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 have been watching a lot of the anime Yuri!!!On Ice lately because I really miss watching figure skating competitions. I miss the music, the choreography, the sparkle of the outfits, and the landings on each jump. It’s always different and exciting. Goodness, I really do miss it so much.
To share this love of figure skating though, I made a small reading list to help get others excited as well. I hope you enjoy these stories!
(Side note, I can’t actually skate. I have tried. Several times. I have terrible balance and zero grace. The only thing I am on ice is a complete disaster. )
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: Bittersweet Written by: Sarah Ockler
What It’s About: Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.
So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.
It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last….
Title:Ana on the Edge Written by: A.J. Sass
What It’s About: Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, isnota frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season”s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.
Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn”t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.
Title: Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword(Peasprout Chen #1) Written by: Henry Lien
What It’s About: Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating.
As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother Cricket have some pretty big skates to fill. They soon find themselves in a heated competition for top ranking.
Tensions rise when the dazzling pearl buildings of the Academy are vandalized and outsider Peasprout is blamed for the attacks by her rivals … and even some friends.
Now, she must uncover the true vandal to ensure peace between Shin and Pearl – all while becoming a champion.
Title: The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel Written by: E.L. Shen
What It’s About: Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however-she”s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?
Set in Lake Placid, New York, this is a spunky yet stirring middle-grade story that examines racism, female rivalry and friendship, and the enduring and universal necessity of love and support.
I wanted to end this post with a figure skating video I really love. It’s from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and features so many of the talented skaters that competed that year. They were such an amazing group and I remember tuning in and being so invested in everyone’s success.
Shoma Uno! Cha Jun-hwan! Keegan Messing! I hope to root for them the next time they skate. I am hoping to see them again soon.
What It’s About: Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
I must start this post with admitting that I am in a bit of a reading slump. This is not because of the book! Not one bit! I’m just finding it incredibly hard to concentrate on a book right now. I am hoping I can kick this slump and jumpstart my reading again. If anyone has any advice either, please drop me a comment. I would appreciate it.
I do have initial thoughts though as I start the book so I will share them here.
Again, I must reiterate that I have not watched the Netflix adpatations of this series. I know, I know! Do I live under a rock? It’s a definite possibility. I picked up this novel because I had finished the first novel and really wanted to continue the series. I was desperate to see what Lara Jean would do next. I mean…Peter! What happens next with that?! I must know on the double!
I do love that the book starts with us meeting extended family and how the Song sisters are the only ones that show up to a family gathering in full hanbok. One of the things I really liked about the first novel was the family dynamic so it’s interesting to me to see this interaction. It’s also hilarious that in a moment where Lara Jean wants to escape, Peter stops her and just knows she has a letter with her. I think it shows just how well he’s come to know her.
We’re starting out hopeful here, folks. I fully expect to cry further down the line in reading this book.
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.
True crime. Yes, it fascinates. We want and sometimes need to know what happened at the end of the mystery. Those stories can also be horrifying and heartbreaking. The loss in these stories is ever present.
In this On a Theme post, I’ll be focusing on Canadian true crime stories only. Why? Because I wanted to provide some Canadian content and because Canada has its fair share of sadness, horror, and violence. The victims of which, should not be forgotten.
Title:The Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman Written by: Kevin Donovan
What It’s About: Billionaires, philanthropists, socialites . . . victims. Barry and Honey Sherman appeared to lead charmed lives. But the world was shocked in late 2017 when their bodies were found in a bizarre tableau in their elegant Toronto home. First described as murder-suicide — belts looped around their necks, they were found seated beside their basement swimming pool — police later ruled it a staged, targeted double murder. Nothing about the case made sense to friends of the founder of one of the world’s largest generic pharmaceutical firms and his wife, a powerhouse in Canada’s charity world. Together, their wealth has been estimated at well over $4.7 billion.
