The 2017 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year Bracket Starts Now!

The 2017 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year Bracket Starts Now!

BCOTYHello all and Happy New Year!

I’ve been building to this for quite some time, and I’m so excited to kick things off. This is it! Twelve Book Covers of the Month join four Wild Card Book Covers to comprise a sixteen-book tournament to determine which one will rule them all!

If you like, you can take a look at each book cover’s winning announcement: December, January, February, March, April, MayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberand The Wild Cards.

The Weech346 book covers. 43,724 votes. All leading to this tournament! The covers were ranked 1-16 by the number of total votes each received. That means the cover that received the most votes (Loveless) is going up against the Wild Card that received the fewest votes. (The Girl Who Could See), and so on and so forth.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

It’s been fun, but, as I mentioned when I announced the Wild Card Winners, I’d like to end this tournament on a high note. I’m trying to get 10,000 total votes. Please, tell everyone. Get people to vote. I want this trophy to mean something, and it’ll frankly mean more as more people vote.

Also, if you’re wondering where the 2018 December’s Book Cover of the Month bracket is, worry not. That bracket will kick off RIGHT after the BCOTY ends. So this month will be pretty full and by the time we get to Feb. 1, people might be pretty tired of it. I’m not sure what else to do about it, so I’m open to ideas, but this is what I got right now.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo

Book Review: The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo
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This cover was taken from Amazon.com for review purposes under fair use doctrine. The other images were taken from Mr. Deyo’s website for the same purpose.

Spoiler Free Summary:  This was the February Book Cover of the Month. I’ve already reviewed the December Book Cover of the Month, which you can find here, and the January Book Cover of the Month, which you can read here. In The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo, Leam Holt has already saved Harbing from destruction, but he begins this story with amnesia and in enemy territory. Trapped between two machinators, Leam is the linch pin for both of their plans. The forces of light work to free Leam, but they want to use him. The forces of darkness want to keep Leam, but they want to use him, too. What will he choose to do if/when his memory returns?

Character:  Leam is a strong lead character. His conflict is honest and real. By the end of the book, I was furious on his behalf for the number of things done to him for the sake of either side’s plans. Leam is earnest, and that earnestness is compelling when he’s being trained and encouraged to do awful things. Those issues get expanded upon when he realizes how terrible his actions really are. I’d also like to mention Eloa, who steals the show from my point of view. She spends a good portion of the story trapped, but she not exactly helpless. Her arch hinges on that situation, and it makes me appreciate her. Gideon, the antagonist, also has in interesting story line that I wanted to learn about.

Exposition: I actually could have used a bit more in this sense. This is the second book in a series, and I think reading the second book took away from the story. I grew to like Leam, but a lot of his arc depends on the reader already knowing what’s happened. That made it hard for me to connect, so if any of this book interests you, I’d strongly recommend buying and reading the first before you move on to this story. I’m of the opinion that doing so will limit questions and issues that I had.

bio-3Worldbuilding:  Despite the fact that I wasn’t really sure who some of these people were and why they mattered, one thing Deyo did do was ease the reader into this world and magic. Where the characters didn’t make much sense early on, the world grew on you, and that made the book a bit easier for me. There were some aspects I wasn’t sure about, but I’m not going to hold the fact that I didn’t read book one against book two.

Dialogue:  The dialogue worked, particularly in regards to developing character. A lot of my connection to these characters formed during conversations. Deyo used this technique with pretty much every character. What made it work is the dialogue didn’t feel like  a forced infodump. Instead, you learned about the characters’ pasts and their personality through genuine, realistic conversations.

Description:  It’s honestly been a while since I read this particular book. I got backed up with reviews and reading, so I’m not sure how fair I’m being to the book in this regard.  What I’ll say is I remember the actions the characters took and how they felt about them. I don’t remember much about what any of the characters looked like or what the settings were like. I remember appreciating the detail in the magic system and some of the intense scenes, but the overall description felt a bit vague in terms of the characters.

Overall:  This story was enjoyable by itself, but I think people would like it more with the context of the first book. Leam’s story was the most compelling part of the book. His arch is emotional, touching, sad, and tragic. I’ll admit this book wasn’t so good that I’d insist on going back and reading the first, but I’m glad I read it. The magic system is cool, and this plot has a nice little cat and mouse sort of “Spy vs Spy” feel that I really enjoyed.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Interview with the winner of February’s Book Cover of the Month Award Winner Lisa Pompilio

Interview with the winner of February’s Book Cover of the Month Award Winner Lisa Pompilio

As the new BCOTM bracket is running, I had the chance to correspond with Lisa Pompilio, the winner of February’s bracket. You can see other interviews from December’s winner and January’s Winner if you like.

