How is it already the end of June?! Also, we can’t believe that it is almost our 7 year blogoversary! We have some fun things planned so keep an eye out for announcements on Twitter. Today, we’ll be doing the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag to recap our reading for the first half of 2019. Spoilers: Aila and I have barely been reading… so this will be interesting.
1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2019?
Jenna: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is the only book that I’ve given 5 stars so far this year.
Aila: I’m so behind on blogging and reading, I can’t even give a good answer to this.
Jeann: Hands down, Jade City by Fonda Lee! It’s got such a unique concept with jade granting powers to people. With the clan wars and gangster family saga, I was so here for it.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019?
Jenna: The Wicked King by Holly Black and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book! I also enjoyed the second and third instalments of The Thousandth Floor trilogy. And of course, Queen of Air and Darkness, though I was slightly disappointed because it wasn’t an ENDING ending.
Aila: I’m not even sure if I’ve read any sequels this year? I guess the only thing that comes close is The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, which is technically a sequel companion novel to The Kiss Quotient. I loved reading from Esme’s immigrant experience and exploring the challenges that come up when moving to another country while trying to support your family. I think it hit really close to my heart because I grew up hearing about similar struggles that my parents went through when they first came.
Jeann: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. This isn’t exactly a new release, but I finally picked it up this year and I LOVED it. Definitely going to pick up A Conjuring of Light soon!
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
Jenna: Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love and The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassie Clare (can’t resist a Malec story). Rest assured, these are at the top of my TBR.
Aila: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (when I tell y’all I’m outta the loop, I am VERY out of the loop.)
Jeann: I HAVE SO MANY on my shelf to read, but alas, such limited time to read. I need to read Descendant of the Crane (even though it wasn’t Aila’s favourite) because I actually preordered that along with Dev1at3 by Jay Kristoff because it’s Jay Kristoff.
4. Most anticipated release for second half of 2019?
Jenna: Where do I even start?! The Toll by Neal Shusterman, Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim.
Aila: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I didn’t even know this was a thing until I randomly opened up Twitter, and I am excite!
Jeann: NONE OTHER THAN The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang, because The Poppy War was my favourite book of 2018! Everyone seriously needs to read this Chinese inspired fantasy book set in the opium times because the military tactics are brilliant, it’s a grim dark book that is SUPER HARDCORE and just wow. The military school, Rin as a character, and the enemies to lovers slow burn romance…I mean what’s there NOT to like about it?
5. Biggest disappointment?
Jenna: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne didn’t live up to her debut but it wasn’t that bad in the end.
Aila: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He. While this was a debut, it wasn’t quite up my alley in terms of fantasy. The pacing was just exceptionally slow, I felt like it dragged so much, and the action was non-existent for the first half of the story.
Jeann: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. I went in wanting a dark, fantasy world based off Russian mythology and instead I got Grisha fanfiction. The plot was just filled with conveniences AND IT WASN’T EVEN THAT DARK.
6. Biggest surprise?
Jenna: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume exceeded all of my expectations. I had gone into it expecting a story that was kind of like Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy but it ended up being wildly different and highly enjoyable.
Aila: I wish a book could surprise me! Alas.
Jeann: Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh was an unexpected surprise for me – such a wonderful introspective space novel that I needed in my life!
7. Favourite new author?
Jenna: I’m not sure if I can call her my favourite new author because I’ve only read one of her books, but I really did enjoy Claire North’s writing in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.
Aila: *insert Pikachu meme face*
Jeann: Casey McQuiston! I absolutely adored Red, White and Royal Blue, it was just filled with humour, heartwarming moments and so much scandal. I absolutely adored the match between Prince Henry and First Son Alex.
8. Newest fictional crush?
Jenna: This is definitely not new but I am in love with Nikolai from the Grishaverse all over again. Also… weirdly, I’ve been kind of liking Perfect Diego from The Dark Artifices trilogy.
Aila: I can’t believe I’m 20 years old this year. As such, I refuse to label the young adult (mostly teen) characters I read about as “crushes.” (When you’re older than a teen but see your life slowly deteriorating)
Jeann: I’m with Jenna, I absolutely LOVE Nikolai Lantsov and would die for him hahah. My King of Scars video is pretty much me fangirling over him.
9. Newest favourite character?
Jenna: I don’t think I have one?
Aila: Catalina Baylor from Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews. She was a side character in the Hidden Legacy trilogy, but I love how her personality got to shine in this new series focusing on her own powers and struggles. Although to be honest, I usually adore any character the Ilona Andrews team comes up with.