There was another side to the story. A strategic genius who built a large generic drug company — Apotex Inc. — Barry Sherman was a self-described workaholic, renowned risk-taker, and disruptor during his fifty-year career. Regarded as a generous friend by many, Sherman was also feared by others. He was criticized for stifling academic freedom and using the courts to win at all costs. Upset with building issues at his mansion, he sued and recouped millions from tradespeople. At the time of his death, Sherman had just won a decades-old legal case involving four cousins who wanted 20 percent of his fortune.
Toronto Star investigative journalist Kevin Donovan chronicles the unsettling story from the beginning, interviewing family members, friends, and colleagues, and sheds new light on the Shermans’ lives and the disturbing double murder. Deeply researched and authoritative, The Billionaire Murders is a compulsively readable tale of a strange and perplexing crime.
Title: Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine Written by: Joanna Jolly
What It’s About: On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.
Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina”s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.
Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.
Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.
The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders, and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.
Title: That Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away Written by: Lori Shenher
What It’s About: In this searing personal account, ex-police detective Lori Shenher (who transitioned to male in 2015, and is now known as Lorimer) describes his role in Vancouver’s infamous Missing Women Investigation and unflinchingly reveals his years-long struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of working on the case. From his first assignment, in 1998, to investigate an increase in the number of missing women to the harrowing 2002 interrogation of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton, Shenher tells a story of massive police failure-failure of the police to use the information about Pickton available to them, failure to understand the dark world of drug addiction and sex work, and failure to save more women from their killer.
That Lonely Section of Hell passionately pursues the deeper truths behind the causes of this tragedy and the myriad ways the system failed to protect vulnerable people.
Title:The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed With Finding Him Written by: Katie Daubs
What It’s About: In December 1919, Ambrose Small, the mercurial owner of the Grand Opera House in Toronto, closed a deal to sell his network of Ontario theatres, deposited a million-dollar cheque in his bank account, and was never seen again. As weeks turned to years, the disappearance became the most “extraordinary unsolved mystery” of its time. Everything about the sensational case would be called into question in the decades to come, including the motivations of his inner circle, his enemies, and the police who followed the trail across the continent, looking for answers in asylums, theatres, and the Pacific Northwest.
In The Missing Millionaire, Katie Daubs tells the story of the Small mystery, weaving together a gripping narrative with the social and cultural history of a city undergoing immense change. Daubs examines the characters who were connected to the case as the century carried on: Ambrose”s religious wife, Theresa; his long-time secretary, Jack Doughty; his two unmarried sisters, Florence and Gertrude; Patrick Sullivan, a lawless ex-policeman; and Austin Mitchell, an overwhelmed detective. A series of trials exposed Small’s tumultuous business and personal relationships, while allegations and confessions swirled. But as the main players in the Small mystery died, they took their secrets to the grave, and Ambrose Small would be forever missing.
Drawing on extensive research, newly discovered archival material, and her own interviews with the descendants of key figures, Katie Daubs offers a rich portrait of life in an evolving city in the early twentieth century. Delving into a crime story about the power of the elite, she vividly recounts the page-turning tale of a cold case that is truly stranger than fiction.
Title: Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community Written by: Justin Ling
What It’s About: In 2013, the Toronto Police Service announced that the disappearances of three men–Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Majeed Kayhan–from Toronto”s gay village were, perhaps, linked. When the leads ran dry, the investigation was shut down, on paper classified as “open but suspended.” By 2015, investigative journalist Justin Ling had begun to retrace investigators” steps, convinced there was evidence of a serial killer. Meanwhile, more men would go missing, and police would continue to deny that there was a threat to the community. On January 18, 2018, Bruce McArthur, a landscaper, would be arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of eight men.
This extraordinary book tells the complete story of the McArthur murders. Based on more than five years of in-depth reporting, this is also a story of police failure, of how the queer community responded, and the story of the eight men who went missing and the lives they left behind. In telling that story, Justin Ling uncovers the latent homophobia and racism that kept this case unsolved and unseen. This gripping book reveals how police agencies across the country fail to treat missing persons cases seriously, and how policies and laws, written at every level of government, pushed McArthur”s victims out of the light and into the shadows.
Title:The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Nation Written by: Charlotte Gray
What It’s About: In February 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing faceof a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.
As in her previous bestselling book, Gold Diggers—adapted into the Discovery Television miniseries Klondike—multi-award-winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger-than-life personalities, as she shines alight on a central moment in our past.
Title: Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise Written by: Charlotte Gray
What It’s About: On an island paradise in 1943, Sir Harry Oakes, gold-mining tycoon, philanthropist and one of the richest men in the British Empire, is murdered. The news of his death surges across the English-speaking world, from London, the Imperial centre, to the remote Canadian mining town of Kirkland Lake in the Northern Ontario bush. The murder becomes celebrated as the crime of the century.
The layers of mystery deepen as the involvement of Count Alfred de Marigny, Oakes’s son-in-law, comes into question. Also suspicious are the odd machinations of the governor of the Bahamas, the former King Edward VIII. But despite a sensational trial, no murderer is convicted. Rumours about Oakes’s missing fortune are unrelenting, and fascination with the story has persisted for decades.
Award-winning biographer and popular historian Charlotte Gray explores the life of the man behind the scandal—from his early, hardscrabble days during the massive mineral rush in Northern Ontario, to the fabulous fortune he reaped from his own gold mine, to his grandiose gestures of philanthropy. And Gray brings fresh eyes to the bungled investigation and shocking trial on the remote colonial island, proposing an overlooked suspect in this long cold case. Murdered Midas is the story of the man behind the newspaper headlines, a man both admired and reviled who, despite great wealth and public standing, never experienced justice.
Title: Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Written by: Jessica McDiarmid
What It’s About: For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found murdered along an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia. The highway is known as the Highway of Tears, and it has come to symbolize a national crisis.
Journalist Jessica McDiarmid investigates the devastating effect these tragedies have had on the families of the victims and their communities, and how systemic racism and indifference have created a climate where Indigenous women and girls are over-policed, yet under-protected. Through interviews with those closest to the victims—mothers and fathers, siblings and friends—McDiarmid offers an intimate, first-hand account of their loss and relentless fight for justice. Examining the historically fraught social and cultural tensions between settlers and Indigenous peoples in the region, McDiarmid links these cases to others across Canada—now estimated to number up to 4,000—contextualizing them within a broader examination of the undervaluing of Indigenous lives in this country.
Highway of Tears is a powerful story about our ongoing failure to provide justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and a testament to their families and communities” unwavering determination to find it.
Title: The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice Written by: Vanessa Brown
What It’s About: Dig deep into the unsolved murder of Jackie English and join the hunt for a serial killer.
Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster – or monsters – stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn”t stop searching until his death 40 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims” families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person, or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own?
Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations. And through her investigation, Vanessa posits the unthinkable: is it possible that the Forest City Killer is still alive and, like the notorious Golden State Killer, a simple DNA test could bring him to justice?
Title:Blood in the Water: A True Story of Revenge in the Maritimes Written by: Silver Donald Cameron
What It’s About: In June 2013, three upstanding citizens of a small Cape Breton town cold-bloodedly murdered their neighbour, Phillip Boudreau, at sea. While out checking their lobster traps, two Landry cousins and skipper Dwayne Samson saw Boudreau in his boat, the Midnight Slider, about to vandalize their lobster traps. Like so many times before, Boudreau was about to cost them thousands of dollars out of their seasonal livelihood. One man took out a rifle and fired four shots at Boudreau and his boat. To finish the job, they rammed their own larger boat over the top of his speedboat. Boudreau”s body was never found. Then they completed the day”s fishing and went home to Petit de Grat on Isle Madame.
Boudreau was a Cape Breton original–an inventive small-time criminal who had terrorized and entertained Petit de Grat for two decades. He had been in prison for nearly half his adult life. He was funny and frightening, loathed, loved, and feared. One neighbour says he would “steal the beads off Christ”s moccasins”–then give the booty away to someone in need. He would taunt his victims, and threaten them with arson if they reported him. He was accused of one attempted rape. Meanwhile the police and the Fisheries officers were frustrated, cowed, and hobbled by shrinking budgets. Boudreau seemed invincible, a miscreant who would plague the village forever.
