I am just destined to be late on things in July, apparently. But that’s okay! Because I’m still going to do what I want, and what I want right now is to do this really awesome tag I found on Soffi’s blog at A Book. A Thought (she’s super amazing and posts some really awesome stuff, so you should def follow her if you aren’t already).
I’m not sure who came up with the tag originally, but whoever you are: you’re lovely and amazing, too!
Here’s hoping you guys like this one. It’s the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!
Best Book I’ve Read so Far in 2019
Seanan McGuire just flexed on everybody with Middlegame. This is a standalone that packs a punch, the story grounded in real-world New England and California but rendered incredibly complex with alchemy and the cosmic forces of the universe summed up inside, well, people. McGuire demonstrates how much she’s mastered her craft with this one, similarly to how her character Reed attempts to master the Alchemical Doctrine: it’s stunning and terrifying, beautiful and unbelievable all at the same time. Combine all that with superior characterization, flawlessly balanced third-person omniscient, and timeline juggling, and we have an ambitious masterpiece I will live in awe of for years to come.
Best Sequel I’ve Read so Far in 2019
Really, it’s no contest (yet). Holly Black proves how much she is the undisputed Faerie Queen with The Wicked King. The stakes have never been higher and the politics never more treacherous. Jude Duarte is at her prime—but fraying at the seams—and Cardan transforms from being a pawn into something else entirely. So much of this was so satisfying and left me on the edge of my seat, and of course, the love/hate relationship between our two leads is more exquisite than ever.
New Release I Haven’t Read Yet But Want To
I became obsessed with the Illuminae Files earlier this year, so when I found out that Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff were uniting again on a new trilogy, I screamed. These two are the perfect writing match, and Aurora Rising already sounds like it has an insanely amazing cast of characters and the setting is more sci-fi than ever. I have to read this soon, or I’m going to lose it!
Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2019
Listen, you can’t make me decide, I’ll cry.
Obviously, I want to read Leigh Bardugo’s first venture into something outside of the Grishaverse, and I’m loving that the opportunity I have is with her adult series, Ninth House. It’s supposed to feature creepy occult stuff at Yale University and rich people, so that’s a dangerously combustive mix. Leigh has a way with characters and dialogue, and I’m eager to see that reflected here. Plus, I heard this one is dark, and I love dark.
The Queen of Nothing is, of course, a true gift, coming out much earlier than expected. After the way The Wicked King ended, I have not been able to rest, and I am terrified of where we are going! But so ready at the same time?? There’s so much to do, how is Black going to do this??
Finally, there’s Thrawn: Treason, which sounds like it might be the Thrawn book I have been begging Timothy Zahn to give me. (Okay, really, there’s a lot of scenarios I’ve been begging him to give me, lol.) But Thrawn having to choose between his people and his word of allegiance to the Empire is definitely one of them! I am so excited about the insane politics and mind games and hoop-jumping that’s about to take place. And Eli Vanto is back! I love that guy!
Gosh, I’m still not over how much Children of Blood and Bone let me down. I was so sure this would be a winner for me; it sounded so promising and the hype was insane (and seemed very justified). But oh man, it was not. Of all the characters, I only truly liked one, and even then it took me half the book to warm up to her. What killed the story, ultimately, was the insta-love; it was so bad in that it took up everything else. Really hoping the sequel is better, or I’ll just have to let this series go.
Wicked Saints surprised me because I truly didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did. But the characters and how villain-centric it was slayed me, and there was blood magic, clerical magic, and cosmic horror galore! The sequel can’t come fast enough.
King of Scars surprised me for one reason and one reason only, and I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say, Leigh—did—that! And I owe her my life!!
Third and finally, We Set the Dark on Fire blew me completely away, both as a lesbian love story and as a spy/revolutionary story. Grounded in Latinx culture, this one is truly something special, and Dani is one hell of a protagonist. She appeared from the first page fully-formed and delved straight into my heart.
Favorite New to Me Author
Seanan McGuire has been in the writing game for a hot minute, but somehow I’ve completely missed her, Middlegame being her latest and first read by me. Now I really want to check out her Wayward Children series as well as her other forays into fantasy/sci-fi. I feel like I’m going to jive with the rest of her work super well because she has such a unique way of telling stories. Plus, her prose is outstanding. I love reading it.
