Books, Real Life

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag 2021


I set a 175-book goal for 2021.

So far, I’ve read 120 books. In other words, I’ve completed 69% of my goal and am ahead by 34 books.

Math is wild!

This post summarizes my reading accomplishments thus far.

Best book read so far

One Last Stop is my favorite of all the books I’ve read. It cannot be helped.

One Last Stop by New York Times Bestselling Author of Red, White, & Royal Blue: Sometimes love stops you in your tracks.

The cover is beautiful and so is the prose.

I think about the characters and their shenanigans often.

The plot was also so good? So well-structured? I love this book.

I’ll probably reread it before the year is over.

Best sequel read so far

I got into the Adventure Zone graphic novels this year and oh my stars.

These books are not only delightful, they improve with each volume.

Petals to the Metal made me cry. Everything – the action, the romance, the character beats – was so well done.

The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by #1 New York Times-bestselling creators Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Carey Piestch

I hope Crystal Kingdom, featuring fan favorite Kravitz, will be even better.

Honorable mention goes to Siege and Storm, which I’ve just started and am enjoying immensely.

Siege and Storm by #1 New York Times-Bestselling Author Leigh Bardugo

I’m obsessed with Sturmhond and his crew. I love pirates.

New release you haven’t read but want to

I have three new releases from the library that I haven’t gotten to yet.

First is Ace of Spades, a queer dark academia thriller.

Next up is Meet Cute Diary, a trans romcom.

Last up is The Darkness Outside Us. It’s a gay sci-fi thriller not unlike Winter’s Orbit, so I am STOOOOKED.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

My top 3 upcoming books are gay, witchy, and (possibly) Phantom-inspired.

No one should be surprised by this.

The Ex Hex comes out in October. I think the main couple has to fight off evil witches and/or zombies. I’m into it.

Edie in Between comes out in August. My beloved Lisa Sterle did the cover art, so of course this book became one of my most-anticipated reads.

The Brightest Star in Paris might be a historical romance and I’m not even mad about it? I get Anastasia and Phantom of the Opera vibes.

Biggest Disappointment

So, so many options to choose from.

I’m going to skip the books that made me angry and focus on books I’d been looking forward to that missed the mark.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters capped off my favorite series with a lackluster ending. All that suffering, all those plot twists, all that pain…for this??

I was really looking forward to The Invisible Life of Addie Larue and ended up hating it. The book was pitched as a fantasy-romance but read more like literary fiction. It deployed some well-trod tropes that I couldn’t make myself care about. I didn’t give a single shit about Soft Boy Henry or Not Like the Other Girls Addie. Not here for literary tragedy porn.

Chief among my many issues with We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire is this: the book, despite its best intentions, treats rape as a women’s issue instead of a feminist issue. It tries to be a universally empowering rally cry while leaving a lot of people out of the conversation. I was especially annoyed when the nonbinary character pointed out their own vulnerability only for the narrative to continue with its “this is a unique problem for women” language in the very next chapter. After the revelation that was Blood Water Paint, I expected more from this book.

Biggest Surprise

There have been many surprises so far this year.

Love Lettering got me well and truly into romance. I thought the initial premise was so unique, THEN THE BOOK WENT AND ADDED A WILD THIRD-ACT TWIST TO THE MIX. I loved this book so much. I am forever indebted to it.

I thought Piranesi would be a boring, blow-off read. Hahahaha I cried for days. If you read this, go in without looking up the plot or reading any reviews. Those are your orders.

I decided to give To Be Taught, If Fortunate a shot because the audiobook was only four hours long. For the first half, I couldn’t figure out why I had to listen to so much SCIENCE (my least favorite subject and one of the reasons I despised Andy Weir’s The Martian.) OH, THIS BOOK IS A LOVE LETTER TO SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION, YOU SAY? Let me just cry all my eyes out. Truly, I wasn’t ready for an emotional breakdown but I had one anyway once I finished.

I decided to listen to a true crime memoir by trans author Alex Marzano-Lesnevich (happy Pride.) WOW. WOW WOW WOW. The audiobook was 11 hours long and I was engaged the entire time. I liked that this book acknowledged the complexities of both family history and crime. As difficult as the content was, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Top Ten Books of the year, for SURE.

Favorite new (to you) author

Emily Rapp Black writes about art, grief, disability, and philosophy. Her memoir The Still Point of the Turning World broke my heart. I have her two most recent books queued up next.

Catherine House, Elisabeth Thomas’s debut, really worked for me. I think she nailed atmospheric horror and I’m excited to see what she writes next.

Ava Reid’s writing is immersive and perfect. I am spellbound by The Wolf and the Woodsman.

Olivia Dade’s fanfic romance Spoiler Alert made me smile. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books.

Honey Girl was so perfect, I am obligated to auto-buy Morgan Rogers’s next book. I’m trying to figure out what I like best about their writing. Perhaps it’s the yearning?

