Hello, dear traveler! It has been quite a while since my last post. My unexpected semi-hiatus from Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress gave me a good breather, but I missed the joyous chaos of book blogging.
Since we have last met, much has changed:
- I wrote my second full-length novel.
- I finished the first extremely rough draft in just a few weeks, and I started sending out queries for the project recently. Exciting and scary times!
- I decided upon the college I’ll be attending in the fall.
- See you soon, UC Berkeley!
- I watched a lot of television.
- My current fave recent shows and movies: Vincenzo, Way of the House Husband, Demon Slayer, Nevertheless, Bo Burnham: Inside, In the Heights, and The Problem With Apu
- I graduated from high school!
Plus, the blog has been a bit rebranded! For one thing, I changed up the fonts. The header image for my homepage is also different, and I’ve updated my About page. Be sure to tour around and check everything out!
And of course, I’ve read a few books. 😏
Perhaps the middle of the year has passed us. According to my Google research, July 2 was the midpoint of the year. Regardless, I am glad that our paths have intertwined again.
Welcome to Sophie and Their Stories‘ first ever Mid Year Book Freak Out! 💞 The tag originated from Chami at Read Like Wildfire, and I’m excited to be diving into it.
Let’s catch up with each other, shall we?
1. Best Book You Read in 2021?
Nghi Vo stunned me with The Singing Hills Cycle, one of my favorite fantasy series. Her retelling of The Great Gatsby through a speculative, queer, and Asian-American lens took the slot as my all-time favorite book. It was absolutely gorgeous. I’m a sucker for slow-paced, lyrical stories, and The Chosen and the Beautiful takes the cake for all my retelling preferences.
For my definitive thoughts on this wonderful book, check out my review!
2. Best Sequel You Read in 2021?
Just kidding! (Sort of. 😛)
I haven’t read any proper sequels this year — yet.
No person alive should ever be subject to the desolation that is AP Calculus BC, so I will not include order links at this time. 💀🙈
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
I’ve had an ARC of this novel sitting on the digital shelf of my e-reader for the longest time, and all the rave reviews I’ve seen on Book Twitter have gotten me absolutely pumped to read this!
A genderqueer, sapphic protagonist? A plot that reimagines the Ming Dynasty of China? This is everything I’ve ever wanted. I better get reading quick!
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of 2021?
If you read my three-star book review of These Violent Delights, you might be surprised. But since then, I have raised my rating of Chloe Gong’s debut to five stars. The book has etched itself into my mind. Though I have criticisms of the pacing, any book with such a lasting impression on me deserves a higher rating. (My rating system is all based on vibes, I suppose! 😭)
I’m so excited for TVD‘s sequel, Our Violent Ends. I’m ready to grab the tissues for this emotional rollercoaster of a novel.
5. Biggest disappointment?
This was a book I had high expectations for. It was pitched as If I Stay meets Your Name: two properties that I regard fondly. The premise, a girl receiving phone calls from her recently-deceased boyfriend, was super intriguing. You’ve Reached Sam understands what it means to grieve; to ache for another person whom you know you will never embrace again. I appreciated that.
Unfortunately, the characters were bland and underdeveloped, and the writing style didn’t hit the mark with me. The plot could have dived in a little deeper into its already human and nuanced ideas
I had hoped for a story that would pull on my heartstrings, but instead, You’ve Reached Sam reminded me more of my heart murmur. 🥶
6. Biggest surprise?
I had borrowed the audiobook version of What Big Teeth from my high school’s library on a whim, and I’m so glad that I did! This was my first foray into the world of audiobooks, and Jasika Nicole did an incredible job narrating the eccentric family of young Eleanor Zarrin. At every twist, I found myself gaping, mesmerized and aghast.
What Big Teeth had a gory, tilted Studio Ghibli vibe. That’s exactly what I love to see in books.
7. New favorite author?
Rivers Solomon! Faer novel, The Deep, was one of the greatest stories I ever had the privilege of reading. I can’t wait until I get my hands on An Unkindness of Ghosts, faer debut novel. Rivers Solomon has a mastery of language that I have never seen before, and fae have become one of my favorite writers.
