I wasn’t tagged by anybody, but who cares because this tag is fun and it won’t be “mid-year” if I wait for someone to tag me. 😀
Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2016
I was contacted by Tiffany McDaniel towards the beginning of July, and she requested that I read and review her debut, The Summer that Melted Everything. At first I was hesitant: I already had a couple of ARCs to read, and I’m not huge on literary fiction- especially one that I haven’t specifically picked out. But this book completely blew my mind. Thought-provoking, uncomfortable and inexplicably dark, this book is wonderfully written with characters so flawed, complex and multi-faceted that they feel like real people. Tackling difficult issues that were important during 1984 (the year the novel is set in), and unfortunately pertinent even now, McDaniel has weaved a compelling narrative and given the world a book people will not likely forget any time soon.
The Summer that Melted Everything releases on July 26th. Look out for my in-depth review scheduled for the 25th, and a Q&A with the author coming up in early August.
Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2016
This is another no-brainer. 2016 has been a below-average year for me when it comes to quality, but when I read A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, I was certain that it was going to be near the top of my top of 2016 list. Ridiculously entertaining with expanded world-building, a kick-ass tournament that progressed the magic system, and again with a cast of characters so wonderfully constructed in their complexity. The relationships were developed and explored further, and I really enjoyed how despite having romantic elements, Schwab makes sure to emphasize platonic relationships as well. Kell and Rhy’s bromance, for one, had me crying. Kell’s relationship with his ‘foster parents’ of sorts was so tense and enigmatic. Just a solid, solid book.
New Release You Haven’t Read Yet but Want to
(I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world who hates this cover. It’s just so fucking blue.) The Wrath and the Dawn was one of my favorite reads of last year. I thought the protagonist was incredible and the romance was so intensely done without taking away the darkness surrounding it. But despite having loved the first book- for some strange reason, I just haven’t picked up its sequel, The Rose and the Dagger. It’s not that I’ve been hearing bad things, or that I’m just no longer interested: I have not and I am. Even the toughest crowd has given it good ratings and reviews, and I’m curious to see where the story goes. Perhaps I’m just not ready for it to end. I don’t know. I confuse myself most of the time.
Most anticipated releases for the second half of the year
Two Harry Potter books releasing in the same year; I feel like I’m in paradise or something, but naw. I’ve been planning on re-reading the entire series for a while now, but I thought I’ll do it the old-fashioned way. One book a year- and I’ll be re-reading the illustrated editions. I’m so stoked- the illustrations are breath-taking and bring back all the magic. I’ll probably also attend a midnight release for The Cursed Child. Guys, 14 days left. I might cry.
Six of Crows was basically legendary. Six anti-heroes – violent, intelligent and just bad-ass – in one book, performing crimes and having complicated relationships with each other – literally, what else can you ask for? It sucks that this series is just a duology, though. 🙁
LMAO. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. I think I’ve spoken at length about my problems with the author’s decisions at the past, but for the sake of this tag, I’ll do it again. See, here’s the thing: A Court of Mist and Fury was – by no means – a bad book. IF IT WAS A STANDALONE. My problem with Maas lies in the fact that she renders previous books scrap, and her sequels are basically fan-fiction of her own books. You might as well just skim the spoilers for A Court of Thorns and Roses, and go straight to its sequel because literally everything regarding character arcs and story is disregarded for the sake of a new ship. I did not like how this book was constantly shoving “Rhysand good, Tamlin bad” down its readers throats- I would like to make these decisions myself. I do not appreciate being manipulated or spoon-fed an author’s ideals. And I also do not like it when writers do a 180 with their characters. Gradually developing them and moulding them into lesser people is okay – it happens. A sharp twist does not. That is all.
I’d heard some great things about Snow Like Ashes when it was first released, but immediately after its induction into the world, the hype largely died down. I took that to mean that the more people read it, the more they realized it wasn’t all that. Which was a completely flawed judgment on my part. I waited for the hype to die down before picking it up, and boy was I not disappointed. The magic system was so wonderfully unique and well-developed, and I really enjoyed the characters. I didn’t even mind the hintings at a love triangle simply because the characters were more than just romance, and didn’t treat each other like crap for the sake of one ship or another. Alas, I can’t say the same for the sequel – I abandoned it because I just wasn’t feeling the same pull as I was with the first book, but I do still plan on finishing it.
Favorite New Author
I discovered a fair amount of good authors this year. But my favorite all-rounder was definitely Tiffany McDaniel – her writing and style of storytelling reminded me a lot of Donna Tartt, who is probably my favorite author of all-time after Queen Rowling. Julie Murphy was also a wonderful discovery; although Dumplin’ was just a 3-star read, I really admired how Murphy tackled the issues, how well-rounded her story was as well as the general fast-paced quality of it. I’m currently reading her Side Effects May Vary, and I have the same thoughts. Never thought I’d include a contemporary author in this, ha.
Favorite New Crush
I actually haven’t read a book this year that had boyfriend-worthy men in it. But perhaps that’s just me because I don’t easily give characters the title of “fictional boyfriend.” There would be Arin from the Winner’s trilogy, but he’s not new so can’t pick him. So I’m picking the guy who I think has the most potential to become a fictional crush, and that’s Raffe from Angelfall. He has almost everything I look for in a guy: brooding, grounded, loyal, sensitive, protective but not controlling- all while maintaining snark, fire and humor. I like guys who engage in banter. It’s such a Pakistani-guy thing to do – just constantly engaging in banter. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to it. XD
Favorite New Characters
Well done, Victoria Schwab! You’ve made it twice on my list. XD Schwab, much like Maggie Stiefvater, seems to be an author who is driven by characters. The aforementioned A Gathering of Shadows was character-driven, which is why a ton of plot-centered people weren’t too happy with it. But Kell, Rhy and Delilah have become some of my favorite characters of all time. They genuinely feel like real people with flaws and qualities. I was a little reserved when it came to Delilah’s character in A Darker Shade of Magic, and one of my only complaints was how little focus there was on Kell and Rhy’s relationship, despite it being glaringly obvious that both of them love each other more than anyone else in the world. But many of my complaints were rectified in the sequel. I’d highly suggest continuing on with the series, even if ADSoM didn’t grip you as much as you’d hoped.
Book that Made You Cry
Just two. And I sound like a broken record here, but considering how MEH my reading year has been so far, it’s understandable. The Summer that Melted Everything made me cry my eyes out, so much so that they were sore the next morning. I was sniffling like a baby. The second was again a Gathering of Shadows. Kell’s relationship with his ‘family’ was so devastating that I broke down, LOL. Nothing particularly sad happened- just goes to show how brilliant the characters were.
A book that made you happy
Is it sad that I don’t have an answer for this? Even my top books of the year ruined me, made me want to tear my hair out and weep forever.
Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought So Far this Year
Both two of my favorite covers of all-time. I love stags. They’re so majestic and beautiful, and paired with the whimsical colors and the birds, the Raven King has such a stunning cover. Wink Poppy Midnight was ultimately a disappointing read for me, but boy does it have one hell of a cover. The embellishments, the colors, the typography. Ungh, so pretty.
What books do you need to read before the end of the year?
If you don’t want to do this (rather lengthy) tag or have already done it this year, please feel free to ignore! As for everyone who wants to do this, I officially tag you. Feel free to link your own posts down below. 🙂 I’d love to check out what all of you have been reading this year!