On a Theme: Sports fiction for YA Readers

Sports! I have never been on a team or dedicated myself much to organized sports beyond watching figure skating, rooting for the national teams during the Olympics, and playing badminton with friends at the park during the summer.

It is interesting to me though the camraderie and connection to be found between team members to achieve a goal, the love of the sport, the dedication to improving your skills, and what happens when we link our identities with a sport.

This On a Theme post is dedicated to those books and graphic novels featuring teens in sports. It sort of goes without saying that I wanted to really include books in this list where female characters are the ones playing the sport, because we are so often treated as less, even when playing the same sport and bringing the trophy home.



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Title: Throw Like a Girl
Written by: Sarah Henning

What It’s About: When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince its coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the spring. But it will take more than just a flawless spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charismatic smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

With lovable characters and a charming quarterback love interest, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.


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Title: The Game Can’t Love You Back
Written by: Karole Cozzo

What It’s About: Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s learned to focus on one thing and one thing only-being the best pitcher she can be.

But when a freak accident forces her school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He can’t afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher-especially to a girl.

As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?


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Title: Cold Day in the Sun
Written by: Sara Biren

What It’s About: Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.


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Title: Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks Series)
Written by: Miranda Kenneally

What It’s About: Athletic superstar Jordan Woods is the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. Her teammates, including her best friend Sam, all see her as their leader and one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

Buteverything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he”s also amazingly cute. Meanwhile, Sam is her rock – he supports Jordan’s dreams even when her traditional dad doesn’t – but suddenly things feel different between them. For the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

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Title: Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks Series)
Written by: Miranda Kenneally

What It’s About: Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother”s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three. Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

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Title: Defending Taylor (Hundred Oaks Series)
Written by: Miranda Kenneally

What It’s About: There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she”s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?


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Title: Home and Away
Written by: Candice Montgomery

What It’s About: Friday Night Lights meets Dear Martin in this thought-provoking coming-of-age story about family, identity, and forgiveness. Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team. But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them-but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.


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Title: The Passing Playbook
Written by: Isaac Fitzsimons

What It’s About: Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing.

But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he”s falling for.


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Title: Cracking the Bell
Written by: Geoff Herbach

What It’s About: Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.

While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can’t win without him. The scholarship offer from Cornell is only on the table if he keeps playing.

And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?

Isaiah must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.


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Title: Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1)
Written by: Abbi Glines

What It’s About: To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…


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Title: First & Then
Written by: Emma Mills

What It’s About: Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them – first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life


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Title: Every Reason We Shouldn’t
Written by: Sara Fujimura

What It’s About: Sixteen-year-old figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She’s bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of trying to live up to expectations of being the daughter of Olympians Michael Kennedy and Midori Nakashima…until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink.

Jonah’s driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying. and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia’s got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?


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Title: Furia
Written by: Yamile Saied Mendez

What It’s About: In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.


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Title: Break the Fall
Written by: Jennifer Iacopelli

What It’s About: Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?


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Title: Tumbling
Written by: Caela Carter

What It’s About:

Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.


And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.


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Title: The Knockout
Written by: Sajni Patel (aka. S.A. Patel)

What It’s About: If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport weren’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, excelling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse. Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride—she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history—if she has the courage to go for it.


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Title: She Drives Me Crazy
Written by: Kelly Quindlen

What It’s About: After an embarrassing loss to her ex-girlfriend in their first basketball game of the season, seventeen-year-old Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, Irene Abraham, head cheerleader for the Fighting Reindeer.

Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene”s car to the shop for weeks” worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier.

But when an opportunity arises for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex-and climb her school’s social ladder-she bribes Irene into an elaborate fake- dating scheme that threatens to reveal some very real feelings.


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Title: Breath Like Water
Written by: Anna Jarzab

What It’s About: A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.


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Title: Ramona Blue
Written by: Julie Murphy

What It’s About: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi.

But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke.

Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.


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Title: How to Breathe Underwater
Written by: Vicky Skinner

What It’s About: Kate has spent her whole life working to be the best swimmer in order to earn her father’s love, until he betrayed her and her family. Now, she’s forced to start over and figure out what swimming really means to her, in this contemporary young adult debut from Vicky Skinner.

Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she”s been a part of her whole life.

Now in a new home and new school, faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.

As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?


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Title: We Are the Wildcats
Written by: Siobhan Vivian

What It’s About: Tomorrow, the Wildcat varsity field hockey squad will play the first game of their new season. But at tonight’s team sleepover, the girls are all about forging the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship necessary to win.

Everything hinges on the midnight initiation ceremony—a beloved tradition and the only facet of being a Wildcat that the girls control. Until now.

Coach—a handsome former college player revered and feared in equal measure—changes the plan and spins his team on a new adventure. One where they take a rival team’s mascot for a joyride, crash a party in their pajamas, break into the high school for the perfect picture.

But as the girls slip out of their comfort zone, so do some long-held secrets. And just how far they’re willing to go for their team takes them all—especially Coach—by surprise.

A testament to the strength and resilience of modern teenage girls, We Are the Wildcats will have readers cheering.


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Title: See No Color
Written by: Shannon Gibney

What It’s About: Being a transracial adoptee doesn’t bother sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge-at least, not in a way she can explain to her white family. It doesn’t matter that she’s biracial when she’s the star of the baseball team. But when Alex is off the field, she”s teased for “acting” too white and judged for looking black. And while she loves her parents, her hot-headed brother, and her free-speaking sister, they don’t seem to understand what it means that Reggie, a fellow ball player, is the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her.

Things only get more complicated when she finds hidden letters from her birth father. Alex can’t stop asking questions. Does she really fit in with her family? What would it be like to go to a black hairdresser? Should she contact her birth father, despite the fact that it might devastate her parents? Meanwhile, her body is changing, and Alex isn’t sure she can keep up with her teammates. If she’s going to find answers, Alex must come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.


