I am so happy to be making this a yearly tag in my blog now. I shared the Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag in 2019 and it’s crazy to think it’s already been a year, and also crazy to think half of 2020 is past by when I have done absolutely nothing this year, lol.
Thank you so much for Margaret @ Weird Zeal for tagging me!
But, at least I read some books, so I can chat about them with you guys now. Let’s get into it!
Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
I have an entire review about all the things I loved on Call It What You Want, but this book completely changed me.
I’d never read anything by Brigid Kemmerer before, and picked this up randomly, but I’m so glad I did. This is a dual perspective novel and both were fleshed out and amazing. All the characters in this book suck, but they’re still so likeable. I love how Brigid Kemmerer played with perspective and how the same event can be perceived so differently by different people because of what they’re going through as individuals as well.
If you want a book that explores morally grey characters well, you can not go wrong with this one.
New release(s) you haven’t read yet, but want to
BREATH LIKE WATER. This book was blurbed by Gayle Forman (!!!) and it follows olympic swimmers, I’m pretty sure, and I’m always down to more books following athletes. Especially in this Olympic-less year we’re having.
THE SOUND OF STARS. I know this one is black and queer and is a love letter to music – my second favorite thing in the world, next to books. I am so hyped.
THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE. F/F romance & our MC has dementia, which is a mental health issue I’ve never read any YA books about. Caitlin also said it has multiple rom-com references I’m definitely going to get, so yes.
Most anticipated release(s) for the second half of the year
DARIUS THE GREAT DESERVES BETTER. I know the entire community is hyped about this one, and how could I not be as well? I trust Adib Khorram with a love triangle and that says *a lot*.
RENT A BOYFRIEND. It’s Gloria Chao and apparently with fake-dating???? This can not go wrong. Also, can we talk about this gorgeous cover that literally looks like something out of a K-Drama? I’m so jealous of the lucky people who can have it on their shelves.
DEAR JUSTYCE. My favorite author with a follow up of one of my favorite books. I believe this one will tackle the American prison system and gangs, as it follows Quan, from book #1. It also comes a week before my birthday, so best present ever.
Unfortunately for me, I Was Born for This was a major disappointment even though I was sure I was going to love it. I mean, Alice Oseman and boybands? It can not go wrong, right?
Except it totally can, because it did. I ended up actually DNF-ing this book at 63% because I found the deciption of boyband culture to be so overwhelmingly negative, I started feeling awful about myself. As if I could not claim to like an artist, because all of them are lying to their fans; and being a fan equals being irresponsible and naive; and most everyone is probably a creepy stalker with no feelings. And like, no. That’s not what I signed up for, and it’s 2020, I don’t need any more negativity in my life, thanks a lot.
I’d actually heard a lot of not-so-good things about Aurora Rising, even from fans of the Illuminae Files – which I am too. So I thought I was not going to like this one at all, but I am so glad I was wrong.
This book was incredibly action-packed, while still developing all the characters in an unique way and giving them refreshing voices in their own perspectives. It was also nice seeing the different alien species and their culture and habits. I loved the crew interactions as well – they don’t know much about each other and working together is a work in progress, but that’s exactly what makes this team so compelling.
Favorite new author (debut or new to you)
Last year, I talked about Adib Khorram for this question because I was impressed at his ability in Darius the Great to talk about so many different topics so well. And that’s how I felt again about Leah Johnson’s work in this one.
There are a lot of discussions here: on sexuality, anxiety, disability, as well as being a person of color and racial and class privileges. The character’s relationships are also amazingly fleshed out, with friends’ break-ups and make-ups that make *so much sense*.
It’s still wonderful to me that all these themes were well written and it never felt like the author was trying to hard, at all.
Newest fictional crush
Now, it is true that I did not love The Brightsiders – the writing felt repetitive and the characters fell flat. But still, there could not be any other answer but Alfie.
He’s our best-friend and love interest in this book, and I adored him. He’s The Brightsiders’ heartthrob and everyone has a crush on him, so how could I not develop one myself? I liked, though, that he was still a layered character, who was not only a massive flirt, but also an amazing friend, who, like everyone else, also dealt with his own insecurities (including social anxiety). He was definitely the best part of the reading experience for me.
(And plus: he was gender queer, which is a great rep too!)
Newest favorite character
Camp was definitely a runner-up for best book I read this year, as it was my only other 5 star of 2020 besides Call It What You Want. And I give that up to Randy, our protagonist.
This book was a lot more complex than I thought and initially gave it credit for. I love how Randy walks into this book believing that he’ll have to play the role of Del – a more masculine, butch version of Randy -, but then he’ll be able to slip out of it and go back to his normal nail-polish-lover, theatre-kid self.
But what he learns throughout this story is that he can, actually, be both. Del and Randy are not different people – they’re both parts of who he is, because he can be whatever he wants to be.
Book that made you cry
I didn’t really cry with any book this year, but You’d Be Mine got me close to it. I was so impressed by how well-written this book was and how it was also a lot darker than I anticipated.
This book discusses suicide, addiction and trauma very well. It was definitely hard-hitting, but I think the author was able to write it so well that even though we were following characters with glamourous lives, it never felt like those issues were being glamourized too. She also discussed very well the importance of being well on your own first, before you can be good to somebody else.
Book that made you happy
I absolutely had a blast reading Only Mostly Devastated. As a re-telling of Grease, I already expected that this one was going to be fun, but I also loved how well the author was able to represent an accurate teenage experience.
Ollie moving to this new school is awkward and uncomfortable. He ends up sticking with the first group that welcomes him and it takes him a while to understand the dynamics of the group, and to feel 100% a part of it as well. The dialogues were all so well-written too and it made me really excited to see a YA book that actually understands teenagers so well.
This book turned out to have a lot more layers than I expected, such as discussing Will’s cultural background, grief and family relationships, and I loved every second of it.
Your favorite book to movie/tv show that you’ve seen so far?
I only watched one adaptation this year and it was P.S I Still Love You, but it totally did not disappoint. Even if it didn’t completely feature my favorite quote from the book
(“Like the 1950s. Remember, Lara Jean?”), I still adore how they translated my favorite aspects of the book into the movie.
It meant a lot that they kept some of the moments that pay and ode to Lara Jean’s mom as well as hear Korean side of the family (having them dress in hanboks was so special!), and the amazing side-characters too. I didn’t like John Ambrose in the books, but I turned out to love him in the movie.
Nothing beats Peter K. though. And the scene from the gif I included is probably my favorite scene in cinema history now, so there’s that too.
What is your favorite post you’ve written so far?
I really like I’ve been writing more recommendation posts this year. Even if they’re not the most popular posts, I still enjoy writing them a lot, as it gives me an opportunity to share more lenghty reviews than I would in my monthly wrap-ups and also to rave about books I haven’t talked about in a while.
(Plus, I think it totally solidifies YA contemporary as my brand).
My favorite recommendations post I did was the one on books about mental health issues that are likely to break your heart. I am super proud of how I worded it!
What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
A QUIET KIND OF THUNDER. This one has been on my TBR for ages and I want to be more conscious of reading books with disability rep. This one has a deaf MC!
99 DAYS. I have literally no idea what it is about but I got an edition on Kindle for free once and I haven’t touched it since, lol.
PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING. Another one I’ve been putting off for ages. It’s set on the Philippines and it’s likely to touch on the war on drugs, so I know will be hard-hitting.
What books do you want to read by the end of the year? And any anticipated releases I should look out for? Let’s chat in the comments!