Reading Roundup: September 2021

Welcome to the second edition of my Reading Roundup here on my blog! If you read my TV roundup, you’ll know that I watched a lot last month and I also read a ton too. So let’s jump into my list and talk about it.

  • Needle & Thread by David Pinckney and Ennun Ana Iurov — Young people are so often pushed to be something that they don’t want to be. Whether it’s to follow in the footsteps of a family member or to choose a “career with a future” or whatever. It’s hard to be young, especially when you feel like you don’t have any control over your own future. Needle & Thread tackles exactly that as two completely different teens try to navigate high school, their futures, and family that wants them to be someone they’re not.Young people will find a lot of relatable themes in this story and certainly be able to see bits of themselves in it. A solid YA graphic novel worth checking out.
  • The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson — I’ve been a fan of Noelle Stevenson pretty much since where this book starts off. I remember the days of her Tumblr account and webcomics and those stories got me through some hard times by making me smile. Reliving that and reading about Noelle’s honest journey along the way was like visiting and catching up with an old friend. And getting context for things that you didn’t know were going on makes you appreciate them even more.Noelle was one of the first creators that introduced me to webcomics and showed me that we didn’t need publishers to validate us as creators; we just needed to have stories we wanted to tell. So this book was a heartfelt warm hug that reads as a reminder to our younger selves that things do get better.
  • My Hero Academia Vol. 1 by Kohei Horikoshi — I honestly expected to enjoy this more than I did. It’s not that it’s bad or anything but I think it’s a victim of the overhype train and my expectations for this book were extremely high. It felt like a twist on the Shazam story but with superheroes being far more prevalent and normalized. Again, not a bad thing to put a new twist on an older story but I expected a lot. It was enjoyable though!
  • A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft — Entrancing and compelling; A Far Wilder Magic is a gothic fantasy with a slow-burn romance. It follows the dual POV of Margaret and Wes—two young people who have had hard lives and decide to change their fates by entering a dangerous hunt for a mystical creature. Allison Saft does a wonderful job with her characters in making them rich and complex while making them enjoyable to read about. A YA book for fans of stories like The Hazel Wood and The River Has Teeth.
  • Dani and Ramen: A Nomad’s Tale Vol. 1 by Jake Morrison — After Dani and Ramen’s home is destroyed, they head out to find the culprit behind it. It leads them on an epic journey where they must have each other’s backs and be there for one another. Jake Morrison tells an engaging and wonderful story with intriguing protagonists. Filled with action, adventure, heart, and humour! For fans of Adventure Time, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Amphibia, and Over the Garden Wall.
  • Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle — If you’re hangering for a good werewolf story, take a bite out of Squad. New girl starts school and manages to fall in with the popular crowd. She doesn’t quite feel like one of them until one night when her new acquaintances decide to officially make her a part of the squad. Except that means becoming a werewolf and preying on the worst men they come across.An easy way to summarize Squad would be to say that it’s Heathers x Mean Girls x Ginger Snaps‬ with a bit of Bring It On mixed in too. All of which are things that I love and really enjoyed seeing them melded together here in this story.Overall I enjoyed this graphic novel a lot. The story is super fun, loooove the empowering werewolf killers concept and I will forever be a fan of Lisa Sterle’s incredible art and colours.
  • Almost American Girl by Robin Ha — An incredible memoir on being an immigrant and just how alienating and daunting being somewhere entirely new can be. A must-read for young people; especially for teaching empathy and kindness.
  • Catherine’s War by Julia Billet and Claire Fauvel — Beautiful and heartbreaking. A WWII story like this with a protagonist who is all about a visual medium was begging to be adapted to a graphic novel and works brilliantly here. A really wonderful marriage of the story with the art. I wish there was a little more about what happened to Catherine in the end but that’s just a personal preference and what was included was incredible.
  • Odessa by Jonathan Hill — I don’t know that I loved this story, I definitely enjoyed the concept and the art was really interesting but I didn’t really connect with any of the characters on their journey. Still, it was a good read and a great study in doing a graphic novel in black and white.
  • A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin — As an avid tea drinker, I was immediately drawn into this story with a magic system built entirely around the art of tea making. It was such a refreshing take and I really enjoyed everything about it! The protagonist is likable with solid motivations and I felt myself rooting for her the whole way through. Even though parts of the story were a little predictable, because of the originality of the concept, I let myself just enjoy the ride and not overthink it.Excellent worldbuilding and characterizations. An incredibly solid debut by Judy I. Lin.
  • Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan — A deeply relatable graphic novel that explores growing up, finding yourself, and learning to value what you bring to the table. For fans of Raina Telgemeier, Lucy Knisley, and Svetlana Chmakova.
  • Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn — A GOSH DANG DELIGHT! Very big Studio Ghibli art vibes mixed with such a sweet story about friendship and acceptance.
  • The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag — A graphic novel exploring queer love through SELKIES? AKA a thing that I am obsessed with? YES PLEASE. I loved this whole story from start to finish. Everything about it was so beautiful and despite the fantastical elements, was so deeply relatable and down-to-earth. Truly special and wonderful.
  • What’s Up, Beanie? by Alina Tysoe — This wonderful slice-of-life comic is guaranteed to make you smile. There’s something in this book for everyone and there’s at least ONE story that will be painfully relatable to you.The What’s Up, Beanie? comics on IG have long brought joy into my feed regularly and I’m so happy to have this book on my shelves to bring me that joy whenever I might need a little pick-me-up.
  • Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters by Chris Samnee, Laura Samnee, and Matthew Wilson — Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters was such a delight. Like The Flintstones x Kipo with a dash of Runaways—Jonna reminded me of Molly meets Pebbles, basically. The story, the art, the letters, the colours are all beautifully done here and marry together so well. They are all given their space to shine and flourish and it’s such an incredible story to take in.Chris Samnee is an absolute masterclass artist when it comes to action. He’s fantastic all-around but I think the thing that comes to mind when I think of Samnee is the dynamic panels that so beautifully illustrate a scene, especially when it comes to someone kicking butt. It feels cinematic and fluid and there are few people at the same level as him there.My only complaint is that I wanted more story right away, it was over so quick! But I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure.
  • Rising Sand by Ty Dunitz and Jenn Lee — An amazing first volume in the series!
  • The Chancellor and the Citadel by Maria Capelle Frantz — A stunning story by Maria Capelle Frantz. We’re dropped into the world and given the freedom to fill in the blanks on the before and after to the story. We focus on the now as the Chancellor tries to discover whether or not they’re “good” or “bad” and we explore what that really means.Beautiful art paired with atmospheric colours and hand lettering that makes the story seem even more personal somehow.
  • Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana LaFuente, and Jim Campbell — Thoroughly enjoyed this story! I was completely drawn into it immediately and couldn’t put it down. Even though I went in knowing nothing about fencing, I came out of it knowing some basics; enough to understand what was going on throughout. It’s a tough thing in serialized comics to balance that exposition while keeping the main story moving forward and this does it skillfully, keeping you engaged!The story, the art, and the colours marry well and come together to make a really cohesive book. Definitely recommend it and I’ll be looking for the next volumes ASAP.
  • Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes and Selina Espiritu — Cute story and art! Didn’t love the motivation behind Brianna and why she chooses to open a restaurant? But the rest of the story was sweet.
  • Check, Please! Year Two by Ngozi Ukazu — It would literally be a Canadian crime if I didn’t love this delightful story about hockey, baking, and trying to fit in while staying true to yourself. Mostly of course because of the hockey. The rest happens to be a bonus that adds to this wonderful book.
  • Clash by Kayla Miller — The Click books are so wonderful and so incredibly relatable! I can see how and why young people flock to these books and feel seen by the story here. We’ve all gone through the same or similar situations growing up and Clash paints a picture of how most of us probably wish we could’ve handled it. I love Olive’s approach to these tricky situations and trying to use empathy and kindness to see her through it. It’s such an important lesson for young people to learn and I enjoyed Clash immensely for it.
  • Daughters of a Dead Empire by Carolyn Tara O’Neill — An incredible, captivating, and compelling debut.I absolutely DEVOURED this book and couldn’t put it down. I have been fascinated and obsessed with the Romanov’s for most of my life and this historical fiction is a perfect intersection of so many of my interests. How could you not be enthralled by the idea of a long lost princess escaping a death sentence? This book does such a great job in imagining Anastasia’s life immediately after the death of her family and one man who will stop at nothing to finish the job.I fully intended to continue reading this over the next few days but I was entirely unable to stop reading.
  • Mel the Chosen by Rachele Aragno — A beautifully illustrated story with a wonderful message for kiddos about trying to grow up too quickly.
  • On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden — Rich, complex, and breathtaking.
  • Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega — Charming and wonderful! I adored this magical adventure so much and flew through it. It’s like a warm hug from someone special.

That’s 25 freaking books?! I have no clue where I found the energy to consume that much last month but here we are. I think since it’s nice and cool out, I enjoy getting snuggly in my reading chair with a big sweater on and a cat for company. You know? Such a nice reprieve from the heat of the summer. But regardless, it’s still a lot of reading.