The Cover Wars

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Janet: I like the tagline and I like that for once we get a black woman in a dress on the cover of a YA novel instead of another in the endless parade of white (very white) women. That said, I’m not sold; novels with an emphasis on beauty don’t do anything for me. On the other hand, beauty literally being magical power is something new. *glances around for reviews*

Yash: EDITING IN MY COMMENTS BECAUSE I CARE SO MUCH ABOUT THESE COVERS AND I WAS TOO LATE THIS MORNING! I loved the Pretty Little Liars duology, so I’m stoked to see that Dhonielle Clayton is giving us yet more stories. I like that Camillia is a Belle and there is a Queen of “Orléans” and I am intrigued by the fact that beauty and magic are linked. Obviously, I am happy about a Black girl on the cover of a book about beauty and power, but I definitely want to see reviews before I dive in. (I just want more diversity in it, especially since we’re talking “Belles”.)


Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family’s bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can’t tell anyone who she really is. Elvin’s living on Harlem’s cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin’s grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don’t find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same . . .

Janet: We’ve covered this before, but the cover and synopsis are such that I really don’t mind seeing this again. Just lovely.

Yash: Have we covered this one? I have listened to the audiobook and I was definitely drawn in by the cover. I can confirm that it is a delightful read and even if you–for some bizarre reason–hate the cover, this MG book about friendship and community is worth every penny.

Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed “good girl” of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant “Grumps,” who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn’t been part of any of their lives.

Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps’s clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household… He’s worse than just tough to get along with — Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs?

Janet: Look at that cover! “Camelottery” had me snorting with laughter. The real selling point, though, was the last two lines’ surprise: the narrative push isn’t for Sumac to accept her (stiff-necked, conservative, bigoted) grandfather (implicitly, to knuckle under and adapt to his attitudes), it’s for her to find him a place to belong. That’s huge. Tbr.

Yash: Yep. Definitely want. I’m a sucker for any cover that has houses like this one on it and the fact that the family is a mixed one makes me love the cover even more. And as Janet pointed out, I like that thestory revolves around Sumac helping her grandfather find a place that feels like home to him. I’m very curious to see how this resolves. Also TBR. 🙂

Sophie Seacove is a storyteller. She tells stories of what the world would be like if madness hadn’t taken over. If her parents hadn’t sold her off as a servant to pay for their stupid vacation. If she wasn’t now trapped in a decaying mansion filled with creepy people and surrounded by ravenous sea monsters.

The mansion has plenty of stories, too: About fantastical machines, and the tragic inventor who created them. About his highly suspicious death. And about the Monster Box, a mysterious object hidden in the house that just might hold the key to escaping this horrible place—and to reuniting Sophie with her family.

But not everyone wants Sophie to have the Monster Box, and as she gets closer to finding it, she finds herself unspooling years-old secrets—and dodging dangerous attacks. Sophie needs to use her brains, her brawn, and her unbreakable nature if she wants to make it off this wretched island…and live to tell this story.

Janet: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a cover before where the protagonist looks like they are in the middle of a temper tantrum. She has quite the determined glare. Impressive angry eyes aside, though, the cover looks a little rough – the line-based art style doesn’t go with the smooth, self-pubby font; and the back throws everything at the reader at once. I’d like to see Steph’s take on this.

Yash: I agree with Janet. I like this angry girl on the cover, but the synopsis–and possible the novel–feels like it’s trying too hard. I was won over by the first paragraph, though. I just. WHY would they sell her for something as temporary as a VACATION?! (Obviously, I don’t want them to sell her at all, but if they did, I at least want them to do so for a good reason??) I may just pick it up.

Ivy’s grandmother is a healer–to mostly four-legged patients of the forest. Although the woodland creatures love her, the residents of Broomsweep grumble about Grandmother’s unkempt garden. When a kingdom-wide contest is announced to proclaim the tidiest town in the land, the people of Broomsweep are determined to win. That is, if they can get Ivy’s grandmother to clean up her ways. Ivy is determined to lend a hand, but the task proves more challenging when a series of unexpected refugees descends on Grandmother’s cottage. Before the week is over, an injured griffin, a dragon with a cold, and a tiny flock of temperamental pixies will cause a most untidy uproar in Broomsweep . . . and brighten Ivy’s days in ways she never could have dreamed.

Janet: The cover is absurdly adorable and the back copy is so gentle. Um, yes, tbr.

Yash: Aw, sweet. Not for me, but you know, adorable. I’m excited to see what Janet thinks about this one. (Wish they put a griffin on the cover, though.)

Sidney plans to be the director of the Juicebox Theater when he grows up. For now, he handles the props, his best friend Folly works the concession stand, and his sister May hangs out in the spotlight. But the theater is in danger of closing, and the kids know they need a plan to save it and fast. When they join a local commerce club to earn money, Sid and Folly uncover some immoral business practices, and it gives them a great idea for saving the theater. That is, if you can call extortion a great idea. Hilarious and heartwarming, the mission to save a failing community theater unites a riotous cast of characters in this offbeat middle-grade novel.

Janet: “That is, if you can call extortion a great idea” is a GREAT line. I can just see the impending cloud of doom that these characters are tugging ever closer through their hijinks. The cover is very busy and the back is very Steph.

Yash: The title won me over. As I type this, I don’t even remember what the cover was like. I love the title. It looks MG. Hijinks ensue, I assume. I so, very interested. <3