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Title: Game
Written by: Walter Dean Myers

What It’s About: Drew Lawson knows basketball is taking him places. It has to, because his grades certainly aren”t. But lately his plan has run squarely into a pick. Coach has handed the ball to another player—Tomas, a new guy from Europe—and Drew won”t let anyone disrespect his game. Just as his team makes the playoffs, Drew must come up with something big to save his fading college prospects. It”s all up to Drew to find out just how deep his game really is.


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Title: All the Things We Never Knew
Written by: Liara Tamani

What It’s About: A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.

Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse.


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Title: After the Shot Drops
Written by: Randy Ribay

What It’s About: Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.

When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.


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Title: Here to Stay
Written by: Sara Farizan

What It’s About:

Bijan Majidi is:

Shy around girls
Really into comics
Decent at basketball
Bijan Majidi is not:
A terrorist

What happens when a kid who’s flown under the radar for most of high school gets pulled off the bench to make the winning basket in a varsity playoff game?

If his name is Bijan Majidi, life is suddenly high fives in the hallways and invitations to exclusive parties—along with an anonymous photo sent by a school cyberbully that makes Bijan look like a terrorist.

The administration says they’ll find and punish the culprit. Bijan wants to pretend it never happened. He’s not ashamed of his Middle Eastern heritage; he just doesn’t want to be a poster child for Islamophobia. Lots of classmates rally around Bijan. Others make it clear they don’t want him or anybody who looks like him at their school. But it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends.


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Title: Winger (Winger #1)
Written by: Andrew Smith

What It’s About: A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.


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Title: Blacktop: Justin (Blacktop #1)
Written by: LJ Alonge
Illustrations by: Raul Allen

What It’s About: Justin has a list of goals stashed under his mattress. Number 1 is “figure out life plans.” Number 5 is “earn Zen Master rating in WoW.” Nowhere on that list is “play the crew from Ghosttown,” but that”s the type of trouble that always seems to finds him.

The debut title from LJ Alonge’s new basketball series pulses with action on and off the court. With wit, humor, and honesty, Justin unfolds over one hot summer.


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Title: Dont’ Hate the Player
Written by: Alexis Nedd

What It’s About: Emilia Romero is living a double life. By day, she’s a field hockey star with a flawless report card. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate. That’s in part to keep her real-life persona, but also for her own safety, since girl gamers are often threatened and harassed.

When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to her team and the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team recognizes her . . .

Jake Hooper has had a crush on Emilia since he was ten years old. When his underdog eSports team makes it into the tournament, he’s floored to discover she”s been leading a double life. The fates bring Jake and Emilia together as they work to keep her secret, even as the pressures of the tournament and their non-gaming world threaten to pull everything apart.


Note: This novel is set to be released on June 1, 2021.



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Title: Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey
Written & illustrated by: Ngozi Ukazu

What It’s About: Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack-his very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.


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Title: Fence Vol. 1
Written by: C.S. Pacat
Illustrated by: Johanna the Mad

What It’s About: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges.


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Title: The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1
Written by: Carly Usdin
Illustrated by: Noah Hayes

What It’s About: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.


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Title: A Map to the Sun
Written & illustrated by: Sloane Leong

What It’s About: One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.

Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women”s basketball team at their high school.

With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.

Sloane Leong’s evocative storytelling about the lives of these young women is an ode to the dynamic nature of friendship.


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Title: Haikyu!! Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Haruichi Furudate

What It’s About: Shoyo Hinata is out to prove that in volleyball you don”t need to be tall to fly!

Ever since he saw the legendary player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever! Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?

After losing his first and last volleyball match against Tobio Kageyama, “the King of the Court,” Shoyo Hinata swears to become his rival after graduating middle school. But what happens when the guy he wants to defeat ends up being his teammate?!


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Title: Sayonara, Football Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Naoshi Arakawa

What It’s About: Midori and Sumire are soccer stars at rival middle schools, destined to collide–one’s a striker, the other”s a goalie. But the two girls end up in the same high school, with a lazy coach and a bizarre teammate, Nozomi, who brags that she’s a soccer prodigy but can’t seem to stop kicking the ball into her own goal. To become champions, Midori and Sumire will have to get over their rivalry and work some magic on the field — not to mention the challenges of growing up.


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Title: Kuroko’s Basketball, Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Tadatoshi Fujimaki

What It’s About: Seirin High’s greatest basketball superstar was the one no one literally saw coming—the invisible Kuroko!

Tetsuya Kuroko doesn’t stand out much. In fact, he’s so plain that people hardly ever notice when he’s around. Though he’s just as unremarkable on the basketball court, that’s where his plainness gives him an unexpected edge—one that lets him execute awesome moves without others noticing!

When incoming first-year student Taiga Kagami joins the Seirin High basketball team, he meets Tetsuya Kuroko, a mysterious boy who’s plain beyond words. But Kagami’s in for the shock of his life when he learns that the practically invisible Kuroko was once a member of “the Miracle Generation”— the undefeated legendary team—and he wants Kagami’s help taking down each of his old teammates!


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Title: The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Takeshi Konomi

What It’s About: A tennis prodigy leads his handsome tennis club to victory at the national tournament.

Four-time consecutive U.S. Junior tournament champ Ryoma Echizen comes to Seishun Academy to further his reign as The Prince of Tennis. His skill is matched only by his attitude–irking some but impressing all as he leads his team to the Nationals and beyond!

