Ten YA Novels To Read On Valentine’s Day

Hiya! I hope you’re all doing amazing. As we all know, it’s almost Valentine’s Day! So to celebrate this lovely (pun intended) holiday, I compiled 10 YA novels that focus on, but are not limited to; love! I hope you enjoy!

(PS: Press on the cover of a book to add it to goodreads!)

1. Love Is A Revolution

Love Is A Revolution by Renée Watson is a YA contemporary romance. But it’s also about self love. Self love is such an important and underestimated form of love. Therefore, I just had to include this book!

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2. Love From A To Z

If you’ve seen my review for Love From A To Z by S.K Ali, then you’ll know how much I love it! It is 100% a must read for Valentine’s Day!

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3. Together, Apart

Together, Apart is a collection of short stories written by numerous authors. It’s essentially about teens finding love during the pandemic that I’m sure we’re all well acquainted with by now. It is so adorable! I love how it features different authors that I wouldn’t have discovered it if weren’t for this book.

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4. The Quantum Theory Of The Almost-Kiss

The Quantum Theory Of The Almost-Kiss by Amy Parks is the perfect friends to lovers story to read on Valentine’s Day! (PS: Author Interview with Ms. Parks to come sometime next week!)

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5. Super Fake Love Song

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon is a rom-com that involves fake dating and well, music! It’s overall just a super fun and light read!

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6. Here The Whole Time

Here The Whole Time by Vitor Martens is a soft and quick read, perfect for Valentine’s Day! (Light and soft books are a reoccurring theme in this list, in case you didn’t notice. 😆)

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7. More To The Story

More To The Story by Hena Khan is a middle grade retelling of Little Women. I decided to include it because it highlights the love of family in the cutest and most wholesome way possible!

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8. A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea And Tomorrow

As a tea enthusiast, I just knew I had to include The Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey!

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9. I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn is filled with delicious sweet treats, and an even sweeter story!

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10. Charming As A Verb

Charming As A Verb by Ben Phillipe is a witty rom-com that’s perfect for those looking for a laugh!

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And that’s a wrap! I hope you all have a wonderful February, and an even more amazing Valentine’s Day! What is your go-to Valentine’s Day read? 💕

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Five Books On My Winter TBR

Hiya everyone! It’s me Saniya, here to share the five books on my winter TBR! For those of you who don’t know, a TBR is a To Be Read list that includes any books you want to read. What counts as winter you may ask? Anywhere till May would be realistic where I live, but I for the sake of you all, winter is anywhere from January to March. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish all these books by then. Unfortunately though, I am not a fast reader. (I know right, what kind of a book blogger isn’t a fast reader.) Anyways, enough rambling, and let’s get into it! (Please note that all book synopsis are from Goodreads. However, I did alter some.)

1. Journey To The Center Of The Earth

Journey To The Center Of The Earth is about an adventurous geology professor who comes across a manuscript in which a 16th-century explorer claims to have found a route to the earth’s core. Professor Lidenbrock can’t resist the opportunity to investigate, and with his nephew Axel, he sets off across Iceland in the company of Hans Bjelke, a native guide. The expedition descends into an extinct volcano toward a sunless sea, where they encounter a subterranean world of luminous rocks, antediluvian forests, and fantastic marine life — a living past that holds the secrets to the origins of human existence.

The story is told through the eyes of the main character Axel. I am currently reading this book, and have been reading it on and off for the past 5 months. It’s incredibly witty, especially for a classical novel. Journey To The Center Of The Earth is definitely a change of pace compared to the young adult fiction I typically read. I find that it’s actually quite refreshing to read classics from time to time. I sure hope I finish this one soon!

2. The Field Guide To The North American Teenager

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager: Amazon.ca: Philippe, Ben:  Books

Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas. Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs.

I hate to admit it, but I was close to DNFing this one. The main reason for that is because it started to become predictable at around 100 pages. Yes the main character is witty and snarky, but his humor becomes boring after a while. Furthermore, I can 100% relate to Norris, so that is probably why I decided not to DNF it just yet. I am determined to finish it! In January, I actually plan on reading all the books I haven’t finished from 2020. Hopefully I actually succeed this time!

