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dear mr. hemingway’s 2021 holiday books & pairings 

Up On the Rooftop YA Reads

Tokyo After After by Emiko Jean (Flatiron Books)

I was thoroughly entertained reading this book and  I adored Izzy! I absolutely loved reading about her travels to Japan and the cultural and lifestyle differences she encountered.  I am obsessed with anything Royal, so this was fun for me.  This book was heartwarming and the perfect young adult read.  


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 Izumi 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, Izumi 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.

Izumi 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 fairy tale, happily ever after?”

P.S.  I think the young adult reading this book may be interested in these lightweight, pop-of-color earrings.  I have them in silver and wear them ALL THE TIME!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)

I hands down LOVED and DEVOURED this book.  Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate You Give, but reads 100% fine as a stand-alone.  I felt like I was on a journey with Maverick.  I loved being inside his head every step of the way.  I laughed, cried, and everything in-between.  As a mom, he was constantly tugging at all of my heartstrings! Maverick may be the star of this tale, but all of the other characters were fantastic in their own special way. A+ 


If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money, he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.”

P.S. If you are gifting this book to a teen boy, then this shaving soap is a MUST.  My boys shave with this all the time and it is so wonderful on the skin and smells amazing.  It also lasts a LONG time!

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (Quill Tree Books)

EEEKKKK!  This was such a wonderful story.  A blog centered around trans happily ever after stories made for a refreshing and delightful storyline.  Lee tackled so many coming-of-age themes in this book.  Gender, self-exploration, figuring out who you are and who you love, friendship, teenage drama and then some.  Meet Cute Diary was overflowing with joy and positivity and I loved it to pieces.  All the characters were spectacular.  Such a happy and inspiring read.  


Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.”

P.S.  Hello holiday bookmarks!  This little bundle is the perfect pairing for any book this holiday season.  

Dear Mr. Hemingway’s 2021 Holiday Books & Pairings

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