Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

Last year I did this book tag and was very pleased with the result. You can check out my Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag for 2020 HERE. This year I am nervous about it and a lot closer to actually freaking out! Last year was a good year in reading. I read some great books and considering the world wide pandemic situation I had a lot of awesome reading challenges and time to participate in them. This year I made a reading goal to read 100 books – respectable book goal considering I have read 120 books last year.

Being halfway through the year it is time to look at my reading experience in the first part of the year 2021. By the end of June I was thirteen (13!) books behind on my reading to reach the goal I have set for myself.

Total number of books I have read in the first half of the year is 37.

I had some rough patches in the first months of this year and the unemployed status is starting to weigh down on me emotionally. It is at times panic inducing anxiety riding journey trough life that prevents me from focusing and drains me from energy I need in order to actually work on making my life better. Now with those depressing thoughts out here for everyone to see let us begin with this year’s Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

I got this book as a present from a my Buddy reading friend last year and it took me almost a full year to actually pick it up and read trough! What I found most amazing about this book was the inspiration for reading challenges and projects it offers and positive energy I got from reading trough it. It is more than just a comic/ graphic novel book with short and sweet bookish illustrations. I was pleasantly surprised by how many caricatures were grounded in real life situations of book lovers worldwide that may seem silly to anyone who might not be a part of that group. This book is an excellent gift for writers as well as readers. Endearing and intelligent at the same time this is the type of a feel good book any book lover would appreciate and I am very glad to have gotten it as a present!

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series by Laurell K. Hamilton is a longest standing book series I own and read. My relationship with this book series is complex and I am always apprehensive about the newest book. Rafael is one of the few books in the series that center around other characters development and story. Last one like it was Jason and that one was a little underwhelming for me. I was pleasantly surprised by Rafael as a wholesome book that made my interest in reading the whole series trough a second time peak! The storyline progressed, most of my favorite characters have gotten some page time, Rafael and the rodere have been shown in new light and all shifters in general have gotten a new dimension. It was one of the best possible sequels to a series I love to read!

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

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

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A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

There are a few books from last year that I wanted to read but did not get to just yet. Both are something I am looking forward to reading and both have gorgeous covers. I expect I would love reading both of them and my excuse that they just did not fit into my reading challenges prompts is weak at best….I have no excuse for not reading them yet! I got both of these books this year and if you want you can check out my Book haul post on them both from February HERE.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire #1) by Jay Kristoff

I have not read any books by Jay Kristoff! That being said I do have some of his books on my wish list and TBR. But when I first saw Empire of the Vampire being announced I was hooked! I think everyone is ready for a new vampire themed hit that will be made into movies and TV shows and have a huge following! I want that for this book! There is already GR record for a whole trilogy of this book series! This book has been announced a whole year in advance and there are so many wonderful special editions to choose from that I am stumped and can’t decide which one to choose! There is the obvious difference between the US and the UK edition cover art and there is a whole range of each with color variations and sprayed edges in different colors and even illustrations on them as well. Only thing I am sure of is that I want the hardcover edition for sure, the rest is still undecided. Any help is appreciated and I really hope I don’t end up with more copies of the same book because I really don’t want to be that person…Oh and the book is announced to come out in September!

5. Biggest disappointment

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan

I have been looking at this book series for a very long time. Even before I started this blog I was often browsing the Amazon bookstore online and making lists of books I wanted to read one day. This book was often on my lists but then I had no means of buying all the books I was interested in. This might have been for the best since this book was a total disappointment for me. In fact I thought the book so bad I could not even finish it. I still have problems with letting go of the books that I don’t like and will most of the time make myself finish them. On this one I made an exception and made myself stop reading at exactly half of it. The dialogue was dumb, the main characters had no appeal for me and the whole setting of the story seemed stretched too thin and did not even offer any interesting back up characters to grab onto. This book first came out over twenty years ago – 1999 and it did not age well. I am not bothered by many things and consider myself a very forgiving reader but this book presented me with some many things that annoyed me and did not offer anything worthwhile to hold onto and like…

6. Biggest surprise

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven

As opposed to the last book I mentioned Radiance by Grace Draven was another Kindle edition I got this year that I quickly fell in love with! I tend to download samples of books that I find interesting and when I read the offered sample of this one I got hooked right from the start! I loved the fantastic setting and the quirky way the author presented the differences between humans and elves. I was intrigued by the world the author build and the only complain I had was that the title of the series made sense only when I started the second book Eidolon. The characters were interesting and the story was passionate. I loved it so much that I had to buy the next book in the series right away. There is one more book after these two The Ippos King and I am keeping my eye on it for some promotional price but I might give in and buy it before the price drop.

