2021 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I have not had the best reading year so far, but that has less to do with what I’ve been picking up and this general feeling of slumpiness. I am about to take a hiatus from the blog and hopefully recover some of my energy. I want to try and focus on reading more, but not necessarily reviewing every title. As a blogger I feel obligated to review all the books I read, but I’ve learned that this does not always translate to an overall enjoyable reading experience. Sometimes I need a break from writing reviews. Anyone else feel like this sometimes? But enough of that, let’s take a look at some of the books that standout to me so far this year. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

1. Best Book You’ve Read in 2021?

My favorite book so far this year has to be Hafsah Faizal’s We Free the Stars. I’ve had a good amount of five-star reads this year, but this one was just everything I hoped for in a sequel to We Hunt the Flame. It made me crave more stories in this world (I’m hoping) and guaranteed that I will preorder anything Hafsah Faizal writes.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2021?

I won’t go with We Free the Stars for this one, but I am tempted. I have not read a ton of sequels this year, but one that stands out is Maya Motayne’s Oculta. It had me screaming!!!!!!!!!

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

Sooooo many! Number one on my list is Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne and it’s actually not my fault that I haven’t read this one yet. If you can believe it, I am still waiting for my preorder of this one. The delivery date has been pushed back twice and if it is again, I’m going to cancel and order somewhere else because I need this one already.

4. Most Anticipated Release For the Second Half of 2021?

If you are interested in my top ten most anticipated releases, you can check out my post on that here. If I had to choose only one, I think I have to go with Tiffany D. Jackson’s White Smoke. I am ready for TDJ to pull the rug right from under me again.

5. Biggest Disappointment?

There isn’t one book for me that stands out as a major disappointment. There were a few reads that I liked less than I thought I would, but none so much so that I feel like I should name them here.

6. Biggest Surprise?

I am going to go with C.L. Polk’s Witchmark. I’ve been hearing how good this one was for a couple of years now, but I did not anticipate loving it as much as I did. It’s my most recent five-star read that was a novel.

7. New Favorite Author?

I’ve picked up a few debuts this year, but one author I now have my eye on is Daka Hermon. Her middle grade horror, Hide and Seeker, was just so good and I cannot wait to read more from her.

8. Newest Fictional Crush? Favorite Ship?

So I don’t have any new fictional crushes, so I am changing this question to favorite ship. I loved loved loved Julián and Mat from Jonny Garza Villa’s Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun. They had me grinning throughout the novel.

9. Newest Favorite Character?

This is a harder question than I thought it would be. I am going to name a character who I’ve already met, but who I am getting reacquainted with with rereads. Kippa from the Monstress series by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda. I am very stressed anytime she is in danger.

10. Book That Made You Cry?

This is a tie between three different books. Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite’s One of the Good Ones, and Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season all made me ugly cry.

11. Book That Made You Happy?

I should have picked up Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown sooner, but it put a big smile on my face.

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaption You Saw This Year?

The only book to movie adaptation that I’ve watched this year that I know of is Always and Forever, Lara Jean. I definitely prefer the book over the movie though.

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year?

I don’t think there is any one review that stands out to me, but I liked my review of We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal, which you can read here.

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year?

So I haven’t read this one yet, but Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones has one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever laid eyes on.

15. What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year?

I don’t want to think too hard about how many books I need to get to by the end of the year, but I will highlight these three sequels that I want to read hopefully by the end of summer: Fonda Lee’s Jade War, S.K. Ali’s Misfit in Love, and Susan Dennard’s Witchshadow.

What’s your favorite book of 2021? Which book are you hoping to get to by the end of the year? Leave me a link in the comments to your own Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag post, so I can visit.

2020 Reading Stats: Who and What Did I Read This Year

Last year was the first year I did a rundown of reading stats. I really enjoyed crunching the numbers and taking a closer look at who I was reading and what I was reading. I thought I would do the same for 202 and hopefully make this an annual thing. This post comes a little late, but it’s still January, so posting 2020 stats is still acceptable, right? If you are interested in taking a look at last year’s post, you can find it here.

2020 End of the Year Book Survey

This is one of my favorite posts to put together. I have been doing the End of the Year Survey, originally created by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner, for years. One of the things that stands out to me was that I read a little less this year compared to last year but considering that 2020 was filled with all kinds of stressful things, I still think I did pretty good. I also read even more diversely this year compared to years passed. If I have time, I will break this down in another post. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

**2020 FINAL READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 69
Number of Re-Reads: 13
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy, though contemporary was close behind

best-YA-books-2014
1. Best Book You Read In 2020?

