Taking a Blog Hiatus…sort of? {Blog Discussion}

Hello everyone, on the eve of the new year that is 2021 I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my blog, reading, reviewing, basically a lot. For months I’ve been dreading making this post because 24hr.YABookBlog has been place where I’ve seen myself grow as a reader, writer, content creator, and as a person. But in the rush to keep up with new blog posts, reviewing, posting weekly content, I especially found myself being burned out during 2020. With other life priorities I see how that was reflected in my blog posts, although I’m so proud of the content I created in the past year, it’s important for me to take time for myself too.

In my 5 years as a blogger I’ve NEVER taken an official hiatus, but there’s moments like now where it’s important to remember that occasional breaks are necessary. Although I feel like with a more free schedule in 2021 I’ll definitely be reading more, I also care about bringing the best blog content I can to all of you. This means I need to take that time to find out what I’m missing and where to go from here.

At most I think I’ll take the month of January off (although I’ll be reviewing and posting still…sort of? It’s complicated). There’s other blogs and spaces where I’ve been eager to get back to creating for too and this will give me more time to reflect on my content here, like The Booked Shelf and another awesome space I’ll talk about more once I’m back! I’m also planning to catch up on lots of books in January 2021 so I’ll still be posting reviews here, I just think it’ll just be more sporadic for a couple weeks (I’ll probably make them very brief for the time being, but again not too sure yet).

My goal is to improve my reviewing, discussions, and writing in general. I’ve been caught in a routine that I’ve noticed when it comes to my book reviews and it’s important for me to change it up a bit. This means I’ll try to blog hop more and get inspired by fellow bloggers by reading more posts.

Without a doubt though, I’ll be back to posting more regularly by the end of January.

There’s many books I’d love to catch up on and lots of fun bookish lists, discussions, and content in general I’m feeling inspired to post on the blog, but I know I’ll need a bit of time to find that spark again.

I’ve also felt a frustration (as I’m sure many can relate) with wanting to post and stay active within the community, while reading ALL the books and posting consistently. Also getting a bit more personal with my blogging journey in 2020, this year especially has reminded me that while its amazing to see other bookish creators posting more varied content (book news, certain discussions/content, etc.), there’s a feeling of erasure or fear that others are “copying” you without proper credit. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I’ve really felt that way this year and I want to work harder to establish myself and content, because I put a lot of heart into it and don’t want my work to go overlooked.

As with each year, I want to find my writing voice and convey more of a style into what I blog about. That’s something I try to get better at with each review and hopefully my blogging hiatus will help with that.

There’s a lot more I’m excited for in the new year and I think I’ll leave it here for now. But now some QUESTIONS for all of my wonderful fellow bloggers, readers, and followers of my blog: What is it you enjoy about my content? Is there anything you’d like to see more of? If there’s a specific review or post of mine you loved reading, which is it? All of your amazing thoughts would really help me feel motivated, inspired, and eager to reinvent myself as a creator during my hiatus. [*Still planning to create a 2020 wrap-up of sorts too, so keep an eye out for that as well 💕]

Lots of fun bookish content is coming and I’m so excited to share it with all of you! See you all again very soon in 2021! 😍🎉📚

Magic Dark And Strange by Kelly Powell ARC Review

Magic Dark And Strange by Kelly Powell

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Release Date: October 27, 2020

Pages: 240

Available Through The Book Depository: Magic Dark & Strange

Cover Design: Sonia Chaghatzbanian and Greg Stadnyk

Summary: Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.

When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life—not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.

This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death—for all of them.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Magic Dark And Strange is Powell’s latest standalone set in a Victorian fantasy world filled with magic and murder! A necromancer and watchmaker’s son team up to solve a mystery when a boy is brought back to life. This is an atmospheric, immersive novel, that delivers a more quiet, character-driven story! Perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson!

Set in the Victorian-esque city of Invercarn, Powell crafts a story built around a distinct, equally quirky magic system, propelled by an almost slice-of-life narrative following a trio who band together to solve a town mystery!

Having read Powell’s debut, I’ve realized her unique, leisurely-paced historical fantasy novels can potentially be hit or miss with some readers who prefer more immediate storylines with a swiftness to their plot, but don’t let that deter you from this fun, gothic fantasy with friendship at its core!

Catherine Daly has worked at the Invercarn Chronicle for two years to support her family and tries to write them often. She seems to have a rather mundane job as an obituary writer, but to sustain the business her boss (as many other businesses do) have side operations that run solely on providing magical services.

Opening at a graveyard no less, Catherine uses skills of necromancy to help clients reunite with loved ones who’ve died. But with magic at a cost to the user, Catherine herself loses hours of her life in exchange.

When her boss is eager to find a magical timepiece or risk losing her job, Catherine teams up with Guy Nolan, son of Nolan’s Watch & Clock Repair to dig up some leads. This leads them to the grave of a boy (given the name Owen) whose mysteriously brought back to life! But the watch isn’t with him and he has no memories of who he was or his past. Now the three of them are working together to figure out where the mysterious timepiece is and when rumors surface, why it’s leading to a thread of murders.

As mentioned above, this is very much a slice-of-life story because the characters go about their daily lives while also trying to find the watch! I think that makes for a very interesting setting in YA Fantasy because it shows how lived in the world is, plus how our characters interact with it. Magic itself is established in the world as a norm and isn’t used to extremes or for very heightened stakes, so it’s delved into in a very quiet way.

As Catherine continues her quest while also writing for the paper, Guy is working alongside his father to fix watches, plus they even help Owen try to find work and establish a new life for himself as he’s now alive again.

