Top Five Picks of the Year: 2020

I wanted to bring the year to a close on the blog with a post where I pick the top books from my list of books read this year.

I feel like this year was full of books and while I did meet my Goodreads goal (yay!), I think I could have read a great deal more. *sigh* Apologies to my library book piles as they are large and sad. I’m trying very hard not to look at them right now.

Anyway, let’s dig into those books that I really loved this year. They are in no particular order!

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Title: Blue Flag Vol. 1 (Ao no Flag Vol. 1)
Written and illustrated by: Kaito

What It’s About: For some reason, Taichi Ichinose just can’t stand Futaba Kuze. But at the start of his third year in high school, he finds himself in the same homeroom as her, along with his childhood friend Toma Mita, a star athlete. But one day, Futaba opens up to Taichi and admits she has a crush on Toma. She then asks for his help in confessing to him! There’s just one problem—Toma seems to already have a secret crush on someone else.

Blue Flag Vol. 1 has everything I like in a manga: distinct characters, lots of feeling, misunderstandings, and the pain of words left unsaid. The art is also so good. I just love how each character is designed and how their expressions come through in each panel.

The first volume gripped me. All these characters are on a journey with either figuring out who they are or working up the courage to go for what they want. I love high school manga stories like this and the storytelling in this one is so well done. We get such good characters like Taichi, Futaba, and Toma and the reveal in the last few pages of the first volume had be yelling (in a good way).

I have the second volume set aside to read already!


Title: The Silence of Bones
Written by: June Hur

What It’s About:

I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn”t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn”t see.

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

I have already reviewed The Silence of Bones on the blog (right here!) but I cannot sing the praises of this book enough. It is historical YA fiction at its best with unforgetable characters, fantastic writing, research that shines through, and a mystery that is hard to walk away from.

I have already added June Hur’s next novel, The Forest of Stolen Girls to my TBR for next year. I am such a fan!

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Title: Demon Slayer Vol. 1 (Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol. 1)
Written and illustrated by: Koyoharu Gotouge

What It’s About: Tanjiro sets out on the path of the Demon Slayer to save his sister and avenge his family!

In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.

Learning to destroy demons won’t be easy, and Tanjiro barely knows where to start. The surprise appearance of another boy named Giyu, who seems to know what’s going on, might provide some answers—but only if Tanjiro can stop Giyu from killing his sister first!

This series really surprised me! I didn’t expect it to hook me as much as it did. I picked it up mainly because one of the things I loved about the Inuyasha series was its demon slayers and was interested when a whole new manga series built around demon slayers popped up.

The first volume was pretty good but the second volume is where things really just explode. I find myself loving the characters we meet and laughing at the jokes. Tanjiro is just such a sweetheart and I love his courage and ability to move everyone around him. The demons are all so interesting and I love the creepiness of each time we meet a new one. They’re all so unique.

I’m on volume 8 right now and have volumes 9 and 10 on my shelf to dig into soon.

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Title: Love from A to Z
Written by: S.K. Ali

What It’s About: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

I reviewed this novel back in June (right here!) and still haven’t been able to forget it. If you want a book that will make you cry because you’re angry and make your heart race with a love story so intense, this is the novel for you. Zayneb. Adam. My heart.

I cannot wait for S.K. Ali’s next novel, Misfit In Love, as she revisits characters from her first novel.


Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Written by: Nicola Yoon

What It’s About: Two teens–Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica–cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives–Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica–and fall in love.

It would be easy to write this book off as just an intense romantic story that takes place over one day in New York City. But guess what, this novel is packed full of so many complicated topics like racism, immigration, deportation, and family expectations. None of it is simple or easy but it’s all relevant.

This book is also about how we are all connected and move in and out of each other’s lives in the smallest and sometimes, biggest of ways. There is something in this book for everyone and reading it will leave its mark on you. You’ll think about it after you’ve shut it and put it back on your shelf. You can check out my earlier review for this book right here.

Finished Reading: Fangirl Vol. 1

What It’s About: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go…

Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online. But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner…

And she’s barely heard from Wren all semester!

Fangirl Vol.1 begins with Cath moving into her college dorm, meeting her roommate (very briefly), meeting her roommate’s sort of boyfriend (very uncmofortably), and making her dorm room a bit more like home. This means spreading her love of the Simon Snow book series all over her side of the dorm. We meet Cath here and are immediately introduced to her fears, her sadness, and her passion for writing.

