Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag – 2021 Edition

I have always wanted to this tag for so long and always think it’s a great way to recap on everything I’ve read this year. June has been one of my worst reading months so far, just because I’ve been so busy finishing up my Ph.D., packing up my stuff for the next stage of my life, and taking an overdue vacation with my family. Despite my schedule, I want to recap everything I’ve read so far this year…

Best book I read so far:

It’s really hard to choose between favorites when it comes down to fiction and nonfiction books. Ibram X. Kendi opened my eyes to the injustices of racial inequality while Jia Tolentino provided me with some life-altering views on society. As always, Brandon Sanderson’s fourth installment in the Stormlight Archives was epic! I’m pretty sure I was reading through one of my Zoom meetings so that I could finish the last 200 pages.

Best sequel I read so far:

I only feel a little bad about this…but I can’t help it. Brandon Sanderson rains supreme (at least, among the authors that I’ve read this year)! If you like epic fantasies, read the Stormlight Archives series. If you enjoy reading YA sci-fi books, you can’t possibly go wrong with the Skyward series.

New release I haven’t read yet, but want to:

I don’t think this is too surprising considering how much I adore Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m currently in the process of reading all of her works and constantly end up crying ugly tears with a book in hand. I love the way TJR creates her characters and her plots tend to be dramatic, but original. I read Beach Read earlier this year and really enjoyed the fluff and romance, so I’m expecting People We Meet on Vacation to have resonate the same summer vibes! (As of now, I am currently #82 in my library’s waiting list)

No fantasy or sci-fi books though…hmm…this might be an indication I need to read more.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

Book 3 of this fantastic YA sci-fi series is coming out this November and I will try to get my hands on it ASAP! I wish there were more books I can recommend in this category, but to be honest, I am not the best with keeping up to date with new releases because I feel so behind in my reading for all the other books that have already been published.

Biggest disappointment:

As much as I love raving about all of my favorite books, I also love ranting about books that I don’t enjoy. These three books really made me regret some life decisions.

Hidden Bodies is the sequel that shouldn’t exist. I was actually surprised that I enjoyed You, the first book in this series. Joe’s narrative and internal voice-over of the story was funny, as much as funny can be considered in a creepy, sexual way. I also liked the idea of portraying relationships from a dark satirical perspective, because everyone internet-stalk their love interests, but they don’t end up committing murder. Going from the first to the second book, the plot was basically the same and the murders become more outlandish. At a certain point, I found myself rolling my eyes at everything that just happens out of convenience for Joe. The story became too unrealistic, and the main love interest’s name is Love, which is just so cringy.

A Sky Beyond the Storm is ridiculously long book with laughable Mary-Sue characters. The first three books in this series was okay, and I decided to stick it out to the end because Helene is an incredible female character. Let me tell you, IT’S NOT WORTH IT. First, the overall plot of this last installment was pretty mediocre and the ending was trash. Second, I don’t care about Elias or his story line. I didn’t even understand what his purpose was throughout the entire series except to serve as an angsty love interest that Laia couldn’t be with. Lastly, Laia was so unbearably annoying. She gets a new power every page *eyeroll*. She ignores other people’s suggestions of how to approach a problem and immediately regrets it when she is captured and needs other people to save her. The worst part is that this happens multiple times throughout the book and she can’t seem to figure out how to grow and learn as a main character. This 500-page book can easily have been 200+ pages if she could’ve gotten it together. In the last hundred pages or so, I was hoping for her to just die and end my agony.

The Shadow and Bone series is among the white bread of cookie-cutter YA fantasy series that was churned out in the early 2010s following Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight. This series is honestly awful and I sometimes feel like I’m reading a different set of books just because I’ve seen so many other people enjoy it. Alina, like our friend Laia, is super powerful and uncharacteristically beautiful. In fact, she’s so powerful that she’s never able to use her powers to save anyone. Because how do you have the time to save the world when four men are dropping to their knees every chapter to propose to you? And Mal. Oof. Good thing this mid-year book tag doesn’t have a least favorite character of all time, because Mal easily wins that category. I hate manipulative and toxic relationships and hate it even more that YA books keep perpetuating it to be okay. In essence, I hated this series and can’t even remember the names of Books 2 and 3.

Biggest surprise:

I saw this audiobook floating around my Scribd account and decided to pick it up, and I’m so glad I did. This was a light and fluffy read with great characters and a fun plot. I love the cast and Talia Hibbert’s inclusive writing in portraying autistic, multi-racial characters. One of my biggest pet peeves about contemporary romance novels is that the story also ends with an engagement or wedding. This book breaks that trope but still leaves you with a satisfying ending.

Favorite new author (debut or new to me):


Ibram X. Kendi, Jia Tolentino


Emily Henry, Talia Hibbert

Newest fictional crush:

I don’t typically have fictional crushes, so I usually skip this category. BUT – Adolin Kholin from the Stormlight Archives is swoon-worthy.

Newest favorite character:

M-Bot from the Skyward series. I can’t help but love witty AI humor.

Book that made me cry:

Taylor Jenkins Reid making my cry ugly tears. Also pulled some fantastic quotes from these books!

Book that made me happy:

If you’re not ready for the intense epic fantasy from Brandon Sanderson, read the Skyward series. The series is very fast-pace and I always had a smile on my face as I was furiously flipping through the pages.

Books that I need to read by the end of the year:

In addition to the new releases that I haven’t read or are coming up, there are so many books I still need to clear. These are just the top 10 that come into mind, but the actual TBR is probably much longer!

Hope you enjoy this post and let me know what’s on your favorites, least favorites, and TBR for 2021!

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