The Cover Wars

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.

With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Janet: Cover art and back copy look good, and suggest that this is Yash’s sort of book. I hope the total sum of the profiles is as diverse as the art and synopsis promise.

Jane: Yes, yes, yes!! I love me some engaging nonfiction, especially when it celebrates all things girl power!! And it’s a graphic novel!!! Gimme, gimme, gimme!!

Get ready for the ultimate deathmatch between the mechanical and the magical.

Travel with us to distant stars, step sideways into worlds under the hill, journey across ruined landscapes at the end of the world, solve riddles in the Old West, and follow that strange music to the dive bar down the road. The robots and fairies are waiting for you there, they are waiting for you everywhere. And now the time has come to choose a side. Old stories will be upgraded, worlds will collide, science will give way to magic and magic will become science.

Join 18 bestselling, award-winning and up and coming authors as they pick a side and take a stand to answer the question on everyone’s mind: when the lasers cease firing and the fairy dust settles, who will triumph in the epic battle between the artificial and the (super)natural?

Janet: Is this a successor to Holly Black’s Zombies vs Unicorns? The cover is busy and the art isn’t my thing; and I don’t see why anyone should be made to choose between fairies and robots. I’ll pass.

Jane: I like the idea of this one – short story collections don’t get nearly enough love, and the idea of blending science fiction and fantasy is a great one. But yikes, that cover is just waaaaay too busy for me.

A poignant and empowering teen novel of grief, unrequited love, and finding comfort in one’s own skin.

Aden isn’t looking for love in her senior year. She’s much more focused on things like getting a solo gig at Ike’s and keeping her brother from illegal herbal recreation. But when Tate walks into Calculus class wearing a yarmulke and a grin, Aden’s heart is gone in an instant.

The two are swept up in a tantalizingly warm friendship, complete with long drives with epic soundtracks and deep talks about life, love, and spirituality. With Tate, Aden feels closer to her mom—and her mom’s faith—than she has since her mother died years ago. Everyone else—even Aden’s brother and her best friend—can see their connection, but does Tate?

Navigating uncertain romance and the crises of those she loves, Aden must decide how she chooses to see herself and how to honor her mom’s memory.

Janet: Not super enthused about the tag line, but I like the promise of a warm friendship-cum-romance and finding/negotiating one’s Jewish identity and faith. Much of the synopsis rather obviously plays up the romance, but the last paragraph draws in family, grief, and soul-searching, placing Aden within her wider community instead of apparently alone except for Tate. I’d glance inside for sure.

Jane: Ummmm…I’m hoping Aden wore more than just the yarmulke and the grin when he walked into calculus class, right? I definitely like the idea of a relationship emerging naturally from a warm friendship – not all YA romances have to involve instalove and fireworks! This isn’t really my cup of tea, but it does sound promising.

THE QUEST: To find the lost city of Jingjue, a once-glorious kingdom, along with the burial chamber of its mysterious queen. Both lie buried under the golden dunes of the desert, where fierce sandstorms and blazing heat show no mercy.

THE TEAM: Teenagers Tianyi, who has the ability read the earth and sky through feng shui, and Kai, Tianyi’s best friend and confidant; Julie, a wealthy American whose father vanished on the same trek a year ago; Professor Chen, who wants to fulfill a lifelong dream; and Asat Amat, a local guide gifted in desert survival.

THE OBSTACLES: Lethal creatures of the desert and an evil force that wants to entomb the explorers under the unforgiving sands of China’s Taklimakan Desert forever.

Janet: *snort* That tagline, oh my. The cover isn’t entirely impressive – the dragon looks made of plastic, not sand, and what is the fire even burning in this desert? On the other hand, apparently this is a bestseller in China, and the back copy is entirely adventure. I’m in.

Jane: Hmmm…not loving the cover art or the synopsis, but the premise sounds like a thrilling adventure, so that part I like.

Sheltered within her high-society world, Isabel plays the part of a perfectly proper little girl―she’s quiet, well-behaved, and she keeps her dresses spotlessly clean. She’s certainly not the kind of girl who goes on adventures.

But that all changes when Isabel breaches an invisible barrier and steps into another world. She discovers a city not unlike her own, but magical and dangerous. Here, war rages between the fairies of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Only Isabel, with the help of a magical necklace and a few new friends, stands a chance of ending the war before it destroys the fairy world, and her own.

From Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson comes a colorful fantasy graphic novel set in early twentieth century San Francisco.

Janet: I feel like this could be very good or very blah. On the good side: the tension between whether Isabel is merely acting her part, or whether she really is bound by it; invisible barriers; Seelie and Unseelie; new friends; historical fiction/historical fantasy. On the blah side: Isabel is the only one who can save the world, seemingly because of a magical necklace? On the other hand, I would have eaten that up as a middle grader, so. I would like to leaf through a few pages, definitely.

Jane: The cover art is very appealing and kids will definitely be drawn to it. But the story just sounds so very familiar. The “girl plays the part but secretly wants to rebel against restrictive social norms” formula has been done and done and done. It could be more interesting to see what happens to a girl who is fully entrenched in her society’s expectations, who never questions them or is aware of anything different, and who is then thrust into a magical world that challenges all her assumptions. We could watch her grow as a character, grapple with her identity, and find her place as an individual. It would also be much more realistic – honestly, not every girl throughout history secretly longed to rebel against society’s restrictions, especially when they were never exposed to anything different. Anyway, rambling thoughts aside, the cover is cute, and this kind of story is repeated over and over again because people enjoy it.

[Awkward #2]

In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different – math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a big problem when you always get picked last. And the pressure’s on even more once the school newspaper’s dynamic duo, Jenny and Akilah, draw Jensen into the whirlwind of school news, social experiment projects, and behind-the-scenes club drama. Jensen’s always played the middle school game one level at a time, but suddenly, someone’s cranked up the difficulty setting. Will those daring daydreams of his finally work in his favor, or will he have to find real solutions to his real life problems?

Janet: The cover makes me want to find out more about the characters, which is kind of its job, so yay! I like how distinctly the characters of these three are immediately visible and unmistakable. The back copy also sounds really good. Time to read Awkward, then.

Jane: Cute! Oh my goodness, so cute!! And video game references! Yay!! As a chronic daydreamer who spent most of her youth in her own imagination, this definitely sounds like something that would’ve appeal to me. Cute!!