I can’t believe the year is almost half over already! At the beginning of this year, I decided to take on four separate reading challenges, for a total of 158 books. Somehow, this didn’t seem too unrealistic to me since last year I also did four challenges for a total of 142 books, but ended up reading 146. I figured out that to accomplish my goal, I would need to read an average of 13 books per month, which didn’t seem too bad considering I can generally finish a book in 2-3 days and I also include quite a few graphic novels. A lot of the books I read are YA so many of them tend to go pretty quickly as well.
As of right now, I am currently somewhere between 4 and 5 books behind schedule according to my Goodreads homepage, and I say “between” because it seems to go back and forth each time I add a book. I have finished 70 books, and I am expecting to finish at least 2, maybe 3, more by the end of the month. I’ve found that on average, the books I’m reading this year are a little longer than last year’s choices, and I’ve had a relatively busy year. Now that we are coming up to summer, I’m hoping to be able to read more. I have two weeks off work in July, and my workload in general tends to be lighter in the summer since there is one major project I am in charge of which does not run over the summer. I’m hoping to dedicate some of that time to tackling some of my longer books or more difficult books.
In any case, I decided to do this tag because I’ve been seeing it literally everywhere in the past week or so! This tag was originally co-created by Chami (video here) and Ely, whose video/post I could not find. This tag seemed like a great way to look back on the books I’ve read so far this year, and also look ahead to the rest of the year!
1) Best book you’ve read so far this year
I have to say that as a whole, I’ve found this year a little underwhelming so far but I think that has more to do with the strategy I picked than the actual books. I purposely started my year with some of the challenge prompts I was least excited for to get them out of the way and kept some of the books I’m most excited for purposely for later so I don’t finish them all at once. I think the best book overall that I’ve read so far would have to be Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan. It feels a bit strange to be picking a graphic novel as my favourite book so far since it is not a format I read a ton of, but I have been getting more into them recently. I absolutely loved the storyline and it reminded me of a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Incredibles. This is one of the books that really jumped out at me when looking through my list as something I really loved.
2) Best sequel you’ve read so far this year
As part of my challenges over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to incorporate more series, especially the many that are very widely talked about online. Both years, I decided to pick a few series to try, and I found that many of them actually did live up to the hype. I actually haven’t read too many of the sequels yet, but my favourite so far would have to be Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd. The first book, The Madman’s Daughter, was by far one of my standouts last year and I was very excited to continue the series. This book is inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and it definitely kept up the dark and creepy atmosphere.
3) New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
There are many since I am not very good at keeping up-to-date with new releases. It’s hard for me to keep up since I plan out books for my challenges (with flexibility though) just before the start of the new year, and depend on the library to get the books I want. I’m always willing to switch things up, but I also find it hard to knock other books off my list in favour of something new! One of the new releases that I’m most excited for is Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. The more I read about this book, the more I want to try it myself! This book was only released at the end of last month, so I still have time before my library decides to get it to see if I can squeeze it in somewhere!
4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Like I mentioned above, it’s kind of hard for me to anticipate releases since I know I’m most likely not going to have time to read them within the year, unless I want them badly enough to bump something else out of the challenge. I think one of the books I’m most highly anticipating is actually Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. Her first book, Hyperbole and a Half, is right up there with Strong Female Protagonist as one of my best books of the year. I decided to choose this as my most anticipated because I’d seen rumours online that it had been pushed back indefinitely, and even when trying to research it now, I’m getting conflicting information. There are several books that I am interested in reading, but this is the one that I most strongly feel that I really badly want to read right away.
5) Biggest Disappointment
I would definitely have to say The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and I’m sure I will get a lot of complaint about that one. I’ll admit that I never really intended to read this book in the first place, but decided to give it a chance because it was chosen as Book of the Month in one of my Goodreads groups. After seeing so much praise and hype around it (always a warning sign for me), I was a bit skeptical. I liked what Colson Whitehead tried to do with this book by having each stop on the railroad a window into different forms of racism and some of them were very interesting. Unfortunately, I found the book incredibly slow-paced and lacking emotional impact because it was written in such a distant way. Given how highly rated this book was, I expected to enjoy it a lot more. To be fair, maybe I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a book that I had been more interested to read in the first place.
6) Biggest Surprise
I have two for this one: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Although I did expect to like both of these books, I definitely wasn’t expecting to love them! The Hating Game is about a hate-to-love relationship between two coworkers up for the same promotion, and The Status of All Things is about a woman who gains the ability to change her life through her Facebook statuses. Both seem like kind of silly premises, but they both worked incredibly well. I think in both cases, it was down to the way the authors handled the stories that made them so appealing. Both were very fun to read, and by far exceeded my expectations.