There is a rumor going around that a twelve-year-old boy is going to enter the sixteen-year-old and under tennis group. How can someone so young ever hope to compete with kids much older and more experienced than him? This is no ordinary kid: he is none other than Ryoma Echizen, the Prince of Tennis! Ryoma’s father was destined for greatness until he injured himself during a match, ending his career forever. His talent was passed on to his son, who is determined to be the best tennis player in the world. Can the prince gain the respect of his fellow teammates despite his small size and young age? Find out in this intense sports manga!


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Title: Chihayafuru, Vol. 1
Written and illustrated: Yuki Suetsugu

What It’s About: Chihaya is a girl in the sixth grade, still not old enough to even know the meaning of the word zeal. But one day, she meets Arata, a transfer student from rural Fukui prefecture. Though docile and quiet, he has an unexpected skill: his ability to play competitive karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. Chihaya is struck by his obsession with the game, along with his ability to pick out the right card and swipe it away before any of his opponents. However, Arata is transfixed by her as well, all because of her unbelievable natural talent for the game. Don’t miss the first volume in this story of adolescent lives and emotions playing out in the most dramatic of ways.

Spotlight: June Hur

This Spotlight post will focus on the author June Hur and her current works and upcoming works!

June Hur is a Korean-Canadian author I have been bringing up for a while on this blog (I try to be gentle about it. Really.) in various posts. Whether it is a review, a themed booklist, or a to-be-released list, I want to bring up her books because they’re just so exciting!

The Silence of Bones was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and despite the uncertainty of the time it came out and the world sort of stopping, the library eventually got going once again. I was able to get a copy and it helped to have something I had been looking forward to in my hands.

June Hur’s writing really picks you up and places you in the time and setting of the story she’s telling. You walk with her characters in the mud and on the roads toward unravelling a mystery. You really feel all the research that went into every detail of her first novel to make the time period come to life. And the story at its heart is an emotional one about family, which sort of destroyed me. I didn’t expect a debut novel to really hit me as hard as it did but here we are.

This is why I am such a fan of June Hur and why I am looking forward to her other novels. I hope you, reader, will also give her books a chance and pick them up.


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Title: The Silence of Bones

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.


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Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls

What It’s About: 1426, Joseon (Korea). Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest near a gruesome crime scene.

Years later, Detective Min-Hwani’s father-learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared from the same forest that nearly stole his daughters. He travels to their hometown on the island of Jeju to investigate. only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village-and collides with her now estranged sister, Maewol-Hwani comes to realize that the answer could lie within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.


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Title: The Red Palace

What It’s About: To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood…

Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, seventeen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father”s approval.

But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher”s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.

In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.


Note: This title is set to be released on January 25th, 2022. Look forward to it!


On a Theme: Books with Cats

Cats! They’re fuzzy (sometimes), mysterious, cute as buttons, and slightly evil. I’m not just describing my own cat here. They’re our wonderful companions that honestly don’t get enough hype or love.

In this On a Theme post, I will be listing some books that celebrate the uniqueness of cats and highlight their impact on the humans in their lives.

Welcome to a catastic post! (I’m sorry!)



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Title: Travels of Suki the Adventure Cat
Written by: Martina Gutfreund & Leigh-Anne Ingram

What It’s About: Suki is a gorgeous Bengal cat from Canada who isn’t afraid of taking her tiny paws on big adventures. From the castles of Europe to the sunny shores of California, her travels prove that anyone can wander the world. With inspirational words about exploration, Suki’s readers are invited to travel with her. Additionally, Suki looks absolutely elegant with each step she takes and has the photos to prove it! Full of gorgeous shots of her and her human parent, Martina Gutfreund, the book will continue in the popular Instagram account’s tradition of taking in the wilderness and its boundless beauty.


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Title: Catfulness: A Cat’s Guide to Achieving Mindfulness
Written by: A Cat

What It’s About: Human beings love to create problems for themselves. I observe this on a daily basis, as do all my feline friends. They never stop, and one of their favorite tasks is to find more tasks to do. They are always looking for something, as if the life they have isn’t enough. They say they are looking for happiness–but do they know what happiness is?
We cats know the art of living. We eat when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired. Sitting for hours outside a mouse hole has taught us patience. Staring at an aquarium has brought us meditation. And we know how to please ourselves.

Catfulness is a seven-week mindfulness program for human beings. If they can live their lives more like us, the world will be more serene. As Sigmund Freud said, “time spent with cats is never wasted”.


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Title: Catland: The Soft Power of Cat Culture in Japan
Written by: Sarah Archer

What It’s About: In Japan, cats rule. And the country’s feline love affair is now a worldwide phenomenon. From cat cafés and Hello Kitty to the familiar sight of a maneki neko (“beckoning cat”) waving its paw from a shop window, cat lovers all over the world are more immersed in Japan’s cat culture than they may realize.

With charming storytelling, Catland will introduce you to cats practicing to become monks, a designer who makes cat costumes inspired by the fashions of 18th-century France, and skilled craftsmen who build pieces of fine furniture precisely scaled down to suit feline customers. Packed with photographs, works of art, pop culture and folklore, Catland is the perfect gift for the cat lover in your life.


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Title: The Cat Man of Aleppo
Written by: Karim Shamsi-Basha & Irene Latham
Illustrated by: Yuko Shimizu

What It’s About: Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbors flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa decides to stay–he can make a difference by driving an ambulance, carrying the sick and wounded to safety. One day he hears hungry cats calling out to him on his way home. They are lonely and scared, just like him. He feeds and pets them to let them know they are loved. The next day more cats come, and then even more! There are too many for Alaa to take care of on his own. Alaa has a big heart, but he will need help from others if he wants to keep all of his new friends safe.


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Title: What Cats Want: An Illustrated Guide for Truly Understanding Your Cat
Written by: Dr. Yuki Hattori

What It’s About: What makes cats climb into tiny spaces? Why do they sleep that much? And, most of all, how can we give them a good life?

