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


Checking in On My TBR: March 2021

It’s a new year and with it comes some new books I want to add to my reading list along with an update on the books I can finally check off. *deep breath* I feel exhausted already.



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Title: Blue Giant Omnibus Vols. 1-2
Written and drawn by: Shinichi Ishizuka

What It’s About: Dai lived a normal high school life in Sendai: a city of hot summer days and rainy nights. Between basketball, part time jobs, and an uncertain future, something was missing. And that thing was music. With his days in senior year running out, Dai swears a heartfelt vow: “I”m gonna be the best jazz player in the world.”

But what do you need to be the best? Talent? Effort? A lucky break? Or maybe just a deep, pure love for music, and too much stubbornness to know when to quit.



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Title: Satoko and Nada Vol. 4
Written and drawn by: Yupechika

What It’s About: It’s almost time for Satoko to head back to Japan! After everything she’s learned and all the beautiful friends she’s made, it’s hard to leave her new home-away-from-home. But with Nada at her side, her last days in the States are sure to be some of her best yet!


Note: It’s the 4th and final volume of Satoko and Nada and it’s very bittersweet. I really enjoyed this series and I wish it wasn’t ending so soon, because I could read a lot more about them living together and being a great pair of friends. I hope to read this one soon-ish as the library has not acquired it yet.


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Title: Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Rumiko Takahashi

What It’s About: Yusaku Godai didn’t get accepted into college on the first try, so he’s studying to retake the entrance exams. But living in a dilapidated building full of eccentric and noisy tenants is making it hard for him to achieve his goals. Now that a beautiful woman has moved in to become the new resident manager, Godai is driven to distraction!



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Title: Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense Eventually
Written and drawn by: Meichi Ng

What It’s About: Wielding her trademark balance of artful humor, levity, and heartbreaking introspection, Meichi Ng’s indisputably relatable collection of short stories holds a mirror to our past, present, and future selves. Featuring a swaddled Barely Functional Adult as its protagonist who says all the things we think but dare not say, this book is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking as it spans a spectrum of topics from imposter syndrome, therapy, friendships, first loves, letting go of exes, to just trying to find your purpose in the world. Prepare to excitedly shove this book in your friend’s face with little decorum as you shout, “THIS IS SO US!”

In this beautiful, four-color collection compiled completely of never-before-seen content, Meichi perfectly captures the best and worst of us in every short story, allowing us to weep with pleasure at our own fallibility. Hilarious, relatable, and heart-wrenchingly honest, Barely Functional Adult will have you laughing and crying in the same breath, while taking solace in the fact that we’re anything but alone in this world.



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Title: Fangirl
Written by: RainBox Rowell

What It’s About: In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she”s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can”t stop worrying about her dad, who”s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


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Title: Finding My Voice
Written by: Marie Myung-Ok Lee

What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Ellen Sung just wants to be like everyone else at her all-white school. But hers is the only Korean American family in town, and her classmates in Arkin, Minnesota, will never let her forget that she’s different. At the start of senior year, Ellen finds herself falling for Tomper Sandel, a football player who is popular and blond and undeniably cute . . . and to her surprise, he falls for her, too. Now Ellen has a chance at life she never imagined, one that defies the expectations of both her core friend group and her strict parents. But even as she stands up to racism at school and disapproval at home, all while pursuing a romance with Tomper, Ellen discovers that her greatest challenge is one she never expected: finding the courage to speak up and raise her voice.


Note: This short novel was originally published back in the 1990s. Now it has been reprinted with a fresh and modern cover and a foreward by Kat Cho (who is wonderful in her own right and the author of Wicked Fox. Please support her!).

When this novel was first published, I was too young to be aware of it so I am glad it has returned for new generations. I am excited to get the chance to read this story, especially because of its subject matter.



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Title: Kings Rising (Book 3)
Written by: C.S. Pacat

What It’s About: His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?


Note: I read the first two novels in this series so quickly and spent an entire summer very obsessed with Laurent and Damen. I’m ready to dive back in and finish this series though. I want to knowwhat happens. The politics, danger, intrigue, and chemistry…I really should finish this series soon.



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Title: The Magical Language of Others
Written by: E.J. Koh

What It’s About: The Magical Language of Others is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself abandoned and adrift in a world made strange by her mother’s absence. Her mother writes letters in Korean over the years seeking forgiveness and love—letters Eun Ji cannot fully understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box.

