MIDYEAR BOOK CHECK-IN 2021

Hullo, bookdragons!

It feels like forever since I last posted and it feels good to be back! I am once again here to inform you that time is fake because HOW IS IT JULY ALREADY? I can’t believe it has been more than a year since this pandemonium started and I’m still a stressed university student drowning herself in fiction to drown out thoughts. Still, congratulations to me for surviving another semester of uni despite feeling like I have learned absolutely nothing! Go, me!! 🀸🏽🀸🏽🀸🏽

Now that all the bleak thoughts are out of the way, I can finally share my midyear reading recap through this evergreen tag. I have always enjoyed writing the Midyear Book Tag because it’s a great refresher to all the stuff I read for the first half of the year. My pea brain can only remember so much and it’s even harder to keep track of everything this time, since I’ve read quite a lot in just six months. Like, a lot.

Let’s check how well my reading has been so far, shall we?

POST OVERVIEW


✨ Reading Updates

✨ Midyear Check-In Tag

READING UPDATES

According to Goodreads, I have read 283 books as of July 1 and my reading spreadsheet says that more than 60% of those are manga volumes 😌. This means that I read an average of 47 books per month. Nowadays, I tend to read more when I’m stressed so the numbers are not really surprising (haha). For me, there’s no better coping mechanism than binging manga and seeing my Goodreads reading goal number rise up (no I’m not increasing my goal I want to feel like an overachiever).

I also have to thank audiobooks because I would not have been able to read so many books without them. After some mathing, I found out that I have listened to 423 hours’ worth (approx. 17 days!!) of audiobooks for the first half of the year alone. I feel powerful. Take that, miserable thoughts. You don’t have any space in my brain. Manga and audiobooks are my lifelines and I’m so grateful they exist.

Enough with the sappy sentiments! Let’s now proceed to the Midyear Book Freakout Tag!

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR

I can’t choose just one so I’m giving you one backlist title and one 2021 release. The Rise of Kyoshi is not only the best backlist book I’ve read so far this year, but it has also climbed its way up my most favorite books of all time list. Set in the same world as Avatar: The Last Airbender, this fantasy masterpiece chronicles the origin story of fan favorite Avatar Kyoshi. You know a book is good when it reminds you how much you love reading, and that is exactly what I felt when I read The Rise of Kyoshi. My short attention span did not even rear its head when I was reading this. It was that engrossing. If you’re a fan of ATLA and great books in general, you should definitely pick this up if you haven’t yet.

I have read a handful of good 2021 releases but She Who Became the Sun shone out to me the most. Shelly Parker-Chan’s words are akin to a knife to the chest, mercilessly leaving you hurting and bleeding. The portrayal of the characters was also very impressive. Their vivid emotions added more gravity to the prose as a whole. Watch out for this book when it releases on July 20!

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR

Granted, I haven’t read a lot of sequels so far since I’ve been reading more standalone books but I doubt others would be able to top The Shadow of Kyoshi even if I had a wider range of choices. With its heart-stopping action scenes and well-written character arcs, this finale to a masterful duology is something that will stick to my mind for a long time. The Kyoshi duology is undeniably a great addition to the Avatar universe. Crossing my fingers for an animated series adaptation! Kyoshi, Rangi, and my other faves deserve to be known by more people.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

I haven’t been reading a lot of Adult SFF this year and that must be rectified ASAP. At the top of my head, here are some new releases I haven’t read yet but I badly want to:

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I’m looking forward to a lot of releases! I also have ARCs of almost all of these books and I really need to read them soon. Just look at their breathtaking covers. I am in love (I’m also most terrified of Jade Legacy but let’s not think about that).

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

I’m sad to report that I didn’t love Lost in the Never Woods as much as I thought I would. Although not a badly written book, it didn’t meet my expectations so I was disappointed by the end of it. I expected more from the mystery aspect and the characters did not leave a huge impression on me. I did appreciate the anxiety rep, and I can still see how people would love it. This book was not for me, but maybe it will work for you!

