Wow, that really sneaked up on me. I had this on my Todoist and then I forgot, so it’s a little bit later than I meant to post it, but better late than never. My 2020 answers are here in case you’re nosy and have nothing better to do.
Best book you’ve read so far in 2021
As with last year, I’ve got a list (in alphabetical order by author and not including rereads):
- The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa
- Aphasia – Mauro Javier Cárdenas
- All Who Go Do Not Return – Shulem Deen
- The Office of Historical Corrections – Danielle Evans
- The Hill We Climb – Amanda Gorman
- World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments – Aimee Nezhukumatathil
- Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why – Alexandra Petri
- The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021
The Testaments (Margaret Atwood). This was a reread, but I still rank it higher than the ASOIAF books. The Testaments takes place 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, and before anybody says it, no, it’s not as good as its predecessor. I don’t actually care about that because, while it’s not a patch on the original in terms of writing and emotional impact, it provides some sorely needed answers, and I am one of the nosiest people alive. In conclusion, you can’t shame me out of liking this very belated sequel, so don’t even try.
New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Half Sick of Shadows (Laura Sebastian)! This one bills itself as a feminist retelling of Arthurian legend, so I’m excited.
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
She Who Became the Sun (Shelley Parker-Chan). I actually wasn’t expecting this till August, but goodreads says it’s due out on July 20. I’m always on the lookout for a good Asian-authored fantasy, and this one is supposed to be a cross between Mulan and The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller), to which I said SAY NO MORE.
Is it technically a disappointment if you didn’t expect that much to begin with? If it is, then The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Stuart Turton) takes the crown. If expectation begets disappointment, Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) is the winner.
Evelyn Hardcastle had the most disappointing conclusion I’ve seen in a while, but Jane Eyre actually promised me shit and then didn’t deliver. I knew very little about Jane Eyre going in, save for the biggest plot twist and the “Reader, I married him,” so the whole Mrs. Rochester thing wasn’t actually a surprise. What was a surprise was that Mrs. Rochester was supposed to be Creole, and she and a large chunk of her not-entirely-white family were presented as crazy and immoral for no other reason than that they happened to be crazy and immoral. That’s nice. ? The inside flap made sweeping claims about independence and becoming a whole woman, but I honestly thought Jane was kind of a doormat. I was expecting her to strike off on her own and become independent against all odds, but that is most definitely not what happened, and I am pissed. Never tell me a woman is independent if she ends up married to a man she has to take care of.
I suppose The Water Dancer (Ta-Nehisi Coates) fits here. I thought it was a little slow for the first half or so, but then I got to the end and I cried and gave it five stars. I was most surprised when it turned out that Corinne was not a villain. Her methods were terrible and should not have been allowed, but in the end Hiram didn’t seem to regret meeting her, which I was not expecting.
Favorite new author (debut or new to you)
Aimee Nezhukumatathil. World of Wonders was one of the best things I’ve read this year, and I will be pursuing her other works.
Newest fictional crush
Newest favorite character
Nana the cat (The Travelling Cat Chronicles, Hiro Arikawa). Arikawa must have a cat, because her characterization of Nana is spot-on.
Book that made you cry
All Who Go Do Not Return (Shulem Deen). This is Deen’s memoir of his time as a Skver Hasid and his expulsion from his community following charges of heresy, and, well, you can guess how that goes.
Book that made you happy
World of Wonders (Aimee Nezhukumatathil). This book just made my heart happy. It discusses serious topics, but it is accompanied by such charming illustrations and it has such a warmth to it that it remains buoyant and bright, regardless of subject matter.
Favorite book-to-movie adaptation this year
N/A. As with last year, did not watch any adaptations this year because COVID.
Favorite review you’ve written this year
I’ve only posted two this year and they were both at least partially written last year, but I’m going to have to go with my review of Gideon the Ninth (Tamsyn Muir). Sometimes I do real good, and I am particularly pleased with my Gideon synopsis, which fits in well with the style of the book. And now, having read my review, I’ve given myself Gideon hangover again and need to reread the book before I pick up Harrow the Ninth.
Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
Libertie (Kaitlyn Greenidge). This cover is seriously gorgeous, and I’m really glad this was the one that was widely available because this book has a couple of other editions and they’re not as pretty.