The Cover Wars

It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?

Jane: I really like how happy that girl on the cover looks – I know the story is about the trials and tribulations of growing up and growing apart, but it’s so refreshing to see a young woman on the cover of a book who actually looks happy, and really laughing! The summary really does nothing for me – this definitely wasn’t the kind of book I was into as a child (I wasn’t much for contemporary realistic fiction), but female friendship is a really important topic.

Janet: Like Jane, I was immediately drawn by the bold happiness of the woman on the cover. She looks like she is fully herself, irrespective of outside pressures, which is wonderful to see. The back copy wouldn’t have been teen!Janet’s jam, either, but adult!Janet might pick it up.

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Jane: So, this summary did make me giggle a bit, because one of the words I put in my “top ten list of overused YA words” was “choose” – and here we go again, right in the first paragraph! That summary sounds rushed – it’s really more of a summation of events than an invitation to jump in an explore. I’m really not getting swept up in it, which I kind of feel is what the back copy of a book should do.

Janet: Argh, I should have remembered “All [x] wants” for my list! The cover is kind of striking, I guess, all pointy edges and white space, but I keep reading the title as “This Salvage Song”. Which. I mean. I’d read that. Savage song, not so sure. The back copy is hasty and tells too much. Also, why is it always the fathers that teens want to be like?


Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.

Janet: The comments on the cover are intense. I’m pretty sure this is not for me, but I’d like to hear about this book. If it is as good as promised, I might dare to pick it up.

Jane: Woah. I am so glad I came of age before the real internet age, and long before social media was a thing. This sounds intense. A bit too intense for me, but probably just intense enough for its teen target audience.

David Da-Wei Horowitz has a lot on his plate. Preparing for his upcoming bar mitzvah would be enough work even if it didn’t involve trying to please his Jewish and Chinese grandmothers, who argue about everything. But David just wants everyone to be happy.

That includes his friend Scott, who is determined to win their upcoming trivia tournament but doesn’t like their teammate — and David’s best friend — Hector. Scott and David begin digging a fallout shelter just in case this Cold War stuff with the Soviets turns south… but David’s not so convinced he wants to spend forever in an underground bunker with Scott. Maybe it would be better if Hector and Kelli Ann came with them. But that would mean David has to figure out how to stand up for Hector and talk to Kelli Ann. Some days, surviving nuclear war feels like the least of David’s problems.

Janet: Title and cover strike a fine balance between comical and serious. I wish the back was less tell-y; a MG Cold War-era story about a Jewish-Chinese-American boy who is digging a fallout shelter just in case sounds fantastic, but the back copy doesn’t give enough detail to make the named characters stand out as people, not just names.

Jane: I love the cover! I’ve definitely been struggling with these blurbs – the whole point of the back of a book should be to give readers just enough information to hook them, not summarize the entire plot – what’s the point of reading it, then? That last line is really good, though.

A war took Mathilde away from her family when she was chosen to serve her country, Sofarende, with other children working on a secret military project.

But now the other children—including her best friend, Megs—have fled to safety, and Mathilde is all alone, determined to complete her mission.

In this sequel to Beautiful Blue World, Mathilde must make her way through a new stage of the war. Haunted by the bold choice she made on the night she chose her country’s future over her own well-being, she clings to the promise Megs made long ago: “Whatever happens, I’ll be with you.”

Janet: The cover is lovely, haunting (U-boats beneath a rowboat, AHH); the back would appeal more if I’d read the first book. Which I might now have to do.

Jane: Pretty cover! Definitely atmospheric. I like that the back copy is brief but gives me a good idea of what the story is about.

For fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull comes the epic conclusion to the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy that began with Frostborn.

Find the Horn. Free the City.
The chase continues for the legendary Horns of Osius. Thianna and Karn’s quest to retrieve the horns from those who wish to abuse their power takes them to Thica, an ancient land where two tyrant queens reign supreme and where years earlier Thianna’s mother was labeled a traitor. Soon the two heroes are caught up in an epic battle for control of the kingdom, one that puts their very lives at stake. The only way to overthrow the queens is to beat them at their own game. But with an entire empire against them, how can Karn and Thianna hope to compete—or better yet, survive?

Janet: The cover is very comic. Like, overly-dramatic-epic-battle-comic. It will doubtless appeal to many readers, just not me at this point. The back – enh. I’ll pass.

Jane: Oh my goodness, this is something my partner would’ve immediately picked up as a kid. The cover has definite kid-appeal, and that story sounds pretty fast-paced and exciting, which I’m sure a lot of kids will enjoy.