Book That Made You Cry

True to form, I wept over yet another Graceling Realm novel. I had my doubts that I would cry at all over Winterkeep, as this book took me awhile to finish. I shouldn’t have doubted. I was destroyed.

Novellas keep wrecking me. Once Ghosted, Twice Shy was slim, upsetting, and perfect. It gave me a happy ending when I really needed one. (I should also say that the fashion was inspiring.)

I fell in love with the characters in Burning Roses. I wanted the best for them. I love the central relationship in this book so much.

I didn’t think Beach Read would hurt me so much, AND THEN IT DID. Angst, I guess, is my brand. I liked that this book took rom-com clichés and enhanced them with PAIN.

Book that made you happy

I’ve been rereading the Princess Diaries books and the first five books make me so happy. The series (up until book 6) is such a joy.

Tweet Cute was really fun. I liked the sweet romance and all the desserts. It made me feel warm inside.

Winter’s Orbit contained everything I could ever want in a book. It’s a warm hug of a novel, perfect for fans of Star Wars and/or Heart of Iron. (As it happens, I am a fan of both.)

Favorite book-to-film adaptation

I’ve really been enjoying His Dark Materials on HBO. The creators have been faithful to the book series’ themes and made reasonable changes to the story. My biggest complaint from season one (no visible daemons) was addressed in season two; additionally, I was thrilled when the antagonists got EXTRA CHARACTERIZATION. I’m sure season three will continue the excellence.

Most beautiful cover you’ve bought this year

I’m including One Last Stop because the cover uses my favorite colors AND operates as a covert bi flag.

I’m in love with I’ll Be the One’s pastel color palette. It’s so peppy and fun.

It’s possible I bought Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch for the bright purple cover alone.

I love personal essays and I love bright colors. Hola, Papi! was, therefore, a necessary purchase.

I bought Hamnet on a whim because it looks like Penguin Classics meets illuminated manuscripts. I dig it.

The Girl From the Sea feels so perfectly summery. I can’t stop looking at it. I keep it in pride of place on the bookshelf across from my bed.

Books you need to read by the end of the year

I have a crop of sequels I need to finish before year’s end.

I STILL haven’t read either Soul of Stars or The Electric Heir, despite reading and loving each of the preceding books last year. I need to get on those.

I’m still rereading The Lord of the Rings. By gum, I swear, I will finish the series before 2022.

I started Harrow the Ninth when it first came out but couldn’t get into it. I want to give it another shot.

I’m making my way through the Grisha trilogy and I WILL finish it, mark my words.

Favorite post you published this year

I’m proud of my Pride Month book recs post. I worked really hard on it.

I also published a post I’d been working on for at least a year about The Night Circus.

At one point, I wrote about cereal.

Looking back will never not feel strange to me.

I accomplished all that? I published those things? I read 100 books?

It’s wild.

On to finishing out 2021.

9 thoughts on “Mid-Year Freak Out Tag 2021”

  1. So many of my favorites in your list !!! Love to see it… especially love seeing Burning Roses and Winter’s Orbit coz I hardly see them mentioned 😍😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just got my copy of Winter’s Orbit! I decided to buy it since your recommendation was soooooo glowy.

    I feel like it’s an unpopular opinion to dislike V.E. Schwab’s writing. I loved the concept of the alternative London books but HATED HOW TROPEY it was. Like, there’s this girl and sHe’S nOt lIkE OtHeR gIrLs and there’s this prince who is a spoiled brat but apparently we don’t care that he’s shallow and awful? And then there is an angsty broody wizard. And oh yeah, every single fight scene is just THE BLOODENING and it’s like, the same tension through all three books and I DNF the last one because I was bored three chapters in it was so repetitive.

    Emily Rapp Black IS amazing. Highly recommend jumping on any classes she’s leading through Hugo House. SO. Worth. It! She’s an excellent writing instructor as well as being a powerful writer. 🙂 I am awaiting my copy of her latest book.

    Liked by 1 person


      I’m with you on V. E. Schwab! Like, her writing is solid, but people react as if it’s phenomenal? I read the first of the Bloodening books (lol I can’t think of the actual name) and I thought it was…fine? I was waiting for it to CHANGE THE WORLD OF FANTASY AS WE KNOW IT and it, uh…did not. I liked the villain best.

      I have Sanctuary on right now! She’s so talented! I might just take one of her classes. 🙂


  3. Damn! Congrats on reading 120 books so far this year! That’s amazing. I keep hearing amazing things about One Last Stop and I came thhhiiiiiis close to buying it the other day, but I held off, but I’m thinking that I may have to cave and buy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It might be because of the audiobooks.

      MEGHAN even if you don’t like One Last Stop, it’s very pretty AND it’s paperback price! It’s even better than RWRB!

      Liked by 1 person

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