Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag (2021 Edition)

All authors love books, so it didn't seem off-brand or inappropriate to grace this blog with something a little more lighthearted and bookish!

When I saw this tag floating around the blogosphere, I knew I had to jump onboard.

And now, without further ado, the reading highlights of 2021 . . . so far.

1. Best book you've read so far in 2021

Starting things off with a hard one, eh?

I read quite a number of good books this year, but one that stands out in my mind is Beowulf.

Wonderfully translated in glorious verse that stirs your blood and sets your heart to singing. I read it in one day, and I highly recommend this method. As a ballad, it really is (I think) meant to be consumed in one sitting. Doing so, allows one to get into the rhythm more easily. Full of doughty warriors, thrilling action, and mesmerizing locations, it's a classic for a reason!

2. Best Sequel You've Read So Far In 2021

While this is not, technically, a sequel, it's a continuation of the classic children's series that began with Swallows and Amazons. There is something about this series that makes me incredibly, infinitely, happy. It's glorious, free-spirited, happy-hearted childhood - condensed into a few hundred pages. It makes me incandescently happy and fills me to the brim. Few books leave me feeling so content as this delightful series by Arthur Ransome.

3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to.

This looks very sweet and magical! I recently started following the author on Instagram and I’m anticipating trying out her books!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I’m going to be a colossal cheat and simply say . . . the next issue of Worlds Of Adventure, the e-zine I run with my sisters. 

5. Biggest disappointment in 2021

A Place To Hang the Moon or The Squirrel Squirrel. Probably The Squirrel Squire.

Doesn't that little guy remind you of an Ewok? Another major draw for me. A number of things disappointed me about this one, among them, I was expecting this to be a fantasy. Instead, it was set in a contemporary park populated by squirrels that, for some odd reason, wear tunics and carry swords.

6. Biggest surprise in 2021

Long ago, I read The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke and was not impressed with her writing. 

I am now beginning to believe that it was the translator of The Thief Lord that was subpar, and not Funke, because this book was absolutely delightful. 

This is an adorable story full of all of the Arthurian tropes served up with a portion of zaniness!  Many authors have attempted to do the trope of tomboys wanting to be knights, but Funke hits it out of the ballpark with the lovable and scruffy scrubby Igraine. Full of whimsical illustrations and magical worldbuilding, this book would be the perfect read aloud for any family!

 

7. Favorite new author in 2021

Greg Van Eekhout. No question. I read his book, Cog, for the first time this August and I can’t wait to discover the rest of his books. This short novel had me laughing till I couldn’t breath one moment and brought tears to my eyes the next. 

I wasn’t expecting to have my heart stolen by a bunch of little robots but, it’s very on brand for me. It’s not a Prince Charming that’s going to sweep me off my feet, it’s four adolescent robots looking for a home.

8. Newest fictional crush/ship

Well, as most of you know, I don't do fiction crushes - 'tis silly.

And I'm not much of a romance fan, so I don't really do a lot of shipping.

That being said, I shall cheat once more and select the main couple of my upcoming book, The Goblin and the Dancer. They're pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

9. Newest favorite character.

*tries not to get distracted by the grammar of that question*

 
 I really enjoyed the Sullustan character in a Star Wars novel by John Jackson Miller.

In case you’ve forgotten (or never knew) here is what a Sullustan looks like.

 
 

Zaluna Myder is a middle aged, introverted and highly sneaky office worker who has spent her life running a surveillance company that has gradually been taken over by the Empire. A lifetime spent spying on other people has made Zaluna not only cagey, but downright paranoid, believing (not always incorrectly) that people may be watching her. Her chronic nervousness makes her endearing and funny. 

Zaluna would be happy to remain at her desk, overseeing her workers and taking care of her plants, for the rest of her life. Over the course of the story, Zaluna makes the monumental choice to not only leave her office, but to get involved in the rebellion.

While we’d all wish to be the Luke Skywalker’s and Han Solo’s of this world, it’s Zaluna that is far more like us and thus, far more relatable. Whether she’s accidentally locked in the bathroom, crawling through bars trying to turn off security cameras, or simply doing her best to keep up, there is nothing slick about Zaluna. She’s intelligent, brave, and game – but she’s definitely out of her depth and in over her head. 

Zaluna ultimately pays a horrible price for her moral choice in a bittersweet ending that does give her some happiness, but also a bit of ironic comeuppance to a woman that stayed on the sidelines for so long, always watching, but never acting until it was nearly too late. An intriguing and unique character that really makes one think.  

10. Book that made you cry in 2021

Like I’d REALLY go hunting for something to make me cry after the last year and a half?

 

Okay, I thought of something. Watership Down. The amount of heroism and tenacity packed into this book literally took my breath away at several points - particularly in the characters of Bigwig and Pipkin, two vastly different characters that display unimaginable courage under fire. I was gasping aloud and felt tears forming in my eyes as I marveled at their bravery and wondered if I could ever be as brave as these characters.

Watership Down was full of surprises, actually. I never expected to be so captured by it, or to cry over it. And I certainly hadn't anticipated how creepy it would be.

11. Book that made you happy in 2021

Now you’re talking. A Book Of Mermaids by Ruth Manning-Sanders made me very happy. Why? Here’s some backstory. When I was little, we used to go regularly to a certain library that had a marvelous children’s section. 

