[Pea Llewellyn #1]
When Pea Llewellyn’s dizzy but dazzling single mum becomes Marina Cove, author of the bestselling Mermaid Girls books, everything changes. It’s time to leave their tiny flat in Tenby for a proper house in London, and a whole new life.
Pea likes the red front door, and the attic bedroom all to herself. She even likes her hideous new school uniform, in a masochistic Malory Towers sort of way. But there’s an empty chair beside her in every lesson, and no one seems to want to fill it. In the absence of volunteers, Pea is going to have to acquire herself a best friend . . .
Janet: The cover leaves me cold. Maybe I’m just not comfortable with faces so seemingly close? The back, however, looks like a fun middle grade read, slightly Jacqueline Wilson-y. The reference to Enid Blyton has me wondering who the back copy was written for, since MG readers are rather less likely than their parents (and grandparents) to have read the Malory Towers books. However, moving houses and needing friends? I’d glance inside.
Nafiza: I think the cover is cute and would probably catch my attention in a book store. Ah, Janet, this book is probably based in the UK and targeted at English kids who will know more about Enid Blyton than we’d assume since she’s still a big name there. I think the back sounds interesting so I’d be willing to glance inside as well.
Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.
All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?
As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.
Janet: The cover, again, leaves me cold. The back copy is interesting, combining a clearly adult protagonist with a YA-style back copy narrative voice. I’m not entirely sold but I’d glance at the first few pages.
Nafiza: I do like the cover; it’s very dark and mysterious and hints at something sinister. However, the back copy does nothing for me so I will pass.
Twelve-year-old Sophie Mulvaney’s world has been turned upside down. Mom lost her job at the TV station and broke up with Pratik, whom Sophie adored. Her teacher is making them do a special project about risk-taking, so Sophie gets roped into doing a triathlon. And to top it all off, she’s started seeing bubbles above people’s heads that tell her what these people are thinking. Seeing other people’s thoughts seems like it should be cool, but it’s actually just stressful. What does it mean that Pratik wishes she and Mom were with him to eat dinner? Is her best friend Kaya really going out with their other best friend, Rafael, whom Sophie also has a crush on? And can Sophie’s mom ever go back to her old self? In this funny, heartwarming novel, Sophie comes to learn that people are more than what they seem—or what they think.
Janet: Again, faces so close-up is not for me. It just feels invasive. The school, failed adult relationships, and bubbles concept reminds me of The Disappearance of Emily H. This looks cute, but I need a little more convincing.
Nafiza: This cover is a bit too simple for me. The back copy is far more interesting and depending on how the premise is handled, I reckon it could make for a rather poignant ride. I might give it a try.
Twelve-year-old Stevie’s world changes drastically when her parents are tragically killed and she is forced to live with her estranged grandfather at his run-down motel. After failed attempts to connect with her grandfather, Stevie befriends the colorful motel tenants and neighbors. Together, they decide to bring some color and life to the motel by planting a flower garden, against Stevie’s grandfather’s wishes. It will take Stevie’s departure before her grandfather realizes just how needed she is by everyone.
Janet: So the back is ridiculously tell-y. The cover, though, is amazingly pretty. I like the bursts of red and the illusion of watercolour and paintbrush lines.
Nafiza: Like Janet, I’m not at all impressed with the back copy but the cover though. Wow. I would frame a copy of it.
Mystery turns to mortal danger as one young man’s quest to clear his father’s name ensnares him in a net of deceit, conspiracy, and intrigue in 1750s England.
Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father’s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb’s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb’s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb’s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows.
Janet: The cover is a bit much. On the other hand, I might be biased out of grumpiness at the unreadable font. And, again (sorry for repeating myself so often), the back cover is horribly boring. Please! Do NOT tell me the whole flipping story; doing so removes any impetus for reading the book. Which is sad, because the elements of this one are, individually, interesting, but thrown together as above – why bother?
Nafiza: The cover is meh. The back copy is meh-er. I am not at all interested in any white young man’s quest. I feel like there have been more than enough of that to last me a life time.
[Bone Universe #3]
A City of living Bone towers crumbles to the ground and danger surrounds. Kirit Densira has lost everything she loved the most―her mother, her home, and the skies above. Nat Brokenwings―once Kirit’s brother long before the rebellion tore them apart―is still trying to save his family in the face of catastrophe. They will need to band together once more to ensure not just own survival, but that of their entire community.
Janet: Intriguing cover and I am interested until the blurb; again, what is with these back copies? Even for the third book in a series, as this one is, this tells far too much and gives too little reason to pick it up if the reader is not already invested in the series. Lines like “they will need to…” and “she must…” (so painfully prevalent in synopses) – blah, no, I really do not want to know what the character “needs” to do (unless the main struggle is the protagonist’s resistance to doing this exact thing); the story itself should reveal this. The purpose of back copy is not to tell the reader what is going to happen but to entice the reader with unique details and characterization. Make me care about the characters and curious about what will unfold, don’t bore me with didactic, blatantly obvious spoilers. *sighs* Sorry. Rant over.
Nafiza: The cover. *heart eyes* I read the first one and loved it a lot and I haven’t read the second one so I’ve now been spoilered. Thank you whoever wrote the synopsis for this. Ugh. Let’s pretend I didn’t read the synopsis. I adore the cover. Must read this soon.