The Cover Wars

James Parson has a problem. His military dad is going to yank him out of his expensive boarding school if James doesn’t prove he’s no longer hooking up, pulling pranks, and charming his way out of consequences. What better way to show he’s now responsible than becoming the committed boyfriend of a U.S. diplomat’s daughter?

Level-headed, book-smart Edelweiss may have traveled the world thanks to her dad’s job, but when it comes to friends and boys, she knows exactly nothing. Newly enrolled in boarding school, Edel is now on a mission to learn it all. James says he’ll help her experience the ultimate high school life—if she’ll be his fake girlfriend. And fake is perfect, because he’s exactly the kind of player she’d never date.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains red-hot romance, all the feels, and a soul-mate bad boy.

Janet: “Because he’s exactly the kind of player she’d never date” ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha. “Red-hot romance” and “soul-mate”s are Not For Me and casting a dark-skinned boy as the bad boy sends off alarm bells, even if in this sort of romance that really says he’s the hero, but I’m very pleased with the cover. I like that we have an inter-racial couple with both their faces shown in full (and a good chunk of body, too), and that he is dark-skinned. And I like that they aren’t over-posed. Neither of the models’ facial expressions is terribly flattering, which makes them look like a real couple you might know. That is cool. (Oh. Just realized that Edelweiss’s nickname would be pronounced “Idol” which, um, not so cool.)

Jane: MEH. I’m going to side with Janet on the Not For Me aspect. This is the kind of book that would’ve made me roll my eyes and GAG in high school. Good girl meets bad boy. They’re exact opposites, but they’ll eventually fall in love. Blargh. BUT I do like the fact that the African-American boy has a present father, and attends an expensive boarding school, which contrasts nicely with the predominant “all African-Americans live in the inner city and come from struggling single parent households” stereotype that’s so prevalent in the media, and which of course doesn’t reflect the diverse realities of African-American families. But still. MEH.

Nafiza: I WANT TO READ THIS. Are you guys super shocked because I am. Haha. But I think I just like the cover so much because hey, inter-racial couple plus no shadows of the dude and just. My heart wants more.

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

Janet: The cover would be SO COOL if the tagline were removed and the writing (title and author name) were smaller. The glimpses of jade or other stone carvings are enticing. The back copy suggests an adult novel. The mixture of Green Bones and motorcycles is promising.

Jane:  I kind of wish they’d mention some individual characters – two warring factions are competing for turf and power, but without being introduced to any of the actual people caught up in the battle, I don’t really have any reason to care about what happens. Who is the grandest patriarch? Who is the lowliest motorcyle runner? Give me someone to connect with. Romeo and Juliet is about two warring factions, but we’re invited to care because we’re introduced to the actual people who are involved. I do like the idea of magic and modernity coming together, it often creates an engaging dynamic.

Nafiza: I agree with both Janet and Jane for all the reasons they have stated. But I still want to read this because it sounds super cool.

Seventeen-year-old Jaya Mehta detests wealth, secrets, and privilege, though he has them all. His family is Indian, originally from Gujarat. Rasa Santos, like many in Hawaii, is of mixed ethnicity. All she has are siblings, three of them, plus a mother who controls men like a black widow spider and leaves her children whenever she wants to. Neither Jaya nor Rasa have ever known real love or close family―not until their chance meeting one sunny day on a mountain in Hau’ula.

The unlikely love that blooms between them must survive the stranglehold their respective pasts have on them. Each of their present identities has been shaped by years of extreme family struggles. By the time they cross paths, Jaya is a transgender outsider with depressive tendencies and the stunningly beautiful Rasa thinks sex is her only power until a violent pimp takes over her life. Will their love transcend and pull them forward, or will they remain stuck and separate in the chaos of their pasts?

Janet: The cover is compelling. It’s hard to look away from Jaya and Rasa’s faces. The back copy – I can’t tell if this is going to be brilliant or just awful. I’ll pass, unless reviews convince me otherwise.

Jane: Oh, this is a different cover than I’ve seen for this book! The cover is quite striking, and I’m excited to find a YA title featuring a transgendered young man (transgendered women still dominant both middle grade and YA literature). I’m really, really hoping for a happy ending, because the stories of these young people just make me want to hug them. I do hope that we can get more stories featuring transgendered protagonists that aren’t quite so depressing, though – I know we need these kinds of stories, but we also need stories that showcase young transgendered people who aren’t necessarily depressed or struggling.