In the very back of the area was a play castle, complete with turrets and ramparts, perfect for this wee princess-loving lass. And, quite near this castle, was a shelf FULL of fairy tales. This was a most wondrous shelf, full of crumbly old books. Everything from ancient fairy stories from around the world to novelized Disney picture books resided here. 

I swear I wore a spot in that carpet, because that was where I would plant myself, every time, to sup on magic. 

I haven’t visited that library in years, but I returned recently. I was heartbroken to discover that much of the children’s section had been stripped, the books replaced with play areas and computers (a growing trend in libraries as they throw their books into dumpsters and turn their hallowed halls into “community centers” instead of places of learning). 

Suffice it to say, I was deeply distraught, especially when I went to my shelf and found that the fairy tales I loved were no longer there. I walked up and down the remaining aisles, almost in tears, and then I stopped. 

I had found them. 

It was a little smaller, and they had been moved to another aisle, but here was my shelf of fairy tales, still waiting for me, fifteen years later. 

I only had a moment to browse, but I looked at the shelf and thought, “All right, old friend, touch me with your magic, one more time,” and I randomly grabbed a collection of mermaid stories. 

My shelf didn’t fail me. 

This marvelous book of mermaids absolutely enchanted me and was the most delicious bedtime reading. A story a night was just the thing to end the day on, and it was a reminder, once more, of a happy childhood and why I love fairy stories so much. When everything else changes, they are always there, ready to enchant you all over again.  

 

12. Favorite book-to-film adaptation you saw in 2021

I watched Oz The Great and Powerful for the first time this year and was VERY impressed with this adapation of The Wizard Of Oz.

It is this film, folks – THIS FILM – that captures the wonder of Oz and NOT that 1930s monstrosity. 

This movie encapsulated  the wonder and whimsy of Oz, the sheer wildness of it’s imagination, without ever being campy. It was wonderful.

 

It also has the inherent spooky mood of these stories, without ever being TOO horror film-esque (though there were some scary scenes that even I skipped and would never should to a small child).

It's a tricky balance, and one no one has seemed able to achieve . . . until this film. If you've ever watched the Narnia movies produced by Disney, you may like this film, as it was produced by some of the same crew and has a very similar tone, with its strong themes of adventure, imaginative visuals, and an amazing ensemble cast featuring lovable characters that all get their moment to shine.

13. Favorite bookish post you've done in 2021

I haven’t been blogging much this year so . . . this one?

14. Most beautiful book you bought in 2021.

That’s a fairly easy answer. Just LOOK at this beauty. It’s a soft, embossed book with the most intricate detail. And aren’t those illustrations gorgeous? 

 

15. Books you need to read by the end of the year

The Oz Series by L. Frank Baum.

I am planning on doing an Oz-themed bookstagram challenge this October, so I’m trying to read as many as possible to get ideas for the prompts! 

It’s no hardship, believe me. Oz is my happy place. 

 

And there you have it: the reading highlights of 2021.

What have been some of YOUR favorite reads of 2021? Have you read any of these books? I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!

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8 Comments

  1. Fun list!

    I’m a big Beowulf fan, too.

  2. ooooh I NEED that Nordic Tales book! I actually just bought the Celtic Tales copy from that same collection (and I already have the Japanese one) but I have a feeling I’m going to be collecting them all. Their newest is a book of Russian Tales (I don’t think it’s released yet) and the cover for that one is GORGEOUS.

    • YES, YOU DO.

      Oh, I just got the Celtic Tales book from this collection! That had some wonderful stories in it: I think you’ll enjoy it! WHAT? A RUSSIAN ONE? I didn’t see that one, so thank you for telling me! *stampedes over to Amazon*

  3. Somehow I have never read a single book you mentioned??? Clearly something needs to be done about this! But the FAIRY TALES. Okay, that library sounds like the most wondrous library to go to as a child. *heart-eyes* That’s so sad they stripped it down, but I’m very glad to hear they still had a fairy tale section. I am with you, there is just nothing like settling in with a good fairy tale. It fills me up every single time. <3

    And speaking of fairy tales… That book of Nordic Tales you have! AAAAHHHHH! *more heart-eyes* SO. BEAUTIFUL.

    Oh, oh! Isn't Oz the Great and Powerful SO GOOD??? I'm thrilled to hear you've watched it and liked it! I honestly didn't know what TRUE Oz fans thought of it. I've, uh, never actually read the original books. *hides face in shame* So I wasn't sure if the movie was a good or terrible tribute to the tale. That makes me appreciate it even MORE to know they did well with it. It's definitely a feast for the eyeballs!

    • Haha, don’t feel bad! I often feel that way when reading other people’s bookish posts! But I DO highly recommend some of these to you!

      YES, YES, YES. I knew you would understand the fairy tale feelings! 😀 It’s so nice to have a friend that is as fulfilled by these stories as I am. <3

      ISN'T IT BEAUTIFUL? It is one of the prettiest books I own: it's amazing!

      *shrieks* You've watched it?? How did I not know this? And yet, I am not surprised that you loved it - it is SUCH a Christine-esque movie! The vibe, the look, the story, it's so you!

      Yes, indeed. I was highly pleased by its take on the original tale! I have to say . . . if you liked the movie you'd probably like the books. *hint hint*

  4. The Nordic Tales and The Book of Mermaids both look so good!!

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