The Cover Wars


Okay, so this is not YA but since crossover month is coming up, we can cover war (which is now a verb, Janet) over it.

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

Janet: Noo-ohhhhh! Not more verbing! :p So. I like how the cover both suggests and conceals the face of our protagonist, and how it simultaneously suggests new creation (the swirling) and explosion or implosion. Super cool. The synopsis is also intriguing, although there are a few holes that leave me wondering. How, for instance, can a planet reveal the truth about humanity’s place in the cosmos? How can Ren believe in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision enough to give up everything, and simultaneously know that the colony is founded on a lie? My immediate assumption is that she initially believed, discovered the lie, and agreed or independently decided to conceal the lie, for some big, dark reason that is the true secret. It had better be big enough to be worth those 22+ years of suffering. I like that Ren has an immediately practical job, and if I come across this I will read the first few pages.

Nafiza: This cover is so super cool. *hearts in eyes* I’d pick this up if I saw it in the bookstore, for sure. Also, can we just pause and applaud at the diversity of the characters in the synopsis. I wonder at the relationship between Ren and Suh-Mi. Are they friends? Lovers? And of course, I want to know what the devastating secret it. I’ll definitely pick this one up.

Steph: Whoah….. this cover is pretty – I’m so drawn in! It also screams sci-fi, which I love. I too am wondering at the secrets beneath the synopsis and am excited about the diverse cast of characters (both age and race wise). I mean, sci-fi, maybe a little dystopian, I’m totally in.

Yash: I don’t really love the cover, but the title and summary are intriguing. I think if I get a recommendation from the others, I’d totally pick this one up.


(synopsis of first book)

“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A detective. A killer…”

They are the world’s best-kept secret – an underground society whose eternal cause is to protect the world against the dark creatures and evil forces that inhabit the night.

Now Sentinels are being targeted, murdered and turned as the fury of an ancient evil is unleashed once more. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a train crash, the teenager is drawn into a desperate struggle against malevolent powers.

Sentinel is the first book in the Sentinel Trilogy – a world of unconventional heroes, monsters, murder and magic.

Janet: Haven’t we seen this before in another CW? Maybe it was the another book in this series? Anyway, that is an extremely creepy cat-thing on the cover. I am leery of secret-society-type novels, so I’ll pass.

Nafiza: We may have. I am not sure but *I* like it! I like creepy cat things and I don’t know if I’ll like the first book but I might be willing to give it a try. I don’t know. My TBR pile weeps at the thought.

Steph: I love the cover! The creepy shambled together cat figure is so intriguing, and the concept of the Sentinel really captures me. Haha, honestly, this kind of sounds a little like the Transformers storyline, good ancient power vs. bad ancient power and humans in the middle deciding who is good and bad and of course being baddies as well – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I see that this is the second in the series, so I’d check out the first one for sure.

Yash: Maybe I shouldn’t be doing Cover Wars today. But … yeah, no, I don’t love the cover. And the tagline gives me flashbacks of that awful International Literature course I had to take BUT unlike Janet, I DO like Secret Societies! So maybe I should check this series out …


The summer of 1983 was the summer hip-hop proved its staying power. The South Bronx is steeped in Reaganomics, war in the Middle East, and the twin epidemics of crack and AIDS, but Raymond “Smiles” King and Guillermo “Nike” Vega have more immediate concerns.

Smiles was supposed to be the assistant crew chief at his summer camp, but the director chose Cookie Camacho instead, kicking off a summer-long rivalry. Meanwhile, the aspiring b-boy Nike has set his wandering eye on Sara, the sweet yet sassy new camp counselor, as well as top prize at a breakdancing competition downtown. The two friends have been drifting apart ever since Smiles got a scholarship to a fancy private school, and this summer the air is heavy with postponed decisions that will finally be made.

Janet: The title is a neat play on show and tell. The layers of graffiti establish a solid sense of place and (counter)culture. I like how the synopsis posits the set-up: the question isn’t whether or not Smiles and Nike will drift apart, but how they will do it. End-of-friendship stories are comparatively rare, despite their inevitability in real life.

Nafiza: I was interested in this, I really was, until we get to Sara whose entire being is reduced to two words: “sweet yet sassy” and yes, some may say that I’m being too sensitive but it’d have to be a gushing review to convince me otherwise. I like the cover though. It’s very reminiscent of the 80s (not that any of us would know what it was really like…heh?).  I like the colours and the radio and well. Yeah.

Steph: I also like the cover, but I’m leery about books with characters who have weird names, drama in the form of a rivalry outside the control of the teens (feels very plot device-y), and girls who are eyed and reduced to “sweet yet sassy” (Nafiza and I are sensitive together). I’m  a no on the reading, but a yes on the cover – very fetching with the graffiti and colour.

Yash: BRIGHT COLOURS! NICE TITLE! Unlike the last book, this summary actually makes mention of a female character. A low-bar, I know, but when you have such limited information. I don’t know I think I’m just taken with the 80s. I could cross-check stuff pretty easily! I’m in!


A Healer without home or purpose, seventeen-year-old Evie Carew has found the perfect place to disappear: Rood Marsh. She can easily fade into its vast wilderness of towering reeds; leave behind the growing violence that is claiming her innocent world. Leave behind the tragedy that broke her heart and sent her far from her grandmother, cousin Lark and all she once loved.

