I can’t believe we are already halfway through the year! Last year, I’d commented that it was my biggest reading challenge ever, and I’ve somehow managed to even exceed that. I set myself the whopping goal of 252 books this year since I was indecisive and didn’t want to give up any of the challenges I found. Obviously that number is not the most realistic, so like last year, I’ve extended the timeline on several of these challenges. It would be amazing to be able to finish everything by December, but I highly doubt that will be possible! I’ve currently read 84 books in total, which is 33% of my total. It’s a bit disappointing in a sense that I’m only a third of the way through my challenges at the halfway point of the year, but not very surprising given the huge total.
I’ve also found this year a bit of a weird reading year in general. I’ve read many books that I’ve really enjoyed, with the vast majority being either 4 or 5 stars, but somehow have trouble picking out a few clear favourites. I think part of the reason my progress has felt relatively slow is because I’ve read quite a few longer books. I re-read the entire Harry Potter series (which will be excluded from the questions in this tag, since we already know how much I love those books), and most of the Throne of Glass series. I’m actually pretty much on par with where I was at this point of the year in 2018, but it feels like I’m more behind because the overall total is so much higher. It was an extremely ambitious goal, and at this point I’ve kind of shifted my mindset more toward finishing as many as I can, instead of getting hung up on finishing everything.
I decided to do this tag again because it is a great way to reflect back on my reading progress this year, and start to get excited for the second half! This tag was originally co-created by Chami (video here) and Ely, whose video/post I could not find.
1) Best book you’ve read so far this year
As I’ve mentioned above, for some reason I have a really hard time picking one clear favourite, even though there were many books that I loved. I almost wonder if a part of that is because many of the books that I read were series, and I kind of blend them all into one book somehow. I have rated 41 books 5 stars on Goodreads, which is very close to half of my total reads so far. I think if I had to choose just one book that really captured my interest, it would be The Woman in the Window. I know there is a lot of controversy around this author right now, but I was able to put that aside while reading and just enjoy the book for what it was. It was a very engaging thriller that I devoured in just two days, and I could hardly put it down. I just wish I hadn’t accidentally spoiled myself for one of the twists when I was about halfway through by looking at a Goodreads review! One of the trigger warnings that someone included in their review gave away an important detail, although to be fair, I had a suspicion that was what was happening anyway.
2) Best sequel you’ve read so far this year
I definitely have to give this one to Crooked Kingdom, although Vengeful probably comes in a pretty close second. I went into Six of Crows late last year not expecting much because I’m generally not interested in heist stories, but ended up falling in love with the characters. I was so excited to read this sequel and get even more of them, and it definitely delivered. I thought the writing was so strong, and Leigh Bardugo crafts some very complex and interesting characters. I’d love to see more of this world. I actually considered this book for the previous question as well, but for the sake of diversifying the list a bit, I decided to give that category to a different book since I knew this one would also be a top choice here. I’ve read quite a few great sequels in general this year, including the majority of the Throne of Glass series, but I find I have an easier time differentiating the story when it is just a few books than for longer series. I still have quite a few more sequels planned for the rest of the year, so it will be interesting to see if anything knocks this one out of the top spot. Somehow I doubt it, but you never know. Looking ahead at the other series I have in mind for this year, there actually aren’t any that I expect to top this one, except maybe Kingdom Of Ash. If that book can keep my attention for nearly 1000 pages, it might just deserve the title of best sequel!
3) New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
I made it a goal for myself this year to try and read more new releases, so there are quite a few that I’m very excited to try. To make it easier on myself, I’m only including books that have been released up until now, and not any that are coming out in the second half of 2019. I think the new release that I’m most excited for and definitely intend to read by the end of this year is Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before, but she has very quickly become one of my new favourite YA authors and I love the unique premises of all of her books so far. I’m very excited to read this one, and it is one of my top priority books for this year. It was just released in May, and my library already has copies of it, so I’ll definitely be getting to it as soon as possible!
Just to name a few other new releases I’m interested in reading, and likely to read this year: King of Scars, You Asked for Perfect, The Silent Patient, and Slayer. These have all been released since January 2019, and all of them are books that I’m hoping to get to before the end of December!
4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
It’s hard to pick just one! It’s very unlikely that any of these books will make it into my challenges for this year, just because it might be hard to get a copy of them in time, but here are some of the upcoming releases that I’m most excited for:
- After the End by Clare Mackintosh
- Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia
- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
- Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
5) Biggest Disappointment
I’d have to go with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I have her Folk of the Air series earmarked for next year, and realized I’d never read any of her books, so I decided to start with this one. I didn’t hate it, and actually there were some parts of it that I really loved, but I found it a bit underwhelming overall. I liked Holly Black’s writing style at least, which is promising given that I’d like to read more of her books, but the story in general was very slow and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. It made it hard for me to remember what had happened from day to day, when I picked the book back up. I also really didn’t buy into the romance at all, so I wasn’t very invested in the story. I liked the backstory offered in every second chapter, and I thought the vampire mythology was interesting because it was a bit different from what I’ve seen before, but I expected a lot more from this given how much hype there is around Holly Black in general. To be fair though, after reading the book, I saw several reviews who commented that it is far from her best, so maybe it wasn’t the right place to start.
6) Biggest Surprise
I’d have to say The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll. I went into this book not necessarily expecting very much, and ended up really loving it. It is full of unlikable characters, but it didn’t bother me because they were all so interesting. This book is about a group of young and ambitious women who are featured on a reality TV series called Goal Diggers, with the intent of showing how women support each other in their ambitions. It is told from the perspective of three of the cast members, and is based around the idea that one of these woman has been killed, and it is unclear who is responsible or why she was targeted. This book surprised me because it had a lot more depth to it than I expected. It was a bit of a slower read than I thought it was going to be, but also very interesting. I’m generally not very interested in stories that involve celebrities of any kind, but I thought the reality TV angle was unique and I loved seeing the dynamics between the women. I also really loved the writing style and the way each of the characters was developed to be realistic, often unlikable but sympathetic at the same time. I expected to like this one, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did!
7) Favourite New Author (Debut or New To You)
I was a bit surprised to realize that I haven’t read very many books by new-to-me authors ye, or at least not too many that were 5 stars for me. Aside from both A.J. Finn and Jessica Knoll, who I’ve already mentioned above, I think my favourite new-to-me author would have to be Aimee Molloy. The Perfect Mother was one of the books that I was most excited to try this year, and I really enjoyed it! It didn’t quite take the direction that I expected with the story, and was definitely less of a thriller than I thought, but it was still a very interesting book, and another one that I devoured in just two days. I loved how Aimee Molloy touched on so many different attitudes toward motherhood through the perspectives of different characters. Her writing style drew me in immediately and kept me wanting to find out what happened next. The reveal at the end also caught me off-guard, although it was completely plausible. Thinking back on it now, I think this one might actually be up there with The Woman in the Window as a favourite of the year.
8) Newest Fictional Crush
I always struggle with this question because I don’t really get fictional crushes. I did really like Curtis in On the Come Up, although I don’t find him particularly memorable either. I had to look up his name before including him here. Other than that, I’d probably have to go with Matthias in Crooked Kingdom or maybe Rowan from the Throne of Glass series, although I’m a little on the fence about him. I like him as a love interest in the series, but I’m not sure if I personally would crush on him.
9) Newest Favourite Character
Easy choice for this one. I’d have to go with Bri from On the Come Up. I was so nervous going into this book because I wasn’t sure if it could possibly live up to The Hate U Give, but I ended up loving it. Bri is the 16-year-old daughter of a deceased rap star, who wants to become a famous rapper herself to help support her family since they are struggling financially. I thought Bri was a very compelling character and one of the most realistic teenagers that I’ve read in a long time. She was impulsive and sometimes got herself into trouble by reacting to things without thinking them through, but also very motivated to tackle the injustices that she sees around her. I thought Angie Thomas did a great job of striking the balance so that Bri genuinely seemed like a teenager, whose actions had real consequences and who struggled to make some very difficult decisions. This was another book that I absolutely devoured, and I’m so glad it lived up to all the hype.
10) A Book That Made You Cry
It’s very rare for a book to literally make me cry, but the one that probably came closest was A List of Cages by Robin Roe. I’d been meaning to read this one for three years now, so I’m glad I finally decided to pick it up. It is about a teenage boy named Adam who is working with the school psychologist, and is assigned to track down a freshman student who is avoiding his appointments. Adam soon discovers that this boy is his former foster brother Julian, who now lives with his abusive Uncle Russell. The book is told from the perspectives of both boys, and I loved how they were each given a distinct voice. I loved the brotherly relationship between them, and I also really liked how even the side characters were relatively well-developed and helped to flesh out Adam a bit more. I thought this book was very powerfully written and handled an incredibly difficult topic so well. It was hard to read at times, but I think that just goes to show how well Robin Roe handled the story. I look forward to reading more of her books whenever she releases something new.
11) A Book That Made You Happy
I think the one book that really stands out as one that made me happy was Always Never Yours. This was a 4-star book for me, but it was so much fun to read. Actually, I gave it 4.5 but ultimately rounded it down to a 4 on Goodreads because of a few plot points that I found a bit annoying. It is about a girl named Megan, who always seems to date a guy just before he finds his “true love.” Megan is also surprised to be cast as Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo & Juliet, which she only signed up for because she needs an acting credit to get into the school of her choice to become a director. Although I found Megan a bit annoying at times, I thought this was a fun story and I especially loved all the Shakespeare references. I liked that Megan was confident in going after the relationships she wanted and not ashamed of having dated several people, which is unusual for a female YA protagonist. I also loved how the authors tackled the idea of reputations, through other characters’ opinions of Megan and her choices, without that necessarily being the sole focus of the story. This book was a lot of fun and I liked that it had a bit more of a unique spin on the typical YA romance, although it definitely was one.
12) Favourite Book to Film Adaptation You Saw This Year
I don’t keep very good track of the adaptations that I watch, but I really enjoyed the third season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. They did such an amazing job with this series in general, and really captured the atmosphere of the books. I also really enjoyed watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which I didn’t even realize at first was an adaptation. Even when I saw that there were comics for it, I’d assumed that the series came first and the comics were the adaptation of the show. And I almost forgot — I really loved the first season of You! It was a bit different from the books, but I thought they did a great job of it.
13) Favourite Review You’ve Written This Year
I don’t really write reviews in general, but here are a few of my favourite posts that I’ve written so far this year:
- Discussion: The Pros and Cons of Binge-Reading Series
- Top 5 Wednesday: Bookish Things You’ve Changed Your Mind About
- Top 10 Tuesdays: Things That Make Me Pick Up A Book
14) Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought or Received So Far This Year
15) What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?
Considering I’m only a third of the way done my challenge, there are many books that I “need’ to read, but these are a few that are highest priority: