2021 MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT

Well, we made it! We’ve survived the first half of 2021. And much like last year this feels a much bigger achievement because.. you know. 2021 has been A Lot.

Here we go!


What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2021?
M : Surprising no one, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
H : Unlike last year, I can definitely just pick one. Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane.

What is the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021?
M : Fire by Kristin Cashore, yes I’m very late to this series. Oh and before I forget, Hollis is cheating below.
H : I’m providing a well rounded answer, this isn’t cheating. For best sequel I’ll say I Walk Alone by Wren Handman. For the best prequel it’s Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. For best end-to-a-trilogy it’s Parousia by Laura Lascarso. And for the best companion/not quite a sequel, it has to be Act You Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert.

What’s a new release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
M : It’s a total shocker but I’m glad to say I haven’t been spoilt for A Court Of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas and I plan to give that chunker some attention during holiday over summer.
H : Like last year, I went to our Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases of 2021 list and, with exception to those not released yet, I’ve read all of mine! Wow. The anticipation for those last two, by Klune and Hoang, is huge though. Two (very different) new releases I’m excited to dive into, though, are Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater and The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian.

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
M : I’m looking forward to The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik and The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang.
H : See aforementioned answer above. I neeeeeed The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang and Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune and also Battle Royal by Lucy Parker.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
M : Probably Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, in part because I was looking forward to it and also because I’m so far removed from most people’s opinions on this one.
H : It’s not my lowest rated of the year (so far..) but it’s the one that I think I was most surprised about considering I expected it to be a new favourite (and it was one of last year’s most anticipated) and that’s The Ippos King by Grace Draven.

What has been your biggest surprise?
M : I’m going to be unconventional here and name a 31 page novella – Ring The Bell by Josie Jaffrey. A dystopian tale told brilliantly in those few pages (also warning for tough reading).
H : I recently read The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren. I haven’t really liked their books for years but this one was a surprise; in the best way. I really enjoyed it.

Do you have a favorite new author (debut or new to you)?
M : Ariadne by Jennifer Saint was a bombshell of a Greek Mythology retelling, grim and not pretty but still, it was something memorable. I’m definitely looking forward to her next book.
H : I’ll give two answers (surprising no one). I read Sarah Hogle’s sophomore release Twice Shy and it was so different to her debut but so delightful. She’s cemented herself as a must-read author for me. For a debut author, I think I’ll give it to Xiran Jay Zhao. I read an ARC of Iron Widow recently and it was big time wow. It could of course all go to pot in the next instalment or maybe you’ll be seeing their name in this spot again next year after book two. Who knows!

Who is your newest fictional crush?
M : Shane Hall from Seven Days in June by Tia Williams, this man’s words were 100% swoon-worthy.
H : Um, I mean, not new but with this year’s release of Ilona Andrews’ Blood Heir, I have to give it up to Derek for being an enduring crush. For an actual new crush? I’ll give it up to Wesley from Sarah Hogle’s Twice Shy.

Who is your newest favorite character?
M : Rocky from Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir and the sad thing is, I can’t even explain who Rocky is because they’re a major spoiler and not mentioned in the blurb. You’ll just have to read it!
H : Like the question above, she’s not new, but because she officially has her own book..? Obviously it’s Julie/Aurelia from Ilona Andrews’ Blood Heir.

What book has made you cry?
M : Now it’s my turn to cheat, crying with exasperation at Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. I still have ranty feelings.
H : Almost everything I read makes me cry. Better question would be which book didn’t make me cry. But I think the one I cried the most over recently would be Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers.

What book has made you happy?
M : All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata was one of her triumphs in my opinion. It wasn’t heavy on the angst but warm on the everything.
H : People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry, I think, has made me the happiest. But it was a struggle to think of an answer to this which probably says a lot. Note to self, make a “made me happy” shelf on GR.

What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)?
M : Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones – The Folio Society Edition.
H : I don’t think I’ve bought a single book this year! Yikes. But my bestest blog buddy sent me a copy of The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart and that is one pretty book (which I still need to read, double yikes).

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
M : I want to read the next two in the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Dark Lady by Akala and The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper.
H : I’m going to steal from our last Five On Our TBRs post (again) and say The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis, Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May, and Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson. The first two have been dogging my heels for a while now but I’m waiting on the sequels so I can do a mini binge. I can’t explain why the Pearson is still outstanding, especially after having finally finished/read The Remnant Chronicles series, which is what precedes this one. But it’s definitely going to happen before the end of 2021.

credit for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag goes to :
Chami → https://youtu.be/EB8OrYHBvM8
Ely → https://youtu.be/X_Wh0rPGfRg


We’d love to know how the half way point of the year has you feeling about books you’ve read and anticipated. Any highlights so far? Any big disappointments? Tell us your feels.

