It’s June and that means it is time to reflect and see where I am with my reading journey. What did I read that was on my TBR? What books did I add? What emotional soul-crushing turmoil did I experience throughout these last few months?!
I honestly had a tough time concentrating the last few months so I’ve been taking it slow and not pressuring myself when it comes to my TBR. I just tried to let myself pick whatever I wanted to read in that moment, going with it, and celebrating each book I finished.
Let’s check in then.
Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls Written by: June Hur
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.
Note: June Hur! You all already knew that I was looking forward to her upcoming novels and one was recently released on April 20th. It’s on my TBR now and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
Title:Kate in Waiting Written by: Becky Albertalli
What It’s About: Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.
Title:Luck of the Titanic Written by: Stacey Lee
What It’s About: Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren”t allowed into America.
But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there”s not much a trained acrobat like Val can”t overcome when she puts her mind to it.
As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.
Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val”s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.
Note: Stacey Lee’s newest novel! And I. AM. HERE. FOR IT. I have had this book on my TBR for a while but its release date is finally drawing near.
Title:Misfit in Love Written by: S.K. Ali
What It’s About:
Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.
And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.
Sweet, constant Nuah.
The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.
It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.
But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.
And Nuah’s treating her differently.
Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.
Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.
Note: I am so happy that S.K. Ali is taking us back to the characters of her first novel to show us where they are at and where they are going. I fell in love with Ali’s writing through Janna Yusuf’s story from the very first page so I am excited for this book’s release on May 25th, 2021.
What It’s About: A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Note: This book came out back in 2016 and I’ve been meaning to check it out but have failed to every time. Real ridiculous, I know. I really do want to read this one though so it makes my list!
Title: Heartstopper Vol. 2 Written and drawn by: Alice Oseman
What It’s About: Nick and Charlie are best friends, but one spontaneous kiss has changed everything. In the aftermath, Charlie thinks that he’s made a horrible mistake and ruined his friendship with Nick, but Nick is more confused than ever. Love works in surprising ways, and Nick comes to see the world from a new perspective. He discovers all sorts of things about his friends, his family… and himself.
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!
Title:Blue Period Vol. 1 (Burū Piriodo) Written and drawn by: Tsubasa Yamaguchi
What It’s About: Yatora is the perfect high school student, with good grades and lots of friends. It”s an effortless performance, and, ultimately… a dull one. But he wanders into the art room one day, and a lone painting captures his eye, awakening him to a kind of beauty he never knew. Compelled and consumed, he dives in headfirst–and he”s about to learn how savage and unforgiving art can be…
Title: Haikyu!! Vol. 1 Written 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?!
Note: This manga is one that is recommended over and over, especially by hosts on podcasts that I listen to. I remember trying to pick it up and bouncing off it within three pages. I’m not exactly sure why but this may come down to me being much more used to shojo manga. I’ve never read a sports manga before and I really don’t know what to expect from it. I’m going to give it another shot though!
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?
Title: If the Shoe Fits(Meant To Be #1) Written by: Julie Murphy
What It’s About: Cindy loves shoes. A well-placed bow or a chic stacked heel is her form of self-expression. As a fashion-obsessed plus-size woman, she can never find designer clothes that work on her body, but a special pair of shoes always fits just right.
With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, the executive producer of the world’s biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. Showcasing her killer shoe collection on network TV seems like a great way to jump-start her career. And, while she’s at it, why not go on a few lavish dates with an eligible suitor?
But being the first and only fat contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation-and a body-positivity icon-overnight. Even harder to believe? She can actually see herself falling for this Prince Charming. To make it to the end, despite the fans, the haters, and a house full of fellow contestants she’s not sure she can trust, Cindy will have to take a leap of faith and hope her heels- and her heart-don’t break in the process.
Note: I’ve enjoyed Julie Murphy’s novels for young adults so so much. I am ready to see what she does next writing for an adult audience. The description for this novel sounds really adorable and fun. I like that the main character loves shoes and is ready to kick-ass in them. This novel is set to be released on August 3rd, 2021.
Title: Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2) Written by: Sonali Dev
What It’s About: Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She”s a chef, what”s the worst that could happen?
Rico Silva, that’s what.
Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster.
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her.
