Welcome to the Cover Wars, where we judge books according to their covers: art and blurb. Okay, sometimes we have alternate sources of information, but mostly, we stick to what the book itself tells us. This month, the Cover Wars has a theme: books with ace protagonists. Some of these characters are also aro; others are not.
Unlike most of the covers this month, as far as I know, none of the books below are #ownvoices.
Yasmin is a descendant of the Manticore. A creature of Persian mythology. A Legendary.
But she doesn’t want to be. Unlike the Legendaries in The Red, Yasmin wants nothing more than an ordinary life. She tries to fool herself into believing that she doesn’t change into a beast every full moon and savagely kill innocent people.
But when Yasmin starts hearing a voice in her head and is drawn into dreams that aren’t her own, she is led to Fray—a girl who once saved Yasmin from hunters, who has shadowy memories that hint at her having Legendary magic—and Yasmin is catapulted into a life of Majick and malevolence.
Despite the danger around her and Fray, Yasmin might finally have a chance at being a normal girl with a normal girlfriend. But with Legendaries being killed, a war between the Gods brewing, and the beast inside Yasmin becoming stronger each moon, her mundane life is little more than a dream.
Janet: Yasmin’s expression is appealingly determined. I like how the cover pulls together many elements – Yasmin, the moon, the forest – into a unified and simple-seeming whole. The back is similarly polished; character detail and worldbuilding references say just enough. Despite the spelling of Majick, I’m sold on this.
Jane: I’m kind of tired of “I just want to be a normal person with an ordinary life!” Chosen-one stories. Ordinary lives can be pretty boring. I want magic powers, dangit! 😉 But I love seeing a determined character staring intensely at me from the cover. And I don’t often see werewolf-esque stories with female protagonists, which is pretty refreshing.
Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.
Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual… talents.
Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.
She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.
Janet: The cover doesn’t stand out, except for being greyscale. (Why is that so appealing? It just is.) The back copy is tidy but not quite enough character-unique detail to draw me in, maybe because this is the second in a series. On the other hand tech/engineering girls! I might have to consider reading Ultraviolet.
Jane: What’s with all the “I’m super special but I just want to be normal” story lines? Dang it, I want supernatural talents! But enough about me. The cover does look spooky and eery, which I think blends well with the back copy.
Irrepressible Lily O’Shaughnessy may have spent the majority of her childhood in bed with tuberculosis- but now that she’s well enough to get up and walk around from time to time, she’s determined to do twice as much living as anyone else.
To that end, she runs away from home and enrolls in a music conservatory in glittering, jazzy, wild New York, where she makes fantastic new friends.
But everyone seems to have secrets at the River School.
Tommie, a full-figured alto, has an incredible talent for terrible puns- but clams up whenever she’s asked about her childhood.
Sardonic pianist Jo seems to have had an idyllic life- but her moneyed Southern family is falling apart, and the absurd last will of a cruel grandfather puts her carefully planned-out future in jeopardy.
And then there’s Laura.
Impossibly talented, luminously beautiful, Laura is the gentlest, kindest person Lily’s ever met.
But an incomprehensible sadness lurks behind her eyes, a strange longing for the many joys of life she’ll never taste…
As the distance between Laura and Lily closes, a strange new desire arises in them both- the desire for love!
And when the horrors of Laura’s sordid past rise up at last to claim her and drag her down, only Lily can save her from her tortured self.
A novel of twilight affection and courageous love… a fascinating reimagining of Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market…A lesbian pulp novel with a happy ending!
Jazz! Poodles! An asexual woman in a queerplatonic relationship! Girls being friends!
Janet: The cover reminds me of Shira Glassman’s art, and of some Les Mis fanart. Very cute. The synopsis hits the right notes in the first two paragraphs, and progressively falls apart after that into the atrociously bad. I would read this, though, because 1. Shira Glassman liked it; 2. the cover and first two paragraphs; 3. the final paragraph, which reads like an enthusiastic fan Look At This Thing I Love Isn’t It Wonderful? on tumblr, and cites things I most definitely want to read about.
Jane: Hmmm….not the biggest fan of the back copy. But I really, really like the cover art. And I really, really, REALLY like the premise. I mean, as cheesy at that last paragraph is…it kind of sounds like they snuck into my brain. It just seems to have so much going for it, and checks off soooo many boxes for me. I need this book in my life.
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
Janet: The cover is enh. Not for me. The back is overly dramatic; on the other hand, podcasts!
Jane. Meh. BUT so, so, so many of the teens in the neighborhoods I’ve worked in struggle with high-expectation parents and an almost suffocating pressure to succeed, so this might really resonate with them.
Struggling to cope with the reality of her decision to live away from home, Penelope Van Buren is thrust into college life head first with nothing to break her fall. It’s a whirlwind once her dorm mate convinces her to leave the room. Penelope finds friends in LGBTQA club but when the questions start flowing through Penelope’s mind she realizes she’s been wrong about so many things.
Seeing the world around her with new eyes, she analyzes an old relationship that may turn out to be even more than she thought it would be. In the end, Penelope needs to do what would make her happy. The problem is she can’t seem to figure out what that is.
Janet: My, what things Stephie would have to say about the birds on the cover! The effect is a tad minimalist, even for my taste. The back conveys a taste of the new-to-college-and-everything-is-overwhelming experience paired with the corresponding character growth and new perspectives – promising.
Jane: Not a big fan of the cover – it’s just a bit to bland for me, and doesn’t really give me any insight into the book. The back copy is also a bit too bland, but at least it’s concise! Could be promising, though.