2020 MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT

Well, we made it! We’ve survived the first half of 2020. And unlike last year this feels like a much bigger achievement because.. you know. 2020 has been A Lot.

This year, we’ve decided to do a follow up to 2019’s post, which didn’t actually follow the tag but was more a glimpse at reading stats, as well as actually participate in answering the tag’s questions. Spoiler alert : Hollis cheats at pretty much every tag question.


What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2020?
M : Drum roll…THE COURT OF MIRACLES by Kester Grant.
H : I can’t pick just one. I’m going to be that person. WOLFSONG by TJ Klune, THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA also by TJ Klune, and BEACH READ by Emily Henry.

What is the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?
M : CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare, late to the party as ever.
H : THE FAITHLESS HAWK by Margaret Owen (I read this recently for the original pub date but it’s been pushed back to August now) and NETWORK EFFECT by Martha Wells which, isn’t technically a sequel, I guess, but an installment in a series!

What’s a new release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
M : The only one I’ve not read from our Top Ten Most Anticipated 2020 release post is CHAIN OF GOLD by Cassandra Clare and I’m ready!
H : The good news is, from our Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases of 2020 list, I’ve read them all! So I’ll go with AND THE STARS WERE BURNING BRIGHTLY by Danielle Jawando because I’ve been keen to read it since Micky’s review.

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
M : THE IPPOS KING by Grace Draven, long awaited but hopefully worth it.
H : The Draven is definitely up there but I think.. ooh, this is hard. Either EMERALD BLAZE by Ilona Andrews or A DEADLY EDUCATION by Naomi Novik. The former I know I’ll love and the latter I hope to love.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
M : THIS IS HOW WE LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Hollis says ouch)…and Micky is still aching from the pain.
H : It’s not my lowest rated of the year (so far..) but it’s the one that I think I was most surprised about considering I expected it to be a new favourite. And that’s BOYFRIEND MATERIAL by Alexis Hall.

What has been your biggest surprise?
M : THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon, which was a situation of moving from intimidation of that tome to impressed as anything at the world, characters and writing.
H : I think I expected to like this but didn’t quite anticipate just how delightful it would be? And that’s KINGS OF THE WYLD by Nicholas Eames.

Do you have a favorite new author (debut or new to you)?
M : AND THE STARS WERE BURNING BRIGHTLY by Danielle Jawando because it has everything contemporarily relevant, YA issues of mental illness, BIPOC author and characters and its set in my home city of Manchester.
H : I might have to go with TJ Klune. I had read one book by him previously and didn’t love it. And 2020 proved to me that I had clearly started with the wrong series/book. I mean, I could love nothing else but the Green Creek series and THotCS but.. well, we won’t know that for a while yet!

Who is your newest fictional crush?
M : Zafir, the king of swoons from TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN by Talia Hibbert.
H : I mean.. if you’ve read TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN, there is no acceptable answer other than Zafir. We twinned on our love for the book so no surprise we twin on this answer, too.

Who is your newest favorite character?
M : Alyrra from THORN by Intisar Khanani, she was humble maybe partly due to low self-esteem but also strong and had all the character growth as she was thrown into the worst of circumstances.
H : Murderbot from the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.

What book has made you cry?
M : SEA PRAYER by Khalid Houseeni, brace yourself.
H : Almost everything I read makes me cry. Better question would be which book didn’t make me cry. But to answer the real question? WIRE WINGS by Wren Handman.

What book has made you happy?
M : ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED by Sophie Gonzales, mostly read with a smile on my face.
H : TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN by Talia Hibbert because it’s Talia Hibbert.

What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)?
M : UK hardback of DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS by Laini Taylor (gifted by the one and only Hollis)
H : Sticking with the Laini theme, I’ll say my IG giveaway win of NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPETS, which was also the UK edition.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
M : HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones, SKYWARD by Brandon Sanderson, A HEART SO FIERCE & BROKEN by Brigid Kemmerer, THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett, TIES THAT TETHER by Jane Igharo, MIDNIGHT SUN by Stephenie Meyer.
H : I’m going to steal from our last Five On Our TBRs post and say SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Reid, AURORA TERMINUS by S.E. Fanetti, and THE BEST THING by Mariana Zapata. I need to knock these out before next year or the point of that post is just.. pointless. But also I want to finally get to the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, I’m waiting on my hold of FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender to pop up, and more non-fiction titles.

credit for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag goes to :
Chami → https://youtu.be/EB8OrYHBvM8
Ely → https://youtu.be/X_Wh0rPGfRg



Now it’s stats and reading review time!

