The mid-year book freak out tag is everywhere on Booktube this time of year. It’s always one of my favorite tags to watch. So this year, I decided to do a post with the mid-year questions. Now, picking just one book for each of these questions was asking a lot of my indecisive personality. So naturally, I didn’t just choose one for some of these. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Best book you’ve read in 2020
The best book I’ve this year so far has to be The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. This book was near flawless. From the character development to the world building, I was blown away by this first installment in The Broken Earth trilogy. I was wary about the second-person perspective at first, but it really worked. Not only is this just objectively the best written book I’ve read this year, it was one that I really didn’t want to end.
Runner up… Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Can I write a blog post without mentioning these books? Doesn’t seem like it. I’m giving these runner up statuses because they were *technically* rereads, so I don’t think they fully count for the tag. But of course, a reread of my favorite books merits mentioning.
Best sequel you’ve read in 2020
This is a hard question for me. I tend to binge read series, so I’ve read quite a few sequels already this year. I think the best sequel I’ve read, in terms of building upon the preceding book, has to be The Wicked King by Holly Black. I was honestly lukewarm on this popular series after reading the first book. But the second book really hooked me. Black raised the stakes and upped her development in a way that grabbed and held my attention.
For some runners up, I’d say definitely both of the sequels in The Infernal Devices series. I’m not mentioning my favorite, Clockwork Princess, here specifically because it’ll come up later in this tag. Likewise, all the sequels in The Raven Cycle series were outstanding, but again, I’ll mention those for later questions. It’s probably unspoken, but of course also my reread of Crooked Kingdom is a favorite sequel, too.
New release you haven’t read yet but want to
I have several new releases from 2019 that I haven’t read, so frankly, I’m a little behind on releases in general. But there’s definitely one 2020 release that stands out for this question. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Rosanne A. Brown is at the top of my to-be-read list. It’s a debut fantasy novel based on West African Folklore and has enemies to lovers romance. It sounds perfect, and I can’t wait to pick it up.
Another release that I think technically counts for this is A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green. Now, it just came out yesterday [July 7], and I would’ve already started it if my pre-order had shipped on time [which is a non-problem that I don’t mind]. So, it’s a little gray in qualifying for this question since I don’t have it in my hands yet. But it is one of my most anticipated reads this year. I loved An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and just adore both the Green brothers’ writing in general. I’m also very scared to read it, but I have A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins on my shelf.
Most anticipated release for the second half of 2020
Well, since I’m so behind on my tbr, I honestly don’t have a ton of 2020 releases that I’m planning on buying immediately when they come out. However, there are a few I’m definitely looking forward to. The first is A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir. This series is one that I’m not totally caught up on. Book three is on my shelf, and I plan on reading it before the fourth and last installment comes out in December. Then, I’m excited for Blood and Honey by Shelby Mahurin. I enjoyed Serpent and Dove when I read it last year, and I’m interested to see where Mahurin takes the world of Lou and Reid. I’m also interested to read Kingdom of the Wicked by Keri Maniscalco. I’ve read two of Maniscalco’s books in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, and I’ve really enjoyed both. I’m excited to see what she does with a fantastical world. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo, which was just announced last week. I’m so excited to read what she does with the folklore and religion in the Grishaverse.
Biggest disappointment this year
I tend to read books that I enjoy. I don’t know if this is a product of my knowledge of my own reading taste or just plain luck. Either way, I tend not to be too disappointed in books. Of course with that said, I did have one disappointment that stands out this year. That is To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. Now, I won’t say this book was bad. It just didn’t live up to my expectations. The world building and atmosphere were wonderful, but I just didn’t care about the romance plot, and some of the characters felt a bit underdeveloped for me.
Biggest surprise this year
I think I have to say the biggest surprise of this year has been The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It’s not that I wasn’t expecting to like this book. Mainly, I’m just generally wary when going into classics. I’m nervous I won’t be able to fully appreciate what they offer; I’m wary of the antiquated representations; I’m scared the language will be too hard to keep up. With all of these considerations, I was a bit nervous to go into this one. However, I was really surprised that I enjoyed Dorian Gray as much as I did. The story itself was interesting and twisted, and the message was fascinating.