3. This Train Is Being Held

This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams

When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.

This Train Is Being Held was easily my most anticipated read of 2020, and of course being the slow reader that I am, I didn’t get to it yet. I cannot wait to read this one!! I just absolutely the book cover, and the cute plot. The book cover is what initially drew me to the novel. I’ve also never read anything from the author, so I am excited to see what they have in store for their readers!

4. Castle In The Clouds

A Castle in the Clouds Book Cover — Melissa Lee Johnson

I’ve heard that Castle In The Clouds has a very descriptive story, and gives off a cozy feel, which is great for winter!

Way up in the Swiss mountains, there’s an old grand hotel steeped in tradition and faded splendor. Once a year, when the famous New Year’s Eve Ball takes place and guests from all over the world arrive, excitement returns to the vast hallways. Sophie, who works at the hotel as an intern, is busy making sure that everything goes according to plan. But unexpected problems keep arising, and some of the guests are not who they pretend to be. Very soon, Sophie finds herself right in the middle of a perilous adventure–and at risk of losing not only her job, but also her heart.

I cannot wait to read this one! (I know I’ve said that about every book, but I am just so excited!) Although storyline and plot are important, I’m really just here for the winter-y feel of the novel.

5. He Must Like You

He Must Like You by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Libby’s having a rough senior year. Her older brother absconded with his college money and is bartending on a Greek island. Her dad just told her she’s got to pay for college herself, and he’s evicting her when she graduates so he can Airbnb her room. A drunken hook-up with her coworker Kyle has left her upset and confused. So when Perry Ackerman, serial harasser and the most handsy customer at The Goat where she waitresses, pushes her over the edge, she can hardly be blamed for dumping a pitcher of sangria on his head. Unfortunately, Perry is a local industry hero, the restaurant’s most important customer, and Libby’s mom’s boss. Now Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, find an apartment, and deal with her increasing rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life–and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. As timely as it is timeless, He Must Like You is a story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better people.

Consent is something so incredibly important!! Although I typically read books with lighter topics, I just knew I had to read this one, and I think everyone else should too! Real life is messy. In the YA genre, most characters are depicted as perfect and flawless. However in real life, our lives are complicated. Therefore, I think that He Must Like You will be a powerful story about how hard it is to be an assault survivor. It’s immensely important to share these kinds of stories so that survivors of abuse can have a voice, and listeners can be educated.

Those are all the books on my winter TBR! I hope to finish them by March 15th! Have a fabulous day! What books are on your winter TBR?

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My Top 10 List Of Graphic Novels and Manga Series of 2020

This quarantine had been quite a blessing for my reading habits. I downloaded the app Libby, and thus read 40+ comics. So today I compiled ten of my favorite graphic novels and manga of 2020! (By the way, I only included series that I am either finished, or are up to date with to make the judging process more fair.) Without further ado, here is the list!

1. The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland, Volume 1 - Toronto Public Library - OverDrive

It’s a manga series (volumes 1 through 17 available in English as of now.) Where do I even start with this one?! The Promised Neverland plot description made me think it was going to be a fun go lucky series about orphaned kids….BUT BOY WAS I WRONG! Here is the very brief synopsis that goodreads provides. 

Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest kids at the Grace Field House orphanage. And under the care of the woman they refer to as “Mom,” all the kids have enjoyed a comfortable life. Good food, clean clothes and the perfect environment to learn—what more could an orphan ask for? One day, though, Emma and Norman uncover the dark truth of the outside world they are forbidden from seeing.

Reading this series has just been a wild ride full of tears, and joy…but mostly tears. The art is extremely expressive, and the characters are extremely unique. The antagonists, (which I will not spoil because I want you to experience the same shock I did) are evil, but for some reason I just can’t hate them. This series completely changed my perception of the world…and the food chain. You have to give this one a read! 

