The Cover Wars

The-Princess-The-Scoundrel-and-the-Farm-Boy-Alexandra-Bracken

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to unveil the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen–the Death Star. The Rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy….

Steph: Wow. I’ve been following this story, and I’m surprised, disappointed and excited all at once. It’s really happening. On one hand Star Wars is such a rich universe and a story that, clearly, the world has a giant hang-over for and craves more of (I’ll see you in rehab fellow SW junkies!). On the other . . . why can’t we have something new and amazing? Why can’t what was awesome remain what it was. A good story is a good story, but does it need to be kicked on long after it has come to a very satisfying conclusion. These books are not new canon at all, they are a retelling of the original films/radio drama and stories by Lucas (check out Bracken’s blog about it: http://www.alexandrabracken.com/?p=1769). Honestly, if I don’t like these books (the other two by Adam Gidwitz, who we’ve reviewed and interviewed here, and Tom Angleberger of the Origami Yoda series) it probably won’t be the author’s fault at all, it’ll be the money-grabbing sots behind the whole Star Wars franchise (a.k.a. Disney). As much as I am torn, these are clearly marketed to kids and I just have to give this a read to test the waters. I need to know if this is going to be an awesome LOTR adaptation or the giant bumble that was The Hobbit series of films. I’ll read these (they’re on order at the moment!) and I’ll certainly blog about them. So stay tuned.

Nafiza: I’ll confess right now that I know absolutely nothing about Star Wars but I am a huge fan of Bracken’s books and have, to date, read everything she has written. I actually have this out from the library right now and I could be persuaded to do a snapshot of this.

Janet: I like Star Wars, I used to love Star Wars (I’m betting I’m not the only person who took transcripts of every single alien language spoken in order to memorize meaning and pronunciation) … but I don’t see the point in novelizing movies. I read The Phantom Menace and, while it added some backstory, the book didn’t have the same wealth of detail and nuance that the movie did. I’m curious, I’ll admit – but the title sets up a love triangle (which IS THERE in the movie) as the main point of the story. Which it is not. Although that is an awesome grouping. So… ambivalent.

Yash: I only recently watched A New Hope with Janet (who continues to take my education quite seriously) and I did enjoy it. I didn’t, however, feel the need to reside in that world for longer than a cinematic experience, so I suppose this one wouldn’t be for me. That said, I am interested in the fact that a) the cover is so YA and now I wonder if adventure-y YA covers were influenced by Star Wars posters, b) that a woman is telling this story that for so long was male-centric, and c) if it will follow the movie exactly and, if so, what is to be gained by that experience?

the-salvation-of-gabriel-adam-s-l-duncan

Embattled by an uncertain future, Gabriel Adam is now slowly succumbing to the powerful ring that he credits with stopping the demon sent to Earth to start the second war between the light and dark realms. As his health fails, his feelings grow for his archangel friend Micah. With the inevitability of his future ever nearer, he wonders if time is left to rekindle what they once shared.

But a darkness is growing in Istanbul. Lilith has used her alluring beauty to manipulate Simon Magus, the new Turkish president, into giving her great power. Wanting only to reunite with her one true love, she seeks to find seven ancient vials and pierce the veil that separates the dimensions, unleashing hell upon the Earth.

Steph: This is number two in the series. Honestly, this sounds pretty interesting, and as I usually enjoy biblical retellings (honestly, all I know of the Bible is from retellings and theory so I am not usually offended or anything). What stands out here is the locations that are chosen, Turkey! That sounds great! Still, this is a maybe for me, mostly because I am loath to throw yet another series onto my to read pile (see above!).

Nafiza: This is a pass for me. While the content could be interesting, I’m just not in the market for another biblical retelling. I think Good Omens was it for me this year.

Janet: I would appreciate the cover better if the title hadn’t been so difficult to read. Also, I am so not in for biblical apocryphal stories (or apocalyptic romances) because of the typically horrible theology. (That said, Yash, is it just me, or do the names in the synopsis almost exactly mirror those used in TMI?)

Yash: I am with Janet. A cover shouldn’t make me feel like an infant, sounding out words to see which one makes the most sense. It’s a pretty font but not at all practical. I like the combination of universe-y colours and white but it’s not enough to draw me in. The summary is a miss for me as well. (I am, like Steph, struck by the setting but the one mention of it doesn’t mean that it will be written well.) This is definitely not for me. (Janet: LOL! I suppose there are some names that are just inescapable when writing anything with angels in it.)

