The 2021 Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag!

Hi folksies!

It seems a bit off to be freaking out over books this time of year when recently all I’ve been freaking out about is the Olympics (anyone else been watching?), but last month Esmeralda at Lattes and Literature tagged me to do this, and since all the tags I’ve been doing in the past year I stole, I’m glad to finally be doing one legally! So here goes nothing!

(Even if it’s not the middle of the year anymore…)

#1: How much have you read?

Wow, such a nice and pretty number! Um… yeah, I didn’t expect myself to read a lot this year, so I set quite a low goal for myself… Heheh…

#2: What have you been reading?

Books. (Duh.)

Okay, that aside, if you take a look at my Goodreads shelf, you’d see that the majority of my reads this year appear to be mangas. This is likely because I’ve been branching out with my reading tastes and trying to get into a habit of reading more manga besides Haikyuu. I read a lot of Haikyuu manga near the end of the school year because I was stressed, you know?

But of course, I’ve been reading novels as well. I’m surprised to report that for once fantasy doesn’t seem to be in the lead–including the mangas and school books I’ve read so far, most of them are actually contemporary or historical fiction, as well as sci-fi, mystery/thrillers, and nonfiction. And as you continue reading this post, you’ll see an overwhelming amount of books set in East Asia… Wait, this is getting weird. What happened to all my fantasy??

#3: Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2021

Aiya, that’s not exactly the easiest question… Not including the entirety of the Haikyuu manga series, I guess I’ll stick with these few.

Book Cover

How Should We Then Live? by Francis A. Schaeffer: Technically, I’m still reading this book–it’s long–but I’m really enjoying it thus far. I mean, it’s all about art and Christianity, both of which I think are pretty cool subjects and best when combined, you know? But anyway, not-so-funny story… This was the last book on our class syllabus for omnibus this year, and I couldn’t find a good English copy of it anywhere online, so I bought it as an eBook on Amazon for like 16 USD, which I wasn’t too pleased about, but I forgot about it soon after… until one day while I was away on my mission trip, my sister informed that she randomly saw a paper copy of it sitting on my dad’s shelf of theology books in our grandparents’ house.

Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. Le sigh.

Rogue by Moriah Jane: You guys, PLEASE read this book; it’s absolutely amazing. First and foremost, it’s clearly marketed as a YA vampire book without romance–which was enough to draw my attention from the start. But as I read it, I completely fell in love with the story itself. From the unique world of uneasy coexistence between vampires and humans, to the concise cast of intriguing characters, to the relationship between the MC Willow and her vampire buddy Hanas Blackwell… I loved it. I even ended up shipping those two and am now sorry that there isn’t any romance in it but you did not read that.

Calculated by Nova McBee: Not gonna lie, I almost cried several times throughout reading this book. Why? Because it was written by an author who, despite not being native to Chinese culture, so clearly and completely loves and understands it in the perspective of a “foreigner.” The main character too is a foreigner in China, but the way her story unfolds connects her to the nation in a way that’s so beautifully done. This book is actually a retelling of the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, and the parallels at every turn were so delightful to discover. I think the main reason I held off reading it so long was because of the mathematical aspect, but I surprised myself by enjoying it quite a bit. 10/10 recommended read!

#4: Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2021

*squints* Well I haven’t actually been reading much in the way of sequels yet this year…

There. You happy? I’ve been doing a totally crappy job of continuing with series this year, lol; I’ve mostly been reading standalones and first books in a series. But Dawn of Vengeance by Ronie Kendig blew me away–I loved it more than the first book, Brand of Light, though I was distressed at the lack of Tigo Deken… Anyway, this sequel made me like the main character a lot more than before, and the romance was way easier to get behind than in the first one.

#5: New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, but Want to

Yours Is the Night by Amanda Dykes: A few years ago I read Whose Waves These Are and fell in love with Amanda Dykes’s writing, but I haven’t been following her releases since until I came across this one. This book actually just released today, but I’m hoping to snag a physical copy of it as soon as I can (which probably won’t be very soon considering we just moved, and are supposed to be moving again soon, so…).

