The Cover Wars

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A girl with Tourette syndrome starts a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this debut middle-grade novel in verse.

Calliope June has Tourette syndrome. Sometimes she can’t control the noises that come out of her mouth, or even her body language. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But soon the kids in her class realize she’s different. Only her neighbor, who is also the class president, sees her as she truly is—a quirky kid, and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?

As Callie navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that she might be moving again—just as she’s starting to make friends and finally accept her differences. This story of being true to yourself will speak to a wide audience.

Janet: That is a beautiful cover. It looks like a print, you know? the kind you look at a convention and walk past again and again because looking at it just makes you happy. Aaand the back copy is promising. I haven’t seen many books with any characters with Tourettes; surprising, considering how relatively common it is. The main questions of the narrative are laid out broadly enough that I have an idea of what I’m in for yet am not put off by an overabundance of information. I want to read this.

Yash: It’s a beautiful illustration … it just feels more like a card rather than a cover. I suppose the title helps, I guess. And I love, love, love that the caption is about friendship! And yes, I haven’t read anything with a character who has Tourettes, but uh, is it a particularly good sign that the word “quirk/y” is used twice … ? Should I be concerned or not? Anyway, I am cautiously excited about this. I’ll wait for Janet’s review though.

Nafiza: This cover would get my attention in a crowded bookstore, that’s for sure. How pretty it is. I quite like the whole composition and the colours. Like the other two, I haven’t read anything about characters with Tourettes syndrome but I am cautiously hopeful.

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This is a love story. It’s the story of a second-hand bookshop called Howling Books where people leave letters to strangers, or those they love, or want to love, between the pages of books in the Letter Library.

Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie are best friends. Or they were. Before Rachel moved away to the sea. Now, she’s back, grieving for her brother Cal who drowned in the sea that he loved.

Rachel loves Henry. Henry loves Amy. Amy loves Amy but is happy for Henry to love her too.

This is a book about books. About the power of literature to cradle our past, present and future selves. It’s about how we leave ourselves behind when we die. How we leave our histories in the things we love – like books.

Janet: The title is intriguing, the cover is sufficiently interesting but the back is a wee bit confusing. I don’t know enough to trust that the implications of the Letter Library will be explored beyond what the characters need to get them to their endings. It could be great! But I don’t know that yet, and the tone of the back copy strikes the wrong chord for me. I’ll pass.

Yash: The cover is cute, but not very remarkable. And after the last cover mentioning friendship on the cover, this one is made even less remarkable by the “love story” caption. For me, at least. (Friendship books are rarer, okay!) It sounds cute, though? A pretty unique premise for a romance? I guess? I just feel like I’d want to watch it more than read it–and even then I’d watch it only if it starred John Cho or something. *whisper* Sorry.

Nafiza: *judges the other two* Excuse both of you, *sniff* I have been waiting for this book forever. Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon was so remarkable that I wanted to read her next book immediately but it wasn’t available…actually, this is still not available in North America. I have no idea what the North American cover will look like but better than this, I hope. Still, it’s Cath Crowley and I want to read whatever she writes so yes please. I don’t even care about the synopsis. I will be reviewing Graffiti Moon next month so keep an eye out for it.

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Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.
The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.
Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.

Janet: Who cares what the cover is, the back copy is thrilling. What a contrast: the grit and barrier of the permanent detention center; the expansive generosity of the magical Night Sea and the imagination; Subhi physically bound yet with a wealth of family, history, and language; Jimmie physically free yet bereft of mother, music, and stories. Oh yes, I want to read this.

Yash: The cover is … pretty sparse? They already put a bird on it because of the sparrow, I suppose I am thankful they didn’t do the literal thing and put a bone on it too. *ahem* Petty complaints aside, reading the back, I am definitely interested. (I feel like the style of illustration may play into the story somehow.) So, as Janet says, the back copy is very interesting, even if the cover may not be. I do want to read this too.

Nafiza: I quite adore the cover and didn’t even notice the other bird until Yash mentioned it which whoa, interesting. I want to read this book for all the reasons the other two gave. The back copy sells it pretty darned well.

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Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Janet: Okay, these silhouettes are something else. How much sullen resentment is contained in Dylan’s outthrust lower lip and jaw, and how much inquiry and self-containment in Jamie’s upturned face! I like the use of gold and blue, and that opening line – no, the whole synopsis – is a winner. I want to read this now. Also, can we remark on how the similarity to Beauty and the Beast is absolutely there but we’re not hit over the head with it? And how this feels like it’s own story, complete even if the reader had never heard the fairy tale? Yes. So, library, are you ordering this soon?

Yash: I am torn between wanting there to be some racial diversity and desperately hoping that those silhouettes aren’t meant to be characters of colour. I am so sick of POC silhouettes, the next time they show up in a Cover Wars, I’m skipping right over them. I might read this hypothetical book, I might even love it, but I won’t be talking about the cover. *sigh* Anyway, since Meredith Russo gave such an enthusiastic review for Beast, I am definitely interested. At least I have Russo’s assurance that Jamie and Dylan were written with empathy and intelligence.

Nafiza: They’d better not be POC characters in silhouette yet again. I am definitely interested in reading this one and seeing how the fairytale comes into play (in several different and amazing ways, I’m thinking). I do like the cover because the gold and the blue go so well together. It’s just really pretty.

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The girls of Devonairre Street have always been told they’re Cursed. Any boy they love is certain to die too soon. But in Brooklyn in 2008 the Curse is less a terror and more a lifestyle accessory—something funky and quaint that makes the girls from the shortest street in Brooklyn special. They wear their hair long and keys around their necks. People give them a second look and whisper “Devonairre” to their friends. But the girls are sure it’s not real. It won’t affect their futures.

Then Jack, the one boy everyone loved, dies suddenly and violently. And now the Curse seems not only real, but like the only thing that matters. All their bright futures have suddenly gone dark.

THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE is a disturbing and sensual story of the power of youth and the boundless mysteries of love set against the backdrop of Haydu’s brilliantly reimagined New York City.

Janet: I like the lemons but between the fruit and the irregularly italicized letters, the cover is overwhelming. The back copy would be more tempting without that last paragraph. As it is, I’m left wondering how the current Devonairre girls don’t know the curse is real, since it seems to be an established (and therefore proven?) thing. I’m interested, but I’ll wait for one of the other Book Warriors to tell me what’s up.

Yash: I LOVE THIS COVER! (Though somebody please explain to me why it reminds me of an Ikea catalogue? Is it the font? The colours?? I am so confused!) The summary, though, I dunno. It sounds like an urban version of The Raven Boys, you know, with the girls and the curses and all? I’m not sure about this. I do like curse-work and stuff … but … *sigh* *looks at Nafiza* Maybe Nafiza has a better pro/con list. But man, if we were judging just by covers–this is my champion for the week.

Nafiza: I trip over the “Undressing” or maybe it’s the “Careful” and I just don’t get it. Okay  Yash, it definitely reminds me of an Ikea catalogue as well. Maybe it’s the lemons. I don’t know. I think this could be either really good or really bad depending on how the girls are depicted. I will probably give a chapter or two of this one a chance to win me over. I hope it’s something like The Raven Boys. Cuz Rowan.

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From the internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes a captivating and brilliantly realized story of two young women—a Caribbean immigrant in 1960s London, and a bohemian woman in 1930s Spain—and the powerful mystery that ties them together.

England, 1967. Odelle Bastien is a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. When she starts working at the prestigious Skelton Art Gallery, she discovers a painting rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, a young artist of immense talent and vision whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is matched by the intrigue around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions, Odelle does not know what to believe or who she can trust, including her mesmerizing colleague, Marjorie Quick.

Spain, 1937. Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer and English heiress, follows her parents to Arazuelo, a poor, restless village on the southern coast. She grows close to Teresa, a young housekeeper, and her half-brother Isaac Robles, an idealistic and ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. A dilettante buoyed by the revolutionary fervor that will soon erupt into civil war, Isaac dreams of being a painter as famous as his countryman, Picasso.

Raised in poverty, these illegitimate children of the local landowner revel in exploiting this wealthy Anglo-Austrian family. Insinuating themselves into the Schloss’s lives, Teresa and Isaac help Olive conceal her artistic talents with devastating consequences that will echo into the decades to come.

Rendered in exquisite detail, The Muse is a passionate and enthralling tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.

Janet: The cover stands out from other covers with a similar style because of the abundant colours, for which (surprise!) I like it. The back copy, oddly, reads as though the story was written for an adult audience; I’ve seen a lot of grown-up books (I’m not saying adult books, okay? it just sounds awkwardly suggestive) with similar synopses and similar connections across time and nation. A bit too much is said, pinning the characters in place, to allow the reader to easily relate. I’ll wait for someone else to review.

Yash: Okay, when I was typing out my notes on the previous cover, I peeked at the one below and for a second I was like, “Oh, we have another greeting card”, but then … the snakes happened! And the typewriter below! So nice! And the summary is so interesting. “Muse” is one of the words I most hate, but like, this is definitely the kind of historical fiction I am into and it makes up for the word “muse”. On my TBR.

Nafiza: *looks at Janet sheepishly* It reads like a synopsis meant for adults because it is well targeted toward an adult audience though I’m sure the crossover appeal is apparent. I really like this cover and well, I have been meaning to read something by Jessie Burton though it might be The Miniaturist that I read first. It is on my TBR.