The Cover Wars: A Mixed Bag


Title says it all – I picked a bunch of recent and upcoming releases that I found interesting! Feel free to join the conversation by leaving us a comment or two!

A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh’s semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided “grand gesture” at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love–or at least a girlfriend–in all the wrong places. – [X]

Steph: This sounds adorable. I’m not usually into this sorta thing, with the romance, but this is bumbling charming romance! I like the cover, it’s simple and nicely designed. I am not sure I should I believe “a true story” on the cover, I would like some sort of nod towards this really is true or this really is fictional – but then, it could also just point out that this is not a magical land at all. Anyway, I’d give ‘er a go.

Janet: The disjointed look of title on the cover must be intentional, a reflection of the lack of connection between Josh and the girls he attempts to date, and of his presumably awkward, fumbling attempts to reach out romantically. The synopsis looks light-hearted and amusing. However, the disjointedness and the self-focus/romance-centric perspective implicit (all about me and why I don’t have a girlfriend) do not appeal to me. It might be a very funny story, or series of vignettes, and my reaction might be different if I’d heard of Josh Sunquist, or heard him speak, but without that connection I do not have a reason to care, yet.

Yash: You know the cover isn’t incredible, but it’s eye-catching enough to pick it up and read the summary … which looks like it could be a really, really good read. That said, I like the flowchart idea and how it ties into his “interviews” with past girlfriends. I am a little nervous about what he might have unearthed during these interviews (kids can be mean!) but I am still interested. The title, by the way, is what I love the most. “Embarrassingly, a true story” made me laugh out loud when I first saw the cover.

Prom. It’s supposed to be one of the best nights of your life. Or, at least, you’re supposed to have a good time. But what if you’d rather be going with your best friend’s date than your own? What if a sinister underground society of students has spiked the punch? What if your date turns out to be more of a frog than a prince? Or what if he’s (literally) an ape?

There are ways you can fight it. You can protest the silliness of the regular prom by hosting a backwards prom – also known as a morp. You can throw a prom for fat girls. You can stay at home to watch old teen movies and get your cute neighbor and his cuter brother to join you. You can dance to your own music.

From many mega-bestselling authors, including John Green, Libba Bray, Holly Black, and David Levithan, 21 prom stories you’ll never forget. – [X]

Steph: Ahhh, a short story anthology. I think I would read only some of these stories. The ones that promise hilarity more than over the top romance. The cover is alright, nice – it makes me think that most of the people will be superficial or not really well rounded characters – then again, this is prom. Is anyone well-rounded in grade 12? ;)

Janet: Um. I don’t understand the huge focus on prom in high school books (it seems to be an American thing). What’s the cultural appeal? Anyway. I might read this if Steph or someone else highly recommends it, but probably won’t touch it otherwise.

Yash: I mentioned this one in my Top Ten Tuesday Wishlist. Janet is right– this is a very cultural thing. None of the schools I went to had prom and this book is going to be a vicarious experience for the Grade 12 Yash in me. Which brings me to my next point– Steph! How did the many, many (hilarious) outfits tell you that the characters will be superficial?! The point of a prom (as told to me by the TV) is an opulent sort of celebration (as much as you can afford to)– fancy dress, fancy clothes, fancy ride, and hopefully a fancy date (or a fancy book)! I’d like to think that the stories will actually reveal to us the people who don those interesting outfits and present them as wonderful, complex people. (Can you tell I’m set on reading this one. Because I am.) Also, IT HAS A LIBBA BRAY STORY! AND HOLLY BLACK!

Sephora Golding lives in the shadow of her unbelievably beautiful mother. Even though they scrape by in the seedier part of Venice Beach, she’s always felt lucky. As a child, she imagined she was a minor but beloved character in her mother’s fairy tale. But now, at sixteen, the fairy tale is less Disney and more Grimm. And she wants the story to be her own. Then she meets Felix, and the fairy tale takes a turn she never imagined. Sometimes, a story is just a way to hide the unspeakable in plain sight. – [X]

Steph: OK, I’m not sure what the first two sentences say except to explain that this girl is in desperate need, like so many other 16 year-old girls, of a coming-of-age story. Unfortunately, so many female coming of age stories necessarily involve romance – I mean there are SO MANY of these stories. The cover is alright, I’m not sure what we’re going for though, creepy rust stained wall and noodles (those are noodles as type right?). It looks way too run-down, hey! Just like the story-line! (badum-cha!)

Janet: The daughter-as-minor-character-in-her-mother’s-story could be pretty neat; usually mothers are minor (if beloved) characters in the child/teen protagonist’s world. I had not heard of the word “infandous” before (def: something too odious to be mentioned). However, the mother as monster and the introduction of a boy as the motivation for Sephora standing up for herself are old and not in a good way.

Yash: You know, I really like the cover. Even though it doesn’t say much about the story– I kind of like the starkness and the peeling wallpaper and the title (which shamefully, I only just googled: “too odious to be expressed”) works with the cover which tells us very little. I agree with Janet that the mother/monster and boy/salvation thing is old, but I am hesitant to give up on this. I will keep my eyes peeled for others’ reviews and maybe pick this one up someday. The setting and the setup is just too interesting … hopefully, the romance isn’t as predictable as it seems. (Anyone else raise an eyebrow at a girl names Sephora? Then again, who am I to talk.)

Sword shall guide the hands of men . . .

For over a thousand years the kingdom of Lardan has been at peace: isolated from the world, safe from the wars of its neighbors, slowly forgetting the wild and deadly magic of its origins. Now the deepest truths of the past and the darkest predictions for the future survive only in the verses of nursery rhymes.

For over a thousand years, some of Lardan’s fractious provinces have been biding their time.

Kyali Corwynall is the daughter of the Lord General, a child of one of the royal Houses, and the court’s only sword-wielding girl. She has known for all of her sixteen years what the future holds for her–politics and duty, the management of a House, and protecting her best friend, the princess and presumed heir to the throne. But one day an old nursery rhyme begins to come true, an ancient magic wakes, and the future changes for everyone. In the space of a single night her entire life unravels into violence and chaos. Now Kyali must find a way to master the magic her people have left behind, or watch her world–and her closest friends–fall to a war older than the kingdom itself. – [X]

Steph: Yay a sword-wielding girl! Not a romance hinted at – actually a fun girl-girl friendship between Kyali and the princess she has to protect. I like that the mythology of the world has a role to play, that hints at some awesome world-building and depth. The cover and title are pretty meh for me, very digital for what feels like a medieval-ish story – and, another fiery red-head? I mean, showcased on the cover? Sword I’m assuming points us towards the fairy tale that begins to come true, but still, meh. Anyway, though the cover isn’t really great I think the back-copy has me, I’ll give ‘er a go.

Janet: “Sword shall guide the hands of men.” Men? Really? Okay, I like the colours on the cover, I like the style, I like the font, I like the frown of focus on Kyali’s face, and I like stories of girls and women with swords. However, the declaration that Kyali is the only sword-fielding girl causes me to worry that this will be another case of female exceptionalism. You know the sort – Kyali is awesome, she’s not like other girls! Why does almost every girl ever depicted with a sword have gorgeously billowing, utterly impractical long hair? (Although those red curls on the cover are beautiful.) I’m torn between exasperation and hope; I would read the first few pages to test the waters.

Yash: HAHA! I love Janet’s annoyance at the first line of the summary– though clearly Kyali will be the one to weild it. She might change it up, who knows? Okay, so, the summary is pretty interesting and I’ll probably read it, though I agree with Janet’s point that “she’s not like other girls” is a trope that annoys me. (Still interested, though.) The cover is not the best, but not bad at all. I love the colours and I love the art stye. The sword near her hair/head make me cringe a little, but it’s still pretty badass. However, I don’t like the title. I mean, there’s a great big sword on the cover and then the huge word “sword” and it feels a little like show and tell … oh well.

Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie’s vacation takes a turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanting valley, occupied almost entirely by children who can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. As Canny studies the magic more carefully, she realizes that she not only understands it–she can perform the magic, too, so well that it feels like it has always been a part of her. With the help of an alluring seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out the secrets of this valley and of her own past. – [X]

Steph: Best cover of the bunch for this week. I like the fuzzy font and I like the girl’s face – the art is stylized nicely but she looks like a real girl, with realistic features. I also LOVE the bees! Let’s get some natural themes and global climate change undertones going on in here! The back copy also has me because I am always a big fan of stories with a cool kind of magic in them. I think, as opposed to the multitude of romance-coming-of-age I always go for the magic-coming-of-age story. I think, if Harry Potter is any indicator the rest of the world is with me. I’ll read this for sure.

Janet: The synopsis is pretty appealing (with the exception of the “alluring,” but that is countered by the “held hostage” part). I don’t like the out-of-focus title font, nor the all-caps. The cover doesn’t grab me but I like the bees and the reference to bee-related folklore and land magic. I’ll wait for Steph’s review.

Yash: Ohh! I love this cover. Even if the shaky title makes me squint a little. I like the contrast of warm and cold colours on the cover and how they work together, I like that the illustrated girl is not headless, and I like the bees (even though in real life they would be alarming). The title is interesting … though the summary makes no mention of it, but then the summary does make mention of a pretty boy who is being “held hostage” and that made me laugh* so I guess I don’t care that much about the lack of mention of what “mortal fire” pertains to.

*It kind of reminds me of Sabriel which I just started reading!

6 responses to “The Cover Wars: A Mixed Bag

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