Cameron, a resident of the area since 1971, argues that the Boudreau killing was a direct reaction to credible and dire threats that the authorities were powerless to neutralize. As many local people have said, if those fellows hadn”t killed him, someone else would have. Like Say Nothing, The Perfect Storm, The Golden Spruce, and Into Thin Air, this book offers a dramatic narrative set in a unique, lovingly drawn setting, where a story about one small community has universal resonance. This is a story not about lobster, but about the grand themes of power and law, security and self-respect. It raises a disturbing question: Are there times when taking the law into your own hands is not only understandable but the responsible thing to do?
Title:Wish You Were Here: A Murdered Girl, a Brother’s Quest and the Hunt for a Serial Killer Written by: John Allore & Patricia Pearson
What It’s About: In the fall of 1978 teenager Theresa Allore went missing near Sherbrooke, Quebec. She wasn”t seen again until the spring thaw revealed her body in a creek only a few kilometers away. Shrugging off her death as a result of 1970s drug culture, police didn”t investigate.
Patricia Pearson started dating Theresa’s brother John during the aftermath of Theresa”s death. Though the two teens would go their separate ways, the family”s grief, obsession with justice and desire for the truth never left Patricia. Little did she know, the shockwaves of Theresa”s death would return to her life repeatedly over the next forty years.
In 2001, John had just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and young children, when the cops came to the door. They had determined that a young girl had been murdered and buried in the basement. John wondered: If these cops could look for this young girl, why had nobody even tried to find out what happened to Theresa? Unable to rest without closure, he reached out to Patricia, by now an accomplished crime journalist and author, and together they found answers far bigger and more alarming than they could have imagined–and a legacy of violence that refused to end.
Title: Who Killed Tom Thomson?: The Truth about the Murder of One of the 20th Century’s Most Famous Artists Written by: John Little
What It’s About: Tom Thomson was Canada’s Vincent van Gogh. He painted for a period of five years before meeting his untimely death in a remote wilderness lake in July 1917. He was buried in an unofficial grave close to the lake where his body was found. About eight hours after he was buried, the coroner arrived but never examined the body and ruled his death accidental due to drowning. A day and a half later, Thomson’s family hired an undertaker to exhume the body and move it to the family plot about 100 miles away. This undertaker refused all help, and only worked at night.
In 1956, John Little’s father and three other men, influenced by the story of an old park ranger who never believed Thomson’s body was moved by the undertaker, dug up what was supposed to be the original, empty grave. To their surprise, the grave still contained a body, and the skull revealed a head wound that matched the same location noted by the men who pulled his corpse from the water in 1917. The finding sent shockwaves across the nation and began a mystery that continues to this day.
In Who Killed Tom Thomson? John Little continues the sixty-year relationship his family has had with Tom Thomson and his fate by teaming up with two high-ranking Ontario provincial police homicide detectives. For the first time, they provide a forensic scientific opinion as to how Thomson met his death, and where his body is buried. Little draws upon his father’s research, plus recently released archival material, as well as his own thirty-year investigation. He and his colleagues prove that Thomson was murdered, and set forth two persons of interest who may have killed Tom Thomson.
Title: Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father Written by: Carys Cragg
What It’s About: When Carys Cragg was eleven, her father, a respected doctor, was brutally murdered in his own home by an intruder. Twenty years later, and despite the reservations of her family and friends, she decides to contact his murderer in prison, and the two correspond for a period of two years. She learns of his horrific childhood, and the reasons he lied about the murder; in turn, he learns about the man he killed. She mines his letters for clues about the past before agreeing to meet him in person, when she learns startling new information about the crime.
