Hello, my lovely lemons. It’s that time of year again! (Okay, I’m a little late as usual because I always forget about this tag until I see other people doing it, but that’s not the point.) I love this tag every time it comes around, but I’m especially excited for it this year because I’ve read some really good books so far.
I thought I’d hit a new record for books read by this point, but I totally forgot I spent the first half of last year in lockdown. So my bubble was burst when I looked back at my 2020 post and discovered I’d read 38 books to this year’s 31. I’m not going to get down about that, though! 31 is an amazing number of books to have read. Anyway, I can’t wait, so let’s get to it!
Best book you’ve read so far in 2021?
As I was copying out the questions for this post, it struck me several times that I could genuinely use this series for nearly every prompt in this tag. Best book, best sequel, favourite new author, favourite character, fictional crush, made me cry… You get the idea. I don’t remember a book ever making such an impact on me. This series, its characters, the heartbreakingly beautiful sapphic romance at its core that has absolutely rotted my brain. I haven’t stopped rereading this series in one form or another since I finished it a month ago, and at this rate, I’m not sure I’ll ever stop.
Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021?
Almost exactly a year after I read the first two books, I read the third and fourth books in The Great Library series! I would pick just one for the best sequel, but I read them so quickly and so close together that I can’t separate the storylines in my head. So Ash and Quill and Smoke and Iron both win the best sequel award! This series has high stakes, adventure, and is literally a bunch of bookworms trying to save the world. This epic found family is essentially comprised of six teenagers and their two surly gay dads and I would die for any one of them if I’m honest. Both sequels just added to my love of these characters and the amazing world they inhabit.
New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
Morally grey lesbians, and honourable criminals taking on a big bad corporation? Everything about Persephone Station sounds right up my street. Any synopsis that includes the phrase “band of beneficent criminals, wayward assassins, and washed up mercenaries with a penchant for doing the honourable thing” has me sold. I’ve been intensely into everything queer sci-fi lately so I’m excited to get to this one soon.
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
The First Sister was the standout book of 2020 for me and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel ever since. This series was my introduction to queer sci-fi and it is dark, gritty, and wonderful. The previous book set up brilliant new arcs for all the main characters and I can’t wait to see where this second novel takes them.
I absolutely adore The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but unfortunately, the second book in the Wayfarers series just wasn’t it for me, and I DNF’d it. Wayfarers is not a typical linear series – each book follows a different set of characters within the same universe. And I just was not vibing with the protagonist of this one. Luckily, I can just skip on to the next book which I have a feeling I’ll like a lot more!
It’s not that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this novel, because I definitely was. I was just surprised by how much I absolutely adored it! This book (and its sequel which I immediately ordered) are spin-offs of the graphic novel series Fence, and I didn’t know how the format change would work. It worked wonderfully – the characters retain their vibrant personalities, and this was 368 pages of pure antics and unadulterated fun, that had me laughing out loud on an embarrassing number of occasions. If you’ve enjoyed the graphic novels and aren’t sure whether to give the books a go, I wholeheartedly recommend them 100%.
Favourite new author (debut or new to you)?
Earlier this year I finally read Daughter of the Pirate King, a book that’s been on my TBR since 2018! And I loved it. The humour and the banter between the characters was perfect for me. I love a book that can make me laugh. I went and added all Tricia Levenseller’s other books to my TBR immediately upon finishing.
Newest favourite character?
I really am trying not to use Gideon the Ninth for every question but it’s difficult when that book is everything I’ve ever wanted. There was no one else I could put for this question. Gideon Nav is the beautiful, funny, witty lesbian himbo of my dreams. Her jokes, her commentary, her gay sense of humour, I was absolutely helpless.
Once again, I really tried to think of any other book, but this is the only honest answer I could give. I have been consumed with brainrot over the tragic, beautiful, all-consuming relationship between Gideon Nav and Harrowhark Nonagesimus. Two books in and all I’ve been given is yearning and pain. I have staked my place on this griddlehark hill and I will stand here till I die.
Book that made you cry?
Gideon the Ni- I can’t, I can’t use it again. (Both GtN and HtN did make me cry though, for the record.) Instead, I’m going with Smoke and Iron, which had me in tears in the early hours of the morning because Rachel Caine is an expert in the last-minute plot twist department. I still haven’t read the final book in this series because I need some time to ~recover~.
Favourite book to movie adaptation?
I don’t think I’ve used it for this question before and I did rewatch it this year so I’m going with The Witcher. I haven’t read the books yet (though I do want to) but I really love the Netflix series. I’ve watched it twice, which says a lot since I usually don’t like watching TV.
I haven’t written many proper reviews this year, but I still love this short and sweet summary I put together for The Witchling’s Girl.
This book was hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric. The writing carries you on a journey through the story. It’s lyrical and flowing, without being overly descriptive or flowery.
The story is told by Haley, recounting her own life from the moment her death-magic was discovered and she became the witchling’s girl. It’s a story of magic, of living, of love and pain and how you learn to deal with a life you haven’t chosen for yourself.
This isn’t a happy story. It’s haunting, somewhat bleak, and the ending left a painful hole in my chest. Yet it was magical, impactful, and I won’t be forgetting it for a long time.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year?
This was harder to answer than I expected! I haven’t bought any special editions this year, which is what I would usually put for this prompt. BUT I did buy a copy of Graceling with the new cover redesign and it is absolutely GORGEOUS. That illustration is just *chef’s kiss*
The book inside was pretty beautiful, too! I really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait to read the companion novels.
What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Once again I’m doing my TBR challenge – where I vow to read every book I owned at the start of the year before the end of it. This year I’ve been doing pretty well, and I only have 6 books left to get to, and 6 months to do it in! The last 4 in this list were all from the same book haul at the end of 2020 – I’ve pretty much gone through my TBR in chronological order. The Way of Kings and The Ruin of Kings are both chunky epic fantasies (think 1100+ page chunky fantasy in the case of The Way of Kings) but that’s what I love to read in summer. So hopefully I’ll get those ticked off soon!
As always, I had so much fun with this tag this year! I’m happy with my reading this year. I’ve not got through quite as many books as last year, but this year I have had more of a life and been allowed to leave my house. A fair trade, I’d say.
I think I’m doing pretty well at this half-year check-in. I’m ahead of my goal of reading 52 books this year, I’m getting through my TBR, and I’ve found a new all-time favourite series. Bring on the second half of 2021!