The Cover Wars


In a small river village where the water is cursed, a girl’s bravery—and the existence of magic—could mean the difference between life and death in this elegant, luminous tale from the author of Parched and Audacity.

Along a lively river, in a village raised on stilts, lives a girl named Luna. All her life she has heard tales of the time before the dam appeared, when sprites danced in the currents and no one got the mysterious wasting illness from a mouthful of river water. These are just stories, though—no sensible person would believe in such things.

Beneath the waves is someone who might disagree. Perdita is a young water sprite, delighting in the wet splash and sparkle, and sad about the day her people will finally finish building their door to another world, in search of a place that humans have not yet discovered.

But when Luna’s little sister falls ill with the river sickness, everyone knows she has only three weeks to live. Luna is determined to find a cure for her beloved sister, no matter what it takes. Even if that means believing in magic…

Steph: Ah the old Where the Red Fern Grows plotline, I do like it generally and this back copy gives it a fresh and magical life. The cover is beautiful if a little too sparkly (but then, the sparkly is mentioned in the back copy so it is, perhaps, forgivable). I also have to mention, though I’m sure Janet will get to it, the illogical gravity-defying hair and waves (particularly when everything else looks so still!). Also those girls are ridiculously slim, I like the art style and I get that it’s part of the style, but their physique makes them look older than the back cover has them sounding. Anyway, I like the premise and I would at least read the first chapter to see how it goes 🙂

Janet: I like the title – very intriguing. The hair, as Steph knew, is absurd, and I’m bemused by the apparent contrast between the girls’ serene, almost statuesque or atop-a-city-building-pondering-the-night-sky-in-a-mood-of-melancholy poses and the fact that they’re perched (one is standing!) on a canoe that is in the grip of an apparently hostile and very large creature intent upon dragging the boat to the river’s silty bottom. However, I really like the sister-saving-sister theme and the suggested eco-responsibility inherent in the text.


Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Steph: An Arabian Nights retelling, again! There are a LOT of these! Actually this one sounds really captivating! I kind of like all this subtle magic, natural magic. The cover is nice, but I have to squint to make out all the words and I’m not sure I actually got them all – so I gave up, but does it matter? The font is pretty, very scrawl-y, and makes me think of desert sand which is going to play a role in the story so I think it could work. Despite having not read the original piece, I think I’d actually give this one a go.

Janet: I liked the cover until I got to the figure of the girl with her body and head tilted back in that horrible, helpless position. Her dress looks suspiciously European for a Thousand and One Nights retelling, although I am far from an expert on Arabian clothes of any era. What I really object to, however, is the protagonist’s lack of a name in the synopsis. The murderous king is given a name; the girl and her sister are “she” and “her”, robbed of distinguishing features and identity. Even people who have read nothing of A Thousand and One Nights recognize the name Sheherazade, while Shahriyar is unfamiliar; why is that reversed here? Also, the synopsis gives a little too much away. The last two paragraphs could be eliminated. If Steph approves of this, I might give a go; otherwise, unlikely.


At the right time, in the right place, words have the power to change the world.

Steph: That’s all the back copy we get for this beautiful cover? I looked into it and found that this is actually a short story and that you can read it for free here: I love this art – it is simply beautiful. The colours the realistic quality (interesting representation of a culture that, in the end of the story, is no longer “real”). I love the title, it fits perfectly with the story. The story itself is alright a little lengthy at times (but I have little patience for reading on the screen) and I wouldn’t have minded getting closer to the character as well as her culture. Mostly I love the imagery of the future and the immersion into a culture that we watch vanish from the Earth. Ah dystopia, I <3 U.

Janet: A cover with a female face that is not typically beautiful nor devoid of expression! I really like this face – I might have to read the story for this woman’s sake.


Have you ever wanted to hold a little piece of the impossible? Lavishly illustrated in full color, The Doldrums is an extraordinary debut about friendship, imagination, and the yearning for adventure from author-artist Nicholas Gannon. A modern classic in the making, The Doldrums is for readers of inventive and timeless authors such as Brian Selznick and Lemony Snicket.

Archer B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers . . . until they got stuck on an iceberg. Now Archer’s mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. Archer enlists Adelaide—the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile—and Oliver—the boy next door—to help him rescue his grandparents. The Doldrums whisks us off on an adventure full of sly humor, incredible detail, and enormous heart.

With approximately twenty pieces of breathtaking full-color artwork, as well as black-and-white spot illustrations, and gorgeous, literary writing, Nicholas Gannon proves himself to be a distinctive new voice with his middle grade debut. Be in it for the limitless imagination. For the characters who capture your heart. For the rich world you’ll want to settle into. But most of all, be in it for the friendship. That, after all, is the true adventure.

Steph: The cover is cute but, well, dull – I suppose that’s the point? And because the title matches the cover I think that I might have picked it up in a bookstore (but I saw it here first). The back copy promises your average wonderful middle grade mystery – I honestly think that one of the praising paragraphs could be dropped entirely (the first and last say, basically, the same thing). I get it. This is going to be a well written, cute and enjoyable middle grade novel – but would a middle grade student pick it up based on the back copy? I don’t think so, perhaps if that second paragraph stood on it’s own, but as it stands, cover and all, this book is being sold to adults.

Janet: The cover is appealing but mildly so. The synopsis tries too hard – comparisons to other writers  shouldn’t be necessary if this book can stand on its own. Steph is right: the target audience, intentionally or not, is adult. Too bad; a girl rumoured to have lost a leg to a crocodile and a boy described solely as “the boy next door” sound interesting; more interesting than the rest of the synopsis.


Welcome to Camp Omigosh! You are going to have the best time here! Yes, it has been closed down for the past thirty years. And yes, we do need some help rebuilding some of the cabins. We hope you brought your tools. No, there is no electricity or wi-fi hot spots. No cell phone reception either. No, we do not have a heated swimming pool. But we do have an icy cold lake! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

Yes, three decades ago, a boy mysteriously died in the forest. Yes, there are rumors that his ghosts haunts the woods at night. No, we do not want to talk about it. No, you should not wander off the trail! No, Camp Omigosh is not spooky, or dangerous, or strange in any way. My, you ask a lot of questions. Why don’t you shut up and enjoy a roasted marshmallow?

CAMP OMIGOSH is a novel by Wade Bradford, author of WHY DO I HAVE TO MAKE MY BED and CSI: NEVERLAND.

CAMP OMIGOSH combines comedy, paranormal, and a bit of mystery to create the perfect summer camp adventure.

Share the adventure. Keep the secrets.

Steph: The cover is cute – again with the gravity defying hair – but still cute. For some reason the back copy sounds a little… game-show-y? “Share the adventure. Keep the secrets.” sounds like a catch phrase for a Survivor-esque show. Still, I’m always up for a ghostly MG adventure, even if I have to schlep around a bunch of secrets afterward 😉 

Janet: That is a very stiff-looking ghost. The back copy has sass and appeal. The blurb would be better without the last three paragraphs, but that is minor. I don’t care for MG ghost stories, but I think this will appeal to its target audience. Also to Steph 🙂