It’s time for one of my favorite blog posts of the year–the Mid-Year Book Freak-Out tag, created by Earl Grey Books and Chami! I love this way of looking back on my reading over the first half of the year, because it helps me better analyze where I’m at and where I want to go with my reading over the coming months.
Oh, and I always give multiple answers for each question, because I like to be able to feature as many of the books I’ve loved as possible; I try not to repeat books for multiple prompts for the same reason. I’ve also tried to provide links to the books I’ve loved, so that you can check them out if they sound interesting. Let’s get started!
1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2021
Tied for best book of the year (so far) are all of my 5-star reads for the first half of 2021: The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (short story collection), Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (contemporary YA fantasy), Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (fantasy), Tender by Sofia Samatar (SFF short story collection), Writers & Lovers by Lily King (fiction), and Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth (horror).
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021
I know that romance series are more series in a looser sense of the word, but the truth remains that the only sequels I’ve loved so far this year have been in the romance genre. I really enjoyed Headliners by Lucy Parker, the 5th book in her contemporary romance London Celebrities series, and A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore, the 2nd book in her League of Extraordinary Women historical romance series.
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
I’m kind of shocked that I haven’t finished ACOSF (fantasy) or Eve Brown (contemporary romance) yet, tbh. To be fair, I have started both, I just somehow haven’t finished them? And the newest Becky Chambers (science fiction) and Emily Henry (contemporary romance) books are high priority for the next half of 2021.
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
SO MANY. I had a lot of trouble narrowing it down at all for this question, so I ended up with a top 6: The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (contemporary romance), Comfort Me with Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (unknown genre), Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (science fiction), All’s Well by Mona Awad (fiction), Battle Royal by Lucy Parker (contemporary romance) and A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (fantasy).
5. Biggest disappointment
Probably the least fun question to answer. I felt let down by the hype surrounding Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff; less enamored by Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire than by any other book so far in the Wayward Children series; not a fan of the underdeveloped plot and characters of Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco; and frustrated by the poor decision-making of the characters of The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon.
6. Biggest surprise
I’ve been reading less and less YA in general, and YA fantasy in particular, over the years because I’ve been having a harder time finding favorites in the genre. That’s why even with the hype surrounding Legendborn I was blown away by how amazing it was! It honestly was so good that it’s managed to renew my faith in YA fantasy as a whole.
7. Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)
3 of my answers for this one are stellar debut novels: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson (science fiction), Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (science fiction romance), and The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee (contemporary fiction), while one is from a new-to-me romance author, Fables & Other Lies by Claire Contreras (contemporary Gothic fantasy romance)
8. Favorite fictional couples (technically, this prompt was favorite fictional crush, but I can’t think of any, so I figured I’d instead highlight some of my favorite fictional couples of the year)
Kit and Percy from The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian (historical romance), Conrad and Alden from Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert (contemporary romance), August and Jane from One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (contemporary romance) and Hades and Persephone from Neon Gods by Katee Robert (dark fantasy romance).
9. Newest favorite character
Ilona Andrews always gets me with character development. The Julie that we meet in Blood Heir is very different than the one that appeared as a young teen in the Kate Daniels series, but one that I’m absolutely loving as a badass protagonist in her own right. I also loved seeing past favorite characters from the series pop up in this book, which is the first book in Andrews’s newest follow-up series. And I also fell in love with the three heroines of Plain Bad Heroines, Audrey, Harper, and Merritt, who are all such fully realized characters who shine even more when they come in contact with each other on the page.
10. Book that made you cry
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi was so emotional and personal; I’d highly recommend it.
11. Book that made you happy
Romance reads seem to fit best for this category. 3 contemporary romances that were just a joy to read for me were Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall, Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne, and The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert.
12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
These covers are all super gorgeous in different ways! (I went with books I haven’t already featured in past questions for this one.)
13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
So far, I’m exactly halfway done with my top 10 2021 TBR. So in the “need to read before the end of 2021” category, these 5 books are my priorities. (Although there are about a zillion others I really want to get to.)
Bonus question! Most-read authors of 2021 (so far): This is a stat I started tracking last year and I find it really fun. Interestingly, at the halfway point of 2021, I’ve only read multiple books from 2 authors. I’m very interested to see how much that changes in the second half of the year, particularly with several authors I’ve already read from putting out new releases.
Lucy Parker – 3
Carol Anderson – 2
If you’ve done this tag, please feel free to link to yours below! I love seeing everyone’s answers.