Ramblings, Tags

Mid Year Check In

It’s the last day of June, so we’re half way through the year and I’ve seen the ‘Mid Year Freak Out’ tag pop up on plenty of book blogs and booktube channels. This is my first year participating, and I believe the tag was created by Chami and Earl Grey Books. My version might be slightly different, as I’m going to incorporate some stats from my Storygraph account.

So far, this year, I’ve read 55 books out of my target of 100. At the start of the year, my goal was lower, because in 2020 I only reached 100 books after becoming a longlist reader for a book prize, but I found that doing that pushed my momentum into the new year; add to that the amount of NetGalley books I’ve requested and I’ve been going through books much faster than usual. I’ve only been tracking my reading for the past two years, so while I’m proud of my numbers, I don’t tie too much importance to them.

My Stats

It will come as no surprise that my biggest genre is Fantasy, and so far this year I’ve only read 3 non-fiction books – though I do have some on the go, I like to have at least one non-fiction (such as a history or nature writing) to read through before bed. Currently, I’m reading Why the Germans do it Better by John Kampfner to my husband in the evenings. It’s very good! I’m glad to see Sci-fi creeping up in the numbers, because this year I’ve discovered my love for the genre and am slowly catching up.

In terms of moods, my most common one is ‘adventurous’ with ‘dark’ and ‘mysterious’ coming in second. 24 of the 55 books have been medium pace, which is usually what one would find in fantasy, and most of the books I’ve read have been between 300-500 pages, which again is standard for SFF.

The month I read most in was March, with 12 books – this was right before I went back to work and was trying to make the most of my time, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. February was my lowest with 7 books, but that’s still a good amount! My average rating is split 50/50 between 4 stars and 5 stars, which checks out, as this has been a really strong year for books so far. Which leads to…

The Questions

Best book you’ve read so far this year

This is hard! As I said, it’s been a strong year, and so I couldn’t decide between these! It seems that the common denominator in my favourite reads of the first half of 2021 is warrior women, most of them queer (though worth noting that Sistersong’s warrior is a trans man, but starts fighting when the world still sees him as a woman).

  • The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood was the best blend of fantasy and sci-fi I’ve ever read. Badass warrior: Csorwe.
  • Sistersong by Lucy Holland was the best historical fantasy. Badass warrior: Keyne/Constantine.
  • The Unbroken by C.L. Clark was the best military fantasy. Badass warrior: Touraine (look at her arms!!! this book made me want to work out again).
  • Sairō’s Claw by Virginia McClain was my favourite self-published read with not one but two badass warrior women: Torako and Kaiyo.
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec was the best myth retelling! Basass warrior: Skadi.
  • For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten was the best romance fantasy. The badass warrior in this one is a side character, but she’s still cool, so here’s a shoutout to Lyra and her knives.
  • Artifact Space by Miles Cameron is my latest obsession, and the best sci-fi. Badass warrior: Marca Nbaro.

Best sequel you’ve read so far this year

Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker

Hands down it’s this one. I’m still beating myself up for not realising it was out at the end of 2020, but it meant I got to read this in January, which set the tone for brilliant books of this year. I think I need to read it again before the final book comes out, because all I remember is just being swept away by the writing, and I’m sure I missed some of the nuances of plot and conspiracy. If The Bone Ships was good, this one steps everything up a notch: more mythology, more Jovis developing as a character, bigger sea dragons, more lovable side characters, and a bigger threat to our crew. If you haven’t read this series, please do! Also, yet another badass warrior: Lucky Meas.

New releases you haven’t read but want to

Thanks to NetGalley I’ve read a lot more new releases at the time of the release than I’ve ever done before, but I’ve still missed quite a few, because I’m only one person and have yet to be granted the superpower of freezing time to read. All of these are on my shelves already, and they’re not the only ones, but these are probably slightly higher on my TBR than a few others. I’ve said in a previous post that I need to start focusing on the books I own instead of new ones, so hopefully when I look back on the whole year in six month’s time I can say I’ve read these six!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart

This is a mean question!! But luckily, I already made a post discussing exactly this back in May – some are now out, as I included June in there, but for the rest of the year I think it stands. If I had to choose one, though, I’d have to go with The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart. Look at that cover!!! I think the cover reveal definitely adds to the hype, plus the fact that I recently reread the first book, so have a lot of unanswered questions! A special shoutout, though, goes to The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker, but I don’t want that series to end so I’m not as keen as I could be.

Biggest disappointment

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

This isn’t a fun category, because I hate being a downer about books, but sadly there have been a few that disappointed this year… the biggest for me was Son of the Storm because I had such high expectations for it based on the cover and premise, and people’s reviews of the author’s first book. Sadly it fell flat for me, and you can read more about why in my review, if you’re interested. I will still keep an eye out for any sequels to this series, because I think the world was very cool, and wouldn’t mind having a redeeming second book to read!

Biggest surprise

All three of these were ones that I was looking forward to reading, but thought they would go over my head or be disappointing because they’re not in my usual genres, but I ended up absolutely loving all of them!

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a multigenerational story that follows twin sisters who grow up in a town of African Americans who are all light skinned, and when they run away from home, one marries a dark skinned black man and the other passes as white and married a rich white man, each trying to escape the town they came from. It’s compelling, and absolutely human.
  • A Numbers Game by RJ Dark (no relation to RJ Barker – or is there…?) is a brilliant crime book with gangs, a fake medium, a missing lottery ticket, and vivid characters. It was a slightly addicting read, and I’m glad RJ is a fast writer because I want the next Mal & Jackie story ASAP!
  • Artifact Space by Miles Cameron is one that I mentioned as a favourite, which definitely took me by surprise. I have a review of it, if you’d like to know more about it, but it’s essentially a space opera that does some brilliant character work and injects the perfect amount of mystery to keep the plot rolling. I loved it so so much!

Favourite new author

Not a new author, as in they had their debut this year, but definitely my favourite newly discovered author is Adrian Tchaikovsky. I read Children of Time last year, and wasn’t quite sure what I thought of it, but it stayed with me, so when The Doors of Eden came out in December I decided to read a couple of pages, and that was it. I was hooked, I bought it, and have read all three of Tchaikovsky’s releases this year. Bear Head was actually my first read of the year, so I started out with a bang! Then I read One Day All This Will Be Yours to my husband and we both really enjoyed that one, and I was also very excited by the start of his new space opera trilogy Shards of Earth, which did not disappoint! Incidentally, that one also has a badass woman warrior.

Newest Fictional Crush

Look, I don’t obsess over characters like I did as a teenager, but there are certainly particular people I enjoy reading about because they’re just attractive, and for that you may refer to all the badass warriors I’ve mentioned in this post so far. Apart from that, I loved Eammon from For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten, Kef Cutmark from The Thunder Heist by Jed Herne (another badass warrior woman), and Silas from Ten Low by Stark Holborn.

Newest Favourite Character

Nbaro from Artifact Space

This is a difficult one, but I’m going to once again yell about Artifact Space because the crew in that one is stellar! Nbaro, the main character, is great on her own, but she joins a group of people that feel so real and fit together seamlessly.

Book that made you cry

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

This one had me sobbing!!! It’s so beautiful, and I definitely cried some happy tears as well, but it’s inevitable that any Norse retelling leads to the end, to Ragnarok, and I challenge anyone not to get emotional about these gods that are so human facing their end with their heads held hight.

Book that made you happy

Twitch by M.G. Leonard

I haven’t talked at all about any of the middle grade books I’ve read this year, but know they are there, and this was by far the sweetest one I’ve ever read. It had me smiling the whole way through with its loveable characters, compelling mystery, and all the birds and its ode to the natural world. I’d recommend this one for a light read for people of any age!

Favourite book to film adaptation

I think the only one I’ve seen this year is Shadow and Bone, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the adaptation, though I loved the aesthetic and the cast. I’m very picky with my adaptations, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever be super happy with anything, and this year I haven’t spent much time watching TV – too much to read! But I will say that, though it’s not one that came out this year, Good Omens was the best adaptation I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been thinking about it because a second season has just been announced, so yay!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

There have been some beautiful books this year, but Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris wins very easily. It’s a stunning cloth-bound book full of illustrations with amazing detail and it all gives it the feeling of a book hundreds of years old, that has always existed.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well, at the moment I have 16 ARCs on NetGalley that will need reading soon, and quite a few of them are ones I talk about in my Highly Anticipated post that I mentioned earlier, so I think between that and the new releases that I have yet to read that covers the ones I want to read this year. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to complete certain books by a certain time…

And that’s all, folks! Sorry this post got a bit long… hopefully, if you’re reading this you at least scrolled through and looked at all the pretty book covers! I’ve really enjoyed putting this together, and looking back on the books I read in the last six months; it makes me every more excited for all the books yet to come. It’s possible this might be the year with the most books read, and I’m not sure if it’ll repeat itself, because I’m trying to pull myself into shape to get back into my own writing. It’s hard to pull myself away from all the fantastic stories filling my shelves, but I’m going to have to eventually if I ever want to add my own to the ever growing list! This blog has been a great way to keep writing, even if what I’m writing are my views on other people’s words, and I can feel the need creeping up on me to revisit the worlds and characters populating my brain!

What have been your book highlights this year so far?

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