BIGGEST SURPRISE

For this prompt, I’m shining the spotlight on a manga and a manhua! My biggest surprises of the year so far are The Spirit Queen by TUTU and Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Yuusuke Nomura. The Spirit Queen is a historical fantasy manhua (Chinese comic) that blew me away because of its smart plot twists. This manhua serves god-tier political intrigue that is full of betrayal, scheming, and angst. Loving it came as a surprise for me because I really didn’t expect this much attention to detail in both the storytelling and the art. I also like the ruthlessness of the characters as they struggle to survive in a court where everybody hungers for power. It’s so well-written, okay?? You have to trust me on this. I highly recommend it if you love angsty romance and bloody court politics. You can read the official English translations of The Spirit Queen on Tapas, Copin Comics, and Web Comics (you can also read it on scanlating sites but you can support the creator more if you read on official sites).

Now, here’s my biggest surprise of the year: Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro (story) and Yuusuke Nomura (art). You don’t understand. I am obsessed with this manga series, which is surprising because I don’t give a damn about football (soccer?? idc the important thing is they kick a ball) and yet I will risk it all to see this series animated. Blue Lock is unlike any of sports anime/manga I’ve seen or read. It offers football battle royale that basically raises a middle finger to the usual “friendship and teamwork overcomes all” storyline that is common in the genre. This series has its flaws, but I can’t help but be enthralled by the masterful storytelling that pumps a lot of adrenaline into my veins. I can talk all day about Blue Lock but I’ll stop here for now 😭

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU)

This honor goes to Gail D. Villanueva who is the author of a new middle grade favorite, Sugar and Spite. The book really felt like home, because it’s unapologetically Filipino. It’s a story about a kid who used a gayuma (love potion) on her bully, and the subsequent friendship that developed after the spell took effect. I admire Villanueva’s talent to conjure images that remind me of my own childhood. She’s also good at writing emotional scenes that tug at the heartstrings, which is why I teared up when I read her book. Reading books by Filipino authors just hits different, and I can’t wait to read more from this particular author. My heart will never get tired of loving middle grade, and I have so much love to give to Gail’s books.

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

I will not be elaborating on this, lest I make an embarrassment of myself. Let the pictures of these fine men speak for themselves. Free me from the shackles of dark-haired, brooding, two-dimensional men.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

I’m sorry to my other beloved fictional characters but Anya and Xie Lian are the frontrunners this time (also I’ve consumed too much fiction and it’s too hard to decide so we’ll stick with these two). Anya is a character from Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo and she’s my precious child. Her expressions are peak comedy and I love her wit, so it’s no surprise that I adore her with all my heart. If we don’t get an official Spy x Family anime announcement this year, I may just animate it myself. I want to see Anya and her chaotic family animated!! I deserve this 😭

Another new favorite character is Xie Lian from Tian Guan Ci Fu (Heaven’s Official Blessing) by Mo Xiang Tongxiu. The first time I saw him smile in the donghua, I immediately knew that I would risk my life for him if he told me to. He’s a disgraced god of misfortune, but I admire his heart and his tenacity. I can’t stop reading the TGCF novel and I don’t think 2000+ pages are a lot at all, because I love the characters (Xie Lian especially) so much. This brainrot will last a long time for sure.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

Thinking about this book makes my heart ache. I have always craved for love stories that remind me of an asymptote, which is a line that a graph keeps getting close to but never actually touches (I haven’t studied analytical geometry in a while so excuse any mistakes regarding that definition I’m just vibing here). The Stationery Shop delivered that. Tragic love stories always speak to me, so it’s no surprise that I was wrecked by the time I finished reading this book. The Stationery Shop has the makings of a timeless masterpiece. If you want to feel pain, read this one.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

This book is so chaotic, but in a very good way. Listening to the audiobook was a great experience that had me laughing out loud every five minutes. Dial A for Aunties mixes murder, romance, and family drama into one hilarious book with a lot of heart. If that doesn’t encourage you to pick this book up, I don’t know what will. Its high entertainment value alone makes it one of my most favorite reads of the year.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT SO FAR THIS YEAR (OR RECEIVED)

