2022 Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag
1. Best Book You’ve Read in 2022: Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby and Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
I simply couldn't choose between these two. Razorblade Tears is an adult thriller about two men (Buddy Lee and Ike) who team up to get revenge for their sons' murders. Only a Monster is a YA fantasy about a time traveling monster who uses her powers to save her family from a monster hunter. Razorblade Tears is a favorite because of the emotional journey and growth the characters experience. Only a Monster is favorite because, as a YA fantasy writer myself, it's the kind of story I wish I'd written but don't have the talent to execute properly (yet).
2. Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2022: Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan
This is the finale to the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy which is a YA fantasy about a girl (Lei) who is forced to become the concubine to a demonic king. I have a true soft spot for Lei and her warrior love interest, Wren. They are empowering female characters. Finales are difficult to get right, but this one merged the best of the first and second books. There was good payoff to a plot point that had been brewing, and there are plenty of tense, gut wrenching, and just satisfying scenes. It was the exact ending that the girls deserved after all the turmoil they'd endured.
3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet but Want to: Hide by Kiersten White
This is my very next read so I'll be getting to it very shortly. It's an adult horror thriller so I'm a little anxious my scaredy-cat self will have nightmares. However, I can't deny the idea of a dangerous game of hide and seek at an abandoned amusement park sounds right up my alley. I adore creepy, unsettling atmosphere in books (and especially in thrillers). This is the June selection for the book club I participate in (Booksandlala's Literally Dead book club) so that's why I'm prioritizing it over other books I got for my birthday.
4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year: Shamanborn #3 by Lori M. Lee and Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson
As of writing this, as far as I'm aware at least, there is no official title for the finale to the Shamanborn trilogy (which currently consists of Forest of Souls and Broken Web). This YA fantasy is about a girl (Sirscha) who discovers she has powers and must use them to save her land from a cursed forest. This is one of the few series where I liked the sequel just as much as the first book. There's still so much ground to cover in the finale and I'm intrigued to see how it all ends. Nine Liars, meanwhile, is the fifth book in the Truly Devious series which is a YA mystery about true crime aficionado Stevie Bell. These books are what got me into mystery and the first time I saw my own diagnosis (that of anxiety) in a character done in a non-offensive manner. Reading these books always feels like coming home, so I'm beyond happy the series is continuing on.
5. Biggest Disappointment: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten and The Guest List by Lucy Foley
This is another where I just couldn't choose. Both are adult thrillers. The Lost Village is about a documentary filmmaker who travels to a ghost town to film. The Guest List is about a murder at a wedding on an Irish island. The Lost Village disappointed me because Sten's other work which has been translated into English was a 5 star for me. I went into The Lost Village with high expectations. I was obsessed with the unsettling atmosphere, but the characters and predictability made it something I can't recommend. The Guest List is another case of reading a book by the author that I loved (The Paris Apartment) and so mistakenly thinking it would be another win. This book is like 90% petty, drunken drama which bored me to tears.
6. Biggest Surprise: Ophelia After All by Raquel Marie
Unfortunately, this was a surprise in a bad way. I genuinely believed I was going to love this book and it would be perfect for me. It's about a high school senior who has always believed she's straight. She's beginning to question her sexuality after becoming attracted to another girl. Despite her name being in the title, this book reads more like the story of her annoying friends' love triangle than Ophelia's sexuality identity. Also, Ophelia was an unlikable character who I never cared for. LGBT+ (and even more so LGBT+ characters of color) are important representation to have, but I wish this book was actually good.
7. Favorite New Author: Vanessa Len
Len is a promising new author in the YA fantasy genre whose book is far too good to be a debut. Not only will I be snapping up the sequel(s) to Only a Monster, but I will be keeping an eye out for her other future books as well.
8. Newest Fictional Crush: Sebastian from The Resting Place by Camilla Sten
This book is about a woman (Eleanor) who inherits her grandmother's Swedish manor. She and her boyfriend (Sebastian) become trapped there during a snowstorm and it's clear they aren't alone. Eleanor also suffers from PTSD. Sebastian is a stable, patient, and comforting presence in Eleanor's life. He's the kind of boyfriend I'd want to have in real life to support me because he's an anchor.
9. Book that Made You Cry: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
This book didn't actually make me cry, but it's very rare that I actually cry while reading a book. It did, however, make me incredibly emotional and touch my heart. I suffer from an anxiety disorder with panic attacks and clinical depression. The two main characters of this novel (Charlie and Dev) have the same mental illnesses as me. Seeing characters like me having their own beautiful love story was so meaningful since I've been so insecure about dating with mental illnesses.
10. Book that Made You Happy: Dreams Like Beneath by Rebecca Ross
This is a YA fantasy that reminds me somewhat of a YA version of Game of Thrones. I read this while I was going through a major fantasy slump (it's my favorite genre). This book I picked up as part of Booksandlala's buzzwordathon challenge and had no expectations. This book managed to reinvigorate me and remind me why I fell in love with reading and writing YA fantasy to begin with. For that reason alone this book made me happy.
11. Favorite Book to Film Adaptation: NA
I don't have any answer for this question this year because I haven't actually watched any adaptations this year. So, instead, I'll just shout out a show I"m currently watching that I am enjoying. It's called Tale of the Nine Tailed and it's a K-drama about a mythological nine tailed fox and his reincarnated human love. As already established I am ready for anything fantasy and love learning about other cultures' mythology. The plot and the main characters (and their chemistry) have me hooked.
12. Favorite Review You've Written This Year: I Ranked All of Lucy Foley's Thrillers
My favorite blogs to write are ranking ones where I read all of an author's books (or all of them within a specific genre). This gives me an excuse to get to know the author's body of work well. More importantly, though, it enables me to let my blog readers know which books of the author's are worth their time and which are a waste.
13. Most Beautiful Book You've Bought or Received this Year: This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron
I like this cover for a few reasons. The first is the art is beautiful and it matches perfectly to the first book in the duology (cover designs changing mid series is a major pet peeve of mine). The second reason is the color palette evokes that earthy feeling (it's about a girl with flower/plant magic) while also having this cool, mysterious and almost sinister tone to it as well. I also just happen to like purple and blue which this cover has a lot of. I also tend to prefer book covers that feature the characters on them which this one does.
14. Books You Need to Read by the End of the Year
I plan to read many more books this year, so I'm just going to list the five books I for sure want to read in July. They are: Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano, Book of Night by Holly Black, Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor, The Night Shift by Alex Finlay, and, of course, Hide by Kiersten White.
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