Grief can sometimes feel like being caught in the jaws of a great white shark.
J.C., who goes by the nickname Sharky, has been having a hard time ever since his best friend died in front of him in a what might or might not have been an accident. Shell-shocked, Sharky spends countless hours holed up in his room, obsessively watching documentaries about sharks and climate change—and texting his dead friend.
At her wits end, Sharky’s mom sends him to visit his father on an abandoned island in Canada, where his dad is the caretaker. Over the course of an unforgettable summer, Sharky gets to know his dad . . . and he meets a girl who teaches him how to shows him how to live—and love—again.
Steph: I have to say, though I know what grief is, I have no idea what being stuck in the jaws of a great white shark feels like so . . . that’s the first thing that pops into my mind. The second is that I totally did not see the shark fin on the cover until after I read the synopsis. It’s a clever idea but not clearly executed. When I finally get back around to reading the full back copy I’m all distracted by how much pain these great white shark’s teeth are causing me that I just can’t seem to swim past the idea that this book is probably just not for me. I won’t relate well and I don’t think I’m going to love the typical summer story (go away to a distant family member (who is actually awesome) and also fall in love and find yourself).
Nafiza: I find it so interesting that the authors name is Rivers and it is submerged in 2D water. Hee. Okay, right now isn’t a good time for me to be delving into books about grief because of reasons but I was with Sharky right until that last part where the romance bursts in because I feel like the book doesn’t even need romance and romance and grief are two different things because you can still be in love and grieving and why can’t we just have a story about the kid getting closer to the dad? Also, I second Stephie’s point about the shark fin. It totally wasn’t obvious to me until later and I do think it’s a smart cover…just not obvious enough. If that makes sense.
Janet: I got the shark fin (well, I was torn between deeming it a shark fin or a sailboat sail) and I like the idea of being sent to an abandoned island on Canada. Canada! I’m semi-interested until we get to the elipsis in the synopsis, which informs us that whatever else is going on, the real story is the romance. I think this could be a fun story, only the last line of the synopsis kind of drops the ball.
Yash: My first impression, as always, is oh no water. Second impression, nice title, I like that it’s shaped like a fin, don’t get the connection between failing to save your friend and being a hero, though? Like, just because you’re a good friend, doesn’t mean you’re a good daughter or a good writer or a good anything else? *shrug* Third (and final) impression, oh yay, a nameless girl shows this boy how to be happy again. Glad we know how that worked out. Moving on.
There’s a new girl in class at Knight’s Haddon, and she isn’t like anyone the other girls have ever met before. Janet is cool and confident, so Edie is thrilled when they become friends \- and when her friendship with Anastasia becomes rocky, Janet is there for her. But when a mischief begins to unfold, Edie begins to think Janet may not be all she seems – and suddenly events take a dangerous turn.
Steph: I really like the simplicity of the back copy and the beauty of the cover. Actually, I really really like the cover and I think it’s because that girl is walking straight towards us with her flashlight, she has purpose and poise and is unafraid. We often see characters (females) walking away from us into the book as it were, this girl is walking straight at us. I dunno, that’s incredibly enticing to me. This girl’s got balls. I also like the figure of the school (Knight’s Haddon) over everything because it gives us a sense of where all the action is going to be and, I mean, that back copy is so clear and concise. This is the second in the series, we don’t need a re-sell of the first one. This is good enough. I’m putting the first on on hold at the library right now.
Nafiza: I love this cover. It’s super beautiful and just…wow. I’m not sure about the synopsis but I reckon if Stephie likes the first one, I’ll give it a try. The cover though…so pretty.
Janet: Cover. Lovely. I like the colours and the forest and the say the castle/mansion is there and isn’t there and Steph said it all about the female figure. I would pick this up just for the cover. And then the synopsis has a Janet in it, and she isn’t immediately dull? Wow. Do you know how often that happens? Almost never. Lucy Maud Montgomery has one sympathetic Janet. The rest are all ruthlessly unimaginative adults. Diana Wynne Jones has one Janet who is actually remarkably resilient and clever, but it took me years to notice this because she doesn’t have magic and is afraid of horses. Anyway. Point is: I’m excited for this. *toddles off to the library*
Yash: That. Is. GORGEOUS. I need a few minutes just to stare dreamily into the screen, thank you. *1 hour later* OMG! JANET! HER NAME IS JANET! Yes, I am in. It looks magical and mysterious and I like both of those things. PLUS THAT COVER OMG!
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
Steph: Ok, great setting and interesting creative History. I like the strong, larger than life, heroine (though there are quite a few these days . . . ) here because it seems that, to her, romance isn’t number one survival is (I like this Katniss-esque attitude). What I do sorta dread about this is the return of the love triangle, granted this isn’t always a bad device, but here I can see the wheels of contrivance working–why would the Tsar kill the loser? What if his Enchanter is killed or doesn’t work out? To me, it seems obvious that the second enchanter won’t die and that there really isn’t any threat of that so something more plausible might have worked better . . . I am also wary of the multiple POVs that we will most likely be getting . . . I’m very undecided on this one which means, I have to wait for a trusted review.
Nafiza: I adore this cover as well. Hah, it’s the week for cover win! The synopsis makes me excited but I don’t know if the execution will live up to the promise. Still, this is exciting and I am looking forward to giving it a try.
Janet: Oh bother. The cover is intricate – I admire the city as a crown set on water. However, the synopsis is all romance, and increasingly from the male perspective, which could be fun except that it treads close to positing Vika (who sounds like an interesting character) as an object rather an an agent, and as a trophy/victim to be won/dealt with for the sake of the truly important relationship, the friendship between Nikolai and Pasha. I like the friendship. But the wording has me uneasy. May I edit this? Omit the “But can she kill” sentence, the “But his deadly opponent” sentence, and everything that follows the latter. Now that book I would pick up.
Yash: Eh. I don’t really love this cover. The title’s colour and font does not work for the rest of the cover. And the off-centre photography thing isn’t really working here, either. Individually, each of the components are good: the title is interesting, the girl running on water, the crown that doubles for a city … all of it, good. Together? Not so much. BUT, that’s just me. The others seem to like it just fine.
A riveting historical art mystery for fans of Chasing Vermeer and The Westing Game, set in the Roaring Twenties!
It’s 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?
Inspired by true events described in a fascinating author’s note, The Gallery is a 1920s caper told with humor and spunk that readers today will love.
– See more at: http://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/313483/the-gallery/#sthash.K6zzHX7J.dpuf
Steph: I like the cover, I love the blue and the white illustrated artifacts of the period we’ll be reading are very eye catching and intriguing. And, while I’m not a fan of the overly simplistic characterization (see: “scrappy, strong-willed Martha”) I am very drawn in, if not by the overly archetypical spunky female detective character then by the setting and the mystery itself. I am also a fan of both Chasing Vermeer and The Westing Game (thanks Janet!) and so I think I’ll give it a go.
Nafiza: Aaahhhh. *paroxysms of delight* SO BEAUTIFUL. Plus, I really liked the author’s first novel so YES. Give it to me.
Janet: The cover reminds me of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, which I liked very much. Also, nice colour scheme. Steph said what I was going to about the characterization, but 1920s? Comparisons to The Westing Game? I might have to leaf through a few pages.
Yash: Ooh, yes! The blue, the white, the gold! Always the colour combinations that get my attention! Love it! I am excited for Martha and this mystery, too. I am definitely interested.
From Lois Metzger, acclaimed author of A Trick of the Light, comes a work of speculative fiction set in the near future about a teen girl who finds a new, mysterious perspective on her life.
Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood with her stepmother and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was just a little different than it was before. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. Her hair and her clothes all feel brand-new. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There is no more sadness in her life; she is bursting with happiness.
But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because, until very recently, Rose was an entirely different person—a person who is still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.
A bold and original work of speculative fiction set in a familiar future, Lois Metzger’s latest novel is a profoundly authentic and heartbreaking tale of the things we keep locked away inside us, even from ourselves.
Steph: The cover, to me, screams bad romance masked by high fantasy. The back copy screams at me to read it and read it now! I think the real issue here is that the character’s name is what they went with for the cover and that is just too darn literal and doesn’t sell the book. Either the name should have changed or the cover should have (in my humble opinion). I love sci-fi and sci-fi with a contemporary culture critique that seems so . . . thorny (hohoho, NO don’t do the roses on the cover!) is just too delicious to pass up for me. Even if I don’t love the writing, the idea here is so cool that I just want to read what the author does with it. I’m in, but with a cover like that, I doubt many will be.
Nafiza: I like the embroidery but I’m going to have to go with Stephie here. The synopsis and the cover do not match. You know what cover would be awesome for the synopsis? I’ll show you!
Right? This would be a brilliant cover for the book. The roses and the title just seem…odd to me. Ah well. I’m still going to read it because the back copy is so intriguing.
Janet: That the roses are stitched is the redeeming feature of a dull cover. The synopsis has me curious, so I’ll wait to hear Steph’s review.
Yash: I actually don’t think the cover is dull or that it is unsuited to speculative fiction. I like the embroidery, I like the twin/entwined roses (and I typically hate roses), and I like the stray threads at the bottom. It is deceptively normal which kind of freaks me out and the same could be said of Rose, I think. And yes, I think the summary is intriguing buuuuut it is not the kind of SF/F I am into. Of course, I could be very wrong, so I will be keeping an eye on reviews for this one. Fingers crossed, I will like it as much as I like the cover.
(No synopsis necessary for this one cuz it’s the 4th book in the series and included simply for squee reasons.)
Steph: I gotta read the first books first. *sighs*
Janet: *Gazes adoringly at the beautiful cover* Haven’t started The Raven Cycle yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
Yash: Like I’d said for Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here, even if the cover just had a poop emoji, I’d still buy it. And for Stiefvater, I’d read it all on its release day.