I haven’t really bought a lot of books this year (see: international shipping chaos in the midst of a pandemic) so this question is a bit difficult to answer. I do have several books in shipping purgatory and one of them is the gorgeous B&N special edition of The Ones We’re Meant to Find that my lovely friend Breana gifted to me. I can’t wait to finally have the book in my hands. Help me pray that it won’t get lost in the sea of monsters or something. I just want my books to be here I AM BEGGING. I’m asking for divine intervention at this point πŸ˜”

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

There are…a lot. Let’s not even talk about my unread arcs or else this world will drown with my tears. Below are some titles I need to read by the end of the year. I want to include more but I don’t want to be overwhelmed thank you very much.

There you go! I’m actually amazed that I managed to cobble enough brain cells to write this post. I struggled with it at first because I haven’t written a blog post in so long, but the words eventually came to me. In the end, I had fun writing this one! I hope you missed me during my absence but if not, I won’t hold that against you. Just miss me next time. *wink wink*

I don’t know when I’ll be back again but by now you’re used to my sporadic posting so I bet nobody is surprised. I promise I have post ideas. Sometimes, I just don’t have time or energy or both but I will try my best to write something when I’m able. Again, I love y’all and thanks for the continuous support. I hope your first half of the year has been great and full of wonderful books. Keep spreading bookdragon fire!

How has your midyear been? What are some of your new favorite books? Your greatest disappointments? Are there any upcoming releases you’re looking forward to?

36 thoughts on “MIDYEAR BOOK CHECK-IN 2021”

  1. LOVE to see she who became the sun as one of your best books of the year list as she should be!!! your tweets about blue lock have had me very intrigued about it so i might have to check it out. and if you want to buddy read jade fire gold and/or the young elites with me… πŸ‘πŸ‘

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  2. Whenever you post I get the biggest serotonin hit and I love that for me! I love that the new releases you need to read are all basically from Orbit ahahaa. For the Wolf is AMAZING and I am still swooning like weeks later. Send help, maybe?

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    1. kal this makes me so happy you don’t even know 😭😭😭 orbit books are great and im glad to know you enjoyed for the wolf. hoping to read it very soon!

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    1. MANGA AND AUDIOBOOKS SUPREMACY!! looking forward to reading for the wolf, jade fire gold, and six crimson cranes really soon. i hope you had a wonderful first half of the year πŸ’–

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  3. I can’t WAIT for She Who Became the Sun!! Everyone who’s read it absolutely loves it and I’m very excited for it !! (and one of your tweets made me stop procrastinating on reading The Rise of Kyoshi and I read it and loved it so thank you so much I needed that push !) I really want to read The Fifth Season this year as well, everything I’ve heard about it is just amazing, hopefully we both can tick it off our TBRs haha ! I loved this post !!

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    1. omg you don’t know how happy i am knowing that i encouraged you to read rise of kyoshi (and you loved it to yayy) 😭 i also wish that we can both read the fifth season soon. that’s one book off our large tbr!! i hope the rest of your year goes amazing ❀

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  4. Reading more when stressed β€” high five on that! Books help a lot with escapism. I generally go towards romance because they always have happy endings and are easy to read. My year has been ok so far! I’ve been reading a lot but my main satisfaction comes from me blogging and doing art too, not just reading. I love having multiple hobbies to fill my time with haha.