Hello Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

First off congratulations on your cover wining my blog’s February Book Cover of the Month.
Thank you so much. There were so many great covers by talented artists. I’m very honored.

LMP

When did you get into art? 
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. In my teens I got into photography, collage and punk rock, which ultimately led to an interest in graphic design and photo illustration. I would make zines of my favorite bands and take photos at shows. A lot of cut and paste art, I just never connected it to being a desinger. But for 17 years, I was also heavily involved in training horses. Then in my 20s, I had a bad fall and realized it might be time to consider a career that didn’t involve broken bones (or at least pay for the broken bones since I am still riding). So I turned to art, and now paper cuts are the biggest job hazard I have to risk.

 

How long have you been creating covers?
It’s been almost 10 years now. I started at St. Martin’s Press and now I’m with Orbit Books.

Von Brooklyn logoWhat got you started in creating covers?
I’ve always been a book lover. I used to spend hours in the library as a kid – reading was a way to escape into another world, and everything I took in – the book covers, the stories, the characters – inspired my art.

Do you prefer one medium over another?
Above all, I’m a photo illustrator. But I let the book dictate the medium – some call for photo illustration, sometimes I hire an illustrator, sometimes there’s a need for type design.

Palisades ParkDo you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, who? Why?
I draw from multiple influences when I’m working on a cover. I think a cover designer should be open and well-rounded, and know their art history. I’m deeply shaped by circus sideshow culture – growing up near Coney Island will do that to you. Tim Burton always sparks something in me, but so do Frida Kahlo and Carlo Crivilli – it’s really a mash-up of artists and styles and history.

What makes you choose to work with an author or not? 
I’ve worked with all different kinds of authors. I base my decision on the project – if it sounds fun, I’m game to take it on.

What do you look for in a great client? 
Trust. A client who trusts I will create an amazing cover for them and lets me just work my magic.

What are some of your pet peeves about clients?
I’m sure I have an official list somewhere…. One of the biggest pet peeves of any designer I know is when you send a comp, and someone takes it, just photoshops over it, and sends it back. That’s just a big no. But as a designer, or any kind of artist, you have to patient and expect criticism, even if the criticism is completely unjustified and drives you a little crazy. You have to remember it’s not just your baby, and that everyone wants what’s best for the book.

What would an author need to do to work with you? Do you have a link to your standard rates, or do you negotiate fees by author?
All they have to do is contact me. I’m always open to freelance work alongside my in-house creations. I do have a standard rate, but I’ll negotiate with self-published authors and do what I can to work within their budget.

61sr30ku-7lHow did you come to be chosen to create the cover for The Unleashed?
Bentz and Jennifer had seen my work for Amada Hocking’s Trylle Trilogy and contacted me for the first book in the series, The UnDelightened. I was thrilled when they contacted me again to continue working on the series.

Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?
I really wanted the reader to feel like they were stepping into a world that was both magical and a little dark at the same time.

Can you walk me through how you approached the cover? I mean, can you take me from you were commissioned to the final product? What were some of the challenges? What techniques did you use? How much did you collaborate with Bents? How happy were you with the final product? Anything you can think of in that regard.

The first book gave me some direction, but I wanted this one to feel a little darker – I wanted the magic to kind of bleed out of the frame – I wanted it more twisted and confused than on the first book. Bentz gave me some details to play with, like the creepy fog, and he had some ideas about how it should look and which character we’d use, and we basically just hit the nail on the head together.

It’s always a little challenging to do a series. You want the covers to be cohesive, but also stand out on their own. Color was a big factor, but it was important for me that readers got the feeling they were moving through the series and growing with it. As for technique, Photoshop played a big role.

I’m very happy with the final product. It does everything I wanted it to do, and now I have to step up my game for the next installment!

How was Bentz to work with?
He was terrible! I’m just kidding of course – it was great. Bentz really gave me a lot of freedom and put his trust in me. When we did The Undelightened, he gave me the manuscript and some samples of covers and images he felt drawn to, then let me loose. It means a lot to me that he trusts me, and it’s really been a delight to work with him.

TornThe Unleashed was an awesome image. Is it your favorite? If so, why?
That’s like asking a parent which kid is their favorite! I can’t go down that rabbit hole and have angry authors writing to say, “I thought I was your favorite!” For my own safety, I am going to plead the 5th.

