Friday, July 8, 2016

Mid Year Freak-out Tag

Becca of Pretty Deadly Reviews posted her Mid-Year Freak-Out last month, and I knew I wanted to play too, sometime in July.  I actually did this last year too, after seeing it on Bingeing on Books, so this will be (gulp) my first ever "Second Annual" anything on this blog!

Total Books So Far:

128, which is super freaky, because when I did this post last year, in late August--I had the EXACT same answer.  Again there are all sorts of caveats--I don't track every picture book, but I do track some of them (if they have a big impact, basically), and graphic novels drive up the numbers drastically, as do YA and MG works.  I am kind of shocked, though, that I'm a month ahead of last year, because I feel like I haven't been reading as much this spring and summer (well, other than that one month when I read 31 books).  I wonder if I just have different expectations now that I'm blogging.  I know that I've been shying away from the more serious, challenging reads in a way I never used to.  (Do I hear a discussion post being born?!?)

Best I've read in 2016

Fiction: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Ten Honorable Mentions: Boy 21, How It Went Down, The Crossover, The Truth Commission, I'll Meet You There, Orbiting Jupiter, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Life After Life, Six of Crows. Ball Don't Lie.

Best Sequel

There are only a few books in this category, but the answer is clear: UnBound by Neal Shusterman.  I love this author, and I love this series.  This collection of stories is, as these things tend to be, a bit uneven, but there are some doozies in here, and I just enjoyed re-entering this terrible world.  

New Release You Want To Read

Hands-down, volume six of Saga.  Brian K. Vaughan writes fascinating, silly, sexy, mind-blowing sci fi graphic novels.  I devoured books 1-5 in early June, not quite realizing I'd have to wait to get my hands on volume six.  I think I'm up to 7th in line at the library though--at least they're quick reads, so the line is moving right along.  I have trouble wrapping my mind around how you write, but don't illustrate, a graphic novel.  It seems like you'd do both or neither.  I guess it's something like writing a play?

Anticipated book in second half of year

Again, the sequel to a book I love is the book I really want to read ASAP.  I can't wait for Leigh Bardugo's Crooked Kingdom.  After not really getting into Shadow & Bone, and so not giving the rest of that series a go, I was BLOWN AWAY by how much I enjoyed Six of Crows.

Biggest Disappointment

No One Knows was my first Book of the Month Club selection, and sums up why I won't be renewing my subscription.  Over-billed as a thriller, this book managed to both bore and infuriate me.  (Illuminae also was a let-down for me.  Super cool concept, but for a meh storyline.  Sorry/not sorry.)  

Biggest Surprise

Wild Things, by Clay Carmichael, was just this ugly-covered little book sitting on my classroom shelf, part of the collection the school had donated to my room.  Somewhere I saw someone mention it as a really good book, so with great skepticism I picked it up.

It's a really good book.

Favorite New Author

See, now, that's tricky, because the first three names that come to mind* are people I started getting super into last fall, not in 2016.  There are other new-to-me authors I'm excited to see what's next from**, but after one book I'm afraid to call them favorites.  There are a few authors I've rediscovered recently***, and I'm digging back into their books to see what I've missed.  

Having ruled out all those subcategories, I think Kwame Alexander is who's left.  (That sounded rude--I don't meant he's my last choice, just that he's the only one of all these amazing authors who meets my qualifications.) After hearing him speak at NCTE last fall, I made a point of buying and reading The Crossover.  My students and I loved it.  This spring I read He Said/She Said and Booked, both of which were good, if not as amazing as The Crossover. I will definitely be taking a look at everything he writes from here on out!

*Leila Sales, A. S. King, Matt de la Pena
** Tamara Ireland Stone, Heather Demetrios, Jesse Andrews, Francisco X. Stork, Erik Lindstrom
***Chris Crutcher, Gary D. Schmidt, Matthew Quick, Kate Atkinson

Newest Fictional Crush

Okay, here is something that JUST OCCURRED to me.  

