The Mid-year Freak Out Tag, or The “Rachel, Why Are You Posting This Just Now? It’s Already Mid-July” Post

Mid-year BT

I know, you don’t have to tell me the date. I’m posting this mid-year freak out thing halfway through July. June has been a really busy month for me at work. The flu vaccines that we ordered were delivered and blah, blah blah…you don’t want to hear about it. I’m not griping. I actually love working at a clinic setting. As an occupational health nurse, I have more independence here compared to when I was working in a hospital.

This year has been good for me in all aspects. That includes reading and my life as a reader of course. Here are some of the highlights of my year so far:

🍂  Coming back from my hiatus: I’ve been blogging about books since 2013, but had a long hiatus (5 years) before finally coming back last April. I consider myself lucky that I still have readers, and that I’ve gained new ones. The bookish community has always been a friendly and supportive one. Know that I consider all of you my friends 🤗 🤗 🤗

🍂Breaking my writer’s block: I have had the worst writer’s block the past year. No matter how long I stare at my laptop’s screen nothing comes out, so it really feels so good to just be writing again.

🍂Finally getting myself a new bookshelf: I’m bad at keeping myself away from bookstores and, as it is, I’ve accumulated a ton of books, more than half of which I haven’t yet read. For some months, they were stacked in my room’s floor (okay, maybe there were 3 stacks *cringe*) This new bookshelf will keep my babies safe and protected.

SO, yay me! *pats own back* Anyway, before I go talk you into sleep, here’s how the first half of the year has been for me as a reader. I hope you enjoy reading my answers as much as I enjoyed thinking and writing them up.

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How many books have you read so far?

28 (and still counting) 😁

My ultimate goal this year is to actually get out of my comfort zone and read more books from other genres. I love sci-fi and fantasy. Books from these two closely related genres are definitely easier to get into for me. But I’ve noticed that more than 50% of the books I’ve finished last year were from either of those two genres (not that I’m complaining) so spreading my wings a bit, so to say, is my target this year. I think I’m doing great so far.

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What is your reading goal for the year?

A modest 40 books.

I used to set a very ambitious 100-200 books years ago (I was young okay!) but learned my lesson.

That 40-book goal is actually a step up from last year’s 30 and 2016’s 20, which I both surpassed. I’m hoping I’ll be able to reach my goal again this year, but if not, then it’s really no big deal. Hey, as long as I get to read books I’m happy. It ain’t no contest. (Yes, younger self, that goes out to you! 🙄🙄🙄)

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Best book you’ve read so far

Sadie by Courtney Summers. This is, hands down, Courtney Summers’ best book so far. Sadie is so unapologetically dark and gripping. I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s a link to my review if you want to read more about how this book messed me up.

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Best sequel you’ve read so far

Hmmm…tough one. 🤔 I’d have to give it to Dark Triumph, the second book in Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin trilogy (which I loved) but War Storm by Victoria Aveyard comes at a very close second.

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New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Definitely Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. It’s been receiving a lot of buzz, the most recent of which is being featured on The Tonight’s Show book club as their first read. Plus, I’ve heard great things about it so I’m really excited to read it just as soon as time allows me to sneak it into my TBR pile.

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Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Wildcard (screams) I just have to know what happens next especially after that ending in Warcross!!! (I requested for a review copy of this but was declined. Penguin semi-hates me.)

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Biggest disappointment

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. I don’t want to explain it again so here’s my review. (I’m still amazed I finished it. Oh well 😑)

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Biggest Surprise35430013

It’s a tie between A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, and The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and The Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones.

Anthologies, generally, are a hit-and-miss for me, with more misses than hits, but this collection of re-tellings of Asian myths, legends and folklore turned that around. I loved most of the stories in it, and it just felt so good to read one centered on my people and our culture. It’s another step towards diversity in books.

Okay, now my nerd is going to come out. I loved Dan Jones’ The Wars of the Roses. It’s about, as the title suggests, the fall of the Plantagenet kings and the rise of the Tudors. Did you know that Owen Tudor married Catherine of Valois (Henry V’s widow & Henry VI’s mother) in secret because they were not allowed since Owen was Welsh? I sure didn’t. It was interesting to learn more about how the Tudors came to power in England. Plus, Dan Jones’ books are just so easy to read, it’s like reading a story only the story he is telling happened in real life. (Addendum: Dan Jones has a few documentaries in his portfolio. You should check them out. I think his Great British Castles docu-series is a great place to start. Another addendum: He’s really cute! 😍)

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Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

Kristina Pèrez. She’s a debut author and she just released her first book, Sweet Black Waves, last month. It’s a re-telling of the ancient Celtic legend Tristan and Iseult. It’s swoony, and full of magic and alludes to Celtic culture. I enjoyed her work a whole lot and now waiting (impatiently) for the sequel to come out next year.

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31179006Newest fictional crush

While no one will ever replace Tobias Eaton in my heart, (He’s still my ultimate book boyfriend and not just because he is played by the gorgeous Theo James in the movies. Brave, smart, patient and kind – he’s just the whole deal) I have found two new book boyfriends the past 6 months. Gavriel Duval from Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers and Prince Tristan of Kernyv from Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pèrez. Those two just make me swoon. 😍😍😍

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Newest fictional character

The broken but still fierce Sybella d’Albret from Robin LaFevers’ Dark Triumph. My love for this baby is more than a truckload. I just want to hug her and cheer her on as she gets her revenge on the people who hurt her.

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Book the made you cry

Sadie. It made me cry ugly, angry tears for what has been done to Sadie. Really guys, I couldn’t wait for it to come out, so you could read it already. Let’s commiserate together after you guys are done with it, okay?

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Book that made you happy

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. It’s such a funny and sassy re-telling of Jane Eyre.

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Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year

Sharp Objects. It’s not really a movie, a limited series on HBO, and it’s only on its first episode but it’s soooo good. Plus, Gillian Flynn, the “Gillian Flynn”, herself, wrote for the series.

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Favorite review you’ve written this year (so far)

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings because it was one of my most detailed ones and, personally, I still find reviewing anthologies hard. Here’s the link to it if you want to check it out.

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Most beautiful book you’ve bought (or received) so far this yearws

War Storm. You can only imagine the happiness and pleasure I get from seeing all four RQ books + Cruel Crown together on my shelves. You have one happy girl here.

(P.S. I want that crown!!! 👑👑👑)

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What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

🍂  Cruel Prince : I have this now. Oh, the cover is soooo pretty!!!

🍂  Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom : I just can’t seem to find this in my local bookstore. I might have to order it from Book Depository. But I am definitely going to read this within the year.

🍂  Carve the Mark and The Fates Divide : I actually started on Carve the Mark but am putting it back on hold. It’s the kind of book you need a lot of time to read. I’m reserving it for December when I will go on a bit of a leave from work and blogging (just one week, y’all) for the holidays.

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There you have it! The first half of my 2018 has been productive so far. Here’s to a more bookishly fruitful last half. Cheers! 🥂🍻

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Rachel

Review: Courtney Summers’ “Sadie”

38456024Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pre-order it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-million

(Digital ARC provided by the publisher thru NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Being both a fan of true crime stories and Serial, I was naturally excited for this novel. Add to that the buzz it’s been receiving and you got me setting my expectations high, which is something I’m wary of because half the time I end up being disappointed in the book.

But Sadie more than held up.

Trigger warning: Pedophilia, child abuse, drug abuse

Sadie centers on 19-year old Sadie Hunter’s quest to find her sister’s killer and the subsequent search for her by radio personality West McCray.

Abandoned by their drug-addicted mother when she was sixteen, Sadie is left alone to fend for herself and raise her younger sister, Mattie. Sadie makes Mattie her purpose, taking every thing the young girl throws at her, so when Mattie is found dead, Sadie makes it her mission to hunt her sister’s murderer.

Sadie hadn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Goodreads

I love this book! But let me warn you, Sadie is unapologetically dark and raw. Courtney Summers pulls no punches with this one, trust me.

Sadie will reel you in from its first word down to its last. It unfolds bit by bit, chapter after chapter, going back and forth between McCray’s podcast transcripts from The Girls set five months after Sadie’s disappearance and the titular main character’s first-person perspective set immediately after she leaves her small town to begin her search.

It was the perfect way to tell the story.

It may be off-putting for some, but I cannot imagine having this particular story told another way. I loved reading both the podcast transcripts and Sadie’s POV in equal measures. The alternating chapters, a modified before and after trade-off, flawlessly moved the narrative at the right pace, revealing enough of the story to keep readers guessing but not too much that it spoils the whole thing.

Another thing I loved is the writing. Courtney Summers is no stranger to writing hard topic books, just take All the Rage as an example. Summers’ writing is sharp and on point, and she created a realistic, complicated, very human protagonist in Sadie Hunter. I can’t help feeling for her – sad at what she has been through and angry at what has been done to her. Then, there’s West McCray – a reluctant character who becomes more and more invested as he gets to know Sadie through the eyes of the people who knew and loved and her. West’s search for Sadie mirrors Sadie’s search for her sister’s murderer, and I think writing the these two characters’ narrative this way will give readers a broader view of the story.

Still, Sadie’s boundless love for Mattie is the heart of this story. Even though she starts out the determined to avenge her sister’s death, the depth of Sadie’s love, and the grief and the guilt she feels for her sister stands out.

Sadie will break you and make you care. It will keep you turning the page until you reach the end. Comparable to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Louise O’Neill’s Asking for It, Sadie will open up discussions about the realities of life that are hard to talk about. I definitely recommend this to everyone.