But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce.and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico. Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak-or a recipe for persuasion.?
In Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev once again takes readers on an unforgettable adventure in this fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy.
Note: A lot of the Jane Austen retellings or reimaginings skip Persuasion, which always breaks my heart. Persuasion is a novel that has quite a lot to say, albeit quietly. It has so much pain and longing and so much potential to be relatable for readers. Authors reinterpreting Austen’s novel and making it modern and theirs – there is so much potential there.
Title:The Queer Principles of Kit Webb Written by: Cat Sebastian
What It’s About: Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.
In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.
Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.
But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts overcome the impediments in their path?
Note: I have been meaning to check out a novel by Cat Sebastian just because with each new novel they put out, they keep doing their thing, which is writing queer historical romance. This book also sounds really cute and I was hooked as soon as I read the words “coffee shop”.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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…
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
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!)
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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!
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…
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been reading a lot more manga than usual lately because all my holds finally came in from the library and all the manga came in at once. It’s just a large pile of 10 books that I’ve been moving through quickly and some of them really inspired me to make a list.
I love manga where the art fills the entire page and the world the character inhabits is shown in even the smallest of details. It just makes you feel like you’re stepping into a new world that’s so wide and neverending.
In this On a Theme post, I will share 5 fantasy manga titles that really bring the story to life through their art. I hope you will enjoy them!
Title: Beyond the Clouds Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Nicke
What It’s About: Young Theo works as a mechanic, putting his knack for machines to use in the industrialized city where he lives. But when he finds an injured, amnesiac girl with wings, his life changes forever. Her name is Mia, and although Theo”s talents make quick work of repairing her injured wing, their quest to find her home will take them beyond the clouds and further than they would ever have imagined.
Title:Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Kamome Shirahama
What It’s About: In a world where everyone takes wonders like magic spells and dragons for granted, Coco is a girl with a simple dream: She wants to be a witch. But everybody knows magicians are born, not made, and Coco was not born with a gift for magic. Resigned to her un-magical life, Coco is about to give up on her dream to become a witch…until the day she meets Qifrey, a mysterious, traveling magician. After secretly seeing Qifrey perform magic in a way she”s never seen before, Coco soon learns what everybody “knows” might not be the truth, and discovers that her magical dream may not be as far away as it may seem…
Title: Children of the Whales Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Abi Umeda
What It’s About: In this postapocalyptic fantasy, a sea of sand swallows everything but the past.
In an endless sea of sand drifts the Mud Whale, a floating island city of clay and magic. In its chambers a small community clings to survival, cut off from its own history by the shadows of the past.
Chakuro is the archivist for the Mud Whale, diligently chronicling the lives and deaths of his people. As one of the short-lived thymia wielders, he knows his time is limited and is determined to leave a better record than his predecessors. But the steady pace of their isolated existence on the Mud Whale is abruptly shattered when a scouting party discovers a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about their home than they do…
Title: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Hayao Miyazaki
What It’s About: In a long-ago war, humankind set off a devastating ecological disaster. Thriving indistrial societies disappeared. The earth is slowly submerging beneath the expanding Sea of Corruption, an enormous toxic forest that creates mutant insects and releases a miasma of poisonous spores into the air.At the periphery of the sea, tiny kingdoms are scattered on tiny parcels of land. Here lies the Valley of the Wind, a kingdom of barely 500 citizens; a nation given fragile protection from the decaying sea”s poisons by the ocean breezes; and home to Nausicaä.
Nausicaä, a young princess, has an empathic bond with the giant Ohmu insects and animals of every creed. She fights to create tolerance, understanding and patience among empires that are fighting over the world’s remaining precious natural resources.
Title:The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Nagabe
What It’s About: In a world split between the Inside and the Outside, those living in both realms are told never to cross over to the other side, lest they be cursed. A young girl named Shiva lives on the other side, in a vacant village with a demonic guardian known only as “Teacher.” Although the two are forbidden to touch, they seem to share a bond that transcends their disparate appearances. But when Shiva leaves Teacher’s care to seek out her grandmother, the secret behind her mysterious living arrangement comes to light.
It’s 2021 and this is my first Future Reads post of the new year. For this one I wanted to show what manga books I was looking forward to this year.
Publishers are putting out such a range of titles now that I am always finding something new and interesting to pick up. Yes, I will always check out the new shojo/shoujo titles because I am definitely predictable, but the new LGBTQIA+ stories and reference manga that keep coming out are really capturing my interest more and more.
I hope you find a manga to get excited about on this list!
Title: Those Not-So-Sweet Boys, Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Yoko Nogiri
What It’s About: Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumor has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?
Midori is a high-schooler with a part-time job at a café-bar. Unfortunately, her job’s against the rules at her school, and when the chairman of the school board finds out, he makes her a deal: Convince three boys who’ve stopped coming to school to return, and her transgression will be overlooked. Now, she needs to find a way into the lives of these not-so-sweet boys… one of whom just happens to be her crush!
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 2, 2021.
Title: A Sign of Affection Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Suu Morishita
What It’s About: Yuki is a typical college student–it’s just that she can’t hear. A chance encounter on a train leads to a serious crush…but will he give her a chance? A sweet and relatable manga romance from the creator of Shortcake Cake!
Even with a hearing aid, the voices of others are an indistinct blur for Yuki. But she never lets that get in the way of a life full of friends, social media, and cute fashion. One day, she’s browsing her phone on train, when a tourist asks her for directions. Yuki nearly panics…until the handsome Itsuomi steps in to help. It turns out her new crush is a friend of a friend, and Yuki’s world starts to widen. But even though Itsuomi-kun can speak three languages, sign language isn”t one of them. How will Yuki communicate her budding feelings?
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 23, 2021.
Title: Even Though We’re Adults Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Takako Shimura
What It’s About: From the critically acclaimed creator of Wandering Son and Sweet Blue Flowers, a heart-tugging manga about two busy women who think they’ve figured out the whole adulting thing…until they fall in love with each other.
Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Akari. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Akari is intrigued but confused…especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Akari are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 9, 2021.
Title: Tokyo Fashion: A Comic Book Written and illustrated by: Nodoka
What It’s About: An illustrated guide to Japanese style!
Building a wardrobe is expensive and time-consuming…but it doesn’t have to be! Looking good is easier than ever, and all it takes is a little bit of care. Buying a few basic items in colors you can mix and match in a variety of ways will take you far. This comic book guide to fashion will show you how to introduce a Japanese flourish into your wardrobe with easy tutorials, suggestions for wardrobe essentials, and styling tips on pulling it all together!
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on March 9, 2021.
Title: My Summer of You Vol. 1 (Kimi wa natsu no naka #1) Written and drawn by: Nagisa Furuya
What It’s About: Chiharu Saeki and Wataru Toda are two high school students who share a common hobby: They love to watch movies. After they meet, they become fast friends, until one day, when Chiharu confesses his love for Wataru. Wataru says that Chiharu”s confession doesn”t bother him, and the boys continue throughout their summer, going to pilgrimages to see film spots from their favorite movies. But the more time he spends with Chiharu, Wataru realizes that he may not only be as unaffected by Chiharu”s confession as he claimed to be, but those feelings may also be mutual…
Note: Final cover added! Currently, it is slated for release on May 11, 2021.
Title: Boys Run the Riot Vol. 1 Written and illsutrated by: Keito Gaku
What It’s About: High schooler Ryuu knows he’s transgender. But he doesn’t have anyone to confide in about the confusion he feels. He can’t tell his best friend, who he’s secretly got a crush on, and he can’t tell his mom, who’s constantly asking why Ryuu is always “dressing like a boy.” He certainly can’t tell Jin, the new transfer student who looks like just another bully. The only time Ryuu feels at ease is when he”s wearing his favorite clothes. Then, and only then, the world melts away, and he can be his true self. One day, while out shopping, Ryuu sees an unexpected sight: Jin. The kid who looked so tough in class is shopping for the same clothes that Ryuu loves. And Jin offers Ryuu a proposal: to start their own brand and create apparel to help everyone feel comfortable in their skin. At last, Ryuu has someone he can open up to–and the journey ahead might finally give him a way to express himself to everyone else.
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on May 25, 2021.
