The Cover Wars


Wherein we judge books by their covers and blurbs! It’s a bit of fun, and your welcome to weigh in in the comments!


You don’t belong with us. These are the words that echo through the minds of all immune Americans—those suffering the so-called adverse effects of an experimental vaccine, including perfect recall, body manipulation, telepathy, precognition, levitation, mind-control, and the ability to change one’s appearance at will.

When immune individuals begin to disappear—in great numbers, but seemingly at random—fear and tension mount, and unrest begins to brew across the country. Through separate channels, super-powered teenagers Ciere, Daniel, and Devon find themselves on the case; super criminals and government agents working side-by-side. It’s an effort that will ultimately define them all—for better or for worse.

Nafiza: I like the cover. I like the typography and I like how the cover model is facing down the enemy instead of cowering under impossible odds. I like that the cover promises action and agency and the synopsis seems to be geared toward the same. The book is not something I’d read but if I come across Illusive, the first one in the series, in the library, I’d pick it up and give the first chapter a read.

Janet: This is an interesting cover. The girl has a slender-yet-curvy figure (of course) but her stance is appealingly defiant. The cityscape is done well (bet Steph will like it), and overall the effect is enough to make me forget that I don’t, in general, like the font and style of the title. I wouldn’t pick this up only because the genre doesn’t interest me, and because I’ve become slightly weary of the super-powered-teens-who-save-the-world theme. But that is a pretty neat cityscape.

Steph: I kinda like the cover too – it’s a lot of death-defying action over a pretty cool city (haha Janet’s right). I like that the girl is in the lead, and I also kind of like that she’s an anti-hero… sort of. I wonder at the two boys, will this be heavily romantic or more buddy and teamwork? I want to know more about this vaccine and now some are “inoculated” and some are not – what’s the agenda there… Haha, I’ve clearly already moved from the cover and the blurb right into the book. Yes, I’d read the first in this series and potentially go further if there is promise. :)


Her name is Lauren, but everyone calls her Panda. What they don’t know is that behind their backs, she also goes by Gray. As in Gray Scales, the photo blog that her classmates are addicted to because of the secrets Gray exposes: a jock buying drugs, a teacher in a compromising position, the richest girl in school shoplifting. But no one knows Panda’s the vigilante photographer behind it all. At least, she thinks no one knows—until she gets a note from the Admirer, who’s not only caught her red-handed acting as Gray, but also threatens to reveal everything unless Panda joins her Admirer in a little game of Dare or … Dare. Panda plays along. Anything to keep the secrets she’s protected for years. But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn’t know what to do. And she might need to step out of the shadows to save herself … and everyone else on the Admirer’s hit list, including some of the classmates she’s loathed and exposed for years.

Nafiza: Another dynamic cover and a POC model to boot. I like that we seem to be seeing the protagonist through the camera lens or viewfinder at least. The synopsis is intriguing. Instead of a timorous bully victim, we have someone who uses her own methods to get even. Or at least I’m assuming she was bullied. We’ll see anyway. I’m not a fan of the typography though, they could have used something a bit more striking. Still, I would read a chapter to see if I liked it.

Janet: The blurb is promising, with its hints of a flawed, morally dubious protagonist who really does want to do the right thing, and whose own actions (her agency, yes!) put her in danger. Instagram and presumably phone photography plays a role in the story, so I don’t roll my eyes at the Instagram-style frame, although I’m not sure what Lauren is running in front of. Oh, wait, is it a camera lens? So now we have two methods of photography on the cover: an actual, high-quality camera, and a smartphone. The orange-hued “Danger” in “Endangered” is unnecessary, linguistically, but does emphasize the pun on Lauren’s nickname, Panda, and the peril posed by the Admirer. I’d pick this up to browse inside if I came across it at the library.

Steph: I’m intrigued, I like the cover – we have the barrel of a gun but also of a camera effect, which is appealing especially considering the plot revealed in the blurb. I like the POC in an action shot and she looks like an average teen, which is nice as well. I have to say, the only thing I’m not fond of is her pet name Panda, but that’s a personal long-standing issue with actual Pandas. Still, I’d like a good explanation for the name even if it was bullying which caused her to react – with black and white polaroids. I agree that the duo-toned title is unnecessary, and perhaps pushing the point too far. Still, if it’s not too long, I’d give it a whirl


“Happy birthday, child. Careful not to shoot any grundwirgen.”

Ever since she was a small girl, she has learned to be careful on the hunt, to recognize the signs that separate regular animals from human-cursed grundwirgen. To harm a grundwirgen is a crime punishable by death by the King’s decree – a fatal mistake that her Auntie Rosa and mother have carefully prepared her to avoid.

On her fifteenth birthday, when her mother is arrested and made to stand trial for grundwirgen murder, everything she thought she knew about her family and her past comes crashing down.

Auntie Rosa has always warned her about monsters. Now, she must find and confront them to save her mother, no matter the cost.

This novella is available only as an e-book from The Book Smugglers.

Nafiza: The pretty! Oh my goodness. I like the colours, the juxtaposition of the frailty of the model (perceived anyway) and the gun she carries. The synopsis is exactly my thing because instead of the prince rescuing the princess or vice versa, we have a story about a mother and daughter and we need more of those. If this were available in physical form, I’d jump at the chance to get it because I like the cover that much.

Janet: “She” isn’t named. Why not? I don’t much like the cover – for a hunter, she is staring awfully blankly (i.e. like a model), and what is she wearing? why is she hunting with her hair flowing everywhere? why is the rifle so (adorably) antique, and why is she holding the muzzle as though it is the neck of a stringed instrument? Nafiza has hit on something, though: a mother-daughter, and aunt-niece (and possible sister-sister, via the aunt and mother?) story is very appealing, as is the puzzle of what grundwirgen are, and why they are protected. I would be interested in Nafiza’s review, should she read it.

Steph: In too am not really drawn to the cover, it’s the vacant model-esque expression and outfit and charming gun. I kinda like the splash of red, but it feels so purposeful that I resist it. Yet, aside from the cover, I like the sounds of the story – I’m not so taken with the idea of mother-daughter because that could go so many ways and I just don’t know what to expect… well, ok that’s a good thing I suppose. Alright, I’m in. I hope there is an explanation for the gun. And I want to know more about the monsters. Lots more. And I kinda hope the protagonist tied her hair back when she actually hunts. If she actually hunts


Trills of silver, quiver of gold.

Pot Head, they called her. Heavy-head, they teased her. In a noble house of dye masters, Island-born Hase is an outcast, ridiculed by her fellow servants and employers – all because of the smooth, reflective sphere that covers her head. Little does the household know that Hase has a mission and a purpose, carried behind her pot-covered head, in her impenetrable eyes.

This novella/short-story is only available as an ebook from The Book Smugglers.

Nafiza: The art, once again, is exactly my thing. The softer colours, the suggestion of more in the background, the flowing hair. Yep. I like it a whole lot. The synopsis is interesting and captured my attention. Why does she wear a sphere on her head? I’d read the book to answer the question.

Janet: I hate things covering my eyes or pressing on my nose, and that aspect of this cover gives me the shivers. I don’t know, this cover and synopsis just doesn’t interest me.

Steph: Very Manga-esque cover, I’m expecting an intriguing plot, a powerful character who is at once frail and delicate – which we do get from the cover. The only thing I can’t get over is how ridiculous the idea of a character living her entire life with a pot on her head is. I mean, summarize this out loud and say you don’t giggle a little? I await Nafiza’s review.


Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late?

Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer.

The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing…

Nafiza: I don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, on one hand I like the merging of the typography and cover art. I think that’s snazzily done but on the other, I find the black space left empty kind of overwhelming. I think how I feel about this book will ultimately depend on how it looks in real life and whether the harsh black is relieved by some kind of pattern or affected by the paper used for the cover. The premise is interesting–a dystopian world?– but I don’t know how I feel about the term “Refuser.” I don’t think making the verb into a noun is working too well for me especially with the “no-hoper” also included. Shouldn’t it be No-Hoper?

Janet: Dystopian. *passes book to Steph* I’m not interested in this at all, possibly because I don’t feel I know enough about this world to understand or care. The blank space on the cover is appealing, although the “your” in the tagline makes me bristle. The silver eye with “Mind” is neat, but I can’t figure out what the “Games” is supposed to shape. Anyone?

Steph: I think that the title is enough on the cover, I don’t need that extra line. I mean, it goes without saying- if there is a game, the character has to play because their life or something important depends on it. It does sound rather dystopian doesn’t it? The cover is alright, certainly not flashy but that’s not a bad thing. I see the eye and I think that the border around the “games” is kinda like a heart? I’m getting flashes of Divergent and their mind-testing method and wonder how similar this will be – an entire story centred on the way the inner mind works could be interesting. Thought-policing for realsies. If I saw this, now that I know it’s got a dystopian bent I’d try out the first chapter or two.


Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

Nafiza: Wow, yes, this is not my thing at all. Neither the cover nor the premise garners my interest remotely. This is the second book in the series but I’m going to judge it as though it were a standalone. The gold figuring looks tacky and, don’t hate me, cheap. The colour of the background is  not a compliment to the crowned statuette. The rose petals further the tacky feel of the cover. As for the synopsis, the word “boyfie” ensures that I will avoid this book like it was a red ant bent on world annihilation one bite at a time. Yeah.

Janet: The statuette is so garish that even the variegated yellow background can’t restore an impression of taste to the cover. The tagline fails to impress. As for the blurb, the phrase “nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie” – well, Nafiza has it right. Ward-turned-lover is iffy enough in Regency romances, no need to create a modern version (cough power imbalance cough). Enough with nemeses falling in love. Enough with mystical soul-mate-style bonds. The two slightly interesting things are that the statuette is left-handed, and that she does appear to have the correct hand position on her hand-and-a-half sword. Except that she’s holding it as though it is a sidesword.

Steph: Ok – I LOVE that the word Canoodling is used, but then boyfie follows that and I’m done. While I think that the cover is meant to be a tacky veneer overtop of a supernatural bodice-ripper/thriller-esque book, I think I would have had to read the rest of the series (this is a series?) to know that, so I’ll just not comment on the cover. Really, this isn’t my thing, I was kind of hoping for more humour – and maybe there will be humour – but I’m sensing an imbalance between what is taken seriously and what is taken lightly and I worry that the book will annoy me to no end.

2 responses to “The Cover Wars

  1. Wow, so many covers to go through! I’ll touch on as many as I can (though it’s pretty cold and my fingers feel like they’re about to fall off, haha).

    Deceptive: I like this cover, even though I would have liked to see a bit more boldness in the palette. The typography works really well for the title. The synopsis is interesting, though I’d worry there is no ‘flaw’ in their perfect powers.

    Endangered: This cover didn’t do it for me. It looks like it took too much from a James Bond preroll, and she seems to be floating in black space. The grunge lens could have used more color. But, the synopsis seemed interesting, even if it’s not my typical genre.

    Hunting Monsters: This looks like Julie of the Wolves met its darker cousin. I really like the cover, but I don’t like the overly ambiguous blurb. It doesn’t tell me enough to pull me in.

    In Her Head, In Her Eyes suffers the same as Hunting Monsters above. Great artwork, but I couldn’t help but feel the synopsis was written for the art, not a book (one not telling me any more about the story than the other). Also, the typography mirrors a little too closely; I thought the second line of text was just a reflection of the first.

    Mind Games: I think this would have looked a lot more arresting if it “popped” more. Maybe a metallic shine on that gray, and cleaner, vector lines. Otherwise, it’s all right, but might make for a boring wrap-around, for the paperback.

    Miss Mayhem: I actually found this okay (oddly, but maybe it’s because I don’t read much of romances or thrillers), but maybe not for its genre. I liked that the statue seems made for this book, but the synopsis itself didn’t grab me.

    Oh, hey! I commented on them all, haha. Yay! (Winner of the above for me would have to be Hunting Monsters or Deceptive.)

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