Mid-Year Book Check In | 2021

I’m not known for my frequent partaking in book tags, but occasionally one catches my eye and this one looks super fun! Co-created by Ely @ Earl Grey Books and Chami @ Read Like Wildfire. Let’s go!

Best book you’ve read so far in 2021
Ok so if we’re being very literal, then it’s got to be the first three A Song of Ice and Fire books that I started re-reading, but seeing as that’s hardly a fresh outlook on anything then I’m gonna mention Blackwing by Ed McDonald, which is probably one of the best dark fantasies I’ve ever read. The whole Raven’s Mark trilogy is simply phenomenal, blending esoteric and arcane magic with mystery and monster hunting and, in main character Ryhalt Galharrow, one of the most compelling and tragic protagonists in modern fantasy writing.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021
I’m gonna play fast and loose with the rules here, and say Best Served Cold, which is a sequel to The First Law trilogy? Gimme a break, I’ve been garbage at reading sequels this year. I’m actually trying to avoid starting any more series than I’m already in the middle of, so I’ve read a fair few stand alones so far this year.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Haha I made a 9 Books I’m Excited For in 2021 post at the start of the year and, of the eight that have now been released, I’ve read…one. That’s Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard, which I really liked. HOWEVER! A Master of Djinn! P. Djèlí Clark is a fucking genius and I actually have an ARC of this I’ve not got to it yet, which is a crime to be quite honest. Honourable mention goes to Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha, a south-east Asian cli-fi sort-of-cyberpunk novel that released back in January

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
I’m actually not very good at keeping up with new releases. It’s not what floats my boat as a reader tbh. I know a lot of people get a kick out of all the upcoming stuff but I’ve got enough backlist books to keep me busy for a lifetime. Having said that, Jade Legacy is coming out later this year and Jesus H. Christ Fonda Lee’s first two Green Bone Saga books were some of the best fiction I’ve ever read, so that has me vibrating with excitement.

Biggest disappointment
Without a single shadow of doubt or moment of hesitation, hands down The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. I was so fucking excited for this book guys. Grimdark fantasy based on the history of twentieth century China with a main character loosely inspired by Mao Zedong is what I live for in theory. In practice I did not enjoy it. There were some redeemable qualities but overall, what a dud.

Biggest surprise
The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk! Only just finished this the other day actually and who even am I if I just read a fantasy period romance and loved it?

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)
My man Yaroslav Barsukov is a shoe-in here. Not only is his debut novella Tower of Mud and Straw an absolute gem of a book, but he’s a genuinely lovely bloke. He popped up on my radar during one of the TBRcon panels, where he offered me a review copy of the book (that went on to be Nebula-nominated for Best Novella by the way) and we exchanged a few emails and talked a bit on Twitter and is probs the only author I’ve ever felt I’ve become actual friends with during the course of book blogging.

Newest fictional crush
Don’t understand this. Never will. Not with books anyway. Though I have been watching The Walking Dead and I’m besotted with Rosita, though I think that’s less to do with the character being hot and just Christian Serratos being an absolute babe.

Newest favourite character
The great and terrible Jeoffry! The demon-fighting cat from Siobhan Carroll’s For He Can Creep. I’ve already mentioned Ryhalt Galharrow from The Raven’s Mark books too, and I also want to shout out Tomas Piety from Peter McLean’s War for the Rose Throne series. Think fantasy Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders and you get a good idea of Tomas Piety.

Book that made you cry
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune. This was probably the first inkling I had that maybe I do in fact like romance stories. My black heart of stone was melted by Linus and Arthur’s relationship with each other and with the magical kids they looked after at the orphanage. Weirdly too, I cried at some point during every book of the oft-mentioned Raven’s Mark trilogy. First time a book that dark has made me emotional enough to shed a tear, I tell you that much. The ending of the trilogy in Crowfall really got me.

Book that made you happy
Lol are you aware of how much grimdark I’ve read this year? This is gonna be slim pickin’s. I’m gonna shout out For He Can Creep again. It’s such a joyous story and Carroll’s writing style and Jeoffry’s character had me grinning from ear to ear.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received so far this year
I barely read physical books anymore, so I never buy or receive pretty, beautifully-bound books with the sprayed edges and everything that people go mad for. I do appreciate some good cover art, but apparently I value utility over aesthetics haha.

Which books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Is this a joke? If I was to never add another book to the list of stuff I want to read, and then read over a hundred books a year, in six years time I’d nearly be ready to start looking for new stuff again. So this question is just rude to be honest. On a more serious note though, I don’t need to read any books by the end of the year and honestly, I wish readers would stop talking about their hobby this way. Just enjoy yourselves man, read whatever the fuck you feel like reading in the moment and stop putting pressure on yourself.

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12 thoughts on “Mid-Year Book Check In | 2021

Add yours

  1. I’ve *finally* moved Jade War to my e-reader after leaving the poor book to languish on the TBR for far too long: that’s a series that does not deserve to gather virtual dust, but on the other hand it’s so easy to get distracted by other books…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know the feeling all too well. Thankfully I’ve (mostly) learned to stop the number of books in the world stressing me out and learned to celebrate it. But at the same time I would like to live another several lifetimes to fit everything in.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I dunno why I was surprised that you loved Fireheart Tiger so much. Kind of in the same way I was surprised you loved Rule of Wolves. You’re a complex and well-rounded reader *obviously* haha, but I always think of you as being much more old school fantasy so am always a bit thrown of when you love something so thoroughly modern.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah! I’m sometimes surprised myself.

        I think the main thing – beyond a general love of genre history and a formative period in the genre now twenty years ago – is that I’m insanely picky. Not on what’s in the book (i’ve some preferences but yeah, up for most things), but how it’s written. if I don’t like the phrasing, the humour, if I stumble on it, then I’ll read slow and start nitpicking the book to death. Which means, truth told, I’m not sure I like most books.

        Obviously, I know what I love that’s old school and I’m still searching through modern. And I think that’s a lot of it. I think the phrasing tends to work a little better for me too, lot of book really trying to push things and not quite working for me. But really it just comes down to being picky.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Clearly The Raven’s Mark is a series I need to try – I hadn’t even heard of it before! I can’t wait for A Master of Djinn, I’m so in love with P. Djèlí Clark’s version of 20th century Cairo, and I need Jade Legacy… but I’m also terrified of Jade Legacy. I hope the rest of 2021 is a brilliant reading year for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one I actually don’t see many people talking about. Which is an atrocity cos it’s actually one of the best dark fantasy series’ I’ve ever read.

      I’m planning on re-reading Jade City and Jade War before Legacy comes out and I don’t think I’m ready even though I already know what happens. Can I bear to live through THAT character death from Jade City again? 😥

      Liked by 1 person

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