The Cover Wars

The Cover Wars! Where we judge books by their covers and their back copies. Join in 🙂


This fierce black comedy from the master of turning his own true story into semi-fictional gold charts the summer at age fourteen that his alter-ego’s life starts to go off the rails. In his family’s new rental home on a down-at-the heels street in sun-beaten Miami—with dog-eating alligators in the canal out back, a dangerously attractive girl across the road, and the unhinged Pagoda family next door—teen Jack is adrift, losing a sense of who he is and what he’s all about. Which is why he ends up trying to morph himself into someone he’s not, that someone being sixteen-year-old Gary Pagoda, a.k.a. Scary Gary, just back from juvie for car theft. Following Gary’s lead that first time is just the start of Jack’s series of bad decisions. It goes shockingly, hilariously downhill from there.

Janet: I like the gas can! Also, Jack Gantos – Dead End in Norvelt was laugh-out-loud funny in the oddest ways. I’d pick this up.

Nafiza: The gas can certainly would catch my attention in a book store. I’ve read his Dead End in Norvelt too and enjoyed it but I don’t know that this one appeals to me. The whole “dangerously attractive” thing makes me a smidgen uncomfortable. But that may just be me. I’d wait for Janet’s review before I decided.

Steph: Yep. The cover, like Dead End in Norvelt is very eye-catching, clear and comedic in that Gantos-y way. I enjoyed Dead End – I think I just really enjoy semi-fictional reality. It is imagination run amok and it’s just so fun! (the bolding is being weird, apologies)

Yash: I haven’t read anything by Jack Gantos– despite Judi Saltman’s urgings, heh– but I have to say, this guy is blessed with some pretty nice covers! I love the gas can idea. I love the title! The bright colours that ought to seem forbidding but aren’t at all! I also really, really love the  “keep out of the reach of children” line. I am definitely interested in this one …

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

Janet: A black apple, ugh ugh ugh. I would like the cover if the apple weren’t black with tar or some other poison and dripping. Gross. (Anyway, how can the poison-gunk be solid on the apple and dripping very wetly beneath it?) The synopsis is entirely too much of a romance set-up; the only character I’m even slightly interested in is the wicked queen, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like there will be a surprising twist, i.e. Irina is actually the protagonist.

Nafiza: I actually like the black apple (not that I’d ever take a bite of it, ha). I just like how in your face it is and I don’t know. I like it. The synopsis feels unnecessarily confusing and I think could do with a rewrite. I will probably read a chapter of this (I enjoyed this author’s first book) just to see what I think of it.

Steph: I have to agree with a combination of the other Book Warriors. The synopsis is unnecessarily complicated for what reads as a simple Snow White-y love story. The cover, to me, is rather unimaginative – there are so many apple covers. The black, drippy/solid doesn’t really bother me except that I don’t know how anyone could be fooled into taking a  bite. Shouldn’t the apple be tempting?

Yash: I like the poisonous apple! I really, really like the title too! And honestly, the first paragraph of the synopsis grabbed me. And then … the third paragraph … gave me a swift kick. I think that this book will do well, especially for people who like fairytale retellings and are getting started with fantasy, but the romance just doesn’t grab me. It’s a little tired. And it makes me feel literally tired. *sigh* Still. Great cover, though!


Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shapeshifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. Shifters have heard stories of their kin taken to labs for testing—a place they will never leave—while hunters deem the others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving, and keep themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.

When the elders notice four specific hunters have been attending the show each night, the tension in the camp rises. Believing she brought the attention to the group, Flo feels the dread and anxiety the most, causing her to make a mistake during her performance—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.

Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, a bear shifter who loves her, the annoying elephant triplets, and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand. They unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives and discover an unthinkable betrayal by the people they trusted the most.

Janet: The cover is a bit bland but I liked that the silhouettes are natural and not instantaneously discernable. Or maybe that’s just me. The synopsis reminded me a little of Wildlings with circuses. I’m not immediately drawn in but the cast, and especially the fact that they’re not all adorable personalities, has appeal.

