Yes, everyone in the world is doing this tag right now, and it definitely gave me a mid-year complete panic when I was looking through others, which of course meant that I had to share that panic with you! I’ve seen a lot of people do it, but the most recent one (at the time of drafting this) was The Orangutan Librarian, and given that’s the one that made me go look at my own reading and subsequently panic, well. Here we are! While I don’t do mid-year check-ins, I do quarterly ones because it feels a whole lot less stressful, so if you’re curious what my goals are shaping up to be this year, here’s the original goals post from January and my first quarterly check-in from April. Let’s see how much I can panic about those goals now that we’re halfway through the year!
Best book you’ve read yet in 2021
Oh good! We’re starting right off with the one that made me panic. Okay, so I’ve read 62 books so far this year. Well, okay, if this is going up on June 30th, that will probably be at 66, at a minimum. I’m drafting this a week before, and I’m in the middle of two books that I’ll finish before Friday, and I’m 100% reading a 900-page fantasy tome after because I need to heal my broken heart (oh, the drama!), so I’m anticipating only getting through that and one other book by the time this goes up, but anyway, wow, long story short, I don’t think I could even pick out a top ten of the 66 books that I’ve read so far this year. And a top favorite? Uhhhhhh????
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of five star books that I’ve read, and the sequels have been out of this world, but my favorite book of the year? Generally, when I do top tens, I exclude sequels & rereads, and looking at what’s left, well. Let’s do a top three because I’ll feel slightly better about that.
I really did enjoy The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley, and when I really try to narrow it down, I’m pretty sure that’s my favorite read so far this year, but then I remember that One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston and If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann exist, and I’m all confused again. OLS was an actual gem, and I’m probably going to end up rereading it later this year so I can be consumed by it again, but Kann’s sophomore book made me ugly cry in a way that made me stop reading so I could actually see the page. This brought me so much joy and made me feel so seen that it’s definitely going to end up in my top ten.
Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021
Now this is easier! The sequels have been amazing this year, and I’m definitely going to cheat and give you a top three again.
Lol @ me “the sequels were amazing!” when I’ve only read seven. Jeez, if I’m going to do a top ten at the end of the year, I better get busy because I did not like all seven of those enough to make a top ten! However, these sequels??? Holy magic. Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo nearly gave me a straight up heart attack in all the best ways, and much like If It Makes You Happy, I ugly cried, but way worse. Way worse, y’all. Like, straight up hiccup sobs, it was so bad. It was a fantastic sequel to King of Scars, though, and even with the potential for more at the end, I felt very satisfied.
Not gonna lie, that last scene in We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal had me LIVING. If we hadn’t gotten it, I still would have loved it, but seeing Altair just lounging and joyful was more than I could possibly handle, so I definitely screamed my way through the ending. All of this was a perfect conclusion, though, and I’m so happy that it exceeded all of my expectations.
And then there was The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell, which, after a three-year hiatus, I was really nervous about, especially because I hadn’t realized this was a quartet, and those third books, man, they’re usually the middle book ones, but wow. Maxwell just knocked it out of the park, and every single one of those 768 pages was wholly deserved.
New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Oh boy, there are so many preorders stacking up right now. I’ve mostly kept up with them, but there are definitely a few that are still outstanding that I’d really like to get to soon. My brain truly won’t allow me to read A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir no matter how badly I want to know how everything ends, and it is highkey annoying. I’m also now realizing that was a 2020 release, WOW MARY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. Honestly, I’ve done a pretty stellar job of keeping up with 2021 releases, so of the 13 books that I was anticipating for the first half of the year, I’ve read 8. Of the 5 remaining, we’ve got:
- Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare (I haven’t read Chain of Gold yet, but planning on it in the next month or two.)
- Dead Space by Kali Wallace
- Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater (Time to out myself over the fact that I’m no longer excited about this, which is making me slow to read it. Though I did five-star CDTH, it doesn’t even make my top five Stiefvater books, and I’ll be happy when we’re finally done with these characters.)
- The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver
- Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria (This just came out, and I was focusing on contemporaries this month, so haven’t had the chance.)
Darling by K. Ancrum (Yooooo, this was on here originally, but then I kicked ass and have already read it.)
Of those 5, Deaver’s is definitely the one I’m most anticipating.
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Okay, to keep with the aesthetic above and not go crazy, I’m only picking two, and they should be the most predictable ever. Also, it was hella hard not including Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson, so here I am including it anyway. OH MY GOSH, and Little Thieves by Margaret Owen, I cannotttttttt. However, if we’re being real with ourselves, I’m pretty sure anyone that’s even kind of glanced at my blog knows that Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool is my most anticipated release of 2021 in general, not just the second half of the year, and it will kill me, and I am going to thank it. I am just so not prepared. But also? Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan? PLEASE WRECK ME. Oh my gosh, I’m just going to wither away and die with all the new releases this autumn, watch out. This is where I’m going to get my top ten material.
The entire month of June? I’ve already gotten dramatic about this and linked my early end to Pride in the intro, but I two-starred FOUR books, y’all. Another was a three star, and another was a five star that should have been a four star, but that I’m refusing to change
(lol okayyyyy whatever I did change it), and I just don’t even know what to say. Of those, though, I’d probably say Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan was the biggest disappointment. I read it first because I was so excited by the concept, and nope.
