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Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2023
Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. This magical realism follows the characters of a condo community on a small island. The novel thematically deals with grief and found family which are both things I’m naturally drawn to in books. This novel is the definition of ‘no plot just vibes.’

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2023
I have to say it’s a tie between Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo (Adult Fantasy Mystery) and The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (YA Thriller). Hell Bent is a strong middle book while The Final Gambit is an exceptional finale.
3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to
In The Lives of Puppets by T. J. Klune. I’m not much for robots but Klune’s previous two books (The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door) are some of my all time favorite books. They’re also heartwarming, found family stories so I can’t imagine that I won’t fall in love with this book too.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of 2023
There are quite a few upcoming YA fantasy books I’m super excited about. They are: Never a Hero by Vanessa Len (which is the sequel to her debut novel Only a Monster), A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber (which is the finale to the Once Upon a Broken Heart trilogy), Two Twisted Crowns by Rachel Gilig (the finale to the Shepherd King duology), and What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez.

5. Biggest Disappointment?
Happy Place by Emily Henry. She’s the queen of summer adult romance books and this book is a second chance romance which is one of my favorite romance tropes. I had this book on my most anticipated releases of the year list. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the main couple in this book should have stayed broken up.

6. Biggest Surprise?
It’s another tie between The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd (Adult Magical Realism) and What Have We Done by Alex Finlay (Adult Thriller). I picked up The Cartogaphers from my local library on a whim knowing nothing about it and it became an unexpected favorite of the year so far (it’s a perfect mixture of magical realism and mystery). I picked up What Have We Done after having previously been disappointed by Finlay’s writing but this was an edge of your seat thrill ride I never wanted to put down!

7. New favorite author? Rachel Gilig – who I mentioned above. I was blown away by her debut (One Dark Window). It’s a perfect storm of a fantasy novel. The story is compelling, the characters are well written, the magic system is fascinating, there’s strong world building, and the setting was atmospheric. She’s definitely one to watch in her genre.

8. Newest Fictional crush?
Kai from Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea. Kai is handsome, passionate about wildlife, thoughtful, kind, and humble. He’s perfect book boyfriend material.

9. Newest favorite character?
Lana Lee from the Ho-Lee Noodle Shop Mystery books by Vivien Chien. This is a series of cozy mystery books that I’m still making my way through (there’s 8 in total and I’ve read 4 so far). Lana is the protagonist and I loved her from the very start. As a millennial, I can relate to her still trying to figure out her life with all these outside pressures. She snoops about in people’s business, but her intentions are always to bring justice.

10. Book that made you cry
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao. I don’t cry easily reading books but this, again, deals with grief and reminded me of The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan. The story’s message is that moving on and letting go don’t have to be mutually exclusive and it’s achingly bittersweet and beautiful.

11. Book that made you happy
Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Cozy mysteries are always fun, light reads for me that are great for when I'm feeling down. This book was so unexpectedly wholesome. It has a found family story line that is positively heartwarming.

12. Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?
Not a movie but I recently watched the Amazon TV show adaptation of Daisy Jones & The Six. The author, Taylor Jenkins Reid, worked on the project which I imagine had a hand in why it was so faithful to the source material. Also, say what you want about nepotism babies in Hollywood, but Riley Keough has some serious pipes and acting chops.

13. Favorite post you’ve written this year?
It's titled The Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber: An Author's Journey from Good to Great. Instead of just being my typical review style, this blog focuses on how Garber's technical skills as as writer have improved throughout the course of her first trilogy. As a writer and aspiring author myself one of my favorite things is getting to see how authors' careers develop over time. You can find that blog here:

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year
The soft colors and the way their hands are reaching for each other but there's that line between them; it really conveys what the story is about in an eye catching way.

15. What books you really need to read by the end of the year?
There are so many! I have a whole list of YA fantasy books (some of which were mentioned above) that I am desperate to read. I also recently got some books for my birthday to read. If I had to name just one though it would be An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X. R. Pan. It's honestly a crime I've yet to read it because her debut novel (The Astonishing Color of After) is one of my all time favorite books.
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