Favorite new author of 2020
I don’t think I can choose just one author for this. None of these are debut 2020 authors, but they are new to me. First, N.K. Jemisin has to be my new favorite this year. Her writing is absolutely stunning. She is just excellent at what she does, and she created a world that I literally lie in bed at night and think about. Next, I’d have to Oscar Wilde became a new favorite after I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I mentioned above. Katrina Leno also became a fast favorite after reading Summer of Salt this year. The same can be said of Courtney Stevens after I read Dress Codes for Small Towns. Finally, I was blown away by Benjamin Alire Saenz in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I can’t wait to read more of his books. These will all probably make my favorites of the year.
Newest fictional crush
I have two books for this with multiple characters in each. Am I cheating? Probably. But I just can’t decide on this. First, every main character in The Raven Cycle. They’re all in love with each other, and I love all of them. If I had to pick just one, I’d definitely say Gansey. I know he can be annoying, and I know most people are more invested in Adam and Ronan. But I just adore Gansey and his passion for finding Glendower.
Then, I’d be lying if I didn’t include James Herondale. I loved Will Herondale in The Infernal Devices, but I think James is my favorite (don’t ask me about Jace). I adored learning about him in Chain of Gold, and I can’t wait to see where his story goes.
Newest favorite character
I have a couple new favorite characters from this year. Sorry if you thought I was done talking about Chain of Gold because I’m not. Cordelia Carstairs is amazing. She is definitely my new favorite Shadowhunter character and a definite overall favorite this year. I love that she’s strong, smart and empathetic; she isn’t one of those typical YA fantasy heroines who is just defined by one trait. Cordelia is just fantastic, and I can’t wait to read more from her perspective.
Essun from The Fifth Season is likewise a favorite character. I don’t want to say why, but just know she is. I also really enjoyed Alex Stern from Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. She is unreliable and makes horrible choices, but I really enjoyed reading about the world from her perspective.
Book that made you cry
Remember when I said earlier that Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare was going to mentioned later in this tag? Well, here it is. The epilogue in Clockwork Princess made me ugly cry. I don’t mean a few spare tears. I mean full-on sobbing on my couch. We all know Cassie Clare loves to tear our hearts out in epilogues, but this one was just heart-wrenching. I don’t want to say too much, but if you’ve read it, you know.
I don’t cry all the time while reading but am known to shed a few tears now and then. So, here are a few more books that made me cry so far this year.
Book that made you happy
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe just made me smile. It’s just so damn funny and witty. I couldn’t help random bursts of out-loud laughter escaping from me while reading this book. Norris Kaplan is one of the wittiest and most sarcastic characters I’ve ever read, and his perspective was so fun to read from. Now, this book does delve into some important topics, so it’s not just all fun and games. But when Philippe sets out to be funny on the page, it works and it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year
I haven’t watched a ton of adaptations this year. Really, the ones I’m anticipating most have yet to come out (looking at you Dune and Shadow & Bone). However, I have watched one that was just adorable. In February the second To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix movie came out. P.S. I Still Love You was cute and fluffy, even though I’m not a John Ambrose stan (though Jordan Fisher made it hard to stick with Peter K!). I can’t wait to see what they do with the third installment, though I’ll be sad to see these movies go. They are perfect distractions from real life, and this cast is just wonderful to watch together.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought in 2020
Hands down the most beautiful book I’ve bought this year is A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. I love illustrated covers like this. This one is just over the top gorgeous. Not only does this book have a beautiful cover, it’s also a wonderful YA fantasy debut. If you want more of my thoughts on this one, check out my May and June wrap-up. A runner up for this question is definitely Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. I think I *technically* bought it in the last few days of December 2019, but it didn’t ship until after the New Year, so I’ll count it as a 2020 buy.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year
I mean… all of them. Truly I have too many to count. I definitely can’t just choose one for this question. If I had to choose my top books, though, they’d be:
- A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
- The Obelisk Gates (and The Stone Sky) by N.K. Jemisin
- A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab
- The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Steifvater
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Well, there you have it! My mid-year book freak out tag is now complete. What has been your favorite read of 2020? Let me know down in the comments!