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim: While I haven’t read any of Elizabeth Lim’s books yet, I’m eager to get my hands on this one. It’s a retelling of “The Six Swans,” the Grimm variant of only my favorite fairytale ever (“The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Andersen), and set in an East Asian fantasy world no less! I mean, I intend to write a medieval China inspired retelling of the Wild Swans myself someday too, so of course I wanna scope out my competition first, right?

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur: Okay, I’ve basically been doing a terrible job at keeping up with new releases in general this year. June Hur’s debut The Silence of Bones was one of my favorite reads of 2020, but for some reason I didn’t follow her second novel’s release at all. (Though I think I made up for it by just finishing an ARC of her next release, The Red Palace–review coming soon!) But since I’m in the murder mystery and East Asian setting mood apparently, I’ll be sure to get this one by the end of the year. I think. Possibly.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean: How can I not be in love with this premise? An ordinary girl suddenly finding out she’s actually the princess of Japan–I’m a sucker for modern royalty stories, and I’m a total Japanophile here, so of course I want to read this. I’m still a bit leery about picking it up though because I’ve started trusting mainstream young adult less and less these days, but one of these days it’s probably gonna happen anyway. Also, come on, look at that cover.

#6: Most Anticipated Release for Second Half of the Year

Easy peasy.

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus: I seem to really be in a murder mystery kick this year, don’t I? I haven’t read McManus’s other books just cause they don’t interest me as much, and I don’t even know if I’ll care for this one because, again, mainstream YA. But I’m willing to give it a shot when it comes out this November.

The A Villain’s Ever After series: The two covers depicted above are the ones I’m most anticipating, but I’m eager to binge the entire series. Some of my very favorite indie authors are releasing novellas in this series all through the fall, and these covers are just beautiful, and I just can’t wait~~ And LOOK, HANSEL AND GRETEL! I’m dying to read that one, and of course I always love Little Red Riding Hood retellings for some reason. Basically, these will just be my fairytale fix for the year, lol.

#7: Out of Your Comfort Zone

Not for Sale by David Batstone: No matter what, a book about human trafficking can never be something in your comfort zone. It was a really difficult read, but overall I truly appreciated it and am glad I read it.

The Golden Days (A Dream of Red Chambers, Vol. 1) by Cao Xueqin: I… I don’t even know how to describe this book. It was an English translation of one of the Four Great Classics of Chinese literature, and while I enjoyed getting a firsthand look at China in those days, it was still… yeah. There’s a saying in China that literally says young people shouldn’t read it because of the, well, wickedness of many of the characters. Not even my parents have read this. And yes, I had to do it for school, haha.

#8: Biggest Surprise

Why was I surprised by this book? Because I was expecting it to be awful. One of my friends really hated it, but I actually found it pretty good. Some parts were indeed quite dry and a bit dull, but the message was powerful and heartbreaking. It’s not written in the style of historical fiction today, but I’m glad I read it.

#9: New Favorite Author

Jenna Terese: Her superhero novel Ignite released this July, and I’d like to take this moment to shove you all in that direction!

Ellen McGinty: In The Water Child, she writes about Japan with the same care Nova McBee does with China, and I don’t care what people say about not letting authors write in the POVs of characters from a different ethnicity than themselves–if anything, McGinty proves that’s garbage. I can’t wait to read her future novels.

#10: Underrated Gems You’ve Discovered Recently

What the heck does underrated even mean in this case? I don’t think I’ve enjoyed many books if they’re that badly received xD (It’s usually the other way around for us, isn’t it?) But below are three that few in my circles have read but totally should.

The Means That Make Us Strangers by Christine Kindberg: The ending of this book destroyed me. There isn’t much to say, except that this novel about a white girl who grew up in Africa trying to adjust to life in America was beautiful and you should all read it.

Dragon’s Reach by J.A. Andrews: Talk about epic fantasy–you’ve got a crew of lovable characters, a fascinating antagonist, and a compelling plot, all wrapped up with a neat little bow. The sequel is like 700+ pages long though so I haven’t actually read that one yet, heheh…

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Politics, y’all. I love politics in fiction. The idea of a girl “fixing” the problems of the elite sons and daughters of Super Important People from the Political World is just so great, and the book itself was fabulous.

#11: Rereads This Year

Ah yes, this one.

#12: Book That Made You Cry

*falls silent*

#13: Book That Made You Happy

All Fall Down by Ally Carter: GIVE ME GLOBAL POLITICS OR GIVE ME DEATH! As someone who is absolutely obsessed with this tiny subgenre, I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite it being one of the less-beloved series by Ally Carter. A series about the sons and daughters of international ambassadors and diplomats… *dies of happiness* It also contains one of the greatest platonic boy-girl friendships ever so there’s that.

Bias by Lucy Gold: I had no idea what I was signing up for when I read this book, but boy am I glad I did. I don’t really care for K-Pop, but reading this book was like stepping back into Korea, which I haven’t visited in two years. The side characters in this book were awesome and I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series!

Play It Cool, Guys by Kokone Nata: An adorable manga about four ridiculous dudes just trying to get on with life. The relatability of it all was terrifying, but I laughed so hard going through it.

#14: Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought or Received So Far This Year

How about the Only Beautiful Book I’ve Bought or Received So Far This Year?

The main themes in The Infinity Courts follows a very secular-humanist line of thinking, which I obviously disagree with but think was presented beautifully nevertheless. I don’t actually have a physical copy of the book. It’s on my Kindle. Stop feeling sorry for me.

#15: Goals for the Rest of the Year

Uh, I don’t really know. Buy more physical copies of books? Try light novels? Finish the three thick books on my currently-reading shelf–How Should We Then Live?, Dearest Josephine by Caroline George, and The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron?

I’m very chill about reading, you know. I don’t really do goals.

*falls over* Guys, this post took me only forever to finish writing. But I’d forgotten how much fun it is to post about books on this blog! Hope y’all take a look at some (or preferably all) that I mentioned!

Until next time,

~ Merie

11 thoughts on “The 2021 Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag!

  1. So many books!!!
    Kudos to you to reading 75 books so far! My goal is 100, and I’m only about at 55…
    I’m SO excited for the villian’s ever after series! *screams*
    Also I really want to read those books you talked about that are set in Japan. Mostly because I really want to visit Japan someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks! It was definitely the mangas that got me there.

      Saaaaaame, I just got an ARC of the first book~~ So excited to binge each one as they come out!

      I’m obsessed with Japan, so I 100% recommend checking out those books!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Way to go crushing your reading goal like that!! πŸ’ͺ As somebody who is painfully behind in their Goodreads challenge, I can appreciate your success. πŸ˜„
    I loved reading this book and I just added some books to my staggering TBR pile. (Specifically The Forest of Lost Girls…that one sounds SO. COOL.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. AMANDA DYKES!! I discovered her last year and devoured Up From The Sea, Whose Waves These Are, Set The Stars Alight, and Tin Can Serenade. And today i bought Yours Is The Night buuuuut I’m forcing myself to finish two others before reading it. (who am I kidding I’ll probably pick it up once I’m done with Golgotha)

    Some of these look really interesting! I might just check them out! I have been wanting to read The Silence of Bones…maybe I should get on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Whose Waves These Are! I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of her other books since then though… lol… oops.

      TSoB is awesome, you should definitely give it a shot!


  4. “What have you been reading?” “Books. (Duh.)” Best response to that question. XD

    I also absolutely loved How Should We Then Live? (The question mark at the end of that title keeps throwing me off whenever I write it in a sentence.) Calculated was also excellent overall, although sadly I didn’t love the sequel (love. triangle. why.).

    I love reading these posts! I’m working on finishing mine up (although it’s now the “late” mid-year book freak-out tag).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Couldn’t help myself πŸ˜‚

      Yeeeesss it’s so good! But it’s also big and intimidating lol (at least, each individual chapter is). I’m taking my sweet old time reading it now that I don’t have school deadlines looming over me to speed through everything! And yes, Calculated was one of my favorite books of the year but my sister warned me of the love triangle in book two and now I’m just putting it off…

      Thank you! I’ll be sure to check yours out too πŸ˜„

      Liked by 1 person

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