Friday, July 17, 2020


THE TIME HAS COME! A bit later than usual, yes, but it's HERE: my annual MID-YEAR BOOK FREAKOUT! In which I don't actually freak out but do get really excited over the best (and worst) books I've read in the first half of the year.

As per the usual, we'll start out with some statistics. I've read 59 books and 19,709 pages so far this year, which is a bit over half of what I'd read this time last year. You would think I would've read more this year, since I was home for several months longer than usual, but nope. Oh well. I'm still ahead of schedule on my overall reading goal of 99 books in the year.

What about my other reading goals? Well, towards my goal of twelve non-speculative-fiction books this year, I have read either eight or ten such books, depending on whether or not you count a few things that I read primarily for class and/or skimmed rather than reading properly. As for my twelve books written before I was born, I am currently at ten such books, thanks to my decision to reread Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes (which was an excellent decision, I'd like to add). So, on the whole, I'd say I'm doing pretty well.

Mid-Year Book Freakout 2020!

1. Best book you've read so far in 2020:

Moonscript by H.S.J. Williams

I wrote a full post with my thoughts on this book a my other blog a while back, but to sum up: I love the characters, I love the focus on friendship and family relationships, and I love the overall vibe of the book. As I've said before, it's like someone took The Silmarillion, Goldstone Wood, and Orphan's Song and blended it all into one beautiful book.

Also, two runners-up:

Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson

This is a beautiful book about creation and community and faith, and ohhhhhhh, it's so good. It's poetic without being pretentious and deep without being discomforting. If you're a person who creates, you ought to read this book as soon as humanely possible. Trust me.

An Echo of the Fae by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

I also reviewed Echo one at Light and Shadows, so go check that out for my full thoughts. But this is another very family-oriented book that's full of fae and beauty and fairy tale vibes. Also, it has selkies. How could anyone not love it?

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2020:

Not strictly a sequel, but the closest I can come . . .

Basically, I love sarcastic-yet-oddly-excited science and I cannot lie. Randall Munroe's books are the perfect blend of sarcastic cynicism and eagerness to share cool knowledge, and it's just so much fun!

3. New release you haven't read yet but want to: 

There are SO MANY of these, mostly due to the fact that I haven't been able to get my usual book hauls from the library even though I've been home, plus I didn't get all the books in over Christmas break or spring break that I wanted to. But the main one is probably:

I don't even have a good excuse; I own the book! But I got in the middle of my Great Redwall Reread, and life has been very full of good books to read, so yeah. It's still there, waiting for me.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

We've got a tie between two books that I've been looking forward to for nearly two years in one case and a solid three or four in the other:

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

It's Stormlight #4!!!! Need I say more? I am SO looking forward to returning to Roshar and spending several excellent days (maybe a solid excellent week) lost in this sure-to-be-a brick of a book.

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

EUGENIDES. I am concerned by one particular bit in the blurb ("death of the king?" Gen, nooooo!), but at the same time, I am sure that Eugenides will be in top scheming form (just as his author will be in top storytelling form), and I CANNOT WAIT. Hopefully it doesn't get pushed back again.

And then a runner-up that's actually multiple books, but is also mostly just one book:

Featuring, as y'all know by now, my next book, The Midnight Show! But also featuring Russian vibes, Greek-esque secrets, Celtic fae, and more. There's so much variety in this collection, and I am HERE FOR IT! (Also: sign up for the blog tour! Or ARCs! It will be much fun!)

5. Biggest disappointment:

Libraries being closed and preventing me from reading new releases, haha. But in terms of books I actually read, I'd have to say . . .

Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing

This is a book that I really wanted to love, and that I'd heard a lot of good things about, but the execution (and the focus) just wasn't what I hoped it would be. It had a lot of elements that I did enjoy, but they were outweighed by my frustrations with the writing style, my inability to keep track of the massive cast of characters, and my issues with the visual aspects of the book.

6. Biggest surprise:

Hmm . . . This one is hard this year. In general, I liked new-to-me books either as much as I expected to or less; there were no books that I was like "Wow, I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would!" I was surprised by how much more I liked some of the Redwall books when I reread them, so I guess I'll say that.

7. Favorite new-to-you author:

I . . . don't actually have one so far this year. All the books I've loved have been by known authors; all the books by new-to-me authors have been somewhere in the area of "Ok, but not my favorite thing ever." So . . . yeah. That's unfortunate.

8. Newest fictional crush/ship:

Coren and Zizain from Moonscript for life, y'all. They're so cute together. Also, Rhen and Harper from A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Not a perfect couple, but still a good one. (Yeah, that's all I've got.)

9. Newest favorite character:

Basically the entire cast of Moonscript? Is that an acceptable answer? But in particular, Errance (Actual Disaster, slightly burnt cinnamon roll, tries so hard before realizing that trying so hard is 90% of his problem, angst but for a good reason), Coren (smuggler with a heart of gold, a fox's wit, and plenty of flair), and Tellie (mum-friend, wants adventure but also wants people to behave sensibly and not go doing stupid things).

Also, shoutout to Grey from A Curse So Dark and Lonely. He's loyal and stubborn and determined and just generally an excellent character. I actually like him and Harper and Rhen all, but Grey is my favorite.

10. A book that made you cry AND 11. A book that made you happy:

I'm combining these because the same two books apply to both, pretty much:

Ok, I don't specifically remember crying, but if anything I've read this year would've made me cry (in a good way), it would've been North!, and I know that both of these books made me very, very happy. So, yeah. I love these books, and their new editions are SO pretty.

12. Favorite reread this year:

This year, as y'all have seen, I've reread the entirety of Brian Jacques's Redwall series in chronological order. It's been really fun to revisit this old favorite and see how different aspects of the series hold up after so much time away. I'm happy to say that most of the series held up very well indeed.

13. Favorite post you've done so far this year:

I feel like I missed a lot of weeks posting this year, but I do have some posts that I really enjoyed writing and think turned out very well:

14. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year:

I have bought many beautiful books this year, surprisingly! But right now, I would like us all to take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous Abhorsen set that I found last week at McKay's.

I am super proud of it and also very happy to have a set of the core trilogy that isn't large, unwieldy, and slightly falling apart.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Too many books. Basically, if I featured it in one of the last four seasonal releases posts and I wasn't part of the blog tour, I still need to read it. Thanks, COVID-19. (On the upside: the libraries are opening up now! So I can fix this soon! Though I may try to clear my owned-but-unread backlog a little more first.)

All right! There we have it: a summary of my last six and a half months of reading! How has your reading been this year? Best books? Biggest surprise? Biggest disappointments? Any new favorite characters? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. I'm reading through Moonscript with my brother, and we're both enjoying it. I'm glad my library is running again, but I'll still have to wait a while before I continue with Turner's Thief series, since someone got to Conspiracy of Kings before me.

    1. Oooooh, yay! And awww. That is an actual tragedy. I hope you don't have to wait too long!

  2. I cannot WAIT for Rhythm of War!!! I'm currently working on catching up on the Stormlight Archives, and I'm pretty sure I'll be caught up by then. I can't wait for the Tattered Slippers release, too!

    1. YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS. How far along in Stormlight are you?

    2. I'm a little over halfway through Words of Radiance! I'll probably be ordering Oathbringer very soon. :D

    3. Ooooh, awesome. If you need someone to fangirl to when you're done, you know where to find me!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.