Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

It’s that time again! It’s the middle of the year and I’m freaking out for a whole bunch of reasons but, in this post specifically, it’s because of books.

So I checked my GR challenge from last year and, by mid-year 2020, I’d read 22 books (which is a lot more than I expected it to be, to be quite honest). And by mid-year this year, I’ve read 35… so… a win! I’m hoping that means it’ll be easier to answer these questions this year, but I guess we’ll see. So, without further ado, the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2021

Surprisingly, one of the two books I’ve managed to narrow this down to (it’s physically impossible for me to pick just one) is the very first book I read this year. Not surprisingly, if you follow me on Twitter or if you’ve read the book, it’s Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Ugh, I loved every aspect of this book, from the focus on identity and empowerment, to the romance, to the magic. I’ve apparently read 34 books since this one, but I just cannot get it out of my head.

Book two for this answer is Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim! I got obsessed with this book when I first read it, gave it a rave review (here) with the level of gushing I usually save for Marie Lu books, and then told everyone that would listen how truly incredible this book is… And then Hodder gave me an eARC of the sequel and I fangirled just as much, which leads us onto…

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2021

Surprise! It’s the beautiful and magical and incredible sequel to Spin the Dawn: Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim. But, also, The Block by Ben Oliver because book one was good but book two was incredible. By the way, my review for Unravel the Dusk is here and my review of The Block is here.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet (But Want To)

So. Many. Possible. Answers. But I’m breaking my pattern of indecisiveness to say Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart. I won an ARC of this in a giveaway and I also have a sneaking suspicion that there’s one in a book box at my parents’ house… so I’m pretty sure the universe is telling me that I need to read this book. And I will. Hopefully soon.

Most Anticipated Release For the Second Part of the Year

When I drafted this tag, my answer included Once Upon a Broken Heart but I’ve since been blessed enough to read an eARC of this! I can confirm that it is 1000000% worth the hype. But anyway, my answer now is Steelstriker by Marie Lu because I can’t do a tag without including at least one Marie Lu book and because Skyhunter was incredible.

Biggest Disappointment

I’ve been pretty happy with most of the books I’ve read this year, but I guess Of Wicked Blood didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Biggest Surprise

Love in Five Acts by Daniela Krien. This book is not my usual genre at all but I was gifted an ARC so I gave it a go, and I ended up really loving it! My review, if you’re interested, is here.

Favourite New Author

Elizabeth Lim! No explanation needed.

Newest Fictional Crush

It’s been a while since I had a new fictional crush, to be honest… but an eligible book boyfriend that I would recommend is Henry, from From Little Tokyo, With Love. My review of this adorable book can be found here.

Newest Favourite Character

Evangeline from Once Upon a Broken Heart!

Book That Made You Cry

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao literally made me cry in the prologue… And again in Chapter 1, and so on.

Book That Made You Happy

Although you may not expect it from the title: The Sad Ghost Club. This book was so sweet and heart-warming and adorable that it makes me happy just thinking about it.

The Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

I’m yet to read it, but I treated myself to the Indie Exclusive edition of Circus of Wonders and it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen. I literally screamed when I opened the package and saw the floral sprayed edges.

What Books Do You Need To Read By The End of The Year?

So many. But, to name a few:

Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

The Upper World by Femi Fadugba

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

Steelstriker by Marie Lu

I’d love to hear how your reading year’s going! Are you on track for your Goodreads Challenge (if you’re taking part)? And what’s your favourite book of 2021 so far?

April Wrap-Up

Happy May! I have high hopes for this month because, once again, I surprised myself and had a really good reading month in April. I’m really happy with my progress on my GR challenge (30/50 so far!) and I’m crossing my fingers that I can keep going at this rate…

Anyway, here’s a wrap up of the honestly-amazing books that I read in April:

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao – When I saw that this book was available as ‘Read Now’ on NetGalley, after obsessing over the cover since it was first announced, I knew that I needed to read this asap. It’s a very emotional, very sweet book about dealing with grief and learning to move on, and I really enjoyed it. 4/5

The Block by Ben Oliver– My review for this is right here. I loved loved loved this book and all of its creepy, dystopian elements. I’ve been looking for some old-school YA dystopia (think The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave) and this was definitely it. 5/5

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim– If you’ve read my Spin the Dawn review (right here), you’ll know that I fell in love with Elizabeth Lim’s writing as soon as I started it, and this sequel absolutely did not let me down. It was magical and unique and I am obsessed. 5/5

Things to Do Before the End of the World by Emily Barr – I’d already read a contemporary, a dystopia and a fantasy book in April, so for my fourth book of the month, I picked a thriller. This was a fun, unputdownable book that took place across Europe and gave me definite holiday envy, about what people do when the world is about to end. I didn’t connect hugely with the characters but it was exciting and unpredictable for sure. 3.5/5