Yeah, right now, it’s Cardan from The Wicked King. Look at this shitty bastard. Look at how extra he is. The decadence, the laziness, the flamboyance. He is an absolutely stupid decision, and I love everything about him. Long may he reign and may he never get better in the process.
That’s favorite new crush, anyway. For old, you’ll have to get to the end of King of Scars to find out~
AIDAN from The Illuminae Files is an amazingly and terrifyingly-written AI character. Every time the story was unfolding from his perspective, I was mesmerized and coiled up on the couch with tension. He has no concept of our standards for right and wrong, only having access to his programming, and on top of that, he’s damaged, so you really never know what he’s going to do. His relationship with Kady Grant is also so complicated and interesting. He is a large part of what made this trilogy so incredible.
Book That Made Me Cry
It was specifically Nina’s POV that did it, and you know… I don’t usually cry at books, guys. It takes a lot for me to even cry at a show or movie, but Leigh knows how to get me, and apparently that’s through Nina and her relationship with Matthias. My favorite Grisha went through so much in this book, and I’m so proud of her. ;_;
Book That Made Me Happy
Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue filled me up with happiness, hope, and laughter. (It also filled me up with yearning, helpless pining, and stress, but that was a fantastic experience, too.) Every time I think of this book and about Alex and Henry’s journey, I just smile. This is a rare romance book that carries the struggles and strength of a relationship with some very real contentions and fears of today’s world. It’s a romance book that carries weight—but while it doesn’t depict a perfect world, it takes such thoughtful pains to depict a hopeful one, and I think that’s so necessary for us all right now. If you’re on the fence about this one, consider this your push to read it because it’s such a dear thing to me; I think that will be true for a lot of people.
The Night Tiger also makes me happy, not because it’s a happy book per se, but because of the author. I absolutely adore Yangsze Choo, and with every book she publishes, I’m just so glad for her. I can’t wait to see what else she’s going to do.
Book to Movie Adaptation
Okay, confession time: I haven’t read Big Little Lies yet, but I have watched the HBO show, and it’s phenomenal. If the book is somehow better, I will lose my mind because how?? But anyway, the show itself is helmed by so many amazing female actresses, and each one of them is bringing their A-game and proving why they deserved all their awards during award season. Each woman in this show is nuanced and sympathetic (except for maybe you, Mary Louise, on the sympathetic part; it’s complicated), and not a single one of them is anywhere close to perfect. I love them.
This show also proves why good cinematography can deliver so much, and the soundtrack! I’ve had “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka (the full version, mind you) on repeat for weeks.
Favorite Blog Post of Mine
I think my favorite post so far is this one: 10 Books That are #MyBrand. If you want to know who I am as a person and a reader, this post definitely covers a lot: my tastes, my loves, pretty much everything I’m looking for in a piece of media. Probably the only thing that isn’t covered is mismatched found families (oh, wait, Six of Crows is on here, never mind). I’m pretty proud of this one, ngl.
Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year
Descendant of the Crane is a standalone book that I had to buy for myself the moment I saw it. They really couldn’t have compelled me to buy this one any faster.
The Priory of the Orange Tree, on the other hand, is a book a bought a friend of mine, and honestly? It’s even more beautiful in person. This is a book you have to have on hardback, you know?
I can only hope the content in these two matches what’s on the outside, but even if it doesn’t, they’re still gorgeous.
What Book Do I Need to Read by the End of the Year?
All three of these I’ve had far too long, and I need to get to them.
Nevernight is on the list because it’s a Jay Kristoff book, who I obviously love, and it’s about assassins in a convent? And there’s footnotes? Oh, man, I am salivating.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is apparently a Russian fairytale-esque thing with an enemies to lovers trope between a woman and a winter demon? Okay, Mel, seriously, why haven’t we read this yet?
Finally, there’s A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I’ve had so many friends read this one and love it. Maybe I’ve been putting it off because it’s a fantasy trilogy and I’m daunted by it, for some reason? Whatever. It’s time to put those fears to rest and do the thing!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this one! What books are you freaking out over so far? Which ones are you beside yourself to get here? I wanna know!