The Cover Wars

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Abrams has bought Kara LaReau’s The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, a middle-grade trilogy about two sisters, apparently abandoned by their parents, who are kidnapped by lady pirates and forced to endure excitement and solve mysteries. The first book will publish in January 2017.

Jane: Funnily enough, it’s the book with the vaguest synopsis that has me the most interested, largely because it’s a middle-grade novel and that’s kind of my jam. I’m also intrigued by the premise – lady pirates kidnap a bland pair of girls and drag them into a life of excitement and mystery, and I would’ve been all over that as a young reader. I also like the whimsical cover art style – it’s reminiscent of the cover of The Mysterious Benedict Society, right down to the banner title, and has a historical fiction vibe that’s similar to The War That Saved My Life .

Nafiza: Okay, this is an easy win for me. I adore the helter skelter nature of the cover. The bright colours reel me in and the pun is possibly intended. I just think this book will offer vastly different but no less entertaining examples of femininity and we all need variety where our feminism is concerned. Yes, I’m going to read this.

Yash: It’s true what Jane says about it being interesting because it’s kind of vague. It sounds exactly like the type of thing I would dove dramatically at the shelves for. Loving all the little details on the cover too–the monkey looking out to sea, the sail that says Jolly Regina instead of Jolly Rancher, the girl clutching a book (for safety?), and the clothes that look like they’re wet from washing and waiting to be dried. The title doesn’t do much for me, but the rest of the cover is so fun to take in, I’d definitely pick it up at a store. Maybe I’ll pick it up now too.

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Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they’re not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.

Jane: Nope, nope, nope. Good girl, bad boy, immediate connection, and a story that threatens to sweep me off my feet? Good luck, Letters to the Lost, better books than you have tried. The cover art is quite elegant and understated, though.

Nafiza: Everything Jane said. I kinda like the cover though but I will like it from a distance.

Yash: I agree with Jane and Nafiza. I do like the paper flowers on the cover though–I would like to be able to make those delicate looking flowers. *sigh* Anyway, the premise doesn’t sound particularly unique. And, on a random note, the name Declan will forever have me thinking of Ronan Lynch’s brother in The Raven Cycle. I grew to like him in the end, but man, I still don’t love him. And now the impression he made effects all other Declans apparently …

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Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…

Jane: I’m a bit curious about the “illness far more insidious than cancer”, which could be something supernatural, but none of the characters sound particularly engaging.The cover is quite beautiful, but it doesn’t really reveal anything about the story, and the synopsis just isn’t my cup of tea.

Nafiza: Ooh, the pretty! See, the synopsis didn’t grip but now I have to know what the insidious illness is so either I will read some reviews or read the book. I do like that the story is about sisters and there’s no mention of romance. However, I don’t know what kind of representation there will be or if there will be erasure of Mexican characters. Let’s see what the early reviews say.

Yash: I do love the cover, the red, the font, the peaches (nectarine?), and the title. I like the title the most I think. Given the summary, I feel like it might either go in the direction of fairy tale and fantasy (what with the three sisters and all) and sort of remind me of The Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, or it will go the magic realism route. Either way, I am intrigued. I am definitely wary for the reasons Nafiza mentioned, but I am also very interested in reading this one …

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They are the light against the darkness.

The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.

And they use demons to hunt demons….

Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they leash wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.

Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.

As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…

Jane: Meh. Can’t save the world without falling in love with a dangerous and mysterious boy. Skip.

Nafiza: Among my many cousins, one is called Nazia and the other Fareena. Daeva or Deva is an Indian (or Sanskrit if I’m not mistaken) word for a divine entity that usually manifests as male. Persepolae sounds Greek? I could be mistaken though. (But really, Four-Legs Clan?) Nope. I do like the cover though. Something about the background appeals to me. As in the previous one, I’ll appreciate it from a distance unless the reviews convince me otherwise.

Yash: Um, please let “daeva” not be a reference to the Sanskrit/Hindi “deva” for GODS!?!?! Ugh. Pass!

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From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

Jane: OK, this one actually sounds pretty promising. I enjoy historical fiction, so right away I’m intrigued, and the premise sounds both intelligent and delightfully creepy. The protagonist is a female making her way in a male-dominated professional, but the synopsis doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ve  been hit over the head with “girl power” cliches thrown at me by a publisher desperately trying to convince me that they understand women.  I appreciate authors who understand that strength can come in many forms, and that sometimes simply trying to live your life and do your job can be an act of defiance. And there’s no mention of a love story! There probably is one tucked away somewhere in the storyline, but  it’s not the focus of the synopsis, and that makes me a happy camper. Guess what, publishing world – women can feature in novels that aren’t just about their relationships – hurray!

Nafiza: The cover is beautiful. And this book had me at female mathematical genius. I do want.

Yash: I think Jane just about covered everything about this one. Man, Cat Winters was one of the first writers I interviewed for The Book Wars. I really think I need to do a follow up someday–she is quite prolific and all her books sound lovely!

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In the high-pressure months leading up to the performance that will determine their futures, a group of friends at a performing arts school look back on when an unexpected event upended everything. The moment that changed their relationships, their friendships, and their lives forever.

At a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends connect over one dream of stardom. But for Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second-semester, Senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses between them: Their time together is running out.

Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along.

Jane: Again, meh. Too much relationship drama. This will definitely appeal to some readers, which is fantastic, but I’d rather read about the artistic lives of these teens, and not their romantic ones. The cover references The Fault in Our Stars, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, so I’m not holding out too much hope for this one.

Nafiza: I don’t know. I keep meaning to read something by Una La Marche but I’m not good with books that focus on romance. Still, if the reviews are promising, I might give this one a try. How awesome would this book have been for this month’s theme? -_-

Yash: The colours on the cover, for some reason, bug me. They should have been vibrant, but it’s so dull instead and picking through details on the cover is becoming a chore. In any case, not sure how I feel about this one. I feel like Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton’s Tiny Pretty Things series fills my “performing arts drama” quota, but if I hear good enough reviews, I don’t think I’ll care about any quota, I might just pick it up!