Here on the Book Wars’ own Cover Wars, we judge books solely according to their covers: art and blurb. (Okay, sometimes we have alternate sources of information, but hey! We’re only human.) This month, the Cover Wars has a theme: books with ace protagonists. Some of these characters are also aro; others are not.
[Trident Chronicles #1. #ownvoices]
As the second child of the Aridan imperial family, nineteen-year-old Guerline knows exactly what is expected of her: be unobtrusive, be compliant, and do not fall in love with her low-born companion, Eva. She has succeeded at only two of those.
But before her feelings for Eva can become a point of contention for the royal house, Guerline’s calm and narrow life is ripped away from her—in the course of a single night—and she is abruptly cast in the role of empress.
Faced with a council that aggressively fears the four witch clans charged with protecting Arido and believes they are, in fact, waging war against the humans, Guerline struggles to maintain order. As her control over the land crumbles, she learns that the war is rooted in a conflict much older than she realized—one centuries in the making, which is now crawling from under the mountain and into the light. With the fate of Arido hanging in the balance, Guerline must decide who to trust when even her closest councilors seem to have an agenda.
Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?
Janet: That cover! So pretty. I just want to keep staring at it. Analyze the embroidery. And the back copy gives a solid sense of setting with tantalizing details. Solid yes.
Nafiza: The cover is enchanting, the synopsis is compelling, and okay, this is an easy yes.
[Assassins #2. #ownvoices]
Being orphaned and almost kidnapped in the space of a week sent Blake Marks into hiding. For months, Blake tries to help the Calvers—a family of vigilante bodyguards—investigate the people behind the hit on Blake’s father, Isaac, but then the safehouse is compromised. Just as hired thugs storm the house to grab Blake, Daelan Calver dives into the fight, getting them both out alive.
Hiding isn’t an option anymore, but hit squads, under-the-table deals, and international espionage? Blake has no idea how to handle any of it, not even with Daelan’s family there to play teachers. The one thing Blake knows for sure is that there are only two options: keep up with the Calvers or get out of their way.
But even with the Calvers’ help and the glimmer of a possible future with Daelan giving Blake hope, chances of survival keep shrinking. The man who ordered the hit on Isaac may be dead, but his partner is viciously cold-blooded, and her plans could change the course of history. Blake wants to finish what Isaac started, but it’s looking like someone is going to die before this is over. And that someone might be Blake.
Janet: *snort* Such a dramatic cover, very Hollywood action flick. The back matches the front in intensity. I do like that Blake seems to not be all about killing – that he doesn’t really know what he’s doing but isn’t going murderous on the world. Hollywood action flicks are not my thing, but if this was lying around the house I’d probably start reading.
Nafiza: This one is a pass for me. I am not a fan of the cover and the back lost me before the first paragraph simply because I am not the target audience.
This collection enlisted talent around the world. From students to seasoned professionals, these writers came together to raise awareness and reinvent classic stories. While they showcase a wide variety of origins, styles, and endings, all the tales in this anthology have one classic element in common: a happily ever after.
Fifty percent of this collection’s proceeds will be donated to the Trevor Project, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual and other queer youth.
Janet: The cover is just. so. um. standard white-cis-straight-ablebodied YA romance? Which is not what I would expect from an ace collective. *sigh* That said, fairy tales and ace/other queer protagonists are definitely my jam, so *ignores the cover* I’d read this.
Nafiza: I wish this had a better cover because the stories it contains seems to have a message that transcends the generic stock image of a girl in the forest. Oh well, I’d see what Janet says before making a commitment.
She warned of the pain. She did.
But no warning can prepare you.
How could I have known
What it is like on the dry sand?
We just watched.
It’s hard, not being able to ask
Questions, though I have learned some speech
With my hands. ˆ_ˆ
I miss my sisters.
I have made friends here.
I have laughed with them,
Learned with them, played with them.
I love them.
She said I would die if he loves someone else.
Will I die? At the beginning I wanted to. It hurts
So much. Life isn’t easy, will never be easy, but…
I don’t want to become sea foam.
Janet: AAH a Little Mermaid verse novel retelling with an ace protagonist hand it over now. Thanks. The cover is a little 1950s picture-perfect, but I like the mud? seaweed? acne? the red stuff on her face, and the playfulness intimated by holding the seashell up in place of her eye. The back copy blends light-heartedness with heart-stopping pain. Yes.
Nafiza: This seems like it will be painful. Very very painful. I’d try it and hope that the little mermaid finally walks away from the prince. I mean, why does she even love him? She sees him once and most of that time he isn’t breathing. O.O
Tai Talagi and Ollie Birkstrom have been inseparable since they met as kids, surfing the North Shore of Oahu. Now they live with their best friends and Ollie’s kid brother in a pulled-together family, all of them piled into a run-down beach house. They share cooking, bills, and the saltwater running in their veins. They might have no money, they might argue, they might be in dead end jobs, but they live in Hawaii so it’s always summer. There’s always time for one last wave.
Tai’s spent years shutting down any feelings for Ollie. They’re friends. Their family depends on them. But with Ollie off on his first world tour, with Ollie’s dreams of a pro surfing career finally within reach, their steady world shifts. Is it worth risking their friendship, their family, their dreams for a chance at something terrifying and beautiful and altogether new?
Janet: A found families, new love story? Friendship and work and opening futures? Oh yes. One complaint – the title and author name are hard to read. Even so, the shimmering, just out of focus look fits the cover and the surfing theme.
Nafiza: I like the back copy though I am not a fan of the cover. I’d give this one a chance.