With gripping suspense and raw honesty, Dead Reckoning follows one woman’s determination to confront the man who murdered her father, revealing her need for understanding and the murderer’s reluctance to tell–an uneasy negotiation between two people from different worlds both undone by tragedy. This is a powerful and emotional memoir about how reconciling with the past doesn”t necessarily provide comfort, but it can reveal the truth.
Title: Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk Written by: Rebecca Godfrey
What It’s About: It has been a long road to justice for Reena Virk, beaten and murdered at the hands of her teenage peers. The murder of this girl is one of the most notorious and heartbreaking cases in Canadian history. Here, for the first time, acclaimed author Rebecca Godfrey reveals the stunning truth about a Canadian tragedy that captured international headlines.
Who were the seemingly ordinary suburban teenagers who found themselves under the bridge in Victoria, BC, on the night of November 14, 1997? Why would a girl who longed to be their friend be beaten and killed? And how did so many teenagers keep terrible secrets from parents, teachers and police for eight days? These are the questions all of us have been asking, and in Under the Bridge the answers are revealed in a stunning narrative. Godfrey spent six years researching the case, conducting exclusive interviews with parents, classmates, police, prosecutors and, perhaps most importantly, several of the youths, including Warren Glowatski, one of the two teenagers convicted of murdering Virk. Godfrey also witnessed firsthand the many trials of Kelly Ellard, also found guilty of killing a girl who just wanted to fit in.
Title: Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett Written by: Michael Nest, Deanna Reder & Eric Bell
What It’s About: Métis leader James Brady was one of the most famous Indigenous activists in Canada. A communist, strategist, and bibliophile, he led Métis and First Nations to rebel against government and church oppression. Brady”s success made politicians and clergy fear him, and he had enemies everywhere.
In 1967, while prospecting in Saskatchewan with Cree Band Councillor and fellow activist Absolom Halkett, both men vanished without a trace from their remote lakeside camp. For 50 years rumours swirled of secret mining interests, political intrigue, assassination, and murder. Cold Case North is the story of how a small team, with the help of a local Indigenous community, exposed police failure in the original investigation, discovered new clues and testimony, and gathered the pieces of the North”s most enduring missing persons puzzle.
Title: Murder in the Family: How the Search for My Mother’s Killer Led to My Father Written by: Jeff Blackstock
What It’s About: “I think that my father murdered my mother.”
That terrible belief spurs author Jeff Blackstock to investigate the circumstances of his mother Carol”s death when he was a child. Carol Blackstock died at age 24 in 1959–poisoned by arsenic–but the cause of her death remained shrouded in mystery for decades. Jeff’s father George Blackstock was a career diplomat in Canada’s foreign service, posted to glamorous Buenos Aires with his wife Carol and their three children. A little more than a year after the family’s arrival, the vivacious young mother, now emaciated and in terrible pain, was transferred to Montreal for treatment of a mysterious illness that proved fatal. In the following year, George Blackstock remarried, and a young woman named Ingrid became the feared stepmother to Jeff and his two siblings.
Carol’s parents soon had suspicions about their son-in-law George but were unable to get justice for their daughter. Class privilege–George was the scion of a Toronto establishment family and Carol was from modest beginnings–and an aversion to scandal all figured in an apparent cover-up. But secrets have a way of eventually disrupting all families. A damning autopsy report about arsenic poisoning, found among their grandmother”s effects, leads Jeff Blackstock and his sister to horrifying revelations about their father. Eventually, they confront him and accuse him of their mother’s murder. But George offers only vague explanations that don”t add up. George died a broken man, mostly abandoned by his adult children.
A compelling story of a high-society murder, a heartbreaking tale of emotionally neglected children, and an inquiry into the power and privilege of the Anglo upper classes of the time, Murder in the Family chronicles the shocking legacy of deeply buried secrets and betrayal in one’s own family.
Title: Starlight Tour: The Last, Lonely Night of Neil Stonechild Written by: Susanne Reber & Robert Renaud
What It’s About: In 1990, on a brutally cold night, 17-year-old Neil Stonechild disappeared from downtown Saskatoon, last seen in police custody. His frozen body was found three days later in a field outside town. Though his mother pressed for answers, a cursory investigation pinned the blame on the teen himself, dead by alcohol and misadventure. Only in 2000, when two more men were found frozen to death, and a third survived his “starlight tour” at the hands of police, did the truth about Stonechild’s fate begin to emerge. Soon one of the country’s most prominent Indigenous lawyers was on the case, and an open secret was secret no more.
With exclusive co-operation from the Stonechild family, lawyer Donald Worme, and others, Starlight Tour is an engrossing portrait of rogue cops, racism, obstruction of justice and justice denied, not only to a boy and his family but to an entire nation.
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.
When I was a younger reader and my sense of the world was still pretty small, I devoured books about travelling.
It was always so much fun reading about a someone my age taking a trip (independence!) and growing through their experiences in a different country (character development!). It was also a plus if they fell in love (because I am such a sucker for romance). I love that we have so many more travel stories in YA fiction now that take all us over the world and to different parts of the same country.
In this Blast from the Past, I will be taking a look at the two YA Travel series I read the most as a teen.
Grab your passport and your favorite neck pillow and let’s go!
Title: Spain or Shine Written by: Michelle Jellen
What It’s About: Elena is lost in the shuffle between her three overachieving siblings. But now that she’s on her own for a whole semester, she intends to keep the spotlight on herself—and Spain is just the place to do it. Once she starts living it up in tapas bars, lying out on the beach (even though it’s November), and having a nice, long siesta smack-dab in the middle of every day, Elena finds that Spain is everything she hoped it would be. She’s even met a to-fawn-over Spaniard, Miguel. But Elena has always been more comfortable writing plays than starring in them, and she’s beginning to realize that keeping out of the spotlight has its perks too. . .
Note: Originally released on September 8, 2005.
Title:The Sound of Munich Written by: Suzanne Nelson
What It’s About: Siena Bernstein is leaving her yoga mat behind for a semester of study abroad in Munich. She’s thrilled with the prospect of a German adventure (her horoscope is encouraging as well), but she hopes to make more than just her dreams come true while she’s there. Siena’s dad, who passed away when she was a baby, kept a “Carpe Diem” list—sort of his top-ten adventurous things to do. He completed all but one of the tasks—going to Germany to thank the man who helped smuggle his family past the Berlin Wall. Amidst her adventures in biergartens, Alpine skiing, and a rigorous course load, Siena is on a quest to complete her father’s list. But she’s also set on having the best possible time while she tries. With the help of two new best buds and a handsome RA in her dorm, she’ll surely succeed.
Note: Originally released on March 2, 2006.
Title:The Great Call of China Written by: Cynthea Liu
What It’s About: Chinese-born Cece was adopted when she was two years old by her American parents. Living in Texas, she’s bored of her ho-hum high school and dull job. So when she learns about the S.A.S.S. program to Xi’an, China, she jumps at the chance. She’ll be able to learn about her passion – anthropology – and it will give her the opportunity to explore her roots. But when she arrives, she receives quite a culture shock. And the closer she comes to finding out about her birth parents, the more apprehensive she gets. Enter Will, the cute guy she first meets on the plane. He and Cece really connect during the program. But can he help her get accustomed to a culture she should already know about, or will she leave China without the answers she’s been looking for?
Note: Originally released on February 19th, 2009.
Title:When Irish Guys are Smiling Written by: Suzanne Supplee
What It’s About: For seventeen-year-old Delk Sinclair, studying abroad in Ireland means one thing: escape. Delk is tired of hearing about her friends’ debutante parties, watching her pregnant stepmother redecorate her mother’s house, and having to smile sweetly even though she doesn’t think she’ll ever get over losing her mother. Ireland is Delk’s chance to be happy. With the stunning green landscape as backdrop, Delk revels in all things Irish, from living in a real Irish castle, to celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Galway, to enjoying Irish music and dance, to studying Yeats and shearing a sheep! So when Delk begins to fall for a very handsome Irishman, she wonders if there”s more to the Emerald Isle than it first seemed. It is fun, to be sure, but will those smiling Irish eyes really be able to heal her broken heart?
