I’m surprised each year how fast time flies. I’ve read a total 14 books thus far, so not as many as I was originally hoping because of unforeseen consequences with this pandemic. Plus the anxiety of the whole political atmosphere surrounding the pandemic just made it difficult to focus on reading whenever I had time to spare. But now I’m finally coming out of my reading slump. So without further ado, here are the books that made me excited this year. *The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag was created by Ely from Earl Grey Books and Chami.
1. Best book I’ve read so far this year has got to be The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. The plot follows these twin sisters, one who chooses to live a black existence while the other one chooses to leave her family behind to live as a white woman. Both twins are light colored and from a small town in Louisiana where the whole population is light colored people. The distaste between light colored and dark colored people was portrayed in a very realistic way. In addition to seeing both sisters’ perspectives, we also get to follow the perspectives of each of their daughters. Their daughters happen across each other by chance when Desiree’s daughter moves to LA to attend UCLA, while Stella’s daughter attends UCLA’s rival school (Stella ends up in LA with her husband and daughter). The whole time I was reading I felt like I was gaining more of an understanding of each of these characters as their lives unfolded. I was invested in learning more about this estranged family that still had similarities as well as differences despite Stella running off to create a new white identity, even lying to her husband and later daughter. I particularly enjoyed how Brit Bennett dealt with the sociological elements embedded throughout the story.
2. Best sequel I’ve read this year will have to be The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang. Rin ends up growing a lot. It was also great to see more of certain characters as they re-enter Rin’s life. There was also more depth in the politics of this Chinese-inspired world as the author tackled more political issues. I thought the whole world and atmosphere was believable and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience.
3. A new release that I haven’t read it, but want to is the final book in the Daveabad trilogy titled The Empire of Gold by Chakraborty. This book comes out at the end of this month and I have already pre-ordered it. I’ve been waiting a little over a year since finishing the second book, which ended on a cliffhanger, and I’m itching to have it in my hands at long last to read how it all ends. I am not ready for it to end, yet I need to know what is going to happen and how the characters work out everything that happened at the end.
4. A new release that is coming out in the last half of the year that I’m excited for is final book in the Poppy Wars trilogy, The Burning God by R. F. Kuang. Sad to see it end, but stoked to get my hands on it in November to finally see how it all concludes in what I’m sure will be a spectacular ending.
5. The biggest disappointment is In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey, though that may just be because I listened to the audiobook. In fact, I believe I would feel differently had I physically read this book. There was just too much to process to be able to pay attention.
6. Biggest surprise goes to Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I ended up listening to the audiobook and enjoying this immensely. It was a great family drama to listen to on the way to and from work. I was engaged throughout and it really made me feel for the characters, especially at the end.
7. Favorite new to me author so far this year is Brit Bennett. I am definitely planning on checking out her debut novel Mothers. I really like her writing style and characterizations.
8. Newest fictional crush definitely goes to Nikon from The Poppy Wars trilogy, particularly in The Dragon Republic. We get to see more character development of Nikon as he re-enters Rin’s life and the two become close friends. There is just so much depth to him. I fell for him, no doubt. I immensely enjoyed the parts with him.
9. Newest favorite character will have to be Gavin from The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. I’ve started the second book (The Blinding Knife), however needed to take a break from fantasy so I’m reading literary fiction / thrillers. I’m looking forward to continuing my reading of the Lightbringer series just to learn more about Gavin (his past, present, and future). He’s a fascinating character with so much depth in the decisions he has made in his life.
10. The book that made me cry goes to Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. I didn’t read many books that made me flat out cry, though there were a couple others that caused me to tear up (Love from A-Z, Beartown, A Dog’s Way Home, and The Vanishing Half). Challenger Deep really cut deep, especially the way it described how Caden struggled with his mental illness through symbolism and imagery.
11. The book that made me happy this year goes to Love from A-Z by S. K. Ali. The romance was sweet, innocent, and made me smile. It gave me that sugar rush feeling after you eat candy.
12. Most beautiful book I’ve bought so far this year will have to go to The Empire of Gold by Chakraborty. I pre-ordered it, but it’ll arrive in the mail later this month. I really love the cover and have a feeling it’s even better in real life.
13. Honestly, I don’t have any books that I have to read by the end of the year. I just read what I want when I want. Very much a mood reader, especially since I read from such a variety of genres.
14. Favorite book community member is definitely Ely at Earl Grey Books (on wordpress and YouTube). I’ve been following her for years, and before that we met on a Harry Potter fandom forum. Other book community members I have been enjoying watching on YouTube are: Books and LaLa, Peruse Project, Lindsey Rey (recently made a comeback, yay), Merphy Napier, Gabby reads, pickleheartsbooks, and Thoughts on Tomes.