Throughout the novel, friendship and the bond between the trio is such an important, underlying theme that Powell makes so clear through Catherine and Guy’s dynamic, Catherine and her support for Owen, even Guy using his connections to help Owen learn more about who he was. There is an element of romance between Catherine and Guy, whose shows a vulnerability around her, but the two of them establish a friendship first. The way Powell makes those friendship dynamics such a central force of the story, allows it to be such a refreshing read too! Their support for one another is so nice to read and once you reach the end your also left feeling kind of sad because there’s only one book!! I could imagine tons more adventures with the three of them together and tbh think they should open up their own magic side business or something!

Powell’s novel reads like a comforting, familiar fantasy where you can easily picture the story and immerse yourself in it. You really sink into the city and it almost envelops the reader as their along for the adventure sweeping our main cast across town. The Victorian setting is brought to life through the weather, stone architecture, locations (university, cemetery, shops, etc.), period styles of clothing, even how the characters speak, allows you to picture a very specific kind of location. The mystery is also compelling and interesting because it asks so many questions about who is risking so much to obtain this magic, where is the watch now, and what’s at stake?

Powell’s novels carry a unique whimsy to them that’s made her one of my favorite underrated authors over the past couple years. This book just takes you on an adventure woven with mystery, friendship, and brings up such fascinating ideas about who we are and where we can go next. This wonderful underlying messages delved into through each character in their own way, which is present a lot with Owen for example, who is confronting his own fears of not being able to know his true identity and also trying to establish something completely new for himself. Same with Catherine & Guy who seem to be pretty comfortable with where they are at, but working together to solve the mystery and building that friendship allows them to question what’s next. In addition, there’s a brief, underlying moment where Powell presents this idea of the price of magic for those we care about. All are very interesting questions, however I just wish they were delved into even more. Same for the magic system and the world itself: What other magical jobs are there, different layers to the magic system and how others use magic that’s such common place? I feel like we never really get those answers.

Now onto why I personally rated it 4 stars, although I whole-heartedly recommend this fun read: The build-up to the mystery is fascinating as we’re wondering who Owen was in his previous life and who was responsible for his death? Also, where is that timepiece? But, because they go back and forth a lot between the shops and various characters as well who may have leads, it feels like the mystery never really picks up until halfway through. The urgency felt like it wasn’t completely there, but again as someone who enjoys the quiet fantasy stories, I didn’t mind too much, however with the fascinating story Powell presented it felt like the pacing could have been a bit faster.

With the writing itself too, it felt like there was more to learn about Invercarn! Again, Powell really delves into a specific atmosphere and setting, so I just wanted to know even more about the magic and world itself.

Aside from that though, I will absolutely be reading Powell’s next book! She crafts such inventive, creative YA Fantasy tales that no matter what, always leave me feeling like I’ve gone on some grand adventure. And seriously, if you enjoy Rogerson’s Sorcery Of Thorns, I think you’d have a lot of fun with this book too! Highly recommend reading it.

Magic Dark And Strange is an inventive, fantasy standalone with necromancy, murder mystery, with a Victorian-gothic setting! Although quiet, the story delivers a compelling plot and mystery, alongside a delightful main cast of characters you want to learn more about. A unique world, intriguing layer of questions, and atmospheric storytelling make this an underrated YA Fantasy worth checking out!

Book Buying and Tracking Finances As A Book Blogger

Over the past couple years as a university student it’s no surprise I began to think more about my finances. As a book blogger especially, who reads and reviews books every year, it’s even less of a surprise that over 4 years later I’m considering and questioning how much is being spent on buying books.

To give a bit of background, I’d never been much of a book buyer growing up, but when I discovered my love for Young Adult fiction in about 2012, slowly the number of books being added to my personal library began to grow little by little. Now, as the weight of my 100+ collection slowly began taking root in my mind, it was clear I had to think more about my spending habits.

In late 2018 I discovered Readwithcindy’s booktube video Why I Only Own 4 Books 💸 A Chat On Booktube Consumerism’ and more specifically this video ‘how much money i saved on books| 2018 stats.’ There’s a particular idea I took from both of them that has forever changed the way I think about my bookish spending. As someone whose reading is about 80-95% through the library not once did it ever cross my mind to track those savings, until I watched Cindy’s videos!

Now for all of 2019 and 2020 I’ve created spreadsheets / lists of books I’ve checked out from the library comparing with hypothetical prices if I were to buy them (with some discounts) via Barnes & Noble, Book Outlet, or The Book Depository. There’s something rewarding about seeing the amount of dollars saved in black and white, just by writing it down. Now, I’m trying my best to limit spending as much as I can in the new year (especially as being inside more during 2020 has without a doubt caused me to splurge a bit more online). I’m fortunate to have access to a great library system and this year has put into perspective how I can do more to utilize it and save money on my reading. Especially when I’m sure many can relate that we buy books here and there, only to set them aside for months at a time and end up reading something else.

Writing down those figures, tracking the expenses, and preparing new goals for the upcoming year has made me especially conscious of my habits to save more where I can, and this is not a surprise…Now for a bit of psychology! According to Forbes, the neuroscience involved in simply jotting down goals helps with external storage and encoding to help you accomplish them. Essentially it’s best summed up by this quote, “Study after study shows you will remember things better when you write them down.” That includes storing them within your long-term memory and identifying the “Generational Effect” which basically means you remember information more when you’ve personally generated it for yourself.

