The Cover Wars

Lori Fisher hunts monsters. Not with a sword or a gun, but with an interdimensional creature called Handler. Together they take down “feeders”—aliens who prey on mankind. When Lori touches a feeder, Handler’s impossibly large jaws appear and drag the beast into another dimension.

It’s a living—or was, until a job for the Lake Foundation goes wrong, and Lori stumbles across the Nix, a group of mutant teenagers held captive on the docks. Now the Lake Foundation is hunting Lori, and if they find Lori, they find Ben, the brother Lori would do anything to protect. There’s only one thing to do: strike first.

Lori teams up with the Nix to take on Lake, and to discover why the Nix were kidnapped in the first place. But as she watches their powers unfold, Lori realizes the Nix are nothing like her. She has no powers. She has…Handler. Maybe she’s not the monster hunter after all. Maybe she’s just the bait.

Janet: Based on the cover, I was expecting sci-fi, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of details and I wasn’t interested. The back copy provides context for the cover, shows its nuance. I’d like to look inside.

Nafiza: I like how clever the cover is but I’m not too much into sci-fi. I do love Ness’s writing though and like Janet, I’d like to take a look inside.

Yash: Okay, I got confused by Nafiza’s comment, but yeah, this isn’t Patrick Ness. In any case, I’m interested. I also really like the cover. It’s simple, but that fluorescent colouring catches the eye. And honestly, it’s the simplicity of the design that gives the book an ominous feel and then when it’s paired with the back copy? Yeah, I think I’ll keep an eye open for reviews of this one.

Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of commuter trains, and that there’s rampant opioid abuse that often leads to heroin usage.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

Inspired by the true events that happened in the author’s home town.

Janet: Subtle hint for whoever designed the cover: if you want me to care, show their faces, not their butts. The back copy is a solid no. None of the characters are differentiated – we’re given set-up but no characterization. It kinda feels like one of those 20th c. didactic “problem” novels.

Nafiza: I’m with Janet on this one. I’m being told about these characters but the back copy presents to me a group of kids wearing the same kind of clothes, having the same kind of body shape who, from the view I’m being given of their butts could all be the same person. The back copy doesn’t persuade me either. I especially dislike how the football player is called lovable. Would his suicide not have as much impact if he had been a not very nice person? Why? Meh.

Yash: Eh, not my cup of tea–which I know thanks to the cover, really, so I wouldn’t change it. (I do appreciate that this book is maybe the author making sense of her town and memories, which probably could not have been easy to do. The story is just not for me.)

Who are you, if you can’t be what you always expected? A moving coming-of-age tale of prodigy and community, unlikely friendship and growing things.

Twelve-year-old Rose Brutigan has grown seven inches in the last eight months. She’s always been different from her twin brother, Thomas, but now she towers over him in too many ways. The gap in their interests continues to widen as well. Musically talented Rose is focused on winning the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition, while happy-go-lucky Thomas has taken up the challenge of growing a giant pumpkin in the yard of their elderly neighbor, Mr. Pickering. But when a serious accident changes the course of the summer, Rose is forced to grow and change in ways she never could have imagined. Along the way there’s tap dancing and classic musicals, mail-order worms and neighborhood-sourced compost, fresh-squeezed lemonade, the Minnesota State Fair — and an eclectic cast of local characters that readers will fall in love with.

Janet: The cover is surprisingly appealing. The diagonal sweep is immensely elegant and the art style, particularly on the textured background, welcoming in the way of quiet coffee shops. Although certain parts of the back copy are a tad cliche (“Rose is forced to grow and change in ways she never could have imagined”) and aimed at adults (see the final sentence), the feel of the synopsis is gentle and unusual; I’d look inside.

Nafiza: I don’t think much of the cover but oh, I do love the back copy. I’d like to read this.

Yash: I agree with Nafiza; the cover doesn’t say much, but the synopsis is interesting. Even if it isn’t up my alley, I can see this doing well. It sounds fun and full of heart.

The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founder’s fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy’s first time to taste the liver. It doesn’t go well. A few hours later, all the adults fall asleep. And no one can wake them.

The kids are left to run things, and they’re having a blast. That is, until the town bullies take over the mayor’s office and the police force.

Jean suspects that this “hibernation” was actually engineered by someone in town. She starts to investigate, and inspires other kids to join her in a secret plan to save St. Polonius.

Janet: The back copy tells way too much. On the other hand, that cover is completely fascinating. I’d glance inside.

Nafiza: I don’t even care about the back copy. In fact, I’m not gonna read it. I love the cover so much I’ll take a look inside just to meet the characters. My fave is the bear.

Yash: The cover is adorable and the cast of characters are brimming with personality even as illustrations. I like the use of colour–I mean, if it had been a stark, white winter scene I would have just scrolled away, but this looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.

When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.

In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak–and the living yield even more surprises.

Janet: Oh, goodness. *grabs kleenex box* This looks amazing. Cover – back copy – that last line! Tbr. Asap.

Nafiza: This is going to break my heart but this book is so important and so timely.

Yash: I don’t have anything to add that wasn’t already said. I’d read this. And cry. And read it again.

Elsie Mae is determined to save her beloved Okefenokee Swamp, but is she willing to accept the unexpected?

Elsie Mae has long treasured summers with her grandparents in the Okefenokee Swamp, so she is devastated to hear that a shipping company plans to build a canal right through it. What will that mean for the people and animals that call the swamp home?

So she writes a letter directly to President Franklin Roosevelt himself and sets off to enjoy what may be her last happy summer there with her new dog, Huck. But when she arrives, she discovers a team of hog bandits who have been stealing from the swamper families.

When her cousin Henry James, who dreams of one day becoming a traveling preacher like his daddy, shows up, Elsie doesn’t think things could get worse. But she devises a plan to use Henry and his “Hallelujahs” to help stop the thieves—and maybe just make enough noise to gain Roosevelt’s attention…

Janet: The problem with this cover it that it has two distinct and inimical art styles: the background; and the silhouettes-and-title. There is no reconciling the two, they jar so. It would have been better to remove the gingerbread silhouettes. The back copy reminds me of Because of Winn-Dixie though the two books have nothing obvious in common except a preacher father – but it gives too much of the plot away.

Nafiza: I agree with Janet about the cover. The silhouettes are incredibly discordant and take away from the cover. However, the back cover is intriguing and if the execution matches up to the premise, this book could be brilliant. I’ll wait for some reviews.

Yash: Eh, not for me. And this time, I’m not even gonna bother commenting on the black copy because I am cramp-y and curmudgeon-y today and everyone already knows my feelings on silhouettes, right?