Note: Originally published on January 10, 2008.
Title: Up Over Down Under Written by: Micol Ostow & Noah Harlan
What It’s About: A super-special S.A.S.S. exchange novel offers romance in the land down under and right here in the U.S. when two exchange students swap places!
Eliza Ritter has high expectations for her semester in Melbourne, Australia. Sure, she’s participating in an environmental program, but really she hopes to spend her time meeting cute boys. So when she meets a hot surfer, she is thrilled! Aussie Billie Echols, on the other hand, actually does have an interest in the environmental program she’s signed up for in Washington, D.C. But the States are nothing like she expected, and soon Billie is caught in the middle of an unexpected controversy. Being an exchange student gets a whole new meaning in this first-ever SASS book of its kind.
Note: Originally published on April 29, 2010.
Title: London: Kit & Robin (Love Stories: Year Abroad Trilogy #1) Written by: Rachael Hawthorne
What It’s About: Robin’s falling fast for an English guy named Kit Marlin. There are just a few tiny problems: 1) She’s living with him and his family in London for the year. 2) He treats her like a sister. 3) He has a gorgeous girlfriend. So she should just get over him and avoid a broken heart, right?
Note: Originally published on September 12, 2000.
Title: Paris: Alex & Dana(Love Stories: Year Abroad Trilogy #2) Written by: Rachael Hawthorne
What It’s About: A French boyfriend is what Dana intends to get in her junior year in Paris. She keeps running into boring Alex Turner from home – but then he only wants to date a Parisian girl.
Note: Originally published on October 10, 2000.
Title: Rome: Antonio & Carrie(Love Stories: Year Abroad Trilogy #1) Written by: Rachael Hawthorne
What It’s About: Carrie’s completely crazy about Antonio, her Italian boyfriend. He’s incredibly cute, smart, and sweet, everything she’s ever wanted. So what’s the problem? He hates American girls. And he has no idea that she is one.
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.
What It’s About: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath just can’t let go…
Cath doesn’t need friends IRL. She has her twin sister, Wren, and she’s a popular fanfic writer in the Simon Snow community with thousands of fans online. But now that she’s in college, Cath is completely outside of her comfort zone. There are suddenly all these new people in her life. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming boyfriend, a writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome new writing partner…
And she’s barely heard from Wren all semester!
Fangirl Vol.1 begins with Cath moving into her college dorm, meeting her roommate (very briefly), meeting her roommate’s sort of boyfriend (very uncmofortably), and making her dorm room a bit more like home. This means spreading her love of the Simon Snow book series all over her side of the dorm. We meet Cath here and are immediately introduced to her fears, her sadness, and her passion for writing.
Cath is so incredibly human. Her anxieties are very real, and I think a lot of readers will understand the way she acts and reacts. This first volume is an introduction to her journey – where she’s figuring out the kind of writer she is, where she fits in without her twin sister Wren, and how she can interact with those around her who want to know her.
I feel like a manga was the perfect form for this novel to take as a graphic work because it feels like the perfect setup for a shoujo manga. A girl on a whirlwind of a journey through love and life. Gabi Nam’s art is so good in bringing that to life from the Simon Snow fanfic snippets to Cath’s reactions to various scenarios. Manga is very expressive that way and doesn’t shy away from showing or stirring emotions. I’m a big manga reader so this was definitely on my list as soon as it was announced.
Sam Magg’s adpation is very well done. It flows well and captures essential moments that drive the story and build Cath’s character. I don’t feel like anything included felt out of place or like filler. Sam Magg’s is also a fantastic writer so I knew that the end result would be good.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have never actually read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Reading the first volume of the Fangirl manga series makes me want to pick up the novel. I want to read all those details that didn’t make it into this adpatation and see how Cath is described there. I think I just might do that too.
I will also be checking out Volume 2 of the manga series whenever it magically appears.