Nafiza: This is one of those strange cases where the cover leaves me unmoved but the synopsis makes me very excited. I’m going to read this one.

Steph: I’m unsure why they are alone in a world they don’t understand when they live in that world. The cover is kind of bland and the back copy is… well, it’s ok. I’m not super stoked by it – there will be romance, a few characters that I will desperately hope won’t be cliché (cue: bratty tiger named Pru). I think I’ll wait for a review.

Yash: The cover is … pretty bland? I mean, if I didn’t take the time to stare at it, I wouldn’t have even noticed the elephant silhouette, which is what got me reading the synopsis anyway. I guess the publishers are banking on customers who stop at the sign of a circus tent? Anyway, I don’t read a lot of animal stories (unless they are picturebooks), so this isn’t to me. I can, however, see how much fun other readers may have with this one. Escaped circus animals! Elephant triplets! Pru! I’m sure this one will do alright. 🙂


When a country raccoon used to a soft life winds up all alone in the big city, there’s no telling what he’ll do to survive — and to save his fellow wild animals in the process.

Kit, a young raccoon, has lived his whole life under the Big Sky in the comfort of his parents’ burrow. But when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kill his parents, Kit finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people’s pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he follows the clues his parents left behind to uncover the secret that they died for–the existence of an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But The Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever–and Kit is in serious danger.

Janet: The raccoon and the mouse on the cover look lifeless. The blurb fails to excite. I’ll leave this for others to read and review.

Nafiza: So the other day I looked out the window and saw a raccoon hanging out in the pine tree (true story). It even posed for a picture with me. Ha. But yeah, for the same reasons Janet mentioned, this does not really appeal to me. I’m not much for anthropomorphic characters unless they’re cats.

Steph: Why is he wearing a hat? What I worry about is that this book won’t really be about the racoon with a raccoon problem – actually the back copy confirms it – this story could easily be about children or adults – so why choose animals? Maybe I’m getting nit-picky, but where are the raccoon problems here why a raccoon? At the middle grade level reading about animals is fun and fascinating and enough of a reason, but for me to read it I really want to get into a POV with a purpose. 🙂 So I’ll wait for a review from a much kinder person, lol.

Yash: THE RACCOON HAS A HAT!!! AND A LITTLE MOUSE BUDDY! I do kind of love this cover. Again, I wouldn’t pick it up, but I would stand and marvel and hope that someone else does …


Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

Janet: Reaching branches have been overdone; however, the house radiating light and the woman with wolf in snow (sounds like a painting, doesn’t it?) distinctly appeal. Which might be because I like cabins and snow and wolves and trees  and lanterns, and I’m a woman. And oh my, that synopsis tells me just what I need to know without spilling it all. I would be very happy to stumble across this book. <3 wolves <3 (Is it too late for me to switch careers and train as a wolf wilder?)

Nafiza: They’re overdone for a reason, these branches. So beauteous. I want this. I wannnnnt. Middlegrade books get the best covers.

Steph: OK, I love the name Feodora for some reason. I love the cover, so whimsical and eerie but perfectly middle-grade as well. The back copy is perfectly enticing without over complicating, over telling (or showing) or over selling. I’d read this because I like the twist that she’s trying to raise wild wolves and I like the hint at rebellion and I think this is going to be a magically fierce little story that I’ll enjoy. I’m in!

Yash: *crinkles nose* Her name is Fedora?? Yes, yes, my name is Yash and deign to judge! Hm. Anyway. Hey, is this Jon Klassen? It kind of reminds me of The Witch’s Boy, except I don’t think I’ve seen any of Klassen’s stuff this … luminous? *shrug* Anyway, yes, the cover is gorgeous! I love the light spilling out from the cottage and into the night and all over the snow. I hate the cold but this cover makes me wish I were there. I also love the alliterative (if challenging for me) title. And the summary sound pretty cool too! I’d read it once Steph is done and gives it a thumbs up! *shakes head* Fedora …