Friday, July 9, 2021

2021 Mid-Year Book Celebration

Here we are, halfway through 2021, and you all know what that means! It's time to check in with my reading for the year! As promised, we're renaming this because, let's be real, "Book Freakout" is not accurate. From here on out, these posts will be the Mid-Year (or End-of-Year) Book CELEBRATIONS! Because what are they, really, but a space for me to recognize and rejoice in all the awesome stories I've enjoyed?

As always, we're going to start the party with some statistics and updates on my reading goals. Thus far, I've read 44 books and 15.5K pages this year, which puts me a bit ahead of schedule for completing my overall goal of reading 75 books this year. It also puts me behind what I had read around this time last year (by about 14 books and 4K pages), but I have, y'know, a job this year. On the upside, I've liked most of what I've read; my average rating is 4.2 stars. As for my more specific reading goals:

  • Towards my goal of 12 books written or published before 1975, I have read . . . 1 book. Wow. That's even worse than I thought — I expected that The Last Unicorn, at least, would have fallen into the "older books" zone, but it was published in 1986. That means the only book I've read that was published before 1975 is The Two Towers. (On the upside, I'm currently rereading Return of the King, so I'm about to have two books for this goal!)
  • I've read 4 books outside the speculative fiction genres . . . sort of, at least? Three (the Jenny Lawson memoirs) definitely count. One (Isle of Swords) is . . . I think technically historical adventure fiction? But I can't remember for sure if there's any elements that would edge it over into historical fantasy.
  • As for my goal of 1 epic-length Tolkien or Jordan novel every 2 months, I've read . . . again, one book. I briefly misremembered this goal as "one epic-length fantasy every 2 months," and if that were the case, I'd be doing great with my Sanderson reread. But nope. I even specifically said "non-Sanderson" in my original version of the goal.
  • Finally, I have not been keeping up at all with my goal of tracking my reads in more detail. I meant to make a spreadsheet, and then I just . . . forgot. I went back and made a spreadsheet this past week of my reads thus far this year, though, so we'll try to do it for July and see how it goes. (Technically, my goal was only to do it for one month, so I haven't failed yet!)

And now, with those statistics out of the way, let's get on with the celebration proper!

2021 Mid-Year Book Celebration!

1. Best book you've read so far in 2021:

It's a tie, but not between the books you're thinking it will be.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The Werewolf of Whitechapel by Suzannah Rowntree

There is absolutely no way I can pick between these two. They're both magnificent urban fantasy adventures — one modern-ish, one historical. Neverwhere is probably one of the best showcases of Gaiman's magical writing style I've encountered, and it has mythical and fairy-tale vibes that can't be beat. On the other hand, The Werewolf of Whitechapel is a fantasy-mystery with a storytelling voice I just love and a heroine I couldn't dislike if I tried. Not that I'd want to try.

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2021:

And here are the books you thought would be the answer to question one — another tie between two amazing books —

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Again, I can't choose between these. Rhythm was epic and explosive and heavy — literally and figuratively. Like Words of Radiance, it had some of the deepest darkness and most brilliant triumphs in the series to date. But Return was all I could've wanted from the conclusion to one of my favorite series — and then some.

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

Literally almost anything from my last two new-releases posts, ha! I've been mood reading a lot, and I've been playing catch-up since, I don't know, probably since 2015 to be honest.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

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


But also . . .

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Margaret Rogerson is one of my favorite authors, and the blurb for her next book reminds me of Abhorsen, which I also love, and I am SO PSYCHED. (It's also going to be a nomance! Which is FABULOUS.) I may or may not have joined the OwlCrate mailing list solely so I could order the special signed edition. I have no regrets.

5. Biggest disappointment:

The Unicorn Anthology

I don't DNF books very often, but this anthology just made me sad and angry, and it was full of stories by people who really wanted to be writing Literary Fiction but were, for some reason, writing fantasy — and so, to spite the fantasy crowd, they filled their stories with the same sort of misery that permeates the worst of literary fiction.

As for books I actually finished, The Last Unicorn probably takes the spot. I'm glad I read it once, but I really do not want to repeat the experience.

6. Biggest surprise:

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

I read this book because I heard it had Kaz Brekker in it. I didn't even enjoy the Kaz Brekker bit that much. But the rest of it, I enjoyed far more than I expected based on the previous book. Less angst, more clever, desperate people being clever.