If you are a 46 year old woman who reads a lot of YA, then "fictional crush" is sort of a creepy concept.  Like, "Oooh, that angsty 17 year old is soooo hot!"  Just--no.  I can adore Kaz as an anti-hero without wanting to get all smoochy with him.  So, ummm--I kind of liked Chuck, the therapist in The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B.  And the gay grandpa figure in The Porcupine of Truth is six kinds of adorable as well.  Plus, those are two excellent books I hadn't managed to squeeze in here yet!

Favorite New Character

Carmen, the love interest in Matt de la Pena's duology The Living/The Hunted is a kick-ass, big-hearted, smart, confident, loyal, and altogether admirable (yet three dimensional) young woman.  I love that the author gives Shy such great taste.

Books that Made You Cry

I'll Meet You There forced me to create a Goodreads shelf called "Made Me Cry."  Tearing up doesn't count.  Tight throat and a tear rolling down my cheek doesn't count.  Books on this shelf make me CRY, dammit.  The only other book I added after creating the shelf was Roz Chast's graphic novel/memoir about her aging-then-dying parents, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?  It also made me laugh out loud.  I am definitely the target audience for that one.  

Books that Made You Happy

This is Sadie and Last Stop on Market Street are two wonderful picture books that truly do make me happy.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Play Me Backwards both made me laugh, hard, with their teenaged snark and unrepentant bluntness.  Exit, Pursued by a Bear made me happy due to it's lack of victim-blaming amongst its characters.  (Speak was super important, but I'm getting a little tired of books in which the golden boy rapes the poor girl and then everyone ostracizes her.  I am 100% sure that if I'd told any of my high school friends that some guy forced himself on me when I was wasted that they wouldn't have called me a liar and a slut and stopped speaking to me.  And that was in the 1980s, people!)   

Best Book to Film Adaptation

As I mentioned last year, I don't see many movies.  I thought The Fifth Wave was really bad.  I know the Percy Jackson movie really upset fans of the book series, but the kids and I liked it okay.  

Your Favorite Post

See here for my list, published last week as part of my first year anniversary.

Prettiest Book You Bought

Six of Crows has a gorgeous cover, velvety black page edges and end papers, and lovely chapter headings.  Not if I See You First has bold colors and braille on the cover.  Why We Broke Up features amazing illustrations by Mara Kalman, taking the book to a whole new level.   (They all also are good books, so yay!)

Books to Read by the End of the Year

Last year I listed five books here.  I read one of them by the end of the year, and just two more this year.  I'll try to improve my accuracy here, but won't cheat by listing the two sequels I'm chomping at the bit to get to.  I will further complicate my challenge by not choosing any of the books I brought home to read over the summer.  

What else do I hope to get to in 2016?

I enjoy well written essays, and Gaiman, I'm pretty sure, will deliver.  I adore pretty much everything Telgemeier does, and am eager to get this effort in a new genre into my classroom.  I've been meaning to read Gallagher's book for my professional development for months and months, and really hope to do so this summer.  The Haters is my chance to find out if Me and Earl was a fluke.  I like memoirs and books about writing, so Mary Karr's book should be fascinating.  Finally--I don't know why I want to read Pax so badly, but something about that cover pulls me in every time I see it.

That was fun, and if you do a similar post, please let me know--I'd love to see how your reading year is going!


  1. I want to do this tag, but by the time I get around to doing it, it probably won’t be mid-year anymore. I also loved UnBound. I read The Last Stop on Market Street for school (I’m getting a master’s degree in children’s lit) and thought it was brilliant. Also, I totally agree with you about the “Speak” plotline (even though I love Speak). I really need to write a rant about rape in YA books. I think the overuse of rape as a plot device in YA has become disrespectful to real rape victims.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I recently got into Saga and it's everything I wanted. People were recommending it nonstop for a reason! I need to catch up asap!

    So, I'm thinking if you did this tag in August last year, then it's definitely not too late for me to do it! I don't usually do tags, but this once looks really fun.

  3. I loved Every Last Word! And I just won UnBound in a giveaway. My mom read it, but I haven't yet. She said she had a hard time remembering who all the characters were, so I hope I don't have that problem.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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