My Overall Rating: 9/10 

Age Rating: 14+

TW: Violence, gore, blood

2. The Children Of The Whales

Children of the Whales, Vol. 2 (Volume 2): Umeda, Abi: 9781421597225: Books  - Amazon.ca

(The above cover is the second volume in the manga series.) Can we talk about the gorgeous cover! I will admit that I first started reading The Children Of The Whales because of how aesthetic it was. What can I say, I’m a sucker for pretty book covers. 😆

In a world covered by an endless sea of sand, there sails an island known as the Mud Whale. In its interior lies an ancient town, where the majority of its inhabitants are said to be “Marked,” a double-edged trait that grants them supernatural abilities at the cost of an untimely death. Chakuro is the village archivist; young and curious, he spends his time documenting the discovery of newfound islands. But each one is like the rest—abandoned save for the remnants of those who lived there long ago.
For the first time in six months, another island crosses the horizon, so Chakuro and his friends join the scouting group. During the expedition, they find vestiges of an archaic civilization. And inside one of its crumbling remains, Chakuro discovers a girl who will change his destiny and the world inside the Mud Whale as he knows it.

The storyline is extremely creative, and is executed very well! The art is stunning, and is sort of a mix between Studio Ghibli and Card Captor Sakura. The characters are unique, and the antagonists aren’t your basic ‘I am evil,’ villains if that makes sense. Overall, if you’re looking for an adventurous and dreamy read, this one’s for you!

Overall Review: 7.5/10

Age Rating: 14+

TW: violence, death, blood

3. Ao Haru Ride

Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 1 (Volume 1): Amazon.ca: Sakisaka, Io: Books

Futaba Yoshioka used to be an attractive and popular middle-schooler—but ostracized by the girls. However, the only opinion that truly mattered to her was that of Kou Tanaka, a classmate with whom she shared a shelter from rain once, followed by quite a few other precious and significant memories. She even succeeded at making plans to meet with the quiet and innocent boy at the summer festival, but a simple misunderstanding, and Tanaka’s subsequent disappearance, left her walking the halls of her school friendless. Fast forward to high school, and Futaba’s world is soon turned upside down when the only boy she ever liked unexpectedly comes into her life once again—except he goes by the name of Kou Mabuchi now, and it is not his name alone that has gone through a sea change.

This series gave me early 2000s manga vibes and I am 100% here for it! The art is absolutely stunning, and very clean. With a lot of comic series, overtime the art quality begins to decrease. However, with Ao Haru Ride, that is surely not the case! The only con I have for this story is that the main character Futaba starts off as likable, but soon acts as though the world revolves around her. (Which to be fair, she is the 🌟 Main Character 🌟 so that is fairly reasonable.) 

My Overall Review: 8/10 

Age Rating: 12+

TW: Death

4. The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire

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(For those of you who don’t know, the Legend Of Korra is a TV series that aired on nickelodeon, and is a continuation, or rather a spinoff of Avatar The Last Airbender. The comics take place right after the end of the show. The Ruins of the Empire Trilogy are issues 4 through 6 in comics.)

On the eve of its first elections, the Earth Kingdom finds its future endangered by its past. Even as Kuvira stands trial for her crimes, vestiges of her imperial ambitions threaten to undermine the nation’s democratic hopes. But when Korra, Asami, Mako, and Bolin don’t all see eye-to-eye as to the solution, drastic measures will be taken to halt a new march to war!

This trilogy was far better than its predecessor; Turf wars. The plot is very intriguing. It deals with brainwash, politics, and is overall very action packed! The art certainly did improve in this trilogy, which is always a plus side when reading comics. There’s nothing worse then seeing art quality heavily decrease. The story is a bit more serious then the ATLA comics, but I feel like it’s not fair to compare the two as they are quite different. Overall this was a quick, cool comic series that you should read if you are familiar with the Avatar Universe!

My Overall Rating: 9/10 

Age Rating: 11+

TW: Violence

5. Lazaretto 

Lazaretto by Clay McLeod Chapman

Now although I only gave this one 3/5 stars on goodreads, it was just so incredibly impactful in the most disturbing way possible. That probably doesn’t make sense, so let me explain my reasoning a bit more…

An outbreak at a small American college causes an entire dorm to be quarantined with the students inside, which leads to a violent new social hierarchy within.

