Hello friends!! Yes, it’s me, finally back from the dead!!
It’s been—wow—almost three months since my last post. To go about explaining myself, school has been a real pain in the neck this past semester, especially with finals week and AP exams. And so I decided that blogging had to be pushed back on the priority list. I know I said in my 2020 wrap-up that one of my resolutions for this year is to not make blogging a chore for myself, but I felt awful that I couldn’t tell you guys about my impromptu hiatus. I’m so sorry, but thank you for still sticking with me! I can’t say enough how much I’ve missed interacting with you all and drafting rambly posts of 2k+ words.
Also, as a quick note, I celebrated my first blogiversary in April!! Thank you so much for accompanying me on my blogging journey ❤️ I know I asked you guys to submit questions for a Q&A—and thank you so much for those who did! Unfortunately, I feel like it’s way too late to answer those questions now, and I’d prefer to start my new blogging spurt on a clean slate. So no Q&A, but again, thank you so much for those who submitted questions! And I’m sorry for being so fickle 😥
As for what this post will be about… well, you read it in the title! It’s somehow already the middle of the year (can anyone believe it’s JULY?!?!?) and it’s officially time for the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag, originally created by Earl Grey Books & Chami over on YouTube. Since this tag is basically an annual blogosphere tradition, I figured that I might as well do it and take the chance to update you all on my reading progress this year! As of writing this, I have finished a grand total of 11 books, and am currently in the middle of eight other books. (To give you some perspective, I was in the middle of my 42nd book this time last year.) In other words, my reading life is a disaster 😭 I know that I shouldn’t stress out over numbers as long as I’m enjoying myself, but I can’t help it 😭 Hopefully I’ll be able to gain some steam this summer and read a lot 🙏
That being said, I have read some truly amazing books these past six months, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on them with you! Without further ado, here’s the tag!!
The best book you’ve read so far this year
Hands down Concrete Rose!! The prequel to The Hate U Give convinced me that Angie Thomas is indeed one of the best YA writers of this generation. Intensely emotive without being sentimental, and unapologetically fierce about its support for Black young men, Concrete Rose and its characters grabbed hold of my heart, and I have a feeling they won’t be letting go anytime soon.
The best sequel you’ve read this year
I’ve only read one sequel this year so far, which was A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmmer, the third and final book in the Cursebreakers series. I wouldn’t necessarily call it the best sequel I’ve ever read, but it’s definitely not the worst, so I guess it works as my answer here 😂 You can read my full review for Vow here!
New releases you haven’t read yet but want to
The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman. The hype got to me!! I’ve seen so much love for this book and read so many reviews screaming about the plot twists. I can’t wait to see if it lives up to my expectations.
The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris. Not me crying over the blurb 😭😭😭 I’m saving this book for a day when I’m prepared to have my heart broken and kicked to the curb. Good luck to me.
The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur. June Hur’s debut The Silence of Bones took my breath away last year with how much I loved it, and I’m so ashamed of myself that I still haven’t picked up her sophomore book 😔 Definitely a top priority!!
Made in Korea by Sarah Suk. Just knowing that this book is about two Korean-American teens falling in love was enough to catch my attention. Reserved for when I need a serotonin overload!!
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. The Sun Is Also a Star is one of my favorite books ever—it’s also the first YA book I read with Korean rep, which might have played a part in how much I loved it—so I definitely have really high expectations for Instructions for Dancing! From what I’ve heard, I’m going to need some tissues for the ending.
Most anticipated releases for the second half of the year
SO. MANY. I’ve already written two different posts about my anticipated releases of 2021, but somehow the list just keeps getting longer. Here are just a few:
Take Me with You When You Go by David Leviathan & Jennifer Niven (August 31). This is a relatively new addition to my TBR, but I already adore the sound of it. Central sibling relationship, complicated family dynamics, discussions about family abuse, buried past secrets… what’s not to love? 🤩 I’m actually pretty surprised that there’s been little to no hype for this book, especially since the authors are both YA powerhouses who have written some very popular novels.
Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (September 14). At this point I’m already obsessed with everything Brigid Kemmerer has written and will ever write. Not least of which is her forthcoming fantasy featuring Robin Hood-esque vigilantes, classic enemies-to-lovers, and commentary on social power dynamics!!
For All Time by Shanna Miles (September 28). This sounds absolutely amazing 🥺 Tragic love stories are my kryptonite. Even more so when they have Black rep and span different time periods 🥺 I need this book yesterday!!
Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach (October 19). Asian girls smashing the patriarchy is literally all I’ve ever needed in life 😭 This book promises amazing discussions of racism and sexism and I am so here for it 😌 Plus, rivals-to-lovers romance?! Sign. me. up!!!
Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe (October 26). A retelling of The Tempest?? Color me intrigued!! Shakespeare plays are not really my preferred choice in reading material, but out of the ones that I have read, The Tempest was my favorite. I can’t wait to see how the story translates into YA dark fantasy.
Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This was my first venture into TJR’s work, and I have to say, I was not very impressed 😅 I had been really intrigued by the premise of this novella—the bond formed between the respective spouses of two individuals in an affair—and had hoped that the extremely hyped TJR would do it justice, but alas. I basically guessed the entire plot within the first few pages. I guess I was just expecting more. I would still recommend it if you’re looking for something short, sweet, and substantial, but… not for me.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I had to read this book for an extra credit assignment in Health class and I was fully expecting to hate it. But to my surprise, I actually ended up enjoying myself quite a bit. I think I owe a large part of my enjoyment to the audiobook; otherwise, I probably would’ve DNFed after 5 pages. Here’s an excerpt from my report—disclaimer that I wrote this at like 11 pm during finals week, sorry in advance (I am literally cringing so hard as I copy and paste this):
While I initially thought that the flowery writing style would be hard to follow and thus detract from my reading experience, I actually found the prose quite exquisite and even humorous in many places. The story as a whole is strangely compelling; I couldn’t stop thinking about the ending for days after I finished it. There is much to be read into this story, especially with the many morally gray characters in the cast. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a thought-provoking classic that will challenge their idea of love.
The sentences do NOT FLOW. AT ALL. 🤦♀️
Favorite new-to-you or debut author
Christina Hammonds Reed! I read her debut The Black Kids this spring and was absolutely blown away by her unique writing style. I don’t even know how to describe it, but the prose is just so very… unexpectedly beautiful?? Like I’m just reading and Ashley (the narrator) is rambling and then out of nowhere there comes this line that punches me in the gut. And the cycle repeats. And then of course there’s also the really thought-provoking subject matter about the 1992 Rodney King Riots. Put it all together, and you get Reed being the latest addition to my list of authors to watch.
Newest fictional crush
Strangely enough, I didn’t have any big fictional crushes this year? There were plenty of ships that I rooted for and characters that I adored for their complexity, but nobody that I really fell in love with. (Which is absolutely insane, considering my track record with fictional crushes.) I guess I’ll take this opportunity to give a shout-out to my favorite of the aforementioned ships—Izumi and Akio from Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean. I’ve always been obsessed with the bodyguard romance trope, but these two just took it to another level. Their relationship was pure K-drama in book form, so naturally, it did feel a bit rushed at first, but it built up beautifully into a final scene that literally had me screaming out loud. I’m such a goner for these two 😭 To the right is some fanart of them drawn by the lovely CW @ The Quiet Pond—isn’t it gorgeous?! 😍
Newest favorite character
Like I mentioned, I’ve already adopted so many characters this year, I just can’t give a single answer to this question. First of all, Maverick from Concrete Rose. My two brain cells can’t seem to come up with a coherent description of why I love him so much right now, so I’ll just point you to my review, which does a much better job of explaining myself. Also, Beth and Jason from When We Were Infinite. Although the book itself was a bit of a disappointment, the complexity of these two characters was so endearing, even when they made mistakes that had me wanting to shake them. I’d also like to mention a character from one of my current reads—Bao from Song of the Crimson Flower, otherwise known as a precious cinnamon roll who must be protected from the dangers of the world. Love him.
Book that made you cry
Answering with any book other than Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas would be a crime. I feel like Angie Thomas specially consulted the list of Fictional Situations that Make Abby Cry Buckets (it’s a thing) and put them all into Concrete Rose. Mav’s character development, his relationship with his different father figures, and his relationship with his own son were all alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming to read about and—ugh. I’m just never going to be over this book, am I??