I had a good amount of five-star reads this year, but the two that really stand out to me are Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic and Candice Montgomery’s By Any Means Necessary.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Wilder Girls by Rory Power was such a letdown. I am in dire need of more YA horror but this one failed to move me in any way. Hopefully I have more luck in 2021.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

I am the worst when it comes to reading non-fiction, but I had to check out Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Between this and Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House, I might have to reevaluate my thoughts on memoirs.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I am laughing because I think I can say with confidence that I pushed Mexican Gothic pretty hard this year. Can I take credit for it being on the NYT Bestseller List? I’m kidding, haha.

5. Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel of 2020? Best Series Ender of 2020?

So I just realized that I started and finished The Poppy War series by R.F. Kuang in 2020. I am going to name all three books for this question. The Poppy War for best series I started, The Dragon Republic for best sequel, and The Burning God for best series ender. What an astounding journey this series was!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?

Claire Kann blew me away with both of her books this year. Let’s Talk About Love will forever hold a special place in my heart and If It Makes You Happy brought me so much joy. I would fight anyone for both Alice and Winnie. I love these protagonists so much. I need Claire Kann’s next novel yesterday.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I almost went with memoirs again, but since I don’t pick up a lot of romance novels, I’d like to shout out Talia Hibbert’s Get a Life, Chloe Brown and Take a Hint, Dani Brown, both of which were a delight but the latter especially.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Jade City by Fonda Lee was soooo action-packed and unputdownable. I have been avoiding the sequel because I am scared, but my goodness, this was super fantastic and I am looking forward to this entire series.

9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I will likely reread Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova in anticipation of the sequel coming out next year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?

2020 had some fantastic covers, but one that really stands out to me is A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. Let’s take a moment to just admire it. It takes me breath away every time I see it. I actually took the jacket off while I read it because I didn’t want to damage it.

11. Most memorable character of 2020?

I met so many memorable characters this year, but I am going to say Torrey from By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery really stands out. I loved him so much and just really related to him in a way that I very rarely do with fictional characters.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?

I read This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone way back in January and I still think about all those love letters. I need to do a reread just so I can feel overwhelmed by emotion again.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2020?

Aida Salazar gets to be the answer to this question again this year. I have never felt so utterly taken apart as I was by her middle grade novel, Land of the Cranes, in which a young girl recounts her and her family’s detainment by ICE, the abuses they and others suffer, and how these cruelties little by little snuff out this child’s light. It’s a powerful story that I hate has to be told because not enough people are paying attention.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read? 

I regret not picking up Jade City, The Poppy War, and This Is How You Lose the Time War sooner.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?

I am never good at keeping track of quotes, but this one from Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land really sticks with me.

“Neighbors pour into the house
like our grief is a bottomless thirst
& God has tipped this pitcher of people to fill us up.”

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2020?

The shortest book I read this year was Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez (a stellar poetry collection) and the longest was The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most?

Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica has scarred me for life. I did not know that I was so squeamish when it came to cannibalism, but I swear, every time I picked this one up, I lost my appetite.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I have so many favorite ships, but I have soft spots for Carmen and Dani from We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Yadriel and Julian from Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. I also have one from Incendiary, but it’s kind of a spoiler so…I also won’t mention my OTPs that ended up sinking **cries forever**.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Shout out to Rin and Kitay from The Poppy War series **weeps forever**

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I already mentioned Mexican Gothic, so will refrain from doing so again. Elizabeth Acevedo really wrote one of the most touching and heart-wrenching novels I have ever read with Clap When You Land.

21. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

I am going to go with This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I don’t think I would have picked it up without everyone screaming about it.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2020?

Hands down it’s Zafir from Take a Hint, Dani Brown. I just have such a soft spot for soft male characters.