Cath is so incredibly human. Her anxieties are very real, and I think a lot of readers will understand the way she acts and reacts. This first volume is an introduction to her journey – where she’s figuring out the kind of writer she is, where she fits in without her twin sister Wren, and how she can interact with those around her who want to know her.

I feel like a manga was the perfect form for this novel to take as a graphic work because it feels like the perfect setup for a shoujo manga. A girl on a whirlwind of a journey through love and life. Gabi Nam’s art is so good in bringing that to life from the Simon Snow fanfic snippets to Cath’s reactions to various scenarios. Manga is very expressive that way and doesn’t shy away from showing or stirring emotions. I’m a big manga reader so this was definitely on my list as soon as it was announced.

Sam Magg’s adpation is very well done. It flows well and captures essential moments that drive the story and build Cath’s character. I don’t feel like anything included felt out of place or like filler. Sam Magg’s is also a fantastic writer so I knew that the end result would be good.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have never actually read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Reading the first volume of the Fangirl manga series makes me want to pick up the novel. I want to read all those details that didn’t make it into this adpatation and see how Cath is described there. I think I just might do that too.

I will also be checking out Volume 2 of the manga series whenever it magically appears.

Currently Reading: Fangirl Vol. 1

What It’s About:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go…

Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online. But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner…

And she’s barely heard from Wren all semester!

Let me start out by sharing that I have not read the original novel by Rainbow Rowell that this manga is adapting. The only novel by Rowell that I have read is Carry On. So I have some Simon Snow knowledge.

First, the art is really good. I love how every character looks from Cath to Reagan to Levi. The art is really well done. I’m glad this graphic novel has introduced me to Gabi Nam. I hope to see more from her work in the future.

I’m really liking this one so far despite being unfamiliar with the overall story before picking it up. I really enjoy Sam Maggs so I trust her when her name is attached to something. I feel like Cath is an incredibly relateable character, including her love for Simon Snow. It reminds me of my own love for Harry Potter when I was younger.

I’m most of the way through this and hope to have it finished very very soon!

Future Reads: 10 More 2021 YA Novels to Be Excited For

I’m finishing this year with another post that is looking to 2021 with some more YA books that I am very excited for. Some favorite authors of mine are coming out with new books and I am incredibly excited to read them.

What’s one book for 2021 that you cannot wait to read? I would love to hear from you so leave me a comment so that I can check it out too.

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Title: Angel of Greenwood
Written by: Randi Pink

What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of W.E.B. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.

Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.

Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.

But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.

Note: Angel of Greenwood is set to be released January 12, 2021.


Title: Down Comes the Night
Written by: Alison Saft

What It’s About: Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she”s been dismissed from the Queen”s Guard and separated from her best friend-the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren”s patient isn”t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Note: Down Comes the Night is set to be released March 2, 2021.

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Title: The Mary Shelley Club
Written by: Goldy Moldavsky

What It’s About: When it comes to horror movies, the rules are clear:

Avoid abandoned buildings, warehouses, and cabins at all times.
x Stay together: don’t split up, not even just to “check something out.”
If there”s a murderer on the loose, do not make out with anyone.

If only surviving in real life were this easy…

New girl Rachel Chavez turns to horror movies for comfort, preferring stabby serial killers and homicidal dolls to the bored rich kids of Manhattan Prep…and to certain memories she”d preferred to keep buried.

Then Rachel is recruited by the Mary Shelley Club, a mysterious society of students who orchestrate Fear Tests, elaborate pranks inspired by urban legends and movie tropes. At first, Rachel embraces the power that comes with reckless pranking. But as the Fear Tests escalate, the competition turns deadly, and it’s clear Rachel is playing a game she can”t afford to lose.

Note: The Mary Shelley Club is set to be released on April 13, 2021.


Title: Luck of the Titanic
Written by: Stacey Lee

What It’s About: Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren”t allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there”s not much a trained acrobat like Val can”t overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

Note: Luck of the Titanic is set to be released on May 4, 2021.

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Title: Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits #2)
Written by: S.K. Ali

What It’s About: Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.

Sweet, constant Nuah.

The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.

It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.

And Nuah’s treating her differently.

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.

Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.

Note: Misfit in Love is set to be released on May 25, 2021.