Book that made you happy
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean. This book was just pure serotonin, I am OBSESSED 😍 Sure, TEA may not be a frontrunner for Best Literary Masterpiece of the Year, but it also single-handedly pulled me out of my school-induced reading slump, so don’t be too quick to dismiss it!! When I read this book, I was in a state of complete mental exhaustion from school and I thought I’d never be able to finish a book again, much less focus on it and actually enjoy myself. But then Tokyo Ever After came along with its royal antics and endearing angst and toothache-worthy romance and I was reminded of why I love reading so much. So yes, saying this book made me happy is a major understatement!! I can’t wait for the sequel 🤩
Favorite book-to-film adaptation
I actually haven’t seen any book-to-film adaptations this year! And yes, I still haven’t watched Shadow & Bone 😅 I’m just procrastinating at this point. I feel like I’ve basically been spoiled for the whole show at this point (thanks, Bookstagram)… but honestly, that’s not really a problem for me. The real problem is that I think I’m suffering from Grishaverse burnout—bookish social media is literally talking about it 24/7 and it’s starting to exhaust me. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be over this phase soon, so don’t be surprised if I suddenly binge the show in August and start screaming about it just when everyone has gotten over it 😉
Favorite post you have done this year
I haven’t posted all that much this year 😅 So my options are rather limited… but I will say that I’m pretty proud of my post Resources to #StopAsianHate + 2021 YA Releases by AAPI Authors. I spent a lot of my time and energy writing that post and I’m so happy that I was able to raise awareness in my own small way about anti-Asian racism.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year
I’ve bought 4 books this year so far, which is very few for me! COVID has converted me into a library lover, so I rarely buy books nowadays. But I think the title of Most Beautiful out of the four candidates is a tie between A Vow So Bold and Deadly and The Ones We’re Meant to Find! The red-and-gold palette of Vow looks so regal and gorgeous and absolutely stunning especially with the other two books in the series 🤩 And TOWMTF is just… *exquisite* 😚 To be honest, I didn’t particularly love the cover of TOWMTF when I first saw it, but up close, the details are absolutely beautiful. The waves!! The freckles on the girls’ faces!! The clouds!! The color of the sky!! And good grief I’m even obsessed with the font. It’s such a perfect choice.
Books you need to read by the end of the year
Again, SO. MANY. I hate feeling pressured to read, but at the same time, I have an unhealthy obsession with numbers when it comes to books. Why am I like this?!
Anyway, here are a couple books I’m hoping to get to within the next couple of months, minus the review copies I really need to catch up on soon (😰) and the books I’ve already mentioned:
We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss. This book is one of the first books I ever added to my TBR—why I haven’t gotten around to it yet is a mystery. It sounds like something I’ll love and it’s been on my priority list for at least a year now. By the end of this year, I promise!!
You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer. I heard about this book from a blog post and immediately added it to my TBR, but I can’t remember which blog it was 😫 I always love reading books that are centered around family relationships, and on top of that the blurb sounds so heartbreaking. Definitely an anticipated 5-star read! Whichever blog it was that I stumbled upon in my Reader, thank you so much for bringing this book to my attention!!
Lovely War by Julie Berry. Not me using this book for the same question two years in a row 🙈 I really need to get to this book this year. I have an IRL friend who’s been begging me to read it for the past few months, as well as plenty of blogging friends who are obsessed with it. Can’t wait to see what all the hype’s about!!
The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He. Like I said, this is one of my four bookish acquisitions this year, which basically says all that you need to know about my expectations. Spoiler alert: They’re sky-high. Believe it or not, I actually wasn’t planning to read this book when it first released (the blurb didn’t really sound like my thing), but after reading countless rave reviews, I decided that it did, in fact, sound like my thing after all. So here I am. Wish me luck with the plot twists 😳
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. Another backlist TBR item! I’ve read mixed reviews for this one, so I’m a bit hesitant.. but I can’t just not read a book that’s been sitting patiently on my shelf for a year, now can I? 😙 I’ll be keeping my expectations relatively low, but if I happen to love it, my timing will be perfect since the sequel is releasing in October!
I’d like to tag a few bloggers to answer these questions, but no pressure at all if you don’t have the time or inclination to do so! 😊
Everyone else, please check out these blogs!! They’re all incredible and gorgeous and some of my favorites ❤️
And another overlong post comes to an end! If you’re still here, thank you for sticking with me and my rambling 😂 And now it’s time to chat—how have you all been?? What’s the best book you’ve read in 2021? The worst? Please feel free to strike up a conversation in the comments!!
Thank you so much for reading!! 🥰