Something as simple as writing down the number of books being borrowed from the library has made a big impact on how I’m calculating spending. For a majority of 2020 I’ve followed the Japanese budgeting method of Kakeibo and it completely changed the way I not only think about, but also view finances. All year the journal that’s been by my side, Kakeibo: The Japanese Art Of Saving Money, has made it easy to jot down month by month, how many dollars have gone towards my book-buying habits. Although it faltered now towards the latter half of this year, there was never a moment I forgot about this concept with each purchase I made. Writing these numbers by hand has created much more awareness as to where it’s going and how I can personally do more to save what’s already there.

From Thomas Oppong in The Ladders, this article breaks down the essential questions that Kakeibo asks with each monthly budget: How much money do you have available, How much would you like to save, How much are you spending, and How can you improve?

Created by Japan’s first female journalist, Hani Motoko had another idea to keep in mind too: “saving money is about spending it well.”

So if your struggling with saving money on books, don’t be afraid to just start writing these numbers down and see where you can reduce your spending. There’s also the underlying (very nuanced) topic of consumerism, even how we are propelled to pick up the newest releases more and more because of our access to various platforms, etc.! We’re often unintentionally encouraged by seeing other bookish creators on other platforms with their monthly hauls, overflowing bookshelves, and passionate recommendations to find a way to access those books as well. This is amazing as a community that we encourage each other to discover new reads, however when it comes to finances and access, it may not always be possible for everyone.

I’m not sure I have the time to delve into this topic too much here, but perhaps I’ll save this for another post if your interested? In which I can talk more about consumerism in the community, minimalism, and how that can be impacted by book influencers.

To sum up, I think tracking how much money I’ve contributed to my book buying hobby has really helped me put it into perspective. This not only applies to the amount of spending, but where I can start saving as well, which I plan to continue for years to come!

What are your thoughts on this discussion? Do you track your book spending? Any tips you personally use to save money? OR any websites you recommend for book buying on a budget? 📚✨

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 2 by Makoto Hagino {Manga Review}

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow by Matoko Hagino (Tropical Fish #2)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 2

Summary: From the moment they met at the Aquarium Club’s open house, Konatsu has admired Koyuki and treated her like she wasn’t a distant figure on a pedestal. In turn, Koyuki has been open and welcoming to the new girl who stirs her heart.

When the time comes to pick a club, Konatsu chooses the Aquarium Club with Koyuki. And even though it’s just the two of them, they manage to host a successful open house. What’s next for Koyuki and Konatsu, now that the shared experience has deepened the bond between them?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 2 follows Konatsu and Koyuki as the story builds on their wholesome friendship and navigates their introspective feelings as they continue to deepen their bond! This character-driven, page-turning story is propelled by the girls start to summer vacation with much on their minds. A quiet, slice-of-life manga sure to captivate!

Without a doubt after falling completely in love with Tropical Fish Vol. 1 I had to continue this series! There’s a poetic beauty to it as new girl in town Konatsu and aquarium club leader Koyuki find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other, like a wave upon a shore. They both are navigating this underlying loneliness, their feelings for one another and in this volume, keep each other in their thoughts.

As the aquarium open house comes to a close, Konatsu worries about her well-being as Koyuki, in reality, is trying to keep her feelings hidden. Konatsu, in her pursuit to help during the open house, is told from Koyuki’s father that the best she can do is just be there for her (the frog/salamander bread scene was too wholesome).

Unsure of how to communicate her complex feelings about Konatsu, Koyuki seems to struggle to further strengthen their friendship in the beginning, which leads to some moments of miscommunication between them. However, Koyuki takes the chance to invite Konatsu during their summer break to Aoshima (aka Nekojima / Cat Island) for a club trip, with much anxiety about asking for her number too! That led to this very funny line that I just have to share from Konatsu: “I’d call her anytime…but I don’t actually know her number!!!” (52).

During the trip, they go fishing, get caught in the rain, have some longing glances, and run into lots of cats! It was a very sweet chapter seeing them together and it just warmed my heart. I was very much just along for the ride in this volume and loved how every moment they have together (or apart), carries so much depth to each scene.

As the Summer Festival approaches, Koyuki struggles with the guilt of trying to ask Konatsu while not wanting to be unfair to those she turned down before. This leads to her assuming that because Konatsu and Kaede hung out, she’s no longer available. Although this volume leaned towards some miscommunication, this series adds more to it by navigating their girls reflections or inner dialogue as their feelings drive a particular scene.

Kaede is another character who gets a little more development too which I loved! In fact, I adore this main girl squad and can’t wait to see their friendship continue to grow. She’s very bubbly, outgoing, a bit blunt at times, however she’s always there to lend an ear. When Konatsu can’t stop thinking about Koyuki during their afternoon together, Kaede steps in to offer advice as Konatsu expresses she feels like she’s annoying Koyuki with her texts. Kaede is incredibly supportive, taking her right to Koykui’s house to solve it.

Once everything is cleared up, Koykui and Konatsu agree to go together (with both their dads joining too). But one scene that further presented the loneliness the girls are navigating throughout the series was when Koyuki shares that she admires Konatsu’s strength. However, Konatsu begins to sink back into that quiet, empty space thinking their isn’t anything particularly special about herself. As the two of them get split up because of an upcoming fireworks display, Konatsu can’t get a certain question off her mind: Why did Koyuki speak to Konatsu randomly at the open house the day they met? [More context is given early on in this volume, but seeing that come full circle finally in the end was nice and I’m hoping Koyuki will finally say (or even hint) at how she feels].

Hagino’s quiet, slice of life atmosphere really gives a calm, simplicity to the series that’s also very thought-provoking too. It’s seen especially in the personal moments that Koyuki or Konatsu reflect on their feelings or internal loneliness.

