I know that this is typically a BookTube thing, but video editing is too much work for me right now. I also know that it’s a liiiiiittle past mid year, but in the grand tradition of my ancestors, I’m late. Seriously, I had multiple tias growing up who were so known for being late that we used to tell them things started 1-2 hours before they actually did if we needed them to be on time. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a short series of questions about how your reading has gone so far this year and looking at some things you want to get to in the rest of the year. But first, some stats. taken from my StoryGraph!
I am sitting at 23 books, which means I’m about a third of the way through to my goal of 75 books. It’s still doable, I just need to pick up my audio book listening. The 23 books puts me at 7,153 pages, with dark and emotional being my top moods for the books. That sounds about right, I do love me some books that make me cry. I’m at 70% fiction and 30% non-fiction with my top genres being Fantasy, Romance, and LGBTQIA+, though I am not quite sure that last one counts as a genre, but it’s good to know. Almost half of my books were audio books. I tend to listen to a lot of books as I’m trying to fall asleep or while I’m playing Dreamlight Valley. Katee Robert is my most read author, which should surprise no one. She puts out a ton of books in a year and I preorder pretty much all of them. Now, on to the questions!
What is the best book you’ve read so far this year? Hands down, it’s The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson. It was one of the first books I read this year and as soon as I finished it, I immediately shoved it at everyone I knew. It’s a YA retelling of Stephen King’s Carrie, but centering a biracial, white passing, teenage girl in rural Georgia. Already an outcast because of her extremely sheltered life with her Good Ol’ Days racist father, who keeps her from really knowing anything about her Black heritage or mother, Maddy is outed as being biracial and it’s all kind of down hill from there. It’s gut wrenching at parts and made me incandescent with rage at others. Told in both the current day perspective through a true crime/mystery podcast that is trying to find out what actually happened at the school’s first integrated prom, as well as flashbacks to Maddy and a few other characters, the audio is a perfect avenue to read the book. It’s a near full cast recording which makes it really easy to keep track of whose POV you’re in at any given time and the podcast segments are really well produced and sound like you’re listening to an actual podcast.
What is the best sequel that you’ve read so far this year? By virtue of the fact that I haven’t read too many series this year, I’d have to go with Radiant Sin by Katee Robert. Her Dark Olympus series is a favorite of mine because I love both smutty books AND Greek myth retellings. Every book has been a sit down and don’t get up until I’m done kind of read, despite I think all of the books in the series being near/over 500 pages. It’s a bit hard to get into because it’s the 4th book in the series (or 5th if you count the Stone Heart novella) but it’s a reimagining of Greek myth, where instead of Gods, the Olympians are more like elected officials who help run different aspects of the city of Olympus. Some of the roles are inherited and some are elected. It sounds convoluted, but I promise it makes sense in the story. This book is Apollo/Cassandra and is part spies and court intrigue, and part isolated closed circle mystery, with a healthy amount of fake dating and banging the bejesus out of each other. Apollo is the softest boi and the way that Cassandra’s myth of no one believing her is done in a modern setting is really well done.
What is a new release that you can’t wait to read? Another layup for sure. Cassiel’s Servant by Jacqueline Carey. When I tell you that I have been waiting years for a new book in the Kushiel’s Legacy series, I am not joking. I literally pre-ordered this the DAY that the announcement was made, which was almost a year ago now. I may not always gravitate towards more Ye Olden Daye horse and carriage fantasy but I love this series with my whole heart. It inspired my first tattoo and even though it’s been a few years since I’ve read it, I’ve probably read the first trilogy a dozen times. This one is not a gimmick I usually like as it’s a retelling of Kushiel’s Dart, but from the point of view of everyone’s favorite Grump, Joscelin Verreuil instead of Phedre no Delauny. I think that being in Joscelin’s head will be different enough since the poor guy was an orange cat personified at the start of that book. I’m trying to finish up my reread of Kushiel’s Dart so I can get to it ASAP.
What is your most anticipated book for the rest of the year? This one was kind of hard since I was waffling between a couple, but it would either be The Dead Take The A Train by Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw or Never Whistle At Night which is a short story anthology edited by Shane Hawk. Both are kind of cover buys, but have premises that are just like catnip to me. The Dead Take the A Train is pitched as “Neil Gaiman meets Jessica Jones” and I’m sold right there. The main character means to summon a guardian angel to help her out of a tough spot and oops she summons an old god instead and chaos ensues. It sounds like a fun time and I enjoyed Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, so I’m here for a female dumpster fire magician. Never Whistle At Night is labeled as Dark Fiction, which I’m taking to mean creepy horror-lite and the entire short story collection is by Indigenous authors. There are a few names I know on the list, but I’m looking forward to hopefully finding some more Indigenous authors I like.
