Book Tag: Mid Year Freak Out

Title in white on book pages

This is a common tag to see around this time of year. I can’t seem to find who started it, so if you know, please tell me! It’s a look back at all the first half of the year

Best Book you’ve Read so far?

This was a horrible question. We’re six months into the year, and I already have sixteen books on my “best books of 2020” list, so that’s not at all going to be a horrible task come December to make that into a list.

If we’re judging by sheer number of exclamation marks left in my notes, it’s GOOD GIRL, BAD BLOOD, by Holly Jackson. The sequel to her incredible debut, A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER, we rejoin Pip and Ravi for another mystery. Except this time it’s not a cold case, and it’s not a murder – yet. The clock is ticking for her to find a missing friend, with every hour making death more likely, and the whole world is watching.

Every bit as addictive and twisty as the first book, I devoured this entry in one go. It’s going to be a strong contender for top spot on the best books this year!

Favourite Sequel so far?

I was so excited when I discovered THE EMPIRE OF DREAMS, by Rae Carson, was going to be a sequel to the FIRE AND THORNS trilogy – my all time favourite series. And I was also equally terrified that this story set about a decade after the trilogy wraps up wouldn’t live up to my love of the originals.

Luckily, Red’s adventures did. It was so much fun to return to this much-beloved and visited world, to see how life has moved on, see old friends again, and spend time with wonderful new characters. It balances Red and the new cast against the old so well, not relying on nostalgia or shoehorned appearances to carry the wonderful story.

New Release you’re Excited for but haven’t Read yet?

Oh, wow, SO many. Looking at my shelves right now, there are 12 unread 2020 releases sitting on my shelves that I want to read soon.

Book cover for ALL THE STARS AND TEETH: title in white blue surrounded by spines, daggers and waves (etc) against a royal blue background

Maybe it doesn’t technically count as the UK release isn’t until August, but I have a US copy and I’ve wanted to read this since I heard about it, so I’m going to say ALL THE STARS AND TEETH, by Adalyn Grace. It’s on my buddy-reads pile, so it should be read soon.

It’s a pirate-y debut – and as much as I hate being on a boat, I love reading about boats. It also has a gorgeous cover and a literal spine on the book spine. I’ve seen so much hype about this book, and it seems to have garnered some good reviews. Hopefully I’ll pick this up soon and absolutely love it.

Most Anticipated Release for the Rest of the Year?

Book cover for BRIGHT RAVEN SKIES: title in white above a girl in a dress looking over the sea with an orange sky

I actually posted my top 10 releases for the rest of the year recently, and the book that took the top spot was BRIGHT RAVEN SKIES, by Kristina Pérez. It is the finale to her SWEET BLACK WAVES trilogy, her debut series.

These books are a retelling of the myth of Tristan and Esuelt centred around Esuelt’s maid and cousin Branwen. They are beautifully, heartbreakingly written. They have the flavour of a tragedy with just enough hope that things might end up well to keep you reading, to then crush you when the next twist comes. I am really looking forwards to binge-reading the first two entries ahead of the finale this August.

Biggest Disappointment so far?

Book cover for the netflix tie in copy of THE LAST WISH: the three leads for the show staring dramatically from the blue-grey cover

Once I got into the Netflix show, I actually quite liked THE WITCHER, despite some issues with story telling style and clarity. So I decided to pick up the short story collection which forms the basis for a lot of the show, THE LAST WISH, by Andrez Sapkowski, hoping for a new adult fantasy series to binge.

I hated it. It was slow, boring, pointless, and with awfully portrayed women. The style was odd, jumping around in time so it was impossible to work out what the chronological order was. I probably should have DNF’ed, but it was so short I persisted.

Biggest Surprise so far?

I haven’t historically got on with audiobooks – it’s not a style that typically works with me. Just as I was about to throw in the towel, I decided to try SKYWARD, by Brandon Sanderson, and was utterly blown away.

I’d only read one book of his before, THE FINAL EMPIRE, and it was OK, but I’m still in no hurry to pick up the rest of the series. However, this YA space opera was so engaging. The narrator is incredible in this edge-of-the-seat story of a girl trying to defend her home against an invading alien species.

Favourite new-to-you Author/Debut Author?

A woman in a hat stares off camera

I started this year having read absolutely no Frances Hardinge books, and have since read five, starting with THE LIE TREE. I am intending on reading a few more before the year ends!