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman – New. Book. By. Gayle. Forman! I’ve loved so many Gayle Forman books in the past that I knew I had to read this one immediately. It’s a sweet story about young love, coping with trauma and, most importantly, saving a bookshop. It was very clever and very much Gayle Forman’s style so, if you’ve liked her other books, you’ll likely enjoy this one too. 4/5

The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner – My review for this one is right here. I don’t read a lot of middle-grade books but this one was a mystery about a carnival that I knew I had to read. It’s perfect for its target audience but, honestly, I loved it as an adult too and would absolutely recommend. 5/5

Dear Azula, I Have a Crush on Danny Phantom by Azura Tyabji and Jackson Neal – I kind of requested this poetry collection on a whim as soon as I saw Azula in the title. I don’t read a lot of poetry so don’t have a huge amount to compare it to, but it was a fun, nostalgic and very short read. 3/5

From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn– When my copy of this book got delivered, I legitimately screamed. I’ll be posting a review soon, but it was a really fun book about fitting in, learning to love yourself and community spirit, with the added bonus of an adorable relationship, and I really enjoyed it. 4.5/5

Up All Night by Laura Silverman– the group of authors that wrote this book is incredible. It’s a series of short stories by some of the best YA contemporary, fantasy and thriller writers of the last few years, and it was another completely unputdownable book. It contained thirteen stories that I got through in a day, and it was such a varied collection that I wasn’t bored for a moment. 4.5/5

And that’s it! I’d love to hear what your favourite read of the month was and add it to my ever-growing TBR, so please drop a comment if you have any exciting recommendations 🙂

ARC REVIEW: Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant

*Thank you to Penguin Teen for the eARC*

Tell Me When You Feel Something tells the story of somewhat-friends Viv and Davida in the lead-up and aftermath of a tragic event in their lives. When Viv is seen taking a pill that causes a potentially fatal reaction at a party, Davida is desperate to prove that this was some kind of mistake; but as we witness the weeks leading up to the party, it becomes clear that maybe nobody really knows Viv enough to understand what’s going through her mind at all.

This book is very intense and covers some incredibly serious and troubling subjects including addiction, sexual assault and drug use, but this is definitely handled carefully and, sadly, believably. The book is told from Viv, Davida and Davida’s boyfriend Tim’s perspectives, with police interviews with all involved parties mixed in following any big reveals in the plot. This was a really fascinating style for me, as I loved that the police interviews were almost responses to Viv’s chapters, and that the police were discovering things just as the reader was.

I can see from the twists and even the characters why this book is compared to One of Us is Lying and I would absolutely recommend it to fans of Karen McManus’ books, or anyone who likes intense, high-school set thrillers and contemporaries. It was a fast-paced, serious story with a troubled set of characters, an impossibility to determine who to trust, and a page-turning quality that no other book has gripped me with for a while.

Not only was the end surprising, it was also fascinating to see Viv throughout the story in situations that you wouldn’t expect and reacting in ways that were completely unpredictable. She’s a likeable, realistic character who is in no way to blame for anything that happens to her and that really makes this a heart-breaking tale and a saddening warning about society and the struggles that young people go through in the wrong situations.

RATING: 4/5

Tell Me When You Feel Something is publishing in June 2021.

ARC REVIEW: FORESHADOW by Nova Ren Suma, Emily X.R. Pan, et al.

This is my first time reviewing a short story anthology, and only my fifth time reading one (my former favourite being Slasher Girls and Monster Boys), so I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about this! BUT I know that I loved the collection and wanted to share my thoughts with you, so here we go:

*Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC of this wonderful collection*

Foreshadow is an anthology of short stories by thirteen incredible, diverse and lesser-known Young Adult authors, introduced by a variety of famous names. Each story is followed by a short essay by Nova Ren Suma or Emily X. R. Pan about a theme, motif or technique used within, and each essay is followed by a writing prompt on a similar theme.

I adored this collection. When I first heard about it, I was instantly obsessed, and when I started reading, that didn’t change at all. The range in these stories means that there is at least one in the collection that everyone will love, and I found myself constantly surprised by the genre variance from one tale to the next. It’s consistent in the way that each story resonates with the reader, but uses an incredible array of settings, genres and voices to achieve this. It is easy to see how every single author used their own personality to shape their contribution to this collection and it was fascinating to become so invested in thirteen different plots in such a short space of time.

I do have to admit that a couple of the stories weren’t my favourite, but the entire concept of this collection completely made up for it. I found that, even if a specific story wasn’t for me, I connected with the characters anyway and looked forward to the analysis that followed. Plus, whether I loved them all or not, I can easily say that every story in this book is edited to perfection. A few of my favourites (that were 5/5 reads easily) were ESCAPE, SOLACE, GLOW and BREAK, all of which have inspired me to check out the authors in the hope that they have something else I can read immediately.

