The Cover Wars


Like most goats, Jayna, Bumsie, and Pep’s greatest fear is being eaten for dinner by the legendary chupacabra—it’s common knowledge that goats are a chupacabra’s favorite food! One night, tired of living in fear, the impetuous goats whip out their trusty candelabra and head off to find the beast and scare it away before it can find them. Little do they know that candelabras are the chupacabra’s third-favorite food . . . and he isn’t about to stop there. This chupacabra has quite the appetite, and the goats are in for a big surprise!

Janet: For the title alone I am interested. The cover is cheerful, colourful, fun. Hoping very hard that the goats are not eaten!

Nafiza: This seems rather adorable. I do enjoy the cover. I hope the goats make it out alive. :\


Honorine’s life as as maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia’s study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night….

Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?

Janet: The back copy isn’t terribly original – how many middle grade novels with the same basic set-up have we seen in The Cover Wars? (Rhetorical question. The answer is: several.) The description of “spirited” feels off; that is definitely an adult speaking of (I might say, condescending to) a child. Any contrast between “old” and “new” ways is highly culturally specific, and polarized struggles (old/new, magic/science) suggest a blunt, nuance-less approach. However! That cover is lovely: blues and gold and a girl with short hair riding a winged horse. I might have to read the first few pages just for that cover.

Nafiza: For some reason, the cover doesn’t work for me. I have no idea why. It has all the elements that ought to make me like it but I just look at it and am unimpressed. The back copy seems really clunky. I feel like it needs to be pared down and made simpler with the focus on one specific thing designed to engage the reader’s interest. I wish there was more about star’s coming to life because there are so many ways I can interpret that. Celestial bodies coming to life? How does that work?


The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince.

The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land – and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

With Frogkisser!, acclaimed bestselling author Garth Nix has conjured a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs. It’s 50% fairy tale, 50% fantasy, and 100% pure enjoyment from start to finish.

Janet: Garth Nix. I’m in. (Also, he seems to have a thing for newts – his last book before Goldenhand was Newt’s Emerald.)

Nafiza Azad: It’s Garth Nix so I’m definitely intrigued. Not very fond of the cover but eh. I will see what Janet has to say about the book before making up my mind.


A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

Janet: No and no and no. The cover is very adult-romancy, and no humour; with the exception of Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, no comparison to Austen is ever justified; and oh gosh, “the curious nature of her own heart.” Meaning True Love Conquers All, displacing meaningful character development in the process. Jaded much? Yes. Yes, I am.

(Usual caveat: this could be a perfectly good and well-written book. My criticism is based solely on the cover and the back copy, which insist otherwise.)

Nafiza: Not gonna lie, I saw a Dragon and then I saw the first paragraph and I am definitely in. I don’t know if I will like this but it presses all my buttons so I will certainly be giving it a try.


Miss Pippa Kipling and her automaton companion, the Porter, exterminate pests of the supernatural variety. What should be a typical job in your average haunted cavern soon derails in an inconveniently undead fashion. Even with the aid of her gadget collection and the Porter s prowess, this task may prove fatal for Miss Kipling or worse, rip her petticoat.

Janet: Again, the back copy is Not Original. The cover, however, is perfectly lovely: distinct art style; nod to the Penguin Classic cover format with that frame around the title and author name; clear lines and subtle shading; the viewer’s eyes are drawn along a clear and linear path. I might have to hunt this up just to see if the inside matches.

Nafiza: I don’t know Janet, I feel like the back copy is rather Original. I adore the cover. Combined with the cheeky tone of the back copy, this book is definitely one for my TBR.


A Twisted Tale #3

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns–a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind–images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

Janet: Yeah, no. I have no idea what is going on precisely – is Belle in the town, or in the castle? How did she get there? What of the plot has changed from the Disney movie and what hasn’t? – but it is entirely clear that this is pure romance of the Reluctant Allies Who Fight Their Mutual Attraction But Soon Surrender To Their Overpowering Feelings subvariety. I am all for romance when the narrative involves a strong dose of humour, a war of manners, subversive ideology, murder, well-developed and lovable side characters, and/or leads who are queer, POC, Indigenous, disabled, or managing mental illness/otherwise neurodivergent.* This back copy contains precisely none of these requirements.

*(Choose two or more from this list; assignments that do not meet this minimum will be graded accordingly.)

Nafiza: Hahaha. No seriously, the first few sentences of the back copy though. You would think being the captive of a beast would be worthy of the first mention. Heh. Anyway, no.