Cover Snark: Which Came First, the Baby or the Book Bag?

Welcome back to Cover Snark! And I have to admit, after six or so years working for the site, this might just be one of my favorite Snarks.

Journey to Water's Heart by Lea Ben Schlomo. The whole cover is awash in an odd blue filter. Lightning is striking in the background with an ominous castle on a hill. A woman in an intricate white dress is photoshopped onto a dubious horse. A woman in a historical military outfit stands nearby, but he looks oddly thin and tall. His head reaches the heroine's shoulder, who I remind you is on a horse.

Amanda: That man must be very tall and noodly to come up to that woman’s shoulder while she’s on a horse.

Sarah: Does she look like Taylor Swift? Or Kristen Stewart? Or both?

Amanda: Both, definitely.

CarrieS: I would actually really like that cover if not for the dude.

Three Reckless Wishes by Lila DiPasqua. A woman and man are embracing in front of an ornate window. The woman is wearing a teal dress, pulled very low. A pale flower is pinned to the heroine's boob and upon first glance, looks like her nipple is out.

Elyse: I thought the flower was a nip slip.

Amanda: Same. That neckline is dangerously low.

CarrieS: Same. Love the color scheme, hate the people. I mean, not personally…

Sarah: His nipple is looking at me no matter where I am in the room.

An old striped category romance cover. One couple in the foreground is embracing and there's another in the background. The background couple is hugging in front of a house window. There's a sticker on the cover the says you can get a free book bag.

From Steve Ammidown at Bowling Green Pop Culture Library: I keep meaning to send you this one. The cover raises so many questions on its own, but the addition of the sticker just adds that little je ne sais quoi.

Sarah: There is just So Much Happening

Are the two women with the hot wave treatment in their hair Claire and Blair?

Elyse: The couple in the window are going to murder them. I’ve seen this Lifetime movie

Sarah: True that.

Amanda: Is the baby a free book bag?

Elyse: That’s the only kind of baby I want

Amanda: Imagine giving birth and being like, “Oh hey! Sweet! Free book bag!”

Elyse: It can’t be worse than a baby

Amanda: In case of a mess, you can throw that bag in the washer! Can’t do that with a baby.

Elyse: I still want to know what’s up with the window couple

Did they send the baby?

Sarah: Wait, was the baby IN the totebag? Is that a new delivery method to shame women for choosing?

CarrieS: Maybe the stork brings the baby! In the bag! That would be AWESOME!

If it comes by post, I have read that most things are legal to ship as long as there’s a legible address and adequate postage. But a baby hits all of the boxes on “liquid (not the baby itself, of course), fragile, perishable, or hazardous.”

I feel like someone should address the “two halves of a whole” thing because that seems unhealthy to me.

Gray Horse by Ciana Stone. A shirtless man in a pair of jeans is standing in the rain. He's in a field and holding his hand out, as butterflies swarm around him.

From Cerian. Thanks, Cerian!


We have these dang butterflies but no horse.

Sarah: Maybe it’s a butterfly shifter horse?

Amanda: A horsefly if you will.

Sarah: Ba-dum-dum

Amanda: Which are the fucking devil, I might add.

Elyse: He seems confused by the rain the butterflies or both.

Amanda: He’s having a Jupiter Ascending moment, like Mila Kunis with the bees.

Sarah: I can’t even tell for sure what genre it is.

It’s probably historical.

CarrieS: My guess is fantasy cowboy. I like the butterflies and the font, the rest can go.

Comments are Closed

  1. Kathy says:

    Do you think that’s *his* name: Mr Horse? And doesn’t the logo for Cotton Creek put you in mind of a men’s underwear brand?l

  2. Deianira says:

    I rewatched Blade Runner over the weekend, and that last cover put me strongly in mind of Rutger Hauer’s last line, about “all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

    Dammit. Now I’m imagining a dystopian romance with that cover. Only replace Random Guy with Rutger Hauer.

  3. Jill Q. says:

    I think the first cover has Michael Fassbender cosplaying an SS Officer? That’s a big plate of “no thank you.”

  4. Susan says:

    On the first cover, all of the proportions are off. The woman is too big for that horse–plus, she seems to be missing her legs. She could be riding sidesaddle, but she’s positioned all wrong. And what’s the guy doing with his hands?!

    And I’m with Elyse on the nosy neighbors in the window. They’re definitely plotting murder or kidnapping. Maybe they plan to snatch the baby, stuff it in the tote bag, and run.

  5. Lostshadows says:

    The guy on the first cover looks like he’s just discovered he does not like the smell of horses.

    I think the couple in the window, on the third one, are the same couple who are turning the baby into a free backpack.

    The last cover, forget the horse, where are his lower legs? Unless… ARTAX! Nooooo!

  6. Critterbee says:

    I can’t get past that first cover. SO many questions! Is he riding the horse sidesaddle? Is she floating right next to them? If she is a dream or apparition, why does she look so real, much more real than Mr Popped Collar? What even are those clothes? What is with his hair? Why is he so much smaller? What was photo-shopped out of the photo behind him, to make such an oddly shaped cloud?
    Mainly, I ‘m just angry that the horse’s head is not even completely on the page. Why do that to a horse?

  7. Escapeologist says:

    Dude on the first cover is Lord Farquaad in a crazysauce alternate universe where his mom cuts his hair.
    He’s the one riding that poor horse. The lady is ummm floating in the background? But she’s bigger than him so maybe she’s a dream? Nightmare? No idea what she’s doing with her hands.

  8. LauraL says:

    My poor little horselady brain is pinging with that first cover! My take: She is sitting side-saddle, on the wrong side, on a draft pony. She must be feeling quite confident in her seat because the pony has the all-hell-is-about-to-break-loose look. When an equine’s ears disappear like that, I step away. Unless I am wearing my tiara helmet, of course. Also, the man in the uniform reminds of Kripke from “The Big Bang Theory.” You’re welcome.

    The “Three Reckless Wishes” cover would have worked well if there wasn’t a “is it a nipple slip or not?” conversation going on in my head. Love the starry background!

    You know, back in the day, people used to mail children? This was legal until 1915. People still mail-order baby chicks. Our rural post office deals with it every spring and fall. Hey, is that baby wearing a chicken onsie?

    And now I know where all the Monarch butterflies have gone. They are hanging out with Mr. Gray Horse.

  9. Zyva says:

    Kinda clever, on #2 with the lowcut clothes, how the gown is poised between buttons just holding and bursting out, but there’s that super-suggestive built-in corsage bloom. Cheeky. ‘Wardrobe malfuction or robe?’ was not a question I expected a first glance to throw out there.

    Maybe they could take a leaf out of that book and do some more discreet dude decolletage? Not sure what would be suitably manly ‘modesty’ blossoms, but I’m curious.

  10. SusanE says:

    Mister Gray Horse appears to be pooping the butterflies. The line starts behind him, and they get larger as they come around and cross over his crotch. Since they are magic we don’t need to wonder how they are strong enough to stay aloft in the pounding rain.

  11. Elli says:

    Last dude: grey-haired but ripped. Those butterflies are emerging from a slit in his obliques.

    His first time giving birth. No one told him butterflies can’t endure the rain. Take cover, little monarchs.

  12. EC Spurlock says:

    I don’t think either one of them is riding that horse, it’s just sort of … there. “Michael, you could have been my prince charming, but your horse came between us. Literally.”

    OK, so you have to pay for the baby but the book bag is free? Is this like one of those ginsu knife commercials? Or do you turn the baby inside out and it turns into a book bag? Does the baby poop out the book bag or does it come with the afterbirth? So many questions… Including questionable neighbors.

  13. chacha1 says:

    All of these covers make me feel better about my DIY covers. Yeesh.