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Martha Wells and Grace Draven

Space themed books and general science fiction are not my first pick and when I find a book that belongs in that genre and love it I make a note to look up more from the same author. Martha Wells is a new for me author I have heard about winning genre awards for her Murderbot series few years in a row. I decided to pick it up in a box set edition of first four books in hard cover. I was happy with the price point for them like this and the flimsy box or even a small damage on one of the box did not made me regret buying them. I ended up enjoying the short novella format of this series and plan to follow up for more books from Martha Wells. I had to add Grace Draven as a new favorite author because of how much I loved her worldbuilding style and her characters. Both of these authors I plan to read more books from!

8. Newest fictional crush

The artwork is not mine and all rights belong to their respective owners!

Asher from Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series

Asher is not a new fictional crush of mine. He’s one of the oldest fictional crushes I am still into. This year I am slowly continuing a second read trough Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series and I was reminded of how much I like him. I think he is an amazing character. I love his flaws and I get angry at how much he was used in Anita’s moody interpretation of morality trough the books. I keep coming back to some of his scenes and I wonder what happened to make him seem as an arrogant a-hole with a impulse control of a five year old spoiled child. It does not add up with how he first started out and was introduced in the series. I’m loving reading this “older” version of him.

9. Newest favorite character

The artwork is not mine and all rights belong to their respective owners!

Brishen and Ildiko from the Wraith Kings book series by Grace Draven

I am fangirling on both of these characters! I love their banter and their chemistry. The Prince of no value and the noblewoman of no importance are both awesome and intriguing! The reason I did not go for Brishen or Ildiko alone is that without Ildiko Brishen is far less interesting to me and without Brishen Ildiko is just bland and easy to ignore. I see them as a pair that should be kept and adored as a set!

10. Book that made you cry

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

I loved this book. I has also made me angry and sad to the point of frustration. I cried a bit at some parts too. There was so much tragedy and hopeless moments that I just found it hard to deal with. I devoured all other books from the Grishaverse but this one took me a lot longer to read trough. I am still mad about how some characters were dealt with. This book reminds me of pain and tragedy and even though some characters were supposed to have their happy ending I did not feel it. All that stayed with me after all the previous books was the feeling of melancholy and I expected a lot more and a lot better! My tears are from sadness but out of frustration as well…

11. Book that made you happy

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

There were a few books that made me feel happy this year. Most notably it was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling for my book club assignment in May. I love my Hufflepuff edition books and I finally have a complete set by getting the last two books for birthday this year. The last two book were given to me by my book club friends and that is a reason more to smile while I read them. I love the yellow and black design of books and I love the little stars that are above each chapter title! Just thinking about those books makes me happy!

12. Favorite book to film adaptation that you’ve seen this year

The Shadow and Bone

The first answer that came to my mind was Witcher! I have only recently read the first book and was sure that the first season was only last year only to be shocked to find out that the first season came out on Netflix in December 2019! This led me to the only option of The Shadow and Bone since I read the last book in the Grishaverse this year and watched the TV series as soon as it came out back in April! There were a few move and TV series adaptations I have seen this year and liked but all those I’ve watched I haven’t read the books or in some cases graphic novels for. Those would be: Enola Holmes and The Old Guard whose move sequels I can’t wait for.

13. Favorite review you’ve written (booktube or written)

2020 Reading Challenges Report

I kept meaning to write a book review but to my shame in the whole first six months of 2021. I did not write a single book review post! Throughout this book tag I have remembered more than one book that I had a lot of things to say about and more than a passing reading experiences to share. For this reason my favorite post this year is the summary on all the reading challenges I did in 2020. That post gives me an overview and a list of all the reading activities I made myself try out. I am still trying to continue with this so I can make a similar post next year that I can be proud of! You can check my 2020 Reading Challenges Report HERE.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

The Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

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A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Both of these books I have already mentioned in this book tag already for different reasons. Grishaverse books are one of the most beautiful book mass produced on my bookshelves. But I can’t help but being drawn to the beautiful cover of my paperback edition of A Phoenix First Must Burn collection of stories. I have high expectations from it as well!