As with the first volume, I just love the artwork and how it really allows those quiet moments to stay with the reader through every page. The frog/salamander symbolism makes a return, but it’s definitely a little more in the background as the metaphorical elements are more hinted at throughout this volume. Honestly, every close scene they have together is very emotional, moving, and I just can’t wait to see their relationship develop throughout the series (though I’ve seen that it is *very slowburn).

There’s nothing I didn’t like about this volume honestly, it’s more about the plot and it just feels like a 4.5 rating! Although, this series has truly captured my heart and made a mess of my life only two volumes in, Koyuki and Konatsu are just very much in need of some hugs!! ❤

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a fantastic, but also underrated manga series with lots of depth, two very complex protagonists, and a slow-burn romance that will keep you reading! As Koyuki and Konatsu spend more time together, they continue to navigate their feelings for each other! An absolute gem of a manga series!

YA Book Comparisons by Authors Of Color and Unfair Critiques of BIPOC Work {Book Blog Discussion Revisited}

As it often happens in the book community, discussions are often recycled, repeated, in an almost yearly cycle. However, one cannot ignore the nuance and expansion that each of these discussions brings (no matter how monotonous), which sheds a new light on a different angle of which to view it. Today I’m revisiting an article I wrote originally in October of 2019 to explore the idea of comparative titles or reader comparisons in general, and how they impact the ratings/perception of YA Fantasy novels, particularly by authors of color.

Due to specific expectations or perhaps the overworked concept of “comp titles,” the main point of my 2019 article was to showcase how these books, almost always by authors of color are harshly critiqued or left with unfair ratings due to surface level comparisons. So why am I revisiting this discussion again? Well news broke on November 4 that Hafsah Faizal’s upcoming 2022 novel (which sounds phenomenal btw) titled “A Tempest Of Tea” would be a new fantasy duology featuring a “gang of outcasts and a deadly heist.”

According to Faizal via Twitter, in the span of less than 24 hours, 19 to be exact, her unpublished book with only an announcement already started getting compared to no surprise… Six Of Crows.

Many in the book community, rightfully so, have taken to Twitter speaking out against this unfair critique. As mentioned in my 2019 discussion, surface-level comparisons such as these often undermine the lengthy discussions and research authors of color input to delve into topics such as colonialism, slavery, race, and much more unlike the white authors to which their novels get compared to. Especially when authors of color are crafting works based on their own distinct experiences or culture.

It’s truly disheartening to see because it instills this idea *specifically* among the book community (or industry) whether it’s readers, publishers, etc. that authors of color or BIPOC folks, can’t have their novels stand on their own. In my previous piece I examined this through The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and Nocturna by Maya Motayne (which are both excellent YA Fantasy titles).

*Note: I’m not here to completely disregard comp titles or anything, because without a doubt they can invaluable tool to increase awareness, draw in similar readers, or help titles during different stages of the publishing process. For information on the usefulness of this method, I recommend reading “Comp Titles: An Elevator Pitch For Your Book” from the Penguin Random House blog ‘News For Authors’.

As mentioned numerous times by authors, readers, and so on, SOC did not invent heists nor will it ever be the only novel that does so. (Especially since Ally Carter’s Heist Society came out in 2010 and is often forgotten). Maybe I’ll delve into this in another discussion, but I feel this largely has to do with the rise in online book community spaces just as SOC was released and hyped up which then in turn, led to this book being pushed and later cemented among that wave of readers, reviewers, etc. finding their online space.

Now back to my main point, in the end us as readers need to be more cognizant that as publishing continues to become more inclusive and diverse, we need to understand that many communities of color have not had their chances at telling the stories we’ve encountered hundreds of times. While of course not every book is for everyone (which is absolutely valid), I think if anything, this is a great opportunity for readers to see how authors use their unique and distinct backgrounds to explore tropes/storytelling from their particular lens.

In an article from Bustle on November 24, celebrating Sabaa Tahir’s finale to the ‘An Ember In The Ashes’ quartet, Tahir mentioned how there is still much work to be done in “[diversifying] YA publishing,” additionally she stated:

Over and over, authors from marginalized groups are told, ‘We already have a book like this,’ or ‘We already have an author like you.’ But books by marginalized authors shouldn’t be a quota you fill…”How many vampire books written by white authors? Dozens. I’ve nothing against that, but authors from marginalized groups deserve the same respect. Just because authors have similar experiences or ethnic backgrounds doesn’t mean their stories will be identical. We contain multitudes and our work is meaningful and distinctive.

Sabaa Tahir via ‘The An Ember In The Ashes Series Might Be Over, But Sabaa Tahir Is Just Getting Started’ from Bustle

Where traditionally, marginalized and BIPOC writers have been on the outskirts, we should not overlook the strides made when a new author of color publishes, because each one is an accomplishment, inspiration, and hope for a future beaming with new writers waiting to tell their own stories too.

I will yet again, leave on this quote from Leigh Bardugo herself in a 2016 article from Bustle, where she states, “The truth is, I get a lot of praise for diversity, but there are far more diverse fantasy worlds out there.”

Any additional thoughts you’d like to add to this discussion? or Any related topics your interested in sharing? 📚✨

Additional articles from fellow book bloggers that also discuss this topic:

1.Michelle from MagicalReads7 post The Gilded Wolves Vs. Six Of Crows

2. CW from The Quiet Pond posting about Book Recommendations: Diverse Heist Stories (That aren’t SOC)

2021 YA Books From Authors of Color to Add To Your TBR!

It’s no surprise that as we near the end of 2020, us avid readers are already prepping our 2021 TBRs! With the new year right around the corner, its the perfect time to start gushing about the phenomenal books being released by authors of color.

Support these authors, their books, and let’s celebrate them together! This list will feature debuts, new series, standalones, etc. As always my post will feature a mix of contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, magical realism, historical fiction, and more!