This beautiful collection showcases the diversity that Young Adult Fiction has to offer, as well as the depth that can be achieved in a short story, which is interesting for all readers, but especially for aspiring authors. This collection made me want to open up a new document and start writing after every single story, and I haven’t read anything powerful enough to inspire me like that in a long time.  I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a diverse and thought-provoking collection of stories by up-and-coming new authors, but would argue that it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to be inspired to begin (or continue) their own writing journey.

RATING: 5/5

Side note: this collection was originally a digital anthology, published at foreshadowya.com, where there are additional stories and content warnings for everything included in this collection!

Foreshadow comes out on October 20th 2020.

BOOK REVIEW: CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo

*Thank you to Hot Key Books for the e-arc*

I don’t throw the term ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read’ around often, but it’s impossible not to consider this one of the most beautiful, poignant stories I’ve ever read, both in terms of the writing style and the dual stories.

‘Clap When You Land’ follows Yahaira and Camino, two half-siblings who don’t know that the other exists, and who find this out quite drastically following the death of their father. When they each find out that their father had two families and, effectively, two lives, they are heartbroken and confused, and having to deal with that in addition to their loss is a pain that they both face very differently and very beautifully.

I couldn’t choose a favourite character of the two. Both are strong and independent, and I think it makes the book all the more heartbreaking that they both try to be strong throughout it all. It made me more emotional to think about how much they were trying to hold it together than I think it would be to see them both fall apart. Both Yahaira and Camino are two of the most emotionally mature, and yet still believable, teenagers I’ve ever read. The other characters in the story also had an incredible amount of depth to them that I was certainly impressed by, and I found myself becoming invested in the plots of all of the characters, rather than just Yahaira and Camino.

The writing style in this book is something that totally blew me away. I have never read a book in verse before and, when I first started, I was a little sceptical about whether I would be able to read an entirely (relatively long) novel that is written this way. Within pages, though, I was completely hooked. It was so easy to get pulled through the book and I was halfway through before it even felt like I’d started. It’s such an easy book to read, despite the intense and meaningful plot.

The lives that are portrayed in this story are extremely contrasting, but both were equally captivating, and I finished this book in a day because I literally couldn’t put it down. The combination of Yahaira’s determination, Camino’s strength and an incredibly beautiful verse writing style definitely made this my most memorable book of the year so far, and I know for a fact that I will be picking up everything I can by Elizabeth Acevedo.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear if you were as completely gripped as I was. Also, if you have any similar recommendations, I would love to hear them! This is a style that I think I might be quickly falling in love with….

RATING: 5/5

My Most Anticipated 2020 Releases

Happy New Year! I want to start by saying that I hope you all have a wonderful year and achieve everything you hope to achieve (in life, and in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge!). There’s so much I want to get done this year, and reading an obscene amount of books is a part of that.

That being said, there are so many new books coming out this year that have jumped straight to the top of my TBR. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated reads of 2020.

A Throne of Swans by Katherine and Elizabeth Korr

I was gifted a copy of this book a week ago and I’m itching to start it. With dark fantasy elements, shapeshifters, royalty and revenge, I’m certain that this is going to be incredible. It comes out really soon and I’m excited to see how everyone else enjoys it too.

Release date: 09/01/2020

You can get a copy here.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

I hadn’t heard of this book until I received it in a box from Book Box Club. Now, having looked into it a little, I’m convinced it’s going to be amazing.

This book is about cross-cultural romance and political activism, which are both incredibly important topics. This is definitely one of the books I’m most excited about this year.

Release date: 04/02/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

If you follow me on twitter, or have ever read any of my other blog posts, this probably won’t come as a surprise. Marie Lu is my favourite author of all time and I’ve wanted a copy of this book since before I even knew it existed.

This book is a historical fantasy about Mozart’s sister. When she becomes downhearted about being overshadowed by her prodigal brother, she finds herself being swept into a fantasy world of her own creation. I cannot wait to read this book. Music and fantasy are two things I’m passionate about, and Marie Lu’s writing could make this story truly incredible.

Release date: 03/03/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This book kind of goes without saying. As someone who got hooked on YA in 2014, The Hunger Games was a staple on my bookshelf. Although my obsession with the series has definitely worn off over time, I owe it to my former self to read and fall in love with this prequel.

Release date: 19/05/2020

You can get a copy here.

Again, Again by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is another author whose books I will always buy. I’ve read We Were Liars a million times and I even got to meet her at a signing a couple of years ago, which was incredible.

Her newest book is Again, Again, about a girl who saves her brother from a suicide attempt, and how she deals with the emotional trauma of this in the aftermath. I know it’s going to be emotional, potentially painful and incredibly beautiful.

Release date: 11/06/2020

You can get a copy here.

I’d love to hear what your most anticipated reads of 2020 are so let me know down below! Otherwise, I hope you have an amazing year ahead.

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