The Mid-Year Book FreakOut Extravaganza – Favorite Books of 2021 So Far

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 have quite a few 5-star reads already this year – so it’s hard to choose just one favorite, but I’m going to highlight The Rose Code, Kate Quinn – because I re-discovered this author last year, and historical ficgtion is not a genre I read a lot of.

The Rose Code

KimCemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas. To be honest, I’m not sure I could choose a favorite yet. But I want to mention how much I loved this book and how I find myself recommending it quite a bit. I really just loved learning about this rich culture and the YA paranormal twist was right up my alley.

2. Best Sequel We’ve Read So Far

Tanya: There are 2 series that I started this year, and then proceeded to go down the rabbit hole and read all the sequels I could get my hands on – The Wayward Children Series, Seanan McGuire (6 books so far) and  the Glass and Steele series, C.J. Archer (11 books).

KimThe Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3), Katherine Arden was such a satisfying finish to this trilogy! Both Tanya and I mentioned how much we loved these books in our Mid Year Book Freak Out last year.

3. New Release We Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To

Tanya: I’ve read all the early 2021 New Releases I was looking forward to.

Kim: The Anthropocene Review, John Green. I’m really intrigued by this one. It’s his first non-fiction, memoir and it’s got rave reviews. I enjoy Hank and John’s Youtube channel quite a bit and I’ve read a few of his YA books so this is on my list of possible reads for 2021.

4. Biggest Disappointment

Tanya: The 2 books I didn’t enjoy much are Lakewood, Megan Giddings and Djinn City, Saad Hossain.

Kim: None actually! I’m happy to report that I’ve enjoyed most everything I’ve read so far. I think I’m just getting better at picking books I know I’m going to love.

5. Biggest Surprise

Tanya: I was surprised by just how much I loved The Wayward Children series. I had read the first book a few years ago and though it was just OK. I saw how much Kim loved it and decided to try another book – and I was hooked. I even ended up re-reading the first book.

KimWinterkeep (Graceling Realm #4), Kristin Cashore. I’m putting this as the biggest surprise because I was completely caught off guard when this was released. I read the first three books years ago and shelved them, thinking that was it. I was very excited to see this new addition to the series and to read something from Winter’s point of view. It did not disappoint.

6. Most Beautiful Book Cover So Far This Year

Tanya: The Gilded Ones, Namina Forna has a gorgeous cover, and the book itself is also an amazing read. It’s about Sixteen-year-old Deka who receives a choice – stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

the gilded ones

Kim: The Empress of Salt & Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1), Nghi Vo. The cover of this short little novella stole my heart and so did the story. I honestly wished it had been a full length novel.

7. Best Audiobook Narration

Tanya: The narration by Marian Hussey of The Glass and Steele novels was absolutely fantastic. I was completely immersed in this story set in London England in the 1890s. Thanks to Hussey, the characters in this story came alive. I listened to book after book in this series – 10 by the time I came up for air.

Kim: A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, C.A. Fletcher. Narrated by C.A. Fletcher. It’s rare that I enjoy a book narrated by the author- unless it’s a memoir, but I loved this narration so much. I couldn’t stop listening.

8. Shortest Book

Tanya: Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson. This is a non-fiction novella about the different ways to deal with change.

Kim: I’ve read ten novellas this year already. That might be a record for me. The shortest book is Emergency Skin, N.K. Jemisin at 33 pages. I listened to this, and the rest of the Forward Collection, on Audible originals. I really liked the entirety of this collection and used them to bridge gaps in my reading routine.

9. Biggest Book

Tanya: Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike #5), Robert Galbraith. This book is long and sure, it could have been trimmed down a little -but I absolutely loved it! Cormoran and Robin are like perfectly flawed for each other and they have superb chemistry. I love how much we get to know each character in this book, as well as the suspense of the main case that they’re trying to solve. The book is so much because there’s just so much detail about the characters and their lives – and there were many characters.

KimBlack Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse at 454 pages. Okay, I’m cheating a bit on this one. The longest book was actually Winterkeep at 528 pages. But since I mentioned it above, I really wanted to shout out Black Sun because I loved it! I’m excited to see where the rest of the books in this series go. I know that some said it was a bit slow moving but I appreciated the detailed world and character building that Roanhorse did.

10. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

KimSurvive the Night, Riley Sager. This one actually just published on June 28, but it’s still my most highly anticipated book this year. I’ve read all of Sager’s other novels and really loved them all. I’m very excited to dive into this one too.

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?


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