While release dates and covers for some of these have yet to be finalized, I really wanted to get these books on your radar because I definitely think they need more buzz!! Join me in discussing and gushing about these reads from AOC’s we are getting so very soon.

Enjoy today’s list and let me know if your looking forward to these Young Adult releases as well or have more recommendations of your own! 📚✨

1.Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Available through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader.

When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming.

But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

2. One Of The Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Summary: When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again. 

The Hate U Give meets Get Out in this honest and powerful exploration of prejudice in the stunning novel from sister-writer duo Maika and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.

3. Roman & Jewel by Dana L. Davis

Summary: If Romeo and Juliet got the Hamilton treatment…who would play the leads? This vividly funny, honest, and charming romantic novel by Dana L. Davis is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes…and the world thinks so, too.

Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.

Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless. 

4. Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Summary: A historical YA novel that takes place during the Greenwood Massacre of 1921, in an area of Tulsa, OK, known as the Black Wall Street.

Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of WEB. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.

Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.

Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.

But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.

5. Rise Of The Red Hand by Olivia Chadha (The Mechanists #1)

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: January 19, 2021

Summary: A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction. 

6. Wings Of Ebony by J. Elle (WOE #1)

Available Through Bookshop & Barnes & Noble
Release Date: January 26, 2020

Summary: In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry–and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she’ll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds.

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

7. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Summary: Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

8. Like Home by Louisa Onomé

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: February 23, 2021

Summary: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.

Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.

Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.

Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything⁠—and everyone⁠—she loves.

9. The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: March 16, 2021

Summary: When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown.

Graciela Cristales’s whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depends on no one finding out what really happened.

10. The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: April 13, 2021

Summary: New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends.

To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.

When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

11. The Forest Of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

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. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown 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 reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.

12. Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart (WSIG #1)

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date:

Summary: Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

13. The Other Side Of Perfect by Mariko Turk

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: May 11, 2021

Summary: Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but one terrifying fall shatters her leg–and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it. 

After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected–namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast mate she just might be falling for. 

But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she had grown to accept in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet–something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else? 

Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice.

14. Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi (Perfectly Parvin #1)

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: May 18, 2021

Summary:  Fourteen-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi sets out to win the ultimate date to homecoming in this heartfelt and outright hilarious debut.

Parvin has just had her heart broken when she meets the cutest boy at her new high school, Matty Fumero–with an emphasis on fumero, because he might be the smoking hot cure to all of her boy troubles. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to homecoming, she’s positive it will erase all the awful and embarrassing feelings He Who Will Not Be Named left her with after the summer. The only problem is Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself has not worked for her in the past (see aforementioned relationship), she decides that to be the girl who finally gets the guy, she should start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those girls aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk. Easy enough, right?

But as Parvin struggles through her parent-mandated Farsi lessons on the weekends, a budding friendship with a boy she can’t help but be her unfiltered self with, and dealing with the ramifications of the Muslim Ban on her family in Iran, she realizes that being herself might just be the perfect thing after all.

15. Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: May 25, 2021

Summary: Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries in this irresistible story about Izumi, a Japanese-American girl who discovers her senior year of high school that she’s really a princess of Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

16. Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: June 8, 2021

Summary: Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else.

Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

17. Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop
Release Date: June 29, 2021

Summary: Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose—and falling for each other—in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer—as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

18. A Beautiful Doom by Laura Pohl (Grimrose Girls #1)

Available Through Bookshop & The Book Depository
Release Date: August 3, 2021

Summary: Four troubled friends, One murdered girl… and a dark fate that may leave them all doomed.

After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled it a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.

When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events they couldn’t have imagined. As the girls retrace their friend’s last steps, they uncover dark secrets about themselves and their destinies, discovering they’re all cursed to repeat the brutal and gruesome endings to their stories until they can break the cycle.

This contemporary take on classic fairytales reimagines heroines as friends attending the same school. While investigating the murder of their best friend, they uncover connections to their ancient fairytale curses and attempt to forge their own fate before it’s too late.

Words can’t explain all my joy & anticipation for all the wonderful upcoming books! Although these are just some of the many POC-authored books I’m eagerly waiting for, I hope you enjoyed this list! 💜📚✨

Which 2021 YA releases from AOCs are on your TBR? 😍📚✨

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 1 by Makoto Hagino {Manga Review}

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 1 by Makoto Hagino

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Volume 1

Summary: When her dad gets a job overseas, Konatsu Amano has to leave the Tokyo life she’s always known and relocate to a small seaside town to stay with her aunt. The move also means starting a new school surrounded by complete strangers, and it’s a lot to handle for a girl who has trouble with change. But on her first day in her new town, Konatsu is instantly drawn to Koyuki, an older girl who is the sole member of the Aquarium Club. Konatsu’s introverted tendencies are hard for her to overcome, but maybe she’s found something worth coming out of her shell for?

Konatsu is doing her best to adapt to her new school, but being required to join a club has introduced additional pressures. Her friendly classmate Kaede invites her to join the Home Ec Club, but Konatsu hasn’t even had time to consider which club she’s interested in. Meanwhile, Koyuki is like a ray of sunshine in Konatsu’s cloudy world. Will Konatsu join the Aquarium Club?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a charming, slice-of-life manga debut that follows the bond between two girls who go to the same school in a seaside town! Their instant connection makes for a wholesome, sweet story as the relationship grows with each page! Featuring much SLOWBURN and YEARNING, this is a fantastic start to a new series!

A quiet, seaside town, a chance encounter at a school aquarium, and two girls who are in their own ways…lonely. This is the beginning of A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow, easily one of my new favorite manga series!!