I love her alternative worlds that feel, for the most part, like they could be nested inside ours if you just look at it sideways. Atmospheric and off kilter, I’m very glad she has a big backlist to dive into. Also, her official author-photo and con-attendee/online panel hat wearing is so cool.

(I am skipping the biggest fictional crush so far question as I don’t have crushes)

New Favourite Character?

Another tough question, but I think I’m going to go with Alva from HOLD BACK THE TIDE, by Melinda Salisbury. (I looked for a fan art of her, but couldn’t find any as this book had a quiet release due to Covid. Maybe, once it releases in the US later this year there will be more?)

Alva is living with her murderer of a father, but has such a quiet, practical determination that it was impossible not to fall in love with her as she tries to save the town that hates her from themselves. Her voice in the book is both slightly morbid and very funny at times. This eco-thriller-cum-horror is an absolute must read!

A Book that made you Cry?

It is very hard for a book to make me cry, but I’m pretty sure I teared up at the end of THE EMPIRE OF GOLD, by S. A. Chakraborty, when I had to say goodbye to these characters and this world. I had just binged by way through the series, and so it was pretty sad to know that was the end of the tale.

It is a chunker of a book, wrapping up the epic THE CITY OF BRASS trilogy, full of intricate schemes, complex loyalties, and even more complex characters. It was everything I wanted and needed from this finale, perfectly suiting the story that had been told in the first two entries.

A Book that made you Happy?

Book title for READ WITH PRIDE: title next to a girl reading a book on a blue background

I don’t often read contemporaries, but I love Lucy Powrie‘s THE PAPER AND HEARTS SOCIETY series. These British YA contemporaries tackle topics such as anxiety and burn out, all wrapped up in bookish loveliness, all about finding your place and embracing who you are. It’s like self-help but in fiction format.

The second entry, READ WITH PRIDE, followed up her debut with such aplomb. It has a new protagonist, but the old cast are all back, along with new ones, as Olivia fights to ensure LGBT+ books are available for all in her school library.

Favourite Book-to-Movie/TV adaptation so far?

Film poster for PS I STILL LOVE YOU; characters stare out on a paper

I am wracking my brains for new-to-me adapted series. Like with reading, I am a massive rewatcher of shows, and I’ve hardly been to the cinema at all this year. Scrolling through my Netflix, I spotted To All the Boys: PS. I Still Love you on my “rewatch list” and google tells me that was this year (feels like it was further away!)

I haven’t read the book, as I didn’t like TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, so I can’t say if it was a good adaptation, but this movie was such a fun little romp that’s just a cute watch for a lazy night in.

Favourite Post so far?

Ooh, a hard one. I don’t tend to write non-review posts, and for some reason my brain is saying they can’t count? But I have really enjoyed analysing films and TV shows, looking at how they tell stories and why they work/don’t. I haven’t done many, and I’ll only do more if I feel like there’s something to say. My post on Netflix’s The King took me a while, but I’m very proud of it.

Most Beautiful Book so far?

Book cover for THE KINGDOM OF BACK; a draw tree with music and moons in the branches, as well as the title in glowing white. Dark blue coloured overall

Drat, I was going to use HOLD BACK THE TIDE, but I’ve already mentioned that one int his post, so I guess the second prize goes to THE KINGDOM OF BACK, by Marie Lu.

This cover took my breath away when I first saw it. It’s like a wood carving, with so many details in the branches and roots (click on the image to see a larger version!). I’m sure they’re all easter eggs for the book. It’s also really quite haunting, with the glowing titles and bare branches.

I can’t wait to pick up this historical fantasy by the Queen of YA. Soon!

Book you most Want to Read by the end of the Year?

I’m currently trying to read all the unread books on my shelves, so there are currently 52 at time of writing, not including the ones lent to me by a friend or eARCs waiting on my kindle (I have gotten so behind)

Book cover for BONE CRIER'S MOON; a boy and a girl stand back to back holding daggers surrounded by leaves

Of those physical books, I am really looking forwards to BONE CRIER’S MOON, by Kathryn Purdie. It’s a YA fantasy romance with star-crossed lovers, as the girl has to kill the boy to attain her powers.

Friends have said great things about it, and it sounds like a really fun, indulgent read to lose myself in one evening. I’m not expecting the moon or something particularly earth-shattering, but a good swoony romance, some tough choices, and a fun plot.

It’s on the read-next pile (which is admittedly quite big) so I should read it by the end of the month.

How have the first six months been for you, reading wise?

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