The Cover Wars


Space-farmer Rae Darling is kidnapped and trained to become a warrior against her own people in this adventurous middle grade space western.

Rae Darling and her family are colonists on a moon so obscure it doesn’t merit a name. Life is hard, water is scarce, and the farm work she does is grueling. But Rae and her sister Temple are faced with an added complication—being girls is a serious liability in their strict society. Even worse, the Cheese—the colonists’ name for the native people on the moon—sometimes kidnap girls from the human colony. And when Rae’s impetuous actions disrupt the fragile peace, the Cheese come for her and Temple.

Though Rae and Temple are captives in the Cheese society, they are shocked to discover a community full of kindness and acceptance. Where the human colonists subjugated women, the Cheese train the girls to become fierce warriors. Over time, Temple forgets her past and becomes one of the Cheese, but Rae continues to wonder where her loyalties truly lie. When her training is up, will she really be able to raid her former colony? Can she kidnap other girls, even if she might be recruiting them to a better life?

When a Cheese raid goes wrong and the humans retaliate, Rae’s loyalty is put to the ultimate test. Can Rae find a way to restore peace—and preserve both sides of herself?

Steph: Even though this screams sci-fi, this cover is just not for me. I know that lots of people enjoy this sort of fan-art style, but it just never really grabs me. Also, this one in particular seems very computer rendered… The back copy gives us WAY more than we need. All we needed was that first line – that’s it! Here we know the whole plotline AND, as experienced readers, we can already guess at the conclusion. (Also, who names a kid Temple?) Now I know the audience is middle grade but I think this plot synopsis might even be too much info for them. This title is also shared with about a dozen other books for young people including a very popular vampire/werewolf read by Peter Moore. Anyway, all that together have me vary wary… I’ll wait for reviews.

Janet: The cover is intriguing, with all that colour (red moon! blue dress!) and the two mounts. I like Rae’s look of determination. The synopsis tells way too much; even so, I might read it IF it weren’t for the obvious early settlers/First Nations parallel. I’m curious about how delicately or crudely this story presents its native population, but on the whole I’ll wait for Debbie Reese’s review.

Nafiza: I’m not a fan of the cover at all. The synopsis doesn’t intrigue me at all. I think what puts me off the most are the names. Cheese and Temple. I agree with the others. The synopsis gives way too much away.


Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.

Steph: Another mysterious star-crossed love interest, an archer, and seventeen years-old no less – Robin Hood/Katniss anyone? Besides the fact that this is a romance based plot, this sounds pretty interesting. A fairy tale of sorts. I also respect that the love plotline isn’t buried on the back copy by ploys to grab fantasy readers. This is a maybe for me. It isn’t my genre, but it has promise and I really like the cover so I would have picked it up to read the back copy anyway… Yep, I’m a serious maybe.

Janet: So, that tagline… if her fate has already been sealed, why should I bother reading? That oddity aside, the cover is very pretty. I like the use of various plants and leaves, and the intense, dark colouring reminds me of I Spy books. The synopsis leaves me cold (a perpetual eclipse? or is that merely a way of intimating that the evil done by the chancellor can never be eradicated? An eclipse-deposed princess named Luna? An archer named Fowler? Oy. Also, note the use of “mysterious” and “drawn to him” etc. This is heavy-duty romance. Very pretty, but I’ll pass.

Nafiza: I never thought I’d say this but I’m fast tiring of princesses. Figurehead princesses who are only valued for their faces and for whom power is but a word. I have a curious reaction to the cover. It is pretty but it gives me the same feeling I get when I eat too much chocolate. Too much of a rich thing is not good for the palate. I’m going to give this one a miss.


The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Steph: *shudders* Cannibalism, eh? That’s pretty rough stuff, it gets under my skin… literally *shudders* Honestly, the cover screams romance to me – the scrawl-y font and the gold colours and also the girl in the ball gown in the middle of the forest hallway-thing, and this isn’t the good kind of romance cover – I’m just not a fan of the ball gowns in the forest *shakes head* I mean you’d expect to get eaten if you go into the woods dressed like that, right? And again we get a little too much information on the back, we could probably have done without that third paragraph or some shortened version that simply mentioned the invention – we don’t need that “if she’s not careful…” line because we already have the “…except her own reckless ways” stuff in paragraph 2. Still, steampunk and fantasy are professed. Perhaps I’ll just keep my eye on this one. It’s a debut author and so there’s no portfolio of reviews to look at. I will wait.

Janet: Interesting contrast: the cover promising romance (gold swirling script, blood drops round as sealing wax, a ball gown *sigh*, a female silhouette) and the synopsis promising revenge. So far the western genre doesn’t interest me, not even with the addition of magic. What does appeal is the contrast of the synopsis’s thorough emphasis on Westie’s hard-boiled exterior and the one line about “the family she has now.” I’ll wait.

Nafiza: I don’t like this cover either. What is this? I’m the one who chose these covers. -_- I’m sorry for being a Betty Downer but seriously. I wish one concept had been chosen and the cover was either all of the top or all of the bottom and not split into two. The synopsis does interest me and I will pick it up if I see in the library.

ruby lee and me

When a segregated North Carolina town gets its first black teacher, two girls–one black, one white–come face-to-face with how prejudice affects their friendship.

Everything’s changing for Sarah Beth Willis. After Robin’s tragic accident, everyone seems different somehow. Days on the farm aren’t the same, and the simple fun of riding a bike or playing outside can be scary. And there’s talk in town about the new sixth-grade teacher at Shady Creek. Word is spreading quickly–Mrs. Smyre is like no other teacher anyone has ever seen around these parts. She’s the first African American teacher. It’s 1969, and while black folks and white folks are cordial, having a black teacher at an all-white school is a strange new happening. For Sarah Beth, there are so many unanswered questions. What is all this talk about Freedom Riders and school integration? Why can’t she and Ruby become best friends? And who says school isn’t for anybody who wants to learn–or teach? In a world filled with uncertainty, one very special teacher shows her young students and the adults in their lives that change invites unexpected possibilities.

Steph: The cover is cute and fitting if a little over-the-top bright and happy. Despite the obvious agenda – come on, we have a black teacher teaching about interracial relationships as a focal point of the novel – I kind of want to see how this goes down. I love the first line of the back copy but I still find myself assuming that this books is guilty of superficial didacticism (perhaps the cover hints at this too?) before proven innocent – and I want to prove myself wrong because I think these kinds of stories are essential (point in fact the three books above make no mention of POCs despite being fictional worlds wherein there could easily be diversity *nods at Nafiza* right?), particularly if they really address the issues and see characters change realistically. I’ll read it, but I’m nervous for the book.

Janet: The cover is clean, colourful, and very clearly aimed at middle grade girls. I like the colour scheme. Like Steph, I worry that the narrative will be too easily didactic. I’ve read or seen a few books with similar premises lately, and most of them are written from the white character’s perspective. This is probably because the authors are white and don’t want to speak for POC, but support them, and while this makes sense, I’d really like to read a MG story about friendship and discrimination from the perspective of a POC. The character’s arc would be completely different – which is the point, isn’t it? Anyway, back to this book – I’d probably flip through the first pages if I come across it.

Nafiza: The cover and the synopsis are so disparate, or so I feel anyway. I am interested in this one and will probably read it.

saving wonder

In this utterly transporting debut about the power of words, the importance of friendship, and the magic of wonder, Curley Hines must decide whether to fight to save the mountain he calls home.

Having lost most of his family to coal-mining accidents as a little boy, Curley Hines lives with his grandfather in the Appalachian Mountains of Wonder Gap, Kentucky. Ever since Curley can remember, Papaw has been giving him a word each week to learn and live. Papaw says words are Curley’s way out of the holler, even though Curley has no intention of ever leaving.

When a new coal boss takes over the local mining company, life as Curley knows it is turned upside down. Suddenly, his best friend, Jules, is interested in the coal boss’s son, and worse, the mining company threatens to destroy Curley and Papaw’s mountain. Now Curley faces a difficult choice. Does he use his words to speak out against Big Coal and save his mountain, or does he remain silent and save his way of life?

From debut author Mary Knight comes a rich, lyrical, and utterly transporting tale about friendship, the power of words, and the difficult hurdles we must overcome for the people and places we love.

Steph: The cover is sort of attractive, I think. I like the deer staring straight out us and I like the mountains and the colours – to me all ofthis screams setting and the importance of place and I like these kinds of stories. The white silhouettes are kinda… just there and they don’t need to be and honestly, this kind of annoys me. If this is a story about place and nature why MUST we always introduce humans to the picture? Why not leave it? Anyway, I think we can safely guess that Curley will use his words, but I want to see how it all happens. In addition to being drawn to the story of place I enjoy books about words and the importance of them. I’m in.

Janet: I like the cover aside from the white silhouettes. The only thing the silhouettes add is the news that Jules is a girl. (Which, in combination with the back copy, says that the preteen crush subplot is straight, not LGBT – so yay for a female best friend, but darn, where are the backcountry/working class LGBT characters?) Small town/mountainside/working class MG stories are fascinating in the world they present (another kind of diversity) and in the challenges – and kind of victories – of their protagonists. I’d look at the first few pages.

Nafiza: I like the cover. The deer adds a bit of whimsy to the cover and I actually like the silhouettes. I’d read this. I’m always fascinated by dilectical themes and the relationship a person has to the language they speak or express.