7. Favorite new-to-you author:

S.D. Smith, author of the Green Ember series

Other than Redwall, I generally haven't been one for the fantasy subgenre I like to refer to as "small creatures with swords." (That might be its actual name? I don't know.) But this series kept popping up on my radar, and I knew the author was associated with Andrew Peterson, so I figured I would give it a try . . . and storms, did I make the right choice.

8. Newest fictional ship:

  • This isn't new, but my appreciation for Gen/Irene, Helen/Sophos, and Adolin/Shallan has been renewed and lifted to greater levels than ever. Relationship goals, all of them. Some of them shouldn't be relationship goals, maybe. (Looking at you, Gen/Irene.) But they are anyway, and they're beautiful.
  • In terms of new ships, Lois and Chaiman are the sweetest and I shipped them before I was even certain there was any hope in shipping them.
  • Sharp/Short from the Miss Sharp's Monsters series also gets a shoutout. They're an excellent match.

Yeah. There's not a lot to mention here. Most of the new books I've read haven't been romance-heavy, and I like it that way. (Also, I reread a lot this year.)

9. Newest favorite character:

Again, this year has had a lot of rereading, so I've spent a fair amount of time just renewing my appreciation for old favorite characters. That said, there are a few new faces on that list . . .

  • Miss Sharp (Miss Sharp's Monsters) is whip-smart, stubbornly protective, and brave and loyal to a fault — not to mention quite witty. She's the best part of the series that bears her name — though I love many of her companions, allies, and sometimes enemies as well, particularly May, Inspector Short, and Grand Duke Vasily.
  • The Marquis (Neverwhere) is a magnificent character, catlike in all the ways that matter most. Any scene he happens to be in is a good one, and the short story he had all to himself was just as good as the full novel I met him in.
  • And from the Green Ember books, we have Helmer (grumpy, but heroic; I initially liked him out of spite for another character and then was pleased when my choice proved well-made), Picket (despite some initial frustrations and misgivings), Smalls (SMALLS!), and probably Weezie as well — I haven't known her quite long enough to be certain, but I very much like her in the half a book I can go off of.

10. A book that made you cry:

Rhythm of War didn't actually make me cry, but it did cause other distressed noises more than a few times, so I'd say that counts.

11. A book that made you happy:

Can I say The Werewolf of Whitechapel again? No? I have to talk about something else? Fine.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo was a very cool collection of in-world myths, fairy tales, and legends. I very much enjoyed it, dark though it was at times. Part of me wants to try to do something similar for some of my worlds, but we'll see.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you've seen this year:

Fellowship of the Ring. Yes, it's a rewatch. I'm counting it because otherwise I have nothing to count.

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

I've been blogging a little less this year, but I still have a few posts that I really enjoyed writing and whose end result I'm pleased with.

  • "Old Years' Memories; New Years' Visions" — My annual New Year's short story chronicling the adventures of Carrie and Tamison! This one may be my favorite in the series so far, in no small part due to how many references I got to make to all the books I've written and am going to write.
  • Giving Fanfic Some Credit — I'd been thinking about writing this post for at least a year before I finally wrote it, and I really enjoyed being able to celebrate fanfiction, which is a large part of what's gotten me into more than one fandom.
  • Some Thoughts on Spoilers — I have strong-ish opinions about spoilers, and they run in the opposite direction to everyone else's strong opinions. Or so it seems sometimes.

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

Behold: Spindle. It's beautiful, and it's mine, and I got so excited when I found it.

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

Heh. All of them. (But I do have four months free of Kindle Unlimited, and I want to make the most of it, so . . . probably allllllll the indie fantasy/spec fic that I've been holding off on because I don't like buying ebooks unless I know they'll be good.)

What about you? What were your favorite reads of the year? Biggest surprises (for good or ill)? Are you caught up on 2021 releases, or are you just as behind as I am? And, if you're a fellow Margaret Rogerson fan, how excited are you for Vespertine? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


  1. All your stats are fun! And so fun seeing the answers in the different categories! Anthologies are verrrry hit or miss for me so yeah. Ooh, my younger siblings are enjoying the Green Ember books. Small creatures with swords is a great name for the genre! Redwall, these (which we just call the Rabbit Books) and Mistmantle . . . Yay for having a copy of Spindle! I only have Masque in paperback of that series . . . which I need to reread, and read the rest in the series! (I've only read Masque and Spindle and the City Between series so far. Gotta catch up on on so many Gingell books!) And I'm definitely super behind on new releases in general. XD Great post!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the post! YES, you need to catch up on the other Gingell books! Though you've hit the highlights at this point, I think. And, selfishly, I'm glad I'm not the only one running behind. xD


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