On a Theme: 5 Epic Fantasy Manga

I’ve been reading a lot more manga than usual lately because all my holds finally came in from the library and all the manga came in at once. It’s just a large pile of 10 books that I’ve been moving through quickly and some of them really inspired me to make a list.

I love manga where the art fills the entire page and the world the character inhabits is shown in even the smallest of details. It just makes you feel like you’re stepping into a new world that’s so wide and neverending.

In this On a Theme post, I will share 5 fantasy manga titles that really bring the story to life through their art. I hope you will enjoy them!


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Title: Beyond the Clouds Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Nicke

What It’s About: Young Theo works as a mechanic, putting his knack for machines to use in the industrialized city where he lives. But when he finds an injured, amnesiac girl with wings, his life changes forever. Her name is Mia, and although Theo”s talents make quick work of repairing her injured wing, their quest to find her home will take them beyond the clouds and further than they would ever have imagined.


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Title: Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Kamome Shirahama

What It’s About: In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with a gift for magic. Resigned to her un-magical life, Coco is about to give up on her dream to become a witch…until the day she meets Qifrey, a mysterious, traveling magician. After secretly seeing Qifrey perform magic in a way she”s never seen before, Coco soon learns what everybody “knows” might not be the truth, and discovers that her magical dream may not be as far away as it may seem…


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Title: Children of the Whales Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Abi Umeda

What It’s About: In this postapocalyptic fantasy, a sea of sand swallows everything but the past.

In an endless sea of sand drifts the Mud Whale, a floating island city of clay and magic. In its chambers a small community clings to survival, cut off from its own history by the shadows of the past.

Chakuro is the archivist for the Mud Whale, diligently chronicling the lives and deaths of his people. As one of the short-lived thymia wielders, he knows his time is limited and is determined to leave a better record than his predecessors. But the steady pace of their isolated existence on the Mud Whale is abruptly shattered when a scouting party discovers a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about their home than they do…


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Title: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Hayao Miyazaki

What It’s About: In a long-ago war, humankind set off a devastating ecological disaster. Thriving indistrial societies disappeared. The earth is slowly submerging beneath the expanding Sea of Corruption, an enormous toxic forest that creates mutant insects and releases a miasma of poisonous spores into the air.At the periphery of the sea, tiny kingdoms are scattered on tiny parcels of land. Here lies the Valley of the Wind, a kingdom of barely 500 citizens; a nation given fragile protection from the decaying sea”s poisons by the ocean breezes; and home to Nausicaä.

Nausicaä, a young princess, has an empathic bond with the giant Ohmu insects and animals of every creed. She fights to create tolerance, understanding and patience among empires that are fighting over the world’s remaining precious natural resources.


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Title: The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Nagabe

What It’s About: In a world split between the Inside and the Outside, those living in both realms are told never to cross over to the other side, lest they be cursed. A young girl named Shiva lives on the other side, in a vacant village with a demonic guardian known only as “Teacher.” Although the two are forbidden to touch, they seem to share a bond that transcends their disparate appearances. But when Shiva leaves Teacher’s care to seek out her grandmother, the secret behind her mysterious living arrangement comes to light.

On a Theme: Canadian True Crime Books

True crime. Yes, it fascinates. We want and sometimes need to know what happened at the end of the mystery. Those stories can also be horrifying and heartbreaking. The loss in these stories is ever present.

In this On a Theme post, I’ll be focusing on Canadian true crime stories only. Why? Because I wanted to provide some Canadian content and because Canada has its fair share of sadness, horror, and violence. The victims of which, should not be forgotten.


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Title: The Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman
Written by: Kevin Donovan

What It’s About: Billionaires, philanthropists, socialites . . . victims. Barry and Honey Sherman appeared to lead charmed lives. But the world was shocked in late 2017 when their bodies were found in a bizarre tableau in their elegant Toronto home. First described as murder-suicide — belts looped around their necks, they were found seated beside their basement swimming pool — police later ruled it a staged, targeted double murder. Nothing about the case made sense to friends of the founder of one of the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical firms and his wife, a powerhouse in Canada’s charity world. Together, their wealth has been estimated at well over $4.7 billion.
 