Nafiza: This has a new cover but I like this one too though I like the new one slightly better. Does it matter? No? I didn’t think so either. *cheese* But yeah, this seems like it’s going to be super intense and not in the warm fluttery feelings way. I want to read this but at the same time, I am wary of it because I don’t deal with sadness too well.

Martin is an American teen on the autism spectrum living in France with his mom and sister for the summer. He falls for a French girl who he thinks is a real-life incarnation of a character in his favorite book. Over time Martin comes to realize she is a real person and not a character in a novel while at the same time learning that love is not out of his reach just because he is autistic.

Janet: The cover feels spacious and warm, and reminds me pleasantly of Flowerpot. Based on the cover, I’d pick this up. The back, though, is a mess. It tells too much in an unpleasantly didactic way, as if the back addresses adults encouraging them to give this book to their autistic kids to teach them a lesson along with Martin. That said, unless I hear negative reviews from autistic readers, I’ll probably pick this up in the hopes that the inside is as charming as the cover. (Neurodivergent protagonists, YES!)

Jane: This cover is really quite beautiful! The back copy sounds pretty dull, though – it’s more a summary than an engaging invitation to read more. I struggle with neurodivergent / mentally ill protagonists simply because they’re so often depicted as “quirky” characters who can teach important lessons to typical characters, rather than as complex and mature individuals. But, I’m hopeful that this book will steer away from those tropes, because wow that cover is just lovely. Though, the two on the cover don’t really look like kids, or even teens – they look more like adults to me!

Nafiza: You guys, I just got this in the mail the other day so I’m going to give it a read and tell you what I think because obviously I have good taste, right? Hehe. But I do agree, the cover is wondrous…the back could have been better.

In this charming and accessible picture book, Ian Lendler and Xanthe Bouma offer a heart-warming account of the childhood of the Buddha.

A spoiled young prince, Siddhartha got everything he ever asked for, until he asked for what couldn’t be given­―happiness.

Join Little Sid as he sets off on a journey of discovery and encounters mysterious wise-folk, terrifying tigers, and one very annoying mouse.

With Lendler’s delightful prose and Bouma’s lyrical artwork, Little Sid weaves traditional Buddhist fables into a classic new tale of mindfulness, the meaning of life, and an awakening that is as profound today as it was 2,500 years ago.

Janet: The art looks amazing. More from this illustrator, please! On the other hand, “Sid” is a jarringly white, modern-sounding nickname and it doesn’t look like the author is Buddhist. I liked Lendler’s “An Undone Fairy Tale” but I’ll wait for reviews on this one.

Jane: Hmmm…That cover is absolutely charming, I like the idea of a picture book exploring Siddharta’s youth, and it’s lovely to see an interpretation of a traditional Buddhist fable. I would be curious to learn more about the background behind the book, and how it came to be, though, to ensure that this very significant and important individual is being represented in an authentic and respectful way.

Nafiza: I’m going to wait for Jane’s review on this one.

What if you suddenly found out you had a sister . . . and she took over your life? Cadie is close to her father. They are so much alike–same temperament, sense of humor, and love for the theater–and Dad always knows how to comfort her . . . until the day he announces that he has another daughter. Suddenly, Cadie has a sister, Elizabeth–a sister who is six months older than her, a sister who is about to move in with them, a sister whose very existence means that Cadie’s beloved father cheated on her mother when they were already married. What other secrets might he have? Can she still trust him? Does Cadie really know her father at all? And when Elizabeth arrives, Cadie’s worst fears come true. Elizabeth looks just like Dad; not only that, she seems all too perfect. Until she begins stealing Cadie’s place in the family and even Cadie’s one true love . . . But Elizabeth has secrets of her own. This deeply emotional coming-of-age story explores the choices you make when your family–and your life–changes overnight. Are these choices the inevitable and only ones? And will they ultimately bring your family back together or push you further apart?

Janet: The cover is dull and the back copy overwrought. I’d rather gaze at the art of “Cursed” for the shadow-hands joining, read Feeling Sorry for Celia for a cheating dad/new sibling fix, and listen to “Cruel Sister” for one sister stealing another’s “one true love”. (*snort*)

Jane: MEH. This sounds like it was ripped straight out of a soap opera. Overwrought is right. Finding out that you have a half-sister is dramatic enough, and would provide more than enough emotional upheaval for any YA title, without bringing in any of these over the top “you’re stealing my life!” shenanigans. It might be very appealing to some readers, especially ones who love melodrama, but it really doesn’t seem like my cup of tea.

Nafiza: I don’t think much of the cover but I think the premise could be interesting. I love sister-stories but only if it is not reduced to melodrama. I will keep an eye out for reviews.