Konatsu Amano moves to Nagahama to live with her aunt after her father gets a job overseas. However, Konatsu can’t let go of this loneliness that’s buried within her. But, when she sees her new high school with an open house for its aquarium, she finds herself instantly drawn to Koyuki Honatsu, the club’s leader and only member.

There’s a comforting, almost delicate, gentle bond that forms between these two girls and that exact feeling unfurls throughout the various layers of this story from its art style, character dynamics, themes, and underlying romance. It’s beautiful & although it seems like a very simple story, Hagino’s masterful execution is anything but that.

As Konatsu tries to drift among the current of her new life at school, she can’t help but feel those tides shift whenever she sees or hears about Koyuki! There’s such intense emotion that’s woven throughout the entirety of this first volume and it’s in a way, poetic?

The reader is left with a sense of melancholy, but also bountiful feeling of joy seeing these two girls continue to bond and navigate the emotions they feel for each other.

As each student is required to join a club, Konatsu wonders whether joining Koyuki’s Aquarium Club is a good idea (with her feelings for Koyuki only continuing to build) as her other classmate Hirose, recommends the Home Ec. club. The author brilliantly delves into the inner complexities of our heroines, the complicated emotions they have for one another, and the underlying sense of loneliness.

Konatsu instantly finds a friend in Hirose, the bubbly, extroverted classmate who gets her to see the aquarium in the first place! She’s just a really fun character and seeing Konatsu’s inner conflict with wondering whether to accept or decline her offer to join Hirose in the Home Ec club turned out to be very funny. I can’t wait to see all 3 of these girls bond even more over the next volumes!

Hagino builds such a fascinating, unique slice-of-life school atmosphere through Nanahama High School, not only through its minimal details, but also by emphasizing the importance of clubs! The inclusion of having club involvement be mandatory for students just added to the distinct atmosphere of Nanahama.

Now the ROMANCE is very slowburn, but also achingly soft and sweet. The tiniest moments really capture an entire scene whether its small hand holds, sharing food, or just the longing gazes. This SAPPHIC romance has really gone under the radar and hopefully my review inspires you to pick up this series!

There’s such wonderful imagery and metaphors woven throughout Vol. 1, especially when it comes to salamanders, which becomes the foundation for the girls’ dynamic! Masuji Ibuse’s “Salamander” to a salamander in the aquarium club from the very first pages, even to Konatsu calling it by Koyuki’s name, represents the desire for these two to escape the cold, loneliness they feel.

At its heart, its such a beautiful message about the two allowing each other to escape when they feel trapped and isolated. Though Koyuki feels more of a weight from expectations from those around her and in turn, she never really feels understood. All the details about marine life are beautifully woven in as well, very much looking forward to see how the author develops it!

One of my favorite moments between them was on page 36 when the aquatic background takes over the scene as they hold hands at the beach! We see how much Konatsu and Koyuki mean to each other with every moment their on page together (or even just thinking about one another), its very cute!! ❤

The budding relationship between Konatsu and Koyuki is not only delicate and gentle, but also brilliantly captivating in how it navigates emotion, yearning, just…all those layered feelings!

Story-wise although its definitely slower-paced, its very character-driven, which in turn draws you into all these other captivating elements of the story because of how wonderfully developed they are. The writing is also very good and I can count many beautiful lines that show the deep, inner feelings the girls had for each other.

The artwork is wonderful, allowing for a slow, introspective view of the story. Its in the detail of the characters, expressions, alongside the backgrounds, that bring so much to each scene. The inclusion of the aquatic elements like the ocean, marine animals, etc., all add to that special world that these two have carved for themselves and its really beautiful. I’d even say through moments where the animals around them seem more animated or a salamander appears on their shoulders/near by, uses an element of magical realism/fabulism to convey the importance of their inner voices.

If you take anything away from this review, its that you should definitely pick up this series and get carried away by its remarkable story! Tropical Fish has easily become one of my new favorite manga series, Konatsu and Koyuki have captured my heart!!

Despite the 4.5 star rating, this is a 5-star series ABSOLUTELY!! I think its just wanting a bit more to our characters in this first volume, but despite that I adored it so much!

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a fantastic yuri manga series filled with a slow-burn, heartwarming romance, wonderful main heroines, unique school setting, gorgeous symbolism, and an immersive story you won’t be able to put down!

Like This YA Book? Read This Manga! {Blog Discussion}

After making this tweet about manga and Young Adult Books, even a recent thread involving a certain manga in the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2020, I felt it was finally time to share a highly anticipated post:

If you like this Young Adult Book, read this Manga!

Manga is a very well-known medium, but it can seem like it sometimes isn’t widely discussed as it could be on our side of the book internet. Also, as mentioned above, with a particular *newly released manga being the only GR selection among many that’ve exploded in the world of manga publishing, well I just had to create this list! While I’m very much not an expert on all the fantastic manga series out there, my goal is to inspire you to check out some of these truly extraordinary titles!

If you like SIX OF CROWS, read Spy X Family by Tatsua Endo

Why: Six Of Crows is well known for its group of misfits banding together and slowly growing into a tight-knight family. While at the same time it features a complex cast of characters that are continuing to grow amid the trauma they’ve carried with them, because of that you would love Spy X Family!

With its very unique concept, this series follows a genius spy who needs to create a fake family in order to complete his mission of keeping peace between two rival countries. Now a spy, telepath, and assassin are living together, and each carries their own secrets. There’s brilliant comedy, a phenomenal cast of characters, and an entertaining plot you won’t be able to put down!