But Evie is not alone in the marsh. A seer, a Rider, and Breeders of Chaos all hunt her—for though opposed in objective, her seekers share knowledge she does not: Evie is one of the four Guardians of Tarnec, one who can help save the world from the coming destruction if she can reclaim the stolen amulet of Death. But whether she meets true love or a brutal end on such a journey is a matter of who finds her first.

Janet: Melodrama, all the way! Bwahaha. I’ll pass.

Nafiza: The worldbuilding isn’t bad but the first one was all about mushy gushy romance and I’ll pass. The illustrated cover is cool though cept you know, as Janet said, the melodrama.

Steph: Wow… I mean, it’s just so… melodrama is the best word for it. We have a chosen one story in the middle of a romance novel and we know that she’ll succeed so why read it?

Yash: Oh, look, here I am, standing by a sea that will no doubt claim my body for its own should I slip and dash my brains out on this slippery rock I’ve chosen to soliloquize on. You know what would make this easier? THAT’S RIGHT! BEING BLINDED BY MY OWN HAIR IS A SPLENDID IDEA! *sips coffee* Yeah, I should do Cover Wars in the evenings when I’m more chill and less grumpy. I actually do love the art style. I love that the summary doesn’t have to tell me it’s a fantasy book because the elements all have a hint of magic the way they are framed here. I do like the idea of this story, despite the fact that she will probably find True Love, right? And it’ll be with a cis guy, yes? I mean, it’s book one, so it can’t be a brutal end? Man, people who write summaries need to be better at their jobs.


Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven in this brand-new book in the world of the Grisha by New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Janet: But I don’t like Game of Thrones and Ocean’s Eleven. *shrug* Guess I’m not the target audience, then. That is an extremely cool cover. I admire the detail in each feather – almost woodcut in style, like old fairy tale illustrations – the texture in the clouds and the intelligent and purposeful look in the crow’s eye. And the houses (towers?) that appear out of nowhere. I’m not invested in any of the characters and probably won’t read this, but the cover is very enjoyable to look at.

Nafiza: A seriously pretty cover. I like it for all the reasons Janet lists above. I don’t mind heist novels and if well done, they can be seriously madly fun. I’d read a couple of reviews before I decide whether to read this one.

Steph: But Janet, both Game of Thrones and Ocean’s Eleven were blockbusters and so make excellent titles to drop in order to snare the some-times-reader. The cover is awesome, but I fear that the plot will be a bit on the predictable side. I mean, I think it’s fun to have a heist in medieval times – but with magic in the mix I feel like the reader will be along for the ride and not the read, necessarily, because the author can always say “thank goodness for this spell which does whatever whatever (exactly what we need/exactly what the baddies need)”. I think this, for me and my judgey self, falls in with John Grisham and Dan Brown in that it’ll be fun and fast but not necessarily good…

Yash: OMG! I LOVE THIS COVER! I could not get into the Grisha Trilogy but I hear such wonderful things about Leigh Bardugo … perhaps, this would be a better starting point for me. I love heist stories! And criminal prodigies are my fave as long as they aren’t jerks! (Or at least grow out it.) I AM IN! *strokes screen* It really is such a pretty cover. <3


Meet the Strawberry Sisters! Oldest sister Amelia wants to be Left Alone to have deep thoughts, so she’s grown a fringe to hide under. Second up is Chloe who’s sport-crazy and in training to be a wrestling star (this week anyway). Littlest sister Lucy is the cute one who’s training an army of earwigs. Then there’s Ella. The middle one who’s still trying to work out what makes her “perfectly Ella” and how to stand out in a house full of big personalities. And now there’s a new Strawberry Sister. Baby Kirsti who lives with Dad and his Finnish girlfriend. Along with her sisters and one very tired Mum who’s struggling to keep it all together, Ella’s small home is crammed with almost-finished homework, nearly-clean jumpers and a vampire bunny called Buttercup. With so much going on, life can sometimes feel totally crazy but the Strawberry sisters have a secret weapon against the craziness of the world they live in, each other.

Janet: Shouldn’t that last comma be a colon? Anyway, there is so much character in the synopsis I feel I’ve read some of the book already, just enough to leave me wanting more. It’s perfect that there’s a recommendation by Jacqueline Wilson on the cover, because the synopsis and cover remind me strongly of her books. In the mood for a wild middle grade read? I’d try this one. 

Nafiza: Yes, definitely should be a colon. Haha. I don’t like the name “Ella.” By now it’s practically a cliche. This doesn’t give me anything I look for in a book: diversity, complexity, etc. The cover doesn’t do anything much for either. If Janet said it was ahmazing (sings it out actually) then I may give it a try but otherwise, it’s a pass from me.

Steph: Haha we are all over the age and genre spectrum today! (Colon all the way!). I think this’ll be a cute, zany read about a girl chalk full of character (though not necessarily a unique character within the realms of middle grade, i.e. clever, zesty, brave…). I think I’d have to wait for a review however because I just tend to go for different kinds of middle graders – mysteries and fantasy mostly. 🙂

Yash: This is the cheeriest thing ever. I really, really love the cover. But I’m with Steph on this. I think I prefer fantasy middle-grade novels too, so this isn’t really my thing. I can, however, fully see myself swooning over the cover every time I walk by it at a bookstore?