7) Favourite New Author (Debut or New To You)
Once again, I have to go with two books this one. There were many authors that I really enjoyed this year, but many of them were authors that I had read from before. There were two authors who were new to me who stood out most: Noelle Stevenson (Nimona) and Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen). Noelle Stevenson stood out to me because she created such complex characters in a graphic novel format and it was a book that I didn’t want to end. The characters leap off the page. I was a little worried about Red Queen because I’d seen so many criticisms of how similar it was to other YA dystopian series, but I was blown away by this book and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected I would. I think Victoria Aveyard’s writing style was a big factor in that.
8) Newest Fictional Crush
I’ve never really been one to get crushes on fictional characters, but there were a few this year that I thought were just adorable. If I had to pick just one, I think I would go with Reid from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (with Levi from Fangirl in a close second). He was just such a sweet character, and I loved his geeky charm. I also loved his interactions with Molly. He was one of the few boys in a YA book that actually felt realistic to me, and I liked how they made him nerdy without going over the top with it.
9) Newest Favourite Character
Definitely Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, although I have to say I cringed every time they used her full name “Cather.” She was a character that I very strongly related to, anxiety and all. I thought she was a very interesting protagonist because she was a little different than most other main characters. I liked that the book wasn’t all about “fixing” her anxiety and that it didn’t magically disappear by the end of the book. She felt very real and I loved how her relationships with other characters were so well-developed.
10) A Book That Made You Cry
Honestly, I don’t think any of the books really made me cry (at least not like A Monster Calls last year, which literally had me in tears). I guess the closest would be Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart, which I actually used for a challenge prompt that called for a book that makes you cry. This book is a graphic novel written by a father whose young daughter suddenly and unexpectedly dies overnight, and follows the lives of him and his wife in the aftermath. It didn’t quite make me cry, but there were many parts that made me tear up and I think I might have actually cried if I hadn’t been reading it in public.
11) A Book That Made You Happy
Definitely the Upside of Unrequited, which is linked and pictured above. Like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda last year, I thought this book was such a cute story. I understand a lot of people have complained about Molly’s preoccupation with finding a boyfriend, but I didn’t have a problem with it. For one thing, other characters were pushing her to date more than she was pushing herself, and for another, her crushes were the main focus on the book. It goes back to a point I was trying to make in a post earlier this year about the need for diverse stories — not all female characters have to be strong, independent women, and sometimes the story will focus on finding love. In any case, this book made me really happy because it was so fun to read and Becky Albertalli’s characters always make me smile.
12) Favourite Book to Film Adaptation You Saw This Year
I don’t think I have seen any, unless you count Wonder Woman since it is technically based on a comic series. I haven’t been to very many movies this year in general, and the most memorable were Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Wonder Woman.
Actually, if we include TV series as well, then I would have to mention both Thirteen Reasons Why, and especially A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. I thought both series were very well-done, and I especially loved how A Series of Unfortunate Events (ASUE? What an awkward acronym…) stuck so closely to the text.
13) Favourite Review You’ve Written This Year
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog for a while, you’ll notice that I’m terrible when it comes to writing reviews. My original intent with the blog was to write reviews for the books I reading for my “Rejects Challenge” from my Goodreads group, but after a couple of reviews that fell apart pretty quickly mostly because I have not read much for my Rejects Challenge yet.
Instead, I will mention a couple of my favourite posts I’ve made this year:
- How Degrassi Got Diversity Right: The Importance of Diverse Stories, where I talk about how it is important to have stories that are diverse and not just diverse characters
- The Pokemon Go Book Tag, because it was one of the longer tags that I did and gave me the chance to talk about quite a variety of books
- Is A Predictable Book A Bad Book?, where I talk about whether it is always such a bad thing for a book to be predictable. (I’m cheating a bit – This post is actually from 2016, but still a favourite!)
- Top 10 Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017, which was my first Top 10 Tuesdays post which broke me out of the comfort zone of only talking about books that I’d already read
14) Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought or Received So Far This Year
I haven’t bought much this year, and oddly enough none of the books we’ve brought home from library discards have been particularly attractive either. Instead, I’ll choose a book I borrowed from the library: What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera. It was a great book, although definitely not a light one, and the cover is so beautiful. Actually, it was the cover that attracted me to this book in the first place when I first saw some of the people I followed on Goodreads talking about it last year.
15) What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?
I guess it depends how we’re defining “need.” I still have many books left for my challenges that I “need” to read in order to reach my goal, but there are also many books that I’m very interested in that are coming out last this year. Since several of those have been mentioned in the Top Ten Tuesday post listed above, I will mention a few books from my challenges that I need to read (as in, the books that I am most excited for, and most committed to reading this year).
- Wrecked by Maria Padian
- Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
- Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
- Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera