The Cover Wars

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“A boy on a quest against the power of the storm”

Eleven-year-old Danny’s parents are storm chasers – which sounds fun and exciting, and it is, so long as you aren’t the son who has to wait behind at home. And one night, after a particularly fierce storm, Danny’s parents don’t come back. Stranger still, the old sycamore tree in Danny’s yard seems to have been struck by lightning, and when he picks up a fragment of wood from the tree’s heart, he finds he can hear voices … including that of next door’s rather uppity cat, Mitzy. The stick is a taro, a shard of lightning that bestows upon its bearer unnerving powers, including the ability to talk with plants and animals – and it is very valuable.

So valuable, in fact, that it attracts the attention of a Sammael, an ancient figure of darkness and a buyer of souls. And he will do anything to get his hands on it … And so begins a dangerous and daring quest. Danny, who is bewildered, alone and unaccustomed to acts of bravery, must confront his fears, find his parents and unravel the secrets of The Book of Storms.

Nafiza: Ooo, I like this. Don’t ask me to give you clear concise reasons I like this but I do. The typography works for me as does the composition. The whole boy against nature works for me too. And hey, the synopsis works for me too. It all works for me! Janet can do the analyzing. *beam*

Janet: I like the old-fashioned etch style. The figure of Danny on the front cover isn’t terribly appealing (nor is the font), but the Danny depicted in the blurb is endearingly non-tough-guy. He comes across as a normal boy, rather than an impossibly, annoyingly fearless who-needs-parents-anyway-? protagonist. For that alone (also, because the ability to talk with plants and animals would be awesome, and I’m curious as to how it plays out here), I’ll take a look after Nafiza reads it.

Yash: I like the cover a lot! I love the inky, etching. I love the title’s font and colour. I … am however, somewhat … bored by the summary? However, if Janet and Nafiza love it and recommend it to me, I will be buy immediately. It is very difficult to not make a grab for a book with a cover with gorgeous. And, well, okay, admittedly I love the idea of a boy able to talk with plants and animals. It’s a very Disney princess power to have. 😀

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To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here’s mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger.”

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here’s the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair’s doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there’s a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there’s a creature called the Riverman and he’s stealing the souls of children. Fiona’s soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else…something even more terrifying

Nafiza: The cover is a bit busy but the subdued colours and the framing works for me. And I just got the book out from the library and the first chapter is absolutely charming. Well, um, there are dead people present but it’s interestingly written? Anyway, this is not much of a cover wars because I’ve laid down my arms because I like this one as well!

Janet: Nafiza can keep the cover; kind of cute but it doesn’t make me care. (Mostly, I just like the circles and the boughs.) The idea of Fiona being Alice, Lucy, and Coraline irks me. These three girls are uniquely different, and saying that Fiona is all of them — well, yes, all girls have a bit of each in them; (almost) every reader finds some part of herself reflected in the protagonist. But. Adding that “but Fiona is real” has the effect of deriding Alice, Lucy, Coraline for the supposed benefit of Fiona. Which I dislike very much. And the idea of a land where stories are born takes the magic of storytelling away from here and now, where it exists and is very much needed. I’ll pass. Side note: two stories with soul-stealers in a row? Hm. Why this particular preoccupation?

Yash: I don’t think the cover is busy at all. I think it is beautifully filled out. Is this the illustrator for Wildwood by any chance? Anyway, I am won over by the summary. The whole thing has a very Wes Anderson feel to it and while I am not always in the mood for something like that, this cover and summary does a lot of things right. Do want.

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One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

Nafiza: Usually, I don’t like faces on covers but this half face brings to the forefront a very interesting question: how we are all narratives of some kind, how we are texts being written or words being spoken and I absolutely love that the cover pays attention to this. So much of us is defined by other people’s narratives of us even when it shouldn’t be so THAT makes me interested in the book. The synopsis is confusing me. It implies there are what-ifs involved but are there parallel worlds or magic or are we all doing an Alice and dreaming? I don’t know but I’d be willing to find out.

Janet: A possible other world/other reality based on the idea of parallel histories? DWJ, you have had an impact! I agree with Nafiza’s points on the cover. Facial and visible scars raise the possibility of examining treatment of people with visual “flaws,” which could be fascinating. (I’m reminded of Kristy’s words on her own scars in Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever.) I’d look at the inside pages. (Also, is it just me, or does the cover photo look a bit like Emma Watson?)

Yash: It is interesting to me that the cover does not show the scarring on the protagonist’s face as mentioned in the summary- but I guess it makes sense, given that Fiona’s character and story is all about the way you see yourself vs. the way you would like others to see you. Beauty and insecurities are interesting themes to have within a romantic type plot. I am cautiously optimistic about this one. (In other words, the cover and summary work well together- I am interested!)

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Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Nafiza: The cover is evocative of the old-timey fantasy novels but honestly? Read the synopsis.  I’d read this book if the cover were of a person in a sack. I want it now.

Janet: Fairy-tale-esque, and an intriguing summary. Let me see the inside, please. Now.

Yash: I actually loved the cover more than I loved the summary, and because I love the cover so much, I’d probably read the first few pages while at the store to make my decision. (The summary basically could have been one word, by the way, “DRAGONS!”)

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Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Nafiza: The cover is slightly plain and though the blue is vibrant, it doesn’t tell me anything much about the book. That’s why it’s a good thing the synopsis is so intriguing because now I know that I definitely want to read this book. Yep, I want to read all the books in this weeks cover wars which is not surprising when you think that I chose the books in this weeks cover wars. Heh.

Janet: I’m a sucker for vibrant blue. I like this cover, even though the golden thread does not look like real thread, golden or otherwise. The blurb’s first paragraph grabbed me. The trope of the spoiled princess puts me off — yes, she’s the heir, and heirs may well be arrogant, but as the heir she is theoretically thoroughly educated in her duties. I don’t know. I want to see how (golden) thread and a ring play into this adventure, and I want to know more of Nels (a kind and useful hero? Count me in!). But Tyra’s character would have to be more complex than it appears from this summary for me to read. So… I’ll look at the first few pages?

Yash: I like the colours (blue and gold work so well together), but I felt like the cover had too little to go on with. I don’t think it would have caught my eye at a bookstore. The summary, though, is pretty great! Magic, murder, friendship/romance! SO MUCH INTRIGUE! I am in!