Hey everyone! The MID-YEAR BOOK FREAKOUT tag has been popping up on book-related social media during the months of June and July, and it’s really popular among book bloggers and tubers. I thought it’d be cool to participate, especially since our friends’ posts have been so inspiring. This tag was created by booktubers Chami at ReadLikeWildfire and Ely at Earl Grey Books.

So far, 2017 has not been the best of reading years (perhaps coinciding with not having had a great year so far in general). In 2015, I had 20 books on my annual favourites shelf. In 2017, I’ve added 4 so far which isn’t very promising, is it? Due to my workload at university, I also haven’t been able to squeeze in a lot of reading time. I’ve read 21 books so far and I’m currently 4 books behind on my GR challenge. Nevertheless, I’ve read some really good books this year, and since this tag also talks about disappointments, you’ll be in for a few rants as well. Let’s begin with my bookish review of the first half of 2017, shall we?

Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, my reading year hasn’t been particularly exciting so far, but I do have a few gems among my 2017 reads. I was so impressed with Angie Thomas’s debut The Hate U Give. She had her finger on the pulse of time, confronting a hard and emotionally charged subject with a refreshing, daunting new voice. The Hate U Give tackles racism and police violence towards African Americans in the US, but it zooms in on various other important themes such as belonging and othering, interracial relationships and friendships (and thus beautifully challenging racial prejudices on both sides), patchwork family dynamics, and toxic friendships. If you haven’t read THUG yet, I highly recommend you mark this a priority on your TBR.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

A Conjuring of Light and Morning Star were the final instalments of two amazing and much beloved trilogies. I don’t know why it took me and my buddy reader so long to pick up the latter, but it was some seriously epic shit that gave us so many heart attacks. And I’ve been anticipating ACOL ever since Schwab threw that brutal cliffhanger of AGOS at us. Albeit not without flaws, both finales were action-packed and gave me all the feels. With regard to the most epic showdown, however, I’d say Morning Star has the upper hand with its adrenaline-inducing twists and space battles (Pierce Brown is sick, seriously).

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Hunted and Strange the Dreamer came out in March this year, so how come I still haven’t read them, huh? In addition, I’ve been anticipating Now I Rise for a year, and guess who still hasn’t bought or ordered her copy, huh? Honestly, I’m a mess when it comes to my immediate TBR. I’m always behind with new releases I really want to read unless I finish a book right on the date when my anticipated release hits the shelves. It’s an issue. Another reason I’m behind on this year’s new releases is my ever-growing TBR pile, especially the physical copies that are getting dusty on my shelves. Haaalp.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I’ve had my eye on Lana Popovic’s debut Wicked Like a Wildfire ever since it was announced because magical realism in the Balkans? Yes please. I’m also super excited for Warcross, even though I have yet to read a Marie Lu book, mainly because it sounds like an Asian Ready Player One. All the Crooked Saints is anticipated because Stiefvater (I believe Chantal who loves the RTC series to death will agree with me). I enjoyed Vengeance Road so much (super underrated YA historical Western!), so I’m looking forward to diving into 1887 Arizona again with its companion novel Retribution Rails.

Biggest disappointment

Can words even convey how disappointed I was with Stephanie Garber’s debut Caraval? I’ll try my best. You know, Caraval actually wasn’t the lowest rating I had this year (nope, that honour goes to A Court of Wings and Ruin which was 1.5 stars). However, unlike with SJM, I wasn’t familiar with Stephanie Garber’s work and – due to the massive hype this book had stirred prior to its release – I expected great things from this book. The storyline had potential and the setting was glittery and enchanting, but all the potential was chucked out the window. Let me give it to you straight: The characters are cardboard-like bland with a main character so naive you want to shake her and a twin sister so obnoxious you want to hit her, the romance totally takes over the plot (though you might ask, which plot?) and entails basically every YA trope ever, no explanations given about the magic whatsoever, and the writing is so purple it made my eyes roll backwards into my skull. Due to the one-dimensionally evil father figure, this book should also come with a trigger warning for domestic violence/abuse. Basically, you could’ve taken the idea and turned it into a story with some actual substance, and you’d have had a really good book. But that didn’t happen.

Biggest surprise

Honestly, after seeing the reviews for The Star-Touched Queen, I had lost interest in Chokshi’s debut. But somehow, the premise for the companion novel had captured me, and since the ratings for this one had turned out a lot higher, I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised by Roshani Chokshi’s glittering world based on Indian mythology. A Crown of Wishes dazzles with a feisty heroine, a sizzling romance, intricate world-building, and lyrical writing. From what I’d heard, the main plot was one of the weak points of her previous work. While this has not changed, the storyline was gripping enough to hook me a few chapters in. Chokshi could certainly tone it down with the purple prose, but contrary to Garber’s nonsensical descriptions, her poetic writing added to the atmosphere and never irritated me.

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

Angie Thomas doesn’t need explaining since she wrote my favourite book/standalone this year. I would also like to dedicate a line or two to Sandhya Menon who published her debut When Dimple Met Rishi in May. Though I’m not one for contemporary romances, I quite enjoyed this romcom on arranged marriages with its Indian-American protagonists and its touch of feminism. I can certainly see why people thought it was juvenile or cheesy or ‘too Bollywood’ but it was the perfect read for me during my exams, and I do think Menon addressed some important points in her novel.

Newest fictional crush

Wesley Ayers aka Guyliner.

Newest favourite character

So technically, Holland is not a character new to me since he appears in the previous books of the Shades of Magic series as well. But A Conjuring of Light made me (re)discover my boundless adoration for this poor misunderstood munchcake. He’s a multi-layered and morally grey character, walking the path of an anti-hero, which is my favourite sort of character/antagonist. You couldn’t really tell on whose side he was on in the fight between good and evil, but I guess he was on no one’s side except his own. Holland in this dramatic final instalment was Holland at his best.

Book that made you cry

Your name has to be Melina Marchetta if you want to make me cry over ink and paper, and sadly, I haven’t had my share of Marchetta yet this year.

I will say, though, that The Archived‘s subplot of loss and grief made me feel all the sad feels.

Book that made you happy

If you know Pierce Brown, you’re probably surprised one of his books made me happy because he likes to rake your heart through the mud and toy with your adrenaline and spike those anxiety levels. He also likes to induce heart attacks while you fear for your favourite characters’ lives, so why on earth would this person make me happy, am I right? That epilogue, though, made me smile from ear to ear. Some might call it a bit cheesy, but I think it was handled so beautifully after three books of blood, gore, and death.

Most beautiful book you’ve read/reviewed so far this year

I believe we’re talking coverporn here, so let me present some of this year’s books’ prettiest covers, regardless of how I rated the content. I love the aesthetic of A Conjuring of Light and Caraval. Traitor to the Throne has a gorgeous Middle Eastern-themed cover with the silhouette of a city with Arabian architecture by night. But the two covers that really make my cover-loving heart sing are those of A Crown of Wishes and A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars. Both feature the main characters, their horses (and a golden eagle), and a beautiful, star-adorned night sky.

What books do you need to have read by the end of the year?

Did you hear that hysterical laugh in the distance? Yeah, that was me reading this question and thinking of my 2017 TBR. But I’ll give you a pick of three physical copies I own that have been yearning for me to pick them up, and I really want to but new releases seem to distract me from my TBR, whereas my TBR distracts me from immediately getting to my anticipated publications. Damn.

I received The Song of Achilles and The Night Circus as birthday gifts from my buddy reader, and I honestly don’t know why it’s taking me so long to pick them up. I strongly suspect that TSA is shattering and that WBW entails some brutal aspects as well, so I think I’ve always been kind of waiting for the right mood to read those. What’s keeping me from reading TNC, though, I cannot fathom. I think that’s the one I’ll be tackling first of the bunch because not only have I heard amazing things, but I also want to compare it to my experiences of Caraval and Daughter of the Burning City (ARC) which also feature circus/festival-like settings.

I hope you enjoyed this quick stroll through my first bookish half of 2017. How has your reading year been so far? What was your favourite read and which book turned out to be a complete letdown? Talk to me in the comments! πŸ™‚