As Eun Ji translates the letters, she looks to history—her grandmother Jun’s years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the loss and destruction her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre—and to poetry, as well as her own lived experience to answer questions inside all of us. Where do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words—in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language—to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love?


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Title: Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World
Written by: Matt Alt

What It’s About: The Walkman. Karaoke. Pikachu. Pac-Man. Akira. Emoji. We’ve all fallen in love with one or another of Japan’s pop-culture creations, from the techy to the wild to the super-kawaii. But as Japanese media veteran Matt Alt proves in this brilliant investigation of Tokyo’s pop-fantasy complex, we don’t know the half of it. Japan’s toys, gadgets, and imaginary worlds didn’t merely entertain. They profoundly transformed the way we live.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Japan seemed to exist in some near future, gliding on the superior technology of Sony and Toyota while the West struggled to catch up. Then a catastrophic 1990 stock-market crash ushered in the “lost decades” of deep recession and social dysfunction. The end of the boom times should have plunged Japan into irrelevance, but that’s precisely when its cultural clout soared—when, once again, Japan got to the future a little ahead of the rest of us.

Hello Kitty, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and multimedia empires like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z were more than marketing hits. Artfully packaged, dangerously cute, and dizzyingly fun, these products made Japan the forge of the world’s fantasies, and gave us new tools for coping with trying times. They also transformed us as we consumed them—connecting as well as isolating us in new ways, opening vistas of imagination and pathways to revolution. Through the stories of an indelible group of artists, geniuses, and oddballs, Pure Invention reveals how Japanese ingenuity remade global culture and may have created modern life as we know it. It’s Japan’s world; we’re just gaming, texting, singing, and dreaming in it.


Note: Pop-culture from Japan has been such a big part of my life. I just want to read more history and learn the context around those things I have so enjoyed and continue to enjoy as well.

Now I really wish there would be an easily book about the history of female mangaka/ or female manga creators or just a book where they are the center of focus. I would really love to read more about that.


Blast From the Past: Maison Ikkoku and Mermaid Saga

In 2020, we were lucky enough to get 2 classic titles by Rumiko Takahashi printed in beautiful collector editions by VIZ Media. I’m talking about Maison Ikkoku (last printed in 2006) and Mermaid Saga (last printed in 2004)!

When they first came out, I was very new to manga and did not have the wherewithall or ability to find them as each volume was being released. I’m glad they were reprinted again in new editions so newer generations and people that missed them the first time around could get the opportunity to read them.

I have to say these collector editions are really beautiful looking. The colour pages in Mermaid Saga alone, even though they are few, are so pretty. They would make a great addition to anyone’s manga collection.


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Title: Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1
Written and illustrated by: Rumiko Takahashi

What It’s About: Yusaku Godai didn’t get accepted into college on the first try, so he’s studying to retake the entrance exams. But living in a dilapidated building full of eccentric and noisy tenants is making it hard for him to achieve his goals. Now that a beautiful woman has moved in to become the new resident manager, Godai is driven to distraction!


Note: This series is a romantic comedy, which is what I am always up for reading. The tenants in this housing complex are horribly invasive in each other’s lives and delight in each other’s misery. Especially, Godai’s but he honestly doesn’t help matters much with his inability to focus and his crush on Kyoko. He’s young and this is his first brush with actual love.

Despite some of the jokes feeling a bit dated, the objectification of Kyoko, and some of the men being absolutely gross, which makes the feminist in me want to hulk out, it’s still surprisingly enjoyable. I would read many more books of everyone constantly dunking on Godai.



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Title: Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition Vol. 1 (Ningyo Shirīzu)
Written and drawn by: Rumiko Takahashi

What It’s About: They say that if one consumes mermaid flesh, one can attain immortality. Unfortunately, the more likely results include becoming horribly deformed or turning into a vicious monster! Even if one were to gain eternal life, however, is such an anomaly a lucky blessing or a terrible curse?

Yuta became immortal when he unwittingly ate mermaid flesh, and now he seeks a way to become human again. Hundreds of years later, he encounters a volatile and determined young lady named Mana while searching for a mermaid. Could this mysterious woman hold the key to saving Yuta’s humanity?


Note: I was not expecting to like Mermaid Saga as much as I did. It’s a horror series that really asks the question…is living forever a gift or a curse? (Spoiler: it’s most definitely a curse.)

I have only read the first volume of the collector’s edition but I really enjoyed it. In this series, I think all the female characters that we meet, whether mermaid or human, are so interesting. Some of the chapters are also so incredibly sad and that emotional pull really makes it a more memorable series for me. I’m looking forward to volume 2!

Warnings though! There is some nudity, extreme violence, and some scenes of attempted assault in the first volume.



Future Reads: Other 2021 Manga to Look Forward To

I remember starting this year thinking that there wasn’t much manga to look forward to. I had a few titles on my list but I really wanted more.

I am so happy to report that waiting a bit longer, especially for those surprise publisher announcements, has given me those new titles to beef up this post and get excited about more upcoming manga. This is going to be fun!


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Title: I Cannot Reach You Vol. 1 (Kimi ni wa Todokanai Vol. 1)
Written and drawn by: Mika

What It’s About: No matter how much time we spend together, I’ll never become special to you.

Childhood best friends. Two halves of a whole. The cool, smart one who’s good at almost everything, and his average, dorky friend who struggles to do anything right­—Yamato and Kakeru. Always by the other’s side, but not together in the way they truly want to be. No matter how hard they try, their hearts cannot reach each other…


Note: This title is set to be released on March 9, 2021. I’m happy to see the official cover art is finally here.


Blue Giant Omnibus Vols. 3-4

Title: Blue Giant Omnibus 3-4
Written and drawn by: Shinichi Ishizuka

What It’s About: Miyamoto Dai, a student with a taste for basketball, changes his life the first time he sees a live jazz performance. The incredible music strikes a chord deep inside him, and he immediately decides to dedicate himself to the saxophone. He has no skills, no formal training, and no idea what he”s up against, but his obsession drives him to play that instrument day after day. Will passion be enough to become the player of his dreams? This award-winning manga from Shinichi Ishizuka, compiled into five omnibus volumes for its English debut, is a pitch-perfect drama about the power of music.


Note: This title is set to be released on April 20, 2021. If you haven’t checked out the first volume, definitely try and check it out.


I Think Our Son Is Gay, Volume 1

Title: I Think Our Son Is Gay Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Okura

What It’s About: Despite belonging to a family of four, the Aoyama residence is typically home to three due to father Akiyoshi’s job. While he’s away at work, mom Tomoko and her two beloved sons Hiroki and Yuri go about their everyday lives–going to school, making dinner, doing homework, etc. But now that Hiroki’s in his first year of high school, his thoughts are turning ever so slightly to sex and romance…and his mom can’t help but notice his slips of the tongue when he’s talking about who he likes. Supportive Tomoko has an inkling Hiroki might be gay, but she’s going to let him figure it out for himself. Unfortunately, Hiroki has little talent for keeping his “secret,” so he might die of embarrassment before all is said and done!


Note: This title is set to be released on May 11, 2021. I’m very used to reading manga about teen characters from their perspective so this book is especially interesting as it is from a parent’s perspective. I’m looking forward to this release.


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Title: Ride Your Wave
Written by: Masaaki Yuasa & Reiko Yoshida
Drawn by: Machi Kiachi

What It’s About: New college student Hinako moves to a small seaside town to surf and enjoy herself, and finds herself falling in love with firefighter Minato after he saves her from a fire. Their young romance comes to an abrupt end when Minato drowns…but in her grief, Hinako discovers that singing a song they used to perform as a duet summons Minato in the nearest body of water–be it a puddle, glass, or bathtub. Will Hinako be able to reach Minato again?


Note: This title is set to be released on May 11, 2021. I have actually seen the movie this manga is related to and it is…pretty magical. I’m excited to see what the manga offers.


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Title: Mao Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Rumiko Takahashi

What It’s About: A girl is transported to the past and encounters a Japan teaming with ghosts and demons. She finds an ally in a travelling exorcist named Mao. Together they’ll fight the supernatural creatures they meet and unravel the mystery that connects them.


Note: The cover art is not final! I will try and update it as soon as I see the official one come through. On February 19, 2021, Viz Media announced they were releasing this title sometime in Fall 2021. This series is also still ongoing in Japan as well so there isn’t a final volume count as of yet.


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Title: My Love Mix-Up! Vol. 1 (Also known as Kieta Hatsukoi)
Written by: Wataru Hinekura
Drawn by: Aruko

What it’s About: Mistaken identity leads to a blossoming romance between two boys.

Aoki has a crush on Hashimoto, the girl in the seat next to him in class. But he despairs when he borrows her eraser and sees she’s written the name of another boy—Ida—on it. To make matters more confusing, Ida sees Aoki holding that very eraser and thinks Aoki has a crush on him!


Note: The cover art is not final! Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on this series so I am not sure at this very moment how many volumes there will be. This is another title that Viz Media announced recently, which will be coming out sometime in October 2021. I’m real excited for this one as I have heard that the representation in this one is positive.


Spotlight: 2 New Podcasts I’m Listening To

Hello, folks. I’m just going to slide in across your reading list of blogs you follow to get you totally pumped about 2 podcasts I have been listening to lately. One is book related and one is TV related. I’m definitely trying to keep it fresh during my lunch hour when I have time to munch on something delicious and relax through listening.


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Title: Mangasplaining
Hosts: Deb Aoki, David Brothers, Christopher Butcher, & Chip Zdarsky

What It’s About: A podcast where three of the hosts discuss manga and force their pick for that week on their friend, who doesn’t read manga. Perfect for those who are new to reading manga or who do not read it often.



I have been following Deb Aoki for some time on Twitter and really enjoy her. It’s just nice to see another lady out there enjoying manga and sharing their thoughts. You know…besides myself just screaming about Rumiko Takahashi into the void. I actually had the thought the other day that I would listen to a podcast about manga if Deb ever decided to do one and so here we are. It’s a fairly new podcast with their first episode released last month on February 3rd. They start out big with a classic – Akira Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo.

What I also enjoy about this podcast is that it features a reader who does love comics and is a comics creator (i.e. Canadian National treasure Chip Zdarsky) but has not had a lot of experience with reading manga. He’s not alone! Many people can be into comics and graphic novels and go their whole reading life without picking up a manga series. This reader experience is definitely a point of interest for me. I also have to mention that I love the insight into translating manga and the connections to other book and trends in manga.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next episodes.


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Title: That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast
Hosts: Liza Treyger and Kara Klenk

What It’s About: Like the title suggests…this podcast is about Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Each week, the hosts break down the story of one SVU episode, make some jokes, reveal the true crime story the episode is based on and interview someone from that episode.



I have been watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit since I was a teen. Probably shouldn’t have considering how disturbing a lot of the episodes are and considering all the police brutality it featured, but here we are, more than a decade later and this show is still thriving.

What I like about this podcast is that it truly feels like a conversation between two friends that cannot wait to talk about the show. The hosts are also hilarious. I have choked on a french fry while listening to them. I also appreciate that they discuss the true crimes each episode is based on because…we all know that despite that disclaimer at the beginning of each SVU episode, they’re based on something.

This is also a fairly new podcast but there are already 12 episodes available. Dig in!

Spotlight: Not Your Idol Manga Series

In this Spotlight post, I will be discussing a new manga series called Not Your Idol by Aoi Makino.

I have to mention that this is a dark series and when it was announced for licensing by Shojo Beat, I was quite surprised. If you’ve picked up any of the other titles of the Shojo Beat line, in tone, this one is drastically different. I was used to the romantic comedies and nostalgic high school dramas so this one settled like a ton of bricks .

I am going to mention some items that all readers should know about going into reading this manga, especially if the content is a dealbreaker for them.

Trigger warnings (TW) for Not Your Idol include: sexual assault, violence against women, stalking, PTSD.


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Title: Not Your Idol Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Aoi Makino

What It’s About: After that day, she stopped being a girl.

In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.


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Title: Not Your Idol Vol. 2
Written and drawn by: Aoi Makino

What It’s About: Heartbroken Nina Kamiyama is a former idol. She’s decided to keep her past identity a secret for her personal safety, but the dangerous situation intensifies when another discovers who she really is. Who can she trust?



I am highlighting this series because while heavy, it brings up topics I feel need more focus like the problematic aspects of the idol system, how young girls interact with femininity and misogyny, and how trauma can change a person. I do listen to Kpop a lot but I am also very aware of the realities the young women and men face in that industry and some of the dangers as well.

The characters are interesting and infuriating and the pace of the story is okay so far. I am very interested in Nina Kamiyama learning to grow and define herself away from the idol persona. I’m invested in her healing and the thoughts she voices are pretty powerful. With a mystery, you want everything at once but this one is taking a bit more time to ask those hard hitting questions of its readers.

While I think bringing up these topics are important, especially centered around current Japanese culture, I do believe that the structure of the story, character development, and their execution will matter most in judging the series as a whole. The series is currently on hiatus so I don’t know when volume 3 will arrive. It feels like the series is at a tipping point and I am wary of it. It could either be a needed commentary on society or it could devolve into a painful and offensive mess. Right now, I am giving it the below rating as I am a bit stuck on how to rate it without getting the full picture of this series and where it is going.

Let’s see what happens.