I feel like overall it’s been a bit of a lackluster reading year, but I’m still excited to do this tag, which is a staple in the book blogging world!
Best book you’ve read so far in 2021.
These are all books I fully expected to love, so no surprises here! A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a gorgeously written reimagining of Dracula’s brides; it was so atmospheric! THE PROJECT is a really dark and engaging look at cults. A MASTER OF DJINN is an alternate universe 20th-century steampunk Cairo featuring a lesbian investigator of the supernatural and if I had to choose, I’d say that one probably takes the top spot so far this year.
Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021.
LOL I have apparently not read a single sequel in 2019, which is kind of shameful for an avowed fantasy lover. I’ve been reading a lot of series starters, but it definitely takes a lot to get me to continue a series; I have to really, really love the work in question.
New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.
God, so very many, but I’ve chosen my top three. I currently own a beautiful hardback copy of THE JASMINE THRONE, and I really thought I’d read it as soon as I got it, but I’ve been kind of slumpy lately when it comes to really long fantasy books and I don’t want that to ruin my enjoyment of this, so I’ve been hesitant.
I have been dying to read THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN, but my copy is late, as it’s the book of the month for a book subscription box that has been seriously delayed, but I should hopefully receive it by the end of this month!
And BLACK WATER SISTER is a book by one of my favorite authors; I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Zen Cho and I have no doubt that I will love this novel as well. I have an eARC but I’ve just yet to get to it!
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
Again, so many, but here are the top three! SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN is one of the most hyped books of the year, and every time I see a quote from this reimagining of the rise of a Ming dynasty emperor, I just want to read it even more. THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE is supposed to be a kind of Crimson Peak meets Jane Eyre horror novel, and I’m always here for Gothic fiction. THE ACTUAL STAR sounds very weird, just like Monica Byrne’s debut novel, which I loved.
HONEY GIRL ended up being too woo-woo and sappy for me, unfortunately; it’s a book I’m sure a lot of people will adore, but I just don’t think I’m romantic enough to enjoy something like this. I found PIRANESI nigh-nonsensical and pointless; I thought it executed a brilliant idea in the most boring way possible. NIGHT FILM was a slog, a supposed thriller that by the end felt completely pointless and doesn’t really give you any payoff.
Like I always say, literary fiction is always either a major hit or a major miss for me, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy THE VANISHING HALF as much as I did! I thought it was a beautifully written family saga with super compelling characters. I also did not expect to enjoy EMMA as much as I did, it being a super long classic novel where not very much really happens, but I loved it and got really attached to the characters. As for A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN, because I’ve been enjoying YA fantasy less and less these days, I thought I would just find this okay at best, but I actually really, really enjoyed it and may even pick up the sequel!
Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
While FOR THE WOLF isn’t a favorite of the year, it’s still a book I very much enjoyed, as it was all immaculate vibes and absolutely gorgeous writing. I’m definitely going to be reading the sequel and I adore Hannah’s writing style, so I’ll probably be reading anything she writes in the future!
Newest fictional crush.
Hmm, I guess the closest thing to a crush might be Vargo from THE MASK OF MIRRORS? He’s such a wily and charming character, with a ton of secrets, and he’s also kind of a crime lord, one who clawed his way up from poverty. He’s absolutely fascinating.
Newest favourite character.
Has to be Fatma from A DEAD DJINN IN CAIRO. She’s a Sa’idi investigator of the supernatural who dresses in dapper English suits, wields a cane, and is utterly unflappable in the face of danger.
Book that made you cry.
Well, it didn’t make me cry, but a book that I found very affecting was OUR WOMEN ON THE GROUND, a nonfiction collection of essays from female Arab journalists. There’s a lot of harrowing experiences and just very, very sad stories to come out of that book, a lot of tales of desperate people and bleak circumstances and war-torn countries and people doing their best in horrible situations.
Book that made you happy.
A gothic YA fantasy novel is probably an odd choice for this question, but DOWN COMES THE NIGHT brought me genuine joy. I just really, really loved reading it; something about the vibes and the characters were just so much fun. I also wanted to throw in HALF A SOUL, which I just started reading a couple of days ago, but it’s already so delightful and is giving me so much serotonin.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
First I’d just like to state, for the record, that I have bought some really gorgeous Chiltern Classic editions, but there are no good pictures that do them justice, so I won’t include them here. Otherwise, I’ve bought way too many very pretty books. Special shout out to THE ANNOTATED ARABIAN NIGHTS, which I’ve pre-ordered but haven’t received yet, as it comes out in September. I’ve been on the lookout for a decent annotated copy of 1001 Nights for years, so I’m super, super excited for this one.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Oh, so, so many, but I definitely want to make sure to get to WINDWITCH before I forget everything that happened in TRUTHWITCH. I also want to read THE LAST GRADUATE, which, now that I think about it, probably would have made it into the slot for best sequel had I already read it, and I should have, considering I have an eARC. And finally, THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS! I loved June Hur’s debut novel, a historical murder mystery, and I’m really looking forward to this one as well!