The Cover Wars

Bestselling middle grade author Lisa Papademetriou is back with a playful, poignant story that will resonate with anyone who’s ever had to learn that love means accepting people—even yourself—for who they really are.

Callie never meant to let it go this far. Sure, she may have accidentally-on-purpose skipped a day at her fancy New York City prep school, but she never thought she’d skip the day after that! And the one after that . . . and . . . uh . . . the one after that.

But when everything in your real life is going wrong (fighting parents! bullied little brother! girls at school who just. don’t. get. it!) skipping school starts to look like a valid mental-health strategy. And when Callie runs into Cassius, a mysterious and prickly “unschooled” kid doing research at museums all across the city, it seems only natural for her to join him. Because museums are educational, which means they’re as good as going to class. Right?

Besides, school can wait. What can’t wait is the mystery of why her grandmother seems to wish she could travel back in time to 1986, or what she wants so much to relive there. As Cassius helps Callie see the world in a whole new light, she realizes that the people she loves are far from perfect—and that some family secrets shouldn’t be secret at all.

Jane: I love her curly hair! I wish we could see Callie’s face, though. And that back copy is a bit too wordy for my liking – keep it short and snappy, just enough to tempt the reader! It also surprises me a bit that Callie could simply keep skipping classes at a fancy prep school – I went to a private school, and let me tell you, any unexplained absences were a pretty big deal!

Yash: There has got to be a way to write a back copy that involves a surprise romance/friendship without using the words mysterious stranger right? That’s what puts me off. Everything else? Intriguing.

Based on Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series of the same name, Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world. With tales of heroism and cunning, in-depth bios and witty storytelling, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers. Starting in the fifth century BC and continuing to the present, the book takes a closer look at bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside the traditional gender roles of their time. Coupled with riveting illustrations and Lee’s humorous and conversational storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us.

Jane: Ummmm…how many different ways are there to say yes? I love the look of hardcore badassery on these women’s faces. These are powerful women who aren’t about to take any sh*t from anyone. It looks like it will offer a diverse and expansive look at pioneering women, and sounds pretty awesome.

Yash: I think this will be one of the few “historically awesome women” type books I’d be into. I like that this started as a Twitter initiative and that many, many voices provided suggestions. I hope it’s as diverse as it seems. More to this posts’s point though, yeah, I’d pick this off a shelf because of the gorgeous cover.

In the wake of crash-landing on a deserted tropical island, a group of private-school teens must rely on their wits and one another to survive.

Having just survived a plane crash, Samantha Mishra finds herself isolated and injured in the thick of the jungle. She has no idea where she is or where anybody else is — she doesn’t even know if anybody else is alive. Once Sam connects with her best friend, Mel, and they locate the others, they set up camp and hope for rescue. But as the days pass, the survivors, all teammates on the Drake Rosemont fencing team, realize that they’re on their own — with the exception of a mysterious presence who taunts and threatens them. When their initial attempts to escape the island fail, the teens find they need to survive more than the jungle . . . they need to survive each other.

This taut novel, with a setting evocative of Lord of the Flies, is by turns cinematic and intimate, and always thought-provoking.

Jane: Alas, just the mention of Lord of the Flies is enough to turn me off – as a kid with asthma, that book was not a pleasant read…And despite what fiction might tell you, some private school kids are actually nice and pretty boring, and don’t emerge emotionally or psychologically scarred! I do really like the cover, though – the oranges, reds and yellows just seem to glow right off the page.

Yash: I’m not a fan of “people crash landing in a deserted place” stories unless it’s hella funny … which this one does not seem to be. The cover reminds me of that YA book about anorexia?? I think?? Or was it sl**-shaming???  I don’t know. It had a similar design. And, as always, I’m not a fan of the silhouette. I do want to see South Asian/brown American writers succeed, so I hope it does well. I’ll keep a lookout for early reviews.

The darling of the Roman Empire is in for the fight of her life.

Be brave, gladiatrix… And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you’ll earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon was warned.

Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors.

The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.

Jane: Meh. “Rival gladiator academy”? Really? Even when your job is to fight to the death for the entertainment of the mob you can’t escape school drama, eh? And forbidden love, meh. Couldn’t Fallon just fight to save her sisters, without the forbidden love of a Roman soldier thrown into the mix? Meh.

Yash: Oh good, looks like they still have Urban Decay’s smoky eye palette in book two.  Not for me, I think.

Nadia’s family is forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, when the Arab Spring sparks a civil war in this timely coming-of-age novel from award-winning author N.H. Senzai.

Silver and gold balloons. A birthday cake covered in pink roses. A new dress.

Nadia stands at the center of attention in her parents’ elegant dining room. This is the best day of my life, she thinks. Everyone is about to sing “Happy Birthday,” when her uncle calls from the living room, “Baba, brothers, you need to see this.” Reluctantly, she follows her family into the other room. On TV, a reporter stands near an overturned vegetable cart on a dusty street. Beside it is a mound of smoldering ashes. The reporter explains that a vegetable vendor in the city of Tunis burned himself alive, protesting corrupt government officials who have been harassing his business. Nadia frowns.

It is December 17, 2010: Nadia’s twelfth birthday and the beginning of the Arab Spring. Soon anti-government protests erupt across the Middle East and, one by one, countries are thrown into turmoil. As civil war flares in Syria and bombs fall across Nadia’s home city of Aleppo, her family decides to flee to safety. Inspired by current events, this novel sheds light on the complicated situation in Syria that has led to an international refugee crisis, and tells the story of one girl’s journey to safety.

Jane: That cover just grabs your heart, and captures just some of the horror that has befallen families like Nadia’s. It’s so important that kids realize that the kids impacted by war and other events around the world are kids like them or their friends, kids with families and hobbies and homes, who celebrate special events and have hopes and dreams, and whose lives have been turned upside down. It can be all too easy to forget that the people we see on our TV screens are real people, who but for a twist of fate could have so easily have been any of us. This sounds like a heartbreaking but valuable read.

Yash: I know I’m gonna read it. Senzai’s writing is amazing and, from what I hear, well-researched. It’ll kill me, but I’m in. As for that cover? Heart-wrenching. And amazingly well-designed. I’d pick it up.

Where exactly do people go when you can’t see them?

Everybody’s Somewhere, the thoughtful children’s book from award-winning author Cornelia Maude Spelman, reassures young kids that everyone-moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, and more —are somewhere, even if you can’t see them.

Whether your family enjoys it as a story for naptime, bedtime, or any time in-between, Everybody’s Somewhere will become a beloved bookshelf classic.

Jane: What an adorable cover, I love her hair buns! This sounds like a picture book about coping with separation anxiety or the loss of a loved one, which are definitely difficult but familiar topics that I get a lot of requests for.

Yash: The cover is gorgeous. And Jane’s right: those hair buns!!! Anyway, yes, I agree that the topic isn’t covered much in picturebooks, so this could be a useful recommendation. And, in order to recommend it, I definitely have to read it.