The Cover Wars

Sixteen-year-old Grace is in a race against time—and in a race for her life—even if she doesn’t realize it yet…

She is smart, responsible, and contending with more than what most teens ever have to. Her mother struggled with schizophrenia for years until, one day, she simply disappeared—fleeing in fear that she was going to hurt herself or those she cared about. Ever since, Grace’s father has worked as a recruiter at one of the leading labs dedicated to studying the disease, trying to lure the world’s top scientists to the faculty to find a cure, hoping against hope it can happen in time to help his wife if she is ever found. But this makes him distant. Consumed.

Grace, in turn, does her part, interning at the lab in the gene sequencing department in hopes that one day they might make a breakthrough…and one day they do. Grace stumbles upon a string of code that could be the key. But something inside of Grace has started to unravel. Could her discovery just be a cruel side effect of the schizophrenia finally taking hold? Can she even tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t?

Janet: Exceedingly clever cover. I like the water, the slight misalignment between both halves of Grace, and the double helix dividing the two. The back copy is appealing right up until the last sentences of the last paragraph. Schizophrenia isn’t inevitable, and though there is a genetic component (children with one schizophrenic parent have a 10% risk of developing it themselves), the phrasing of the back copy makes me worry that schizophrenics and the experience of schizophrenia might not be handled respectfully. I want to read this, but I’ll wait for reviews from appropriate reviewers.

Nafiza: I really like the cover and the back copy hit the right note with me. I do worry about representation and like Janet, I will wait for reviews to help me make up my mind.

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Janet: The cover and title don’t quite appeal, but the back copy more than makes up for it. My big concern is the power imbalance between the boys. Teachers cannot have romantic relations with students irrespective of any other factors. It doesn’t matter how close they are in age, temperament, whatever. Power imbalances of this sort are not okay. But. The back copy is so jaunty. It really does remind me of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Tentative yes? (But if they start a relationship while the power imbalance remains, I reserve the right to throw the book across the room.)

Nafiza: Ahh, I love the cover and the title. It’s so perky and fun. The back copy…I feel like Sebastian might be a student as well? He’s only mentoring the class but not teaching it…right? I will have to read it to see whether it is disturbing. I have hopes for this one!

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Janet: The Night Witches!!! Oh yes, I want to read about them. Seriously awesome pilots. That said, I’m not sold – the cover looks like a boring self-pub, and the back copy is fairly predictable. Still. All-female fighter pilots. I’d glance inside.

Nafiza: The Night Witches sound super cool and I wouldn’t mind reading a book about them. The back copy seems a bit scattered though. The conflict, the primary conflict, immediate and urgent, needs more of a focus. Still, I have hopes because as Janet said, all-female fighter pilots sound super cool.

Printz Honor winner Jessie Ann Foley, whose debut novel, The Carnival at Bray, was also a Morris Award finalist, is back with a candid coming-of-age story about a girl whose encounters with loss, broken friendships, and newfound faith leave her forever changed.

When Wendy Boychuck’s father, a Chicago cop, was escorted from their property in handcuffs for his shady criminal practices, she knew her life would never be the same. Her father gets a years-long jail sentence, her family falls on hard times, and the whispers around town are impossible to ignore. If that wasn’t bad enough, she gets jumped walking home from a party one night. Wendy quickly realizes that in order to survive her father’s reputation, she’ll have to make one for herself.

Then Wendy meets Kenzie Quintana—a cigarette-smoking, Catholic-school-uniform-skirt-hiking alpha—and she knows that she’s met her savior. Kenzie can provide Wendy with the kind of armor a girl needs when she’s trying to outrun her father’s past. Add two more mean girls to the mix—Sapphire and Emily—and Wendy has found herself in Academy of the Sacred Heart’s most feared and revered clique. Makeover complete.

But complete is far from what Wendy feels. Instead, she faces the highs and lows of a vapid, toxic friendship, the exhaustion that comes with keeping up appearances, and the only loss that could hurt more than losing herself.

Janet: Cityscapes are Yash and Steph’s thing, not mine, and yet there’s something appealing about this one, which seems at once busy and lonely. The back copy gives maybe a little much info, but yes to tough girls and school gangs and to maybe a little tenderness even when survival seems to demand a cold heart. Definitely interested.

Nafiza: I’m not that convinced by the cover but the back copy is calling my name. This sounds super intense and angsty. I’m interested as well.

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting- working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Unwilling to be hurt again, Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But when Alice meets Takumi, she can’t stop thinking about him (or the new feelings she did not ask for). Meanwhile, her relationship with her best friends? Falling apart.

As her perfect summer gets shot straight to hell & Takumi becomes her amazing ally in all things, Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk her new friendship for love that might not be understood – or reciprocated.

Janet: I would pick this up just for how joyful Alice looks on the cover, how completely her own woman. Added to which is a punny tagline, a beautifully intersectional summer friends and also dating story, sassy back copy (“new feelings she did not ask for” – you said it, Alice), aaaand ace rep!!! This looks phenomenal. <3

Nafiza: Yassssss! Give this to me now please.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls was a great wonder; a perfect meld between cutting edge technology and esoteric sciences—its inhabitants capable of teleporting themselves anywhere, its weapons small and undetectable and deadly.

Thirty years ago, threatened by an invading fleet from the Dai Viet Empire, the Citadel disappeared and was never seen again.

But now the Dai Viet Empire itself is under siege, on the verge of a war against an enemy that turns their own mindships against them; and the Empress, who once gave the order to raze the Citadel, is in desperate needs of its weapons. Meanwhile, on a small isolated space station, an engineer obsessed with the past works on a machine that will send her thirty years back, to the height of the Citadel’s power.

But the Citadel’s disappearance still extends chains of grief and regrets all the way into the fraught atmosphere of the Imperial Court; and this casual summoning of the past might have world-shattering consequences…

A new book set in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Xuya universe.

Janet: There’s something everywhere you look on this cover. Maybe a bit much. I’m not sure what to make of that floating arch, for one thing. On the other hand, the back copy is promising. If this story doesn’t depend on previous knowledge of the Xuya universe, I could be tempted.

Nafiza: There’s a dragon. I’m convinced.

  • Love the title of The Place Between Breaths; what stood out for me in the blurb was the main character interning in a gene sequencing lab. That’s cool!