What can we expect to see from you next?
I’m currently working on a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, YA, and even some military covers. I’m also working on Book 2 for Melissa Caruso, and I’ve just revealed the first in the series The Tethered Mage. I’ve got a few other surprises that I can’t share yet – but stay tuned.

Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?
I’d just like to say thank you, on behalf of all of us cover designers, for appreciating this art form. Your love really motivates us and inspires the awesome imagery we all enjoy.

END INTERVIEW

I don’t think the bracket is perfect, and I don’t think it can be. But when I started this, it was with the intention of brining attention to great covers and giving the designers some credit. I think we’re accomplishing that. I’m thrilled to talk to every artist, and I plan on pestering the authors next! Thank you all for making this a success. Here’s to keeping it growing!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Another bracket has concluded, and I’m still amazed at how popular this is getting. I’d like to set a goal to do better each month, which we didn’t do this month, but we still had an amazing turnout. As I type this, we had a total of 3,911 votes. It’s just humbling to see the support people are showing these authors and their covers. Last month, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure March was going to hold up against January. I feel confident that March is going to be even tougher. But that’s the past, and the future. It’s time to talk about the present.

The February Book Cover of the Month is…

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This cover and other associated images are used for review under fair use doctrine. They’re also used with the permission of the author. Any unauthorized reuse or appropriation of these images are done so against the permission of the work’s right to distribute.

The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Deyo is the first author to win a BCOTM competition as a previous month’s alternate. He lost to Loveless last month, and was hell-bent on not losing this time. Let’s look at the stats!

The Unleashed started out strong and finished superhuman. He went Hulk in the semifinals and didn’t slow down very much in the Finals. I was talking to both he and Joshua Robertson during the semifinals, and they were both going out of their minds looking for ways to get word out about the bracket. The Unleashed received 802 out of 3,911 total votes (21%, give or take what votes may come in the next 40 minutes). Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan couldn’t muster up enough votes to take down Deyo. Sullivan’s 320 total votes still don’t compete with Anaerfell’s 574 votes. Or even the 350 votes Robertson garnered in the last round alone. Without intending disrespect to Mr. Sullivan, it looked like the winner of his previous match was just going to be too tough to take down.  Deyo took the finals 184-32.

The Unleashed is the second book in the Undelightened Series. Here’s the summary on Amazon:

 

(START BLURB)

Leam Holt has done the unthinkable. He’s saved Harbing from utter destruction by consuming the toxin that was intended for the entire town and he’s rescued Eloa’s father from Darkness Headquarters.

But at what cost? Stricken by the poison and unable to remember who he is or access his Light side, Leam is captured by Gideon. Surrounded by evil, Leam revels in his undiluted Dark power and connects with other violent and corrupt kids, especially the bold and gorgeous Rylan. Still, Leam struggles to piece together his memories, including those of the beautiful Eloa, whom he discovers is in grave danger.

While forces of Light work to free Leam, the world is thrown into turmoil. The battle over the prophet, the person who will lead the world into complete Darkness or Light, is heating up, and Leam’s role in the war grows murkier.

(END BLURB)

As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, and Howard’s cover and they are also on my TBR. Manning’s is on deck while I finish reading the book I just started this week.)

Here’s Mr. Deyo’s Facebook page. Give him a like if you’re curious about his work.

bentz-bio
This image of Mr. Deyo was taken from his website with his knowledge and permission.

The artist for this cover is Lisa Pompillo.  I’ll reach out to her and see if she’d like to have an interview later on in the week.  Until then, have a peek at her website and see her work! Mr. Deyo was kind enough to offer the following comment:

“It’s a great cover,” he said. “The book ain’t half bad either. Thanks for the votes!” Then he used a smiley face emoji with shades, but I don’t speak emoji, so I can’t replicate it. I am, however, obsessed with accurate reporting, so there ya go!

The March bracket is ready to go and will launch on April 1. It looks great, and I’m pretty pleased with how April is setting up.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

February BCOTM Finals!

February BCOTM Finals!

The Closest Contest:

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan edged out Heart Stone by Elle Katharine White by 9 votes, but both matches were only decided by 2% of the total votes.
Anaerfell by Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd vs The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo is the match of the round. They went back and forth every step of the way. Deyo had a late surged and powered through the match with a 22 vote lead. Considering that’s only 2% more, it’s not as “big” a victory as it would have been in earlier rounds.

That should help you all see The Largest Victor area, but it’s wasn’t nearly that large this round.

Most Voted On Contest:
Deyo’s match against Robertson and Boyd had 732 votes. It was amazing. Like I said, I was speaking to both authors pretty much throughout the day. It was a nail biter for me, and I had not stake in the match. THEY were working their buts off.

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

February Final 4!

February Final 4!

We’ve narrowed a great batch of covers down to four, any of which I’d be happy to stand behind!

We broke ANOTHER round record. (Could we break a record EVERY round? That’d be awesome!)  The Elite 8 had a total of 457 (give or take whatever hashes out as Richardson and Sullivan continue to duke it out as I type this). This pushes us to 2,712 votes, every single one of which I thank you all for so very much! Even in the month of March (you all know there’s this basket ball thing right?), this bracket is still on the most popular brackets page on  Brackify.com.

Let’s look at how this round broke down:

The Closest Contest:
I’m still refreshing the bracket while I watch Dragon Legends by Ava Richardson take on Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan. That thing was CLOSE! It came down to 1 vote, but Sullivan took it and 31% of the total votes.

The Largest Victor:
Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd are on a tear! Their book, Anaerfell, defeated The Elven Tales by Fabi Ghittoni by 28 votes and 61% the votes for their match.

51X1Mg4IHaLMost Voted On Contest:
Not to be outdone is the match I mentioned might have a ton of votes. It didn’t disappoint. With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu vs The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo racked up 155 votes (25 more than the above contest). Deyo is BACK in the Final Four, where he fell to last month’s winner. He hasn’t gotten over that, and he’s clocking a ton of votes this time around. Anaerfell vs Unleashed is set to be another nail-biting, vote tallying monster! I’m just glad I get to watch.

Again, all contests had more than 80 votes, but Deyo’s match almost doubled the lowest voted match. By all means, support the cover you like best, but you CAN vote for every match. I had one author ask if he had to win the match AND the round, that’s not true. All you have to do is win your match, so vote in every round to make sure all the best covers move on.

Least Voted On Contest:
Hearthstone by Elle Katharine White vs Flight of the Krilo by Sam Ferguson had the fewest votes with 80.

The Final 4 ends at the strike of Midnight, March 20. That’s only 2 days, so call your friends, share my posts, get your readers engaged!

Last month was a bit odd because February is a short month. That’s not the case this time. Only the runner up to this month will get a second chance in the March bracket. So if you want to be sure you land in the Book Cover of the Year bracket, wining the month is your best bet!

 

Get out there and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

February Book Cover of the Month Elite 8!

February Book Cover of the Month Elite 8!

Feb_Cover_Collage 8Hello everyone! The Elite 8 is here, and the voting is getting more and more difficult! I don’t get tired of saying it; this was another record-breaking round! The Sweet 16 had 788 votes, which puts us at a total of 2,255 votes so far!

 

Let’s go over some numbers:

The Closest Contest:

We had two contests come within 5 votes.  Heartstone by Elle Katharine White vs The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore and Dragon Legends by Ava Richardson vs Surviving the Evacuation: Ireland by Frank Tayell were equally close calls with Richardson and White each wining by 5 votes and only 53% of the total votes.

The Largest Victor:
This wasn’t close by any stretch of the imagination.  With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu showed up big time against An Impossible War by Andy Remic. Beaulieu won by 45 votes, earning 71% of the total votes.

Most Voted On Contest:
I’m not sure what else Joshua Robertson, J.C. Boyd and Karpov Kinrade were doing, but they were certainly calling on their followings! Anaerfell by Robertson and Boyd narrowed out Silver Flame by Kinrade by 15 votes, which is tiny compared to the 139 votes that match received.

Least Voted On Contest:
Once again, every contest received more than 80 votes, which is great, but let’s make sure that if we call on our readers, we ask them to vote on every contest. Stone vs Sacrifice and The Destiny Thief by Luanne Bennett vs Flight of the Krilo by Sam Ferguson both only received 83 votes.

51X1Mg4IHaLMost Votes:
Anaerfell is the top dog for this round. To show you how close that match was, in terms of total votes so far, Silver Flame received 135 total votes (which is more than With Blood Upon the Sand, which is moving on). In order to move on, Robertson had to surge to receive 138 total votes.  In short, Robertson had to essentially win twice to stay in the tournament.

The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo is still the top dog in terms of overall votes with 154 votes, but Deyo is facing Beaulieu in the next round. Why does that matter? Deyo and Beaulieu are 1 and 4 respectively in terms of overall votes. It’ll take at least 80 votes to for either author to win this next round.

So now it’s on to the Elite 8!  This round will last until March 18, which is only about 4 days! I think this round might be one of the closest ever. I’m VERY curious to see which 4 you all choose to send on in the tournament.

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt