July in Oklahoma doesn’t usually come with high humidity. But this is 2021, so just about anything that can happen apparently will, including humidity levels so high that even indoors it is having an impact on our books. I’m pretty sure that in June we got more rain than every other June of my life combined, and even though the temperatures are finally climbing close to their normal range for this time of year, we are not as dry as usual. If the northwest would like to send the 100+ temperatures back down to us, I wouldn’t be opposed as long as it moved the humidity along and made the air feel less heavy.
Something that does usually come with July anywhere in the book blog world is the Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag. Every year I see dozens of bloggers complete this tag, and this year I’ve decided to do it as well! Apparently the tag was created by ReadLikeWildfire and Earl Grey Books. The first blogger I saw do the Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag this year is Elaine Howlin.
Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2021
Mirror’s Edge (Impostors #3) by Scott Westerfeld
Frey and Rafi have never been closer to their goal of defeating their father, a man whose evil threatens to spread unchecked. But they’ve also never been in more danger.
Frey’s sister Rafi — no longer a twin in features, but still a twin by birth — is the wild card. Are the sisters on the same side . . . or are they playing to their own agendas? If their father is deposed from Shreve, who will take control? And what other forces may be waiting in the wings?
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read my review here!
Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2021
Eubeltic Quest (Eubeltic Realm #2) by Nadine C. Keels
As a respected guardsman in the kingdom he calls home, Dauntless is more than ready to take on his next assignment. He’s been chosen to accompany the king on a trip to witness the inauguration of a new Eubeltic nation.
Aside from the prestige of the trip, Daun is relieved to be getting away for a while. He hasn’t fully recovered from the recent damage to his trust in the woman he has a passion for.
This time of travel could be his best chance to soul-search. But when critical remnants of the past come to collide with the present, Daun realizes just how risky—and eruptive—a true quest of the soul can become.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read my review here!
New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To
Discernment (The Legacy Chronicles #3) by Lauren H. Salisbury
A misfit, a fugitive, and a sacred destiny. Everything changes when all three collide.
In Jiya’s world, the only choice a woman has is who she will marry. When she meets a mysterious off-worlder, she must decide how far she is willing to push the boundaries of Teraburan culture to gain her freedom, and whether that is truly what she wants.
Mahsan has never been accepted for who he is. The sole human raised on an Esarelian cruiser, his attempts to belong led only to disaster and him becoming a fugitive. When he is invited into the home of a Teraburan clan leader, he finds a place where he could finally put down roots. But his past haunts him, and he will need to make peace with it if he wants any kind of future in his new home.
Not everyone approves of Jiya and Mahsan’s friendship, and some will stop at nothing to keep them apart. As the unlikely pair discover their true calling, they will have to confront everything they thought they knew and learn to see themselves as they never have before.
Published June 2, 2021 and I plan read this book very soon!
Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
I can’t pick just one – here are two I’m looking forward to!
You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World by Alan Noble
“You are your own, and you belong to yourself.” This is the fundamental assumption of modern life. And if we are our own, then it’s up to us to forge our own identities and to make our lives significant. But while that may sound empowering, it turns out to be a crushing responsibility–one that never actually delivers on its promise of a free and fulfilled life, but instead leaves us burned out, depressed, anxious, and alone. This phenomenon is mapped out onto the very structures of our society, and helps explain our society’s underlying disorder. But the Christian gospel offers a strikingly different vision. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” In You Are Not Your Own, Alan Noble explores how this simple truth reframes the way we understand ourselves, our families, our society, and God. Contrasting these two visions of life, he invites us past the sickness of contemporary life into a better understanding of who we are and to whom we belong.
Expected Publication: October 12, 2021
The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable
In 1942, London, Nancy Mitford is worried about more than air raids and German spies. Still recovering from a devastating loss, the once sparkling Bright Young Thing is estranged from her husband, her allowance has been cut, and she’s given up her writing career. On top of this, her five beautiful but infamous sisters continue making headlines with their controversial politics.
Eager for distraction and desperate for income, Nancy jumps at the chance to manage the Heywood Hill bookshop while the owner is away at war. Between the shop’s brisk business and the literary salons she hosts for her eccentric friends, Nancy’s life seems on the upswing. But when a mysterious French officer insists that she has a story to tell, Nancy must decide if picking up the pen again and revealing all is worth the price she might be forced to pay.
Eighty years later, Heywood Hill is abuzz with the hunt for a lost wartime manuscript written by Nancy Mitford. For one woman desperately in need of a change, the search will reveal not only a new side to Nancy, but an even more surprising link between the past and present…
Expected Publication: August 17, 2021
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
An unforgettable story of courage and romance. Will Valancy Stirling ever escape her strict family and find true love?
Valancy Stirling is 29, unmarried, and has never been in love. Living with her overbearing mother and meddlesome aunt, she finds her only consolation in the “forbidden” books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle–a place where all her dreams come true and she can be who she truly wants to be. After getting shocking news from the doctor, she rebels against her family and discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams.
My Rating: ⭐⭐.5
Tune It Out by Jamie Sumner
Lou Montgomery has the voice of an angel, or so her mother tells her and anyone else who will listen. But Lou can only hear the fear in her own voice. She’s never liked crowds or loud noises or even high fives; in fact, she’s terrified of them, which makes her pretty sure there’s something wrong with her.
When Lou crashes their pickup on a dark and snowy road, child services separate the mother-daughter duo. Now she has to start all over again at a fancy private school far away from anything she’s ever known. With help from an outgoing new friend, her aunt and uncle, and the school counselor, she begins to see things differently. A sensory processing disorder isn’t something to be ashamed of, and music might just be the thing that saves Lou—and maybe her mom, too.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You)
Also Jamie Sumner, from the previous book.
Newest Fictional Crush
None – I think I may be past that phase of life!
Newest Favourite Character
This was a difficult choice, but I choose Kate from The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
Book that Made You Cry
Books don’t make me cry, but How to Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum made me sad and concerned. That’s as close as I can get.
How to Give Up Plastic is a straightforward guide to eliminating plastic from your life. Going room by room through your home and workplace, Greenpeace activist Will McCallum teaches you how to spot disposable plastic items and find plastic-free, sustainable alternatives to each one. From carrying a reusable straw, to catching microfibers when you wash your clothes, to throwing plastic-free parties, you’ll learn new and intuitive ways to reduce plastic waste. And by arming you with a wealth of facts about global plastic consumption and anecdotes from activists fighting plastic around the world, you’ll also learn how to advocate to businesses and leaders in your community and across the country to commit to eliminating disposable plastics for good.
Book that Made You Happy
The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson
Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Today, the more than 17,000 libraries in America also function as de facto community centers offering free access to the internet, job-hunting assistance, or a warm place to take shelter. And yet, across the country, cities large and small are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operation. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson’s photographs— from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California’s one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson’s revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America’s most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Most Beautiful Book You’ve Acquired This Year
I haven’t bought or received any physical copies of books this year, but I borrowed A Poetics of Orthodoxy by Benjamin P. Myers from the library, and I love the use of typewriter arms on the cover.
What makes one poem better than another? Do Christians have an obligation to strive for excellence in the arts? While orthodox Christians are generally quick to affirm the existence of absolute truth and absolute goodness, even many within the church fall prey to the postmodern delusion that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This book argues that Christian doctrine in fact gives us a solid basis on which to make aesthetic judgments about poetry in particular and about the arts more generally. The faith once and for all delivered unto the saints is remarkable in its combined emphasis on embodied particularity and meaningful transcendence. This unique combination makes it the perfect starting place for art that speaks to who we are as creatures made for eternity.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
What Book(s) Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?
So many. The top 5 on my mind at the moment are:
Discernment (The Legacy Chronicles #3) by Lauren H. Salisbury
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Laddie: A True-Blue Story by Gene Stratton-Porter
Fanny’s Hope Chest by Sarah Holman
I also have a High Priority TBR Shelf on Goodreads with books I added in January and really wanted to read this year. Most of the books are older and/or longer, requiring more of a mental investment than I may be willing to give this year. We’ll see; we’re only halfway through the year so far!
Favorite Bookish Community Member
TBH I’m not a big fan of this question because popularity is overrated in the book blog world (unless you’re actually trying to make a living on it, in which case, you should probably be trying to get sponsored by a Big 5 publisher instead of relying on WordPress awards). But, I still want to highlight Tarissa for hosting the annual Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge at In the Bookcase, Nikki at Secret Library Book Blog for being such a cheerleader in the blogosphere, and Bargain Sleuth Books for talking about Nancy Drew and comparing the text and implications of different editions. I’m so glad our (blogging) paths have crossed!
That’s it for the 2021 Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag! This really makes me feel like I haven’t read as many books as I thought I had. Yes, I knew I have been very busy this year with school, but I still thought I had gotten through more books. It’s a little disappointing, but such is life. I’m making progress on most of the goals I set at the beginning of the year, I’m reading good books when I can, and I’m keeping up with graduate school while working full time. Any amount of books is plenty, even if I am a few behind on my Goodreads goal.
How has the first half of the year been for you, Reader? Are you reading all the books you want to, or has life had other plans?
Until the next chapter,
I will look for You Are Not Your Own. It sounds like a book I’d enjoy reading.
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I hope to talk about that book more when it comes out! I’m looking forward to it. I’m currently rereading the author’s first book, Disruptive Witness, for what I believe to be the fourth time. I have high hopes for You Are Not Your Own!