June 28, 2020

Book Tag | The Mid-Year Book Freakout

Lauren, here (cause who else would it be, let's be honest) and we are finally into the second half of the year-that-crawled-out-of-Hell.
In summary, I am way ahead of my Goodreads goal, already hitting 57 out of 100 (thank you lockdown); my blog went silent for longer than I had intended; and I am back to square one of finding a job. So, swings and roundabouts, as they say.
The Mid-Year Book Freakout tag was created by ReadLikeWildfire and Earl Grey Books.

1. What is the best book you've read so far in 2020?
The Migration
Helen Marshall
I really tried avoiding books that deal with apocalypses, pandemics, and grief quite early on during the lockdown. It had been a while since I had read the synopsis, so I didn't know that it featured a virus pandemic and the death of a loved one.
Marshall, just had this way of writing that even after finishing the book, it stuck with me and kept making me think. It was exactly the kind of speculative fiction that I wish I had the guts to pick up more often. A tender exploration of hope and human morality. If you can handle reading about this subject, it is one that I completely recommend you check out.

2. What is the best sequel you've read so far in 2020?
Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3)
Susan Dennard
I still can't believe that I put off reading this for the best part of a year. I ended up taking part in Rachael Marie's weekend readathon (before I knew all the terrible things she has said and done) and picked up Truthwitch for a reread. And the rest is history.
This is, by far, my favourite book in the series. So many revelations. So much character growth. BAEDUAN.

3. What new release haven't you read yet, but want to?
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Roseanne A. Brown
I don't think this is actually out in the UK until July 9th, but I know in the states it's been out since the start of June.
This just sounds exactly like the kind of YA fantasy I tend to reach for. Inspired by West African folklore, this is a duel perspective fantasy with slow-burn enemies to lovers (WITH PINING). AND THE COVER?! Wow. If anyone knows who the cover artist is, please let me know!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
V.E. Schwab
*pretends to be shocked*
I feel like I have been waiting an age to read this; maybe since it was mentioned during V's This Savage Song UK Tour?
I've seen the pieces that have been posted of V's socials and have teared up many times at just the brief encounter I have been allowed to see. I know Titan Books have created a sample of the first 100 pages, but I am so terrified to read it. Just, please, be Vicious-level phenomenal.

5. What is your biggest disappointment read so far in 2020?
Wonderland: An Anthology
Edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane
This is the second of Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane's anthologies that I have read this year. I really loved Cursed, and the stories that had been curated for that collection, so I had high hopes for Wonderland.
Then it crashed.
I only really like L.L. Mckinney's, which acted as an extension for her A Blade so Black trilogy (I really must get to that), and the rest was either not my cuppa or eeeehhhhh.

6. What has been the biggest surprise?
Skein Island
Aliya Whiteley
This is one that I have just finished. I was initially intrigued by the blurb when it landed in my inbox, and then got worried when I saw quite mixed reviews. It is certainly not a book for everyone and comes across as a bizarre mix of mythology, horror, and literary fiction.

7. Have you discovered a favourite new author (debut or new-to-you)?
Get a Life, Chloe Brown
Talia Hibbert
Looking through the books I've read this year, I've come to realize that there aren't that many contenders, except possibly Helen Marshall and Aliya Whiteley. So, I'm cheating with this one because I haven't even finished this book. Let that be an indicator of how talented Talia Hibbert's is as an adult-romance author.

8. Newest fictional crush?
A Throne of Swans
Katherine & Elizabeth Corr
I struggled with answering this question last year, for the exact same reason - I just don't get book crushes anymore?
That being said, I really loved Lucien Rookwood from A Throne of Swans and the developing relationship with Aderyn.
It wasn't perfect, and perhaps moved a bit too quickly for my liking, but it was still top tier swoon.

9. Newest favourite character?
Strangeworld's Travel Agency
L.D. Lapinski
Feel like I'm cheating again for this question, because I'm not just talking about one favourite character, but two.
Flick and Jonathan, from L.D. Lapinski's The Strangeworld's Travel Agency.
Their dynamic reminded me so much of the relationship between the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler that it just made my little heart happy. I can't wait to see where Lapinski takes her series, with the multitude of worlds we can visit and the chaos that Flick could wreak.

10. Have there been any books that have made you cry?
Ashley Poston
I did not expect to cry reading Geekerella. At all. I was hoping for cute, fluffy romance that would have my heart soaring for the afternoon. However, you know the scene in Disney's Cinderella, where the sisters are ripping apart her mother's dress? When we came to the equivalent in Poston's writing, I just couldn't push through that without unleashing the tears. My mum is no way like Catherine, however there was something about the unwillingness to accept Elle and Elle's father's love of a Sci-fi show and how that has shaped her into the person she is. As well as how a SFF can act as a lense to learn about the world, doesn't mean that we can't be grounded in "reality" really got to me.
11. Have there been any books that have made you happy?
The Stone Rose
Jacqueline Raynor
I got sad. Bought the audiobook. Its narrated by David Tennant. Best money I've ever spent. Do I need to say more?

12.  What is the most beautiful book you've bought this year (or received)?
The Queen of Innis Lear
Tessa Gratton
The Queens of Innis Lear made its rounds in the book community quite a while ago. The UK cover is just stunning.
I was initally interested because of the cover and ended up finally buying a copy after reading the opening chapters whilst browsing Waterstones (remember when that was still a thing *sobs*)

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
The House of Shattered Wings
Aliette de Bodard
I have every book in the series, and yet, I am so intimidated to start the series. I mean the UK type font is tiny and I've heard this can be quite confusing. I still remain determined though.

Descendant of the Crane
Joan He
I know this has been out, technically, since 2019, however Descendant of the Crane has only just recently been released by Titan Books over here in the UK. Again, this sounds like the kind of fantasy that I will really enjoy... fingers crossed.

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