23. Best 2020 debut you read?

I am going to go with two MG debut authors for this one. Claribel Ortega’s Ghost Squad and Loriel Ryon’s Into the Tall, Tall Grass. Both we incredible middle grade books that I wish I had had in my life as a kid. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read these, do it now.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I read so many great fantasies this year with some fantastic world-building, but I am going to go with Zoraida Córdova’s Wayward Witch, the final book in the Brooklyn Brujas series. Rose’s story takes place in the Kingdom of Adas, the home of fairyland which once was an island in the Caribbean. Please, please, please give me more books with fae of color in the coming years. I am utterly desperate.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Books that are fun are so underrated. I would love to see more books that are just a blast to read. I enjoy emotional torture, sure, but I also love a story that makes me incandescently happy. Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz is one of the funnest books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020?

Shout out to Elizabeth Acevedo (Clap When You Land) and Aida Salazar (Land of the Cranes) who make me cry with every novel they’ve written.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow was such a joy. I can’t decide which of the lead characters is the softest. What a gem of a novel.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang ripped my heart out of my chest and I don’t know if there is such a thing as recovery. I don’t think the book hangovers I got from the first two books can compare to the one I have from this finale.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia is the book you need to reach for if you need a friend. It’s like a warm hug and I don’t know another novel that is anything like this one.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I can’t think of a book that made me mad, but there is a certain character in Alyssa Cole’s When No One is Watching who I would like to slap a few times.

book-blogging
1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2020?

Please don’t ask me to remember who I followed this year. I am the worst at remembering such things. However, the last blog I followed was Afoma Umesi’s blog which focuses on middle grade novels. Her lists have been invaluable to me. I strongly encourage you to sign up for her mailing list as well.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2020?

I always draw a blank when this question comes up but I am going to highlight two posts that I always like to see get some love:

Book Lists: 24 Retellings Written By Authors of Color

Talk Chisme to Me: New & Upcoming Releases By Latinx Authors (Sept. ’20-2021)

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2020?

I have a tendency to like photos I take for IG and then later look at them super critically. I need to stop doing that because I put a lot of effort into these photos and I deserve to feel proud of them. I really love this photo I took of Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty, which you can find on my Instagram here. Follow me!

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, etc.)?

I did my first panel ever for Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest, organized by Paola. The Latinx Book Club did a reader panel where we were all kinds of chaotic. You can watch the panel on Jocelyn’s YT channel here.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2020?

I was featured on Buzzfeed Books’s article “Here Are 28 Latinx Bookstagrammers You Should Be Following For A+ Recommendations” for Latinx Heritage Month.” You should have seen my face when I got a DM from them. Also, I would like to take the opportunity to brag that Stephanie Beatriz followed me on Instagram. AAAAHHHH!!!!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Sorry, but the pandemic did not help me read more. I really wish it had though. On top of that I struggled with finding the motivation to blog and took two different month-long hiatus in 2020.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular blog post this year that wasn’t a meme was Cover Reveal: FIRE WITH FIRE by Destiny Soria. This was my first ever cover reveal and I was over the moon to do Destiny’s reveal as well as interview her about her upcoming book.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I need more people to read my review of Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. I loved this one so much and wrote in way back at the beginning of the year. Looking at stats, it has not gotten enough love.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Does it count if the whole community kind of discovered how amazing remote events can be? I don’t live near big enough cities where I can attend author events on the regular, so being able to take part in online events has been pretty amazing. I hope going forward, we see more of these.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I completed my Goodreads goal, the Con Sabor Reading Challenge, and the Year of the Asian reading challenge. Yay, me! Recaps for these are forthcoming.

looking-ahead-books-2015
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2021?

I am going to go with Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown. I preorder this one because Jackson’s writing is so darn good, but it came out during Latinx Heritage Month and I had to put it off. I will get to this in January.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021 (non-debut)?

Um, so many, but I am doing a buddy reread of Nocturna by Maya Motayne and all I can think about it Oculta. I need this sequel so much. Also worth noting is Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season, and S.K. Ali’s Misfit in Love.

3. 2021 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I am so stoked for Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones. I was so excited about this one last year and was so sad that the release date got pushed.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2021?

I already mentioned Oculta, but besides that my most anticipated sequel is probably Susan Dennard’s Witchshadow. I think this is the longest on-going series I have been reading. The first book came out in 2016. This is the fourth book in the series and I know there is going to be at least one more. I should probably pay more attention to this.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2021?

I renewed my love for horror this year and want to take that enthusiasm with me into 2021.

6. A 2021 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

I haven’t read any 2021 releases because I wanted to take a break from ARCs in the latter part of the year.

Did you do this survey? Leave me your link in the comments and I will visit!

