The Cover Wars



As usual we are judging books by their covers and their back copy – join in inthe comments and on twitter! 🙂


A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

Janet: Didn’t this appear in a Cover Wars last year? Anyway, I love the cover for the colours, the shadows, and the depth of the ripple-mirror water. There is a strong sense of wonder-in-the-moment – beautiful.

Nafiza: Oh, we’ve already done this? Sorry. But I just can’t resist the wonder this picture evokes in me. Even though I didn’t do something like this in my childhood, there’s still a similar sense of exploration and the feeling that world is wonderful and wide open in front of you. I really love this cover. And I loved the cover that graced Lai’s previous book too. I will certainly try to get my hands on a copy of this one.

Steph: Doesn’t this one belong in last week’s cover wars? Haha, it’s shiny and pink! It looks like my reaction is not wrong – well, if we’ve already done it’s alright. Though the cover doesn’t feel incredibly original, but it is very pretty. It does invoke a sense of wonder and mystique, the silhouettes somehow seem logical here in this lighting and we’re starting to get a strong sense of place. From the back copy I particularly like that we only get mention of one character and her struggle, the love interest then, will be with herself and this place, primarily, which I can totally get behind. I too would like to give this a read.

Yash: No, we haven’t done this. I think. The same illustrator (I bet) worked on Thanhha Lai’s last book, which Nafiza and I made a bit of hue and cry over. I’m glad the illustrator’s style remains to be luminous and magical and gah, what’s the word that means playing with light and shadow? (Sorry guys, I have a cold again.) It very much suits Lai’s poetry. I also really love that Woodson’s blurb adorns her cover. (Yay, WOC poets supporting each other!) I so hope more people pick this one up– I’m that sure that Lai has still got the magic.


Mika Arlington was supposed to spend the summer after her junior year shadowing her marine biologist parents at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but when her estranged grandmother randomly shows up on the doorstep one day, those plans are derailed. Because Grandma Betty isn’t here to play nice—she is cranky, intolerant of Mika’s mixed-race-couple parents, and oh yeah she has Alzheimer’s and is out of money.  While Mika’s family would rather not deal with Grandma Betty, they don’t have much choice. And despite Mika’s protests, she is roped into caring for a person that seems impossible to have compassion for. And if that wasn’t hard enough, Mika must train the new guy at her pet shop job who wants to be anywhere else, and help a friend through her own family crisis. Something’s gotta a give, but whichever ball Mika drops means losing someone she loves. Not exactly a recipe for Best Summer Ever—or is it?

Janet: Looks nice but not terribly interesting.

Nafiza: I think Janet may find it more interesting after she reads the synopsis, haha. I had a cranky grandma so I know how it feels to have one and I was also the one who usually granny-sat while my family attended to other obligations. Not that I minded. I liked her and she liked me so we got on. Mostly. The cover is misleading because the emphasis on the cover seems to be on the romance and the synopsis doesn’t give any indication of it. I’d give this one a try based on the synopsis.

Steph: OK, but I agree with Janet’s assessment of the cover – why that cover? What on earth does that say about alzheimers and growing up and stuff… I think marine biologists work on things just a little more interesting than gold fish… I just hope that there’s some sort of tie in to the cover in the book, otherwise this is just plain weird. The back copy sounds fascinating though! I worry that there will be just a little too much going on – and why does she have to lose someone? That makes me wonder if the author is going to pull the old “if they could just talk to each other all would be fine, but because they can’t I’ll cause drama and plot movement!” so… beware of that. Still, maybe if Nafiza likes it?

Yash: All I can think about is this thing I read under a bottle cap– it said that goldfish have three second attention spans, or something dramatic to that effect. I don’t know if that’s true, but it mayyyy have something to do with Alzheimer’s? Seems a bit of a reach, though. And why out of water? *shrug* I’m guessing these are things that we will be told … I think I’m interested to read it, though I think this is mainly because of the summary and not the cover at all. (The cover, as everyone has said, is cute and all but it doesn’t really convey much. Do the cover design folks not talk to the summary/blurb folks? Uh, that’s a genuine question. I want to know.)


(second in series so no synopsis for fear of spoilers)

Janet: What terrifying waves! That boat is so doomed I am not going to read about it. Especially if George R. R. Martin recommends it.

Nafiza: *swoon* I don’t know if I’d ever read this exactly but daaamn, the cover is so my thing.

Steph: THAT LOOKS SO COOL! Haha, I like George R.R. so I might give this a read, well, I might give the first one a read and then we’ll see about sequels. This looks fascinating and like a Jason and the Argonauts retelling or something…. niftay!

Yash: *shudder* Adventure on the high seas and a quote from GRRM. *double shudder* This book (though it may sell rather well) is not for me it seems. Still, I have to say, the cover is pretty cool but the title font does not match the rest of the cover somehow, no? Perhaps that was intentional, and if so, yet another thing that tells me this is not for me.


Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

Janet: Neat title, and the title font strikes a balance between being cursive and being legible. However, why do novels with transgender characters (I’m assuming here; I haven’t read the synopsis) always draw on bathroom signs? I understand that choosing which bathroom to use, or not having that choice, is significant, but when every cover plays with the same image it loses its impact. Still, I might look at this if a Book Warrior recommends it.

Nafiza: I like the cover. I like especially the detail of the pigtails because how can you not? Contemporary/Realistic fiction is not my thing so unless a trusted friend shoves it in my hands, I may not read it.

Steph: I’m with the other two. The cover is very standard to transgender stories, so I’m not expecting anything new and exciting out of this (though I haven’t read many transgender books…. like maybe 2?). The synopsis doesn’t give me much except that it’s going to take place in high school and revolve around high school drama which, for me, is kinda meh.

Yash: I haven’t read nearly enough transgender YA stories. Gimme it. Gimme all of it. (And as far as I remember, none of the others I’ve read play with bathroom signs on the cover, so unless we are talking about the poster for Transamerica, this YA book cover is kind of on-point IMHO.)


Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

Janet: She isn’t anorexic! I appreciate that. On the other hand… I have mixed reactions to fan culture, and defining oneself by one’s fandoms – defining oneself as a fan – is deeply problematic to me. It seems limited and unoriginal – branding by another name, if you will. There is a significant difference between saying that you like such-and-such a book/series/author, and defining your identity as a fan as such-and-such a book/author/series. Back to the book, though, I wouldn’t pick this up on my own, but if Yash recommends it I’ll consider reading.

Nafiza: I like this cover and I will definitely get my hands on this. One way or another. And while I understand and even agree with Janet’s reservations where fan culture is concerned, I think the major appeal of being a fan is the sense of community, belonging and kinship fostered between you and other people who like the same things you do. Especially during adolescence when emotions are all over the place and gaining a place to belong is so very important. I appreciate the existence of this book.

Steph: Oh my, we got serious in our comments on this one. First, I must say that I truly enjoy this cover, and second, as a nerd (not a specified fan of any one thing in particular, besides LOTR of course) I know that I will love this book and appreciate it for it’s humour and the way that it will tackle all things nerdy in a female voice. That said, it might go overboard in places, I might not get all the references and I generally agree that “fandom” isn’t necessarily a wonderful term.All that aside, I too appreciate the intent of the book and that it exists, if I do read it I’ll let y’all know how it was (was it overboard, was it just on the cutting edge of hilarious, or was it a flop?). 🙂

Yash: Me + Fandom = Serious Business. I cannot get into that whole discussion in a Cover Wars post. All I’m gonna say is that Maggs better have included all kinds of women in this fandom centric book. That said, I do want to read this one badly. I also love the artist who illustrated this. They do some brilliant journal-type comics: