The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2019

Obligatory intro about how I cannot believe the year is halfway over.  Also, you can see my past answers for this tag here: 2017 | 2018

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2019

Hands down, no competition, Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, one of the most informative and engaging pieces of nonfiction I’ve read in years, which masterfully contextualizes the Troubles and fills in so many gaps that Keefe’s primarily American audience is bound to need filling in.  I can’t recommend this highly enough.  Review here.

The only two other books that I can confidently say will make my top 10 of the year so far are Maus by Art Spiegelman and The Fire Starters by Jan Carson.

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

I’ve only read one sequel in its entirety – The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan.  Thankfully I loved it – I thought it was a lot stronger than its predecessor, and even though I’m not wild about police procedurals most of the time I’m really hooked on this series.  Review here.

I’ve also started two others: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang (I’m about 40% through) and Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb (around page 120) so the jury’s still out on both of these, but I don’t have any complaints about either so far.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

All UK releases, but oh well.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: This is an Iliad retelling that recounts the Trojan War from an all-female perspective: need I say more?

Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson: I believe this is a memoir (essay collection?) about health and the body and feminism, or something like that.  I haven’t heard a single negative thing about it.  This is the only one of these three that I own and I can’t wait to pick it up.

What Red Was by Rosie Price: I mean, I rationally understand that marketing comps aren’t to be taken too seriously, but when a book is pitched as Normal People meets Asking For It… I mean.  I need to read it.

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea, Valerie by Sara Stridsberg, and The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson will hopefully all be excellent.  More thoughts on why I’m excited for these here.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin: I just don’t get this book; I simultaneously don’t get why I didn’t like it more and don’t get the excessive amounts of praise it has received.  Everything about this book seemed like it was going to be right up my alley (Irish! depressing!), so it’s probably my biggest disappointment of the year that I remained so utterly unaffected by it.  Review here.

Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden: Is there anything worse than enjoying a book only for it to be utterly undermined and destroyed by a horrifically bad conclusion?  More on that here in one of my rare spoiler-filled reviews.

The Cassandra by Sharma Shields: You know me – I love a Greek myth retelling and I adore Cassandra, but this was ruined by positively absurd characters and awful plotting.  Review here.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year

Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev: This book seems to be very hit or miss for most people due to Shalmiyev’s slightly unconventional style of prose, but I really got on with it and this remains one of the most heart-wrenching memoirs I’ve read.  Review here.

The Parting Glass by Gina Marie Guadagnino: A very random title by a debut author that I hadn’t heard anything about – I picked it up on a whim and adored it.  Review here.

Cherry by Nico Walker: it is a rare and talented author that could keep me riveted by the story of a young, remorseless man who joins the army and develops a drug addiction.  Review here.

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

Mathias Énard: It could just be Charlotte Mandell’s exquisite translation, but Tell Them of Battles, Kings & Elephants probably had the most beautiful writing of anything I’ve read all year.  I just adored everything about that book and cannot wait to read more from Énard.

Robin Hobb: When I started Assassin’s Apprentice I fell instantly in love with Robin Hobb’s prose, and despite that book’s overly slow pace, I got the impression that I had found a new favorite fantasy author.  Royal Assassin has so far been confirming that suspicion!

Colin Barrett: Such a brilliant fresh new voice in Irish fiction that I cannot wait to read more from in the future.  Calm With Horses from his collection Young Skins remains one of the best short stories (novellas?) I’ve ever read.

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

Pass.

Question 9 – New favourite character

Billy from Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is so my type it’s not even funny.

Tom from A Natural by Ross Raisin is a quiet character who made a huge impression.

Fitz from the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb has been a brilliant protagonist whose journey I’m really enjoying following.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

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Only one – Maus by Art Spiegelman.  I pretty much don’t cry as a general rule, but my god, this book wrecked me.  Thankfully I was house-sitting while reading this and was alone so I could unashamedly weep through the last 100 pages or so.

Question 11 – A book that made you happy

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps: Though this occasionally touches on heavier subjects, there were so many anecdotes that actually made me laugh out loud.  The story about Busy breaking her leg while moshing to Nirvana at a school dance makes me laugh even thinking about it now.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: To describe this as a romp would be somewhat dismissive of its thematic depth, but my god did I have fun reading this.

Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett: Bizarre and occasionally unsettling, but very hilarious as well.

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

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I haven’t read this book yet, but I absolutely adored the film The Miseducation of Cameron Post.  I don’t usually get on with films aimed at teenagers (which is fine! I can admit when I’m not the target audience!), but I thought this film navigated its horrifying subject matter with the right amount of warmth and seriousness, and I was really moved by Chloë Grace Moretz’s performance.

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

Read More Women: a post I did for International Women’s Day where I talk about several popular male-authored works and suggest female-authored alternatives.

Also, all of my Women’s Prize coverage:

Women’s Prize Longlist Predictions
Women’s Prize Longlist Reaction
Women’s Prize Shortlist Reaction
Women’s Prize Longlist Reflections
Women’s Prize Shortlist Review & Winner Prediction

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias Énard, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, and Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler are all gorgeous.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

Everything left on my 2019 Backlist TBR, Five Star Predictions Round 3, and ARCs I need to read #4 posts, among other things.

How’s your reading year been going so far?  Comment and let me know!

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2018

I did this tag last summer but I guess it’s that time of year again!  I thought this would be a good way to just check in with you guys about my year of reading so far.

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2018

I think it’s a toss up between Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, and Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon.  Asking For It is a powerful and hard-hitting look at rape culture in contemporary Ireland; Tin Man is a simple but elegantly written love story between two men in England; and Self-Portrait with Boy is a stunning literary novel about a woman’s ethical dilemma when she accidentally photographs a young boy falling to his death.

I actually haven’t been having the best reading year, quality-wise – I’ve read other books I’ve really enjoyed, but these are the only three that are really guaranteed to make my top 10 list at the end of the year.  Securing only 3 of the 10 spots isn’t that great.  I’d like to have read 10 books by now that I loved so much that narrowing it down to 10 at the end of the year will be torture.

It occurred to me after I wrote all that that I should have also included When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy, but I’m not going to add it because those 3 covers look great together and I’m shallow.

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

I haven’t read any.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

The World Spins Only Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, among many others.

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and Melmoth by Sarah Perry.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment

My enjoyment level varied with each of these, but Circe by Madeline Miller, Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, and A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza all disappointed me in different ways.  Circe I was just expecting to adore because of how much I’d loved The Song of Achilles, but instead I found it rather dull; Days Without End more like Pages Without End; and A Place For Us promised emotion and heartbreak and didn’t deliver on either for me.  I felt like a robot while reading that book.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry (why do people hate this book?! it’s such a good thriller!), The Pisces by Melissa Broder (so so so weird and uncomfortable but in a way that really clicked with me), Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen (an author I’d never heard of, but this book was a haunting emotional roller coaster and a reminder of how much I adore Chinese-set historical fiction).

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

Louise O’Neill, Marina Carr, Meena Kandasamy.

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

Pass.

Question 9 – New favourite character

30962053It has to be Selin from The Idiot by Elif Batuman.  I think her voice comes closer to my own than any other character I’ve ever read.  So I realize that makes this a bit of a narcissistic answer.  But I just really connected with this character.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

32620332The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  I read this in two sittings and admittedly was in a much more emotional state than I usually am so I don’t think I normally would have cried while reading this, but I really needed some escapism and this book and its characters completely absorbed me and as soon as I closed the book I started crying because I was so overwhelmed by this wonderful story.

Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy

N/A

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

I haven’t read this book yet and I know it’s ridiculous that I’ve only just watched the film, but I saw The Green Mile I think back in March and I fell in love with it.  I can’t say I’m terribly interested in reading the book, though…

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

Ah, I don’t know!  Maybe my Women’s Prize Shortlist Review post solely because I pushed myself to finish The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock so I could write that post before the winner was announced, and I’m still proud of having read 10/16 of the longlisted titles this year.  Or my review of The Odyssey because Emily Wilson retweeted it and that made me happy.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

I just ordered The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan and The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin from Book Depository entirely because of their gorgeous covers, so even though they haven’t made their way to me yet it seemed like an appropriate answer.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

Everything I’ve mentioned in this post that I haven’t read yet!

Tagging anyone who’d like to do this.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag

I’ve been seeing this tag going around and was initially going to use Thrice Read‘s open-ended ‘do this if you want’ tag as an excuse to do it, but halfway through writing this post I also got tagged by Steph – thanks guys!

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2017

There have been a lot of great ones so far, so it’s hard to choose!  I’m leaning toward East of Eden by John Steinbeck or Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.  (Incidentally, I actually found a lot of similarities between these two.)

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

None, so far!  The only ‘sequel’ (more of a companion novel really) I’ve read so far is Roses of May, Dot Hutchinson’s sequel/companion to The Butterfly Garden, but I didn’t like it very much.  Looking forward to The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (sequel to The Fifth Season) and Lady Cop Makes Trouble (sequel to Girl Waits with Gun) by Amy Stewart, whenever I get around to those.  Hopefully by the end of the year.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

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Oh god, too many.  Human Acts by Han Kang.  I’m also obsessed with this cover, so I really want to buy a copy.

Question 4 –  Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  I was so enamored with her debut Everything I Never Told You.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment 

Either White Fur by Jardine Libaire or An Untamed State by Roxane Gay.  I think these are my only two 1-star reads so far this year.  With White Fur, I found the writing pretentious and the characters insufferable.  Full review here.  With An Untamed State, I thought it was a really simplistic look at a lot of complicated issues, and I ended up being really offended by the voyeuristic way that numerous scenes of sexual assault were depicted.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year 

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Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge.  It was such a simple little book that shouldn’t have wowed me as much as it did, but I was really emotionally invested in these characters.

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

I was really impressed with M.L. Rio’s debut If We Were Villains, which I was happy about since I’d been following her on various social media for a while and was already invested in her book doing well.  I also look forward to reading anything else by Caite Dolan-Leach, who wrote Dead Letters.

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

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I don’t really have fictional crushes?!  If anything probably Alexander the Great from Mary Renault’s Fire from Heaven.  Not fictional, but still.

Question 9 – New favourite character

Question 10 – A book that made you cry 

None so far this year!

Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy

I don’t do comic books.

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

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I haven’t actually read the book this was based off, but Lion was all kinds of amazing and it absolutely destroyed me in the best possible way.

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

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Probably my review of House of Names by Colm Toibin.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

All of these beauties.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

Oh god.  Too many.  I don’t want to think about it.  See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt, Yesterday by Felicia Yap, and The First Day by Phil Harrison for Netgalley, and then just… whatever else I get from Netgalley; whatever other publisher ARCs I get; whatever Book of the Month chooses next; whatever else I feel like reading.

Tagging you, if you haven’t already done this!  Pingback to me here so I can read it!