For those who also appreciate the clever, ruthless, mastermind who will do whatever he needs to in order to get the job done, while simultaneously unleashing a monstrous side if those he loves are in peril, then Kaz Brekker stans you need to meet Loid Forger from Spy X Family.

Similar to Six Of Crows, if you enjoy the dark, corrupt intrigue of the world, dysfunctional found family dynamics, and a page-turning story, well then Spy X Family should definitely be on your to-read list.

Some of the genius tropes you can expect in this series include literal FOUND FAMILY, marriage of convenience, and more! Two volumes in and this manga truly gets better with each one.

If you like I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, read Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

Why: When I reflect on I’ll Give You The Sun, something that will always stick with me was the intense focus on art. Similarly with Blue Period, the main character Yatora becomes consumed by the passion of painting.

The metaphorical imagery, whether its in Nelson’s writing or Yamaguchi’s artwork reminded me of the other, so that’s why I’d recommend reading Blue Period if you remember the realistic intensity to the twins Jude and Noah.

I haven’t read Blue Period yet, but the artwork is incredibly stunning and based on the summary the character journeys are very much reminiscent of each other, so I recommend checking it out!

If you like CRIER’S WAR, read A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow by Makoto Hagino

Why: Having just finished Tropical Fish, it gave me major Crier’s War vibes because at its heart, it has a SAPPHIC romance that’s filled with lots of slow-burn and yearning! Without spoiling too much, both of these series showcase the intense emotion that our main protagonists feel because in reality, Crier x Ayla and Konatsu x Koyuki, are the only ones that truly understand each other on a deeper level.

In both series, the worldbuilding plays a major role in how our protagonists are able to interact! In Crier’s War, the element of the Automae has created a divide which leads Ayla to immersing herself in Crier’s world. Where in the contemporary setting of Tropical, the school’s mandatory rule for students to join a club leads new student Konatsu to connect more with aquarium club member Koyuki as both girls are instantly drawn to each other!

There’s a poetic beauty to each of these books through the writing, the yearning, and metaphorical way of looking at the stories! Each couple navigates their own loneliness and weight of responsibility, but deep down, its about the way love can allow them to grow!

If you like Every Heart A Doorway, read Restaurant To Another World by Junpei Inuzuka

Why: Despite the major differences between these books, I think the “portal fantasy” idea is what makes Restaurant a perfect read-alike if you enjoy the Wayward Children Series!

Haven’t finished this one yet either, but where you learn about the different worlds across McGuire’s books, Restaurant takes you to multiple within a single novel as it follows a restaurant in Tokyo that connects to many different places, as the reader meets all the unique guests that make their way to “Western Cuisine Nekoya.”

Where both books are also very similar is the focus on characters apart from their own world and what brings them to another magical place! An additional fun comparison: they both have magical doors!! (*Note: Every Heart A Doorway is the only SFF title on this list, however the rest of it has been YA).

That concludes my Part 1 of my “Like this? Read That!” Series! Very much looking forward to creating a Part 2 of this sometime in the future because although this list took quite a bit of work (and I’m just remembering tons of books I completely forgot), there’s honestly such a variety of manga series out there that deserve recognition too! ☄✨

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to pick up some of these titles and lets chat about them in the comments! Have you read any of these manga titles or will you be adding them to your TBR? 📚🎉

Spy X Family Vol. 2 by Tatsuya Endo {Manga Review}

Spy X Family Vol. 2 by Tatsuya Endo (Spy X Family #2)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Available Through The Book Depository: Spy X Family Volume 2

Summary: Master spy Twilight is unparalleled when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions for the betterment of the world. But when he receives the ultimate assignment—to get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

Twilight must infiltrate the prestigious Eden Academy to get close to his target Donovan Desmond, but has he ruined his daughter Anya’s chances with his outburst during the admissions interview? Perhaps the truly impossible mission this time is making sure Anya both becomes an exemplary student and befriends Donovan’s arrogant son Damian! 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Spy X Family is one of the most brilliant manga debuts of 2020! This dark, comedic, entertaining series follows a FAKE FAMILY consisting of a spy, telepath, and assassin that each have their own secrets! The mission continues as the Forger family gets a coveted spot in a prestigious academy! This dynamic, action-packed series is propelled by clever humor, phenomenal storytelling, and a stellar cast of characters!

Twilight has been tasked with creating a fake family as part of an elaborate mission to keep the unsteady truce between neighboring countries Westalis and Ostania! Now, his family includes himself (a master spy), but also a telepath daughter and assassin wife! However, each has continued to keep their identities a secret from each other.

This volume follows Anya’s entrance into Eden Academy as the Forgers continue to adjust in their roles as a found family. However, as Loid (Twilight) does his best to carry on the mission in the background he quickly realizes his next step to get closer to his target means Anya will have to befriend his spoiled son Damian!

The plot allows for introductions to some new characters (Damian, Handler, + Yuri) and hilarious hijinks for the Forger family! The comedy brilliantly woven throughout this series makes for so many unexpected plot points you never see coming. There’s mystery, action, high stakes and tons of humor, you won’t be able to put this book down.

While Anya tries adjust to school, she not only wants to do her best for her family, but also continues to use her telepathy (and fighting skills she learned from Yor) to survive the first few days. Its so wonderful seeing Anya make a new friend, Becky and one of the funniest side plots was seeing Loid go undercover to get Anya to apologize to Damian once it was clear they didn’t get along in the beginning, for the sake of the mission. Very interested in seeing the Anya, Becky and Damian dynamic in future volumes too!

While Yor wasn’t given as much page-time this volume, I utterly adored every moment she was in. Seeing her unwavering support to Anya and Loid was so beautiful to read, in fact here was one of my favorite lines between them in Volume 2: “You’re being a wonderful father to that girl…But again, what do I know? It’s not exactly my place”…(Loid): “No Yor. It’s exactly your place…I rely on you to be everything I am not…” (120-121).