The-Serpent-King-Jeff-Zentner

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Steph: I think this one it’s for me. It’s a slice of life that sounds kind of depressing. I just don’t know if I currently have the heart-space left for another bullying, growing up and out of friendships story. 

Nafiza: The title and the way it is presented on the cover is so disparate from the synopsis and the actual cover. The title convinced me there was some kind of fantasy involved and the synopsis tells me that indeed no, I was being led to expect things that aren’t there. The story doesn’t appeal to me at all. Call me when there’s a real serpent king (Naag? Naag-Raja? Haha) in town. I do like the typography though.

Janet: What does the title have to do with the book? The synopsis… I might be interested if there was a task beyond “get thought high school,” which gives no hint of what is actually going to happen. Lydia sounds interesting, but I’ll pass.

Yash: Haha! The title and cover were so epic and fantasy (and hey, who knows, the book may be epic too) but … like Nafiza and Janet, I was a little sad it wasn’t fantasy. That said, it does look interesting. Just a bit too sad for me. I kind of wish it was all about Lydia and Travis but I guess that’s not going to happen.

The-Sleepwalker-Tonic-Nightmares-2-Jason-Segel-Kirsten-Miller

Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic is the sequel to the hilariously scary New York Times bestselling novel Nightmares! by multitalented actor Jason Segel and bestselling author Kirsten Miller. You thought the nightmares were over? You better keep the lights on!

Charlie Laird has a dream life.

1) He has a weirdo stepmom who runs an herbarium.
2) He lives in a purple mansion with a portal to the Netherworld.
3) Since they escaped from the Netherworld, he and his best friends have been sleeping like babies.

But Charlie can’t shake the feeling that something strange is afoot. Charlotte’s herbarium used to be one of the busiest stores in Cypress Creek. Now her loyal following is heading to Orville Falls for their herbal potions.
Weirder, though, Orville Falls is suddenly filled with . . . zombies? At least, they sure look like the walking dead. Rumor has it that no one’s sleeping in Orville Falls. And Charlie knows what that means.

Things are getting freaky again.

Steph: This cover is appropriately middle grade but also not too shiny, clean and sparkly! The back copy is intriguing and I generally like this flavour of Middle Grade… wait, book 1 is still in my TBR pile. Dangit. I’ll read that first.

Nafiza: The cover art doesn’t appeal to me and I’m quickly approaching that time when you’ve read so many books in one genre that you become super selective. This doesn’t seem like my kind of thing. I loathe zombies with a passion.

Janet: This is definitely for Steph. And it might be for me, too. I like the synopsis and the cover has an odd appeal.

Yash: That cover isn’t really pulling me in. The moment I scroll down to type I forget what the cover actually looks like. In a store, I totally would have walked past it. And hey, who even cares what I think about this one. It’s Jason Segel’s book. It’ll do fine.

the-stars-turned-away-lisa-maxwell

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Steph: Like, the Neverland of Peter Pan? I know the back copy says it isn’t like the stories and seems to want to name this magical land Neverland without reference to Peter Pan but that just isn’t possible. Nevertheless I do really really like this cover and would definitely pick it up in a bookstore or click on it online. It’s the landscape again, sorry guys, I’m just predictable. Based on the cover and the potential that the back copy has I’ll give this only a couple of chapters to impress me. I’m looking for pace, a punchy and fun friendship/relationship and some really imaginative and creepy encounters. 🙂

Nafiza: The back copy is intriguing but the assertion of a love triangle worries me. I know it’s an obvious ploy to get romance readers but I wish the book could have just relied on the story to reel readers in. Still, I do like the cover and I do love the fae so I’d be willing to give this a chance to impress me.

Janet: I really like the title and the font and colours. The floating tree-island worries me (so eerie and so unsupported). The first two paragraphs are very interesting, but erk, another love triangle with over-the-top boys? Given that the author has a book named Unhooked, I’d say that this is a twist on Peter Pan’s Neverland, and I’m not interested in that. *sigh* Maybe if the first page appeals?

Yash: Um, I don’t really like the cover. Again, I wouldn’t have bothered with the synopsis. But I am reading it now and here are my thoughts:

  • Fey? YES!
  • Neverland? NOPE.
  • Fairy Hero vs. Rogue Pirate? WHY CAN I NEVER SHIP THE TWO GIRLS AND HAVE IT BE CANON.

Overall, pass. (I do think Chris Owen may enjoy this one though.)