What was your biggest disappointment so far this year? There were only a couple since as a whole I’m pretty good at picking out books I’m going to enjoy. I was so excited for Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen and it turned out to be a DNF for me. From the blurb, it sounded like it was going to be a modern spin on The Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail, but instead of a bookshop it’s competing Chinese astrology matchmaking services. Now if you know me, I am huge into any kind of astrology and I like learning more about how for other cultures astrology is just a normal part of everyday life instead of something white dudes on the internet clown on women for liking. I also don’t mind suspending belief in romance books or unlikeable main characters. But this was just TOO much. The lies were over the top and felt almost mean and the main character was AWFUL to the love interest without it feeling like she really had cause to hate him. I made it about half way before throwing in the towel.
What was your biggest surprise so far this year? I’m going to go with Shield-Maiden: Gambit of Blood by Melanie Karsak. I picked this one up on a whim from KU because I wanted to try some viking/Norse myth type fiction because I was listening to The Poetic Edda and it’s not a subset of fiction that I’ve really read. I had a great time. There were battles with a bad ass Shield-Maiden, a sprinkle of magic, and I immediately wanted to pick up the next book by the end. You can’t ask for more than that, especially for one I went into without a recommendation or anything.
Who is your favorite new author? I went with a debut author even though the question is more of a new-to-you type. Clarkisha Kent. I’ve followed Clarkisha for a long time on the bird site (and now on the bee site since that’s where she landed) and I knew that I liked her sense of humor. I had preordered Fat Off/Fat On when she announced it and I was not disappointed. It was so funny and relatable and her dark humor really shone through. It was an enjoyable as hell memoir debut in the same vein as Samantha Irby or Jenny Lawson. She read the audio book as well and her random asides and commentary were great. if you like non fiction and/or memoirs, I definitely recommend it.
Who was your favorite character so far? Definitely Marissa Dhal from Pretty As A Picture by Elizabeth Little. I found this book through Book Tok, and it was recommended with a mention that the main character was coded Autistic, but since it was from her POV it wasn’t really a plot point or a big deal and that the rep was pretty accurate. That was definitely the case and I related so much to the character even if I wasn’t thrown into the midst of a murder on a movie filming set. I definitely have safe foods, sensory issues, and do not always people very well. From the GR reviews it seems like she’s a divisive character because while a lot of ND people relate there were quite a few Neurotypical people who found her annoying so YMMV.
What book made you cry? Oh so many of them, but there was a tie between Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk and Shame Is An Ocean I Swim Across my Mary Lambert. Both broke my heart in different ways, and both featured just unbelievable writing. Even Though I Knew the End reminded me a lot of This Is How You Lose The Time War in that the story at times seemed confusing, but the writing was so beautiful that you really didn’t care and it all cleared up in the end. It was just a wonderful, queer, noir and I can’t wait to pick it up again because I know I will. Shame Is An Ocean is a poetry collection from singer Mary Lambert and touches on topics from queer romance to disability to her horrific car crash and some of the poems were the kind that made me sob while listening to them.
What book made you happy? Okay so this one is probably going to sound a little weird because it’s a murder mystery, but Sprinkle With Murder by Jenn McKinlay. It’s a cozy mystery about a cupcake shop owner who is accused of poisoning her best friend’s fiancee. It was just a funny, snarky, fluffy mystery and reminded me of a combination of the types of mystery books my grandparents read that I would inevitably wind up reading once they finished.
What was the most beautiful book so far this year? This one is aiming at covers instead of writing and I’m going purely on cover design even though I’ve not read it yet (it’s on my TBR for this month!) The Sun & The Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz. The cover is so stunning that it’s why I looked into the book in the first place.
What is a book you really need to finish? Oh that is an easy one to finish up on. Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo. I loved all of her books, but Ninth House was a favorite of mine from 2019. I picked up Hell Bent as soon as it came out, but it had been so long since I read Ninth House, that I needed a refresher on what happened and I just haven’t gotten back to Hell Bent yet. I need to know what happens in Hell!
Well, there’s my list for so far this year. What are some of your favorites so far?