Also, seeing Yor beat up a group of people trying to hurt Anya, then teaching her how to fight was a highlight of this volume tbh, especially since early on in the volume Yor talks about wanting to continue being a good mother to mind-reader Anya.

The stakes heighten in different ways, which mixed together with the perfectly-timed comedic moments, make this manga not only entertaining but leave you on the edge of your seat as you continue to immerse yourself in the Forger’s chaotic lives!

Twilight, Anya, and Yor have captured my heart just 2 volumes in, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! 💕

As with the first volume, the espionage motifs and references continue to build such a distinct atmosphere and world throughout this series. From the telephone booth transport, Twilight’s disguises, and a hilarious moment about overspending the operations budget, its so easy to immerse yourself in this intriguing, captivating world!

The artwork continues to be detailed, making each character and their motives distinct. From the action to the setting, characters, etc., it really builds on the exaggeration, humor, and tone perfectly crafted to match each panel.

There’s just something that’s keeping this series at a 4 for me, but rating aside this series is utterly BRILLIANT and you should read it while it still only has a couple volumes. As I’m sure many other Spy X Family readers can predict, this series will continue to get better and better, I just know it!

Spy X Family Vol. 2 is a stellar sequel that reunites readers with the hilarious hijinks of the Forger family! The dynamic cast of characters, fantastic artwork, witty humor, and page-turning story are just some of the many reasons you should hop on the bandwagon while its still in its first volumes! This series succeeds in so many ways and you don’t want to miss it!

I’m also planning some manga recommendation lists, so keep an eye out for those during the next few months! 😌💞

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6 by Kamome Shirahama {Manga Review}

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6 by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #6)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Pages: 176

Available Through The Book Depository: Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6

Summary: Coco and her peers follow Olruggio and Luluci as they deftly ferry a wounded Qifrey to the underwater Great Hall where witches gather. To their surprise, Beldaruit of the Three Wise Ones awaits the young apprentices at the bottom of the ocean… And he’s willing to offer another trial after Agott’s and Richeh’s was cut short. But the spells and tests of Beldaruit are as much a mystery to unfold as his past, and Coco may be the only one who can put the pieces together and close in on the startling truth…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 6 takes the witches to a new location and gives them the opportunity to work together! The plot is fast-paced, the underlying mystery, and intriguing cast of characters make this series an absolute delight with each volume!

I’ve reviewed every volume of this series on my blog, except for Volume 5! I think that one was more of a quicker paced volume wrapping up the witches trial through Serpentback Cave and honestly I just couldn’t really put my thoughts together for that particular one. However Volume 6 leads the crew to a community hub for witches, located in the depths of the ocean. As with every volume in this series, I’m always left wanting to know what happens to the characters next!

Qifrey is badly injured and the witches take a much needed break as their summoned to The Great Hall by one of “The Three Wise Ones” (powerful witches of their time), Coco, Agott, Tetia, and Richeh realize they’ve been given a chance to retake their second test!

Lord Beldaruit is a quirky kind of character and he gives the girls a task to use their magic to surprise him! With only a few days to do so, they make a couple attempts and then brainstorm other ideas on what can surprise this wise magician!

Olruggio on the other hand, is left to explain to the knights what happened, while also keeping some things a secret as Qifrey is recovering. His chapters (though short) were really great because some of the Knights are still a bit of a mystery and have secrets of their own. A Knight named Utowin warns Olruggio of keeping information, with the signs hinting at danger on the horizon!

Agott continues to be one of the more mysterious witches of the atelier and I loved that there was a bit of glimpse into her past too!! When young witches from her childhood try to spread rumors, it really brought out a more self-conscious side of her this section specifically. But, I just loved how confident Coco was in their friendship despite Agott’s ambitious nature and apprehensiveness towards her! You really see their friendship make strides in this volume, especially when they decide to team-up. There’s also some hints as to Qifrey’s past I did not see coming!

Overall, I love how this volume gave more page time to see the girls work together! Coco and Agott really were the stars of this volume, but I was kind of bummed that Richeh was kind of left in the background. However, I also loved that this volume took more of a quiet route while still developing the world and intrigue of the series so far!

The magic system and world as a whole, continues to build over each volume with every new detail. It paints an even more complex picture of how magic works (like in this volume there’s a bit of spell mixing), the unique creatures that live there, and just how unique each setting is. From the major to tiniest of details, they all add to the wonder and vastness of the setting like the frog-fish, the fact that the Hall is underwater, the palmdragon teacup, and even the merging of spells, they all really stood out to me in this volume. With how the world was explored in this one, it’s kind of made it a special volume in its own way!

However although there’s so much love I have for this series, I did rate it at a 4 which left me pretty surprised. But, I think its mainly because my writer brain was easily picking up on little hints as to certain plot points or details that were sprinkled throughout the volume. While this isn’t a filler volume in the slightest, it does have a more leisurely pace to it.

What really stood out to me when it comes to the artwork in this volume was the backgrounds, especially since we’re traveling to a new location and get more of a bustling atmosphere in this one. The little nooks of the Great Hall were a lot of fun to explore and hopefully the witches will be making a return! Overall, I’m SO excited to see where the story goes from here, because those last few pages…WOW!

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6 is character-driven, immersive, and hints at more secrets to be uncovered in future volumes! The setting and story really propel this volume forward and leave you wanting to know what happens next! Despite the slower pacing and self-contained feel to this volume, Shirahama continues to build such a compelling world with even more complex characters in this series with each installment!