Title:Seaside Stranger: Umibe no Etranger Written and drawn by: Kanna Kii
What It’s About: Shun has been living in Okinawa with his grandmother ever since a disastrous coming out to his parents. One day he meets Mio, a high school student who recently lost his parents and who now spends his days sitting by the sea. The two of them are just starting to bond when Mio reveals that he’s heading for the mainland. Three years later, an adult Mio returns to Okinawa…and he’s come to find Shun and reveal what’s in his heart.
Note: The cover is not final for this title. Currently, it is slated for release on July 21, 2021.
I wanted to bring the year to a close on the blog with a post where I pick the top books from my list of books read this year.
I feel like this year was full of books and while I did meet my Goodreads goal (yay!), I think I could have read a great deal more. *sigh* Apologies to my library book piles as they are large and sad. I’m trying very hard not to look at them right now.
Anyway, let’s dig into those books that I really loved this year. They are in no particular order!
Title: Blue Flag Vol. 1 (Ao no Flag Vol. 1) Written and illustrated by: Kaito
What It’s About: For some reason, Taichi Ichinose just can’t stand Futaba Kuze. But at the start of his third year in high school, he finds himself in the same homeroom as her, along with his childhood friend Toma Mita, a star athlete. But one day, Futaba opens up to Taichi and admits she has a crush on Toma. She then asks for his help in confessing to him! There’s just one problem—Toma seems to already have a secret crush on someone else.
Blue Flag Vol. 1 has everything I like in a manga: distinct characters, lots of feeling, misunderstandings, and the pain of words left unsaid. The art is also so good. I just love how each character is designed and how their expressions come through in each panel.
The first volume gripped me. All these characters are on a journey with either figuring out who they are or working up the courage to go for what they want. I love high school manga stories like this and the storytelling in this one is so well done. We get such good characters like Taichi, Futaba, and Toma and the reveal in the last few pages of the first volume had be yelling (in a good way).
I have the second volume set aside to read already!
Title: The Silence of Bones Written by: June Hur
What It’s About:
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak; Ears, but I mustn”t hear; Eyes, but I mustn”t see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
I have already reviewed The Silence of Bones on the blog (right here!) but I cannot sing the praises of this book enough. It is historical YA fiction at its best with unforgetable characters, fantastic writing, research that shines through, and a mystery that is hard to walk away from.
Title:Demon Slayer Vol. 1 (Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol. 1) Written and illustrated by: Koyoharu Gotouge
What It’s About: Tanjiro sets out on the path of the Demon Slayer to save his sister and avenge his family!
In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.
Learning to destroy demons won’t be easy, and Tanjiro barely knows where to start. The surprise appearance of another boy named Giyu, who seems to know what’s going on, might provide some answers—but only if Tanjiro can stop Giyu from killing his sister first!
This series really surprised me! I didn’t expect it to hook me as much as it did. I picked it up mainly because one of the things I loved about the Inuyasha series was its demon slayers and was interested when a whole new manga series built around demon slayers popped up.
The first volume was pretty good but the second volume is where things really just explode. I find myself loving the characters we meet and laughing at the jokes. Tanjiro is just such a sweetheart and I love his courage and ability to move everyone around him. The demons are all so interesting and I love the creepiness of each time we meet a new one. They’re all so unique.
I’m on volume 8 right now and have volumes 9 and 10 on my shelf to dig into soon.
Title: Love from A to Z Written by: S.K. Ali
What It’s About: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
I reviewed this novel back in June (right here!) and still haven’t been able to forget it. If you want a book that will make you cry because you’re angry and make your heart race with a love story so intense, this is the novel for you. Zayneb. Adam. My heart.
I cannot wait for S.K. Ali’s next novel, Misfit In Love, as she revisits characters from her first novel.
Title:The Sun is Also a Star Written by: Nicola Yoon
What It’s About: Two teens–Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica–cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives–Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica–and fall in love.
It would be easy to write this book off as just an intense romantic story that takes place over one day in New York City. But guess what, this novel is packed full of so many complicated topics like racism, immigration, deportation, and family expectations. None of it is simple or easy but it’s all relevant.
This book is also about how we are all connected and move in and out of each other’s lives in the smallest and sometimes, biggest of ways. There is something in this book for everyone and reading it will leave its mark on you. You’ll think about it after you’ve shut it and put it back on your shelf. You can check out my earlier review for this book right here.