2020 Midyear Book Freak Out

by - July 03, 2020

It's midway through arguably one of the best reading years for most of us and I've only read nine books. This may not seem like much when compared to professional booktubers and reviewers but this number is one of my greatest achievements since 2017. I've been in somewhat of a reading slump that has completely rid me of a passion to read. While I still indulge in the occasional read and reread, I haven't been intrigued enough by new books to end this seemingly endless reading slump.

I blame this on growing up. You see, I realized that I no longer related to any Young Adult characters or their decision making. I was stuck in a slump that was not going away because I hadn't found my new genre. I am now 25-years-old and embarking on a journey to find my new style, with the hope of finding new tropes and authors who deserve love. This doesn't, however, mean I am done with the Young Adult genre. When the majority of your teenage reading years were spent buried behind a YA book, you find that it's really hard to let go of.

Instead, I am trying to embrace both new and old. And as you will see in my midyear reading list, the process is ongoing and already I'm beginning to see a light at the end of this slump. I know this tag is severely late, but I felt motivated to say my piece and participate in this popular tag that has been everywhere. I originally wanted to complete the 2020 version but I found the 2019 version much more appealing. There are quite a few options on this list but I decided to answer at least ten questions. 

1. Best book you've read so far in 2020?

Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas.

I was a bit apprehensive when I first learned about this book but I've been following Sarah for years and while I know she's problematic, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I blame this on the experience more than the actual book. The writing remains superb and captivating, and Sarah has always been great at creating intriguing characters. Most of the story is about Bryce, a young adult living her best reckless life while also questioning her career, family dynamic, and mourning the loss of her dear friends. The story ends with an epic villain monologue and overuse of perspectives but it was just so much fun

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2020?

The Wicked King by Holly Black.

I will admit, The Wicked King is one of the only two sequels I've read this year, which automatically made it one of the best. However, I still really enjoyed this book. I had the first book on my shelf for years before I took the plunge and started reading The Cruel Prince. After the initial shock of just how bad these characters behaved, I was hooked and had to rush to obtain a copy of the final two books. This series did not disappoint and even though I read some reviewers felt The Wicked King was the worst book of the series, I actually prefer this book when compared to both the first and final installments.

Our characters were tested in this book in every way possible and we got to see Jude and Cardan in a whole new dynamic, with the former continuing to be her badass self. Jude has become one of my favourite characters because of her strategic thinking and determination to dominate those that found pleasure in dominating her. My only complaint would be that the book was too short but I still enjoyed this story from start to finish.

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

Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri.

I struggled with this question because I haven't been able to get my hands on any new releases. Shipment of books has stopped making the journey to South Africa and now we're left with long shipping times and ebooks. However, this gave me the opportunity to discover new authors and books I would have normally overlooked. Realm of Ash is a new release in my eyes, having recently purchased this series after a whirlwind read of book one, Empire of Sand. The writing, the world-building, the magic system, the romance, all of these elements developed a new world I'm excited to dive back into but this time from Arwa's perspective.

4. Biggest disappointment?

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal.

I did not hate this book. In fact, I read this book well past five in the morning after promising myself I would only read one chapter. However, when compared to the rest of my reading list, We Hunt the Flame stood out as the weakest among the titles. I attribute this to the undeniable plot holes that I couldn't justify as much as I wanted to. I felt our main characters started off strong but they soon became ghosts of their former selves, just walking around a strange place bickering most of the journey. There were no real clues or a sense of adventure. We just followed a group of characters as they tried to make sense of what little they knew. I do see this as an older version of YA, which actually helped push me along, but I felt like as we neared the end the plot just fell away and we were left trying to figure out where we stand. 

5. Biggest surprise?

A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson.

THIS BOOK. I have no idea how it happened but I loved this book despite it following a 16-year-old girl. I thought I was done with YA but then I took a chance and completely fell into these thorns. I initially planned on avoiding Margaret's books simply because I knew they were for a younger audience but I couldn't resist a sale. I must credit Margaret for creating a lead character that did not read as young and naive. Instead, I felt like Elisabeth was incorrectly written, suiting the character of a 19-year-old girl instead. While the romance sprang on us at the very end, I applaud Margaret for subtly adding romantic bits without turning it into something soppy. 

I realized once I finished this book that Elisabeth very rarely had scenes with Nathaniel when compared to her interactions with Silas. It was with Silas that Elisabeth shared intimate moments with where they talked about Nathanial's past and her mission to save the world. Silas accompanied her on most missions and he was also the one that saved her on multiple occasions. I loved that it wasn't an Elisabeth and Nathaniel story because then the romance would have been too much.

6. Favourite new author?

Tasha Suri and Holly Black.

I don't see these two authors as one and the same because their approach and spin on the fantasy genre are very different. Tasha is much more detailed and focuses mainly on creating the atmosphere, whereas Holly is able to craft dynamic characters in a world full of creativity. Both these authors are strategic players that are brimming with imagination. I am currently enthralled with Tasha's writing but I knew once I finished The Queen of Nothing that I would be buying any book Holly Black writes.

7. Newest fictional crush?

Matt from Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard. 

This was another question I struggled with because I haven't found the next big crush. Matt comes fairly close but I attribute this to the feeling I got while reading his scenes instead of the actual character. My "fictional crushes" are typically brooding most of the time and come from a dysfunctional and/or heartbreaking family. I'm talking to you Kaz and Rhysand. But Matt was sweet and caring and he was just there, filling me up with all those "this is so cute" feelings. And I liked him for that. There's not much depth to this character and he's fairly generic but he was needed in a story that always had an air of despair hanging over it.

8. Newest favourite character?

Rosie from Fierce Fragile Hearts.
Silas from A Sorcery of Thorns.

I could not choose between these two amazing characters. My feelings may tip towards Rosie though but simply because I've known her longer. Rosie was first introduced in Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard which followed the lives of best friends Caddy, Rosie, and their new friend Suzanne. That story is told from Caddy's perspective when they were just young teenagers and Fierce Fragile Hearts is Suzanne's story. And this time the girls are grown up. However, this still felt like Caddy and Suzanne's story while poor Rosie just tagged along and acted as a buffer. But in this book, Rosie stole the show for me and proved that she has a voice. And an entertaining voice at that. 

My dear Silas. This one crept up on me because I simply enjoy his company. His presence in scenes is more than welcomed and his dynamic with Nathanial and Elisabeth is both scary and heartwarming, depending on his mood. But I still found him fascinating and just loved the energy and fashionable flair he brought to a scene.

9. Most beautiful book you bought so far in 2020?

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden.

I can't say much about this series because I haven't read one word yet but these covers are breathtaking. This series has various covers available and I honestly loved all of them. These are equally stunning and I am so excited to get my hands on the final book, which is currently on its way to me. I bought these books because I watched many booktube reviews and realized that this was the type of story that always intimidated me when I was still strictly reading YA. I'm trying to find my new genre and I'm hoping the Winternight series can open my eyes to new tropes and style of writing.

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

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor.

Little Fires Everywhere is a popular book to television series adaption that has intrigued reviewers everywhere, myself included. I am very interested in reading this book before I watch the series. This is one of those "out of my comfort zone" books that I purchased to help discover my new genre. Muse of Nightmares has been on my TBR for a while but mostly because the story is so rich and intimidating. I recently finished Strange the Dreamer and loved it, but it did take me about two months of on and off reading to enjoy it. I think Laini is an extremely talented writer and I'm eager to see her what she does in the sequel. 

And that's my midyear wrap up. Hopefully, by the end of this year, I can firmly pinpoint my new taste and declare an end to the slump. 

What are your favourites for 2020?

- Tina.

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