The Cover Wars

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(Last Dragon Charmer Series Book 2)

When mysterious magic transported Prince Caden from the Greater Realm to seemingly normal Asheville, North Carolina, he was shocked to discover it was home to the most dangerous villains ever banished from his homeland. And that a great and powerful Elderdragon rules them all.

Now Caden suspects that dark forces are conspiring on both sides of the magical divide between his world and this one. The Elderdragon gives Caden a quest: uncover the dangerous plan and protect the Greater Realm from banished villains hungry for revenge. Because if they find a way home before Caden can, everyone he loves may be in danger.

Janet: The two paragraphs give conflicting view on the Elderdragon: first, that he rules the dangerous villians; second, that he wants Caden to protect the Greater Realm (making earth the Lesser Realm, one presumes?) from these villains. This is confusing. Also, there is a girl on the cover, and she is not mentioned. The styles of the border and of the central image on the cover don’t quite go together. I’ll pass.

Steph: Hmm. It looks, I don’t know, a little like a serial? You know, like Goosebumps? Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but does make is seem cheap, I guess, is what I’m looking for (so, back to what Janet said, the border and image don’t all match because the border is very serial and the image feels like stock). I too wanted to hear about the girl on the cover, which world is she from? Will she even have much of a role? I’m assuming that the “greater realm” is the magic one and earth together, but this is unclear. Also the role of the elderdragon is unclear, but perhaps that’s not a bad thing? It’s just confusing when this is all we get of the story. I think, after all that, I too, must pass on this one.

Nafiza: The colour palette doesn’t work for me. The cover image doesn’t work for me either. I’m much more inclined to read female oriented books and the fact that the girl is not even mentioned in the synopsis? Yep, not a good sign. The synopsis, too, doesn’t give me a reason to care about these characters or even to find out the first one in the series so I don’t think this is a successful cover and back copy. Pass for me too.

Yash: I’m with Nafiza. There’s something off about the colours. Actually, the covers on the border are just fine but the image on the inside clashes rather unflatteringly with the style of the title and border. I guess I can see what Steph is saying with her Goosebumps comparison though? Anyway, the synopsis doesn’t catch my interest. Pass for me, too.

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Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

Janet: The cover is very similar to other covers for this author’s books. I’m more curious about the background than the central image. The synopsis is mildly interesting (although the last line of the second paragraph is so obvious it is redundant) and I know Nafiza loves the Seven Realms series. I was underwhelmed by the Heir series, though. Maybe. If I see it in the library.

Steph: Haha, Janet, that’s what I noticed too. I was like, “It looks like Chima, OH! It is Chima. Surprise, surprise.” I too wasn’t all that “whelmed” by previous Chima novels, though I feel like I didn’t give them a fair chance. . . That said, I’m not sure this is the one to try again on as the synopsis reads, to me, like every other fantasy YA novel. Two teens, a male and a female, collide and their fates become intertwined as do they (ho ho ho) because we all know “they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine” means romance. I think I’m passing, I’ll leave it for Nafiza and return to an earlier more critically acclaimed Chima series.

Nafiza: Yeah, not that much of a fan of the cover here. Chima writes wonderful characters (Han and Raisa had better be alive and kicking in this new series) and her worldbuilding is tremendous so I am curious to see what is on offer here. However, the premise is very similar to the original quartet with two protagonists coming together—except this time the power balance does not seem as disproportionate. I will be reading this but I guess that was obvious. Haha. I like Chima! Though I haven’t tried the Heir series and don’t really feel compelled to.

Yash: Um, there is way too much going on on that jewel thing. Like, it’s just tacky enough to make me stare and yet, also complicated enough to make it forgettable? Anyway, the cover is not ugly. Just not striking enough, I guess, though it successfully screams fantasy, so points there. The summary doesn’t sound like my thing either. (Not to say it’s wholly uninteresting. Just not what I’m currently feeling.) So, um, pass for me.

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Julia wakes up in the hospital, disoriented, and beset by a slippery morphing of reality into something else. She repeatedly sees a boy who she feels like she knows—but that’s impossible. Determined to get back to school and back to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which she’s starring, she lies to her sister, her mom, and her doctors—she’s fine, she says. She’s fine, she’s fine, she’s fine. But then on her first day back, she takes a seat in class . . . next to the mysterious boy. Queasy with anxiety (“I can’t see you,” she hisses at him, “because you’re not really here“), Julia realizes this boy is, in fact, real. And he has no idea what she’s talking about. Caught between this fascinating, empathetic new kid and her childhood friend turned recent love interest, Julia begins to notice unnerving similarities between her circumstances and those of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Secret kisses, tingling banter, and clandestine meet-ups give way to darker, muddier incidents. As things escalate to a frightening pitch, how much of what’s happening is real, how much is in Julia’s head, and how much does it matter as she’s hurtling toward a fateful end over which she seems to have no control?

Janet: Ooh! Reference! We can’t see her face on the cover (minus one point) but the black-and-white colouring, lacy dress, and dissolving body create a fittingly suspenseful atmosphere (plus three points). I’m curious about what is going on in Julia’s mind – whether or not certain things are real. Shakespeare’s plays being echoed in modern times has been done before but I haven’t read them (I think) so it’s still new to me; “secret kisses [and] tingling banter” are blah but “darker, muddier incidents” should be interesting.