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

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas was my answer on this question last year. While I made some progress with it I can’t seem to get myself to finish it. I truly believe I would need to take a whole month away just to read that one book. My Word cloud edition has 1055 pages and I am currently on page 358. This is the book that I keep having in a background like an accusing hush but I just keep reaching for other books instead. I decided not to add more plans aside from reading challenges trough the year in order to get to this book. Clearly reading it slowly is not getting me anywhere and taking a whole month just to make myself read only one book seems a bit drastic. Maybe it is time to for drastic measures…

February Book Wrap Up 2021

Monthly reading review – February 2021

This February I have read:

The Book of Lies (Twins Trilogy #1-3) by Ágota Kristóf ★★

The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy ★★★

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven ★★★★★

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★★

Eidolon (Wraith Kings book 2) by Grace Draven ★★★★

Master of Chains (Forgotten Realms: The Fighters #1) by Jess Lebow ★★★

MOR – Plodovi osvete by Josip Kralik ★★

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

In February I have read seven books and made some progress with my small pile of “currently reading” books. I finished off some books I’ve been dragging on and I am generally happy with the amount of books I read in a month I decided to take it slow.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in February? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

The most enjoyable book this February was Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton. I loved how many of my favorite characters got page time and I like the concept of where this long book series is going from the perspective of this book. One other book that came as a nice surprise was Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven. It was a spur of an impulse romance read I stumbled on a Goodreads recommendation list and I love it!

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

There were some books that were hard for me to read this month and the one that gave me most grief was The Book of Lies (Twins Trilogy #1-3) by Ágota Kristóf. As usual this was my book club pick for next month but since our book club meetings are held at the start of the month I read it in February. The topic was very heavy and I really did not like the narrative style. The other book I did not like in February was MOR – Plodovi osvete by Josip Kralik. I think I had higher expectations and I let it drag out as leftover from last year. All together it made a not so great impression on me.

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

My plan for February was taking it easy and trying to catch up and finish up some of the books I was in the middle of reading of. I managed to finish two of those books and made some progress with the other two I still have in my back log. With all this I read my book club assignment and even got four other books in.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I got Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series up to date in the month the new book came out and that made me very happy. I found a new Kindle book series that caught my attention and have read two out of three books available which is great! I finally got to Forgotten Realms: The Fighters book series that has been on my shelves for a very long time now and I will have to wait for the next opportunity to get to the next book in the series.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

The best book surprise for me this month was Wraith Kings book series by Grace Draven. I love how I gave it a try after finding it on some random recommendation list on Goodreads. I also love that it is an older book – it came out in 2015! My recommendation is to give new books and authors a try anytime you get the chance! Chances are you have probably never heard of Grace Draven or many other authors that write romance fantasy since there are so many of them and most don’t get the spotlight or the print book deals. Show them love by giving their books a chance and spread the word when you find a book or an author whose writing you enjoy! I hope to read the next book of the series The Ippos King (Wraith Kings book 3) by Grace Draven soon!

Final thoughts on February 2021 reading

I am glad I opted to take the time in February to slow down and reevaluate my reading goals and take some time to get my books under some semblance of control. I think this gave me some new ideas and energy to put them to work. I would have loved to have finished off at least one more back log book but I feel like I made some progress and that is what is important to me. February was an eventful reading month for me and I hope to continue to March with my vigor renewed!

First book haul of 2021

Earlier in December and January I preordered and ordered some new books. The preorders were mostly the continuation of the book series I follow and the rest were on my wish list for a while now as well. I even indulged and got some new Kindle books I found recommendation on some of the Goodreads lists for Valentines Day! Due to Book Depository deliveries being exceptionally slow due to Brexit and Covid, and lets not forget the usual end of the year Christmas madness with packages, this led to a slow and anxiety filled waiting on the postman and my books each morning. All things considering these were the sweet pains to endure after all. Last of the books I bought was from a Facebook seller and since it was my first time buying used books in English this way I was a little apprehensive about that too. Lots of sweet pains later and I have a not so small a pile of books that spark joy!

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is one of the books I preordered before Christmas and the publishing date was 9. February this year! Usually I’m forced to wait for months before I get my copy of the new book when it comes out since I buy the US mass market paperback edition. In case of the book prior to this one – Sucker Punch, I’m still waiting for it to come out! So this book was a real treat. I was not that thrilled with the last book I read from the series and while I love the characters and I’m really interested in the world the author has build I did not have high expectations from this book. I already read it! I even made pauses for the book to lasts longer. I have many comments on it. so much so I might need to write the whole review for it soon just to get it all out of my system!

This book series is starting to outgrow my shelving solution and I will need to figure a better way to store all the books. Maybe even separate the two boo series by LKH I own and keep together currently…

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

Second preordered book that was published and arrived on the same day as the previous one is another next book in the favorite urban fantasy series. I did not get to read this one right away – but it has only been about a week since I got it! There are more reasons why I love this book series and can’t wait for every next book.

The cover art of these books I have already gushed about few years ago. This is another author that I have two book series from but unlike the LKH, Patricia Briggs is more consistent with both book series and I get at least one book from either of the series each year. When one book series gets a new hardcover edition book the other one has a mass market paperback edition I collect out as well. This makes the wait for the next book more exciting and somehow sweeter and easier to pass.

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

I have a soft spot for short story collections and lately I have been doing great with reading trough most of short story collections on my bookshelves. In the sea of many new editions and books the title of this one caught my eye! There are few other books that I was interested in but this one really got me with a beautiful cover and an all female authors team.

This will fit nicely with other similar books on my shelves until I start reading it! I might even give it a go next month as a March contribution to female authors 🙂

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven

My Paperwhite Kindle does not give this cover justice! I found out about this book by randomly clicking on a Goodreads Valentine theme banner for romance book recommendation. I went trough the link and on the one of the lists I was browsing I stumbled on this book. I was cautious enough to try the sample first and it got me really interested in the story and characters. I devoured the book in a day and a half and had to get the next one as well!

While I’m going a bit slower with the next book of the series I still love it and now that I’m invested in the fantastical setting and the future of the fantastical world the author created. I will be looking up for other books by this author as well as finding out how this trilogy(?) of books ends.

Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark book 17) by Kresley Cole

This book has been on my too buy wish list the longest. It first came out almost four years ago now and it was a part of the book series I was collecting. In the meantime I read all the books in the series before it and since a few new books were were supposed to come out after it but they never did I just never got to getting this one before.

This urban fantasy romance book series is the one with the most “beefcake” and shirtless guys covers I own. As some previously mentioned urban fantasy book series I won I have been posting about this one before. The stories are a bit cheesy but I find them wonderful for the underlying message that there is someone for everyone and no matter how sad, bitter or angry we are because of what happened to us, there will always be a chance for a happy ending,

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons book 1) by Leigh Bardugo

This is the single book from this pile that I bought as a second hand book from one of the sellers in Croatia. I found it in one of the Facebook groups and this was the first time I was buying a book that way. I had the opportunity to buy this book before in paperback but I really wanted the hardcover edition and it has been on my wish list for a while now. The book turned out to be in excellent condition and I am glad I got it.

I have been a big fan of Wonder Woman long before Gal Gadot took on the role and they revamped her whole character. My SO brought me Batman: Nightwalker ( DC Icons book 2) by Marie Lu in hardcover a few years ago from one of his trips. Since then I have been meaning to get the other as well. Getting them in hardcover proved to be a bit pricey and I just keep postponing it. I love the concept of popular YA writers writing the background for these well known characters. The fact that Leigh Bardugo wrote this made me want it even more!

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

In the last year Leigh Bardugo has become my favorite author. This book is a fictional book from the Shadow and Bone trilogy come to life with some extra content. It has been made to look like the prop they are going to use in the TV series and I think that is cool as well.

I read everything else Leigh Bardugo has written and published so far and getting this book was a natural thing for me to do. I love her characters and her fictional world. The illustrations by Daniel J. Zollinger look great and I am looking forward to binging on this one while I wait for the TV series on Netflix in April!

Just as I got the last book in the mail my SO decreed it was time to preorder another book as a gift for Valentines day! The book I choose as my present was another one of Leigh Bardugo Grishaverse books:

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

I am now properly hyped for the TV series and books and completely enchanted with Grishaverse world and characters!

Also while I was writing this post and looking for the images of books I remembered reading in one of the Facebook groups about one other book I was interested in some decade ago and is now on a special discount!

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1)

by Christine Feehan

This is an older urban fantasy romance book with vampires and a first book in a long and popular book series I wanted to try out for a very long time! The price and the Author’s Cut edition were enough for me to get it right away. I need to stop looking at new books for some time or at least until I make another bigger dent in the books already on my TBR and already on my bookshelves – virtual AND physical! Although I might give in to Wraith Kings book 3 after I finish the second book…