tagged: mid-year book freak out


Last week I made an enormous post with all of my reviews for the first half of the year (and if you haven't scrolled through it yet, you should!). While it was a nice sum-up, I didn't offer much in the way of comparison or reflection, which is why I'm so happy Sim @ Flipping Thru the Pages tagged me in the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! It may be a little bit past the halfway point, but don't worry: I'm only including books I've read through the end of June!

BEST BOOK(S) YOU’VE READ YET IN 2018


Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Uprooted is a difficult book to top in regards to imagination, spirit, and charm. Yet Spinning Silver managed to do that with ease (just please don't ask me to pick a favorite between them!), shifting between perspectives so flawlessly they don't even require headers to identify. Filled with strong women and intriguing men, it takes the bones of Rumpelstiltskin and spins a far more beautiful tale.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

This novel surprised me in the best way. With two amazing protagonists at its core, Furyborn navigates a timeline that spans centuries and combines religion, politics, and personal strife into a compelling drama. Legrand even managed to make me like the sorts of archetypes I usually avoid, namely knight in shining armor and brooding love interest. The mark of an amazing book is when it gives away the ending at it's prologue, yet still keeps you guessing with every turn of the page. Yeah, Furyborn does that.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This one was pure magic. The characters and story are all flawless, but what impressed me the most was how Arden seamlessly built her world while introducing her readers to a culture and time period they were likely unfamiliar with. In that kind of situation it's difficult to avoid exposition, yet Arden gets away with the absolute minimum. Combine beautiful writing with yet another amazing protagonist, a sulking frost king, and ancient magical foes, and you have a gorgeous, classic fantasy.

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018


The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Even a complete change of setting isn't enough for this series to lose its wintry magic. The supernatural takes a backseat to the more grounded reality of a woman's place in medieval Russia, and the problems that arise when Vasya refuses to accept her options of marriage or a convent. In a way this is the quintessential middle book of a trilogy: it spends most of its energy positioning major players for the larger conflicts looming in its conclusion. But it does all of the plot and character shuffling as beautifully as can be.

Wildcard by Marie Lu

It goes so far beyond the set-up of Warcross that I immediately felt like I needed to re-read the first book and try to catch any clues I must have missed. Even if Lu had simply followed expectations in the second half of this duology she would have had another hit on her hands. To go that extra distance and dig even deeper into the moral implications of this world and how those choices impact her characters was a bold, welcome decision.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Slytherin edition)

I actually think I've read all of the current 2018 releases that I wanted to, so this marks the next best thing! It's been many years since I first read Harry Potter and this probably doesn't quite count as a "new release", but I still set aside the time to re-read each book when it comes out in an illustrated or House edition.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR


Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Other early reviews have noted that this might have themes and situations better suited to adult readers, rather than teens. Rather than turn me off, this has me even more excited to pull Damsel down off my shelf later this month! Rather than re-telling a specific fairy tale, it looks like Arnold is tackling more general and widespread tropes about maidens in distress, the knights who rescue them, and the dragons that guard them. I can't wait!

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

I know I'm kind of cheating, naming more than one book in several of these categories. But they just announced a release date for Lethal White, the fourth Cormoran Strike novel, this week! It's been a much longer wait than usual for this one and I'm more than ready to dive in. Also, if JKR wants to stop fiddling with Harry Potter and just write detective novels the fandom would thank you plzkthx.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

This had all of the elements for success: Vikings, badass female warriors, and a brewing war. It just never came together. The Vikings had one big battle at the start of the book and another one, with dubious tactics, at the end. The badass female warrior spent most of her time under house arrest peeling garlic and getting rescued. And that war? Pretty easily solved, actually. I really wanted to love this, which may have sharpened my disappointment when I didn't.

BIGGEST SURPRISE


Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Sarah at Flatiron Books was generous enough to send me an early manuscript for this debut novel that combines magic (or la magie) and the finals days of Marie Antoinette's court. What surprised me most wasn't the quality (it's really good, y'all!) but the gentleness and subtlety with which the story unfolds. Subtract the magical elements and this has all the lush detail of historical fiction. Trelease also includes, but doesn't overindulge in, familiar tropes. Instead she uses them as grace notes to a complex melody about family, love, growing up, and the complicated reality of freedom.

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR

Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower)

Claire Legrand (Furyborn, Sawkill Girls)

Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone)

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH


Corien in Furyborn by Claire Legrand

A morally corrupt angel who is cold and power-hungry and devastatingly handsome? No wonder I'm single, when the boys at the bar have no chance of competing ðŸ˜‚ I'm sure this will end as badly as all my other totally rational fictional crushes, but for now I'm happy to ride the high!
(Character card designed by Kate Trish)

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

Vasya in the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden

Zélie in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY


The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Technically, no book has made me cry this year. But! La Belle Sauvage brought back so many feelings from the original His Dark Materials trilogy, which never fails to make me cry...even on re-reads. For that alone, it gets the honorable mention.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This partly stems from how bright and bubbly Stephanie is in person—and I was lucky enough to meet her at two signings this spring! Caraval and Legendary are both such colorful, vibrant books that I was immediately drawn in to their carnival-esque atmosphere. Some dreadfully dark things may have befallen their characters, but I'll be darned if it didn't all happen in high style.

FAVORITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION


In terms of pure quality, Annihilation. Alex Garland condensed all of the major questions and themes of a trilogy into a single film without sacrificing any of their significance. Natalie Portman leads a universally accomplished cast and the production design of Area X gifts science-fiction fans with one of the most beautiful films in recent memory.

As a joyful experience in the theater, I loved Ready Player One! The book was actually a massive let-down, but Steven Spielberg cut out all of the nerd-king posturing to get down to a story that is classically him. It's obvious from watching it how much fun the cast and crew had making the movie, which admittedly doesn't dig too far beneath the surface. It does succeed on one fundamental level, though: entertaining you.

(And an honorable mention to The Death Cure just because Aidan Gillen cuts one fine figure in those sweaters.)


FAVORITE POST YOU HAVE DONE THIS YEAR

I was really proud of my discussion posts about required reading and if it "ruins" books, and my list of favorite bookish b*tches! I'm also really proud of my review for The Bear and the Nightingale, just because the author gave me a super sweet compliment on it.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR


I've gotten a lot of beautiful books so far this year! Contenders for my favorite include the UK paperback of The Bear and the Nightingale, the Goldsboro editions of Circe and Spinning Silver, and the collector's edition of A Darker Shade of Magic.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

With the sequel coming out this fall, I really want to read Strange in time to decide if I should pre-order the stunning, sprayed edges hardcover of Muse of Nightmares. It may be a silly motivation, but I've seen how many fans of the first novel regret missing out on a similar edition and I want to avoid that if I can.

And [insert at least one non-fiction title here]. I promised myself to continue reading more non-fiction this year, and I've completely dropped the ball. I've started letting post readership become my excuse: if very few people will read a review, why read it? Easy: don't write a review, don't worry about it! There are quite a few good non-fiction books languishing on my shelves and I need to take some down to play.

TAGGED

I'm tagging:

Evelina @ Avalinah's Books
Danielle @ Books, Vertigo, and Tea
Greg @ Book Haven
Clo @ Book Dragons
Tiffany @ Read by Tiffany
Shruti @ This is Lit
Lia @ Lost in a Story
Tori @ In Tori Lex
AJ @ AJ Sterkel

Please, don't feel any pressure if you've already participated or aren't interested in this particular tag! ♥

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