It’s that time of year again! The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag has started popping up again in the book community, and since I’ve been meaning to do a tag for a while, the timing couldn’t be better.
Oh man, there are so many books I can pick for this! Some of the first ones that come to mind are The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare and Kill the Queen/Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep. The Wallflower Wager is Tessa Dare’s upcoming historical romance (out August 13), and it’s SO GOOD. It’s just really fun and funny with lots of great banter but also some nice depth, and it’s everything I love in a romance novel. And Kill the Queen/Protect the Prince are everything I love in fantasy: strong female characters who grow with the series, badass fantasy worlds and magic, and great love interests. I highly recommend it!
Also, shout out to White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, which is possibly the most impactful book I’ve read this this year. It’s basically calling out white people and explaining how our behavior can often reinforce racist structures. It can be an uncomfortable read, especially if you’re not willing to admit that you’ve benefited from racism, but it’s so, so important. I can’t recommend it enough to all white readers.
Oooo, I have several for this question! One is Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse. If you haven’t read Trail of Lightning yet, you need to! It’s a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy heavily inspired by Navajo mythology, and it’s amazing. Maggie is such a badass heroine, and Roanhorse did an amazing job with the sequel, continuing to grow the world and develop the characters while creating a distinct story from the first book. It was so good.
Another one I want to flag is Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep, which will be out on July 2. It’s the sequel to Kill the Queen, a high fantasy story with gladiatorial elements and some awesome magic. Like Roanhorse, Estep did a phenomenal job continuing the story she created in the first book and getting me even more invested in these characters. I love both installments in each of these series equally, and I can’t wait to see what Roanhorse and Estep do with book three.
And last but not least, I was super impressed by Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik (out October 1), the sequel to Polaris Rising. This series is a really fun scifi romance series, and while I was prepared to fully enjoy Aurora Blazing, I have to admit that I didn’t expect to love it just as much as Polaris Rising. But I did, in a much different way than the first book, which is exactly what I’m looking for in a sequel!
A new release you haven’t read yet but want to
I have two new releases that I was really excited for but embarrassed to say I haven’t read yet, actually. One is An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole, which came out in February. I love pretty much everything Alyssa Cole writes and bought this book immediately, but I just haven’t been in the mood yet to pick it up yet considering the history it deals with. The other is The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. This one hasn’t been out as long, but I loved The Kiss Quotient so much that I ordered a signed copy of The Bride Test from The Ripped Bodice, and I’m very excited to read it. Both of these have to happen soon!
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Surprise, surprise, I have a bunch of books to mention here. Two of the top contenders are The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare and Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik. I’m incredibly lucky that I’ve had a chance to read both of these books early, and I’m pleased to report that neither one disappoints!
I’m tentatively excited for Dark Age by Pierce Brown. I was pretty disappointed in Iron Gold (as I mentioned in last year’s tag, actually), but I love the original Red Rising trilogy so much that I’m hopeful Brown will find his stride in this one. I’m also really excited for Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo and Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.
Ooof. I actually haven’t had any majorly disappointing books so far this year, but the one that comes to mind (possibly because I read it so recently) is The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. It wasn’t really on my radar until I got a copy at BookCon, and then all of a sudden I saw it everywhere. I was excited to pick it up and generally enjoyed the first two thirds, but there were two big things closer to the end that really ruined this book for me (spoilers can be seen in my Goodreads review). I just didn’t feel like the ending lived up to the potential the book showed at the beginning, and I was really disappointed.
Book that most surprised you
I mean, Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep for sure caught me off guard. I wasn’t that excited by it (the cover doesn’t do it for me and I’m not super interested in gladiators), but I was interested enough that I wanted to give it a try after receiving it in an Avon Addict box, and dang am I glad I gave it a chance. I completely loved it!
In the interest of not repeating book titles too much, I also want to answer A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev. I started reading it on the subway ride home one night, expecting that I wouldn’t get too invested in such a short amount of time and that I’d be able to get some stuff done when I got home. I was so, so wrong. I got completely immersed in this book and refused to even talk to my husband until I finished it. It was so good!
New favorite author
I didn’t realize how many of the books I’ve read this year were by authors I’d read previously until I started looking for an answer to this question. I think the best answer is Jennifer Estep. I just completely loved Kill the Queen and Protect the Prince so much, and even though the rest of her backlist doesn’t sound like something I would normally pick up (I’m not a huge urban fantasy reader), I love those books so much that I want to give her other series a try. I need something to tide me over for Crush the King!
New fictional crush
I’m not huge on fictional crushes, but I do want to shout out Sully in Protect the Prince. That book has one of the most romantic scenes I think I’ve ever read. It’s so good!
New favorite character
I’m probably picking this because it’s a more recent read, but I think I have to go with Silver Fucking Mercant from Silver Silence by Nalini Singh, the first book in her new Psy/Changeling Trinity series. Seriously, that’s what they call her in the series because she’s so competent and badass and can do literally anything she sets her mind to. I aspire to be even a fraction as awesome as she is.
Book that made you cry
I feel like such a scrooge, but I don’t think I’ve read anything this year that’s made me cry. I just don’t gravitate towards tearjerkers, though maybe I’ll pick up another Adam Silvera book before the end of the year. I’m sure that’s guaranteed to make me cry.
Book that made you happy
Definitely The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare. I feel like I should maybe pick a different book since I’ve already mentioned this one repeatedly (and it’s not out yet), but it was so funny that I had to read numerous parts of it out loud to my husband because it was too funny not to share. Plus this book just gave me all the feels, and I was seriously tempted to reread it again as soon as I finished it.
Actually, Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole is another good answer to this prompt. It’s a short little novella set in the Reluctant Royals world, and I just loved how competent and accomplished Regina was and how sweet and adorable Gus was. It’s a fast read, but it’s super cute and heartwarming, and I loved it so much.
Favorite book to movie adaptation
Wow, I think I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve watched this year, and I’m not sure any of them are book adaptations. Though I’m pretty sure I rewatched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before at some point in the last six months (it’s just so good!), so we’re going to go with that one.
I’m such a nerd, but one of my favorite posts to put together is my yearly statistics post. It’s just so fun to take a closer look at my reading and organize it into a bunch of graphs.
Also, shout out to my 7 Outrageous Romance Premises That Surprisingly Work post. It was a lot of fun to put together, though it could have been a lot more bonkers if I hadn’t stuck to books I highly recommend! There are some crazy things out there, which is part of why the romance genre is so fun.
Most aesthetically pleasing book
Ooo, that’s a tough one. I think my two favorites (don’t make me pick between them) are The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe and A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole. I just love the color combo and the clinch on The Rogue of Fifth Avenue, and I love the dress, the color, and the clinch on A Prince on Paper. They’re some of my favorite romance covers ever, and some of my favorite covers in general.
Books you need to read by the end of the year
Everything! I’m still working towards a zero TBR, so I want to read all of my books that I owned at the beginning of the year, plus all of the books I’ve accumulated this year (including my hauls from KissCon and BookCon). Other than that, I’d like to check out Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunters series since I loved the Psy/Changeling books so much, plus Jenica has convinced me that I need to read the Hidden Legacy books by Ilona Andrews. So I guess those are near the top of my list?
What are some of your favorite books you’ve read so far in 2019? Let me know in the comments!