The Cover Wars

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The Book Wars’ own meme that goes up every Saturday! We judge books by their covers and back copy to see if they hold up to our scrutiny and, most importantly, if we’d invest our money and time in them.

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A boy on the run is rescued from a burning building by a bewildering supernatural being named Angela Obscura. She transports Donny to the underworld (yes, that underworld!) where young Donny Taylor learns that a heck of a transformation has taken place down there.

Steph: Hm. I have no idea what sort of archetype I’m stepping into here but I’m sure it is one: a chosen one story perhaps? a voyage and return wherein our character saves the world (of course)? Anyway, I suppose that’s not important, but I’m left very unsure if I want to pick it up. The back copy is so blah and unexplained. The cover is pretty, I like the cityscape and the colours a lot, but the title is a little over-the-top dramatic . . . I’m leaning towards a pass on this one.

Nafiza: I think the title alludes to Dante’s Inferno, Steph, a title I have not read and have no intentions to read. I like the cover as well but like Steph, am less than impressed by the back copy. So this is a pass for me as well.

Yash: So, I don’t know if I like the cover very much. The colours are pretty unappealing. And, looking at the title and summary, I am not sure I’d be interested in an adaptation like this one– though, it is sure to catch the attention of many readers, I feel. Also, what is this “hell of a transformation?” Is it that hell looks like Victorian era London now or … ? *sigh* I need more. I am sure the book gives more. The cover and summary, though, do not.

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What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel whose characters will come to feel like friends. Tell Me Three Things will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago—the closest place she has to something like home—she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

The thing is, Jessie does need help. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live in LA with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

“Three Things about this novel: 1. I loved it. 2. No, really, I LOVED it. 3. I wish I could tell every teen to read it. Buxbaum’s book sounds, reads, breathes, worries, and soars like real adolescents do.” – Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of LEAVING TIME and OFF THE PAGE.

Steph: This makes me want Eggo waffles. All the Eggo waffles. With syrup. It doesn’t necessarily make me want to read the book–I’m not a bit connoisseur of the read-alike comparisons and I’m also not a huge fan of the slice of life/getting over a death/finding oneself plotline. This is all to say: I’m sure it’s good, but it’s not for me.

Nafiza: How much do you wanna bet that the step brother is the SN? But yeah, this book is not for me. I don’t read the authors offered as comparisons and I am less than impressed by Jodi Picoult’s books so yeah, not my cup of tea. I’m sure it will find an audience in the adolescents it is targeted toward but it is not for me.

Yash: Yeah, I don’t know if this one is something I would pick up. BUT, I have to say, I love this cover. Love the heart-shaped waffles, half-bitten. Love the title. AND I find the tagline very interesting. It says “need” where it normally would have said “love”, which makes me wonder if there is more than meets the eye here. I mean, all books should do that. I just think maybe I may be rushing to pass on this one … Will wait for reviews.

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In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte’s scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty’s fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.

Steph: I LOVE time travel stories. I’m a tough customer though because if the book’s time travel logic is wacky I will throw the book against the wall and rant and rave about how illogical the book is and how it has disappointed me to my very core. Dramatic? I know. But I can’t help myself! Anyway, this cover is charming, I really enjoy that the text has within it little screenshots of the times we can expect to see all against the mat of star spotted sky. I think what I also like is that this is going to be a friendship story between two girls (no romance, no saving a time travelling parent), which there just simply needs to be more of. I’m totally a go on this one–and if the logic holds up, you may just see a glowing review of it in the near future. :)

Nafiza: You’ll like Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, Steph. Time travel story. Anyway, I really adore the cover of this novel. The colours are pleasing as is the composition. The back copy seems a little convoluted though but I have enough hope that the contents of the novel will be far more sympathetic to my old brain. I did request this book for review so I might be reviewing it…buddy review, Steph?

Yash: Ooh, that is an interesting cover. I like it very much. I like that neither of them are model skinny and look like actual kids. I like the starry backdrop and how we can peek through the letters to another place and time. And well, I love that it’s a story about friends and time travel. I’d pick it up. (Who is the illustrator? It looks like Carson Ellis …)

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Russ is tired of coming in second to his best friend, Garret. Whether it’s in sports, in school, or with girls, he can never get ahead. Something has to change, and when a new girl comes to town he sees his chance. He has to win her over before Garret does, but proving he’s not second best won’t be easy when Garret is a pro.

