2018 Reading Goals

Below is a reading bingo I created for 2018. I don’t usually participate in bingo or other reading challenges because I read so slowly, but I hope I can manage five books vertically, horizontally, or diagonally!

*Note: Obviously, all books counted toward this bingo will be by POC/indigenous authors.


Novel in verse


Translated work by POC


Religion (fiction or nonfiction)


Short story anthology


Indigenous sovereignty


Holiday or cultural event


Settler colonialism


Book of poetry


Decolonizing academia


Book in Spanish


JA activism


Reread childhood favorite


Novel (any genre)


Bilingual book


Picture book w POC author and illustrator


YA or MG by POC


Nikkei in Japan


Historical fiction by Nikkei writer


Graphic novel by non-Japanese POC


Culinary history


Racism in medicine


Sexuality or gender identity


South or Southeast Asian writer


Romance by POC


Memoir by a Black activist



Book Spotlight: Firelight – Kazu Kibuishi

To learn more about Book Spotlight, read this first.

In Firelight, Emily and her companions journey to Algos Island to decipher Max’s final, cryptic message about Trellis’s lost childhood memories.

Note: This post compiles my thoughts on various volumes of this series, with a focus on the events of books 6 and 7.

What I liked:

  • THIS ISN’T THE LAST BOOK! I haven’t found any information on when book 8 will be released, but I’m just relieved to know the story continues. Kibuishi left us on one hell of a cliffhanger, so I hope the next book is on its way soon…
  • Emily and Trellis might actually become friends? I’m a big fan of main characters being close friends, especially when the development of the friendship is laid out on the page. Same with other types of relationships, actually…any book featuring a slowly developing, intense relationship between main characters is probably going to pique my interest. I’m really looking forward to finding out how Emily being a giant fire bird impacts her burgeoning friendship with Trellis. On a side note, Trellis’s relationship with his dad is eerily similar to Zuko’s father/son relationship in ATLA, including the facial scarring. I don’t know which came first, Amulet or ATLA, but I’d be interested to know if Kibuishi is a fan of the show. Also, now I’m wondering how much better ATLA would have been if Kibuishi and other actual Asians had written and directed it…
  • The elves’ eyes really creeped me out in the first few books, but by the time I got to this one, I hardly noticed them. I’m fairly visual and I usually stop reading a series if I can’t handle the images (進撃の巨人, I’m looking at you*), but kudos to Kibuishi for taking me on such an entertaining story ride that I stopped noticing what bothered me.

What I learned:

  • As mentioned in my post on The Stonekeeper, I’m paying close attention to Kibuishi’s secondary-world/fantasy races and any latent colorism, racism, or other indications of internalized white supremacy. So far, apart from my previously expressed concern about the ‘good’ main character being a white girl, I haven’t noticed any red flags. It does feel as if much of Kibuishi’s worldbuilding, especially architecture and clothing, are modeled after Eurocentric/white aesthetics rather than non-Eurocentric/POC aesthetics, but considering Kibuishi’s background, I’m not sure if this should be interpreted as (un)conscious bias in favor of ‘western’ culture, as Nikkei/diaspora POC might demonstrate, or something closer to how Miyazaki and other 日本人 artists utilize Eurocentric references in their work. There may also be an entirely different explanation; I don’t know Kibuishi personally, so I can only speculate.

Questions I had:

  • Why did Kibuishi make Navin the commander of the Resistance? I find it implausible that the experienced fighters would simply accept an outsider and a child as their leader, without putting up more of a fuss than is shown on the page. Prophecy or not, it just doesn’t strike me as good military strategy. Although I’m all for empowering young readers by presenting them with strong characters, with both Emily and Navin immediately assuming leadership roles while being visibly white and the nonhuman (though, arguably, white-coded) characters more or less acting subordinate to them, I wonder what kind of subliminal messages are being conveyed about who gets to be a ‘savior.’ This aspect of the series reminds me of the Magic Treehouse books (and not in a good way).
  • Hayes seems rather passive about having to stay in a fantasy world while her children risk their lives to save it – are we going to learn why? I’m also not clear on what she’s doing while Emily and Navin are having adventures. Is she helping the Resistance? Is she sitting around in somebody’s house? I assumed she would have a more active role in the story, given that her kidnapping was what got her children into this situation. I’d be interested in knowing more about Kibuishi’s logic when he designed the Hayes family dynamics.
  • Does Trisha survive her encounter with the shadows? I really hope Kibuishi didn’t eliminate her because there aren’t any Black-coded/dark-skinned human characters currently included in the main cast and I would love to see her story develop. Also, somebody needs to give her credit for actually activating the distress beacon!
  • Did any fellow Asian/POC readers think Max looks Asian? His personality and behavior read as white-coded/very-assimilated-Asian-American to me, but his spiky black hair made me wonder. I did find his backstory compelling – I have a soft spot for ‘villains’ driven by personal grief – but I also hope Kibuishi introduces other ‘Asian’ looking characters who survive.


  • I guess I’m just waiting for book 8? Fortunately, I have at least two hundred other books by Nikkei writers on my TBR, not to mention even more books by non-Japanese POC writers, so there’s plenty to occupy me in the meantime.

*To be fair, the graphic images in 進撃の巨人 are central to the story and I’m not saying it’s “bad” (if this term can even be applied with any measurable meaning to any media) to depict violence on the page; it’s just not for me.