Where we war over covers and their accompanying synopses.
Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .
ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.
Jaxon’s first date. Ever.
In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.
If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.
Prepare to be cured.
Janet: The cover is a bit overwhelming, and I’m sure it will be popular with some people but it is just too much for my introverted eyes to take in. However, the synopsis sounds kinds of cute. Not impressed by the lie, cheat, steal, but definitely interested in the cross-stitch. (Even if it’s not as fun as freestyle embroidery.) I like the mix of video game content with the serious reasons behind Jaxon’s addiction.
Nafiza: Hmm, I agree with Janet. The cover is a bit too much for me. The colours hurt my eyes. And the synopsis while cute makes it clear the book is not for me. I do think that it sounds fun and will probably be good for the audience it’s aimed at. Just not my thing.
Yash: I kinda like the cover! It has the bright, pop-y qualities that reflect the bright, pop-y qualities of the story. I think it works and it works well! The title is interesting too! While the premise isn’t something that I am personally interested in, I do think it will find many an eager reader/gamer.
When Paige moves from LA to Idaho with her mom and little brother after her parents’ high-profile divorce, she expects to completely hate her new life, and the small town doesn’t disappoint. Worse yet, the drafty old mansion they’ve rented is infested with flies, spiders, and other pests Paige doesn’t want to think about.
She chalks it up to her rural surroundings, but it’s harder to ignore the strange things happening around the house, from one can of ravioli becoming a dozen, to unreadable words appearing in the walls. Soon Paige’s little brother begins roaming the house at all hours of the night, and there’s something not right about the downstairs neighbor, who knows a lot more than he’s letting on.
Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier. The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight.
Found in the aftermath, Diary of a Haunting collects the journal entries, letters, and photographs Paige left behind.
Janet: That is a haunting cover (that colour scheme, those grabbing hands), and earns points for having the entire face of a WOC. (Yay!) (Wish this wasn’t so rare that each example is a cause for celebration.) The synopsis doesn’t give too much away but raises my interest. That said, I don’t read horror. I will, however, pass this to Steph and possibly Yash, who are likely to enjoy it. If one of them can reassure me that I can handle this, maybe I’ll attempt it.
Nafiza: Can we just talk about how pretty the cover model is? As Janet said, it’s rare to see a WOC in all her glory with her face intact on the cover of a novel. I love how unimpressed she seems by the hands all over face. I’d be flipping out and then some. The synopsis is intriguing and the kind of horror that I like. I’ll definitely be reading this.
Yash: In my haste to type “MINE” I actually misspelt “Yash” three times. If that doesn’t tell you how much I need this book, I don’t know what will. If it helps, I am making puppy eyes.
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
Janet: I like the swirls of pale grey on the white background. The pale gold and font of the title looks like it belongs on a chocolate bar. I’m not sure it and the tagline (which is so. dramatic. even if it is in a very pretty shade) go with the background. The synopsis has me interested up until the third paragraph. Less is more, folks! Still. If I hear good things or find this in the library I’ll glance inside.
Nafiza: The cover is a bit too bland for me and the synopsis is like a hundred other books out there. The special snowflake realizes her specialness and goes on to win the boy and the kingdom. Yeah, somehow I’m not interested.
Yash: I like the gold font. I like most any gold font. It’s just that I don’t much like the rest of the cover? It’s not bad at all, it’s just a bit too bland for my tastes. And while the book itself may be far more thrilling, the synopsis is pretty bland too. Unless it turns out that Britta’s power is to bring dinosaurs back to life–or something equally strange–I’m not sure that this is for me. I do think the bright gold cover will draw most readers’ eyes, so its chances are good!
An alternate history / historical fantasy / steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo, from noted short story writer Nisi Shawl.
Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.
Shawl’s speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.
Janet: The cover is oddly bewitching, and the fingers on the right hand are almost art deco. Very cool. The synopsis is definitely aimed at an older (possibly adult) adult audience, one aware of the general silencing of African and East Asian voices in western/white literature. The premise and genre(s) are fascinating. I haven’t read anything by Nisi Shawl but that may change soon.
Nafiza: I like the cover a lot. The burnt orange background is all sorts my favourite and the different hands pique my interest. The cover doesn’t say much about the actual story but I’m not too bothered by that. I feel like with the proper tone this could be a crossover. I want to read this.
Yash: It seems I am third in line for this book. Wow that synopsis. I am very, very interested to see how this Everfair world unfolds. And I’m excited for the “multiplicity of voices”! Admittedly the cover, though it has interesting colours and those fingers/robot bits are strange, isn’t one that I love. But man, that synopsis makes up for everything.
A single second. That’s all it takes to turn a world upside down.
Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini’s life is changing too soon, too fast. Her best friend, Clem, doesn’t seem concerned; she’s busy figuring out the best way to spend the “leap second”—an extra second about to be added to the world’s official clock. The only person who might understand how Nella feels is Angela, but the two of them have gone from being “secret sisters” to not talking at all.
Then Angela’s idolized big brother makes a terrible, fatal mistake, one that tears apart their tight-knit community and plunges his family into a whirlwind of harsh publicity and judgment. In the midst of this controversy, Nella is faced with a series of startling revelations about her parents, friends, and neighborhood. As Angela’s situation becomes dangerous, Nella must choose whether to stand by or stand up. Her heart tries to tell her what to do, but can you always trust your heart? The clock ticks down, and in that extra second, past and present merge—the future will be up to her.
Tricia Springstubb’s extraordinary novel is about the shifting bonds of friendship and the unconditional love of family, the impact of class and racial divides on a neighborhood and a city, and a girl awakening to awareness of a world bigger and more complex than she’d ever imagined.
Janet:That is a very pretty cover. I like the colours, the drawing style, the use of white space. The back copy gets the reader (okay, gets me) invested right away with concrete details. I will keep and eye out for this.
Nafiza: I have an enduring love for landscapes and this makes me really love the cover. The synopsis though makes me wary. What is this ‘mistake’ Angela’s brother makes and will I be expected to forgive him? I suppose I’m intrigued. I will definitely be reading a few reviews before I plunge into this one.
Yash: I love the cover! The quaint townscape, the running silhouettes, the cemetery looming over the rest of the town. And even though the synopsis hints some kind of scandal (murder?) the cover is bright and green and it makes me want to take this book outdoors to read. Which is weird, because I hate reading outdoors. Yeah, I think I’m won over.
Finnegan’s Field by Angela Slatter is a dark fantasy novelette about a six year old child who mysteriously disappears for three years, only to return home just as mysteriously–but not quite the same. At least, not to her mother.
Janet: Is that cover not creepy? It is very creepy. *passes book to Steph* The synopsis is strange (“Title by author is…” is not the standard format) and strangely short, although perhaps this is suitable for a novelette/long short story? Cover and synopsis together are striking. (And I am not reading this. No horror for me, thank you.)
Nafiza: The cover is deliciously creepy and the synopsis makes me want to hunt this one down now.
Yash: Is this is a fairy story? Is she a changeling? Why is one eye not the same? What’s with the birds? Are we talking a wild hunt story? *shakes laptop disconsolately* TELL MEEEEEEEE! Okay, obviously this cover and the synopsis is too creepy for me not to pick it up. I am in.