2020 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I cannot believe that we are already in July. The pandemic really messed with time because these last few months have flown by. I regularly have to check my phone for the day of the week. And then double check because my brain feels like it is playing tricks on me. I am so excited to participate in the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, created by booktubers Read Like Wildfire and Earl Grey Books. I know a lot of people have been reading more than usual, but I’ve been pretty consistent in my reading, but I will take that as a win. Let’s take a look at my favorites so far…Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

If you are able, consider donating to groups supporting the Black trans community. You can split your donation between organizations here.

1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2020?

I am not even going to pretend that any of you will be surprised by this pick. I have been singing Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s praises for years and have been pushing Mexican Gothic for months. This book literally revived my love for horror. If you enjoy novels with creepy atmospheres, strong characters, and a storytelling that keeps you up at night, this is the one for you. You can read my review here.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2020?

I have not read a ton of sequels this year but both R.F. Kuang’s The Dragon Republic (read my review here) and S.A. Chakraborty’s The Kingdom of Copper were stellar (read my review here). I am scared of both of the final books in these series.

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

I know A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Rosanne A. Brown has only been out for a month and a half, but it is one of my most anticipated 2020 releases, so I kind of feel guilty about not getting to it yet.

4. Most Anticipated Release For Second Half of 2020?

I am so stoked for Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia. I just got approved for an eARC of this one and cannot wait to read it, ah!!!! I am also one of the cohosts for a readathon of these authors’ work if you would like to join. Head over to the Meteor Shower Readathon Twitter account here for more info.

5. Biggest Disappointment?

Wilder Girls by Rory Power let me down big time. I had heard that not a lot of people loved it, but I still went into it with high hopes because I know people don’t often rate horror novels high. In the end, I wanted more from it. You can read my review here.

6. Biggest Surprise?

I don’t read a whole lot of non-fiction books, but this year I have been picking up more than usual. I really enjoyed Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s memoir, Children of the Land. It was deeply moving and deserved more attention than a certain fictional book that still ended up on the NYT bestseller list despite all the concerns by Latinx authors and readers. Forever bitter. Read my review of Children of the Land here.

7. Favorite New Author?

Claire Kann, Claire Kann, Claire Kann!!!! I had the pleasure of reading two Claire Kann books this year. Let’s Talk About Love (read my review here) is about a Black biromantic, ace teen finding her way in the world. I loved Alice to pieces and she’s become one of my favorite protagonist’s ever. If It Makes You Happy is about a queer, fat Black girl who finds herself queen of her small town’s pageant. If you haven’t read Claire Kann you are missing out on some of the best and most precious protagonists and swoons galore.

8. Newest Fictional Crush?

I know it’s technically from after mid-year, but I am going to name Zafir from Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert as my newest fictional crush. He is just so soft.

9. Newest Favorite Character?

Noemí Taboado from Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia stole my heart the moment her date asked for a kiss good night and she responded with: “‘I’ve got to run, but you can have a bit of my lipstick,’ she replied, taking her cigarette and putting it in his mouth.”

10. Book That Made You Cry?

I am trying to recall if any of the books I read this year had me in tears and it feels like it happened, but I don’t have any distinct memories. I am going to say Jade City by Fonda Lee because it may not have made me cry, but it certainly had me shouting in pain.

11. Book That Made You Happy?

Trying not to repeat myself, but the book that made me the most happy was probably Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love.

12. Favorite Book To Movie Adaptation You Saw This Year?

I don’t think I watched too many adaptations this year. At the top of my head, I cannot recall any, so I am going to take the opportunity to shout out my favorite K-Drama I watched this year. Crash Landing on You was an absolute delight. No other K-Drama this year has lived up to its perfection, so at some point I will probably rewatch it.

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year?

I’m quite proud of my review of Mexican Gothic, which you can once again read here.

14. Most Beautiful Book You Bought So Far This Year?

No, I won’t name Mexican Gothic again, but let’s just say it was in the running. Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. The naked hardback is incredible.

 

15. What Books Do You Need To Read By The End of The Year?

This question! How about I name a couple of ARCs I need to get to that I haven’t mentioned yet: Mark Oshiro’s Each of Us a Desert and Aida Salazar’s Land of the Cranes. Both of these are high on my TBR.

What’s your favorite book of 2020? What book are you most looking forward to reading before the end of the year? Leave me a link in the comments to your own Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag post, so I can visit.