Dr. Yuki Hattori is Japan’s leading cat doctor, and to him cats are the most beautiful animals in the world. His advice comes with little illustrations showing exactly what to look for as a cat owner – including charts showing how to interpret their different meows, the direction of their whiskers and the way their tail is pointing!

Cats may seem low-maintenance but thoughtfulness about where you put their water, how warm or cool they like to be, what name to choose and how to groom them properly will make a life-changing difference. With understanding, affection and respect, your cat will be more healthy and contented – and you’ll feel happier too.

An invaluable new guide filled with creative tips and darling illustrations, What Cats Want provides a much-desired glimpse into the minds of our most mysterious pets.


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Title: The Cat I Never Named : A True Story of Love, War, and Survival
Written by: Amra Sabic-El-Rayess & Laura Sullivan

What It’s About: In 1992, Amra was a teen in Bihac, Bosnia, when her best friend said they couldn’t speak anymore. Her friend didn’t say why, but Amra knew the reason: Amra was Muslim. It was the first sign her world was changing. Then Muslim refugees from other Bosnian cities started arriving, fleeing Serbian persecution. When the tanks rolled into Bihac, bringing her own city under seige, Amra’s happy life in her peaceful city vanished.
But there is light even in the darkest of times, and she discovered that light in the warm, bonfire eyes of a stray cat. The little calico had followed the refugees into the city and lost her own family. At first, Amra doesn’t want to bother with a stray; her family doesn’t have the money to keep a pet. But with gentle charm this kitty finds her way into everyone’s heart, and after a few near miracles when she seems to save the family, how could they turn her away?

Here is the stunning true story of a teen who, even in the brutality of war, never wavered in her determination to obtain an education, maintain friendships, and even find a first love-and the cat who gave comfort, hope, and maybe even served as the family’s guardian spirit.


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Title: Girls and Their Cats
Written by: BriAnne Wills & Elyse Moody

What It’s About: This stunning book redefines what it means to be a “cat lady” through striking portraits and engaging profiles of each woman and her cat—or cats.

Interspersed throughout are amusing lists any cat lady will find relatable, from “How to Catproof Your Home” to “The Chorus of Cat Sounds,” as well as an adoption resource guide and a list of rescue organizations in the United States and Canada.

• Includes heartwarming stories about each woman and her furry friend, as well as fun facts
• Celebrates the powerful bond between a girl and her cat, proving that we need them just as much as they need us
• Based on the popular Instagram @girlsandtheircats, which has been featured on Buzzfeed, Refinery29, The Daily Mail, and more



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Title: Cats of the Louvre
Written & illustrated by: Taiyo Matsumoto

What It’s About: A surreal tale of the secret world of the cats of the Louvre, told by Eisner Award winner Taiyo Matsumoto.

The world-renowned Louvre museum in Paris contains more than just the most famous works of art in history. At night, within its darkened galleries, an unseen and surreal world comes alive—a world witnessed only by the small family of cats that lives in the attic. Until now…


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Title: With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun, Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Hidekichi Matsumoto

What It’s About: With both a cat and a dog, there’s double the antics, double the fun (and double the kibble!) but while Inu and Neko coexist peacefully, they have their own distinct personalities, which play out in unexpected, charming ways during these short-form stories.

Whether you’re a dog-person or a cat-person, there’s plenty to love about these homegrown sketches of daily life shared with four-legged friends!


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Title: She and Her Cat
Written by: Makoto Shinkai
Illustrated by: Tsubasa Yamaguchi

What It’s About: This is the story of Miyu, a woman who lives alone with her cat, Chobi. As Miyu navigates the world of adulthood, she discovers both the freedom and loneliness that come with living independently, and Chobi learns of the outside world through her actions. Time drifts slowly for Miyu and her cat, but the harsh realities of the world soon catch up…


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Title: A Man and His Cat, Vol. 1
Written & illustrated by: Umi Sakurai

What It’s About: The top manga launch in Japan in the first half of 2018, A Man and His Cat was also voted one of the top ten manga of 2018 by Japanese bookstore employees nationwide. Having won hearts and topped charts in Japan, this hotly anticipated series about an older gentleman and his unique, adorable cat is available in English for the first time!

In the pet shop he calls home, a chubby, homely cat whiles away the hours listening to coos of delight from potential pet parents…but he knows it’s not him they’re fussing over. Even as his price drops with each passing day, no one spares the kitty a glance. Having all but given up on life, the feline dejectedly awaits his first birthday, when he’ll officially be past his sell-by date. So when an older gentleman comes into the shop and wants to take him home, the kitten himself is most shocked of all! Will the man and the cat find what they’re looking for…in each other?


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Title: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
Written and illustrated by: Junji Ito

What It’s About: HELL-O-KITTY

Master of Japanese horror manga Junji Ito presents a series of hissterical tales chronicling his real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner. Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know…his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow—Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends.


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Title: Rascal
Written & illustrated by: Jean-Luc Deglin

What It’s About: Rascal is a cat. My cat. I didn’t ask for him, he just sort of… happened to me. But that’s how it works sometimes, isn’t it?

When a mysterious mewling package arrives in the mail, one busy young woman’s life changes forever. Rascal lives up to his name, filling every day with wild adventures and long naps: brave expeditions into closets, fierce battles with curtains, and wrestling with slumbering giants… Sometimes she’s tempted to throw him out the window. He’s lucky he’s cute.

Jean-Luc Deglin paints a purring portrait of one unforgettable black cat, an elegant inky swirl in a world of striking blue tones. Hilarious and heartwarming, exasperating and enchanting, Rascal captures the full range of emotions that come with keeping God’s cutest killing machine as a pet.

If you love cats, or dream of having one, this book is dedicated to you. Once you bring Rascal into your life, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him.



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Title: My Cat Looks Like My Dad
Written & illustrated by: Thao Lam

What It’s About: Minimal text paired with bright paper-collage illustrations create comparisons on each spread in which the narrator talks about their family—especially the striking similarities between Dad and the cat. Both have orange hair, love milk, start their days with stretches, appreciate a good nap, and are brave (some of the time). The narrator is more like Mom, with wild hair, blue eyes, and a love of dancing.

A surprising twist at the end reveals the narrator’s unexpected identity, also hinted at with clues in the art throughout the book. Warmth and whimsy in the illustrations add a playful balance to the story’s deeper message about the love that makes a family a unit, no matter how unusual it may look from the outside.


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Title: The Bookstore Cat
Written by: Cylin Busby
Illustrated by: Charles Santoso

What It’s About: The bookstore cat is an adorable . . .
bossy . . .
cuddly cat.

He is everything from intelligent and loyal to naughty and vocal! But most of all, the bookstore cat is a well-loved (and well-read) kitty. Follow his funny antics from A to Z through a day in his bustling, book-filled shop.

The Bookstore Cat is based on a Victorian parlor game, The Minister’s Cat, in which players try to think of adjectives to describe the cat in alphabetical order. Readers can extend the fun of the book by playing their own version of the game.


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Title: No Fuzzball!
Written & illustrated by: Isabella Kung

What It’s About: A hilarious new story from debut picture book artist Isabella Kung.

Fuzzball is Queen of the house. Her subjects just LOVE how she scales the tallest shelves and drags their belongings across the floor. Hear how they shout her name everywhere she goes … “NO FUZZBALL!” But when they leave her queendom for the weekend, she questions whether she should be a more benevolent ruler.Fans of funny, lovable characters like Aaron Blabey’s Pig the Pug, Mo Willems’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and David Shannon’s No, David! will fall in love with this furry, feline despot.


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Title: Can Cat and Bird Be Friends?
Written & illustrated by: Coll Muir

What It’s About: Cats and birds can’t be friends! They have absolutely nothing in common. After all, cats are supposed to eat birds, not play with them!

But there’s something special about this prey-and-predator pair…and they may just find that it’s our differences that bring us closer together.

In a delightful picture book filled with pleasing banter and hilarious quips, rising talent Coll Muir creates the perfect unlikely friendship between unexpected creatures.


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Title: Cats are a Liquid
Written by: Rebecca Donnelly
Illustrated by: Misa Saburi

What It’s About: Cats fill./ Cats spill./ Cats flow downhill.// Cats tip./ Cats drip./ Cats grip, snip, rip.// Cats are a liquid/ Except when they”re not.

Inspired by an Ig Nobel Prize-winning investigation of how cats behave like liquids, this book introduces some of the physical properties of liquids-they adapt to fit a container, they flow like fluids-and is just pure fun.

Like its inspiration, it makes you laugh, then think. Back matter includes a brief introduction to the different physical states: solid, liquid, gas


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Title: Stack the Cats
Written & illustrated by: Susie Ghahremani

What It’s About: One cat sleeps. Two cats play. Three cats stack!

Cats of all shapes and sizes scamper, stretch and yawn across the pages of this adorable counting book. And every now and then, they find themselves in the purrfect fluffy stack!


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Title: I Am a Cat
Written and illustrated by: Galia Bernstein

What It’s About: A simple housecat named Simon encounters some bigger cats: Lion, Puma, Panther, Tiger, and Cheetah. Each of the big cats has something to say about Simon not being “cat” enough. According to them, he just doesn’t measure up. He doesn’t have Lion’s mane or Cheetah’s spots. He doesn’t sleep in trees like Panther or climb mountains like Puma. He’s small and fuzzy, not big and strong. But ultimately, Simon shows the big cats that he’s just like them . . . only smaller.

A celebration of both individuality and community, I Am a Cat is a strong debut that shows we’re all more alike than we think . . . if we look closely enough.


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Title: Mr. Cat and the Little Girl
Written & illustrated by: Wang Yu Wei

What It’s About: Mr. Cat spends his days alone. When he goes out to paint a beautiful winter landscape, he finds a little girl. He decides to take her home. The girl colors his world… until she disappears


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Title: They All Saw a Cat
Written & illustrated by: Brendan Wenzel

What It’s About: The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . . In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?

Shelf Sightings: Poetry for Young Readers

Poetry – it proves that words have power. They can move you to tears or inspire you to act. How each of us discovers a poet whose works speak to us or a poem that really resonates is always different. There’s no reason or pre-requisit to like poetry or a poem. Seriously.

In this Shelf Sightings post, I will share some interesting poetry books for middle grade readers that I spotted on a shelf at the library. I hope they will inspire young readers to write their own poems and engage with this form of writing in a way that’s meaningful for them.


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Title: My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness
Written by: Georgia Heard
Illustrated by: Isabel Roxas

What It’s About: Poets have long observed the world in a mindful way. They point out beauty we might have missed, draw our attention to our inner thoughts, and call us to see our society in new ways.

But as daily life become more and more chaotic, children grow distracted. According to the CDC, 9.4% of children have ADHD and 7% have anxiety/depression. And these numbers continue to climb. As treatment doctors recommend healthy eating, physical activity, plenty of sleep, and mindfulness techniques.

Georgia Heard is a poet and educator—and she has long had her own meditation practice. In My Thoughts Are Clouds, she uses poetry to demonstrate what mindfulness is and gives kids—and their parents and teachers—accessible ways to learn mindfulness tools.


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Title: Beautiful Day!: Petite Poems for All Seasons
Written by: Rodoula Pappa
Illustrated by: Seng Soun Ratanavanh

What It’s About: A picture book of haiku-inspired poems celebrating the four seasons

Beautiful day!
Teach me, too, how to fly,
mother swallow!

In simple, poetic verse, a child observes their world from spring to summer, and autumn through winter, in this gentle ode to the seasons, accompanied by exquisite illustrations


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Title: Night Wishes
Edited by: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by: Jen Corace

What It’s About: How would a clock, nightlight, or teddy bear say good night? In this enchanting poetry collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins and thirteen other poets imagine the wishes whispering through a young girl’s bedroom as she falls asleep. The bookshelf’s stories curl through her head; the pillow transforms into a hot air balloon; the rocking horse waits expectantly for tomorrow’s adventures. Stunning gouache illustrations by Jen Corace offer new details to discover with every reading.

Perfect for bedtime reading and re-reading, Night Wishes will transport young readers into a wonderful, whimsical world of dreams.

Includes poems by…

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Jude Mandell
Prince Redcloud
Alice Schertle
Joyce Sidman
Eileen Spinelli
– plus many more!


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Title: A World Full of Poems
Collected by: D.K. Publishing

What It’s About: A gorgeously illustrated introduction to poetry for children, featuring poems about everything from science, sports, and space, to friendship, family, and feelings.

This thoughtfully crafted anthology is perfect for children new to verse and for young poetry fans seeking out new favorites. Explore poetry from a diverse selection of contemporary and historical poets, covering a broad range of topics–from personal subjects like emotions and family, to the wonders of the natural environment. Carefully selected works encourage children to see the poetry in everything and to embrace the beauty of their everyday lives.

Poems are complemented by detailed illustrations, timelines, and interesting facts about the topics covered, ensuring that the poems are not just entertaining, but relevant, topical, and informative.

Prompts and activities inspire children to create their own poetry, and devices like rhyme, repetition, and alliteration are introduced and explained in a fun and accessible manner.


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Title: Carry On: Poetry by Young Immigrants
Edited by: Simon Boulerice
Illustrated by: Rogé Girard

What It’s About: Carry On began in a high school in Outremont, Quebec, where author and poet Simon Boulerice conducted creative-writing workshops for young newcomers to Canada. As the students began writing, their poems gave voice to their reflections on leaving family, friends, and countries of origin to make new homes and connections in their new home, Canada.

Paired with expressive portraits by award-winning artist Rogé, each young writer reflects on the experience of leaving one home for another. The collection of poems express feelings of anxiety, sorrow, anticipation, gratitude, and hope for the future. With thoughtful verse and evocative illustrations, Carry On is a tribute to human resilience, the voices of newcomers, and creating empathy for all those who wonder about their place in the world.


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Title: The One Thing You’d Save
Written by: Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by: Robert Sae-Heng

What It’s About: When a teacher asks her class what one thing they would save in an emergency, some students know the answer right away. Others come to their decisions more slowly. And some change their minds when they hear their classmates’ responses. A lively dialog ignites as the students discover unexpected facets of one another—and themselves. With her ear for authentic dialog and knowledge of tweens’ priorities and emotions, Linda Sue Park brings the varied voices of an inclusive classroom to life through carefully honed, engaging, and instantly accessible verse.


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Title: A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Written by: Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by: Noa Denmon

What It’s About: In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.

There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.

Summertime is filled with joy-skateboarding and playing basketball-until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.

In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child”s experiences following a police shooting-through grief and protests, healing and community-with washes of color as vibrant as his words.

Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers-children and adults alike-talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.


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Title: I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage
Edited by: Lee Bennett Hopkins

What It’s About: I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage brings together the work of fourteen award-winning poets and sixteen illustrators of diverse backgrounds who share aspects of their childhood experiences in honest portraits of what it was like for them growing up in the United States.

Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander takes us on a riotous ride through good times and sad spent with his extended family, which is perfectly captured by Coretta Scott King Award winner Michele Wood’s vibrant overflowing and overlapping images. Pura Belpré Award winner Margarita Engle shares happy memories of learning embroidery from her grandmother, accompanied by Ecuadorean fine artist and printmaker Paula Barragán’s colorful graphic representation of a granddaughter and grandmother at work. Bestselling author Nick Bruel talks about his confusion over having to define himself by a single racial label, which is brought to life by newcomer Janine Macbeth’s reflective image of herself trying to figure out her own mixed ancestry.

Together these heartfelt poems and captivating illustrations shine a light on the rich diversity of people in our nation as well as the timeless human connections and universal experiences we all share. Readers of any age and background are sure to find much that spark their memories and open their eyes.

Featuring poems by Douglas Florian, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jorge Tetl Argueta, Marilyn Nelson, Nick Bruel, G. Neri, Jane Yolen, Joseph Bruchac, and Carole Boston Weatherford, and illustrations by Sean Qualls, Simone Shin, Insoo Kim, Michele Wood, Paula Barragán, Neil Waldman, Jeanne Rorex Bridges, Sawsan Chalabi, Rafael López, R. Gregory Christie, Janine Macbeth, Charlotte Riley-Webb, Julie Downing, David Fadden, Daniel Minter, and Juliet Menéndez.

Future Reads: 2021 Middle-Grade and YA DC Comics

This Future Reads post is bringing back that theme of DC Comics for young adults and middle-grade readers because there is a new lineup of titles to get excited about.

I wish there were a few more titles for middle-grade readers, but the YA graphic novels are looking so good. A lot of the authors are also familiar and it is always so much fun to be introduced to new artists as well.

Let’s zip into this list!



Title: The Mystery Of The Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel
Written by: Ryan North
Illustrated by: Derek Charm

What It’s About: After angering a number of hostile spirits in England, 13-year-old magician Johnny Constantine has to find a way out of the country. Persuading his parents to send him to America, John arrives at the Junior Success Boarding School in Salem, Massachusetts. But once there,he finds himself to be something of an outcast. And he is also convinced that his homeroom teacher really has it in for him. Worse, he’s convinced that’s she’s really a witch. Fortunately, John is able to find one kindred spirit at school with whom he’s able to form an alliance–another misfit named Anna, who also happens to have her own developing magical powers. John recruits Anna in his efforts to uncover the truth about Ms. Kayla and expose the Meanest Teacher’s real identity to the world. Joined by a friendly demon named Etrigan, these two amateur sleuths will uncover clues and stumble upon forces beyond their control in a humorous series of misadventures.


Note: This title is set to be released June 29, 2021. I’m real excited about this one. A young John Costantine just out to solve a little mystery and cause a little mischief.


Title: Green Arrow: Stranded
Written by: Brandon Deenan
Illustrated by: Bell Hosalla

What It’s About: Following a plane crash on a deserted island, 13-year-old Oliver Queen must learn the skills he needs to survive and to protect his injured father. Ollie has always hated the idea of hunting, but his dad insisted they go on this trip with his business partner, Sebastian, and his son, Tyler. When Ollie fails to take a perfect shot, the teasing starts, and he wonders if his dad will ever be proud of him again. But just when he thought their trip couldn’t get any worse, their private jet is struck by lightning and crash lands on a deserted island. Ollie awakens to find his dad seriously injured and the other passengers nowhere in sight. If they hope to survive, he’s going to have to learn skills he’s been avoiding developing so far. He has never felt less sure of who he is…or if he will be able to hang on until help arrives.


Note: This title is set to be released March 1, 2022. I’m going to include this one because I wanted to have another title on this list for middle-grade readers. I am hoping that DC will announce some more? Eventually? Soon-ish?



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Title: Nubia: Real One
Written by: L.L. McKinney
Illustrated by: Robyn Smith

What It’s About: Can you be a hero…if society doesn’t see you as a person?

Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showcased Amazonian strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor’s cat. But, despite Nubia’s similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she’s no Wonder Woman. And even if she was, they wouldn’t want her. Every time she comes to the rescue, she’s reminded of how people see her: as a threat. Her moms do their best to keep her safe, but Nubia can’t deny the fire within her, even if she’s a little awkward about it sometimes. Even if it means people assume the worst.

When Nubia’s best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all—her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class—to become the hero society tells her she isn’t.


Note: This title is already out and was released on February 23, 2021. I need to get my hands on this one as soon as possible. The description alone has me very interested.


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Title: Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story
Written by: Lilliam Rivera
Illustrated by: Steph C.

What It’s About: Jessica Cruz has done everything right. She’s a dedicated student, popular among her classmates, and has a loving family that has done everything they can to give her a better life in the United States. While Jessica is a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing her to go to school and live in the U.S., her parents are undocumented. Jessica usually worries for her parents, but her fears and anxiety escalate as a mayoral candidate with a strong anti-immigration stance runs for office.

As the xenophobia in Coast City increases, Jessica begins to debate whether it’s worth renewing her status to stay in the U.S., or if her family would be safer and better off moving back to Mexico. And despite her attempts to lean on her friends and family, she finds herself constantly visited by visions of Aztec gods, one pulling her towards hope and the other towards anger.

But when her father is detained by I.C.E., Jessica finds herself being pulled into an abyss of fear. With her father gone and feeling helpless, Jessica must find her way out of her fears and ultimately become a voice for her community.


Note: This title is set to be released on July 13, 2021.


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Title: I Am Not Starfire
Written by: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrated by: Yoshi Yoshitani

What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Mandy, daughter of Starfire, is NOT like her mother. Starfire is gorgeous, tall, sparkly, and a hero. Mandy is NOT a sparkly superhero. Mandy has no powers, is a kid who dyes her hair black and hates everyone but her best friend Lincoln. To Starfire, who is from another planet, Mandy seems like an alien, like some distant angry light years away moon.

And it’s possible Mandy is even more distant lately, ever since she walked out on her S.A.T.s. Which, yeah, her mom doesn”t know.

Everyone thinks Mandy needs to go to college and become whoever you become at college, but Mandy has other plans. Mandy’s big plan is that she”s going to move to France and…do whatever people do in France. But then everything changes when she gets partnered with Claire for a school project. Mandy likes Claire (even if she denies it, heartily and intensely). A lot.

How do you become the person you’re supposed to be when you don’t know what that is? How do you become the person you’re supposed to be when the only thing you”re sure of is what you’re not?

When someone from Starfire’s past arrives, Mandy must make a choice: give up before the battle has even begun, or step into the unknown and risk everything to save her mom. I am Not Starfire is a story about teenagers and/as aliens; about knowing where you come from and where you are going; and about mothers.


Note: This title is set to be released on July 27th, 2021.


Title: Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend
Written by: Alys Arden
Illustrated by: Jacquelin De Leon

What It’s About: Zatanna’s not your typical New Yorker. She walks her giant rabbit on a leather leash down the boardwalk, lives in a colossal architectural wonder known as the Golden Elephant, had her first kiss in the Haunted Hell Gate ride–and wouldn’t have it any other way.

But the time for having fun in Luna Park comes to an end when a mystic’s quest for a powerful jewel unravels everything Zatanna thought she knew about herself and her beloved neighborhood. Mysteries and magic surround her as she reveals the truth about her family’s legacy, and confronts the illusion that has been cast over her entire life.

From the bewitching mind behind The Casquette Girls, Alys Arden, and with enchanting artwork by Jacquelin de Leon, comes the story of a girl stuck in the middle of a magical rivalry and forced to choose between love, family, and magic without hurting anyone…or worse.


Note: This title is set to be released August 2, 2021.


Title: Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero
Written by: E. Lockhart
Illustrated by: Manuel Preitano

What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Willow Zimmerman has something to say. When she’s not on the streets advocating for her community, she’s volunteering at the local pet shelter. She seeks to help all those in need, even the stray dog she’s named Lebowitz that follows her around. But as much as she does for the world around her, she struggles closer to home—taking care of her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer. Her job as an adjunct professor of Jewish studies does not provide adequate health insurance—and Willow can see that time is running out.

When in desperation she reconnects with her estranged “uncle” Edward, he opens the door to an easier life. Through simple jobs, such as hosting his private poker nights with Gotham City’s elites, she is able to keep her family afloat—and afford critical medical treatments for her mother.

Willow’s family life quickly improves through the income provided by these jobs, but it comes at the cost of distancing herself from the people she truly cares about. Her time is now spent on new connections, such as biologist and teacher Pammie Isley. And when Willow and Lebowitz collide with the monstrous Killer Croc outside the local synagogue, they are both injured, only to wake up being able to understand each other. And there are other developments, too…strange ways in which they’ve become stronger together. Willow’s activism kicks into high gear—with these powers, she can really save the world!

But when Willow discovers that Edward and his friends are actually some of Gotham’s most corrupt criminals, she must make a choice: remain loyal to the man who kept her family together, or use her new powers to be a voice for her community.


Note: This title is set to be released September 7, 2021. This one is going to be one to check out just because it features a new original hero.


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Title: Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven (Teen Titans #3)
Written by: Kami Garcia
Illustrated by: Gabriel Picolo

What It’s About: It seems like years, but it’s only been a few days since Raven Roth recovered her memories; trapped her demon father, Trigon, in her amulet; and had her heart broken for the first time. But she doesn’t have time to think about the past…she has to focus on finding a way to get rid of Trigon for good.

Garfield Logan still can’t believe he has powers that allow him to change into different animals, but the price of knowing that his parents kept this secret hidden from him just feels too high. And what’s more, his difficulty controlling these abilities could have unexpected consequences.

Both are seeking answers from the one person who seems to have them all figured out: Slade Wilson.

When their paths converge in Nashville, Raven and Gar can’t help but feel a connection, despite the secrets they both try to hide. It will take a great amount of trust and courage to overcome the wounds of their pasts. But can they find acceptance for the darkest parts of themselves? Or maybe even love?


Note: This title is set to be released September 28, 2021.


Spotlight: Justina Ireland

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In this Spotlight post, I will be highlighting an amazing author – Justina Ireland.  If you know her for her alternate history zombie novels or her work in the world of Star Wars, then this post will show you that there is more to check out and even upcoming.   I always appreciate an author that writes fully fleshed out characters with unique voices that are kicking butt and getting things done.  

With each new book, I think this author just gets better and better and I enjoy the range of titles and varied stories.  Stop sleeping on this author and  read her stuff, people! (And also check out her upcoming middle-grade novel!)


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Title: Vengeance Bound
Written by:  Justina Ireland

What It’s About: Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.


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Title: Promise of Shadows
Written by:  Justina Ireland

What It’s About:  A teen who is half-god, half-human must own her power whether she likes it or not in this snappy, snarky novel with a serving of smoldering romance.

Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changed when her sister was murdered—and Zephyr used a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

On the run from a punishment worse than death, an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend upends Zephyr’s world—and not only because her old friend has grown surprisingly, extremely hot. It seems that Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess that is prophesied to shift the power balance: for hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.

But how is she supposed to save everyone else when she can barely take care of herself?


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Title:  Scream Site
Written by:  Justina Ireland

What It’s About:  Sabrina Sebastian’s goal in life is to be an investigative reporter. For her first big story, she researches a popular website called Scream Site, where people post scary videos and compete for the most “screams.” While Sabrina’s friends and her sister, Faith, talk nonstop about the creepy viral videos, Sabrina just hopes that covering this trend will get her the internship she’s wishing for. But as she digs into the truth behind the website, she begins to suspect that these aren’t only aspiring actors and videographers at work. Some clips seem a little too real. And when Faith goes missing, Sabrina must race against time to save her sister from becoming the next video “star.”


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Title:  Dread Nation
Written by:  Justina Ireland

What It’s About:  Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.


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Title: Deathless Divide (Dread Nation, #2)
Written by:  Justina Ireland

What It’s About: After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.


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Title:  A Phoenix First Must Burn
Edited by:  Patrice Caldwell

What It’s About:  Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.


Note: Justina Ireland has a story featured in this short story collection so I did want to include it.  She’s actually been part of few other short story collections as well so don’t forget to check those out as well.  They include Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us, and Three Sides of a Heart: Stories about Love Triangles.  


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Title: Star Wars: Lando’s Luck (Flight of the Falcon #1)
Written by:  Justina Ireland
Illustrated by:  Annie Wu

What It’s About: When Lando Calrissian gets caught smuggling on the planet Hynestia, the queen agrees to let him go if he delivers something called the Solstice Globe to the Empire on her behalf. Lando is relieved that his punishment is a simple delivery mission-but he soon discovers things are not as simple as they seem. The queen”s daughter, Princess Rinetta, has stowed away on the Millennium Falcon and demands Lando and L3-37 take the globe back to its home planet, which needs the globe to survive.

Now Lando has to choose: Do what”s right, or do what”s best for Lando. But if he”s lucky enough, he just might be able to do both….


Note: She’s also written a few other stories in the Star Wars universe including, Star Wars: Spark of the Resistance and A Test of Courage.  



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Title: Ophie’s Ghosts
Written by: Justina Ireland

What It’s About: Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.

Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works.

Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past—and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help—even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for.


Note: This middle-grade novel is set to be released on May 18, 2021. I love historical fiction with a bit of the spooks