The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag, 2020

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020. This has to be Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light.
  2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020. Technically, this could ALSO be The Mirror and The Light, but I don’t want to be repetitive, so this goes to Natasha Pulley’s The Lost Future of Pepperharrowa totally bewitching sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street that is, in my view, better than the first book.
  3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to. I’m desperate to read Curtis Sittenfeld’s Rodham, so desperate in fact that I pre-ordered the hardback. This was my undoing, as I subsequently discovered that, in the UK, it’s available much earlier on Kindle, so now I have to pointlessly wait!
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. I’ve pre-ordered Brandon Taylor’s Real Life, which isn’t out in the UK until late August. I love the premise and it’s also received glowing reviews from bloggers I trust.
  5. Biggest disappointment. Carys Davies’s WestTechnically, I didn’t have super high expectations for this novella, which I picked up on a whim on a Kindle 99p deal, but I still can’t get over how BAD it was. I think it must be one of the worst examples of literary fiction I’ve ever read.
  6. Biggest surprise. James S.A. Corey’s Persepolis Rising. For some reason I’ve been dutifully slogging through the Expanse series, a SF epic, despite only really enjoying the first three books. However, this seventh entry instigates a kind of soft reboot of the series and takes it back to what I enjoyed in the first place. I was unexpectedly gripped!
  7. Favourite new author (debut or new to you) Mary Robinette Kowal. I loved her alternative-history women astronaut book The Calculating Stars so much that I immediately went out and bought the sequel, The Fated Sky, then read all the free short stories she has online 🙂
  8. Newest fictional crush. I have thought about this but I don’t think I’ve had any fictional crushes since I was a teenager!
  9. Newest favourite character. I loved the three female protagonists of Naomi Novik’s enchanting Spinning SilverMiryem, Wanda and Irina. Novik does such a fantastic job of giving them such distinctive first-person voices and showing how their different strengths complement each other, while allowing them all to mess up and not assuming that they’ll automatically show solidarity.
  10. Book that made you cry. I can’t remember if I actually cried, but I was devastated by the ending of Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.
  11. Book that made you happy. I loved how Elisabeth Thomas’s Catherine House channelled all the spooky ESP young adult novels I read as a teenager!
  12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received). Ken Liu’s edited collection of Chinese science fiction in translation, Broken Stars. The British edition is so stunning [see it here, though the picture doesn’t do justice to the gold foil!] I spent a lot of time just looking at it, and the stories are stellar as well.
  13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? I still have 14 of my 20 Books of Summer to go, plus around another 18 books from the list I made at the beginning of the year, but I find this question works best (in terms of me actually reading the books) if I stick to a few titles. So I’ll go for: Paulina Flores’s Humiliation, Caite Dolan-Leach’s We Went To The Woods, and Nisi Shawl’s edited collection of speculative fiction by writers of colour, New Suns.

I’ve loved reading other responses to this tag, so tagging everyone else to give it a go if you haven’t already!

23 thoughts on “The Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag, 2020

  1. Weirdly, I’ve read four autobiographical sequels this year, but only one fictional one (The Locked Room, #3 in the New York Trilogy by Paul Auster).

    I’m interested in Real Life as well. And I would agree that West was a real disappointment after all the buzz I’d heard around it.

    I’m at 92% in Rodham and about to go finish it on the cross trainer as I’m reviewing it on Wednesday to kick off the blog tour. I’m still up in the air about how I feel about it. Whether the thought experiment has had a point or not is all going to depend on how Sittenfeld concludes things. I’ll say no more for now! There will probably be a large spoiler section in my review…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great answers! I am excited to read the Broken Stars collection of Chinese sci-fi. I don’t think I ever read Chinese sci-fi before – but once I had in mind reading Liu Cixin’s stories, including The Three-Body Problem. I think I first spotted Broken Stars at Foyles (the black and gold cover) and could not stop thinking about it. I am glad to hear you loved it.

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    • It’s a wonderful collection. I’ve rarely read an anthology where the individual stories are so consistently strong, and (as someone who knows very little about Chinese SF) I loved that it comes not only with an introduction but several essays at the back that help Western readers to contextualise the stories. I’m now keen to read the first volume of Chinese SF that Liu edited, Invisible Planets.

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  3. I so hope you’ll enjoy Real Life! I haven’t gotten around to Catherine House yet, but I’m looking forward to that one. And I completely agree about the ending to Djinn Patrol- so heartbreaking, and so effective. It will be a memorable revelation for sure.

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  4. Pingback: Book Tag: The Mid Year Freak Out

  5. I haven’t seen a tag in a while, so it was fun reading this one. I haven’t read any of these books, although I would like to. Readers’ response to The Mirror and the Light makes me think I’d better just bite the bullet and read Wolf Hall.
    We Went to the Woods appeals – I hope it’s as good as it sounds!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dad has just re-read Wolf Hall and said he enjoyed it a lot more this time round (after reading Bring Up The Bodies and The Mirror and the Light) because he knew who everybody was!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The End of the Year Book Tag, 2020 | Laura Tisdall

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