The “mid-year book freakout” tag has been going around the interwebs for a few years now, and just like last year (and the year before) we decided to join in the fun.
1. Best Book We’ve Read So Far
Tanya: I’ve read 5 super-awesome books this year that deserve to be hugged to death for being so terrific. Most are mentioned throughout this post, so the one I’ll bring up here is Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik. I had to take a day off from reading after finishing this book because I had such a bad reading hangover! I fell in love with the story, the characters and the amazing storytelling.
Kim: Sawkill Girls, Claire LeGrand. This book had everything I love in a book. A small bit of romance, an amazing setting, mysterious plot, and a supernatural horror element to it.
2. Best Sequel We’ve Read So Far
Tanya: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4), Robert Galbraith. This is probably my favorite book in the Cormoran Strike series – but I have loved them all!
When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. During this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been. Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.
Kim: Killman Creek, Rachel Caine. Holy smokes this was an intense sequel! Caine really took it up a notch in the thriller department adding a bit of gore in there for good measure too.
Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text… “You’re not safe anywhere now.” Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting and taking back her life.
3. New Release We Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To
Tanya: The latest book in the Harry Hole series drops on July 9th, Knife (Harry Hole #12), Jo Nesbo and I’ve pre-ordered it. I’ve listened to the audiobook of every book in the series, so I’m doing the same with this one.
Harry Hole is not in a good place. Rakel – the only woman he’s ever loved – has ended it with him, permanently. He’s been given a chance for a new start with the Oslo Police, but it’s in the cold case office. What he really wants is to be investigating cases he suspects have ties to Svein Finne, the serial rapist and murderer who Harry helped put behind bars. And now, Finne is free after a decade-plus in prison – free and, Harry is certain, unreformed and ready to take up where he left off. But things will get worse. When Harry wakes up the morning after a drunken night with blood that’s clearly not his own on his hands, it’s only the very beginning of what will be a waking nightmare the likes of which even he could never have imagined.
Kim: Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’ve got the audiobook but just haven’t started it yet. I’m anticipating I’ll get through it pretty quick when I do finally start.
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
4. Biggest Disappointment
Tanya: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. I predicted in A Few Reading Firsts that, “this is probably the kind of book that will go on to win literary awards .. because the writing is lush with prose – so much heavy handed wordiness to describe …. nothing.“ And sure enough – it’s made a few “Best Books of the Year So Far” lists. From the reviews on Goodreads – it seems people either hate it (like me) – or love it.
Kim: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas. I thought the first book was okay but I couldn’t get past the first half of this one. ‘Ugh’ is all I can say. I couldn’t stop eye rolling at the cheesiness of it all. I know a lot of people love this series but I think I’ll pass on Sarah J. Maas from now on. I just don’t get the hype.
5. Biggest Surprise
Tanya: On the Come Up, Angie Thomas. I loved The Hate U Give (also by Angie Thomas) – but for some reason, I wasn’t sure she could write a book just as good just a year later. And I’m also not a fan of contemporary young adult novels. But I LOVED this book. It totally surprised me – and let me encourage you to listen to the audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin, you’ll get so much more out of it.
Kim: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Soloman. This book was amazing and I was totally unprepared for how unique it was. I devoured every page.
Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. When the autopsy of Matilda‘s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps.
6. Most Beautiful Book Cover So Far This Year
Tanya: Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams – with On the Come Up (shown above) being a close second. Queenie is also one of my favorite books read so far this year.
7. Best Audiobook Narration
Tanya: I have an “Audiobooks is Better” Goodreads shelf for those books where I think you get so much more from listening to the audiobook than you would have if you just read the book. This year – I added a few, but I’ll mention Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is a story about a band – from it’s members roots when they were kids to what made them break up. This did NOT sound like something I would like, but it was hyped up so much that I had to see what the fuss was all about. And – it was so good! The audiobook is narrated by Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer & Pablo Schreiber.
Kim: The Lost Man, Jane Harper. I loved this book so much. It’s definitely in my top five and the narration by Stephen Shanahan was great. It seems Jane Harper can do no wrong for me.
They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…
8. Shortest Book
Tanya: The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark – 111 pages. This world-building in this novella was interesting and unique. It’s a mix of steampunk and alternate history, with good story-telling and plenty of action.
Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
9. Biggest Book
Tanya: Lethal White (Cormorn Strike #4), Robert Galbraith – 650 pages (Hardcover). I already mentioned that this was the best sequel I read … well it’s also the longest book I’ve read so far this year. I listened to it on audiobook – as I have with all the Cormoron Strike novels in the series – so it’s more of a tradition now. It’s narrated by Robert Glenister who is just beyond amazing with his deft handling of all the characters. It’s almost unbelievab;e that he’s also the voice of Robin – Cormoran’s partner – because he makes each so distinct, and brings out the underlying chemisty and nuances of their relationship so well.
Kim: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Jessica Townsend. Surprising that this is my longest at 465 pages because it’s a middle grade book. Some similarities to Harry Potter that I was worried would annoy me. Thankfully, they didn’t and this book turned out to be delightful.
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, she is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
10. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
Tanya: The Girl Who Lived Twice (Millenium #6), David Lagercrantz, George Goulding (Translator). This is the continuation of the series by Stieg Larsson that started with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Lagercrantz took over the series with the 4th book – and I’ve enjoyed them all. In this 6th installment … “The girl with the dragon tattoo is finally ready to confront her nemesis, the only woman who is evidently and in many ways her match.”
Kim: I honestly hadn’t considered this until now but the book I most recently put on my wishlist is The Turn of the Key, Ruth Ware. It comes out in October.
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
So tell us – have you read any of the books we mentioned? Did you like or dislike? What’s your favorite book read this year so far?