Russ will do anything to beat Garret, including using his little sister to get closer to the new girl. He has to be careful, though, because if anyone at school finds out he attends anime night (and he might even enjoy it), it would ruin his reputation, just like his secret love for cooking and James Taylor.

But pretending to be something he isn’t will catch up to him eventually, and Russ can only get away with living two lives for so long. As more than one friend reveals they aren’t who they seem, Russ must figure out what and who he really wants in his life. And more than that, he needs to find the courage to make it happen.

About the Author:
Natalie Whipple has always felt like a sidekick, but has never actually been one. At least not to her bestest friends. Which are the ones that matter. She lives in Utah with her husband and kids, and they spend most of their quality time playing video games together and being proud “freaks” in general.

Steph: Hmmm. I think this might be a case of the back copy telling me a story I have heard a thousand times in too much detail that isn’t important for this book. I like the cover, it is unspecific but also on theme and cute, even a little funny. The back copy however has me running for the hills because, well, who hasn’t read the story of a boy learning that he has to be himself in order to win the girl? What I want to know is what the writing and the characterization will be like. I can pretty much predict the plotline from this back copy, but if I got a whiff of character in here I might be setup for a surprise or two. Anyway, as it stand, I will await other reviews before I invest.

Nafiza: I feel like the ‘girl’ in question has been reduced to an object over which the boys are fighting. I suppose one can hope that the book shows some awareness of this but I don’t care enough to want to find out. Russ will have to find a different reader. The cover is quirky and I quite enjoy it though.

Yash: So, neither the cover nor the title appeals to me. There are plenty of “side-kick” books that talk about this peculiar feeling of loneliness without using alllll the girls in the protagonist’s life to get ahead. I don’t know. Maybe the sister and the new girl have personalities (and hopefully, also names and faces), but in any case, I think I’m going to pass on this one. If reviews say good things though, I am happy to eat my words and try this novel.

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My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told.

I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father’s blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess’s eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

Steph: Here it is, a slice of character instead of a story that sounds all too familiar–of course we’ve read and been told similar stories but the characters can make all the difference! Anyway, the tone on this one doesn’t seem to match the playful title and cover, it seems like it’s going to be pretty psychological with that last line “I am Pluto etc . . .” and I don’t know if I have the emotional strength to go through this ordeal with Tess. I am curious but at the same time cautious . . . I think I will again abstain and wait for reviews.

Nafiza: I adored Pitcher’s My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and so I have really high hopes for this one. She has this interesting and lovely prose style that I lap up and I feel like this one is right up my alley. Someone give me this book. The cover is quite basic and I reckon it’ll be up for a redesign by the time it reaches paperback. Ha. Let’s see.

Yash: I think the cover and title alone are enough for me to want to pick this one up and take it home. That is a fantastic title. No, really. I’m not even going to bother with the summary. Pretty sure I’m going to read it.

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It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.

Steph: What’s with all the sadness!? I actually really enjoyed Condie’s series, the sense-evoking writing was one of the main features that I enjoyed on top of characters (and how down to earth they were despite their sci-fi word). So this, though it sounds like I’m in for Bridge to Terebithia-esque enjoyment and torment is a “to read” on my list. I look forward to whimsy with a little dash of realistic humour and some bittersweet sad. Also, look at that cover? Isn’t it pretty! I love the landscape, and the biking and the two normal looking kids :) very nicely done.

Nafiza: The first sentence punches you right in the solar plexus. Gah. Death is so brutal. The cover is lovely–I can’t resist movement in the art on the covers; it just reels me in. I don’t know about the story though. It feels like it’ll be really deep and tragic and I suppose if I am in the right mood for it, I will pick it up.

Yash: I don’t know if the cover alone would have been enough to attract my attention. It is not a hideous cover. It’s actually quite pretty but it’s a bland sort of pretty. Would have walked past it in a store. But! Since this is The Cover Wars, I do get to read the summary and I have to say … I am intrigued. Probably won’t rush to buy it because, you know, heartbreak … but I do want to read it.

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