When an American college quarantines an entire dorm of young adults, what could possibly go wrong? Everything! I felt like I re-read lord of the flies in grade school! The way the story and the art corelated was absolutely phenomenal. The art is messy, but so was the story. The twists and aggressive goriness were so surprising, (considering the fact that BOOM BOX! typically produces ‘cuter’ stories.) Overall, it was gory, intense, and definitely a realistic approach at what happens when there is a pandemic/epidemic. The only reason I put it at number 5 was because of the lasting impact it gave me. But maybe don’t read this one during quarantine like I did. 😆 

My Overall Rating: 6/10 

Age Rating: 15+

TW: Death, suicide, violence, gore, blood

6. Fence 

Fence #1 (Fence, #1) by C.S. Pacat

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama…and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him—if he can make the cut!

Everyone in the comic is absolutely stunningly gorgeous!! The art is impeccable, the plot however, is relatively average. Now although the plot isn’t anything special, the execution was done really well! I found myself laughing out loud at times, and being incredibly intrigued by the sport. I’ve read a lot of sports manga and comics, but never one about fencing! There is also an incredibly diverse cast! Overall, Fence was a refreshing change of pace from regular sports comics, and totally lives up to the hype!

My Overall Review: 8/10 

Age Rating: 13+

TW: Violence (I put a TW because it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.)

7. The Way Of The House Husband

The Way of the Househusband, Vol. 1 (Volume 1): Amazon.ca: Oono, Kousuke:  Books

The Way Of The House Husband was absolutely hilarious! The series currently has three volumes out in English. I love this manga series so much, and here’s why…

Tatsu, an infamous and feared yakuza boss nicknamed “the Immortal Dragon”, retires from crime to become househusband so that he can support Miku, his ‘career woman’ wife.

Firstly, everything Tatsu does is so unexpected as he looks so intimidating. From teaching other Yakuzas how to cook, to taking aerobics classes with retired women, he does it all! The only thing I didn’t like was how after a while, the storyline started to get a bit repetitive. Nevertheless, it was really cool to see a househusband. This was definitely a unique and funny read that you should totally check out!

My Overall Rating: 8/10 

Age Rating: 14+

8. The Witch Boy

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In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

The Witch Boy was so unique and cute! It’s filled with diverse characters, and the storyline is just so interesting. (There are three volumes in the entire series as of now.) You will definitely find yourself rooting for Aster, and the friends he makes along the way. The characters are complex, which, in my opinion is hard to find in middle grade novels. The art is on the simpler side, but is done really nicely. And can we talk about a male witch, how cool is that?! The Witch Boy is a sweet coming of age story that is 100% worth the read for all ages!

My Overall Rating: 8/10 

Age Rating: 9+

TW: Some scary images that might not be suitable for a younger audience

9. Lumberjanes

Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy (Volume 1): Amazon.ca:  Stevenson, Noelle, Watters, Shannon, Ellis, Grace, Allen, Brooke A: Books

Yet another BOOM BOX! Studios comic makes it to my top ten list!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

Lumberjanes was so adorable. It’s fast paced, adventurous, and filled with unique and diverse characters! (Which seems to be a reoccurring theme in the books I review, not that I’m complaining.😆) The people and creatures they discover are so interesting and the way the kids handle things is hilarious. The only downside to the series is that the art isn’t that good, and the art style changes quite frequently. However, the series is great for elementary and middle school kids looking for a fun adventure to delve into!

My Overall Rating: 7.5/10 

Age Rating: 7+

10. Heavy Vinyl

Heavy Vinyl: Riot on the Radio: Amazon.ca: Usdin, Carly, Vakueva, Nina:  Books

What really drew me to this comic was the cover. I will admit, I am a sucker for nice covers. The art style is gorgeous! The story however, failed to deliver. The essential concept of the story? Beautiful! The execution? Eh it was alright.

When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

At times I felt as though the whole fight club thing didn’t make sense. How was it created? Why don’t they just call the police? But since it’s really all in good fun, I brushed those factors off and just tried to enjoy the adventure. It’s thrilling, and overall just a super fun read! I mean, who doesn’t want to see women kicking butt and fighting the patriarchy?

My Overall Rating: 7.5/10 

Age Rating: 12+

TW: Some fighting

Please note that most of the synopsis came from goodreads, others came from myanimelist, and some I made myself.

That’s a wrap!! Thank you so much for reading! What are your favorite comics/manga series?