Despite the fact that I haven’t been over the moon about too many books this year, I also haven’t been surprised by many. I think I’ve gone very conservative with my reading in that I’ve mostly steered hard into fantasy and chosen books that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I’ll love. Perhaps the biggest failure of Pride was that I let myself be swayed a lot by other people’s hype for books, and I’ve now learned my lesson, though. If I had to pick a big surprise, though, I’d say:
- I did not expect Rule of Wolves to be quite as good as it was. I had a lot of issues with the Darkling being brought back, and I thought his story line was utterly pointless in ROW except for a tiny bit of convenience at the end that could’ve been reworked with stronger writing. However, those issues didn’t effect my overall love of this sequel in the slightest, and I was not expecting that.
- Lore by Alexandra Bracken was so good?? Not gonna lie, I cover bought it, and though I thought I’d like it because of the Greek mythology, I also haven’t been crazy impressed by Bracken’s other books, but this one may end up on my top ten.
Favorite new author
Oh, this one is hard. I’ve reread a lot of books this year, and the new-to-me authors that I have read, I’ve only read one of their books, so I’m not really sure if they’re a favorite author yet? Yeah, I’m going to quietly not answer this one. Roseanne A. Brown has some huge potential, but given that she’s only written one book, I’m not sure yet.
Newest fictional crush
Altair al-Badawi is not a new fictional crush, I was already in love with him last year, but I must remind you that he exists, and I am never going to be the same. And obviously, Jane Su skyrocketed to the ranks of Book Girlfriend in all the best ways, and she freaking deserves it because wow, way to also make me electric. I cannot include Peter Pan because it feels weird, why did you do this to us, Aiden, ughhhhhh. Also, like. Niko just exists out there in the world with his soft Goth plant dadness, and I don’t know what to do with my hands.
Newest favorite character
OH NIKO! Actually, yeah, I like this answer. Niko had me screeching every time he was on the page, and I truly don’t know what to do with my hands! If he approached me in real life, I think I’d have an existential crisis. I think I’d probably flail like he was a celebrity.
But, given that he’s a side character, let’s pick a main character, too. (I’m not picking Felix Love because he’s not new, but I’m also picking Felix Love, just so we’re all clear.) Look, I know that we’re not supposed to like Kite from The Kingdoms, I understand that he just straight up murders a lot of people, I know he’s problematic, but that does not change the fact that I want to wrap him in blankets and hide him from the world.
Book that made you cry
There are so many, and I’ve talked about most of them. ROW destroyed me, If It Makes You Happy made me feel so seen, it almost hurt, I haven’t read The Ghosts We Keep yet, but it will be awful, Felix Ever After still got to me on my second read, and I reread the entire Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, so Sam Roth is still breaking my heart.
Book that made you happy
This is going to sound wacky, but Horrid by Katrina Leno made me insanely happy. I really wanted it to end a specific way, but authors these days just don’t go that hard, and then LENO DID! Like, wow. That was a psycho ending in all the best ways, and it went full villain, and I was just hyped. Like, yes. I wanted a chaotic horror ending, and that was what we got. I also really loved Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust for many of the same reasons. I wanted Soraya to embrace her full monster potential, and she went even farther than I’d hoped for, and it was just so relieving and exciting to read.
Favorite book to film adaptation
I mean, we all knew this was how I was going to answer for this question. Was there even another book to film adaptation in the world? I truly have no idea. What have I even watched this year? Okay, well, The Boys in the Band was adapted from a play, and it was amazing, and I did watch two Peter Pan movies this year, but yeah. Shadow & Bone still takes the win. This adaptation was way more than I was hoping, and I am just beside myself with excitement that it got renewed for a second season. WE’RE GETTING A WYLAN AND NIKOLAI CASTING!!!!!! I reviewed the adaptation, as well as the entire Grishaverse, because I was just so impressed with what they did.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year
Um, all of them? We were truly blessed with gorgeous covers this year, and the fun has only begun because some of the books releasing in the second half of the year? Damnnnnnn. The two I’m picking, though, aren’t ones I’ve read yet, and they weren’t new releases that were on my radar. I’m hoping to read These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong next month, both because the Romeo & Juliet vibes have got me crazy excited and because that cover is just stunning. I also just saw the cover for the sequel today, and I am not ready. And I was supposed to read Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore for Pride, but I’ve shifted away from contemporaries for now. I do want to get to this one soon because the aesthetic of this book is the true definition of beautiful, and it sounds like it’s going to be a really sweet book.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
If, when I’m setting goals for 2022 next year, I have to put that I want to finish out the Shadowhunters universe, I’m going to be pissed at myself. I just dropped The Great TBR Challenge on Monday, which outlines a staggering amount of owned unread books, but if I was going to pick two books that I wanted, more than anything, to finish by the end of the year, it would be the Shadowhunters universe (yes, I’m counting five books as one, get at me) and Lightbringer by Claire Legrand. IF I DON’T READ LIGHTBRINGER NEXT MONTH, FEEL FREE TO YELL AT ME. I’ve talked about it way more than it deserves, and I need it off my TBR.