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    1. amen with romance!! i always turn to romance books and webtoons for comfort when im down. oh and it’s amazing that you have a lot of hobbies you’re passionate with. wishing you all the happiness and success for the second half of the year! keep doing what you love ❀

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  5. Oh, wow! Those are a *lot* of books, Rain! That’s an amazing number for a reading goal. The Unbroken, The Jasmine Throne, and For the Wolf are recent releases I wish to read soon too. And I’m super excited for It All Comes Back to You to release! Some of my faves have been An Emotion of Great Delight, Black Water Sister, and If I Tell You The Truth. Hope the rest of your year will be great too, in terms of books and otherwise! πŸ’›

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    1. oh i adored black water sister and it’s nice to know you did too!! i hope you had a great first half of the year and im sending positive vibes for your second half πŸ’›

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  6. rain!! it’s great to see you back and WOAH 283 books seriously?? so happy to hear that you love she who became the sun and the stationery shop, those two are on my tbr! i’m really excited for jade legacy, our violent ends and jade fire gold as well! i hope you manage to get to all those books there, the young elites was awesome ahh, have a great rest of the year! ❀️

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    1. helloo i miss being here! hope you get to read (and love) swbts and stationery shop soon they’re both phenomenal. sending you positive vibes for the rest of the year as well ❀

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  7. Great wrap-up, AHH I’m so excited to read Blue Lock, the only sport I have probably any interest in is soccer. It looks awesome, so happy you loved it. I’m hoping to pick it up SOON, once I catch up on some other mangas! Loved reading your post Rain. 😍

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    1. i hope you love blue lock especially because soccer is one of your interests! thanks for reading the post and i hope you catch up to all the manga you’re reading soon

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  8. oh i loved this mid year wrap up so much! and you’re having such a good reading year, bby! and i added so many books to my tbr! i extra can’t wait for Sugar and Spite! sending you so much love! πŸ’•πŸ’•

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    1. omg thank you for your kind words πŸ’• i hope you love sugar and spite as much as i did! sending you my love as well and i wish you have a great second half of the year
      πŸ’–

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  9. Oooh I loved how you structured this post!! So much to talk about haha. First off, She Who Became the Sun was so so good, and I’m so happy that you also loved it! I’m also so excited for Jade Legacy (although it might hurt when it arrives) 😭 And The Spirit Queen sounds so good! I might need to check it out. Solo Leveling is currently taking over my comic life and I can’t get over how Jin-woo keeps getting more attractive πŸ˜‚

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    1. we all know jade legacy is going to be PAINFUL so good luck to all of us i guess. oh and solo leveling is a gem and im irrevocably in love with jin-woo. please check out spirit queen soon! i hope you and up liking it

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  10. I loved For The Wolf and The Jasmine Throne so much!! Hope you enjoy them!! OMG yes Dial A for aunties was so good – it made laugh and I loved all the chaos!
    I am also very excited for jade Legacy, Redemptor, Jade Fire Gold and so many more! Here’s hoping we both enjoy them!
    I really really need to read The Young Elites too – I’ve been putting it off since forever and I hope I do actually end up getting to it haha.

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    1. really looking forward to reading both for the wolf and the jasmine throne! im glad you loved them!! im also wishing that we can read the young elites before the year ends im MANIFESTING

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  11. dial A for aunties seems like such a great book! i was so happy to see the audiobook available on scribe and is definitely one i hope to read by the end of the year. i just thought the premise was so crazy and yet so entertaining, hahah. it makes me think it’s the perfect movie premise, so maybe an adaptation would work? idk, but chaotic books are so great sometimes! they def restore my love for stories!

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    1. the dial a for aunties audiobook is PHENOMENAL. the book will definitely translate well on screen so i hope it gets adapted someday. chaotic books give me so much life!! wishing for the both of us to read more of them soon

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  12. Happy middle of the year Rain! Hope things are going well for you despite the panorama. I’m soooo glad you loved the Kyoshi books and SWBTS, and I can’t wait for you to read the rest of the adult sapphic trio as well as A Master of Djinn! Those releases really own my ass lmfao.

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    1. ngl you’re one of the biggest reasons why i want to read the rest of the sapphic trio! i trust your judgment and i really hope i will love them as well. happy middle of the year to you too!! ❀

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  13. Loved this post! I’m DYING to read For the Wolf, I keep seeing it at Barnes and Noble and am tempted to get it every time haha πŸ™‚ I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed She Who Became the Sun! It sounds incredible!

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