Tamora Pierce and Cover Design

I’ve been reading through the Tamroa Pierce catalogue, as they’re good lighthearted fantasy fare for the broken, stressed-out brain. I’ve enjoyed them. I’ve preferred Tortall to Emelen so far, largely because school settings are so boring to me; I didn’t even like them as a kid. A girl running around in the woods beating people up is much more appealing. I also think Daine being older made the books a bit easier on me as a poorly-adjusted adult. I think Pierce’s greatest strength, aside from how readable her writing is, is in creating unique, likable characters — I’ve found them all easy to root for.

One thing I noticed as soon as I started Immortals, though, is that depending on which editions of the book you get, your cover experience varies wildly, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

Back when I was at Figment, we had an ongoing tally of how many covers had young girls lying prone, or at least in generally victimized positions. It was a literary form of gallows humor. I’ve thought of that often in the years since, both because I keep seeing those covers and because I felt like this wasn’t how things were when I was a kid. Even books that were ‘for girls’ and princessy and shit had actual covers, as far as I recall.

My point is, in addition to being horrible and depressing, there is an unfortunate degree to which these are hilarious.

File:Wild Magic.jpgFile:WM Simon & Schuster pb.jpgFile:WM Simon Pulse pb.jpg

This is pretty emblematic of the whole Immortals series, and it’s also my favorite, because it goes from “action girl killing evil shit” > “fantasy book for animal lovers” > “maybe it’s maybelline and here’s a weird translucent horse i guess?”. Every time I see the horse on the last one I crack up. It’s just so absurd.

I actually like the second series of covers from 2005, with the animals, the best, because the weird old-school scenery ones are always ugly to me and I know as a kid I’d have been much more caught by the “loves animals” angle than the “generic fantasy battle” angle; I also think they capture the nature of the books as a whole better — this is not a series about the excitement of fighting. (I also think it’s interesting that, as late as 2005, real covers were still happening, but it switched over very quickly after that — the best I can find, the shitty cover is also 2005.)

This progression is repeated with each of her series’ titles, and if you’re looking for a reason to drink, you can head over to the Tamora Pierce wiki and see all the covers together.

The less funny ones, to me, are the Protector of the Small covers. Immortals and Circle aren’t specifically about overcoming sexism, and so the cover bullshittery is easier to laugh at. But stories about a woman overcoming gendered expectations getting this treatment feels a hell of a lot more sinister.

File:First Test.jpgFile:Page.jpgFile:Squire.jpgFile:Lady Knight.jpg

A few things about these:

  • The art style is so ugly, I’m sorry. Though, the last two calmed the fuck down, and I like the idea of her on a simple background. She also looks much less stiff than in the other two. I do genuinely like the third one.
  • I love how in First Test and Squire, she’s visibly injured but still confident. That’s so cool; you’d never see something like that now.
  • I like the prominence of animals in all of these. You just get so much information about what to expect from the story — strong girl, saves animals, fantasy, knights. What else do you need from a cover?

File:Firsttest usbp reissue.jpgFile:Page uspb reissue.jpgFile:Squire usbp reissue.jpgFile:Ladyknight uspb reissue4online.jpg

  • I can’t get over that the third one is just like, “BEWBS LOL.” That’s the best they could come up with, a titty shot?
  • I think it’s interesting that the second one is the only one where we get even a hint that she’s an active participant, and it’s the one where the sex of the person is vague. So much so that it actually looks out of place next to the other three, which can be described as, “Waif, Bewbs, and Lipzzzz,” respectively.
  • Not even any translucent animals on these; we’ve done away with nature. I actually wonder if that’s as much because a love of nature has become less marketable as much as it is the need to show as much generically pretty lady as possible.
  • What the actual fuck are these books about? Like, seriously. What are these about? They’re just random pictures of a woman’s torso with a colored filter over them! Hell, the first and last ones seem to legitimately be the same image cropped differently!

It certainly does feel like we’ve regressed, from a media crit perspective, doesn’t it? I was talking with Roarke the other day about how Dragon Warrior 3, a 1990 game, let you choose your gender, while today even an option of neutral male-female choice that doesn’t affect the story is met with raised eyebrows. I felt the same way playing Chrono Trigger, where the cast was split roughly evenly and the female characters got real storylines. It really does feel like somewhere in the mid-2000s something changed, and I don’t know if it was the internet allowing horrible people to coalesce and share their horribleness better than ever before, thus empowering them, or just general backlash as social movements have gained more traction, or maybe it was just technology, and how it became more possible to sexualize women in media as it became possible to create anything you could imagine, but when you look at stuff like this you can’t help feeling something happened on a large scale. It’s depressing as fuck.

I also wonder if this is related to the fact that YA novels have ceased to have plots. Farla and I have both said various times that we don’t remember so much nothing happening in novels aimed at us when we were kids and tweens, and I wonder if that was, if not intentional, at least not coincidental. It feels like a lot to posit that the lack of images of young girls being strong and the lack of stories about them happening at the same time was just chance. But it also feels paranoid to say it wasn’t. I don’t know. I’m just spitballing. But I do wonder who I would have been if I had the narrative being given to young girls today, and that’s from someone who just spent two months hospitalized for an eating disorder. Like, what the hell is this next generation going to look like?

In conclusion, get off my lawn.


  1. Raven says:
    The newer covers for Protector of the Small are even more baffling because its a series aimed at girls.  Why did the marketing department think “sex sells” was the way to go on this?

    1. illhousen says:

      Ah, that’s actually not surprising. Both styles of cover ask the potential reader the same question: “Wouldn’t you want to be her?” It’s just the idea of what girls want to be that is drastically different.

  2. illhousen says:

    I may be way off here since my knowledge of such things is patchy, but from what I know, it could be connected with the formation of YA market.

    From what I understand, it used to be that there were kid books and adult books, but YA books occupied this weird niche where they existed in a sense that people were writing books aimed at the demographic but didn’t exist in a sense that they weren’t advertised as such.

    They were marketed as books for girls or books for women, not books for teenage girls and young women.

    And, I don’t know, it kinda feels that it’s generally perceived as more acceptable for girls to be proactive and do stuff than for young women? At the very least girls are less frequently sexualized* (I mean, that happens, but not quite that often), so it might have influenced the cover designs. If you can’t draw boobs and lips, well, I guess you’re stuck with people doing stuff and killing things?

    Granted, that doesn’t account for other stuff you’re talking about, like the change in video games. I do think that technology played a big role in it. Gender didn’t matter as much back when everything was a little bunch of pixels, but now you can turn women into proper objects of desire, and so it is done. (Though, to be fair, there are games that are good on that front. Your Bioware, Torment even if it does have flaws on other fronts, other games we’ve discussed and recommended here. And old games had their share of issues as well. Could be that the awful is just louder now, more noticeable because of easy access to everything.)

    But yeah, it does appear to be a more global phenomenon than just one thing that can be explained by some innocuous factor. Some change in attitude.

    *Mozilla spell checker, why do you fail me so? Seriously, you know “desexualized” but not “sexualized?” Seriously?

    1. Could be that the awful is just louder now, more noticeable because of easy access to everything.

      I think this is probably a big factor. People are talking about the issues more now, but that’s led to a larger pushback as well. There may be some truth to the whining about how the mere inclusion of women or gay people is “political” — writers who previously wouldn’t have thought about including women at all now either feel compelled to or, cynically, feel they can field a larger catch by doing so, and the results are obviously forced, sterile, and awful. Writers who write genuinely good, diverse casts are still around, but whereas before they stood out, now they’ve been diluted by the people trying to capitalize on a trend.

      Granted, this doesn’t explain why so many YA authors are women yet still write awful women. It is quite strange.

  3. Farla says:

    Twilight came through and showed there was money to be made, so good stopped mattering. In fact, checking, it came out in 2005.

    Stuff I read suggested YA became female-dominated by accident – you’d be told that nah, this story with dragons needed a male protagonist, and this story with spaceships needed a male protagonist, this serious book needed a male protagonist… So female main characters mostly made it to print there, so the genre ended up with proportionally more and felt dominated by them, so authors with male characters were more likely to avoid it and authors with female gravitate there, and that was our YA, when I would spurn the adult section of the library because so many of them with just spinning their heels while the YA stuff had actual plots.

    It wasn’t Twilight’s fault, I don’t think – Harry Potter had already showed children’s books could be moneymaking engines, and it was inevitable that YA would have its own super popular book before long. And then everyone else shows up to make money off girls and say, as one, “Oh, but what girls REALLY want is to be side characters in their own stories, because, I mean, god, girls, who fucking cares right?” I just saw someone ranting about the romance genre, because a whole bunch of male new authors are trying to move in with this groundbreaking twist of it ending in misery, because everyone knows romance is just some crap women read so there’s no need to try to figure out what they actually want.

    And when one year I return to my precious Yellow playthrough…it was the fucking graphics that did us in with videogames, because if you have the pixels to make sexy girls, people demand you have sexy girls and that they don’t have anything else that would get in the way of being objects, and you can see the first glimmers there. And the HP/Twilight movie empire means the goal of every book is to be a movie, so you need sexy girl characters for the sexy girl covers for the eventual sexy girl actor to languid her way through her movie. And that’s all you need, so who cares if the girl doesn’t get to do anything? She doesn’t need a plot if she’s got looks.

  4. Sandstorm says:
    With the Protector of the Small covers, one thing that occurs to me is that the “photo of a random book cover model” seems like it takes less effort than a drawn/painted cover.  When you’re publishing new editions of an established work, you can rely to some extent on pre-existing fans and word of mouth to get some sales even if the book has a generic cover. I also wonder if that could be a contributing factor to the trend of boring book covers that are basically “photo of a random object from the book on a blank background” (which it seems to me also pops up especially often on later editions).

  5. CrazyEd says:
    Would you recommend any of these books to an adult male reader with absolutely zero nostalgia for them but who wouldn’t mind a lighthearted fantasy that predates the obsession for gritty realism in fantasy novels or are they really something better suited to reading to remember how kickass they were reading them for the first time as a twelve year old girl? The good set of covers give me the impression that a boy could enjoy these just as much as a girl, but I don’t feel as certain that an adult could enjoy them as much as a pre-teen (except for Lady Knight’s, which I’d probably pick up on my own if I saw).

    The good set of covers for Protector of the Small makes me think they’re about as historically accurate about knights as AD&D, which is about the level of realism I could really go for right now. If I’m looking for a book about a lady knight, and don’t want someone like George RR. Martin telling me how much that would royally suck, should I give them a try?

    YA novels have ceased to have plots

    I see this coming up a lot reading through a lot of the older reviews. What separates this from things like slice of life or from comfy healing anime? Just a few days ago, I was cleaning out my anime backlog a bit, and I finally got around to finishing Flying Witch. Literally half of one of the later episodes is dedicated to making (and then talking) about pancakes. And this isn’t even the first time half an episode was devoted to cooking. It was at least the third (but, to be fair, one of them was your standard “cooking class” plot rather than the protagonists channeling their inner Shirou).

    1. Act says:

      Would you recommend any of these books to an adult male […] or are they really something better suited to reading to remember how kickass they were reading them for the first time as a twelve year old girl?

      Not to, like, make an example of you, but this is a really bizarre thing to say. Why would being an ‘adult male’ affect the quality of the books, considering I’m an adult as well (as I say in this post!), and I specifically said, “I’ve enjoyed them”? Why would the only people who could have potentially enjoyed them as children have been “twelve year old girls”? Is this an iteration of that gaming meme where men insist they can’t possibly relate to a female protagonist because female characters are the different, lesser kind and they’d rather get to play as real people? Or is it just that stories about girls must be inherently lesser? (Could you imagine someone asking this about the Harry Potter books?)

      The books are kids’ books, so the plots are simple, the bad guys always lose, and they’re quite short. Whether or not you can deal with writing aimed at young people or will be bored by it isn’t something I know, but what I can tell you is what I said in the post. Pierce’s writing is quite readable, the characters are likable, and they’re nice lite fare for when I’m stressed out.

      I don’t intend to stock my future child’s bookshelveves differently depending on if they’re a boy or a girl, nor do I ask myself before picking up a book, “Should I read this despite ovaries?”

      What separates this from things like slice of life or from comfy healing anime?

      I’m not sure what you mean by the latter, but as I’ve said in the past, slice-of-life very much has a plot, has rise and fall of action, etc. I love S-o-L as a genre, but because it’s a really subtle genre it is absolutely overflowing with boring crap, and is particularly prone to anime/manga that serves no purpose but fanservice.

      ARIA is a good example of well-plotted So-L, as is Yotsubato! — every chapter has an internal plotline and conflict, despite the overall story just being day-to-day vingettes. ARIA holds interest with its futuristic setting, while Yotsubato! is carried by humor and characterization, but both writers are very careful to have each chapter follow the good ol’ story pyramid.

      1. CrazyEd says:
        Not to, like, make an example of you

        Don’t worry about it. Your response has a lot of valid questions and I hope I give satisfactory answers. Honestly, I became kind of worried this misunderstanding might happen after posting. My basis of asking about whether an “adult” might enjoy them was specifically an adult without the same nostalgia for them that you do. Your experience with this book series as an adult with nostalgia will be different from mine without. These books were written for a younger audience and I don’t know to what degree that is reflected in the writing (both in the plot and just the basic things like word choice or sentence structure), and that’s more what I was asking about. I can handle a simple but enjoyable plot, but if the writing itself tends towards the side of caution when considering the reading skills of its intended age demographic, that might be more of a deal breaker. If the technical writing is at least at the same level as (to use your own example) Harry Potter, then it won’t bother me.

        For what it’s worth, I’ve read the wikipedia article of the series, and if this same article belonged to a book series meant for an adult audience I would have searched it out for myself without bothering to ask. And, on a side-note, I’d also like to ask what the proper chronological order to read the various series in (if that’s a thing that matters) in case I do decide to read them for myself.

        the only people who could have potentially enjoyed them as children

        … Ah, wow, I put my foot in my mouth there. I totally didn’t mean it that way, but I see how you could’ve taken it this way. When I said “twelve year old girl”, I very specifically meant you at the age of twelve. If you’re not a woman, I apologize. I seem to vaguely recall a post you made once talking about experiences in an all-girls high school (which would be interesting to learn more about), but if that was someone else, it is my mistake. Again, my question was based more on how much nostalgia you’re taking from that period of your life into this than whether or not a penis would preclude enjoyment.

        I don’t have a problem with female protagonists as a rule, whether first person or third person (incidentally, which one are these?). I would’ve still read Harry Potter if Harry was a girl, I did read novels featuring female protagonists as a twelve year old boy, and probably would’ve read this one if you put it in front of me, but this book series couldn’t have a male protagonist. The fact that I would be reading this an adult without nostalgia is far more important, but since gender and sexism that I have not personally been targeted by is such a large of this series, I guess I just thought… that it might be worth it to mention it for some reason, or something? I’m not really sure. Hopefully I explained myself without sticking the other foot in with the first.

        comfy healing anime

        You know that cozy relaxed feeling you get from Aria? That. Aria is one of the go-to examples of “healing anime”. I believe the japanese term is spelt “iyashiki”? If you liked Aria, I’d suggest you give Flying Witch a try. It’s very cute and its loaded with healthy non-sexualized friendships between teenage girls.

        But I think I get it now. The complaint isn’t that there isn’t an overarching dramatic plot, but quite literally that nothing happens, despite claims that things do. Makes total sense.

        I’m interested to know what you feel about an anime like Joshiraku (which is literally about five girls sitting around a kotatsu talking) and, if you’re the person who went to the all-girls school, how realistic the non-fanservice-focused girls high school anime are in your experience. Something like K-On might be a good candidate, because so much of that genre is the male-pandering fanservice you mentioned, but K-On feels like it might not be totally inaccuate.


        1. Act says:

          Ah, so at least part of what’s going on is: I actually haven’t read Pierce before! It’s weird because they seemed right up my alley, but my dad always was always of the mind that kids who liked to read didn’t benefit from being talked down to, so I basically jumped from Hooked on Phonics to Tolkein and Jack London because of him without reading a lot of stuff for my age group I probably would have liked.


          I actually quite like Pierce’s writing. She’s not making high art, but it’s smart, technically sound, and concise, which are generally the things I look for. She’s also good at having a lot going on aside from the typical “will the bad guy win” plot so that I always know they won’t isn’t a big a deal as it might have been otherwise. And as I said, I’ve found them surprisingly character-driven.

          As for order, I’ve been reading her whole catalogue in pub order, skipped back and forth. I did skip the Lioness series (the first one) since people here said it was of a noticeably lower quality, and then I read that it was one book for adults that got split into four for kids come pub time, and nothing good can come from that change, so it seemed alright to skip. I don’t really feel like I missed anything by it.

          I will say that I found the first two Circle books to be the toughest to get through. I’m always bored by school setting and they were really traditional school books. But the last two were entertaining and the first ones weren’t bad, just a little too trite for me. Tortall is better as a whole so far.

          And they’ve all been in third person, thank god.

          I believe the japanese term is spelt “iyashiki”

          Interesting! I did not know this had a name, but it makes sense to define it as its own genre.

          RE: Flying Witch, it’s odd you bring it up, because I was looking at it at our comic shop yesterday and decided not to by anything. I’ll check it out!

          The complaint isn’t that there isn’t an overarching dramatic plot, but quite literally that nothing happens

          Yup. It’s genuinely hard to believe, but this is a huge thing right now in YA. I originally thought it had to do with publishers wanting series and things getting padded to fit multiple books, but it’s happened in single titles we’ve done as well. It’s so weird.

          if you’re the person who went to the all-girls school, how realistic the non-fanservice-focused girls high school anime are in your experience

          It’s really weird, but I absolutely adore Azumanga Daioh precisely because it feels just like when I was in school. I’m not sure how an adult man in Japan was able to capture my expereince at a Catholic high school in New Jersey so well, but he really did. It helps that Azuma seems to just have a knack for capturing what makes charaters relatable; I actually tried to find out after I first read Yotsubato if he had kids, and I don’t think he does, he just kind of gets what makes them unique and funny.

          K-On does seem like it’s the same idea — nonsexualized high school girls technically still aimed at men — but the music part always turned me off. I’m just not into music anime/manga.

          edit: Also, Joshiraku seems like something I’d like. I think humor and cleverness can carry a premise in the absense of a real plot, and I’m willing to read things that are basically thought exercises as long as everyone involved is honest about that.

          1. CrazyEd says:
            I haven’t read Pierce before!

            You’re kidding me, right? Knowing that would’ve spared us from this whole thing. That is hilarious. (I just can’t write this to sound not-sarcastic and deadpan…) Well, that sure does answer my question, I guess!

            I’m not looking for high art, and I like character driven things, so if you think they’re technically sound without any nostalgia tinting your perception, I guess that’s good enough for me. I’ll probably give Protector of the Small a look first since it seems most relevant to my interests. I guess I’ll try Protector of the Small, the Trickster books, and the two Lionness sets (assuming you need to read the first to get the second) in that order. If I like the first two, goodwill from them will help get through the lower quality. Which one was split into four?

            Third person

            Thank god. I rarely like first person outside of things like noir, and once read a light novel series on the sole basis of it being in third person instead of the genre-standard first. One day I’m going to have to compare light novels to modern YA… It’s scary to think which one is worse.

            Flying Witch

            The manga is great, but the anime is a very faithful adaptation of it. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other. But the anime did give everyone an extra two cup sizes and a lot tighter clothing. Its not incredibly blatant, but it is a thing that happened. I don’t think it’s bad enough to be a deal breaker for someone who liked the manga, though.

            Azumanga Daioh

            Wow, how did I not think of this as an example? K-On was just the first one that popped into my head where the standard greeting between two characters wasn’t a surprise grope. If you haven’t tried K-On, I suggest at least giving it an episode or two. It’s not as heavily music focused as it seems. Their band is named After School Tea Time for a reason. This is the anime that gave us the “cute girls sitting around drinking tea and eating cake” cliche. The fact they spend more time drinking tea than doing music actually becomes a source of conflict from the more serious members of the band once or twice. But if you have tried it and just couldn’t get into it, ah, that’s fair too.

            I’m willing to read things that are basically thought exercises

            So I take it you like Nisio Isin? That man’s body of work is nothing but “thought exercises: the rambling monologue”.

            New Jersey

            What exit? dohoho you’re from New Jersey That’s amazing.  I was interested in hearing the experiences of someone who went to an all-girls high school in case I ever needed to know for an NPC in an RPG or something like that, but I never would’ve guessed the all-girls high school you went to was even in the same cultural area as me (since dohoho I’m also from New Jersey). Do you remember where you’ve talked about that stuff? I get the (incredibly uneasy to admit after this misunderstanding) feeling that it was something about a girl being jealous another girl can eat whatever she wants and it all just going to her boobs. Whatever it was, I remember thinking “well, on one hand I can believe that a high school girl could theoretically say this to another high school girl, but on the other hand it really sounds like something a male author thinks women are constantly doing when men aren’t around”, like the surprise-grope-hellos previously mentioned.

            1. Roarke says:

              So I take it you like Nisio Isin? That man’s body of work is nothing but “thought exercises: the rambling monologue”.

              Bwahaha. I think probably not a single person on this blog has managed to complete the (Bake)Monogatari series. At least, not the anime. I tried finding the light novels myself, but couldn’t find a complete translation. Not that I tried terribly hard. That series is like the golden mean of decent writing bogged down by a hundred tons of fanservice.

            2. illhousen says:

              I dropped the anime after one episode for reasons I can’t remember. It just kinda didn’t leave any impression on me whatsoever, neither good nor bad. I think there was a vampire maybe? And something about scissors.

            3. CrazyEd says:
              Maybe you’ll have better luck with Zaregoto, Katanagatari, or Medaka Box? I’ve only seen the entirety of the original series and Nekomonogatari (Black) with 100% certainty. I’ve also read the light novel versions. After Niseimonogatari, which were basically lewd fanfiction written by the author of the series and not intended to be published, got published the series got way more fanservice-y on a whole. Nekomonogatari (Black) was released after Niseimonogatari, but its also about my personal favourite one of the girls so I watched it anyway. But it is super fanservice-heavy. The story opens with Araragi asking his little sister if his desire to feel a girl’s boobs is love (… at least she answers “no, that’s stupid, you’re stupid”…) and where the line “The only thing I feel for a catgirl in her underwear is lust” comes from.

              No one believes me when I say I find Hanekawa the most interesting for reasons other than being a catgirl in her underwear. I can’t possibly imagine why.

            4. Roarke says:

              If you only watched one episode, you didn’t experience anything that turns people off Monogatari. That said, I deeply enjoyed the first season for reasons I don’t really recall (this happens to me. I just reread a 70~ chapter manga called Chibi Vampire because I remembered reading it a decade ago but didn’t remember why I liked it).

              I honestly would try to pick up Monogatari again, hopefully through the light novels, now that I’ve finished Oregairu and need something to eat.

            5. CrazyEd says:
              In my opinion, the four stories contained in Bakemonogatari that aren’t Nadeko Snake are the best in the series. Hitagi Crab just isn’t the best story to start on. Watching the two episodes that make up that story can feel like an entire seven episode slog because of just how dense the story and dialogue is.

              Which is kind of the point. Clever, isn’t it?

            6. Act says:

              Just realized I never responded to this, because lol I never respond to anything.

              RE: NJ: I grew up off 135! My parents still live there; I am long gone.

              Do you remember where you’ve talked about that stuff?

              I believe this was somewhere in the school sections of Fate, though I wouldn’t swear to it. I think it was the nonsexualized, noncompetitive way the girls spoke to each other. When you’re a teenager, bodies are a-changin, and it comes up, and I think Azuma was good at capturing the kind of innocent nature of the comments girls make to each other.

              (Azuma also generally seems like a good dude. Apparently he was so pissed with all the underage porn in the fandom after the anime came out he has repeatedly refused to agree to an anime for Yotsuba because he doesn’t trust the fans and thinks they should all GTFO for being creepers with Azumanga.)

            7. CrazyEd says:
              I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that specific location. Not a single state or county route labelled 135. The closest I could find was NJ Transit Route 135, which is roughly along the state Route 79, around Freehold. Is that what you meant? Honestly, I was just asking “North, Central, or South”. I didn’t expect nearly so much detail. I’m right smack in the middle of the state. That’d practically make you Shorefolk!

              And yeah, I’m a dude so I wouldn’t know, but I could totally see that kind of discussion happening without requiring a male writer to make it happen. But it wasn’t competitive or spiteful at all, I do remember that. I think Rin was just gently teasing Sakura because Rins gonna Rin. There wasn’t even a particularly large amount of jealousy because Rin is a cutting board who wants Sakura’s boobs, I don’t think.

              Finding that right balance is something I struggle with as a male author. The part about it coming up, I mean, not the “girls getting along” part (that part’s easy). Of course, teenage girls have boobs, and of course, they’re going to bring them up in conversation sometimes. But I really don’t want to be That Guy who writes a book about a bunch of busty teenage girls comparing their tits, because obviously not.

              Honestly, though, I don’t really remember it coming up much in Azumanga Daioh at all, except for a few things where Tomo teases Sakaki about them (like when she demanded a 5cm headstart to account for breast disparity). I guess that’s a pretty good sign, though.

            8. Act says:

              Apologies, I meant Exit 135. :P

            9. CrazyEd says:
              Oh, so that’s like… Westfield, up the mountain towards Mountainside and Watchung? Okay, let me reiterate my original point: I was interested in hearing about the experiences of someone who went to an all-girls high school in case I ever needed to know for an NPC in an RPG or something like that, but I never would’ve guessed that the all-girls high school you went to would be pretty much right on top of me.

              … Aaaaaargh. With the amount of research I’ve done on that particular corner of Union County (the Watchung Reservation has a ton of ghost stories about it), there’s a pretty good chance that said school is a dot on my Map Of The Area (along with all the other major public buildings I can use to find my bearings with). Which I started making over a year ago long before I ever found this site. Well, now don’t I feel like a total creep.

              This is why I was only asking for which third of the state you’re from. :( Anything more than that is way too much. Why don’t you just give me your social security number while you’re at it?

              (At least you’re from the good third.)

              1. Act says:

                Haha, well, I haven’t lived there for a better part of a decade so it doesn’t matter all that much (also I’ve posted the link to my Facebook here before and that’s be a much more efficient way to stalk me). But I went to the high school on the hill, if that means anything to you.

                I once got lost in the Watchung Reservation, but when it comes to ghosts all I know is that the rumor was KKK meetings would get held there. No clue how true that is.

            10. CrazyEd says:
              I’ve never heard of KKK meetings. They’re usually Satanists in my sources. But you’ve never heard of 13 Bumps Road? It’s like the coolest supernatural folklore in the region! You’re missing out!

              (And how in the world do you get lost in the Watchung Reservation?)

          2. SpoonyViking says:

            […] I did skip the Lioness series (the first one) since people here said it was of a noticeably lower quality […]

            Damn it.

            Well, I already got the first book, might as well read it.

            1. Keleri says:

              Haha, the Lioness books are still fun, but they do show their age/naivete, yeah.

            2. SpoonyViking says:

              Oh, I think I’ll be fine, then. I’m actually going through something like that now with “Wizard of Earthsea”. Not that it’s childish or anything, and I really like Le Guin’s narrative style, but it just seems out of place when I compare it to modern works; old-fashioned, but without any of the negative connotations associated with the word.

          3. CrazyEd says:
            So I just realized something hilarious earlier today. Not only is Kiyohiko Azuma an adult man in Japan who perfectly captured your experiences attending an all-girls Catholic school in New Jersey, but he did so with a co-educational setting.

            It’s super easy to forget (we obviously both did), but the school the girls of Azumanga Daioh attend actually has male students as well! They did reveal that it used to be an all-girls school back when Nyamo and Yukari attended it, during the sports festival scene where they dress up in school uniforms and its heavily implied Nyamo once sent Yukari a shoe-locker love-letter, though. But sometime between then and the time the cast attended, it was opened up to boys or merged with another school, and now both sexes attend.

            Don’t you remember, in the very first episode, where Yukari steals a student’s bicycle while he fixes the chain on hers so she won’t be late to school? I certainly didn’t (not even when I first realized there were male students, that scene only came to mind literally as I was writing this post about twelve hours later).

    2. illhousen says:

      What separates this from things like slice of life or from comfy healing anime?

      Aside from what Act said, it’s also worth noting that slice-of-life stuff generally presents itself as slice-of-life. You generally know what you’re getting into before you start reading, just by reading the summary blurb on the cover.

      YA novels that we talk about on this blog, by contrast, often present themseleves as being about adventure or mystery or high drama or what have you, and then utterly botch the part where adventure, mystery or drama happens.

      Basically, the books make promises they don’t keep.

  6. Keleri says:

    and that’s from someone who just spent two months hospitalized for an eating disorder. 

    (hugs if wanted)

    I wish I’d read the Emelan books first, Pierce’s thing for older dudes grossed me out as a teen haha. Miles above a lot of the other junk I was reading at the time for sure though. I loooooooved Keladry although I promise my internet handle actually came before I read the book.

    Book covers in general are dreadfully mismanaged, I blame Twilight for the spate of stock-photo-y “minimalist” terrible covers, but I’m sure that publishers were happy not to pay artists to do full illustrations and matte paintings (that they would then chop up and paste unreadable text on, looking at you SFF section). “Wolfhound Century” caught my eye the other week simply for having a non-messy spine on the shelf at Chapters.

    If you’re looking for more heartwarming berks, I read “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” and “A Closed and Common Orbit” by Becky Chambers recently and they are A+++++


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