Title: Sister of the Bollywood Bride
Written by: Nandini Bajpai

What It’s About: Mini’s big sister, Vinnie, is getting married. Their mom passed away seven years ago and between Dad’s new start-up and Vinnie’s medical residency, there”s no one but Mini to plan the wedding. Dad raised her to know more about computers, calculus, and cars than desi weddings but from the moment Mini held the jewelry Mom left them, she wanted her sister to have the wedding Mom would’ve planned.

Now Mini has only two months to get it done and she’s not going to let anything distract her, not even the persistent, mysterious, and smoking-hot Vir Mirchandani. Flower garlands, decorations, music, even a white wedding horse — everything is in place.

That is, until a monster hurricane heads for Boston that could ruin everything. Will Mini come through as sister of the bride and save the day?

Note: Sister of the Bollywood Bride is set to be released on May 25, 2021.

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Title: Ace of Spades
Written by: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

What It’s About:

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school”s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

Note: Ace of Spades is set to be released on June 1, 2021.

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Title: Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1)
Written by: Elizabeth Lim

What It’s About: Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.

Note: Six Crimson Cranes is set to be released on July 6, 2021.

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Title: A Lesson in Vengeance
Written by: Victoria Lee

What It’s About: Witchcraft is woven into the Dalloway School’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. And most memorable of all is the Dalloway Five–five students who all died mysteriously one after another, who some say were witches.

Before her girlfriend’s tragic death, Felicity Morrow was drawn to the dark. But after a year away from Dalloway”s ivy-covered campus, she”s determined to leave all that behind her, focus on her senior thesis, and graduate. Only it”s hard when Dalloway”s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won”t let her forget.

It”s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can”t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

Note: A Lesson in Vengeance is set to be released on August 3, 2021.


Title: The Devil Makes Three
Written by: Tori Bovalino

What It’s About: When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath the school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He”ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent. Forced to work together, Tess and Eliot have to find a way to re-trap the devil before he kills everyone they know and love, including, increasingly, each other. And compared to what the devil has in store for them, school stress suddenly doesn”t seem so bad after all.

Note: The Devil Makes Three is set to be released on August 10, 2021.

Finished Reading: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

What It’s About: Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Dear reader, as you know, I am a fan of character driven novels. That’s me. This book fits that. It’s not heavily plot driven and usually, that would be something I pick up on and grumble about but…I didn’t mind at all with this novel. It feels like a slice of life story and I actually love stories like that. I came here to see a flawed human being and their life and Jenny Han delivered. I also love love love the fake dating trope.

Lara Jean, Lara Jean. You are a character on my mind. I feel like her character growth is subtle and not meant to happen all in one novel. This book was a starting point for her. I think she’s a really sheltered and lonely character. She’s confident in her space and structured life and when her sister leaves for Scotland and her love letters are mailed, that upsets her ordered life. This book is about Lara Jean opening up her world and learning to deal with change and discovery. Those are real things.

Other things I enjoyed was the family dynamic, the loyalty between the 3 Song sisters, the confusion of feelings, and the baking (of course!). Lara Jean’s fear of driving? Oh goodness, have I ever felt that. She’s incredibly relatable.

I’m anxious to read the next book.

Currently Reading: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

What It’s About: Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

This is my first experience reading a novel by Jenny Han so I had no real idea what to expect from the story or the writing beyond its description. I have not watched the Netflix adaptation! It almost feels sometimes like I may be the last person who hasn’t since it’s become such a beloved thing.

But I’m glad I didn’t so I could see what the book was like and really look at those smaller details. I wanted to have a clean slate going into the reading of this book. I am halfway through this book and I have no idea how that happened. I just started reading and found myself just continuing to read it non-stop.

It’s cute so far and weirdly…comforting? I can’t explain it. This book feels like I am wrapped up in a cozy blanket and listening to Lara Jean tell her story. I’m really enjoying it.

Checking in on My TBR: December 2020

Bonjour hi, everyone! It’s the final month of the year and I wanted to share some other titles that are on my TBR and what is going on with them. Some have been on my TBR for a ridiculously long time and some are more recent. I am really making an effort to read some of these and not let them languish in my ” want to read” Goodreads shelf.

Let’s crack into it.


Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)
Written by: Jenny Han

What It’s About: What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.


Title: A Curse of Roses
Written by: Diana Pinguicha

What It’s About: With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There”s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic-her curse-has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain for years.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse-if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

Note: This book to me is a must read to me. I know of the original legend so when I saw this book pop up in new release conversations, I was immediately interested. Portugal has such a rich history and there are so many stories and legends up for interpretation, including one of a sleeping king who would return to Portugal on a misty morning in the country’s greatest hour of need. I’m also very glad that the author is Portuguese.


Title: Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
Written by: Becky Albertalli

What It’s About: When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.


Title: Super Fake Love Song
Written by: David Yoon

What It’s About: When Sunny Dae–self-proclaimed total nerd–meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom–with its electric guitars and rock posters–for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it–and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

Note: Since reading David Yoon’s other novel Frankly in Love, I have been eagerly awaiting his next one. This novel again deals with the whole issue of how a lie can get way out of control and I find that definitely interesting. Frankly in Love had a lot more to it besides the whole “fake dating” trope so I wonder if this novel will be the same.

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Title: Divergent (Divergent #1)
Written by: Veronica Roth

What It’s About: One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior”s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions.

Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she”s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

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Title: Alond: A Novel
Written by: Won-Pyung Sohn

What It’s About: This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster.

One of the monsters is me.

Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends—the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to that—but his devoted mother and grandmother provide him with a safe and content life. Their little home above his mother’s used bookstore is decorated with colorful Post-it notes that remind him when to smile, when to say “thank you,” and when to laugh.

Then on Christmas Eve—Yunjae’s sixteenth birthday—everything changes. A shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own. Struggling to cope with his loss, Yunjae retreats into silent isolation, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school, and they develop a surprising bond.

As Yunjae begins to open his life to new people—including a girl at school—something slowly changes inside him. And when Gon suddenly finds his life at risk, Yunjae will have the chance to step outside of every comfort zone he has created to perhaps become the hero he never thought he would be.

Note: I actually was able to read the first few pages of this novel recently and I am very intrigued by Yunjae’s voice in this novel – how he sees the world and himself and what he hears from others. I admit that I’m already invested in his journey.

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Title: Banned Book Club
Written by: Kim Hyun Sook & Ryan Estrada
Illustrated by: Hyung-ju Ko

What It’s About: When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined. This was during South Korea”s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books.

When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in. In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading. “


Title: The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness
Written by: Susannah Cahalan

What It’s About: Doctors have struggled for centuries to define insanity–how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people–sane, healthy, well-adjusted members of society–went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.

But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows in this real-life detective story, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors?

Note: The description has me instantly hooked. The thought of people actually submitting themselves willingly to an asylum in order to test how effective psychiatric treatments and facilities were at the time is…both brave and alarming. Like all branches of healthcare, psychiatry has evolved and many mistakes were made along the way. I think this book will be an interesting read for sure.

Off Script: Christmas KPop Songs on Rotation

I talk a big game when it comes to KPop on this blog and I talk about it a lot so I wanted to share some of the KPop Christmas songs I enjoy.

Add them to your playlists so as you’re cooking on Christmas Eve or putting up your tree in the next few days, you can really get in the holiday spirit.

Twice – Merry & Happy

Note: Twice is very much the go-to for a Christmas song because it’s just so fun.

Girls’ Generation TTS – Dear Santa

Note: Girls’ Generation subgroup! I love the vocals and I just love the spirit of the season in this song and video. Tiffany Young, my girl.

BTS – Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Disney Sing Along)

Note: These guys. I adore them so much and their little cover for Disney is adorable. I had to include it.

EXO – First Snow

Note: No list is complete without a Christmas song from EXO. I included this one because their lovelorn winter songs, which are also very good, would break me right now. I wanted to keep things a bit more light.

Taeyeon – This Christmas

Note: I have always loved Taeyeon’s voice and this solo Christmas song really exhibits that soft yet strong voice of hers that tugs at your heartstrings.

Ladies’ Code – The Last Holiday

Note: I really love this song because it feels like a close group of friends singing together during the holidays. Ladies’ Code is also such a great group.

Eric Nam – Melt My Heart

Note: A special one for last. If anyone could melt my cold dead heart, it would be Eric Nam. He’s a sweetheart and his songs are always a joy.

Spotlight: Doodling and Journaling

This Spotlight post is all about creativity! I found an old journal of mine from when I was 14-years old the other day where I doodled and wrote about the Lord of the Rings and the anime I was super into at the time, and it got me thinking. Journaling!

So in this post I wanted to provide some materials and ideas to get those wanting to dip their toes into journaling…well, journaling.

First, there’s some journaling books. Your journal can be about anything really – thoughts, planning, lists, goals, story ideas, dreams, family, plants, reading, or music. Second, there are some doodling and art books. It’s your journal so do what you want with it. Lastly, I am including journaling videos that illustrate 3 different styles and journal purposes.

I hope this post inspires you to dust off that Christmas journal you received from your cousin 4 years ago and finally fill it with oodles of doodles, book reviews, quotes you love, plans, and things that break your heart.

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Title: Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking
Written by: Emily K. Neuburger

What It’s About: Using words, drawing, collage, and observation-based list-making, award-winning author Emily K. Neuburger highlights the many paths into journaling. Her 60 interactive writing prompts and art how-tos help you to expand your imagination and stimulate your creativity. Every spread invites a new approach to filling a page, from making a visual map of a day-in-my-life to turning random splotches into quirky characters for a playful story. It’s the perfect companion to all those blank books and an ideal launchpad to explore creative self-expression and develop an imaginative voice — for anyone ages 10 to 100!

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Title: Journal Me Organized: The Complete Guide to Practical and Creative Planning
Written by: Rebecca Spooner

What It’s About: Whether you’re rearranging your laundry room, planning the week’s menus, outlining your dream vacation, or training for your first 5K, Journal Me Organized provides all the information you need to eliminate mental clutter, focus on goals, and enjoy a creative outlet. Author Rebecca Spooner covers everything, from choosing a notebook and the basics of cross-referencing to the intricacies of different types of journaling, planning, goal setting, and time management. The fun truly begins with Spooner’s inspirational pages, clever ideas, and easy-to-follow instructions. She provides tutorials, sample lettering to trace, and templates that range from minimalist daily spreads to exuberant designs that capture the joy of holidays, birthdays, and personal milestones.


Title: How to Draw Everything: An Illustrated Sourcebook
Written by: Chika Miyata

What It’s About: With over 2,000 images, this visual reference book offers instructions for drawing animals, people, plants, food, everyday objects, buildings, vehicles, clothing, and more. The section on people gives simple tricks for showing emotion (angry, surprised) and action (skipping, doing a handstand). There’s also a section on clothing that shows how to draw coats and jackets, shoes and boots, bell-bottoms and skinny jeans. From tricycles to tanker trucks, the book gives tips on drawing all kinds of moving vehicles.

At then end of each chapter, author and artist Chika Miyata challenges you to synthesize what you’ve learned and create a scene. At the end of the chapter on animals, the challenge is to draw a zoo. At the end of the chapter on food, the challenge is to keep an illustrated food journal.

Each entry is broken down with step-by-step illustrations, making this book perfect for beginners or experienced artists in need of a quick refresher and a great resource for those who want to express themselves through illustration or cartooning.


Title: Draw Every Little Thing: Learn to Draw More Than 100 Everyday Items, from Food to Fashion
Written by: Flora Waycott

What It’s About: Learn to draw and paint more than 100 of your favorite everyday items! Step-by-step projects, prompts, creative inspiration make it fun and easy to draw your outfit, your favorite foods, your garden, and much more using drawing and painting tools you already have on hand.

The Inspired Artist series invites art hobbyists and casual art enthusiasts to have fun learning basic art concepts, relaxing into the creative process to make art in a playful, contemporary style. With Draw Every Little Thing, the first book in this series that also includes Block Print for Beginners (March 2021), you can learn to draw and paint your favorite everyday items. From learning to draw and paint plants, flowers, and bicycles to the neighborhood café and the contents of the kitchen cabinet, this contemporary drawing book demonstrates just how easy it is to render the world around you with little more than a pencil, paper, and paint.

Following a brief introduction to the joys of simplistic drawing and painting, this aesthetically pleasing book familiarizes you with a range of drawing tools and materials, including graphite pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil, and gouache, before offering a quick overview of basic color theory. Each subsequent chapter is then devoted to a specific theme—kitchenalia, hobbies, neighborhood haunts, and much more—and packed with simple step-by-step drawing projects.

This accessible book encourages you to jump around so you can draw what immediately inspires you. Interactive prompts, creative exercises, and inspiring ideas make the process fun and engaging. Easy techniques and helpful instructions show you how to develop your own personal style, as well as add color to your drawings using gouache and colored pencil. Crafty projects round out the book, allowing you to use your newfound drawing and painting skills.

Filled to the brim with whimsical artwork and loads of creative ideas, Draw Every Little Thing encourages artists of all skill levels to draw any time inspiration strikes.


Title: Colored Pencil: A Playful Guide to Drawing with Colored Pencil on the Go!
Written by: Cara Hanley

What It’s About: Anywhere, Anytime Art: Colored Pencil makes colored pencils approachable and accessible. The author’s contemporary art style takes a fresh approach to colored-pencil artwork, which can be dry and traditional-looking. Anywhere, Anytime Art: Colored Pencil presents colored-pencil drawing in a youthful way, focusing on urban and suburban scenes as well as subjects from daily life.

Learn basic drawing topics like tools, materials, drawing techniques, and color theory, and then dive into helpful tips, hacks, and techniques for creating art while out and about. Step-by-step projects covering a variety of subjects, from campers and cafes to cats and cityscapes, make drawing with colored pencils quick, easy, and fun for artists of all skill levels.

Learn to be spontaneous with your artwork, and expand your artistic horizons!


Title: DIY Watercolor Flowers: The Beginner’s Guide to Flower Painting for Journal Pages, Handmade Stationery and More
Written by: Marie Boudon

What It’s About: Learn to paint beautiful watercolor flowers in simple steps with this free and easy approach to watercolor painting for beginners. Marie Boudon’s beautifully presented creative course will give you a good grounding in this new-to-you medium and teach you all you need to know to get started with painting flowers in watercolor.

Find out about paper, brushes and paints, color mixing, wet and dry techniques, blending and gradients, contrast and even how to digitize your work. Then learn to paint roses, peonies, carnations, dahlias, anemones, poppies, leaves, details and textures and how to bring all of these together into beautiful compositions which make lovely art pieces, journal pages, handmade stationery and greetings cards, inspirational quote frames, personalized gifts and more.

Style of Journal: Thoughtful and personal writing but also involves decoration.

Style of Journal: Artistic but also about organization with lists and ideas for the day.

Style of Journal: Definitely about organization with books lists and calendars for reading. There’s even space for reccomendations and review notes.

Future Reads: 2021 Travel YA Novels

This Future Reads post will focus on some more travel YA books that are coming out in the new year. Get excited people! We will get back out there again and visit those people and places we long to connect with.

If you would like to check out other reading options, I have an earlier post HERE full of books that are already out and available to get your hands on. Also, don’t forget to check your public library’s catalogue!

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Title: Tokyo Ever After
Written by: Emiko Jean

What It’s About: Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in-it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi-or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”-and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity.and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself-back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she”s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?

Release Date: This title is set to be released on May 25, 2021.

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Title: Hot British Boyfriend
Written by: Kristy Boyce

What It’s About: After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols does what any girl would do: she flees the country. To be more precise, she joins her high school’s study abroad trip to England. While most of her classmates are there to take honors courses and pad their college applications, Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence. And nothing is more of a confidence booster than getting a hot British boyfriend.

When Ellie meets Will, a gorgeous and charming Brit, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes she did with the last guy she liked. Which is why she strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in: If he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his.

But even as Ellie embarks on a whirlwind romance, she still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems . . . and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.

Release Date: This title is set to be released on February 9, 2021.

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Title: As Far as You’ll Take Me
Written by: Phil Stamper

What It’s About: Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life–where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents” disapproval.

From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?

Release Date: This title is set to be released on February 9, 2021.


Title: Kiss and Croissants
Written by: Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

What It’s About: Sixteen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world”s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet–especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide–and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

Release Date: This book is set to be released on April 6, 2021.

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Title: The Marvelous Mirza Girls
Written by: Sheba Karim

What It’s About: To cure her post-senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen decides to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.

In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With the help of Kabir—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen discovers new meanings for home.

But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complex questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love?

Release Date: This book is set to be released on May 18th, 2021.


Title: American Betiya
Written by: Anuradha D. Rajurkar

What It’s About: Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in–his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art–make him her mother’s worst nightmare.

They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver’s troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself–and what”s really brewing beneath the surface of her first love.

Release Date: This book is set to be released on March 9, 2021.