There was another side to the story. A strategic genius who built a large generic drug company — Apotex Inc. — Barry Sherman was a self-described workaholic, renowned risk-taker, and disruptor during his fifty-year career. Regarded as a generous friend by many, Sherman was also feared by others. He was criticized for stifling academic freedom and using the courts to win at all costs. Upset with building issues at his mansion, he sued and recouped millions from tradespeople. At the time of his death, Sherman had just won a decades-old legal case involving four cousins who wanted 20 percent of his fortune.
 
Toronto Star investigative journalist Kevin Donovan chronicles the unsettling story from the beginning, interviewing family members, friends, and colleagues, and sheds new light on the Shermans’ lives and the disturbing double murder. Deeply researched and authoritative, The Billionaire Murders is a compulsively readable tale of a strange and perplexing crime.


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Title: Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine
Written by: Joanna Jolly

What It’s About: On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.

Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina”s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.

Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.

Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.

The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders, and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.


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Title: That Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away
Written by: Lori Shenher

What It’s About: In this searing personal account, ex-police detective Lori Shenher (who transitioned to male in 2015, and is now known as Lorimer) describes his role in Vancouver’s infamous Missing Women Investigation and unflinchingly reveals his years-long struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of working on the case. From his first assignment, in 1998, to investigate an increase in the number of missing women to the harrowing 2002 interrogation of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton, Shenher tells a story of massive police failure-failure of the police to use the information about Pickton available to them, failure to understand the dark world of drug addiction and sex work, and failure to save more women from their killer.

That Lonely Section of Hell passionately pursues the deeper truths behind the causes of this tragedy and the myriad ways the system failed to protect vulnerable people.


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Title: The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed With Finding Him
Written by: Katie Daubs

What It’s About: In December 1919, Ambrose Small, the mercurial owner of the Grand Opera House in Toronto, closed a deal to sell his network of Ontario theatres, deposited a million-dollar cheque in his bank account, and was never seen again. As weeks turned to years, the disappearance became the most “extraordinary unsolved mystery” of its time. Everything about the sensational case would be called into question in the decades to come, including the motivations of his inner circle, his enemies, and the police who followed the trail across the continent, looking for answers in asylums, theatres, and the Pacific Northwest.
 
In The Missing Millionaire, Katie Daubs tells the story of the Small mystery, weaving together a gripping narrative with the social and cultural history of a city undergoing immense change. Daubs examines the characters who were connected to the case as the century carried on: Ambrose”s religious wife, Theresa; his long-time secretary, Jack Doughty; his two unmarried sisters, Florence and Gertrude; Patrick Sullivan, a lawless ex-policeman; and Austin Mitchell, an overwhelmed detective. A series of trials exposed Small’s tumultuous business and personal relationships, while allegations and confessions swirled. But as the main players in the Small mystery died, they took their secrets to the grave, and Ambrose Small would be forever missing.
 
Drawing on extensive research, newly discovered archival material, and her own interviews with the descendants of key figures, Katie Daubs offers a rich portrait of life in an evolving city in the early twentieth century. Delving into a crime story about the power of the elite, she vividly recounts the page-turning tale of a cold case that is truly stranger than fiction.


Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto's Queer Community

Title: Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community
Written by: Justin Ling

What It’s About: In 2013, the Toronto Police Service announced that the disappearances of three men–Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Majeed Kayhan–from Toronto”s gay village were, perhaps, linked. When the leads ran dry, the investigation was shut down, on paper classified as “open but suspended.” By 2015, investigative journalist Justin Ling had begun to retrace investigators” steps, convinced there was evidence of a serial killer. Meanwhile, more men would go missing, and police would continue to deny that there was a threat to the community. On January 18, 2018, Bruce McArthur, a landscaper, would be arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of eight men.

