Book tag

2021 mid-year freak out

Hello bookworms!! Welcome to the (very late) 2021 mid-year freak out tag. I do normally post this in early July (I’m a stickler that July 2 is the midpoint of the calendar year), but July got away from me, and then so did August, and September. So, you’re getting it in in October. But rest assured, I haven’t added anything from July onwards!!

I usually do the mid-year freak out tag every year, and if you’d like to see previous years’ posts, please click these links: 2020, 2019, 2018. My how times have changed!! (But also scary how they have not…)

So, let’s get started!! Disclaimer: I will not be using any rereads to fill the prompts (except the reread one). Newly read books in 2021 only!! Also, I am going back to the merged list of questions from my 2019 post as there do seem to be multiple versions of this tag flying around.

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2021 mid-year freak out

How much you have read

By the start of July, I had read 51 books out of my goal of 100. Not too shabby, but April’s 17 books is definitely picking up the slack from June!!

What you have been reading

Ummm… Well. According to my spreadsheet, mostly romance, with a liberal dash of fantasy thrown in. I have left the July books in this table because I didn’t want to take them out again. Pure laziness on my part, I know.

A table that shows my genres read from January to July 2021. The tallest column is romance, with about 25 books, then fantasy with about 13 books. Following that is contemporary with about 8. Thriller and paranormal both have a couple of books, and the other genres are all at 0.

Best book you’ve read so far

The best book I’ve read this year is definitely Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne. If anyone had told me that my favourite book so far this year would be about an introvert who saves turtles and lives at a retirement village, I probably would have laughed at them. But here we are…

Blurb:

Second First Impressions by Sally ThorneRuthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work — until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously — something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees — he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. And he’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

Best sequel you’ve read so far

This will come as very little surprise to anyone who knows how I feel about the main characters… But my fave sequel for 2021 is A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas. Honestly, I’m just so pleased that she gave Nesta the room to breathe and heal her own way from the PTSD. Plus, I love that Nesta built her own friend group. On her own terms. I love that for her so much.

Blurb:

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J MaasNesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to

Books that I have received or bought this year that I haven’t read yet include:

  • Yolk by Mary H. K. ChoiFat Chance, Charlie Vega — Crystal Maldonado
  • Phoenix Flame — Sara Holland
  • Lore — Alexandra Bracken
  • Amari and the Night Brothers — B. B. Alston
  • Yolk — Mary H. K. Choi
  • Lost in the Never Woods — Aiden Thomas
  • The Road Trip — Beth O’Leary
  • One Last Stop — Casey McQuiston
  • People We Meet on Vacation — Emily Henry

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I wrote a Top 5 Tuesday on this a few weeks months ago, but if I don’t say Ilahara: The Last Myrassar by C. M. Karys for this, then I will be lying. Also, I am currently reading an ARC of this at the moment.

Blurb:

Ilahara: The Last Myrassar by C. M. KarysPrincess Asharaya Myrassar lost everything on the night of the Coup of Fire when the usurper queen, Aerella Argarys, slaughtered the royal family and claimed the throne of the fae kingdom of Ilahara. After seeking refuge on the human continent and leaving her magical past behind, Asharaya takes on a new identity: Shara, an assassin blessed with dark powers.

Prince Derron Argarys owes his royal title to his mother’s coup, and although he has all the status and power one could wish for, he cannot escape the memories of the brutal death of the former prince he once called friend. Now the heir to the throne, Derron must set aside his memories and learn to rule by the Argarys words: show your power, hide your heart.

But when a crone proclaims the last of the dragon-blessed rulers still lives and prophesizes Asharaya’s return to Ilahara, friend and foe alike set out to find her, Derron among them. Yet he discovers in Asharaya not only a cold and beautiful assassin but also the princess he once knew. When the chance to rid his family of the Myrassar threat comes, Derron hesitates in dealing the killing blow, charting a new course that may see Asharaya’s return to Ilahara to face her greatest enemy and her destiny as the last dragon-blessed queen.

Biggest disappointment

BIG OOOOFT. Uhh, did anyone read my rant post on hyped books that I didn’t like? Because I have a vague recollection of yelling (a lot) about my experience reading From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I can’t describe the level of disappointment I experienced while reading this book. Especially considering so many people love it. I just don’t get it. In saying that, I would like to point out that I read the ebooks, which were filled with spelling mistakes.

Blurb:

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. ArmentroutA Maiden… Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched, never to be looked upon, never to be spoken to. And never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty… The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart, and a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom… Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

Biggest surprise

This may not seem like a surprise to some, but Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo was my biggest surprise so far this year. As you may recall, I read Shadow and Bone years ago (2017-ish?) and it was fine. Then I tried to read Siege and Storm a bunch of times (6 I think), and never got past the 5th chapter. I just didn’t care about the characters. But, after watching the Netflix adaptation, I went back and pushed myself to read it. And it was also fine. I then devoured Ruin and Rising in 24 hours, and it was amazing. What an ending!! I was gripped from start to finish. I loved it.

NOTE: Below blurb is from the third and final book in the Grisha trilogy. Please read at your own discretion.

Blurb:

Grishaverse 3: Ruin and Rising by Leigh BardugoThe Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Books you have reread this year

By the end of June, I had reread 2 books this year:

  • I Hate You – Ilsa Madden-Mills (not because I loved it, but because I finally read the rest of the series, and I wanted to reread it to align all the characters
  • Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo (because after I finished reading the Grisha trilogy, I wanted to reread these before starting on the Nikolai duology)

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

New to me this year, would be a toss up between Adrienne Young (Fable / Namesake) and Emily Henry (Beach Read). But, I’m actually going to cheat slightly and give you a different answer.

Back in the Burbs by Tracy Wolff and Avery FlynnIn December last year, I read Crave by Tracy Wolff. Crave on it’s own is almost like a satirical, tropey vampire story. Like, they mock Twilight in it, while also heading down the same path. I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it – it was funnier than I expected. Then in January I read Crush, and the series gets much better. By the time I read Covet in March, I was been convinced that this series, and this author, was on its own path. We left the satire mostly behind and were just in full fledged paranormal by now. Then I tried a romance that Wolff co-wrote with Avery Flynn (Back in the ‘Burbs), and I loved it as well. So, this year, my fave new author is Tracy Wolff.

Newest fictional crush adoptive children

I would adopt so many children, honestly. Like, my house would be so full and the grocery bill would be insane. So, here’s a selection:

  • Hudson (Crave series — Tracy Wolff)
  • Conrad Stewart and Alden Roth (Conventionally Yours — Annabeth Albert)
  • Darcy Phillips and Alexander Brougham (Perfect on Paper — Sophie Gonzales)
  • Ruthie and Teddy (Second First Impressions — Sally Thorne)
  • Fable (Fable — Adrienne Young)

If you want to go down the boyfriend path, so far (from the books I’ve read this year) it’s Cassian, but that’s not really new.

Newest favourite character

Nikolai Lantsov wins this category, hands down. I can’t believe it took me so long to meet him. Although I guess technically I HAD met him before, I just didn’t know about it. But even just his appearance in Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising has put him well and truly at the top of this list.

Book that made you cry

I could list ten books here, but one that I haven’t really mentioned so far in this post is Beach Read by Emily Henry. Sad, contemporary romances are my jam just as much as dark YA/NA fantasy. And this book is sad in spades. Don’t believe the cover — it looks light and fluffy, but it is DECEIVING!! Second chance romance, haunted by the past. It was so good!! And I cried.

Blurb:

Beach Read by Emily HenryAugustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Book that made you happy

I love this prompt so much. And although it was a close call, I’m giving this one to Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean. This was the absolute sweetest story about an American-Japanese girl who finds out that she’s the Crown Princess. It’s got funny scenes, but also heartbreaking ones. It’s such a great mix, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who loved The Princess Diaries.

Blurb:

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko JeanIzumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way” — and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

Favourite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year

Hello, my name is Meeghan, and I LOVED Netflix’s adaptation of Shadow and Bone. Like, I LOVE LOVED it. Ok, so it’s a tv series adaptation, but I’m keeping it on the list. I seriously loved it more than pretty much any adaptation ever (exceptions being BBC’s P&P and Emma). I even liked the changes they made to it, which is basically unheard of. And I cannot wait for season two!!

Favourite blog post published this year

I had only written one discussion post in the first half of this year (2021 hasn’t been my year for blogging). And that was when I took part in Let’s Talk Bookish’s topic: Why I read Middle Grade books. And it was a really fun topic to explore!! I always plan on doing more of these, and hopefully now that I’m catching up I’ll be able to!!

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Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received so far this year

If I don’t put Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal, than I’m lying to myself. I bought this book purely because of the cover. It is stunning. It also looks good… but it was 100% a cover buy!!

Blurb:

Mermaid Moon by Susann CokalBlood calls to blood; charm calls to charm.
It is the way of the world.
Come close and tell us your dreams.

Sanna is a mermaid — but she is only half seavish. The night of her birth, a sea-witch cast a spell that made Sanna’s people, including her landish mother, forget how and where she was born. Now Sanna is sixteen and an outsider in the seavish matriarchy, and she is determined to find her mother and learn who she is. She apprentices herself to the witch to learn the magic of making and unmaking, and with a new pair of legs and a quest to complete for her teacher, she follows a clue that leads her ashore on the Thirty-Seven Dark Islands. There, as her fellow mermaids wait in the sea, Sanna stumbles into a wall of white roses thirsty for blood, a hardscrabble people hungry for miracles, and a baroness who will do anything to live forever.

Book you need to read by the end of the year

I was waiting for my copy of Gods and Monsters to arrive in the mail, which means I also need to read Blood and Honey by Shelby Mahurin. So, both of these are on my TBR for 2021.

NOTE: Below blurb is from the second book in the Serpent and Dove trilogy. Please read at your own discretion.

Blurb:

Serpent and Dove #2: Blood and Honey by Shelby MahurinAfter narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church — fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

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So. This only took 3 months to write. Not bad, really!! I hope you enjoy, and are prepared for all the rest of the catching up that I need to do!!

until next time, happy reading! Meeghan xo

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