proved to be right, because I gave it 5 stars). It’s Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (and admittedly, even the title should have given me major “stay away” vibes LOL). Here’s the blurb the book was given when it came out:
    “As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another’s only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she’s lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she’s popular, happy, and dating, everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be – but she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend. When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.”
    And here’s the blurb it has now (probably geared to appeal to romance readers, who will get disappointed as hell if they actually read the thing, so I guess it can only backfire…):
    “After losing her soul mate, Cameron, when they were nine, Jennifer, now seventeen, transformed herself from the unpopular fat girl into the beautiful and popular Jenna, but Cameron’s unexpected return dredges up memories that cause both social and emotional turmoil.”
    I’m thankful I got the chance to read the original blurb, or I would NEVER have read this book with that synopsis and this cover:
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2020935.Sweethearts
    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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    1. Haha, I may share more of these (or the exact opposite of this concept…) one day. πŸ™‚

      We’re very different, haha – the first blurb does sound much-much-MUCH better, I totally agree, but I actually like the cover! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I really like simplistic things and when I can feel “the vibe” of the story from the cover. Looking at it, I thought it would be a sad book, and that’s exactly what reviewers are saying on Goodreads, so it works. πŸ˜€ I do get why you don’t like it, though – it could certainly be better.

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  5. I definitely think I can judge a book by it’s cover because I’m naturally drawn to pretty books and if they aren’t my taste it probably would put me off reading it!! But that shouldn’t be the case because I’m sure there are plenty of books I would love out there even if they don’t have beautiful covers and whats inside matter more!!
    I hadn’t heard of some of these books so it was great to hear about them and they sound wonderful!!
    I am really excited to read The Fifth Season as I’m craving that type of fantasy!! And Dating Sarah Cooper sounds so cute!!
    Thank you for making this list!! πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m the same, tbh. I only read most of these because trusted friends and bloggers were recommending them, otherwise I may not have given them a second glance. I know a bad cover doesn’t mean a bad book, but still, there are so many gorgeous covers it can be hard to put effort into checking out the “ugly” ones. πŸ™ˆ
      I hope you’ll love The Fifth Season!! Glad you enjoyed the list. πŸ™‚

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  6. Ah what a wonderful idea for a post, I LOVE IT. I tend to judge books by their covers, as well, I really can’t help it haha, but damn, Have a Little Faith in Me sounds INCREDIBLE and I can’t believe it wasn’t on my TBR before. Thank you for this wonderful post! I really should pay more attention to books beside their covers, I know I need to make an effort on that! πŸ™‚

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  7. I remember you talking about Have a little faith in me in another post, and I know I want to read it too! Burn for me and the fifth season are both already on my tbr and I am going to give them a try, even if they aren’t pretty πŸ˜€

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  8. I find the cover for The Fifth Season to be absolutely stunning, especially if it had been released in hardcover to be honest but if I ever saw the cover for Dating Sarah Cooper I would’ve run away… but I don’t read much romance so even with a beautiful cover, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up :S

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  9. I’ve definitely been guilty of turning away (or at least putting off) books because of some unfortunate covers. It’s such a great idea to make a recommendation list of these – I’m definitely going to check some out! Dating Sarah Cooper just sounds like the cutest book premise ever (yes please) and apparently (as I’m looking at Goodreads) everyone and their mother has read and loved The Fifth Season, so I’ll definitely have to pick that one up as well! Thanks so much for the great recs!

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    1. Same 1000%, which is why I might continue to do these posts. πŸ™‚ Thank you! Dating Sarah Cooper is SO CUTE – it’s a bit like Simon vs. in its style, so if you enjoyed that, I’d recommend this one too. πŸ™‚ I get that, I discovered and read The Fifth Season in 2019, and I was shocked to see how many of my friends and mutuals have read it. It somehow flew under my radar. Hope you’ll enjoy these two books! πŸ™‚

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