Hollis
Once again we have a lack of GR reading goal and thank goodness for that because 2020 didn’t come to play. I’m all over the place on reading and that was my norm pre-COVID but the pandemic has definitely not helped. I am (obviously) not one of those lucky souls reading more than ever right now. I wish. That said..

As of June 21, 2020, my total reads are : 120 (down by six from 2019 by this point). Of those reads, 6 are five-star reads (down by one from 2019) and 2 are one-star reads (down by five from 2019). Also, for one reason or another, 4 books were left unrated (down by five from 2019). Additionally I’ve DNF’d 1 book this year (down by five from 2019).

Further breaking this down, of those 120 books, 36 were ARCs (down almost half from 2019), 30 were from my OverDrive (literally the same!), 46 were bought/freebie eBooks (up by thirty from 2019.. it’s lots of shorts/freebies for series, though, in addition to working through already-owned eBooks/backlist), 2 are physically owned by me (down by five from 2019.. though there might be a few more I’ve since bought in physical but also have as eBook), I’ve read no graphic novels from hoopla (down by five from 2019), and 1 was a physical library book (same as 2019 so I can’t even say elle oh elle COVID). Incase you were doing the math with me, yes, that leaves 5 books unaccounted for (up by two from 2019, wtf). Once again I’m as confused as you. But you get the idea.

I hope to break this down into genres and categories, own voices, representation, etc, by the end of the year for an overall stats wrap up. .. at least that’s the goal!


Micky
Again, it’s been about 4 years since I’ve set a Goodreads reading goal but I do keep track of my reads on different shelves and I keep a detailed reading journal because I love the creativity of that. I’m not following the same pattern as Hollis on stats because my brain is a completely different creature.

So far in 2020, I’ve read 121 books and I’m pleased to say that 21 of those were owned books or backlog reads. Reading the backlog is a constant aim for me, if only I could stop acquiring at the same time. I’ve only listened to 15 audiobooks so far this year and that’s low for me. I listen to audiobooks on my commute so working at home over COVID has had a significant effect on that. What is also on the down trend are dnfs – only 5 so far and I’m hoping to keep that number low-ish.

I’ve read 16 BIPOC reads and I’m hoping to increase this exponentially (own voices). I’ve also read 18 LGBTQIA+ books, 9 of which were own voices. Both BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ books have been spread across my reads for the year for the last few years. Current events have me being a little more purposeful.

I’ve continued reading from the library, a few physical but mostly ebooks and they account for 24 of my reads. ARCs and ALCs (advanced listening copies) make up 70 of those 121 book which has shocked me a little. I want to level that out a bit and make room for non-ARC reads more. That said, over my years on netgalley I’ve how given feedback on 364 titles and I’m happy with that. I guess I’m on track for about 100 netgalley feedbacks in 2020.


And, phew! Congrats if you’ve made it this far, frankly we’re feeling a bit exhausted after all that brain crunching. We’d love to know how mid-year has you feeling about books, especially for a year that’s had a lot of us house-bound so far. Are you reading less or more? Feeling accomplished or exhausted or slumpy? Tell us your feels.

MOST ANTICIPATED READS IN 2019 — MID-YEAR EDITION

Even with half the year behind us, and so many books already read, there are still so many books still to come for 2019!

We would like to preface this with a note that these release dates are, of course, subject to change. Just in the week between drafting and preparing to post this we had quite a few titles to rearrange. Also you’ll note in some cases we have indicated a specific country next to a title. This might mean it’s lagged release, ie, already out in the US but now released in the UK, or available everywhere but the US, and doesn’t make the release date wrong. However we did not duplicate titles to indicate multiple release dates. Just something to keep in mind!

Topping our lists of Most Anticipated Reads in 2019 — Mid-Year Edition (in order of publication) are :

July
THE PLUS ONE by Sarah Archer (2nd)
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME by Mhairi McFarlane (2nd in CAN)
THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem (23rd)
THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen (30th)
BRAZEN AND THE BEAST by Sarah MacLean (30th)
A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham (30th)

August
SARONG PARTY GIRLS by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (1st in the UK)
DISCRETION by Karina Halle (6th)
ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane (8th in the UK)
TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers (8th)
THE WALLFLOWER WAGER by Tessa Dare (13th)
THE YEAR I LEFT by Christine Brae (20th)
SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews (27th)
ALL THE BAD APPLES by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (27th)
HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne (27th)

September
AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee (3rd)
HARP OF KINGS by Juliet Marillier (3rd)
BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore (3rd)
THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool (3rd)
THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK by Adrienne Young (3rd)
GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir (10th)
BEARD WITH ME by Penny Reid (16th)
WAYWARD SON by Rainbow Rowell (24th)
HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden (24th in the UK)

October
WAR OF HEARTS by S Young (1st)
REBEL by Marie Lu (1st)
CRIER’S WAR by Nina Varela (1st)
BEARD NECESSITIES by Penny Reid (7th)
NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo
THE GRACE YEAR by Kim Liggett (8th)
INTO THE CROOKED PLACE by Alexandra Christo (8th)
THE BEAUTIFUL by Renee Ahdieh (8th)
TWICE IN A BLUE MOON by Christina Lauren (22nd)

November
THE BROMANCE BOOKCLUB by Lyssa Kay Adams (5th)
CALL DOWN THE HAWK by Maggie Stiefvater (5th)
GIRLS OF STORM AND SHADOW by Natasha Ngan (5th)
THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black (19th)

December
REGRETTING YOU by Colleen Hoover (10th)
DRAGON UNLEASHED by Grace Draven (10th)
THE WIVES by Tarryn Fisher (30th)


What titles are topping your list for most anticipated for the later half of 2019? Let us know!

2019 MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT

We decided to take a look at our reading experiences for the first 6 months of 2019…behold the FREAK OUT! You want stats? We have it. You want snark? We have it. Come see.

Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

It’s officially summer, the solstice and longest day of the year have come and gone. So naturally that inspires us to ask : how are you doing on your reading challenges/goals?

This is the second year that I (Hollis) haven’t set a Goodreads reading goal (mostly because in the past I’ve a) exceeded them and b) said goal was already more than most people could read in a year, so it felt like bragging) and honestly it feels pretty good. Since last year’s slump I’m still not reading at quite the same pace I used to but I’m actually pretty okay with what I’ve read so far.

Last year my overall reads went down by about fifty books than the two years prior so I’m curious to see where things are this year. I’m mostly resigned to this ebb and flow of my reading mojo now and just kind of going with it. It never feels great to not be reading but as long as I’m meeting my deadlines for ARCs.. that’s all I personally care about.

As of June 22, 2019, Hollis‘ total reads are : one hundred and twenty-six (126). Of those reads, seven (7) are five-star reads and seven (7) are one-star reads. Weird. Also, for one reason or another, six (6) books were left unrated. Additionally I’ve DNF’d six (6) books this year.

Further breaking this down, of those one hundred and twenty-six (126) books, sixty-four (64) were ARCs, thirty (30) were from my OverDrive, sixteen (16) were bought/freebie eBooks, seven (7) are physically owned by me, five (5) were graphic novels from hoopla, and one (1) was a physical library book. Incase you were doing the math with me, yes, that leaves three (3) books unaccounted for. I’m as confused as you. But you get the idea.


I (Micky) don’t like to brag but this is the fourth year I haven’t set a reading goal for the year and basically I find it very freeing to not feel pressured in any way. People normally feel pressured about whether they’ll reach their reading goal, I was the opposite, I found that it made me feel like I was reading too much and therefore, taking my pleasure away. I get that goals are motivating for some people though.

I’ve had a pretty up and down year so far because I was finishing some study (finished in June) so that has affected what I’ve read rather than how much I’ve read. When I’m stressed, I re-read, so I’ve been late with some arcs in the last few months and generally picking up less new-to-me books.

My stats are looking like this, as of June 22, 2019, Micky’s total reads are : one hundred and thirteen (113). Of those reads, seven (7) are five-star reads and two (2) are one-star reads. I also have (9) nine DNFs, most of which I’ve left unrated. At this point, I feel like Hollis would like me to provide a pie chart, graph and gantt chart for books read, time passed and time ahead. That’ll be a no from me, but suffice it to say I’ve read a fair few arcs, lots from the library and listened to (20) twenty audiobooks.


So, now that we’ve bared our bookish souls, where do you stand on your reading goals, if you had any? How do you feel about how much you’ve read, or even what you’ve read, so far? Let us know!

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