8. Newest fictional crush?
Jenny Shindanai from Zoe Hana Mikuta’s debut, Gearbreakers! She’s the elder sister of the one of the protagonists, Eris (pictured crouching on the cover, right beside Sona, who’s holding the sword). Strong-willed, sharp-witted Jenny devastated me with her comebacks and strength, just as she devastates the Windup mechas she pledged her life to defeating.
She was one of my favorite parts of this book, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the sequel!
9. Newest favorite character?
Definitely Tarisai from Raybearer! This book was one of the best works of YA fantasy I have read in all my life. (I made a reading vlog about it a few months ago!) Tarisai was a perfect character. Her fierce determination, deep compassion, and vivid complexity had me rooting for her from start to finish.
Tarisai loved the world she inhabited, and wanted it to be better — so she’d make it better. Her destiny did not belong to her, so she rewrote it. What a legend.
10. Book that made you cry?
I am yet to find a book that truly brought tears to my eyes. A few novels summoned sadness out of me, but the waterworks are still yet to flow!
11. Book that made you happy?
We’ve all got to read picture books more often! Little Witch Hazel is the world’s introduction to the cottagecore generation. I’m buying a copy of little witch hazel for my once and future kids, should I have children in the next thirty years of my life.
12. Favorite book-to-movie adaptation you’ve seen so far this year?
I loved The Ghost Bride! Though the Taiwanese-Malaysian Netflix drama series was much different from its source material, Yangsze Choo’s masterwork of a novel, I had a lot of fun with each episode. And I’m a huge fan of Ludi Lin, who played Lim Tian-bai in the adaptation. Crossing my fingers for a Season Two!
13. Favorite review you’ve written this year?
As a bonus, I loved writing my review of Cinder, in which I focused on the shortcomings of the novel’s worldbuilding.
14. Most beautiful book you bought this year?
Iron Widow is a retelling of the life of Wu Xetian, China’s only female emperor, by way of giant mechas designed after East Asian mythological creatures. I received a physical ARC of this book from Xiran Jay Zhou’s publicist, and I’m telling you, it’s a showstopper.
It’s year of the mecha books, traveler!
15. What books do you really need to read by the end of this year?
So many! My currently-reading list on Goodreads is bursting at the seams.
Here are a few waiting on my shelf:
16. Favorite Community Member?
My favorite part of the online book community is the people, and if I named every single kind, creative, wonderful person I was thankful for, I would be here all night! 💜
For today, I’ll list (in no particular order) my favorite book blogs. I always look forward to these bloggers’ posts in my inbox! Please check them out and send them love!
- Allegory of Words
- Shut Up, Shealea
- Your Tita Kate
- The Quiet Pond
- An Ode to Fiction
- Moonchild Lexicons
- Legendary Pages
- Forever and Everly
- Fly(er) on the Wall
- The Perks of Being Noura
- It’s Just a Coffee Addicted Bibliophile
- Cornelia Street Reads
- A Book and Chai
- Honey Roselea Reads
I’m glad to be back. It has truly been a hectic year so far. Books are the best way to de-stress and unwind after difficult days. I want to read more; write more; edit videos more. As the K-pop girl group TWICE succinctly said it, “More and more.” 😋
My aspirations during 2021 have been a lot looser, perhaps because I’ve learned (especially during quarantine) that nothing is set in stone. Maybe I should have taken the same lesson for my Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge!
I am far from my reading goal of 420 books — perhaps, in my pursuit of the Memes™, I was too ambitious. But it’s not about the destination: it’s about the journey. The travels.
Or something like that!
We’ll see how it goes, as always.
Let’s keep reading together!
Thank you for reading, traveler. 💛
- What were your favorite reads of 2021? What were your least favorite reads?
- Which 2021 releases are you most looking forward to?
- How’s your Goodreads reading goal going?
Don’t miss a post! Coming up next on Sophie and Their Stories: a review about a book with a pink cover! Bonus points if you can guess it. 😉
Let’s connect across the Net! 💖