Mid Year Freak Out Tag 2020

Sunday 28 June 2020

Well, my friends and fellow readers. It's that time again. It's time for the Mid Year Freak Out Tag. It's my second time doing this tag but first time since I started this blog, so yay! 2020 has been a hell of a year, but thankfully books have been here to help ease the pain. My wife and I changed question 8, but I did make a note of what the original question was just in case you wanted to do it. 

If you too have done the Mid Year Freak Out Tag, be sure to let me know! 

Warning: Question 10 has spoiler for Frostbite by Richelle Mead. True, the book is twelve years old and I don't usually do spoiler warnings for things that are that old, but I figured I'd be nice this time.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

There's been a book that I know I'd love that I had been putting off for a while. I had been putting it off more in an effort to further expand my reading horizons. But this year I figured I should treat myself more. Last year I had ventured out of my comfort zone more than ever before so this year I aim to allow myself more of my old familiar genres of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Skyward is the best book I've read so far this year. It was given to me two years ago by my mother-in-law and it's just sat on my shelf. I finally read it and it was everything I ever wanted. Brandon Sanderson is an amazing writer who created a wonderfully immersive world and made fantastic characters that I just loved.

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

I've only read six sequels this year. While that does seem like a lot to choose from, five of them are sequels in The Dresden Files series (I'm doing a reread in preparation for the new book). For years I've said that it's my favorite series and I still do love it a lot, but now, rereading it for the first time in years, I now notice the problems other people have noticed, like the oversexualization of women. This was never a horrible issue, no reason for Jim Butcher to be canceled, and it does get better with each installment, but I did read a different sequel that didn't have elements I had to look past.

That book was Frostbite by Richelle Mead. The second book in the Vampire Diaries series. Anne made me start this series and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm so glad she made me start it. I liked the first book but the second book was so much better. Better characters, better story, and good character development from the first installment.

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

One day, a few years ago, I was on the Audible app looking at what the deal of the day was and I saw it was a LitRPG book called The Land: Founding by Aleron Kong. I had heard of the LitRPG genre before and Aleron Kong is called, by some, the father of LitRPG, so I figured why not start with this?

I'm so thankful I got that deal of the day because it gave me one of my favorite series of all time. The eighth book in the series The Land: Monsters came out this year and I haven't been able to pick it up yet because of my Dresden reread. But the minute I'm done with the Dresden books, I'm picking The Land: Monsters up.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

The last Dresden Files book came out in 2016 and it's been four years without anything. Jim Butcher had an upheaval in his life and now that things are more normal he has not one, but two Dresden books coming out. I'm finally getting books sixteen and seventeen and I can't wait. Peace Talks is coming out on my birthday, July 14th, and Battlegrounds is coming out on September 29th. 

But I also want to acknowledge a new(ish) author who is starting a new series and I'm very excited. Rebecca Roanhorse is the author of the Sixth World series which features the books Trail of Lightning and Storm of Locusts. I know nothing about her new series, but her other two books are five star reads. The new book is called Black Sun and I can't wait. I've only read two of her four books, but I already know she's a great writer.

Another book that I just found that is coming out next week is a non-fiction book about the Ghostbusters movies called Ghostbusters: The Inside Story

5. Biggest disappointment.

Easy. The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes. This book should have been right up my alley. Tippy, a former imaginary friend, is now a detective in the world of imagination. He's a yellow triceratops in a trench coat. That's bad ass, right? I was so certain I was going to like it that I chose it as my first new book of the year, a new tradition my wife and I have started. But it fell so short that it couldn't even ride a roller coaster at the state fair.

This book had so much promise. It even had the bonus of tackling LGBT issues in Tippy's back story but it came across as tryhard and disingenuous.

Also, Tyler Hayes has no subtlety. So little subtlety that Hayes doesn't foreshadow coming events, he fiveshadows it. Tippy is also an idiot of a main character and is probably a worse detective than I've ever read before. If diamonds are a girls best friend, then exposition is Hayes's best friend because this book is just exposition with a big helping of tryhard.

6. Biggest surprise.

This depends on what kind of surprise. A shocking moment in a book? Liking a book I didn't think I would?

If we're talking about liking a book I didn't think I would, let's talk about Epitaph of a Peach by David Mas Masumoto. It's literally a non-fiction book about this peach farmer who wants to keep his favorite variety of peaches, but the market has moved on to newer varieties of peaches that were made to look a certain way that's more appealing to consumers. So he gives his peaches one last year to decide if he should keep them. I liked the book and I still can't exactly tell you why.

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

I've had two books by Catherynne M. Valente for a while and decided to pick up The Refrigerator Monologues and I enjoyed it a lot. I've been sitting on Space Opera for a while but after enjoying the other book a lot, I'm looking forward to picking up her next book.

Another notable new (to me) author is Richelle Mead who wrote the Vampire Academy series. I know this is a series from way back in 2007, but my wife convinced me to pick it up and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I've also just finished the second book and it was quite good.

8. Newest ship.*

Spensa and Jorgen from Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. I would have thought that I'd have shipped Spensa and Rodge, but her relationship with Jorgen was so much better.

Also, Michelle and Barack Obama. I know, they're real people so it doesn't count, but hearing the story of how they met was just so sweet and I rooted for them as a couple even though I knew how it turned out.

* The original 8th question was newest fictional crush, but Anne and I don't actually have fictional crushes so we changed the question.

9. Newest favorite character.

Mac from Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan. Thanks to my friend Fig, I discovered this short comic series and loved it. The four main girls are great characters but Mac is the most memorable. She's a crass, cigarette smoking bitch who is loyal to her friends and gets shit done.

Spensa from Skyward is another great character. Great female character who takes no shit, just like Mac.

10. Book that made you cry.

Like I mentioned above, I just finished Frostbite the second book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The ending of the climatic final battle in the book made me cry. So allow me to warn you about a spoiler. I shouldn't have to since this book is from 2008, but I'll do it anyway.

Spoiler Warning:

When Mason died, that alone didn't make me cry, but when Rose covered his body trying to protect him, I lost it.

End Spoiler

11. Book that made you happy.

I have two answers for this question. The first book that made me happy was Becoming by Michelle Obama. It made me happy because it reminded me of a better time. It reminded me of a time where I could hear that the president made a speech or tweeted and my initial reaction isn't to cringe because it could be bad.

The second book that made me happy is Skyward by Brandon Sanderson but since I'm not allowing myself to use the same answer too much, I'll instead say Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was a wonderfully written book, beautiful in fact. The story was engrossing and it captivated me from the first page. It was yet another book suggested by my wife and she knew I'd love it, and she was right. I enjoyed it from the very first moment.

12. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received)

I haven't actually purchased many books this year thanks to the new hot band Covid and the 19, but I'm lucky that there was a pretty cover in the few that I did get. I've heard mixed reviews of Foudryside by Robert Jackson Bennett.

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

How much time do you have? I have so many books I want to read by the end, but there are a few that I know I HAVE to read because I told myself I would back in January. Anne and I had made a list we called 20 in 20. 20 books we had to read in the year 2020. We also have a pile of 12 nonfiction books we have to read this year. So far I've done... not well. Here are the books that are left:

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Space Opera by Catherynne M Valente
The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge by Booton Herndon

Last year my focus was on reading more female authors than I had before. I did it and have kept my expanding horizons movie forward. This year I want to read more authors of color with a focus on Black authors. But besides Binti, The Underground Railroad, and Fledgling, I want to keep myself open for more mood reading. If you're anything like me, mood reading is the best way to avoid getting into a reading slump.

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