Steph: I’m in. You know what grabs me, aside from the Shakespearean angle? It’s the waking up the hospital disoriented just before this typical teen/Shakespearean romance retelling . . . because there is something clandestine here, something perhaps a little more Romeo and Juliet than A Midsummer Nights Dream? I just gotta know.

Nafiza: Right? The cover immediately grabbed my interest because of the placement of the model and the fading out and the use of black space. The synopsis is intriguing and can have so many interpretations. Like Janet and Steph, I’m intrigued by what lies obscured by the darkness and whether mental illness has any part of the narrative or are there supernatural elements in play. Either ways, this has effectively garnered my interest and so I shall read it.

Yash: The cover is nice. I like the black and white and the title is a great one for a novel that has to do with Shakespeare. The summary doesn’t sound bad either. I worry how it will portray mental illness, though. And ‘tingling banter’ made me laugh. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not in the mood to read so I feel like saying no to everything? :/ Okay, I’ll put this one down as a ‘maybe’ instead.

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‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’

I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito.

As far as I know.

Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.

Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?

Janet: SUCH a horror-style cover. That poor vulnerable bird. And that synopsis? I’m interested.

Steph: Interesting angle. I kind of like that we are getting the sibling of what actually reads as the main character. A little bit like a Henry K. Larsen point of view in that way. The moving seems a little bit like a contrived plot prod but aside from that the story has promise . . . I just wish I knew a little bit more about our actual main character. I know a lot about Rosa, but not much about Che. What I’m hoping for is a good twist . . . 🙂

Nafiza: I’m curious about Che’s name. Che with an accent is a Vietnamese dessert, Che with a breathy h sound means 6 in Hindi/Urdu and I’m sure there are other meanings. Is it short for Chester? I want to knowww. Haha. Anyway, the tagline is great and made me gulp. I don’t know if it’s my kind of book but I could probably be persuaded to pick it up. And I’m seriously worried about that bird. Don’t kill the bird, Rosa. Don’t do it.

Yash: Nafiza, it’s probably Che as in Che Guevara. Anyway, yes, I agree with Janet– the cover is pretty chilling for it basically being a picture of a bird. I like that the summary turns an image that should make us coo into something that makes us shudder. I … don’t know how to feel about this whole control/watch Rosa thing. If you’re just waiting for someone to mess up and they know it, they probably will mess up on purpose? Anyway, I trust Larbalestier to make this more complex than it seems. I’m in.

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Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn’t found a new best friend. He’s still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who’s autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad’s recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom’s advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn’t know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life has thrown their way.

Just My Luck is a deeply moving and rewarding novel about a down-on-his-luck boy whose caring heart ultimately helps him find the strength to cope with tragedy and realize how much he truly has to offer his friends and family.

Janet: That second paragraph is totally aimed at adults and not a fourth grade or younger audience. I hope it is not on the back cover for real. The cover doesn’t appeal, despite the bicycles (always a plus in my books, pun unintended), perhaps because the tagline sounds too much like those would-be meaningful statements found EVERYWHERE (thanks a lot, lululemon). The back copy though, makes me care about Benny and his family and gives a sense of what the story will be about without spoiling anything. I’d read this.

Steph: Looks like a Rainbow Rowell cover without the cute illustrated people, just the bikes. My urban planner hubby might instantly be attracted to the cover, but it’s plainness makes me hesitate. Janet’s right, that last paragraph is meant as a hard sell to librarians and teachers for sure because a fourth grader wouldn’t choose this novel on their own (where are the dinosaurs, the wizards, the secret masterminds or the fart jokes?). In fact, this is an adult book in the guise of a children’s novel simply because the protagonist is a child. Get over yourself adult literature. It might be good, but I think I’ll wait for reviews.

Nafiza: Okay, I actually like the cover. I think it’s cute. The back copy though makes me a bit iffy. The comparison between George and Benny specifically. I don’t know if I’m being too sensitive but I don’t like the comparison. All in all, this seems like a very painful book and I’ll leave it to Janet. My heart is fragile!

Yash: I like this cover. The summary is interesting but I don’t want to read another book where the kid has to deal with a parent dying. Not ready for it after More Happy Than Not. Also, I just want more autistic characters as protagonists rather than subjects to be understood/protected/cherished. So. Um. I’ll wait for that, thanks.

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Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds.

Janet: Fox. Woodland scene. Not cutsey. I’m so in. The synopsis is heart-wrenching, and confirms what the cover promises. I want to read this. (Note for the curious: there is actually more to the synopsis, but it annoyed me so much that I didn’t include it – synopses should give a taste of the book, not analyze it and laud the author – if you’re really interested, you can read it here.)

Steph: I want. Now. I always loved books like My Side of the Mountain and Owls in the Family and this looks like a great addition to that human meets nature and forms bond reading experience. (Haha, Janet, I’m so with you! The rest of the synopsis isn’t necessary.)

Nafiza: OH MAN! This sounds like it’ll make me weep forever. I don’t know if I can do it. Still, Jon Klassen…so I probably will. The synopsis alone made me tear up.

Yash: Didn’t we talk about this one, Nafiza? I’m pretty sure I saw it on Klassen’s tumblr. Anyway, yes, I’m in. Mainly because Harper tweeted about it today and it just punched my stupid heart in its stupid face: