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!
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!
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.
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.