This extraordinary book tells the complete story of the McArthur murders. Based on more than five years of in-depth reporting, this is also a story of police failure, of how the queer community responded, and the story of the eight men who went missing and the lives they left behind. In telling that story, Justin Ling uncovers the latent homophobia and racism that kept this case unsolved and unseen. This gripping book reveals how police agencies across the country fail to treat missing persons cases seriously, and how policies and laws, written at every level of government, pushed McArthur”s victims out of the light and into the shadows.


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Title: The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Nation
Written by: Charlotte Gray

What It’s About: In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing faceof a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.

As in her previous bestselling book, Gold Diggers—adapted into the Discovery Television miniseries Klondike—multi-award-winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger-than-life personalities, as she shines alight on a central moment in our past.

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Title: Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise
Written by: Charlotte Gray

What It’s About: On an island paradise in 1943, Sir Harry Oakes, gold-mining tycoon, philanthropist and one of the richest men in the British Empire, is murdered. The news of his death surges across the English-speaking world, from London, the Imperial centre, to the remote Canadian mining town of Kirkland Lake in the Northern Ontario bush. The murder becomes celebrated as the crime of the century.

The layers of mystery deepen as the involvement of Count Alfred de Marigny, Oakes’s son-in-law, comes into question. Also suspicious are the odd machinations of the governor of the Bahamas, the former King Edward VIII. But despite a sensational trial, no murderer is convicted. Rumours about Oakes’s missing fortune are unrelenting, and fascination with the story has persisted for decades.

Award-winning biographer and popular historian Charlotte Gray explores the life of the man behind the scandal—from his early, hardscrabble days during the massive mineral rush in Northern Ontario, to the fabulous fortune he reaped from his own gold mine, to his grandiose gestures of philanthropy. And Gray brings fresh eyes to the bungled investigation and shocking trial on the remote colonial island, proposing an overlooked suspect in this long cold case. Murdered Midas is the story of the man behind the newspaper headlines, a man both admired and reviled who, despite great wealth and public standing, never experienced justice.


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Title: Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Written by: Jessica McDiarmid

What It’s About: For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found murdered along an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia. The highway is known as the Highway of Tears, and it has come to symbolize a national crisis.
 
Journalist Jessica McDiarmid investigates the devastating effect these tragedies have had on the families of the victims and their communities, and how systemic racism and indifference have created a climate where Indigenous women and girls are over-policed, yet under-protected. Through interviews with those closest to the victims—mothers and fathers, siblings and friends—McDiarmid offers an intimate, first-hand account of their loss and relentless fight for justice. Examining the historically fraught social and cultural tensions between settlers and Indigenous peoples in the region, McDiarmid links these cases to others across Canada—now estimated to number up to 4,000—contextualizing them within a broader examination of the undervaluing of Indigenous lives in this country.
 
Highway of Tears is a powerful story about our ongoing failure to provide justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and a testament to their families and communities” unwavering determination to find it.


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Title: The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice
Written by: Vanessa Brown

What It’s About: Dig deep into the unsolved murder of Jackie English and join the hunt for a serial killer.

Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster – or monsters – stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn”t stop searching until his death 40 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims” families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person, or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own?

Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations. And through her investigation, Vanessa posits the unthinkable: is it possible that the Forest City Killer is still alive and, like the notorious Golden State Killer, a simple DNA test could bring him to justice?


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Title: Blood in the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes
Written by: Silver Donald Cameron

What It’s About: In June 2013, three upstanding citizens of a small Cape Breton town cold-bloodedly murdered their neighbour, Phillip Boudreau, at sea. While out checking their lobster traps, two Landry cousins and skipper Dwayne Samson saw Boudreau in his boat, the Midnight Slider, about to vandalize their lobster traps. Like so many times before, Boudreau was about to cost them thousands of dollars out of their seasonal livelihood. One man took out a rifle and fired four shots at Boudreau and his boat. To finish the job, they rammed their own larger boat over the top of his speedboat. Boudreau”s body was never found. Then they completed the day”s fishing and went home to Petit de Grat on Isle Madame.

Boudreau was a Cape Breton original–an inventive small-time criminal who had terrorized and entertained Petit de Grat for two decades. He had been in prison for nearly half his adult life. He was funny and frightening, loathed, loved, and feared. One neighbour says he would “steal the beads off Christ”s moccasins”–then give the booty away to someone in need. He would taunt his victims, and threaten them with arson if they reported him. He was accused of one attempted rape. Meanwhile the police and the Fisheries officers were frustrated, cowed, and hobbled by shrinking budgets. Boudreau seemed invincible, a miscreant who would plague the village forever.

Cameron, a resident of the area since 1971, argues that the Boudreau killing was a direct reaction to credible and dire threats that the authorities were powerless to neutralize. As many local people have said, if those fellows hadn”t killed him, someone else would have. Like Say Nothing, The Perfect Storm, The Golden Spruce, and Into Thin Air, this book offers a dramatic narrative set in a unique, lovingly drawn setting, where a story about one small community has universal resonance. This is a story not about lobster, but about the grand themes of power and law, security and self-respect. It raises a disturbing question: Are there times when taking the law into your own hands is not only understandable but the responsible thing to do?


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Title: Wish You Were Here: A Murdered Girl, a Brother’s Quest and the Hunt for a Serial Killer
Written by: John Allore & Patricia Pearson

What It’s About: In the fall of 1978 teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn”t seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek only a few kilometers away. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn”t investigate.

Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa’s brother John during the aftermath of Theresa”s death. Though the two teens would go their separate ways, the family”s grief, obsession with justice and desire for the truth never left Patricia. Little did she know, the shockwaves of Theresa”s death would return to her life repeatedly over the next forty years.

In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and young children, when the cops came to the door. They had determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. John wondered: If these cops could look for this young girl, why had nobody even tried to find out what happened to Theresa? Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, by now an accomplished crime journalist and author, and together they found answers far bigger and more alarming than they could have imagined–and a legacy of violence that refused to end.


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Title: Who Killed Tom Thomson?: The Truth about the Murder of One of the 20th Century’s Most Famous Artists
Written by: John Little

What It’s About: Tom Thomson was Canada’s Vincent van Gogh. He painted for a period of five years before meeting his untimely death in a remote wilderness lake in July 1917. He was buried in an unofficial grave close to the lake where his body was found. About eight hours after he was buried, the coroner arrived but never examined the body and ruled his death accidental due to drowning. A day and a half later, Thomson’s family hired an undertaker to exhume the body and move it to the family plot about 100 miles away. This undertaker refused all help, and only worked at night.

In 1956, John Little’s father and three other men, influenced by the story of an old park ranger who never believed Thomson’s body was moved by the undertaker, dug up what was supposed to be the original, empty grave. To their surprise, the grave still contained a body, and the skull revealed a head wound that matched the same location noted by the men who pulled his corpse from the water in 1917. The finding sent shockwaves across the nation and began a mystery that continues to this day.

In Who Killed Tom Thomson? John Little continues the sixty-year relationship his family has had with Tom Thomson and his fate by teaming up with two high-ranking Ontario provincial police homicide detectives. For the first time, they provide a forensic scientific opinion as to how Thomson met his death, and where his body is buried. Little draws upon his father’s research, plus recently released archival material, as well as his own thirty-year investigation. He and his colleagues prove that Thomson was murdered, and set forth two persons of interest who may have killed Tom Thomson.


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Title: Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father
Written by: Carys Cragg

What It’s About: When Carys Cragg was eleven, her father, a respected doctor, was brutally murdered in his own home by an intruder. Twenty years later, and despite the reservations of her family and friends, she decides to contact his murderer in prison, and the two correspond for a period of two years. She learns of his horrific childhood, and the reasons he lied about the murder; in turn, he learns about the man he killed. She mines his letters for clues about the past before agreeing to meet him in person, when she learns startling new information about the crime.

With gripping suspense and raw honesty, Dead Reckoning follows one woman’s determination to confront the man who murdered her father, revealing her need for understanding and the murderer’s reluctance to tell–an uneasy negotiation between two people from different worlds both undone by tragedy. This is a powerful and emotional memoir about how reconciling with the past doesn”t necessarily provide comfort, but it can reveal the truth.


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Title: Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk
Written by: Rebecca Godfrey

What It’s About: It has been a long road to justice for Reena Virk, beaten and murdered at the hands of her teenage peers. The  murder of this girl is one of the most notorious and heartbreaking cases in Canadian history. Here, for the first time, acclaimed author Rebecca Godfrey reveals the stunning truth about a Canadian tragedy that captured international headlines.

Who were the seemingly ordinary suburban teenagers who found themselves under the bridge in Victoria, BC, on the night of November 14, 1997? Why would a girl who longed to be their friend be beaten and killed? And how did so many teenagers keep terrible secrets from parents, teachers and police for eight days? These are the questions all of us have been asking, and in Under the Bridge the answers are revealed in a stunning narrative. Godfrey spent six years researching the case, conducting exclusive interviews with parents, classmates, police, prosecutors and, perhaps most importantly, several of the youths, including Warren Glowatski, one of the two teenagers convicted of murdering Virk. Godfrey also witnessed firsthand the many trials of Kelly Ellard, also found guilty of killing a girl who just wanted to fit in.


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Title: Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett
Written by: Michael Nest, Deanna Reder & Eric Bell

What It’s About: Métis leader James Brady was one of the most famous Indigenous activists in Canada. A communist, strategist, and bibliophile, he led Métis and First Nations to rebel against government and church oppression. Brady”s success made politicians and clergy fear him, and he had enemies everywhere.
 
In 1967, while prospecting in Saskatchewan with Cree Band Councillor and fellow activist Absolom Halkett, both men vanished without a trace from their remote lakeside camp. For 50 years rumours swirled of secret mining interests, political intrigue, assassination, and murder. Cold Case North is the story of how a small team, with the help of a local Indigenous community, exposed police failure in the original investigation, discovered new clues and testimony, and gathered the pieces of the North”s most enduring missing persons puzzle.


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Title: Murder in the Family: How the Search for My Mother’s Killer Led to My Father
Written by: Jeff Blackstock

What It’s About: “I think that my father murdered my mother.”

That terrible belief spurs author Jeff Blackstock to investigate the circumstances of his mother Carol”s death when he was a child. Carol Blackstock died at age 24 in 1959–poisoned by arsenic–but the cause of her death remained shrouded in mystery for decades. Jeff’s father George Blackstock was a career diplomat in Canada’s foreign service, posted to glamorous Buenos Aires with his wife Carol and their three children. A little more than a year after the family’s arrival, the vivacious young mother, now emaciated and in terrible pain, was transferred to Montreal for treatment of a mysterious illness that proved fatal. In the following year, George Blackstock remarried, and a young woman named Ingrid became the feared stepmother to Jeff and his two siblings.

Carol’s parents soon had suspicions about their son-in-law George but were unable to get justice for their daughter. Class privilege–George was the scion of a Toronto establishment family and Carol was from modest beginnings–and an aversion to scandal all figured in an apparent cover-up. But secrets have a way of eventually disrupting all families. A damning autopsy report about arsenic poisoning, found among their grandmother”s effects, leads Jeff Blackstock and his sister to horrifying revelations about their father. Eventually, they confront him and accuse him of their mother’s murder. But George offers only vague explanations that don”t add up. George died a broken man, mostly abandoned by his adult children.

A compelling story of a high-society murder, a heartbreaking tale of emotionally neglected children, and an inquiry into the power and privilege of the Anglo upper classes of the time, Murder in the Family chronicles the shocking legacy of deeply buried secrets and betrayal in one’s own family.


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Title: Starlight Tour: The Last, Lonely Night of Neil Stonechild
Written by: Susanne Reber & Robert Renaud

What It’s About: In 1990, on a brutally cold night, 17-year-old Neil Stonechild disappeared from downtown Saskatoon, last seen in police custody. His frozen body was found three days later in a field outside town. Though his mother pressed for answers, a cursory investigation pinned the blame on the teen himself, dead by alcohol and misadventure. Only in 2000, when two more men were found frozen to death, and a third survived his “starlight tour” at the hands of police, did the truth about Stonechild’s fate begin to emerge. Soon one of the country’s most prominent Indigenous lawyers was on the case, and an open secret was secret no more.

With exclusive co-operation from the Stonechild family, lawyer Donald Worme, and others, Starlight Tour is an engrossing portrait of rogue cops, racism, obstruction of justice and justice denied, not only to a boy and his family but to an entire nation.

Future Reads: Manga to Read in 2021

It’s 2021 and this is my first Future Reads post of the new year. For this one I wanted to show what manga books I was looking forward to this year.

Publishers are putting out such a range of titles now that I am always finding something new and interesting to pick up. Yes, I will always check out the new shojo/shoujo titles because I am definitely predictable, but the new LGBTQIA+ stories and reference manga that keep coming out are really capturing my interest more and more.

I hope you find a manga to get excited about on this list!


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Title: Those Not-So-Sweet Boys, Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Yoko Nogiri

What It’s About: Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumor has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?

Midori is a high-schooler with a part-time job at a café-bar. Unfortunately, her job’s against the rules at her school, and when the chairman of the school board finds out, he makes her a deal: Convince three boys who’ve stopped coming to school to return, and her transgression will be overlooked. Now, she needs to find a way into the lives of these not-so-sweet boys… one of whom just happens to be her crush!


Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 2, 2021.


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Title: A Sign of Affection Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Suu Morishita

What It’s About: Yuki is a typical college student–it’s just that she can’t hear. A chance encounter on a train leads to a serious crush…but will he give her a chance? A sweet and relatable manga romance from the creator of Shortcake Cake!

Even with a hearing aid, the voices of others are an indistinct blur for Yuki. But she never lets that get in the way of a life full of friends, social media, and cute fashion. One day, she’s browsing her phone on train, when a tourist asks her for directions. Yuki nearly panics…until the handsome Itsuomi steps in to help. It turns out her new crush is a friend of a friend, and Yuki’s world starts to widen. But even though Itsuomi-kun can speak three languages, sign language isn”t one of them. How will Yuki communicate her budding feelings?


Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 23, 2021.


Even Though We’re Adults Vol. 1

Title: Even Though We’re Adults Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Takako Shimura

What It’s About: From the critically acclaimed creator of Wandering Son and Sweet Blue Flowers, a heart-tugging manga about two busy women who think they’ve figured out the whole adulting thing…until they fall in love with each other.

Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Akari. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Akari is intrigued but confused…especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Akari are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.


Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 9, 2021.


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Title: Tokyo Fashion: A Comic Book
Written and illustrated by: Nodoka

What It’s About: An illustrated guide to Japanese style!

Building a wardrobe is expensive and time-consuming…but it doesn’t have to be! Looking good is easier than ever, and all it takes is a little bit of care. Buying a few basic items in colors you can mix and match in a variety of ways will take you far. This comic book guide to fashion will show you how to introduce a Japanese flourish into your wardrobe with easy tutorials, suggestions for wardrobe essentials, and styling tips on pulling it all together!


Note: Currently, it is slated for release on March 9, 2021.


