The Cover Wars

The strange planet known as Tanegawa’s World is owned by TransRifts Inc, the company with the absolute monopoly on interstellar travel. Hob landed there ten years ago, a penniless orphan left behind by a rift ship. She was taken in by Nick Ravani and quickly became a member of his mercenary biker troop, the Ghost Wolves.

Ten years later, she discovers the body of Nick’s brother out in the dunes. Worse, his daughter is missing, taken by shady beings called the Weathermen. But there are greater mysteries to be discovered – both about Hob and the strange planet she calls home.

Janet: The cover is trying hard to impress with that pose. I’m more impressed by the fact that we get a girl who looks tough, biker tough (and she isn’t smiling!), and that she stands with her planet’s version of a motorbike behind her with no hint of a dude in sight. The repetition of “strange planet” in the synopsis is disappointing, but I might have to keep an eye out for this.

Nafiza: Everything Janet said. Using “strange planet” twice is a rookie mistake and one I am afraid may reflect the contents inside. I hope not but still, synopses are so important. More so, I’d argue, than the cover, and I wish people would pay them more attention.

Yash: I like the girl in her comfy looking jumpsuit and biker jacket and eyepatch. Sometimes I wish piratical eyepatch stories were just, “So, I was making this pizza, see and I …” Guess it’s not going to be the case here. I like that she’s in a mercenary biker gang?! So weird, but interesting?? But yeah, wish this synopsis had been given more thought. Still, I am very intrigued.

Take to the skies with the beautifully told tale of Sophie Blanchard a woman meant for the air as she discovers the incomparable sensation of flight.

Behold the story of Sophie Blanchard, an extraordinary woman who is largely forgotten despite her claim to being the very first female pilot in history. In eighteenth-century France, “balloonomania” has fiercely gripped the nation . . . but all of the pioneering aeronauts are men. The job of shattering that myth falls to a most unlikely figure: a shy girl from a seaside village, entirely devoted to her dream of flight. Sophie is not the first woman to ascend in a balloon, nor the first woman to accompany an aeronaut on a trip, but she will become the first woman to climb to the clouds and steer her own course. The words of Matthew Clark Smith bring Sophie’s story to light after so many years, while Matt Tavares’s atmospheric art and unique perspectives take her to new heights.

Janet: I’m biased in this book’s favour just because I like the title and title font. Ahem. The cover illustrations look both cute and complicated (so many strings!), and I rather like the phrase “the incomparable sensation of flight”.

Nafiza: I like the cover and I like the back copy and I want to read this. The pun isn’t appreciated though.

Yash: Nafiza, what do you have against puns?! Anyway, Sophie Blanchard sounds fun, and the cover is very pleasing to look at, but this isn’t for me. I’ll wait on Janet’s review to see if it changes my mind.

For three ten-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big.

Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves.

When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

Janet: Just-so title, lovely cover; my only complaint is that the white shin is unnaturally pale. The story itself sounds completely charming. Libraries, treasure boxes, and true friendship – what more could I want?

Nafiza: This looks cute and mentioned the magic L word so naturally, I want to read it. And yes Janet, that white girl is really super white.

Yash: Cute, but again, not my thing. I do like that it’s a MG friendship/family story. Wish we had some YA books like that. *sigh* Also, why does this cover remind me of the previous cover’s style. I scroll down and I’m convinced they look similar and then I’m weirded out when I scroll up. Hm.

Split City #1

In a stratified society where contact with the sun is a luxury reserved for the elite, those kept prisoner in the darkness will do anything to find the light. Arden—beautiful, street-smart, and cynical—is one of the citizens of the lowest level, known as Undercity, of an off-world colony. A blackout band traps Arden in her district, but as sister to the leader of the most powerful gang in Undercity, she has access to the Above.

There she meets Dade, one of the few lucky enough to be born into the sun-kissed families who reside in the towers soaring above the rest of the city. But life isn’t perfect in the sky. Dade, desperate to escape his upcoming arranged marriage, has a secret of his own, and he’s willing to risk everything for it.

An unlikely romance develops between the two teens—but their love faces opposition from above and below. When her gang pressures Arden to help break the grip of the elite and end Dade’s interference with their drug trade, she is forced to make a deadly choice between love and family loyalty. But will the brewing class war destroy the world around them first?

Janet: There is nothing unlikely about this developing romance. Although the premise is interesting, the heavy-handed back copy leaves me cold. Also: arranged marriages. WHAT is with YA books and arranged marriages?

Nafiza: I understand the focus on romance from a publishing and marketing pov but goodness, I wish this book was allowed to breathe without the romance stuffed into it. I mean, I was totally following Arden until the heavy emphasis on the difficult romance. Which, sure, is to attract teen readers but maybe teen readers want to know more about a world where light is a precious thing. The cover is super boring too. I wish they had tried harder.

Yash: Nah. The cover kind of reminds me of this Batman movie poster and honestly, the connection is enough to turn me away from this book. (I will say that the synopsis does sound interesting, even with the romance, way, way more fun than a Batman movie. I dunno why I’m being so hard on Batman. He used to be my fave.)

The Fallen Isles Trilogy #1

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

Janet: The back copy says too much and not enough. It pushes me away from this story – except. Except that there is a black woman centrestage on the cover instead of the expected white one. Except that Mira has OCD and anxiety (I wish it wasn’t described as “crippling”, though) and also that there are dragons. So. Ambivalent feelings = look inside?

Nafiza: Nope.

Yash: I kinda like the cover and the synopsis? But I agree with Janet that the use of “crippling” is unfortunate. When picking up a book about disability, I worry about unconsciously gaining yet more ableist nonsense. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like a good sign that the anxiety is referred to as “crippling”. I dunno. But maybe that’s just me. And Janet. Anyway, gonna wait on reviews.

The story of a biracial Indian-American girl who must navigate big changes in her friendships and family life as she starts sixth grade, all while trying to rid herself of an unexpected problem: 17 hairs that have sprouted on her upper lip.

Janet: That cover is superb. Yes, please.

Nafiza: That cover, that back copy. Oh yes. I feel for you, Karma, I really do. I mean, it’s not enough that you have to navigate life with a name like that but now you have to suffer the indignity of a burgeoning (nascent?) mustache. Yikes. I want to read this.

Yash: Ha, cute. Again, not really feeling like MG these days, but if Nafiza gives it a thumbs up, I’m in.