  14. Escapeologist says:

    @EC Spurlock your baby / book bag questions are making me giggle-snort over here at my desk

  15. mishukitty says:

    Did anyone else notice in the first cover that the cloud outline looks suspiciously like the outline of the female character?

  16. Cyranetta says:

    Grey Horse guy’s skin is weird – is he made of leather? dead leaves? Maybe he’s a high-rise monarch cocoon…

  17. Meljean says:

    A douchebag ALWAYS comes first. :-/

  18. Meljean says:

    @Meljean NOTHING TO SEE HERE. I don’t know what I read but it apparently wasn’t the right headline, and I made totally the wrong joke. 😀 Going to get coffee.

  19. LMC says:

    My first thought with the first cover is that she has one of those oversized dolls next to her. The horse looks embarrassed to be included in the cover.

    Won’t even start on the Baby/Book bag combo.

    The Gray Horse guy looks like he over did it in the George Hamilton tanning bed and now a skin condition–which I now see is rain. Is he unfamiliar with rain…or his hands?

  20. Louise says:

    And doesn’t the logo for Cotton Creek put you in mind of a men’s underwear brand?
    Dang, beat me to it. But, concurrently with the vague-mental-association-with-underwear, I’m stuck trying to figure out the logo itself. Is this an alternative history where Texas includes large chunks of what is now Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and perhaps even the inland parts of Georgia?

    :: exercising heroic self-discipline to keep from fetching out the ruler and doing some calculations in order to figure out exactly how far eastward our Expanded Texas extends ::

  21. BellaInAus says:

    Well, I think that the first cover has the guy on the horse (and he’s got one of those unfortunate Norman haircuts. Maybe it’s a historical?), the woman is the person he’s riding to meet/rescue/romance and the castle is where she’s at. Only she looks kind of fantasy, so maybe it’s a fantasy-historical? It’s obviously one of those covers that needs to have All The Plot Points. I’m more concerned about wth is Water’s Heart? Wait, maybe she’s a mermaid! in a fur collar.

    At first glance at the second cover I was all “Awww, look they taking off each other’s clothes” (which makes a change), but the more I look the more I’m seeing her dress seems to be photoshopped up a bit and it’s covering more of his chest than it should. Just above his arm there. But is he showing the greys?

    The next cover gets scrolled past quickly, while I shudder at the memory of all those painted 80s covers. I bet window family are wearing Mom jeans. And plotting murder.

    I rather like the look of Mr Horse, but I think that they photoshopped something out of his hand, and had to put in something to explain the odd pose. Probably the butterflies. They make NO sense. And is he grey haired, too? Sadly, I have to agree on the underwear logo.

  22. Sandra says:

    @Louise, Judging by the rough edges to the east, I’d say alt-TX extends all the way to the Atlantic. Maybe they annexed what used to be East and West Florida, back when we were still a British Colony.

  23. Zyva says:

    I thought “identical twins” when I saw the two curly-haired women, not “same hairdresser”. And bingo:

    Please allow for the possibility that waves and curls on light-skinned people can be natural hair – and in that case, typically come from mixed origins – not styling.

    It would be helpful if this could pass into pop culture knowledge, both for the inclusivity (mixed people are the fastest growing minority in the USA, and besides eg Afro-textured hair, all subtypes, applies beyond mixed people, clearly, and even beyond people of African origins) and to plug the gap in professional knowledge.
    That is, (in Australia, at any rate) hairdressers are given like NO information on hair diversity in styling school. And they wash hair before working it. Plus most of us, the customers, wash hair shortly before going to the hairdressers’, to be polite.
    All that takes a lot of bounce out – just about all of mine. You can warn hairdressers it will bounce back, but it was easier for me, eventually, to screw up my courage to break the ‘wash the night before’ rule. Hang on an extra day, and I have a picture worth a thousand words.

    That’s when I found out my natural hair looks ‘styled’ to people who don’t know my family. I had no idea. I mean, it’s never been stylish that I’ve been aware of. When they pick out a style, people tend to go for something more clear-cut – more curl, dead straight, or straight with a couple of flourishes, like a scroll of parchment; not my halfway hair, no way.