The Summer of You (My Summer of You Vol. 1)

Title: My Summer of You Vol. 1 (Kimi wa natsu no naka #1)
Written and drawn by: Nagisa Furuya

What It’s About: Chiharu Saeki and Wataru Toda are two high school students who share a common hobby: They love to watch movies. After they meet, they become fast friends, until one day, when Chiharu confesses his love for Wataru. Wataru says that Chiharu”s confession doesn”t bother him, and the boys continue throughout their summer, going to pilgrimages to see film spots from their favorite movies. But the more time he spends with Chiharu, Wataru realizes that he may not only be as unaffected by Chiharu”s confession as he claimed to be, but those feelings may also be mutual…


Note: Final cover added! Currently, it is slated for release on May 11, 2021.


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Title: Boys Run the Riot Vol. 1
Written and illsutrated by: Keito Gaku

What It’s About: High schooler Ryuu knows he’s transgender. But he doesn’t have anyone to confide in about the confusion he feels. He can’t tell his best friend, who he’s secretly got a crush on, and he can’t tell his mom, who’s constantly asking why Ryuu is always “dressing like a boy.” He certainly can’t tell Jin, the new transfer student who looks like just another bully. The only time Ryuu feels at ease is when he”s wearing his favorite clothes. Then, and only then, the world melts away, and he can be his true self. One day, while out shopping, Ryuu sees an unexpected sight: Jin. The kid who looked so tough in class is shopping for the same clothes that Ryuu loves. And Jin offers Ryuu a proposal: to start their own brand and create apparel to help everyone feel comfortable in their skin. At last, Ryuu has someone he can open up to–and the journey ahead might finally give him a way to express himself to everyone else.


Note: Currently, it is slated for release on May 25, 2021.


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Title: Seaside Stranger: Umibe no Etranger
Written and drawn by: Kanna Kii

What It’s About: Shun has been living in Okinawa with his grandmother ever since a disastrous coming out to his parents. One day he meets Mio, a high school student who recently lost his parents and who now spends his days sitting by the sea. The two of them are just starting to bond when Mio reveals that he’s heading for the mainland. Three years later, an adult Mio returns to Okinawa…and he’s come to find Shun and reveal what’s in his heart.


Note: The cover is not final for this title. Currently, it is slated for release on July 21, 2021.


Blast from the Past: Travel YA Series

When I was a younger reader and my sense of the world was still pretty small, I devoured books about travelling.

It was always so much fun reading about a someone my age taking a trip (independence!) and growing through their experiences in a different country (character development!). It was also a plus if they fell in love (because I am such a sucker for romance). I love that we have so many more travel stories in YA fiction now that take all us over the world and to different parts of the same country.

In this Blast from the Past, I will be taking a look at the two YA Travel series I read the most as a teen.

Grab your passport and your favorite neck pillow and let’s go!


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Title: Spain or Shine
Written by: Michelle Jellen

What It’s About: Elena is lost in the shuffle between her three overachieving siblings. But now that she’s on her own for a whole semester, she intends to keep the spotlight on herself—and Spain is just the place to do it. Once she starts living it up in tapas bars, lying out on the beach (even though it’s November), and having a nice, long siesta smack-dab in the middle of every day, Elena finds that Spain is everything she hoped it would be. She’s even met a to-fawn-over Spaniard, Miguel. But Elena has always been more comfortable writing plays than starring in them, and she’s beginning to realize that keeping out of the spotlight has its perks too. . . 

Note: Originally released on September 8, 2005.


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Title: The Sound of Munich
Written by: Suzanne Nelson

What It’s About: Siena Bernstein is leaving her yoga mat behind for a semester of study abroad in Munich. She’s thrilled with the prospect of a German adventure (her horoscope is encouraging as well), but she hopes to make more than just her dreams come true while she’s there. Siena’s dad, who passed away when she was a baby, kept a “Carpe Diem” list—sort of his top-ten adventurous things to do. He completed all but one of the tasks—going to Germany to thank the man who helped smuggle his family past the Berlin Wall. Amidst her adventures in biergartens, Alpine skiing, and a rigorous course load, Siena is on a quest to complete her father’s list. But she’s also set on having the best possible time while she tries. With the help of two new best buds and a handsome RA in her dorm, she’ll surely succeed.

Note: Originally released on March 2, 2006.


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Title: The Great Call of China
Written by: Cynthea Liu

What It’s About: Chinese-born Cece was adopted when she was two years old by her American parents. Living in Texas, she’s bored of her ho-hum high school and dull job. So when she learns about the S.A.S.S. program to Xi’an, China, she jumps at the chance. She’ll be able to learn about her passion – anthropology – and it will give her the opportunity to explore her roots. But when she arrives, she receives quite a culture shock. And the closer she comes to finding out about her birth parents, the more apprehensive she gets. Enter Will, the cute guy she first meets on the plane. He and Cece really connect during the program. But can he help her get accustomed to a culture she should already know about, or will she leave China without the answers she’s been looking for?

Note: Originally released on February 19th, 2009.


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Title: When Irish Guys are Smiling
Written by: Suzanne Supplee

What It’s About: For seventeen-year-old Delk Sinclair, studying abroad in Ireland means one thing: escape. Delk is tired of hearing about her friends’ debutante parties, watching her pregnant stepmother redecorate her mother’s house, and having to smile sweetly even though she doesn’t think she’ll ever get over losing her mother. Ireland is Delk’s chance to be happy. With the stunning green landscape as backdrop, Delk revels in all things Irish, from living in a real Irish castle, to celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Galway, to enjoying Irish music and dance, to studying Yeats and shearing a sheep! So when Delk begins to fall for a very handsome Irishman, she wonders if there”s more to the Emerald Isle than it first seemed. It is fun, to be sure, but will those smiling Irish eyes really be able to heal her broken heart?

Note: Originally published on January 10, 2008.


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Title: Up Over Down Under
Written by: Micol Ostow & Noah Harlan

What It’s About: A super-special S.A.S.S. exchange novel offers romance in the land down under and right here in the U.S. when two exchange students swap places!

Eliza Ritter has high expectations for her semester in Melbourne, Australia. Sure, she’s participating in an environmental program, but really she hopes to spend her time meeting cute boys. So when she meets a hot surfer, she is thrilled! Aussie Billie Echols, on the other hand, actually does have an interest in the environmental program she’s signed up for in Washington, D.C. But the States are nothing like she expected, and soon Billie is caught in the middle of an unexpected controversy. Being an exchange student gets a whole new meaning in this first-ever SASS book of its kind.

Note: Originally published on April 29, 2010.


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Title: London: Kit & Robin (Love Stories: Year Abroad Trilogy #1)
Written by: Rachael Hawthorne

What It’s About: Robin’s falling fast for an English guy named Kit Marlin. There are just a few tiny problems: 1) She’s living with him and his family in London for the year. 2) He treats her like a sister. 3) He has a gorgeous girlfriend. So she should just get over him and avoid a broken heart, right?

Note: Originally published on September 12, 2000.


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Title: Paris: Alex & Dana (Love Stories: Year Abroad Trilogy #2)
Written by: Rachael Hawthorne

What It’s About: A French boyfriend is what Dana intends to get in her junior year in Paris. She keeps running into boring Alex Turner from home – but then he only wants to date a Parisian girl.

Note: Originally published on October 10, 2000.


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Title: Rome: Antonio & Carrie (Love Stories: Year Abroad Trilogy #1)
Written by: Rachael Hawthorne

What It’s About: Carrie’s completely crazy about Antonio, her Italian boyfriend. He’s incredibly cute, smart, and sweet, everything she’s ever wanted. So what’s the problem? He hates American girls. And he has no idea that she is one.

Note: Originally published on November 14, 2000.