Jeann: The whole Kaul family in Jade City. I love the brutal Hilo who would lay down his life for his family and his clan, the boss lady Shae who won’t let anyone shame her into following her heart, the politically-minded Lan who is as mature as he is flawed and of course, the younger Anden who is a bit of a wild card.
10. Book that made you cry?
Jenna: NONE (I’M HEARTLESS)
Aila: … Lol same.
Jeann: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. There was this really touching moment where Darius, who has always thought that his dad didn’t really love him, finally connected with his dad and it was just so tender.
11. Book that made you happy?
Jenna: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. It had hardhitting themes but was an absolute joy to read.
Aila: Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury. Seriously, I’ll read anything this author writes. It’s such a solid space opera, with Anastasia retelling elements blended in really well. Surely not the most unique sci-fi story to exist or anything, but its solid world-building, character development, romance, and storyline make it just… GOOD. Like, G-O-O-D and not a lackluster “eh it was good.”
Jeann: Again I’m going with Red, White and Royal Blue because oh my gosh so much Henry and Alex banter, flirtatious email exchanges, outlandish ways for them not to get caught being together and agggh. Can you tell I loved it?
12. Favourite book to movie adaptation you saw this year?
Jenna: I don’t think I’ve seen one yet this year. Does Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play count? (Fun fact: I was actually at the opening nights for both parts of the play! I didn’t even realise when I was booking the tickets but it was a welcome surprise.)
Aila: A Silent Voice – this is an animation that recently got added to Netflix and it’s based on a Japanese light novel. It’s honestly not the best adaptation (and I hear it does not do the story justice), but as a stand-alone movie about a teenage boy trying to make amends to the deaf girl that he used to bully as a child, it was pretty sweet. There was a lot of character introspection I appreciated, as well as in-depth exploration of the relationships that you create through your young adult life. Very much slice-of-life based.
*On another note of book to movie adaptation: There is a movie called “After” that recently came out, and it’s some teenage romance that’s apparently based on Harry Styles fanfic. Not sure about the whole background. ANYWHO, it was actually filmed on my university’s campus and I remember walking past the sets when I first got back to school last Fall semester. They even changed the school name on certain buildings haha. I can’t wait to watch it, just to point out the places at my school.
Jeann: Definitely To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before! It was so cute and heartwarming, and I read the book so long ago that I can’t even say the book was better than the movie (sometimes it helps when you don’t overanalyse). Lara Jean and Peter were also super adorable and I loved the casting! (Even though I think the casting for Margo was kind of off)
13. Favourite review you’ve written this year?
Aila: Literally can’t put anything because it’s been so long since I’ve reviewed a book (all the reviews you’ve seen are backlogs from last year or so). (Sorry)
Jeann: I loved my 5 Things You’ll Find in Darius the Great is Not Okay, because I think these five points were each really important about the book. A few people have said that my review convinced them to pick up the book, which is always great validation!
14. Most beautiful book you bought so far this year?
Jenna: I have a lot of beautiful hardcovers so it’s really hard to narrow it down. Of course, I love all my US hardcover editions of the Shadowhunter books… and King of Scars was really beautiful too. I’m going to go with King of Scars and If Cats Disappeared from the World, which was a terrible read imo but has lovely gold foil details on the front cover.
Aila: Hol’ up I’m still cry-laughing at Jenna’s response.
*wipes tears off* phew okay.
Probably We Hunt the Flame because that color scheme is absolutely poppin’. Seriously, I love the dark purple vibes and I think it matches the book’s atmosphere wonderfully.
Jeann: I’m going with my Illumicrate pink stained edition of Aurora Rising, with a pink colour changed cover! These book boxes are going to be the death of me lol.
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QOTD: Do you prefer contemporary or fantasy? (or something else altogether?) ☁️ Here’s my unboxing for the May @illumicrate final frontier box! It contained all of my favourite sci-fi fandoms including my beloved #illuminaefiles. #illumicratemay2019 #illumicrate ☁️ When it comes to contemporary or fantasy books, I’ll always choose fantasy! I read for escapism so I prefer to read about different worlds. I do like picking up contemporaries now and then for a break. #RFABJune19 #bookqueensjune19 contemporary or fantasy
15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Jenna: The Muse of Nightmares (sorry to all of you who I have greatly disappointed)
Aila: All the books mentioned by Jeann and Jenna on this list and more. (I’m so out of the loop right now. Got any recs??)
Jeann: I have so many books that I need to read that making a list would just make things more stressful. So let’s just say all of them!
We hope you enjoyed reading through our responses. Stay tuned for exciting 7 year blogoversary shenanigans!
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