    But hairdressers would know what treated hair looks like. No arguing with that. It’s just that there’s untreated hair with plenty of bounce out there, too.

    And…you know, it’s only less awkward for me to touch on ethnicity, including my own – and, as it turned out, a deficiency in training that causes gaps in professional knowledge (that then have to be plugged on the hop) – considering that I have to explain we are going with the flow of my hair upfront in any case, and that I am appalling at small talk, which is compulsory at the hairdressers’. (Well, it’s compulsory to try . The customer can crash and burn – the hairdresser has done their duty asking opening questions.) ‘Talking shop’ is much more within my repertoire; and someone else’s ‘shop’/area of expertise is even better – they will do most of the talking

  24. BellaInAus says:

    @Zyva. I clicked that link. That blurb sounds like the author wrote a whole bunch of ideas on cards, shuffled them, and then just took the top three cards and worked with the plot elements that came up.

    I currently have 80s hair. I cut my long hair into a shoulder length layered style and all the curl reappeared.

  25. LMC says:

    I just realized why the Three wishes seemed so familiar! I am guessing Three wishes is a made over cover of “Marriage Made in Scandal” by Elisa Braden (it came out first)

    (just wondering if we are able to upload images–just to enjoy the instant gratification)

  26. Zyva says:


    I initially thought it was one pairing setting up their identical twins on a date secretly, Much Ado style. So there’s elimination as well as confirmation for me in that blurb.

    That sounds more like Western hair. Curlier when short.
    That pattern came up when we were talking at the hairdressers’. I’d seen it, in a cousin. She had had it close up, either her or a sister.
    I think it may have been a departure. We talked about hair changing at puberty, and that may have been one of the surprises.

    By contrast, my hair is straightest short, but soon as it grows a bit, it curls enough to get in my eyes and ears then collar, so I keep it long enough for the weight to drag it down.
    But not too long for summer. And long enough to act as a scarf in winter. You see the balancing act?

    Certainly YMMV, but I’d be very irritated if people called *my* hair “80s”. It’s not a fashion on me. I had natural hair when it was straight and blonde, and I suppose people will believe it’s natural again when it’s grey or white and straighter than now, like my elders’ went.
    It’s annoying there’s such a learning curve to climb, for all and sundry, in the middle is all.
    I wish I seen I’d heard of puberty shifts, sometimes ethnicity appearance shifts, in better time. And “squish to condish”, etc.

    Maybe someone will see it here in good time for them.

  27. SusanE says:

    I just saw another one at B&N when I was looking at another book:
    I hope the link works (I haven’t done this before).

  28. LMC says:

    Wow! Popular piece of art! Thanks!

  29. Katie says:

    Huh. Neither of the people on the first cover seem to be riding that horse. And the Swift/Stewart hybrid looks more like she should be on a pageant stage then anywhere near a castle.

    The neighbor couple does look like they’re plotting something evil. If it were Lifetime, they would for sure murder the couple with the baby and kidnap it (maybe smuggling it in the free book bag?), possibly assuming the dead couple’s identities. Although none of that really explains why or how the baby was sent through the mail. Maybe it was a messenger service. Can you just imagine the poor bike messenger tasked with delivering a baby?

    The man on the last cover looks like he’s never seen rain before. Maybe he was raised in a bunker Blast From The Past-style and has only now emerged and seen rain (and butterflies) for the first time.

  30. Mrose says:

    The cover with the baby, two couples and “two halves of a whole” made me think of the King Solomon story. Maybe the couple that agrees NOT to divide the baby gets the baby AND a free book bag!

  31. denise says:

    a lot of hospitals give moms a free bag with goodies when you go home with the baby. the last time, I received a beach bag with nice pampering things for me, plus a black bag with stuff for the baby. no books, though.

    but it does look like a creepy Lifetime movie

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